EAGLE PASS, Texas — The body of a Texas Army National Guard soldier has been found, U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales confirmed to KENS 5 on Monday.
22-year-old Specialist Bishop E. Evans went missing on Friday in Eagle Pass while attempting to rescue two migrants who appeared to be drowning. The Texas Rangers had been leading the search efforts, assisted by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Parks and Wildlife, and Border Patrol representatives. Search efforts continued throughout the weekend after the Texas Military Department notified the family Friday evening that he was missing.
Evans reportedly jumped into the raging waters without a flotation device, the Texas Military Department said in an email Tuesday in response to inquiries from The Texas Tribune and Military Times.
Military Times also says in the past month, at least 23 migrants have drowned in these waters. And rescues by Guard members patrolling the river are a regular occurrence.
"We are devastated by the loss of a member of our Guard family," said Maj Gen Tom Suelzer, Adjutant General for Texas. "We recognize the selflessness of this heroic Soldier who put his life above others in service to our state and national security. The Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time"
While speaking in Eagle Pass on border issues, Rep. Gonzales spoke about Spec. Evans and expressed concern for his family and others living in the border region.
"It's about those that serve here. It's about those at work here. It's about Bishop Evans, who was found today. It's about his family. It's about all the families that have been impacted," Rep. Gonzalez said.
Governor Greg Abbott released a statement expressing sorrow regarding the death of Spec. Evans and thanked those who searched for the missing soldier, saying in part that "our National Guard soldiers risk their lives every day to serve and protect others, and we are eternally grateful for the way SPC Evans heroically served his state and country."
Later on Monday evening, Abbott directed that flags be lowered to half-staff in Evans' honor.
Evans was a field artilleryman from Arlington, Texas, and was assigned to A Battery, 4-133 Field Artillery Regiment in New Braunfels. He joined the Texas Army National Guard in May 2019. You can read more about Evans here.
"The service member selflessly attempted to help two migrants who appeared to be drowning as they illegally crossed the river from Mexico to the United States,” according to the Texas Military Department.
Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick demanding an inquest into the disappearance of Spec. Evans.
“The death of this young man was highly avoidable and further proves that the Governor is ill-prepared to provide solutions for this issue. Through no fault of their own, the Texas National Guard has been ill-equipped to deal with this issue. I have said from the very beginning that these little political stunts from the Governor have very real consequences. Thanks to Greg Abbott’s actions, one of our finest is gone at the young age of 22,”Gutierrez stated.
Gutierrez has been critical of Abbott's actions at the border.
The following is the letter Senator Gutierrez sent to Lt. Dan Patrick:
On Friday, Texas woke up to a new reality. Another member of our National Guard lost his life due to Operation Lone Star.
In total, five service members have died as a result of this operation at the Texas border.
Shockingly, more of our service members have died in Operation Lone Star than in the entirety of combat in Kosovo War.
National Guardsmen from all over the United States have been sent to Texas largely to enforce a Class B Misdemeanor. It appears these National Guardsmen have not been prepared, equipped, or fortified for an extended mission that is costing Texas taxpayers billions of dollars, and has no apparent end in sight.
These deaths were wholly avoidable with proper planning, administration, and leadership.
It is time for the Texas Senate to investigate Operation Lone Star to ensure that no other Guardsman is put in avoidable peril for no apparent purpose.
As the former Chairman of the Defense & Veterans Affairs Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, I know from experience that our military members need our support and to hold our leaders accountable when there are failures.
It is long past time for the Texas Senate to make an inquest into the deaths of the guardsmen in Operation Lone Star.
I ask that you urgently call a Committee of the Whole Senate concerning the deaths of these guardsmen in Operation Lone Star so that every senator may demand answers from the Governor and his staff about the unfortunate deaths of our military personnel at the Border.
Texas holds a proud tradition of supporting the men and women in uniform, and I want us to be leaders in continuing that tradition.
This inquest is in keeping with our oversight role and--ideally--can help the Texas Senate provide guidance that will prevent the avoidable loss of anymore service men and women.