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Border Patrol agents shoot, kill 1 person on Tohono O'odham Nation

Border Patrol agents shoot, kill 1 person on Tohono O'odham Nation

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

U.S. Border Patrol agents shot and killed a person during an incident on the Tohono O'odham Nation on Thursday night, authorities said.

Around 10 p.m., agents from the Ajo Border Patrol station were assisting members of the Tohono O’odham Police Department when they were involved in a "shooting incident" that resulted in the death of one person, said Rob Daniels, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection — BP's parent agency.

The agency did not release additional details about the shooting west of Tucson, but it is under investigation by the FBI and Tohono O'odham police. CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility will also review the shooting, Daniels said.

Tucson Sentinel will publish updates when officials make more information available to the public.

This is the third shooting involving a Border Patrol agent in the Tucson Sector since October 2022.

In March, a Border Patrol agent assigned to the Tucson station shot and killed a man following a vehicle pursuit near Highway 286 — which runs from Sasabe, Ariz., to Highway 86 at Three Points.

In a notable first, CBP released body-cam footage of the incident, which showed the viewpoint from the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed Noe Meijia after breaking the driver's-side window and a rear window with his collapsible baton.

The agent reached into the vehicle as Mejia attempted to reverse the car. The agent held on, and Mejia attempted to turn the wheel when the agent fired his weapon once, killing him.

The agency did not release Mejia's name, nor the agent's name, however, family members immediately criticized the release of the footage.

A similar incident happened on Feb. 26, when a Tucson Sector BP agent shot and wounded a person on Interstate 19 south of Amado. The agent shot an unnamed person while "investigating a human smuggling event," said John Mennell, a CBP spokesman. 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 676 times. This includes 207 incidents involving "less-lethal" weapons, which includes Tasers and batons. In 13 incidents, agents have used firearms.

In Arizona's Tucson and Yuma sectors, agents used firearms three times before Thursday's incident, and force in another 194 incidents.

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

Last year, then-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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