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Updated Oct 5, 2012, 6:01 pm Originally posted Oct 5, 2012, 4:19 pm
Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was likely killed early Tuesday morning by friendly fire, the FBI announced late Friday afternoon.
"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," FBI Special Agent in Charge James Turgal said.
Turgal declined to comment further.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with members of the Ivie family Friday in Sierra Vista.
Jeffrey Self, head of Customs and Border Protection's Joint Field Command, also met with the Ivie family.
At a Tucson news conference late Friday afternoon, Self declined to take reporter's questions, but confirmed that he told Ivie's wife that investigators "are looking in to the possibility" that the border agent's death "was a tragic accident."
Ivie "he died in the line of duty and will be honored as such for his final act of service," Self said he told the slain agent's family.
Ivie "will be remembered by all of us who served alongside him for his character, kindness and loyalty," Self said.
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"The fact is, the work of the Border Patrol is dangerous," Self said. "All of us wearing the uniform know this."
"I ask you to respect the privacy of the Ivie family and the agents involved as we struggle to understand this tragedy," he said.
The shooting was jointly investigated by the FBI and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. Border Patrol agents Friday referred reporters to the FBI for details on the investigation. That agency would not release further information.
Ivie was shot around 1:50 a.m. Tuesday after he and two other agents responded to a sensor hit near mile marker 352 on State Route 80 just east of Bisbee, the Border Patrol confirmed. He died at the scene.
Another of the agents was shot, suffering non-life-threatening injuries. He was airlifted and treated at University of Arizona Medical Center where he underwent surgery and was released.
The third agent was not hit by gunfire in the incident.
Neither of the other two agents have been identified.
U.S. officials have not confirmed reports Tuesday and Wednesday that suspects with possible connections to the shooting were detained in Mexico. Tuesday morning, Mexican police reportedly arrested two men with a bundle of marijuana and a handgun just south of the border from the location of the incident. Wednesday, Mexican officials farther south said they had detained two possible suspects. It's unknown if there are two sets of suspects, and if any of the men had any connection with the incident.
The motion and acoustic sensors used by the Border Patrol can be triggered by animals. Officials have not said whether there was any evidence of anyone other than the three BP agents being at the scene at the time of the shooting incident.
The agents who were shot worked out of the Naco BP station, which was recently renamed in honor of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent who was killed in a 2010 shootout with bandits just north of Nogales. Weapons found at the scene of Terry's death were linked to the controversial Fast and Furious gun-smuggling probe.
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At a Tuesday news conference, Turgal refused to release specifics on the case; he declined to comment on reports, later confirmed by Radio Sonora, that two suspects in the shooting had been detained in Mexico.
Ivie, a native of Provo, Utah who was active in the Mormon Church and joined the Border Patrol in 2008. His older brother Joel was already a Border Patrol agent. He is survived by a wife, Christy, and two daughters, one and four years old.
A service will be held 10 a.m. Monday at an LDS Church in Sierra Vista.
Family spokesperson Kevin Goates said that the event is intended for the family and that no cameras or recording devices will be allowed, but that "nobody will be turned away" and arrangements are being made for overflow in case attendance exceeds the building's capacity.
The service will be shown via closed circuit TV at four other LDS churches in Sierra Vista, Bisbee and Douglas, Goates said.
In addition to Monday's services in Sierra Vista, the family is planning services in Utah later in the week.
Goates also announced Thursday that a fund has been established to support the family. Contributions can be made through the National Bank of Arizona or through Utah's Zion National Bank by mentioning the Nicholas Ivie Memorial Fund.
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.