Union: Border agents opened fire on each other - Tucson News Now

Union: Border agents opened fire on each other

PHOENIX (AP) - The U.S. Border Patrol agent killed last week in a shooting in southern Arizona apparently opened fire on two fellow agents thinking they were armed smugglers and was killed when they returned fire, the head of the Border Patrol agents union said Sunday.           

The two sets of agents approached an area where a sensor had been activated early Tuesday from different directions early Tuesday and encountered each other in an area of heavy brush, National Border Patrol Council president George McCubbin said.           

Agent Nicholas Ivie apparently opened fire first and wounded one of the other agents but was killed in the return fire.           

"I don't know what it was he saw or heard that triggered this whole event," McCubbin said. "Unfortunately it resulted in his death and another agent injured."           

Acting Cochise County Sheriff Rod Rothrock confirmed the scenario but would not say if Ivie was the first to shoot, saying that was up to the federal agencies involved.           

The new details add to a FBI statement Friday that the shooting appeared to be a friendly fire incident that involved no one but the agents.           

Sensors are set up in different areas along the U.S.-Mexico border to detect smugglers or illegal immigrants, with Border Patrol agents responding when they're set off. The shooting occurred in a rugged hilly area about five miles north of the border near Bisbee, Ariz., an area known for illegal trafficking.           

McCubbin and Rothrock both said the two sets of agents knew the others were heading to the area but apparently didn't know they were so close. McCubbin said he'd been briefed by the agency, while Rothrock's agency has been involved with the investigation.           

"It was dark, very, very rugged terrain, and what they could see of each other was further obscured by the fact that there was brush and cacti and stuff like that between them," Rothrock said. "I have no doubt that these agents were in as heightened a state of alert as you can get due to the proximity to the border and the history of trafficking in that area."           

Rothrock said that when the agents spotted each other in the dark, "they apparently took defensive postures, which was probably interpreted as aggressive postures. Like readying your weapons, for example."           

Ivie, 30, died at the scene, and one of the other agents was wounded but has since been released from the hospital.           

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the Border Patrol and other federal and local agencies flooded the area with personnel looking for who they believed were assailants who had attacked the agents.           

"That was the initial reports from the beginning," McCubbin said. "That was the reason for the saturation manhunt there. They even had permission to fly into Mexico. They were seeking people out. What this was based on, we'd have to assume it was based on the initial statements given by the agents on the scene."           

Two people believed to be involved in smuggling activity were arrested by the Mexican government but were apparently not involved at all.           

"They had a couple of people in custody but other than being in the area, there was no evidence putting them there at the scene," McCubbin said. "They could have been guides, they could have been scouts, and those type of folks typically go back and forth all the time anyway."           

Rothrock said he believed the agents' actions were "appropriate and in accordance with their training had they, in fact, been engaging people involved in illegal activities. Unfortunately, they weren't engaging people involved in illegal activities, they were engaging each other."           

A visitation was to be held in Sierra Vista, on Sunday night for Ivie, who is survived by his wife and two young daughters. His funeral is set for Monday morning.           

"It's happened and it's a horrible tragedy for the agents involved and their families and the agency," McCubbin said. "We can come up with some reasons as to how this happened but that doesn't fix anything. All we can send prayers to the families and all the agents involved that somehow they can find some peace with this someday."           

Ivie's death marked the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010 and spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.

 (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Tucson Goes Red for Women

    Tucson Goes Red for Women

    Monday, September 25 2017 10:59 AM EDT2017-09-25 14:59:45 GMT

    You might have seen a lot of people wearing red in support of Go Red for Women over the weekend. The group held a luncheon Saturday focusing on women's heart health.

    You might have seen a lot of people wearing red in support of Go Red for Women over the weekend. The group held a luncheon Saturday focusing on women's heart health.

  • Construction crews begin Cortaro Farms widening project

    Construction crews begin Cortaro Farms widening project

    Monday, September 25 2017 9:11 AM EDT2017-09-25 13:11:10 GMT
    Construction begins on Cortaro Farms Road (Source: Tucson News Now)Construction begins on Cortaro Farms Road (Source: Tucson News Now)

    Construction crews will begin a widening project on the northwest side on Monday, Sept. 25. Crews have been spotted along Cortaro Farms Road over last couple of months prepping the road for the improvement project that stretches from Camino de Oeste to Thornydale Road.

    Construction crews will begin a widening project on the northwest side on Monday, Sept. 25. Crews have been spotted along Cortaro Farms Road over last couple of months prepping the road for the improvement project that stretches from Camino de Oeste to Thornydale Road.

  • Diamondbacks clinch playoff spot, home field with win over Marlins

    UPDATE: Diamondbacks clinch playoff spot, home field after win

    Monday, September 25 2017 9:08 AM EDT2017-09-25 13:08:53 GMT

    The Arizona Diamondbacks (90-66) have clinched a spot in the MLB post season and will host the National League wild card game.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks (90-66) have clinched a spot in the MLB post season and will host the National League wild card game.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Boy beaten with hammer while protecting sister dies

    Boy beaten with hammer while protecting sister dies

    Sunday, September 24 2017 2:13 AM EDT2017-09-24 06:13:24 GMT
    Sunday, September 24 2017 2:13 AM EDT2017-09-24 06:13:24 GMT

    The suspect in the beatings faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and lewd acts with a child under 14.

    The suspect in the beatings faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and lewd acts with a child under 14.

  • Don't talk about mom: NFL players angry over Trump's insult

    Don't talk about mom: NFL players angry over Trump's insult

    Monday, September 25 2017 2:17 AM EDT2017-09-25 06:17:27 GMT
    Monday, September 25 2017 10:41 AM EDT2017-09-25 14:41:18 GMT

    Players, owners and commissioners past and present chastised the president for his divisive remarks, but the angriest responses came from players upset that he'd insulted their mothers.

    Players, owners and commissioners past and present chastised the president for his divisive remarks, but the angriest responses came from players upset that he'd insulted their mothers.

  • Tennessee church shooting suspect charged with murder

    Tennessee church shooting suspect charged with murder

    Monday, September 25 2017 3:27 AM EDT2017-09-25 07:27:49 GMT
    Monday, September 25 2017 10:42 AM EDT2017-09-25 14:42:08 GMT

    Police charged the suspected gunman, who killed one and shot six at a Tennessee church Sunday, with one count of murder and said multiple charges were pending.

    Police charged the suspected gunman, who killed one and shot six at a Tennessee church Sunday, with one count of murder and said multiple charges were pending.

Powered by Frankly