A 31-year-old U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot three times in the legs early Sunday as he chased a man he believed might be an illegal alien into an alley in Vista, officials from the Border Patrol and county Sheriff's Department said.

William Beaumet, a supervisory agent assigned to the San Clemente station, remained in stable but serious condition at Palomar Hospital on Sunday night, a hospital spokeswoman said. Beaumet was shot at about 12:45 a.m. near East Vista Way and Hanes Place.

Border Patrol officials said Beaumet was the fifth officer to be shot while on duty in the last 20 months.

A spokesman for the county sheriff's office described the assailant, who was not caught, as a Mexican man in his 20s, and said no weapon has been found. Border Patrol officials said Beaumet followed the man into the alley attempting to stop him and check his identification papers.

The sheriff's spokesman suggested the gun may have been used in an accidental shooting Saturday night, in which a 30-year-old Vista man was shot in the abdomen.

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