Family members of Valeria Alvarado are demanding answers in the wake of controversial shooting that claimed the life of the 32-year-old mother of five children. KNSD's Tony Shin reports.
SAN DIEGO -- The family of a 32-year-old woman killed by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent in Chula Vista on Friday is outraged by what they believe was an unjustified shooting.
Police and family members confirmed that Chula Vista resident Valeria "Monique" Alvarado, also known as Valeria Tachiquin, was the woman killed in the agent-involved shooting around 1 p.m. Friday near Moss Street and Oaklawn Avenue.
Chula Vista officials said the shooting happened in the middle of the street in a residential area after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent was allegedly assaulted by a woman driving a vehicle.
Officials said Border Patrol agents were serving a felony warrant in the area when Alvarado allegedly intentionally tried to run over an agent. Alvarado was not the subject of the warrant.
CBP Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott said the agent was carried several hundred yards on the hood of the car before he fired his weapon at the woman.
"The suspect was armed with a vehicle, and literally ran our agent down," said Scott. “He was carried several hundred yards before he discharged his weapon through the windshield of the vehicle.”
Alvarado was killed in the shooting. The agent was hospitalized and his current condition is unknown.
But, in spite of information from Chula Vista officials, Alvarado’s family has a very different story about what happened on Moss Street Friday.
Her husband, Gilbert Alvarado, is furious about what happened to his wife – the mother of his five children. He believes the agent who shot her overreacted.
"My wife got killed for no reason," Gilbert told NBC 7 Friday night. "Show me that my wife had a gun or something that threatened the guy’s life where he had to use lethal force against her."
Alvarado’s family confirmed the warrant had nothing to do with her and the mother of five would never intentionally hurt anyone for any reason.
Alvarado’s cousin, Bernice Ratcliffe, is trying to make sense of something she believes was senseless.
"I think we're all shocked and we want answers,” said Ratcliffe. “"They didn't have to shoot her!”
Witnesses in the area at the time of the shooting told NBC 7 San Diego they saw Alvarado slowly driving in reverse as the agent opened fire on her at least six times.
"As the car was backing up the officer was in the street walking toward the car, and discharging,” recalled witness Prince Watson.
“I heard it, ‘Pow, pow,’ and just told my family to get down,” said witness Ayanna Evans.
Witnesses believe Alvarado may have accidentally struck the agent and panicked when he told her to stop and pulled out his gun.
They said the agent was in plain clothes and was not displaying a badge.
“The whole [thing] didn’t look right,” added Evans.
Meanwhile, Christian Ramirez of the Southern Border Communities Coalition said the organization stands behind Alvarado’s family and will help them seek justice.
"We will do everything in our power to make sure the investigation is conducted in a transparent fashion, and the family gets the justice they deserve,” said Ramirez.
Still, that doesn’t erase the pain and anger Gilbert feels after losing his wife.
“Whoever shot my wife -- whoever he is – that guy needs to get shot,” he said.
Family members said Alvarado went to Chula Vista High School. The five children she leaves behind range in age from three to 17.
Officials have not yet released the name of the agent involved in the deadly shooting. The investigation is ongoing.
On Saturday, Alvarado's loved ones set up a small memorial of flowers, photos and messages near the area where Alvarado was killed. A fundraiser for the family is planned for Sunday at the Rally's on 3rd and Moss Street betwen 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Near the memorial, many neighbors, friends and family called Alvarado “innocent” and were still in shock by the way she was killed.
“I don't think it should have [gone] down like that. I don't think she should have been shot,” one neighbor told NBC 7. “They're a person. They are a part of this world. I decided to put up how we feel [in the memorial] and [show] that we are with the family.”
“I feel bad for the family that has to go through this. I think Monique is an innocent person,” added another friend.
NBC 7 investigated Alvarado’s criminal history, which only includes a court case from 2004.
A spokesperson for the family said Alvarado was involved with drug possession eight years ago, but she never served time in jail and has been clean for years.
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