Last week two Border Patrol agents were shot. One of them resulted in a fatality. The FBI is now saying that the shooting, which took place, near the Arizona-Mexico border, was more than likely the result of friendly fire. However an investigation is still ongoing.
In a statement on Friday by FBI Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal Jr.:
“There are strong preliminary indications that the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting incident involving only the agents.”
Though he did not elaborate on the conclusions being drawn he did state that the FBI is using “all necessary investigative, forensic and analytical resources” in its investigation.
Border Patrol Agent Nicolas Ivie, 30, was killed after he and two other agents responded to a sensor hit near mile-maker 352 on Highway 80. One other Border Patrol agent sustained non-life threatening wounds and was airlifted to a local hospital. He is reported in stable condition at this time.
Federal investigators used ballistic testing to determine the shootings likely resulted from friendly fire, according to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, which is assisting the FBI in the probe.
Jeffrey D. Self, commander of Customs and Border Protection’s Joint Field Command-Arizona, said that despite the initial findings that the shootings appeared accidental, Ivie still “gave the ultimate sacrifice and died serving his country.”
“The fact is the work of the Border Patrol is dangerous,” Self said Friday at a news conference in Tucson.
While federal authorities declined to offer details of the shooting, George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said all three agents fired their weapons.
George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told The Republic that the three agents approached the sensor from two different directions.
Ivie approached from the north, and the other two agents came in from the south, said McCubbin, citing information he received from the Border Patrol.
“Coming in from different angles, that is more than likely how it ended up happening,” McCubbin said.
“The area was dark, it was thick brush, they may not have seen each other,” he added later.
McCubbin said he did not know which agent fired a weapon first, but he was told all three agents fired.
He said it remains unclear whether the three agents actually encountered anyone at the scene.
Some have questioned whether the agents were somehow set up. “I know that they had a couple of (suspects) in custody in Mexico, but other than being in the (border) area they have not proven or disproven that they had anything to do with this incident,” McCubbin said.
Lydia Antonio, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement that “two persons presumably involved in cross-border trafficking could have triggered the shooting.”
Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, said regarding the nature of the shooting, “I know of absolutely none in the past, and my past goes back to 1968. I’m not saying it never happened. I’m just saying I’ve never heard of it.”
McCubbin echos that in his own statment. “I have been in the Border Patrol since 1985 and I just don’t recall ever any agent that was shot by another agent. I can’t think of one,” said McCubbin.