Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie
Report: Border agents in radio contact before friendly-fire death
The Border Patrol agents involved in the October friendly-fire incident that killed Agent Nicholas Ivie were in radio contact with the slain agent just before his death, according to a report released Friday.
The report, released by the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, details an investigative interview with one of the two other BP agents involved, and other information from the probe into the Oct. 2 shooting death of the 30-year-old Ivie.
Ivie was killed around 1:30 a.m. after he and two other BP agents responded to a sensor near mile marker 352 on S.R. 80, about seven miles east of Benson. A male agent as shot in the buttocks and leg, while a female agent was not hit by gunfire in the incident.
The FBI has said Ivie's death was the result of friendly fire, but declined to release detailed information, citing an ongoing investigation.
Ivie was apparently shot by his fellow agents after he opened fire on them, after approaching from a different direction in the hilly terrain about five miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Copies of the Cochise County report were made available for pickup in Bisbee on Friday; CCSO spokeswoman Carol Capas declined to email a copy to TucsonSentinel.com.
Capas called the report "preliminary" and said most of the information in it had already been made public.
Reporters who received copies said the 39-page report was heavily redacted, including the names of the surviving agents and mentions of ballistics evidence.
The report, a compilation of several investigative reports, included an account of an Oct. 2 interview with the female agent.
From KVOA's Lorraine Rivera:
The report says Agent Nicholas Ivie and two other agents, a male and female, responded to an activated sensor, however each drove to area in their own vehicles.
A deputy sat in the on female agent's interview with investigators. She told them she had been with the agency since November 2010 and had never worked in the area where the shooting occurred. The agent told investigators she never saw Ivie but had radio communication with him.
From the Sierra Vista Herald's Jonathon Shacat:
...the female agent said she arrived in the area with a male agent. They arrived in their own vehicles, parked and proceeded on foot from the south. Ivie was also responding to the sensor but was coming from the north.
The two agents were in radio contact with Ivie. At one point, the female agent observed Ivie signaling them with his flashlight, but she did not specify how close he was to them, or how long it was prior to the shooting that he did so.
From the report, according to Shacat:
Agent [name redacted] stated as they were walking up the trail she heard yelling and then observed muzzle flashes in front of her and heard gun fire which she described as rapid but not automatic gun fire. She drew her weapon and took cover. Agent [redacted] did not recall if she fired her weapon. She did say she conducted a magazine exchange.
Agent [redacted] stated the muzzle flash was from a long gun. She also described seeing the reflection of a handgun. She thought she observed three to four people moving in the area but she could not describe them. She also mentioned hearing whispering. She could not say if it was in English or Spanish. Likewise she did not know if the previous yelling was in English or Spanish. Agent [redacted] did not know what time the shooting occurred.
Agent [redacted] stated she never saw [Ivie]. She did not see him before the shooting or afterward. The only way she knew he was in the area was through their radio communication.
While authorities initially believed drug smugglers or illegal aliens were involved in the incident, no suspects were ever located.
The report says there was a trail of blood. It also mentions the autopsy but much of it is redacted leaving out any details. However, one deputy noted Ivie had blood coming out of his ears, nose and mouth. He wrote there were no other injuries. Another deputy wrote "approximately six spent rifle casings (believed to be of the spent casings were clustered approximately five feet to the east of the under belt." There were other casings but it's unclear in the report where they were located.
According to one deputy, Ivie's magazine was seated and the slide was forward, indicating his weapon was loaded and ready to fire.