Tribal police are investigating a crash that killed a veteran U.S. Border Patrol agent while patrolling on his motorcycle in southern Arizona.
Tucson Sector Chief Paul Beeson said Friday that Manuel Alvarez, 37, and another agent were in a remote area south of Sells, Arizona. That area is mostly Tohono O'odham tribal land.
The cause of the crash on Thursday is still unknown and being investigated by tribal police, Beeson said. Another agent who was on his own motorcycle and who was involved in the collision suffered minor injuries, he said.
"I think this is a loss that is gonna be felt by all of us for a very long time. He was a member of our team, a member of our family, out there doing the work that Border Patrol agents love to do," Beeson said.
Beeson said he didn't know whether the agents were attempting to arrest anyone, but he said that area is known for heavy smuggling activity. He said he couldn't pinpoint the exact location but that it was in an extremely remote area with dirt roads.
Alvarez is survived by his wife and four children. He was assigned to the Tucson Sector's Casa Grande station.
Alvarez was a dedicated agent with 13 years on the job, Beeson said. "Not everybody signs up to ride the motorcycles. That's a tough, dirty job, but he was doing it," Beeson said.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday ordered flags lowered to half-staff in Alvarez's honor and on the day of the officer's funeral, which is pending.
The agent's death serves as a "tragic reminder of the daily risks" that law enforcement officers face, Ducey said.
Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said he's authorizing all of the agency's uniformed personnel to wear mourning bands until after Alvarez's memorial services.
Alvarez's death was the 12th line of duty death for the Tucson Sector and the second within the last three years.