- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 25, 2009

SAN DIEGO | Authorities investigating the shooting death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent say evidence indicates at least one suspect in the killing was significantly injured and could be seeking medical treatment on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

FBI Special Agent Keith Slotter said Friday investigators are checking hospitals and other medical facilities in hopes of tracking down the suspect or suspects who killed agent Robert Wilmer Rosas late Thursday after he responded to a Border Patrol call near Campo, a remote area of San Diego County.

Mr. Slotter said there was no evidence of drugs recovered at the scene. But investigators are not ruling out an attack by drug smugglers or illegal immigrants trying to cross the border.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our own,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Ms. Napolitano said she had directed the department to use its full resources to aid in the murder investigation.

The FBI also is investigating, spokesman Darrell Foxworth said.

The agent spotted a suspicious group of people Thursday night in the Campo area near the Mexican border and called for additional agents to help track them, U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Daryl Reed said.

When the suspicious group split up, the agent followed some of the suspects on his own, Mr. Reed said.

Other agents lost radio contact with him shortly after 9 p.m. then heard gunshots. They found Mr. Rosas, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said he was shot in the head.

The president of the union representing 17,000 Border Patrol agents declined to discuss the details of the shooting but said his organization has long been concerned about staffing levels and situations in which agents work alone in the field.

He said such situations are not uncommon, even in the roughly 60 miles of border covered by the San Diego sector.

“It’s fairly common for our agents throughout San Diego County and the rest of the country to work without a partner,” said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council. “They each have separate vehicles, and it’s a matter of concern with us.”

Since 1919, 108 Border Patrol agents have died on duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page Inc., which tracks law-enforcement deaths. Gunfire was the leading cause with 30 deaths, followed by automobile accidents and aircraft accidents.

The Web site, which already posted Mr. Rosas’ death, cited information from the Border Patrol indicating the agent was 30 and was a three-year veteran who is survived by his wife, a 2-year-old son and an 11-month-old daughter.

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