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C. Eugene Emery Jr.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr. November 13, 2018

Lone gunman, burned mattresses fuel violent caravan claim

As a caravan of migrants makes its way toward the United States, narratives continue to emerge that depict participants as violent invaders.

An Oct. 31 Facebook post from the Conservative Daily Post carries the headline, "Just In: Migrant Invaders Set Fire To Facility, Open Fire On Police."

Clicking the link takes readers to a story on with the headline, "Caravan Violence: Invaders Shoot At Police, Set Fire To Immigration Checkpoint; The violence is ratcheting up as firearms, firebombs and rocks are being used by the caravan." The website says the story has been shared over 3,300 times.

This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Several elements of this story suggest that it is factually challenged.

The arson

It’s hard to find a lot of information about the referenced arson, but here’s what we know.

A link in the Conservative Daily Post story takes readers to an Oct. 30 Breitbart report that, in turn, relies on an Oct. 29 story from Televisa News, which says a fire broke out in the area of an immigration checkpoint in Pijijiapan, Chiapas, which is located in Mexico, 90 miles by road to the Guatemalan border. The Televisa News story does not say when the fire happened.

At the time of the arson, the checkpoint was housing 21 men who were being detained and awaiting deportation to Guatemala, the Televisa story says. The fire caused minor damage and no injuries. In addition, according to Televisa, the fire seems to have been caused by one or more migrants who had already left the caravan and were planning to go home, but were detained by Mexican officials.

Though the date of the fire is not included in the story, we know based on news reports, including the timeline in this USA Today story, that the beginning of the caravan was about 90 miles from Pijijiapan on Oct. 28, the day before the story was first published online -- and at a time when the caravan was traveling about 40 miles per day.

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Additionally, the photograph that accompanies the Conservative Daily Post story shows a U.S. Border Patrol facility at night, a stock image found on Shutterstock and other stock image sites. The caption reads, "An immigration checkpoint facility was set on fire and police were shot at as the migrant invasion force becomes more violent." Together, the image and caption could give the impression that the arson happened at a U.S. border facility, which is not what the Televisa story states.

A Nexis search of U.S. news and wire clips for the period of Oct. 12, when the first caravan formed, to Nov. 7, turned up no stories about an arson at a border checkpoint.

The shooting

Conservative Post Daily says the shooting occurred when two men "saw the officers guarding the group of trespassers and decided to open fire." Trespassers refers to the migrants.

The best information we have about this incident indicates there was only one gun. An Oct. 29 statement from the Ministry of the Interior says only one of the two Hondurans was armed and the man fired while attempting to flee from police. The news release does not suggest why the pair, ages 22 and 17, were fleeing or why they would shoot officers guarding the caravan. The gun jammed with nine .380-caliber bullets still in the weapon. Nobody was hurt.

The location of the shooting: the town of Ignacio Zaragoza in Chiapas, Mexico, near the Guatemalan border where a second caravan was forming and roughly 230 miles from the leading edge of the main caravan.

Our ruling

The Conservative Daily Post reported, "Caravan Violence: Invaders Shoot At Police, Set Fire To Immigration Checkpoint." Combined with the photograph of a U.S. border patrol facility, it gives the false impression that the fire and shooting involved U.S. officials and an American facility. The evidence shows it did not.

The fire was in southern Mexico, it was reportedly caused by men who had left the caravan and were returning south, but were detained by Mexican officials.

There were no "invaders" (meaning more than one person) shooting at police, unless it took both of the arrested males to fire the same gun. If they were part of the caravan, it's not clear why someone would shoot at police guarding them. And the incident occurred in Mexico far from the U.S. border.

Because the statement contains elements of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, we rate it Mostly False.

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Mostly False
"Caravan Violence: Invaders Shoot At Police, Set Fire To Immigration Checkpoint"
in a Facebook post
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Our Sources

"Caravan Violence: Invaders Shoot At Police, Set Fire To Immigration Checkpoint," Conservative Daily Post, Oct. 31, accessed Nov. 6, 2018

"Migrants set fire to immigration booth in Pijijiapan, Chiapas," (Google translation),, Oct. 29, 2018, accessed Nov. 6, 2018

"Migrant caravan reaches Mexico City, pauses to regroup," USA Today, Nov. 5, 2018

Google maps, Santiago Niltepec, Oaxaca to Pijijiapan, Chaipas and San Pedro Tapanatepec to Pijijiapan, Chaipas, Nov. 6, 2018

"Two Hondurans arrested after armed attack on federal police," (Google translation),, Oct. 29, 2018, accessed Nov. 6, 2018


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Lone gunman, burned mattresses fuel violent caravan claim

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