NACO, Ariz. – A Border Patrol agent was shot to death Tuesday in Arizona near the U.S.-Mexico line, the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.
The agent, 30-year-old Nicholas Ivie, and a colleague were on patrol in the desert near Naco, about 100 miles from Tucson, when gunfire broke out shortly before 2 a.m., the Border Patrol said. The second agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks, but was reportedly in stable condition.
At a news conference in Naco, an FBI official said the agency still was processing the crime scene and that it might take several days to complete.
No arrests have been made, but authorities suspect that more than one person fired at the agents.
The last Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty was Brian Terry, who died in a shootout with bandits near the border in December 2010. The Border Patrol station in Naco, where the two agents shot Tuesday were stationed, was recently named after Terry.
Terry’s shooting was later linked to the government’s “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying guns for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than be arrested.
The area near Tuesday’s shooting is scattered with houses, trailers and ranchettes. Mesquite trees and creosote bushes dot the landscape, with a mountain range nearby to the west.
The U.S. government has put thousands of sensors along the border that, when tripped, alert dispatchers that they should send agents to a particular location.
The agents were fired upon in a rugged hilly area about five miles north of the border as they responded to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors.