NACO, AZ - Federal investigators have confirmed preliminary reports "strongly" indicate Border Agent Nicholas Ivie was killed by friendly fire in a Tuesday shooting near the Arizona-Mexico border.
FBI Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal, Jr. said the investigation is actively continuing, but it appears likely that Ivie's death and the injury to a second agent were the result of an accidental shooting involving only the responding agents.
George McCubbin, president of National Border Patrol Council, says the FBI is using witness testimony, where the agents where shot, and balastic testing to reach this preliminary conclusion.
Ivie was fatally shot early Tuesday in a rugged area near Bisbee, about five miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border. The shootout left a second agent injured, while a third agent escaped unharmed.
Ivie and the two other agents were responding to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors that the government installed along the border.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Arizona on Friday and was joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar and CBP Commander of Arizona Joint Field Command Jeffrey Self to express their condolences to Ivie's family.
"I am deeply saddened by the death our fallen colleague; this tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women confront, the dangers they willingly undertake, while protecting our nation's borders," said Napolitano. "Together, we stand in solidarity with their families and friends, and pray for the continued safety of all who serve our country."
Turgal said the FBI is utilizing all necessary investigative and forensic resources in the course of the investigation, and extended sympathies to Ivie's family.
Read his full statement below.
While it is important to emphasize that the FBI's investigation is actively continuing, there are strong preliminary indications that the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting incident involving only the agents. The FBI is utilizing all necessary investigative, forensic, and analytical resources in the course of this investigation. We thank the United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Border Patrol, and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, for the challenging work they do every day and for their ongoing cooperation in this difficult matter. At the appropriate time further information will be provided, but while the investigation continues it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.
The FBI extends our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Nicholas Ivie and to our partners in the United States Border Patrol.