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FBI: Friendly fire likely in border shootings

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012
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After a meeting of border governors Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer stood by the criticism she leveled earlier this week in response to the shootings in which she said a political stalemate and the federal government's failures have left the border unsecured and Border Patrol agents in harm's way.

"It's the federal government's responsibility to secure our border, and they need to do that, and then we can deal with all the other issues that have come about because our border hasn't been secured," said Brewer, who plans to attend Ivie's funeral Monday in Sierra Vista.

The Border Patrol couldn't immediately comment on the frequency of friendly fire shootings involving its agents. But such incidents appeared to be extremely rare, if they've ever occurred at all.

"I know of absolutely none in the past, and my past goes back to 1968," said Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, citing the year he joined the agency. "I'm not saying it never happened. I'm just saying I've never heard of it."

Also Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to Arizona to express her condolences to Ivie's family and meet with authorities. The family did not return calls from The Associated Press on Friday.

Ivie's death marked the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010 and spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.

Terry's shooting was later linked to that "Fast and Furious" operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying guns for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than be arrested.

Authorities intended to track the guns into Mexico. Two rifles found at the scene of Terry's shooting were bought by a member of the gun-smuggling ring being investigated. Critics of the operation say any shooting along the border now will raise the specter that those illegal weapons are still being used.

Twenty-six Border Patrol agents have died in the line of duty since 2002.

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Associated Press writers Brian Skoloff in Phoenix, Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M., and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.