Authorities say they have arrested four suspects and are searching for another after Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was shot and killed late Tuesday in the Peck Canyon area.
Ranchers along Ruby Road say they were advised by Border Patrol that the suspect may be headed in their direction as he tries to make his way toward the U.S.-Mexico border. The Nogales International witnessed a steady stream of Border Parol and Arizona Department of Public Safety vehicles patrolling the area between Interstate 19 and Pena Blanca Lake.
Sheriff Antonio Estrada said his office received a call for assistance shortly after 11 p.m. last night.
"Border Patrol called our dispatch, reporting shots fired and requesting emergency medical services to meet with them at Peck Canyon and Circulo Sombrero," Estrada said.
The shooting happened near Forest Service Road 4197, he said. A statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Terry was shot and killed after encountering a group of suspects in the area.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Terry family for their tragic loss," CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin said in the statement. "Our commitment to Agent Terry and his family is that we will do everything possible to bring to justice those responsible for this despicable act."
Estrada said Terry had been working with BORSTAR, the Border Patrol's search, trauma and rescue team.
Since 1919, 111 Border Patrol agents have died on duty, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page Inc., which tracks law-enforcement deaths.
In July of last year, Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas, 30, was shot and killed in southeast San Diego County, Calif. He was the last agent to be shot and killed in the line of duty, though two other agents have been killed in automobile accidents while on duty in two separate incidents in 2010. One of the agents was 32-year-old Michael Gallagher, who was killed in September of this year when a drunken driver struck his car near Casa Grande. The other was agent Mark Van Doren, 40, who was killed in Texas in May.
The Nogales Border Patrol Station in the Tucson sector is the largest Border Patrol station in the country, according to the agency's website.
Agents are responsible for patrolling 1,100 square miles of terrain as well as 32 miles of the international border.