10/03/12 – U.S. Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was shot and killed in the early hours of October 2, when he and two other agents responded to a sensor that went off a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Naco, Arizona. The three agents were fired upon while responding to the sensor shortly before 2 a.m. No arrests have been made yet, but authorities believe that shots were fired by more than one person. Another unidentified agent suffered non-life-threatening injuries as he was shot in the buttocks and ankle, and is in stable condition after being airlifted to a nearby hospital. The third agent was unharmed in the attack. Since 2008, 14 agents, including Ivie, have been killed in the line of duty.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office are currently conducting a joint investigation of the attack, declining to say whether they have found weapons or bullet casings yet. A bureau spokesman stated that the FBI has pledged all of its resources from across the country to assist in the investigation, resulting in searches on foot, on horseback, and through the use of ATVs and four helicopters. Authorities have stated that the investigation will most likely take several more days.
Ivie (30) was originally from Provo, Utah, and had joined the Border Patrol in January 2008, a move that brought him, his wife, and two young daughters to Sierra Vista, Arizona. Following Tuesday’s events, President Barack Obama called the victim’s family to thank them for Ivie’s service and offer his condolences. According to a White House statement, Obama expressed that “his administration was doing everything it could to locate those responsible for this tragic event.”
Tuesday’s attacks have led to a heightened discussion of the dangers and risk of violence on the U.S.-Mexico border. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer argued that Tuesday’s events should spark anger “at the federal failure and political stalemate that has left our border unsecured and our Border Patrol in harm’s way.” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated that the tragic event is an example of the danger that the Border Patrol is in every day. Discussion of Tuesday’s developments may continue in the first presidential debate, set to occur tonight, Wednesday, October 3, at 6 p.m. Pacific time.
The night of his death, Ivie and two other Border Patrol agents had been stationed at the Brian A. Terry Border Station in Bisbee, Arizona, a station named in honor of late Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose 2010 death was, up until Ivie’s, the most recent fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent. Terry’s death ultimately led to the disclosure of the controversial Operation Fast and Furious, which was intended to target leaders of firearm trafficking coalitions throughout Mexico and the Southwestern region of the United States. The operation resulted in the illegal purchase of around 2,000 marked firearms between 2009 and 2010, one of which was used in Terry’s death. Recently, 14 officials have been held responsible by the Department of Justice for the failed operation. (Read more about the developments of the Fast and Furious scandal by clicking here.) The weapons used in Tuesday’s shooting have not been connected to Operation Fast and Furious, though investigations are ongoing.