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Mexico seeks inquiry into border shooting

Published May 20, 2006

SAN DIEGO - The Mexican government called for an investigation Friday into a shooting by two federal agents that left one person dead at the world's busiest border crossing. A union representing the Border Patrol agent involved in the shooting defended the officer's conduct.

The shooting took place Thursday afternoon after U.S. agents surrounded a sport utility vehicle that was under surveillance on suspicion of immigrant smuggling, police said.

The driver refused to get out, and when agents smashed the vehicle's window with a baton, he accelerated in the direction of five U.S. agents blocking his path and "nearly pinned an agent standing next to the vehicle," said San Diego police Lt. Jeff Sferra.

A Border Patrol agent and a U.S. customs agent opened fire. The Border Patrol agent's shots proved fatal, police said. The driver, identified by the Mexican Consulate as Oscar Abraham Garcia, 22, of Tijuana, Mexico, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Five male passengers, all illegal Mexican immigrants, were taken into custody. Some of the passengers told investigators that Garcia and a 17-year-old boy in the vehicle were both immigrant smugglers, said Alberto Lozano, spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in San Diego. Police said one person had been arrested on immigrant-smuggling charges.

No weapons were found in the vehicle, San Diego police Lt. Kevin Rooney said. Investigators have not said whether the driver had a criminal record.

[Last modified May 20, 2006, 08:02:29]

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