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Yuma-area Border Patrol agent shoots, kills man during fight

Agent injured, including cuts and a concussion, after he was struck with baton

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man suspected of entering the country illegally during an altercation Thursday night, just south of Yuma, authorities said. 

In a news release Friday morning, Yuma Sector's Acting Chief Mario Villarreal said that one of his agents shot and killed a man around 10 p.m. after the agent, who was not identified by the agency, attempted to arrest a man suspected of entering the country illegally near Somerton. 

During the arrest, the man "grabbed the agent’s radio and collapsible steel baton and began striking him in the face and head," said Villarreal. Then, the man "attempted to remove" the agent's sidearm from his holster, said Villarreal. 

The agent, "fearing for his life," fired, wounding the suspect, he said.

Both men were transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center by ambulance. Medical staff attempted to treat the wounded man, but they were "unable to resuscitate" him and he was pronounced dead.

The agent was treated for injuries to his head and torso, at least one of which required stitches to close the wound. He was also diagnosed with a concussion. 

In accordance with CBP policy, the agent has been placed on administrative leave, said Villarreal. 

Just a few weeks ago, during the Memorial Day weekend, an agent working near Casa Grande was assaulted when he tried to make an arrest. That agent subdued the man using pepper spray. 

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On April 7, an agent responded to rock throwing near Cowlic, Arizona, by firing two rounds. Both shots missed the suspect, said Tucson Sector Chief Paul Beeson, during a briefing with reporters at the sector's headquarters. 

On Jan. 25, Tucson Sector agents shot a man just east of Apache, northeast of Douglas, after an agent struggled with the suspect. 

The man, who remains unidentified by Border Patrol officials, was treated for his wounds, and is now held in federal custody at a facility in Florence pending charges for assault on a federal agent, the agency said.  

According to statistics released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol agents have been assaulted 148 times in the last year, down 21 percent from the year before. CBP did not breakdown statistics at the sector level, however, in Tucson Sector's public affairs office said that in the 2015 fiscal year, agents were assaulted 87 times. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com