NOGALES, AZ - A shootout between border patrol agents and bandits in the rugged canyons near Mexico's border left one officer dead and a suspect injured, a union official said Wednesday, the latest outburst of violence along the busiest smuggling corridor into the U.S.
Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was shot and killed north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants, the leader of a union representing agents said Wednesday.
"Our prayers are with his family, as well as all Border Patrol Agents and their families. Law enforcement agencies continue to investigate and attempt to bring to justice those who are responsible for this heinous crime," Gov. Jan Brewer said.
Terry was waiting with three other agents in a remote area north of Nogales late Tuesday night when a gun battle with the bandits began, said National Border Patrol Council President T.J. Bonner. No other agents were injured, but one of the suspects was wounded.
The FBI is investigating the shooting. Border Patrol spokesman Eric Cantu and FBI spokeswoman Brenda Lee Nath declined to confirm Bonner's account, but said that authorities have four suspects in custody and are searching for a fifth.
Terry had served in the military and was a Border Patrol agent for about three years. He died early Wednesday.
Bandits have long roamed border areas, robbing and sexually assaulting illegal immigrants as they cross into the country.
Bonner, whose group represents 17,000 agents, said the fatal shooting shows that the border is still dangerous.
"This is a sign that the politicians and bureaucrats are overly optimistic in their assessment that the borders are more secure now than at any point in our history. It showed just the opposite," Bonner said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the shooting "an unconscionable act of violence against the men and women of the Border Patrol..."
Terry was a native of Detroit, Michigan and is survived by his parents, a brother and two sisters.
Authorities urge anyone who sees anything suspicious in the area to report it immediately to 1-877-872-7435.
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