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Family of slain BP agent: 'He was a hero'

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Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie

Family of slain BP agent: 'He was a hero'

Brothers: No time for anger, preoccupied with grief

  • Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie.
    Border PatrolBorder Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie.
  • Ivie on horseback.
    Ivie on horseback.
  • Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie, left, with his mother and brother, Joel, also in Border Patrol.
    Ivie family photoBorder Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie, left, with his mother and brother, Joel, also in Border Patrol.
  • Ivie with his horse.
    Ivie family photoIvie with his horse.

The family of slain Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie told reporters, "He was a hero" as they held a Thursday-morning press conference. Ivie was shot to death Tuesday morning near Bisbee.

Mexican officials have said that two men have been detained who may be connected with the shooting. FBI officials have not confirmed those arrests, but said Thursday they are "aware of the reporting."

Speaking for over two dozen members of the Ivie family gathered at Cochise College in Sierra Vista, Ivie's older brothers Chris and Rick described Ivie as a "friend to everybody" and a "favorite uncle."

The 30-year-old Ivie "always wanted to be in law enforcement," said Chris Ivie.

"He was a hero," Chris said, describing an incident in which Ivie found a pregnant woman while patrolling the desert.

The woman had lost her shoes "and her feet were cut up and they were just wrapped in rags," he said.

"He carried that woman a mile and a half through the desert ... to get the proper care," Chris said.

"There was not a bad bone in his body," Rick Ivie said of his brother.

"His real love was the outdoors. He loved horses, he grew up with them, and that kind of transferred over to his work," Chris said.

Ivie was a member of the Border Patrol's horse unit, serving with his brother Joel.

"Sometimes when you take something that you love to do and you do it as a job it can take the fun out of. I asked him one time, 'Is riding becoming a chore?' He just smiled and said 'Riding never gets old.' So he loved what he did," Chris said.

Ivie was killed early Tuesday morning while patrolling east of Bisbee. He and two other agents were shot at while checking a remote sensor that had triggered, alerting Border Patrol of movement.

Ivie was shot and died at the scene. Another of the agents was shot, suffering non-life-threatening injuries. He was treated at University of Arizona Medical Center. The third agent was not hit by gunfire in the incident.

Authorities have released few details on the shooting, including whether the agents returned fire or whether any weapons were found at the scene.

Family members said they were aware of the risks faced by Border Patrol agents. Another brother, Joel Ivie, is also a border agent. While present at the press conference, he did not speak.

"For everybody in law enforcement, that thought (of danger) is in the back of your head," Chris Ivie said.

There are always "inherent dangers," Rick said. "Joel loves what he does, Nick did what he loved. There's always that concern but we try not to dwell or focus on that."

Family members haven't thought about those responsible for Nick Ivie's death, they said.

"Right now our concerns honestly are for Christy and her children, the other agents involved, and their families," Rick said.

"We've been so preoccupied with the grief of the loss, we really haven't had time to be angry or anything. It is what it is—(anger) won't bring Nick back," said Chris.

Ivie, a native of Provo, Utah who was active in the Mormon Church and joined the Border Patrol in 2008, is survived by his wife and two young daughters, one and four years old.

The children "know something is going on, but don't quite know what," Chris Ivie said.

Memorial fund

A memorial fund to help the Ivie family pay funeral expenses has been set up, said family spokesman Kevin Goates, president of the Sierra Vista LDS stake.

Contributions to the Nicholas Ivie Memorial Fund can be made at National Bank of Arizona or Zion National Bank in Utah, he said.

"The family did not request that this account be established," Goates said. "It was set up by friends of the family."

The shooting

Ivie was killed and another agent wounded in a shooting Tuesday morning near Naco, the Border Patrol said.

Nicholas was killed around 1:50 a.m. after he and two other agents responded to a sensor hit near mile marker 352 on State Route 80, the Border Patrol confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

At a Tuesday news conference, FBI Special Agent in Charge James Turgal refused to release specifics on the case; he declined to comment on reports that two suspects in the shooting had been detained in Mexico.

"I'm not going to talk about any issues regarding suspects at this time," Turgal told reporters.

Thursday, FBI Special Agent Brenda Nath wouldn't confirm the Mexican arrests.

"The FBI is aware of the reporting, however we are unable to confirm the information due to the on-going nature of the investigation," said the agency spokeswoman.

The wounded BP agent, who has not yet been identified, was airlifted to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He underwent surgery and was in stable condition Tuesday morning. The agent was expected to be released from University of Arizona Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon, said George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing border agents.

The third agent, a woman, was not shot in the incident.

The shooting is under investigation by the FBI and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, said FBI spokeswoman Jennifer Giannola.

The agents who were shot worked out of the Naco BP station, which was recently renamed in honor of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent who was killed in a 2010 shootout with bandits just north of Nogales. Weapons found at the scene of Terry's death were linked to the controversial Fast and Furious gun-smuggling probe.

Officials and the Ivie family have refused to comment on the slain agent being stationed at a post named for another border agent killed in the line of duty.

The FBI's Turgal repeatedly deflected reporters' questions Tuesday by admonishing them, "You need to stay on message here."

"This is about the sad loss of life of a Border Patrol agent last night," he said.

Thursday, Ivie's brothers said they hadn't spoken with Nick about being posted to the Terry station.

Statement by the Ivie family

A statement released Thursday by a spokesman for the Ivie family, Kevin Goates:

The Ivie family would like to sincerely thank all of those who have expressed their support and condolences as they dealt with the loss of Nick, a loving husband, brother, uncle and son. Nick served his God, family and country and fellowmen with dedication and love and will be dearly missed by all. At the age of nineteen Nick served a two-year mission to Mexico City for The Church of Latter-day Saints. There he learned Spanish and developed a great love for the Mexican people.

Nick also loved his country and served proudly and diligently as a Border Patrol agent. The rest kindness, support and many acts of respect from the entire Border Patrol community are very much appreciated. All law enforcement agencies are to be praised for their tireless efforts and hard work in carrying out the ongoing investigation.

The family requests that others join them in their thoughts and preyers for the well-being of the other two agents who were involved in the tragedy that ended Nick's life. May they and their families experience healing, comfort and peace during this difficult time.

Nick’s greatest life service was to his family, and as such, it will be in his family that he will be most missed. As the family faces the days ahead, they have requested their privacy be respected to allow them time to grieve and reflect on a life so well lived.

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