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BP agent shot, killed man as he wrestled for fellow agent's pistol

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man, who fought another agent and attempted to "gain control" of the agent's sidearm, during an incident in the remote Baboquivari Mountains, said Rodolfo Karisch, the chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector.

A team of two BP agents was following a group of men, suspected of being in the country illegally, through the rugged and remote Baboquivari range, in response to a sensor activation, said Karisch, during a press conference at the Tucson Sector headquarters Thursday morning. 

The agents encountered the group of four men, about 21 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and 45 miles southwest of Tucson, and moved to apprehend them. 

One of the men attacked the agent, Karisch said. 

"There was a struggle, and the assailant ended up on top of the agent, and pulled his weapon from his holster, in which time the agent came up and shot him," he said. 

The man, whose identity is still under investigation, died from his wounds, he said. 

"I believe the agent did save his partner's life," Karisch said. 

On Wednesday, the agency reported the shooting, saying only that the man killed was "assaultive." 

The identity of the man killed was not known, and the investigation is ongoing, Karisch said. 

The agent sustained "non-life threatening injuries during the assault" Karisch said, adding that he was taken to a hospital for treatment. 

Three other men, identified as only as adults from Guatemala, were taken in custody for immigration violations. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official did not know if the men were still in Border Patrol's custody Thursday morning. 

The lead investigative agency is the Tohono O'odham Nation Police Department, supported by the FBI and CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility. 

According to agency statistics, there have been 66 use-of-force incidents in the Tucson Sector, and three incidents involving a firearm. 

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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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Rodolfo Karisch, the Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, during a press conference on Thursday morning.