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Arizona border agent shooting investigation continues

7:07 AM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
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One of two Border Patrol agents who survived Tuesday's shooting east of Naco, Ariz., is cooperating with authorities and has been interviewed by the FBI, his attorney confirmed Thursday.

Agent Nicholas Ivie, 30, died in the shooting, and another agent was wounded and treated at a Tucson hospital. Attorney Sean Chapman of Tucson, who is representing that agent, said the agent gave an interview to the FBI, which is investigating the shooting along with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

A third agent, a woman who was uninjured in the incident, also was assigned a lawyer by the Border Patrol's union, said Chapman, who added that it's standard practice for agents to retain lawyers in such incidents.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a statement Thursday saying Mexican authorities arrested two suspects in the shooting. At the same time, NBC News reported that federal investigators had not ruled out that "friendly fire" was involved in the incident.

Asked about whether friendly fire was involved, Acting Cochise County Sheriff Rodney Rothrock replied, "I can't exclude that possibility, but I think it's too early in the investigation and I do not feel comfortable addressing that as a possibility at this point."

Brenda Nath, a spokeswoman for the FBI, said the agency declined to comment "due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of this investigation."

Speculation about friendly fire may be premature. In any investigation, "you keep all possibilities open because you don't want to get focused on one particular thing and not explore everything," noted Beth Kempshall, director of the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a group that coordinates drug investigations across 74 law-enforcement agencies in the state.

Regarding the agents' hiring attorneys, Chapman said, "It's a matter of routine in a case like this for the union to hire an attorney for all agents involved, any time there's a shooting, so there's nothing unusual. It happens in every single case in which there's a Border Patrol shooting.

"The agents involved in this case were all pursuing violent drug smugglers in a remote area of the desert between Douglas and Naco ... a remote and dangerous area known as smugglers alley. This area is frequently an area where violent crimes occur and drug smugglers are armed and dangerous," Chapman added. "Making everything even more dangerous was the fact that this pursuit occurred at night so the visibility was substantially reduced."

Ivie was killed about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, as he and the two other Border Patrol agents were responding to a motion sensor that had been tripped about 6 miles east of Bisbee, a few miles north of the border.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2012/10/04/20121004arizona-border-agent-shooting-investigation-continues.html#ixzz28QRkGYMG

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