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For Border Patrol, agent's death is a reminder of the dangers agents face on the job

The number of assaults on Border Patrol agents jumped 67 percent from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017.

For Border Patrol, the death of Agent Rogelio Martinez is a sad reminder of the danger they face on the job every day.

Martinez — a 36-year-old father of four from El Paso — suffered a serious head injury Saturday while on patrol near Van Horn, Texas. He died the next day.

Another agent also suffered a serious head injury. Doctors released that agent from University Medical Center in El Paso on Wednesday.

What, exactly, happened to them remains under investigation.

The FBI is treating the incident as a "potential assault," according to the Associated Press, but investigators haven't ruled out other scenarios, including an accident.

According to the National Border Patrol Council, the law enforcement union that represents agents, the injuries were consistent with an attack.

The number of assaults on Border Patrol agents jumped 67 percent from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017, according to data published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The agency counted 671 assaults on Border Patrol agents last fiscal year.

"The majority of the situations that we see where subjects become combative, it's out of desperation. Whether it's a smuggler or an illegal immigrant who's trying to come into the U.S," said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Robert Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

When appropriate, agents respond with less-than-lethal weapons, including stun guns, pepper spray and batons, Rodriguez said. Agents also have the authority to use deadly force.

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