(Arizona Republic) -- One Border Patrol agent was killed and another seriously injured in an early morning shooting Tuesday near the U.S.-Mexico border, according to authorities.
Nicholas Ivie, 30, was identified as the agent shot and killed near Naco in Cochise County, according to Victor Brabble, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Cochise County Acting Sheriff Rodney W. Rothrock, said there has been "positive developments" related to the pursuit of the suspects but would not elaborate further.
Authorities said Ivie and two other agents were on foot at about 1:30 a.m. about seven miles east of Bisbee responding to a ground sensor that had triggered.
The agents reported over the radio that they had come under fire as they were following a trail into the area, said Carol Capas, a spokeswoman with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. Earlier reports said they were on horseback.
When deputies arrived, one of the agents had died and another suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries, she said.
Investigators had been patrolling a rugged area south of U.S. 80 on ATVs and trucks, which is considered an active crime scene, according to reports. The shootings occurred in an area known as the Mule Mountains.
The wounded agent was flown to a hospital, according to Crystal Amarillas, a spokeswoman for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol.
Ivie is from Provo, Utah and joined the Border Patrol in January 2008.
"I lost a friend last night, and his children won't have a father," said Dr. Jarrett Hamilton of Sierra Vista, a friend of Ivie's.
Hamilton said Ivie is one of two counselors under the bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Sierra Vista. He said he spoke to Ivie at 6 p.m. Monday.
"He was a wonderful friend," Hamilton said. "My wife and I are saddened ... and deeply frustrated at the failed border policies of our country."
George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a work union representing border agents called the National Border Patrol Council, said the injured agent had undergone surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center and is doing well.
The shooting is being investigated by the FBI and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who represents the eighth district, released a statement saying "This morning I spoke to Border Patrol leaders for the Tucson Sector to offer my condolences to the men and women of the Border Patrol. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the agent who today made the ultimate sacrifice for his country."
"We need to redouble our efforts to secure the border and ensure the safety of Border Patrol agents," the statement said.
Beth Kempshall, state director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a counter-narcotics entity, said the shootout occurred in "a traditional smuggling corridor for the Sinaloa Cartel."
Marc Denney, a Cochise County Sheriff's commander over the Border Alliance Group Task Force, said the shooting occurred in a known smuggling corridor. "Basically ambushed," he added. "It's rough terrain. Rocky and very hilly. A lot of low-lying brush."
Denney said law enforcement were swarming the area this morning, looking for suspects. "There's hope that we'll be able to track them," he said. "But there is enough of a gap that they may have had time to go south" across border into Mexico.
All three agents were assigned to the Brian Terry Station, Amarillas said. The station is in Naco and was named in September in honor of a slain border patrol agent.
Terry, 40, was the last U.S. Border Patrol Agent killed on duty. Terry, 40, was shot in a shootout in December 2010 about 13 miles north of the border at Nogales.
Two guns found at the scene were bought by a member of a ring that was being monitored in the government's gun-smuggling investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and Chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation, released as statement on behalf of the family saying the shooting is a "tragic reminder of the dangers faced by the brave men and women who patrol our borders and keep our nation safe" as well as the dangers facing those who live there.
"The family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry extends its heartfelt prayers and condolences to family of the Border Patrol agent who lost his life and to the family of the agent who was shot and has been hospitalized," the statement said. "We hope that those responsible for this shooting are brought to justice swiftly. The fact that the agents involved in this shooting were assigned to the recently dedicated Brian A. Terry Border Patrol Station in Naco, AZ gives us pause to reflect on the life lost and the continued task of keeping our nation safe."
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has led Congress' investigation of Fast and Furious, said the authorities must investigate the full circumstances of this shooting. I urge everyone to think of the families of these agents and avoid drawing conclusions before relevant facts are known."
The tragedy prompted immediate calls for increased enforcement from border security hawks.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the agents' families at this difficult time," said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.. "Violence along Arizona's border cannot be tolerated by the federal government any longer. The federal government must commit the necessary resources to secure the border, because that's simply not happening right now."
Excluding Tuesday's death, four Border Patrol Agents have died on duty since the start of 2011, according to the U.S. Border Patrol's online Border Patrol Agent Memorial.
Eduardo Rojas, Jr. and his partner Hector R. Clark were killed while in pursuit of suspected illegal immigrants when their vehicle was struck by a freight train in Gila Bend on May 12, 2011, according to the website.
Leopoldo Cavazos, Jr. was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident while on patrol in Fort Hancock, Texas on July 6, according to the website.
Less than two weeks later, James R. Dominguez, was killed while helping stranded motorists in Cline, Texas, according to the website.
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