ACAPULCO, Mexico — A Mexican soldier said that a U.S. citizen attacked an army convoy and was killed when troops shot him in self-defense outside the resort city of Acapulco, a police official said. The man's father said Monday that he found it hard to believe.
An army lieutenant told police that Joseph Proctor opened fire on a military convoy with an AR-15 rifle, forcing the soldiers to shoot back, said Domingo Olea, a police investigator in the western state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located.
Olea provided no further details on Proctor, who was found dead in his car early Sunday.
A Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, said the army was investigating the lieutenant's claim. The official said Proctor might have been a passenger in the car, although nobody else was found with him at the scene.
Proctor's father, William Proctor, said he did not know of his son being involved in any illegal activity and did not believe he would have owned a gun or attacked soldiers.
"I doubt that. Joseph had a temper but he didn't use guns," Proctor said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Auburn, New York.
William Proctor said Joseph, 32, had lived off and on in Mexico for at least six years. He said his son had been in the process of divorcing his wife in Georgia and lived with a girlfriend and their young son in Mexico. He said he had little contact with his son and was unsure what Joseph did in Mexico but that he had worked in landscaping in the U.S.
He said Joseph had sometimes complained about being pulled over by Mexican security forces looking for bribes.
"He would get mad when the police pulled him over looking for payoffs," Proctor said.
Olea said the Mexican girlfriend, Liliana Gil Vargas, identified Proctor's body. She gave Mexican authorities identification papers that listed Proctor as a resident of Georgia.
In brief comments to Mexican reporters, Gil said she last saw Proctor on Saturday night when he went out to run an errand at a convenience store in Barra de Coyuca, a community outside of Acapulco.
Gil said the couple had been living in the central state of Puebla, near Mexico City, but had moved to Barra de Coyuca four months ago.
Joseph Proctor's mother, Donna Proctor, declined to speak to the AP when reached by telephone at her home in Hicksville, N.Y.
A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said consular officials in Acapulco had been in contact with Proctor's family and were providing assistance to repatriate his body. The spokeswoman declined to be named, in line with Embassy policy.
Soldiers frequently come under attack from drug-trafficking gangs in the Acapulco area and there have been cases across Mexico of innocent bystanders dying in the crossfire between soldiers and drug gangs, or of soldiers opening fire on civilians who failed to stop at checkpoints.
The military has faced mounting allegations of human-rights abuses since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers in 2006 to fight drug traffickers in their strongholds.
In November 2009, American Lizbeth Marin was shot to death in the Mexican border city of Matamoros. Mexican newspapers reported that Marin was hit by a stray bullet fired by a soldier participating in a raid.
More recently, two Mexican university students were killed in March in the crossfire of a shootout between gunmen and soldiers outside the gates of their campus in the northern city of Monterrey.
Alexandra Olson reported from Mexico City. Associated Press Writer E. Eduardo Castillo contributed.
(This version CORRECTS that allegation from lieutenant instead of sergeant.)