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U.S. Agent Kills Man Near Border

Knife-wielding suspect is shot in 'no-man's land' between the U.S. and Mexico, authorities say. Activists call for the use of nonlethal weapons.

August 08, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man who drew a knife near the Mexican border, authorities said Thursday.

The shooting occurred at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, just west of the San Ysidro port of entry on a levee that divides the two countries.

Two agents were patrolling in all-terrain vehicles when they saw a man climbing the levee's embankment. The agents called to him to climb back down, according to the San Diego Police Department.

The agents wanted to check his immigration status and find out why he was in "no-man's land between the U.S. and Mexico," said Sgt. Jorge Duran.

When he refused, the agents climbed the embankment toward him. The man pulled out a knife and began swinging it, refusing orders to drop it, police said. One of the agents fired twice when the man approached, authorities said. The man died at the scene.

Police have not determined the nationality of the man, who was 30 to 40 years old, with a dark beard and tattoos on both arms. Tests are being conducted to determine whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. "He was basically irrational and didn't really comply and became confrontational," Duran said.

The San Diego County coroner's office conducted an autopsy Thursday and was working with the Mexican Consulate to determine the man's identity.

The Police Department and FBI are investigating the case because a federal agent was involved, officials said.

Activists said Border Patrol agents should use nonlethal weapons when they get into confrontations with migrants.

"We are concerned that the Border Patrol used deadly force to detain this individual," said Christian Ramirez, director of the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee. "This adds to the hostility between the Latino community in the area and immigration law enforcement."

There have been other fatal shootings involving Border Patrol agents in recent years.

In 1999 an agent killed Raymundo Sanchez after he allegedly pelted agents with rocks about 10 miles north of the border. The man was originally from Mexicali, but was a legal resident of the U.S. There also were two fatal shootings by agents within a 24-hour period in 1998.

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