TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, AZ - DECEMBER 09: Air interdiction agent Jake Linde from the U.S. Office of Air and Marine boards his helicopter to fly over the Sonoran Desert while searching for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers on December 9, 2010 in the Tohono O'odham Reservation, Arizona. The federal agency works closely with the U.S. Border Patrol in searching for smugglers and illegal immigrants who cross in remote areas all along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was killed last night in a gun battle with five armed bandits in a remote area just north of the U.S. border with Mexico, outside Nogales, Ariz.

Four of the suspects involved in the shooting are in custody and one suspect remains a fugitive, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Terry, 40,, was transported to a hospital where he died from his wounds this morning.

One of the bandits in custody was wounded in the gun battle, which took place at about 11 p.m. Mountain Time, and transported to a local hospital.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada in Nogales confirmed to WND that his office had been contacted by the U.S. Border Patrol shortly after 11:10 p.m. local time last night, requesting law enforcement and emergency medical services back-up.

“The report was that shots had been fired,” Estrada said, “so we responded and transported agent Terry and one of the suspects to the hospital. Tragically, agent Terry died.”

Estrada said the incident occurred in an unpopulated area about 12 miles north of the U.S. border with Mexico, near a residential area of Rio Rico, Ariz.

“This is a remote area where known smugglers in drugs and human beings operate,” he said, noting that the FBI has taken over the investigation and his office does not have details on the four apprehended suspects.

The U.S. Border Patrol and the FBI declined WND requests to comment on the details of the gun battle, citing the constraints of the on-going criminal investigation.

Estrada told WND that the four suspects apprehended in the incident are now under custody by the FBI, and he suspects they will shortly be transferred to FBI incarceration in Tucson, Ariz.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy,” T. J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told WND. “The gun battle occurred in an area 15-18 miles within the United States, in one of many areas along the border with Mexico that is out of control.”

Bonner told WND that Terry was part of a four-man Border Patrol Tactical Unit, or BORTEC, that had been deployed in the area around Rio Rico because of reports that bandits were operating there freely, robbing illegal immigrants trying to make their way into the U.S. and threatening American residents in the area.

“Agent Terry was mortally wounded in the exchange of gunfire after his BORTAC unit encountered five bandits,” Bonner said. “Unfortunately, teams of bandits that operate freely in border areas like this can make a good living with their illegal activities.”

Bonner said that those who claim that the U.S. border is safer than ever “either don’t have a good grasp of the situation or are lying deliberately.”

Bonner told WND he did not know whether the bandits were Mexican citizens or if they were in the U.S. illegally.

The National Border Patrol Council is a professional labor union representing more than 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support staff. The NBPC’s parent organization is the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO.

Send in the Guard

News of the gun battle prompted renewed calls for sending the National Guard or the U.S. military to the border.

“The time to deploy U.S. military into northern Mexico is long overdue,” Jim Gilchrist, founder and president of the Minuteman Project, told WND. “The murderous rampage against law enforcement officers that is so common that Mexico has now transcended the border into the United States.”

Gilchrist said there “could not be a more clear and present danger to our nation’s domestic tranquility.”

WND previously reported Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, was joined by 20 members of the House to introduce the National Guard Border Enforcement Act, H.R.6253, authorizing the secretary of defense to make 10,000 National Guard troops available upon request to a U.S. governor to serve the border under the command of the requesting governor.

On Sept. 28, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety advisory, Mexican pirates killed David Michael Hartley, a U.S. citizen, when he was jet-skiing with his wife on Falcon Lake, south of Laredo, Texas, along the Mexican border.

The Hartley murder remains unsolved.

The last Border Patrol agent to be killed by gunfire in the line of duty was Robert Rosas, who was shot and killed while on patrol along the U.S. border with Mexico, near Campo, Calif., on July 23, 2009.

Today, as the murder of Terry was being announced by CBP, Christian Daniel Castro-Alvarez, a 17 year-old Mexican citizen, was sentenced by the U.S. District Court in San Diego to 40 years in U.S. prison for his role in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Rosas.

The investigation into Terry’s murder has been taken over by the FBI. Terry is survived by his parents, a brother, and two sisters.

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