NOGALES, Ariz. — A US Border Patrol agent was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants, the leader of a union representing agents said yesterday.
Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, 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 T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council. No other agents were injured, but one of the suspects was wounded in the shootout.
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 was part of an elite squad similar to a police SWAT team that was sent to a remote area north of Nogales known for border banditry, drug smuggling, and violence, said Border Patrol Agent Brandon Judd, president of the local agents’ union.
Bandits have long roamed border areas, robbing and sexually assaulting illegal immigrants as they cross into the country.
Terry and the other agents came across a group of five people. There was no sign that they were hauling drugs, but two were carrying rifles, said Judd, who didn’t know what prompted the firefight.
“It is a stark reminder of the very real dangers our men and women on the front lines confront every day as they protect our communities and the American people,’’ said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.