DOUGLAS, Arizona – Federal and local authorities are investigating the death of an illegal alien from Mexico after he was fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent a few miles north of the Mexican border late Saturday.
On February 19 at approximately 9:00 p.m. MST, two Border Patrol agents assigned to the Douglas Border Patrol Station Horse Patrol Unit responded to reports of possible illegal aliens in a remote mountainous area approximately 30 miles northeast of Douglas on East Geronimo Trail.
Geronimo Trail is mostly a dirt road that connects the city of Douglas to ranches along the U.S.-Mexico border. It starts near the airport and runs east for about 15 miles along the border toward the Slaughter Ranch and then heads northeast into the rugged Peloncillo Mountains, and toward New Mexico.
According to a statement by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the agents dismounted their horses due to the terrain, and after apprehending three illegal aliens, they spotted an additional subject who attempted to escape by running downhill into the canyon
One of the agents followed, and while taking the man into custody, he discharged his firearm, fatally wounding the illegal alien. A Border Patrol medic treated the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
While searching the surrounding area, Border Patrol agents apprehended two additional illegal aliens who were part of the same group. All were transported to Douglas Border Patrol Station.
The incident is under investigation by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and under review by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Professional Responsibility. At the conclusion of a thorough review, the incident will be reviewed by CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board.
Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said that deputies and CCSO detectives delayed recovering the man’s body until Sunday morning to “allow for the safety of detectives” and other law enforcement personnel, according to the Tucson Sentinel. A helicopter from the Arizona Department of Public Safety was brought in to help officials access the rugged terrain and “process the scene,” and the man’s body was airlifted from the location and transported to the medical examiner’s office in Pima County.
Sunday evening Capas said CCSO deputies had “just cleared the scene,” and the investigation is ongoing.
The Mexican Consulate issued a statement on Monday saying, “The government of Mexico rejects any act of unjustified violence against migrants.”
The Mexican Consulate will be working in close cooperation with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office during the investigation to positively identify the male subject and notify his next of kin. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
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