Wounded Border Patrol agent released from hospital

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NACO, Ariz. (AP) — Investigators were scouring a rugged area near the U.S.-Mexico line for evidence in the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent.

Nicholas Ivie and a colleague were on patrol in the desert near Naco, about 100 miles from Tucson, when gunfire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Border Patrol.

Agent Ivie, 30, was killed. The other agent, whose name hasn’t been released, was released from the hospital Wednesday after being shot in the ankle and buttocks.

It was the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.

No arrests have been made. Authorities suspect that more than one person fired at the agents.

No weapons have been found, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official requested anonymity because information on the search hasn’t been publicly released.

Agents and deputies were searching the area on ATVs, horseback and foot with up to four helicopters overhead in the southern foothills of the Mule Mountains, which are a known smuggling area.

“It’s been a long day for us, but it’s been longer for no one more than a wife whose husband is not coming home. It’s been longer for two children whose father is not coming home, and that is what is going to strengthen our resolve” to find those responsible and enforce the law, said Jeffrey Self, commander of Customs and Border Protection’s Arizona joint field command.

Agent Ivie lived in Sierra Vista with his wife and their two young daughters.

President Obama called Agent Ivie’s family Tuesday to offer condolences and to express his gratitude for Agent Ivie’s “selfless service to his nation,” a White House statement said.

Mr. Obama made it clear that the administration “was doing everything it could to locate those responsible.”

The last Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty was Brian Terry, who died in a shootout with bandits near the border in December 2010. The Border Patrol station in Naco, where the two agents shot Tuesday were stationed, was recently named after Terry.

Terry’s shooting was later linked to the government’s “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying guns for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than be arrested.

Authorities intended to track the guns into Mexico. Two rifles found at the scene of Terry’s shooting were bought by a member of the gun-smuggling ring being investigated.

Critics of the operation say any shooting along the border now raises the specter that those illegal weapons are still being used in border violence.

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