“There’s no way to know at this point how the agent was killed, but because of Operation Fast and Furious, we’ll wonder for years if the guns used in any killing along the border were part of an ill-advised gun-walking strategy,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said in a statement.
The Terry family said that the shooting was a “graphic reminder of the inherent dangers that threaten the safety of those who live and work near the border.”
Authorities set up a checkpoint on a dirt road about seven miles southeast of Bisbee. Border Patrol agents at the checkpoint declined to comment and barred reporters from going further.
The area near the shooting is scattered with houses, trailers and ranchettes. Mesquite trees and creosote bushes dot the landscape, with a mountain range nearby to the west.
The U.S. government has put thousands of sensors along the border that, when tripped, alert dispatchers that they should send agents to a particular location.
The agents were fired upon in a rugged hilly area about five miles north of the border as they responded to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas. It wasn’t immediately known whether the agents returned fire, she said.
The agents who were shot were on patrol with a third agent, who was not harmed, said George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing about 17,000 border patrol agents.
The Border Patrol said Agent Ivie had worked for the agency since January 2008 and grew up in Provo, Utah. He worked as an emergency medical technician before joining the Border Patrol, said his brother-in-law, Todd Davis. He served a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico City after high school.
“Nick always tried to help others. He was a very selfless man with his family, with his friends, in anything he did,” Mr. Davis said. “You know the risk, but you pray this day would never happen.”
Twenty-six Border Patrol agents have died in the line of duty since 2002. Bisbee-area residents expressed a mix of concern and frustration about the shooting, along with recognition that the border can be a dangerous place.
The region has seen its share of violence in recent years, including the Terry shooting and the slaying of a well-known rancher in 2010. That killing was, in part, credited with pushing Arizona lawmakers to pass a law that requires officers, when they stop someone, to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
“There is no security on the border — none,” said Edward L. Thomas, who owns rental properties in Bisbee.
Jacques Billeaud reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., contributed to this report.
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