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Border Patrol agent shoots, kills rock-thrower across border

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A Border Patrol agent shot across the U.S.-Mexican border in Nogales late Wednesday night, killing a teenager as a group of people threw rocks at border agents who were investigating a load of narcotics dropped near the international boundary.

One person, a 14-16-year-old, was killed in the shooting, confirmed Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, citing information from Mexican sources, including eyewitnesses.

"There were two individuals, apparently drug smugglers, that were hanging on the border fence, trying to get back into Mexico, apparently they had abandoned the load or brought over some drugs," Estrada said. "So at some point I guess the agents told them to stop and cease, shots were fired, I don’t know how many agents were there, shots were fired and apparently this teenager died as a result of that confrontation."

One person appeared to have been shot, the Border Patrol said in a news release Thursday morning. Neither U.S federal nor Mexican officials would directly confirm a death.

Nogales Police were also among the law enforcement who responded to the incident.

"Preliminary information at this time, brings forth, once again, serious doubts about the use of lethal force by U.S. Border Patrol agents, something that both the Mexican Government and Mexican society strongly deplore and condemn," said Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"It is imperative that the relevant US authorities proceed with a timely and transparent investigation, and take it to its ultimate consequences.  Mexican authorities will proceed accordingly in within their jurisdiction," he said..

The incident occurred near West International Street and Hereford Drive, near the border wall and a short distance from the Grand Avenue border crossing.

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From the Border Patrol:

On Oct. 10, U.S. Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Ariz., responded to reports of two suspected narcotics smugglers near West International Street and Hereford Drive at approximately 11:30 p.m. MT. Preliminary reports indicate the agents observed the smugglers drop a narcotics load on the U.S. side of the international boundary and flee back to Mexico. Subjects at the scene then began assaulting the agents with rocks.  After verbal commands from agents to cease were ignored, one agent then discharged his service firearm. One of the subjects appeared to have been hit. Agents notified the Government of Mexico (GOM) and secured the scene. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is fully cooperating with the FBI-led investigation.

The Border Patrol is unable to release any further information Thursday morning, said an agency spokesman, Agent Brent Cagen.

FBI spokesman Manual Johnson confirmed Thursday morning that the agency is investigating, but said "no further comment will be made at this time."

"We’re not going to be providing a play-by-play of the investigation," Johnson said in an afternoon interview.

"Because it involved the rock-throwing situation we’re conducting what we call an assault on a federal officer investigation," Johnson said.

Cross-border shooting incidents are rare, Sheriff Estrada said.

"They’re limited, it’s not something that we see on a regular basis but being along the border it really gets magnified."

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.

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1475 comments
Oct 11, 2012, 4:05 pm
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“Preliminary information at this time, brings forth, once again, serious doubts about the use of lethal force by U.S. Border Patrol agents, something that both the Mexican Government and Mexican society strongly deplore and condemn,” said Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

So I guess this asshole won’t mind if I start throwing rocks at him then, right? I mean, it’s no big deal, and its certainly not something that justifies self-defense…if this Alday jerk doesn’t want us shooting his people, then he better tell his people to stop throwing rocks at us. It really is that simple.

In all seriousness, any BP agent who is being assaulted (and, yes, rock-throwing counts as assault, at least) is fully, 100% justified in using whatever force is necessary to defend himself/herself. The fact that orders to stop went ignored only amplifies the justification.

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Click image to enlarge

a_issacson/Flickr

The border wall in Nogales near the scene of Wednesday night's shooting incident, photographed in January.

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