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Ricocheting Bullet Kills Mexican Border Agent

Times Staff Writer

A Mexican customs agent was killed Tuesday when he was struck in the chest by one of several bullets fired by fellow agents at a speeding van that crossed into Mexico while it was being pursued by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Armando Brock Acevedo, a spokesman for the Baja California State Judicial Police, identified the dead agent as Leopoldo Sanchez Urutia, 54. Brock said 10 people, including men, women and children, were taken into custody after Mexican customs agents shot out the tires on the vehicle.

“It was an accident, just a terrible accident. The van was being chased by the U.S. immigration authorities and the (Mexican) customs agents tried to stop it by shooting out the tires. It appears that one of the bullets richocheted and struck the victim in the chest,” said Brock.

No shots were fired by the van’s occupants, who were not injured, Brock said. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Ed Pyeatt said that no Border Patrol agents were involved in the shoot-out on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

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Brock said the Border Patrol notified Mexican officials that they were chasing a brown van believed to be carrying illegal aliens. Pyeatt said the van was spotted in San Ysidro and was followed by Border Patrol agents. According to the Border Patrol, the van headed south on Interstate 5 and sped up as it neared the border crossing.

Brock said the investigation is attempting to determine which of the agents fired the fatal shot. Meanwhile, the van’s occupants, including the driver, are being held without charges. Late Tuesday night Brock said he did not know the identities of the driver and passengers.


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