Tiffany Hartley of Milliken, Colo., says her husband, David, was shot by Mexican pirates on Falcon Lake last week as they were returning to the United States on Jet Skis.
Gov. Rick Perry is asking Mexican President Felipe Calderon to call him. Perry is seeking assurances from Mexican officials that they will help recover the body of a man who was reportedly shot to death on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.
Tiffany Hartley of Milliken, Colo., says her husband, David, was shot by Mexican pirates on Falcon Lake last week while they were returning to the United States on Jet Skis. Falcon Lake is a dammed section of the Rio Grande and is split between the two countries.
Perry says Mexico needs to use every resource available to find the body and have it returned to U.S. soil. He says, "I hope that if he (Calderon) calls me within the next 48 hours, that the body has been retrieved. If not, we're not looking hard enough."
Officials in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where the shooting occurred, have cast doubt on Hartley's story. Perry says any suggestion that David Hartley's disappearance was domestic or drug-related is "really reprehensible."
Officials in Texas say a credible witness has come forward and corroborated Hartley's account of what happened.
"There is one witness, independent witness, who had never even met Tiffany before who actually saw this commercial fishing boat chasing her into Zapata, way into the United States and as soon as she arrived with him to seek assistance this boat made a U-turn headed back towards Mexico," Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, Jr. told the Today show. "And the information that Tiffany provided that there were fortified people in the boat is the same information the witness provided, so there's no doubt in my mind that Tiffany is saying the truth."
Sheriff Gonzalez told Meredith Vieira he was hopeful search boats would get underway Wednesday.
"Last night we spoke with a official with the state police in Mexico, in Tamaulipas, and he assured me that they had been out there Friday and had been out there Saturday, the good news though is that he assured me today starting around 10 o'clock this morning they were going to have several boats, helicopters, ski jets, looking in that area all over again and they're not going to stop until they find something or until all efforts have been exhausted, so they plan to be there all day today, which is something we were hoping for," Sheriff Gonzalez said.
A Renewed Call for Border Security
Perry used the incident to renew his demand that the federal government do more to secure the U.S.-Mexico border as northern Mexico sinks deeper into drug-gang violence. The violence has spread in the last few months from Ciudad Juarez, the epicenter of Mexico's drug war across from El Paso, Texas, to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande Valley, including Tamaulipas state where Hartley reportedly disappeared. Two drug gangs, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, are battling for supremacy there and fighting the Mexican military.
"Frankly, these two presidents (Calderon and President Barack Obama) need to get together with their secretaries of state and say, 'What are we going to do about this?"'
Perry also said he spoke Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's chief of staff and once again made his request for an additional 1,000 National Guard troops on the Texas-Mexico border, a request that has been repeatedly denied.
U.S. authorities are unable to investigate Hartley's disappearance because it happened in Mexico.
"How many more American citizens have to die?" Perry said.
The Incident on Falcon Lake
Tiffany Hartley told The Denver Post she and her husband, David, were sightseeing on Jet Skis on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake when pirates on three speedboats chased them, shooting her husband in the head.
Authorities have not recovered his body, but Hartley said she believes the gun shot was fatal.
Hartley recounted the incident on NBC's Today show Tuesday, describing how she saw bullets hitting the water near her and her husband flying over his Jet Ski. She became emotional as she described going to her husband to try to help.
"I had to turn him over because he was face down in the water, and turned him over, and he was shot in the head," she said, adding that she tried to pull her husband onto her Jet Ski but couldn't, and that a man on one of the boats pointed his gun at her. "I couldn't get him up, and I just kept hearing God tell me, 'You have to go, you have to go.' So I had to leave him so I could get to safety."
Hartley said she believes the men are hiding evidence of the attack.
"I believe in my heart that they went back and took him, and they're hiding our Jet Ski, they're hiding him, and we just plea that we get him back," she said.
The alleged attack happened near the U.S. boundary of the lake, which is about 60 miles down the border from Laredo. Authorities said several fishermen were robbed at gunpoint earlier this year on the Mexican side of the lake but no one was hurt.
Pam Hartley said her son had been living in McAllen, Texas, and across the border in Reynosa, Mexico, for almost three years for his job in the oil industry. The couple were planning to move back to Colorado soon.