Border Patrol Agent Fires Back, Kills Gunman in New Mexico

November 5, 2019 Updated: November 5, 2019

A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a gunman who opened fire on Border Patrol agents about a mile from the border with Mexico.

Two agents were patrolling the 1200 block of McNutt Road of Sunland Park, New Mexico, when they encountered a group of four people at around 6 a.m. on Nov. 4, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement.

The group is believed to have crossed the border illegally, according to New Mexico State Police.

One of the group took off running, then produced a gun and started shooting at the agent who chased after him, police said.

“At some point during the foot pursuit, the suspect fired a weapon at the two Border Patrol agents,” state police spokesman Ray Wilson said in a statement.

The agent fired back, wounding the man. Then he administered first aid to the injured gunman until paramedics arrived at the scene. He was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

No agents were injured in the incident, according to the CBP statement.

The CBP did not release the names of either the agent or the suspected gunman. Police were still working to determine the deceased man’s identity.

A Border Patrol spokesman said they arrested the three other people from the group. It’s unclear what charges they face.

Federal authorities blocked off the crime scene, closing the main road in Sunland Park and stretching crime tape between their patrol vehicles.

An auto shop and a car dealership on either side of the street were closed.

The CBP said it would be supporting investigations into the shooting, and the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility said it would conduct an internal investigation of the incident.

The FBI also is investigating. Albuquerque FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to say which agency would make a final determination about the agent.

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced After Attacking Agent

In September, an illegal immigrant from Mexico was sentenced to 70 months in prison for attacking a Border Patrol agent with a flashlight, according to the Justice Department.

Melecio Lopez-Hernandez, 39, pleaded guilty to the assault and will face deportation after serving his sentence. The 39-year-old was walking through the brush south of Freer, Texas when he encountered a Border Patrol agent. As the agent attempted to detain him, Lopez-Hernandez began to struggle and managed to dislodge a flashlight that was attached to the agent’s outer vest.

Lopez-Hernandez then verbally threatened the agent before he hit him in the head with the flashlight, the statement said. The agent was injured in the attack.

During the hearing, Lopez-Hernandez’s attorney attempted to convince the court that his client had thought the agent was a cow and became startled when the figure approached. But District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo was not persuaded.

“She further found the flashlight he used was a dangerous weapon under the law and noted Lopez-Hernandez had a clear intent to harm the agent based on the evidence,” the statement said.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has previously underscored the dangers border patrol agents face each day while carrying out duties at the border.

In the 2018 fiscal year, there were 794 incidents of assaults against border patrol agents.

Janita Kan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.