HOUSTON -- Astros Spanish radio announcer Francisco Romero used to chase the action as a news reporter for Telemundo, but he and his family found themselves too close to the story while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border Monday night.
Romero and his family escaped injury after being caught in gunfire at a border checkpoint Monday while trying to enter the United States following a trip to visit family in Mexico. Four were killed and 17 injured in the violence, according to reports.
"I've experienced it as a reporter, but as a husband and father, I don't want to go there again," he said.
Romero, a native of Nogales, Mexico, was waiting in a line of traffic to clear customs and cross the border into Arizona when machine-gun fire erupted. The family took cover in its truck until the gunfire ended and then headed back into Nogales before successfully crossing the border later that night.
Romero, in his third year with the Astros, lives about 45 minutes north of the border in the Tucson, Ariz., area.
"It lasted what seemed like an eternity, but it was only about 3 1/2 or four minutes," Romero said. "The shooters were 50 yards to our right, and about 150 yards from the actual border. The last three years, it's something very common in that area of Nogales. You're aware of it, but you don't know you're going to be in the middle of a shootout."
Violence among Mexican drug cartels has boomed the last few years, and Romero said 56 people have been killed in Nogales this year. He said the violence started in a different part of the city and escalated into Monday night's border shootout.
While some at the border abandoned their cars and used them as shields from the gunfire, Romero and wife Arissa took cover in their truck with 3-year-old daughter Isabella sleeping in the back.
"Everybody seemed to freeze," Romero said. "We were very close to where the shooters were and people didn't know where the bullets were coming from. I didn't see any bullets hitting any cars. What I saw was people getting out of cars and shielding themselves."
The family was returning from visiting in-laws in the small town of Magdalena. Romero said he and his wife and daughter travel over the border about twice a month to see family and had never previously encountered any violence.
"I always felt pretty safe, especially since I was born in Nogales and lived there until I was 12 years old," Romero said. "Now it's a different story."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.