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BP agent indicted for 2012 cross-border shooting death
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BP agent indicted for 2012 cross-border shooting death

  • A women in Nogales, Arizona, holds an image of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez through the border fence as part of march marking the first anniversary of the death of the 16-year old boy.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comA women in Nogales, Arizona, holds an image of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez through the border fence as part of march marking the first anniversary of the death of the 16-year old boy.

Nearly three years after a 2012 shooting in Nogales, the U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired through the border fence and killed 16-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.

Agent Lonnie Swartz will be charged with second-degree murder after the grand jury found probable cause to indict him.

A single page of the indictment, stamped "Redacted for public disclosure," was released by the court Thursday.

Lawyers for the family announced the indictment during a press conference in Nogales, Son., saying that they received a call from U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst, reported the Nogales International.

The family are "grateful ... for this first step in the pursuit of justice, and remain steadfast in their resolve to seek full transparency from the U.S. Border Patrol on behalf of Jose Antonio," said attorney Luis Parra.

Border Patrol officials have contended that Swartz and another agent were responding to a rock-throwing incident that broke out after the agents and a Nogales police officer attempted to stop a group of drug smugglers near the fence dividing the U.S. and Mexican halves of Nogales.

At some point, Swartz fired through the border fence and hit Elena Rodriguez approximately 10 times, most of the bullets striking him in the back. The boy died on the sidewalk of Calle Internacional, just four blocks from his home. 

The incident is one of a handful of fatal border shootings that remain under review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In June, a draft report by the agency noted significant problems in how the agency polices itself in the wake of deadly use-of-force incidents. Earlier this year, the agency said that after reviewing 67 shooting incidents that killed 19 people, agents were absolved in all but a handful of cases. 

The Justice Department is reviewing at least two other cases. 

In August, the Nogales International reported that a team of investigators with the U.S. Attorney's Office and Homeland Security worked to reconstruct the scene of the shooting. 

Swartz is already facing a civil suit by the Elena Rodriguez family. 

In July, a federal judge ruled that while Elena Rodriguez was in Mexico at the time, Swartz could be sued for violating the boy's Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. 

The lawsuit is ongoing and could last until December. 

Meanwhile, Swartz is scheduled to face arraignment on Oct. 9. His attorney, Sean Chapman told the Arizona Daily Star that his client will plead not guilty. 

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