Border Patrol Agent Killed, Partner Hurt in Shoot-Out

Times Staff Writers

An undercover Border Patrol agent was shot to death and his partner wounded early Wednesday as they tried to arrest four suspects involved in smuggling illegal aliens from Mexico, police said.

A police SWAT team surrounded a residential neighborhood near the shooting scene and captured the four suspects, one by one, with the last apprehended after dawn.

Keith Connelly, 42, an 18-year veteran of the Border Patrol, died shortly after arriving at Valley Medical Center. Agent Ted Jordan, 42, a 17-year veteran, underwent surgery for a bullet wound to the chest and was in critical but stable condition at the same hospital.

Connelly and Jordan were Border Patrol special agents and members of a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service anti-smuggling unit. They were posing as employers willing to pay cash in exchange for an undocumented worker, said Alan Dwelley, deputy chief Border Patrol agent.

The undercover agents, who claimed that they needed a farm worker, had agreed to pay the suspects about $500, authorities said.

An informant introduced the agents to the suspects, one of whom was a woman, on Saturday. They set up a meeting for Tuesday night.

Connelly and Jordan met the suspects at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of a service station-convenience store. Two other agents were parked nearby as backup, Dwelley said.

"As the agents were in the process of making the arrests, things went sour," Dwelley said. "The suspects began firing, and both agents were shot."

The two backup agents exchanged fire with the suspects as they fled, two on foot and the others in a car, which they abandoned a few blocks away.

A Fresno Police Department SWAT team and Kern County sheriff's deputies sealed off a four-block area and began searching house to house.

The female suspect was found about an hour after the shootings, and two others were found shortly before dawn. The final suspect was discovered about 7 a.m.

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