NOGALES, Mexico, Jan 5 – A U.S. Border Patrol agent was involved in a shooting on the Arizona border with Mexico on Wednesday that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old boy trying to illegally scale the border fence, Mexican police said.
Ramses Barron was found dead outside a hospital in Nogales, Sonora, in the early hours on Wednesday with a wound from a bullet fired by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Sonora state police said citing witnesses. Three men left Barron’s body at the hospital, hospital workers told police.
Barron, a Mexican, attempted to cross the tall fence between Nogales and its sister city in Arizona of the same name under cover of night, police said in a statement.
“At that moment (as he was climbing the fence), a United States Border Patrol agent shot at him, sending him falling onto gravel on the Mexican side,” the statement said.
Tucson sector Border Patrol spokesman David Jimarez said an agent was involved in an early morning incident in near the fence but said events were still unclear.
“There was an agent involved in a shooting in Nogales, Arizona, although the details are very sketchy. We are not aware of the injuries involved in the incident,” he said.
Jimarez said the FBI was leading the investigation.
FBI special agent Manuel Johnson said the incident occurred at around 3. a.m. local time.
“Border Patrol agents were attempting to arrest alleged drug smugglers. …when bystanders began to throw rocks” at them, Johnson said. “A Border Patrol agent responded by firing a shot at an alleged rock thrower.”
Frustrated by tighter security on the U.S.-Mexico border, illegal immigrants and drug traffickers regularly pelt U.S. agents with rocks, take shots and even throw gasoline bombs.
Border Patrol agents are wary of using their weapons as shootings of illegal immigrants have raised tensions between the United States and Mexico in the past.
In June, the fatal shooting of a Mexican teenager by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, provoked anger in Mexico and the Mexican government sent a formal complaint to Washington, demanding answers.
Mexicans are sensitive about the border since the U.S. built a 650-mile (1,046-km) border fence to prevent illegal immigration between 2006 and 2010. Many Americans feel equally passionate that Border Patrol agents should be able to defend themselves, especially as raging violence from Mexico’s drug war makes the border a very dangerous place.
Up to 500 people die every year crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, according to U.S. immigration experts and the Mexican government, a sharp jump from a decade ago.