CBS 5 News has learned that the U.S. Border Patrol agents involved in a fatal shooting had been tracking the suspects in that shooting for eight months.
The shooting took place during the night of Dec. 14 in the mountains just north of the Arizona border with Mexico, where a border patrol agent was killed. The agents were part of the Border Patrol's special response team, known as BORTAC.
Sources familiar with the investigation told CBS 5 News that the agents were on the trail of a group of border bandits who were known to attack and rob drug smugglers and illegal immigrants. It was an ongoing operation, but the team intended to take the bandits into custody when the shooting took place, the sources said.
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in the exchange of gunfire that night.
Sources told CBS 5 News that Terry died at the scene and was unable to fire a single shot.
Terry was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a former police officer.
The FBI is investigating the incident.
The area where the shooting took place is a known hot spot for border bandits. Local law enforcement officers said they have taken dozens of reports of violence against immigrants and smugglers in the area.
A CBS 5 Investigates team hiked into the area and reported that the spot where the shooting took place is an active location for illegal immigrants and smugglers to stop and rest. There appears to be plenty of cover for bandits to lie in wait.
One of the bandits involved in the shooting of Terry was wounded by gunfire. He remains in custody but has not yet been charged in connection with Terry's death.
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