Border Patrol agents trying to cope with loss of colleague, friend

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The loss of a comrade, a friend is devastating to any group.

The Border Patrol is no exception, especially because agents share the experience of putting their lives on the line as they serve.

Among the agents and staff, this incident is a devastating reminder of what it can be like along the southern border.

As others investigate and work to find those responsible for the death of agent Nicholas Ivie on the border near Naco on Tuesday, KOLD News 13 spoke Border Patrol Agent Art Del Cueto who is the president of the union, Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council in Tucson.

We talked about the inherent dangers along the border.

Historians will tell you the border has been a volatile place for generations.

Border Patrol agents will tell you it seems to have become worse lately.

"When I first started, it was easier. You'd catch a group and they would stop. Then slowly, slowly, you get certain groups that are a little bit more aggressive toward you than not, and now you have what you have now is they don't want to get caught. They want to shoot. They want to throw rocks. They want to be violent towards you," Del Cueto says.

Del Cueto got the call at his home after two o'clock Tuesday morning.

He immediately went to the hospital to see the agent who was wounded in the border shootout, to offer what help he could.

"The agent is doing better...when I left him," Del Cueto said.

The wounded agent would be released from the hospital the afternoon of that same day.

The Border Patrol family may be large, but a death in that family is a very personal thing.

Del Cueto has experienced the loss of very close friends.

"And what happens is I hug my family a little bit more at night. Umm. I show a little bit more compassion toward the agents that I work with. It's not easy. It's hard and I think the public sees us with our green uniforms and with our badges and sometimes they forget that we are human beings and it does hurt all the time. It doesn't get better," said an emotional Del Cueto.

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