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Migrant killed by Border Patrol agent died from 'multiple gunshot wounds'

A Mexican man killed by a Border Patrol agent in a remote part of Cochise County during an incident Saturday night was shot multiple times, said the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office.

The man, whose name has not been released, died as a result of "multiple gunshot wounds," said PCOME, which completed an autopsy but has not yet released a full report from that examination. Additional details about the incident have not been released by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the death along with federal officials.

The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night when at least one Border Patrol agent attempted to intercept a group of migrants about one mile north of milepost 30 on East Geronimo Trail, about 30 miles northeast of Douglas in the rugged Peloncillo Mountains, said officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection — Border Patrol's parent agency.

At some point, the man was shot and an emergency medical technician with Border Patrol attended to his wounds, but he ultimately "succumbed to his injuries," said Carol Capas, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

By 10 p.m., CCSO was alerted to the incident involving a BP agent, Capas said.

The remoteness of the scene may have contributed to some confusion about the incident's details, including the shooting's location.

Capas said Border Patrol officials initially reported that a man was seriously injured in the rugged mountains near Skeleton Canyon, and that several other people, suspected of being in the U.S. without authorization, had been detained by agents. Noting that the "investigation is in the preliminary stage," CCSO initially stated that "early indications are that one male subject, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, was fatally wounded by a Border Patrol agent," but later edited that post on social media, removing that part of their account.

Largely a dirt trail that connects Douglas to ranches along the U.S.-Mexico border, Geronimo Trail begins near the Douglas airport and then runs east for about 15 miles along the border toward the Slaughter Ranch. There it heads northeast into the increasingly rugged Peloncillo Mountains, and toward the Arizona-New Mexico border.

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Capas said that deputies and detectives with CCSO responded to the incident, but they delayed recovering the man's body until Sunday morning to "allow for the safety of detectives" and other law enforcement personnel. Along with CCSO, a helicopter from the Arizona Department of Public Safety was brought in to help officials access the rugged terrain, and "process the scene."

The man's body was airlifted from that location and later transported to the Pima County Medical Examiner as part of the investigation, she said. PCOME conducts autopsies in Cochise County cases under a contract.

Capas said Sunday evening that CCSO deputies had "just cleared the scene," and the investigation is ongoing. Officials contacted the Mexican Consulate about the incident, and were working to identify the man who was killed, and notify his next of kin, she said.

Mexican government representatives didn't immediately respond to the Sentinel's questions about whether the man's identity has been determined.

Along with CCSO, the incident will be reviewed by the Office of the Inspector General with the Department of Homeland Security and CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border along the Geronimo Trail east of Douglas, Ariz.

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