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Updated Dec 5, 2012, 2:08 pm Originally posted Dec 4, 2012, 6:26 pm
A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a suspected illegal immigrant northwest of the Sasabe port of entry early Sunday afternoon, authorities said. The shooting happened after a physical altercation, BP officials said Tuesday.
The suspect who was killed has not been identified.
Authorities were tight-lipped about the shooting, and would release few details. Officials only put out a three-sentence statement Tuesday after reporters responded to tips and made inquiries.
According to Customs and Border Protection, a BP agent patrolling about 12 miles northwest of the border crossing encountered an unknown number of suspected illegal immigrants in the Baboquivari Mountains on the Tohono O’odham Nation. The group "had crossed the border illegally," CBP spokesman Brent Cagen said in an email.
Border officials said there was a physical altercation.
The agent fired his gun and one of the suspects was killed, Cagen said.
The shooting took place about 12:25 p.m., he said.
Six others were arrested, Cagen said.
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The nationality of the suspect who was killed was not released, nor were those arrested identified.
An official with the union that represents border agents said he didn't know if those arrested were part of the altercation.
"I don't know if they were involved in the assault, (or) if they were just part of the group being apprehended," said Shawn Moran, a vice-president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Moran said Wednesday he didn't have details on the shooting "other than the broad overview that's been released."
"I don't know how much more I can say beyond what the agency's already put out," he said.
FBI spokesman Manual Johnson confirmed Tuesday that the FBI is investigating the shooting, along with the Tohono O'odham Police Department.
Other details on Sunday's shooting were not released Tuesday, including details of the alleged altercation, whether the suspects were smuggling drugs, and why officials did not immediately release any information on the shooting. CBP staff only released a three-sentence prepared statement in response to media questions after word of the incident leaked on Tuesday.
Officials said they were cooperating with FBI and tribal investigators.
Sasabe is an unincorporated community in the Altar Valley, about 60 miles south of Tucson. It lies west of Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The incident is the third fatal shooting by a Tucson Sector Border Patrol agent this fall.
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On Oct. 2, Agent Nicholas Ivie was killed by friendly fire in an incident between Bisbee and Douglas.
On Oct. 10, an agent in Nogales fired across the border and killed a 16-year-old boy. José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was shot multiple times after a group on the Mexican side threw rocks up and over the border as agents investigated a drug smuggling incident, U.S. officials said.
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.