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BP agents shoot, kill 1 southwest of Tucson

BP agents shoot, kill 1 southwest of Tucson

  • A Border Patrol vehicle driving along the border near Naco, Ariz., in March 2020.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comA Border Patrol vehicle driving along the border near Naco, Ariz., in March 2020.

Border Patrol agents shot and killed a person Tuesday evening following a pursuit on Highway 286 southwest of Tucson, authorities said.

Around 6:45 p.m., Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson station pursued a vehicle, suspected of human smuggling, on Highway 286—which runs from Sasabe, Ariz. to Highway 86 at Three Points. At some point, the agents "used deadly force" against one person near milepost 20, according to a statement from John Mennell, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

At 6:47 p.m., deputies with the Pima County Sheriff's Department received a request for help from Border Patrol, said Deputy Marissa Hernandez. After arriving at the scene, deputies learned the vehicle was "occupied by several individuals and one person was deceased," she said.

Detectives from the Sheriff Department's Criminal Investigations Division were asked to "conduct interviews and process the scene," she said. "The investigation remains ongoing. Additional information will be released as it becomes available," Hernandez said.

CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility will review the shooting along with PCSD, said Mennell. The incident will also be reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI.

A similar incident happened on Feb. 26, when a Tucson Sector BP agent shot and wounded a person on Interstate 19 south of Amado.

Around 9:50 p.m., an agent shot a person while "investigating a human smuggling event," said Mennell. The person was injured and transported to a hospital and four other people were taken into custody. Along with CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility and the FBI, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office also responded.

Since the beginning of the 2023 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2022, Border Patrol agents across the southwest border have used force 409 times. This includes 114 incidents involving "less-lethal" weapons, which includes Tasers and batons. In six incidents, agents have used firearms.

In Arizona's Tucson and Yuma sectors, agents have used firearms twice before Wednesday's incident, and force in another 143 incidents.

One incident happened in October just south of the border fence near San Luis on U.S. soil about 300 miles from Mexico.

Last year, former CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus announced he would eliminate the agency's Critical Incident Teams, shifting the immediate investigation of fatal and serious incidents from the increasingly-controversial teams to OPR.

Magnus, the former chief of the Tucson Police Department, was installed by the Biden administration to help reform the agency. However, last November he resigned after he was told to quit or be fired in an attempt to mollify right-wing critics of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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