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|Death of agent spurs debate about border security issues|
|Written by Hope Miller|
|Thursday, 04 October 2012 21:53|
Tombstone residents and the nation were reminded of border agents’ potentially life-threatening jobs this week and the issues surrounding border security.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot and killed Tuesday when checking a triggered ground sensor near Bisbee, officials said.
Nicholas Ivie, 30, was with two other agents when unidentified gunmen began shooting at them, killing Ivie and injuring another agent. The third agent was not shot and the injured agent was airlifted to a Tucson hospital where he was treated and is in stable condition, according to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.The shooting took place about five miles north of the border and less than 10 miles east of Bisbee, which is an area known for its drug-smuggling activity.
The FBI and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the shooting together, according to a statement from the FBI’s Phoenix division. Agents and deputies searched the scene, but there were no solidified suspects as of press time.
“It’s just sad anytime you lose someone in law enforcement,” said Marshal Billy Cloud. “It has a ripple effect across the nation and throughout the law enforcement community.”
Ivie was stationed at the Brian Terry Station in the Tucson Sector, which was recently renamed in honor of Terry — the last border agent to be fatally shot on duty in 2010.
“My first thought when I heard about the shooting was, ‘Oh, not again,” said Rep. Ron Barber. “We have lost now, in less than two years, two very brave, young men who were serving in the Border Patrol. My heart goes out to the families of the two agents and the men and women in the Border Patrol.”
Cloud expressed his condolences as well, saying that “another honorable man lost his life along the border” and that Tombstone residents’ prayers go out to the families and people affected by the shooting.
He added that an event like this speaks volumes about some of the criminals that illegally cross into the U.S.
“If they’re willing to open fire on armed agents, who knows what they would try with unarmed citizens,” Cloud said.
The tragedy “is a sign of failed policies” regarding border security, Cloud said, but didn’t want to pin the blame on a particular person.
Carmen Mercer, owner of O.K. Cafe, echoed Cloud’s view on failed policies. She said that while she was sorry to hear that another agent had passed, “we have to get more fences, we have to get more agents and put pressure on our lawmakers” to be able to prevent similar incidents in the future.
“Of course I know borders are not secure,” said Mercer, who is also president of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, a volunteer group that aims to prevent illegal crossings into the U.S.
“We are responsible for securing our borders,” she said, noting that it’s not an easy job and often dangerous because of the drug cartels.
Politics aside, Mercer, Cloud and Barber voiced their condolences to the people impacted by the shooting and noted the risky nature of border agents’ jobs.
“It’s a dangerous job, and we have to make sure we support Border Patrol and its mission,” Barber said. “And right now we need to be reaching out to everyone who I’m sure is feeling deep grief and loss over what happened.”