Slain U.S. Border Patrol agent remembered at funeral in Arizona
By Paul M. Ingram
SIERRA VISTA, Arizona (Reuters) - Friends, family members and law enforcement colleagues of a U.S. Border Patrol agent killed last week near the Mexico border by what authorities say may have been friendly fire gathered in a small Arizona town on Monday for his funeral.
Nicholas Ivie, 30, was one of two agents shot last Tuesday while responding to a tripped ground sensor in a well-known smuggling corridor. The second agent survived gunshot wounds and has been released from an Arizona hospital.
Ivie was the fourth Border Patrol agent to die in violent circumstances in less than two years in Arizona, and his death heightened concern about border security in a state at the forefront of the national immigration debate.
The FBI said on Friday that there were "strong preliminary indications" that Ivie's death was the result of an accidental shooting involving only the agents.
Jeffrey Self, commander of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's joint field command in Arizona, told reporters that he met with members of Ivie's family on Friday about the possibility that the shooting was "a tragic accident, the result of friendly fire."
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, also held talks with law enforcement officials on Friday at the Border Patrol station where Ivie worked.
Services for Ivie began with a procession down two main streets of Sierra Vista lined with Border Patrol agents on horseback to the church.
Family members of Ivie, who learned Spanish on a two-year Mormon mission in Mexico City and lived in Sierra Vista with his wife and two young daughters, were expected to address the media following the services.
"We are grateful for all the efforts by so many to thoroughly investigate what took place during that early morning tragedy," the family said in a statement before the services.
"Our best wishes and prayers continue for the other agents involved in the incident, that they may experience healing and peace. We honor all who serve in the Border Patrol, carrying out an extremely difficult task under harsh conditions," the family added.
(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston, desking by G Crosse)
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