Border Patrol agents fire on pickup, injuring two

By Michele Clock
7:18 p.m. February 1, 2008
CAMPO – Three Border Patrol agents fired shots at a pickup truck containing several suspected illegal immigrants Friday when the vehicle sped toward some agents, authorities said. Two people in the truck were injured.

The pickup's driver, a suspected immigrant smuggler, and the front-seat passenger, a suspected undocumented border crosser, were taken to a hospital, said sheriff's homicide Lt. Dennis Brugos.

One victim was in serious condition and the other in stable condition Friday night, sheriff's officials said. Four suspected illegal immigrants who were in the back seat of the pickup were not believed to be injured. They were being questioned Friday night, Brugos said.

The incident began about 11:30 a.m. Friday when Border Patrol agents received information that a vehicle in the vicinity of Shockey Truck Trail and state Route 94 was involved in smuggling illegal border crossers, Brugos said.

Border Patrol vehicles followed the pickup, which headed to the truck entrance of Golden Acorn Casino on Old Highway 80, where Border Patrol agents were already stationed.

Agents walked toward the truck, identified themselves, and told the driver to stop. The driver instead backed up and accelerated around a Border Patrol vehicle and toward the agents, “at least one of which was in harm's way,” Brugos said.

The three Border Patrol agents then fired at the pickup, Brugos said, and the truck careened into a shallow ravine off the highway.

The investigation continued Friday night, Brugos said. The Sheriff's Department was being assisted by the Border Patrol and the FBI, he said.

Border Patrol spokesman James Jacques said agents involved in shooting incidents are normally put on administrative leave during the investigation. Brugos said that as of early Friday night, the three agents had not been interviewed.

The lieutenant said it was the first shooting by a Border Patrol agent the Sheriff's Department has investigated this year.