Agents Say Why They Opened Fire at the Border

78 undocumented immigrants taken into custody

By Susan Taylor
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 10:46 AM PDT
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What Agents Found Under the Seats

This person was taken from the San Ysidro port of entry to the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.

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Border Shootout

A Border Patrol supervisor told the San Diego police that two vans were headed toward the U.S. when a gun battle erupted.

Agents Say Why They Opened Fire at Border

One expert said he's never seen such a brazen attempt to cross the border illegally.
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After a shooting at the San Ysidro port of entry on Wednesday, an agent said he has never seen such a brazen attempt to cross the border illegally.

Three vans packed with nearly 80 suspected illegal immigrants plowed through the crossing while ICE agents fired at them.

In the wake of the shooting, some critics are questioning why agents felt they needed to open fire.

"It just appears to me that they could have let the vans go and caught them later -- used spike strips or a number of other tactics available," attorney Guadalupe Valencia said.

Almost immediately after the three vans tried to break through the busy port-of-entry, the vehicles got stuck in traffic. Two of them backed up and tried to speed away, which is when customs and immigration officers opened fire. Three people inside the vans were injured. A bystander was also hurt when his vehicle was hit by one of the vans. 

Valencia, who typically handles drug and alien-smuggling cases, said the alleged smugglers face long prison terms if convicted. He also said that the agents' responses should be investigated, wondering why it was necessary to shoot when the border was crowded with hundreds of people. 

After the shooting, the Customs and Border Protection agency issued a statement, saying the officers fired their weapons because one of the vans posed a threat and attempted to flee.
 

Two of the drivers were arrested at the scene.  The third driver ran back to Mexico, and was arrested by Mexican authorities

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