Sponsored by

Authorities ID man shot, killed by BP agents; another man charged with murder, drugs

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials have identified the man shot and killed by Border Patrol agents following a rolling shootout that ended at a gas station early Wednesday morning near Quartzsite, Arizona. 

Rodolfo Ballardo, 31, from Wasco, Calif., was shot and killed by Border Patrol agents after he hijacked a semi-tractor trailer and repeatedly fired a weapon at BP agents and DPS troopers, authorities said.

The incident began around 12:56 a.m., when an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper stopped a blue Ford Mustang on the westbound lane of Interstate 10 near milepost 57, about 40 miles east of Quartzsite, a town about 125 miles a of Phoenix, according to a spokesman for the agency. 

The Mustang was driven by a man, later identified as Marcos Ricard Ruiz-Zazueta, 43, from Kingman, Ariz. 

As the trooper spoke to Ruiz-Zazueta, Ballardo got out of the Mustang and fired a gun at the trooper. The trooper returned fire and Ballardo took control of the Mustang and fled the scene, heading westbound along Interstate 10. 

Ruiz-Zazueta was taken in custody. He was later charged with first degree murder because the alleged crime resulted in Ballardo's death, as well as conspiracy to commit possession of dangerous drugs, conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs for sale, and conspiracy to commit transportation of a dangerous drug for sale, authorities said.

As Ballardo drove off, the La Paz County Sheriff's Office asked Border Patrol to help locate a suspect in a "fleeing vehicle," said Rob Daniels, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman. 

DPS, along with deputies from the La Paz Sheriff's Office and BP agents searched the area, and located the Mustang on I-10 near milepost 17. 

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Roberta Gale, Martha Calkins, and Richard Ringler and contribute today!

Border Patrol agents attempted to stop the vehicle, said DPS, but the pursuit continued another six miles to Dome Rock Road. There Ballardo exchanged gunfire with agents, and then fled on foot across the highway to a nearby rest stop. 

There Ballardo broke into a commercial semi-tractor trailer and took the vehicle "by force from the driver," the spokesman said. 

The commercial truck driver was injured, but did not need transport for medical treatment, the spokesman said. 

Ballardo drove the semi eastbound on Interstate 10 and then took an exit, again exchanging gunfire with troopers, agents and deputies. 

Around 2:30 a.m., at a gas station on Main Street in Quartzsite, the truck was "finally stopped and a final exchange of gunfire occurred," the DPS spokesman said. 

Border Patrol agents fired their weapons, and the man "sustained serious injuries," Daniels said. Officials immediately began "administering advanced life-saving techniques," said DPS spokesman. The man was transported to an area hospital via air ambulance, but "later succumbed to his injuries," Daniels said. 

No one else was injured in the exchange of gunfire from the incident.

DPS officials declined to describe the drugs that Ruiz-Zazueta had in his possession, saying only that the "information is what we have to release. The investigation is ongoing." 

Following the incident, DPS closed several miles of westbound I-10 until around 8 a.m.

The FBI, along with CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility, the Department of Public Safety and the La Paz County Sheriff's Department are involved in the ongoing investigation, said Daniels. 

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Esther Brilliant, Renee Downing, and Katharine Peterson and contribute today!

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

- 30 -
have your say   

Comments

There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Click image to enlarge

DPS

Rodolfo Ballardo, 31, was shot and killed by Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents following a rolling shootout near Quartzsite, Arizona on Wednesday morning.