By Terri Jo Neff |
A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrolling in Cochise County suffered several cuts after being assaulted trying to take an undocumented immigrant into custody Wednesday morning, leading to at least one shot being fired from a USBP-issued gun, Arizona Daily Independent has learned.
It remains unclear whether the gun was fired by the injured agent, another agent, or the “combative subject” as John B. Mennell, a CBP spokesman called the person the agent was trying to apprehend.
“Neither the subject nor the agent was seriously injured during the assault,” Mennell wrote in a statement Thursday. “The case remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation who will provide additional details as appropriate.”
Very little is known about the assault which sent nearly two dozen law enforcement and public safety vehicles to the Coronado National Monument south of State Route 92 around 5 a.m. when USBP agents encountered a small group of people suspected of illegally entering the United States.
The agent’s injuries reportedly involved cuts or stabs on the hands and face, and were not life-threatening, according to Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. The agent was taken from the scene for emergency medical care; no statement has been issued by CBP, USBP, or the FBI as to the agent’s condition.
About 24 hours after the attack, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels took to the airways to bitterly criticize the Biden Administration and the leadership of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the unsafe conditions for residents of his county and the heightened dangers to law enforcement personnel.
Dannels told KFYI radio host James T. Harris that the attack on the USBP agent was just the latest incident of escalating violence. There was recently an assault on another USBP agent, as well as a local officer, and one of Dannels’ own deputies, he told Harris.
“It’s not getting better. In fact, just the opposite and we’ve been talking on this, preaching on this, for the last year,” Dannels said. “I’ll just say this – the failed leadership by this president and this administration to recognize, secure our border, secure our communities, and secure our country is devasting to us right now.”
The agent was attacked near Montezuma Canyon, which lies a few miles west of the USBP Brian A. Terry Station in Naco. Agents assigned to that station are among the 3,800 employees of the USBP’s Tucson Sector.
It would not be until 5 p.m. that FBI spokeswoman Brooke Brennan issued a short statement confirming the agency was conducting the investigation. At 6:30 p.m., Brennan issued a one-sentence supplement advising local residents there was no threat to the public.
However, several first responders familiar with the incident have told Arizona Daily Independent the “all-clear” notice could have been provided hours earlier. This would have relieved the worries of several local residents and tourists in the area.
Even USBP Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin ignored the assault on his agent. Modlin was active on social media throughout Wednesday but never bothered to address the morning incident. But he did have time to share a video of a May 2021 rescue of a migrant in California.
CBP recently acknowledged more than 1.7 million people were “encountered” or arrested at the U.S. southwest border in 2021. That figure does not include whistleblowers’ accounts among USBP agents as well as public comments from officials like Dannels of several thousands of migrants who escape arrest.
While USBP agents were dealing with the attack in southern Cochise County, agents with the USBP Yuma Sector were meeting with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In his radio comments Thursday, Dannels told Harris that the Western States Sheriffs’ Association has taken a position of “no confidence” in Mayorkas.
The association, which represents the 17 contiguous states west of the Mississippi River, issued a declaration in November calling on President Joe Biden to replace Mayorkas with someone “who will work with our federal enforcement partners and the administration to restore security and safety on our nation’s southern border.”