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BP agent arrested after 4-hour standoff near Sierra Vista, charged with sexually assaulting a minor

Sierra Vista police officers arrested a U.S. Border Patrol agent following a four-hour standoff at a church near Whetstone and charged him with two counts each of sexual conduct with a minor and sexual assault, authorities said. 

Dana Ray Thornhill, 49, was under investigation by Sierra Vista police and agents from Homeland Security Investigations for what officials called "ongoing sexual abuse of multiple children."

While under surveillance, Thornhill fled Sierra Vista and went to the Lighthouse in the Desert Fellowship. Armed with a .40-caliber pistol—possibly the standard H&K P2000 pistol that Border Patrol agents carry on duty—Thornhill physically barricaded himself in a part of the church, authorities said.

Sierra Vista police's tactical unit took over the incident because of the "nature of the crimes, the fact the suspect had a law enforcement background, and that he was armed with a firearm," a spokesman said. Members of the unit saw Thornhill moving around inside the church and later learned that he had physically barricaded a portion of the church.

Eventually, they convinced Thornhill to exit the building. After he left the church, the department's crisis negotiation team convinced the agent to surrender his weapon, and he was arrested in front of the church around 8 p.m, said a spokesman with SVPD. 

Thornhill was booked into the Cochise County Jail on Thursday evening on two counts each of sexual conduct with a minor and sexual assault, and he is being held without bond. 

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told the Arizona Republic that Thornhill was arraigned on Friday morning and is being held in jail without bond. 

Police asked anyone with information concerning the case should contact SVPD. 

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Tucson Sector Border Patrol said that the agency "does not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty."

"CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is cooperating with the investigation into the alleged unlawful conduct and further inquiries should be directed to the Sierra Vista Police Department," the agency said. 

While the agency said that it would "strive to be as transparent as possible," the agency did not release details about the agency's tenure at the agency, including how long he's been with the agency and where he was stationed. 

A blog post from another church in the area identifies a man named Thornhill as a Chaplin at the agency, and said he was assigned in 2009 to the Border Patrol station in Naco.

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Cochise County Sheriff's Office

Dana Thornhill