Arizona man wounded in shootout with border agents

Posted at 12:50 PM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 15:51:42-04

A 76-year-old man was recovering Thursday from a gunshot wound to the arm after a shootout with Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint in Arizona, authorities said.

Gary Smith of Tombstone fired his gun at agents after crashing through traffic barriers Wednesday at the checkpoint on State Route 80 near Tombstone that was temporarily closed because of bad weather, Tucson Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez said.

He said it appears two agents fired back at Smith, striking him in the upper left arm. Agents administered first aid before Smith was transported via helicopter to a hospital.

Earlier that day, Smith's daughter called 911 to report that her father, who has medical issues, had driven off with guns and alcohol, according to the Cochise County Sheriff's Department.

Chavez said investigators found two guns at the scene.

The two agents have been placed on standard administrative leave while the FBI, Tombstone Marshal's Office and Cochise County Sheriff's Department investigate.

The Customs and Border Protection's Office of Professional Responsibility is also involved.

Chavez said it was an example of the complex and dynamic situations law enforcement agents face on the job.

"Our agents performed admirably," he said.

It was the second shootout at a U.S. immigration checkpoint in the past two months.

On April 9, an unidentified man was injured in a shootout with agents on Interstate 25 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Authorities later said the man's fatal gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

Customs and Border Protection said the shooting occurred as agents questioned the driver after he was referred to a second inspection.

The FBI, which investigated the shooting, said in a news release that agents heard a gunshot and fired their weapons.


No agents were injured in either one of the incidents. The man died nearly a month after the shooting.