The FBI is investigating a shooting that killed one Border Patrol agent and wounded another in the southern Arizona desert Tuesday, the first time an agent has been fatally shot since December 2010.
The pair was among several agents patrolling on horseback when the shooting occurred near Naco, Ariz., 100 miles southeast of Tucson and 50 miles from where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed two years ago.
Terry's killing was linked to the flawed "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, after two guns tied to a suspect in the operation were found at the scene of his death.
Law enforcement officials said that no guns have been recovered and that no arrests have been made in the Tuesday shooting. The incident occurred about 1:50 a.m, as the agents responded to the activation of a ground sensor in the desert, according to George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents about 17,000 border patrol agents. The sensors are used to alert border agents to smugglers and illegal immigrants.
Officials identified the slain agent as Nicholas J. Ivie, 30. He and the other agents involved in the incident had been assigned to a Border Patrol station renamed in Terry's memory.
An FBI spokeswoman in Phoenix declined to comment except to say that the FBI is conducting its investigation along with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.
Ivie lived in Sierra Vista with his wife and their two young daughters.
"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 sanctioned by the federal government," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who started the investigation into the botched gun-trafficking investigation.
In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said federal, state and local law enforcement officials were working to "track down those responsible for this inexcusable crime, and to bring them to justice."
Thirteen Border Patrol agents have been killed in the line of duty over the past five years. Many of the deaths have been the result of injuries suffered in vehicle accidents.