BISBEE, Ariz. -- Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was the sort of man on whom a rancher could depend, said John Ladd, the fourth generation of his family on a 16,000-acre cattle ranch abutting the U.S.-Mexico border.
A few weeks ago, Ivie punched his personal phone number into Ladd's cellphone for the rancher's keeping, he said.
"That was his way of telling me ... you call me no matter what you need," Ladd said. "He was just a really good guy."
Such are the stories trickling out from friends and family of Ivie, a veteran of nearly five years with the Border Patrol, who was fatally shot earlier this week between Bisbee and the border town of Naco in southeastern Arizona.
Ivie, serving on horse-patrol duty, and two other agents were responding to reports of a tripped ground sensor when they were attacked early Tuesday morning. One of the other agents was also shot and is now recovering at home after being released from the hospital, Customs and Border Protection reported. The third agent was not injured. Authorities did not provide their identities.
The killing sparked a manhunt along the barren desert terrain known for human and drug smuggling near the Mule Mountains.
The FBI and Cochise County sheriff's department are investigating the case.
On Thursday, Ivie's family is scheduled to speak about the agent at a 10 a.m. news conference in Sierra Vista, according to Tucson News Now.
Ivie, who is survived by his wife and two children, moved to Sierra Vista from Provo, Utah, and was stationed at the Border Patrol station in Naco. That station was recently named after Brian Terry, slain in the same area two years ago during a shootout with bandits.
Terry's shooting was later connected to the federal government's "Fast and Furious" gun-smuggling operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying firearms for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons instead of being arrested. The intent was for officials to track the guns into Mexico.
Ladd said he was proud to have known Ivie.
"He was just trying to do the right thing. He wanted to be on horse patrol to have more success to catch anything ... These guys are putting everything when they go into it .... It's really upsetting. What's going to happen next?"
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