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Border Patrol agent who shot dead illegal said he feared dying

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 7:54 p.m.
 

SAN DIEGO — A man who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent threw large rocks at the agent, including one about the size of a basketball, investigators said on Wednesday.

The man, who was suspected of being in the country illegally, began throwing fist-sized rocks at the agent from a hillside perch, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. The rocks became larger, and one of the bigger pieces hit the agent in the head.

The sheriff's department said the agent fired his gun at least twice Tuesday, fearing he might be killed or incapacitated if he was hit again in the head. The agent tried to revive the man, who died at the scene. The man's identity is unknown.

The agent, who was not named, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.

The episode in a remote, mountainous area about 4 miles east of San Diego's Otay Mesa border crossing took place amid debate about whether the Border Patrol should respond to rock attacks with lethal force.

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