Border Patrol agents shot beanbags at a group of suspected bandits in southern Arizona before the men returned fire and killed an agent late last year, according to court records documents obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.
The FBI search warrant requests that were filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson provide the most detailed version yet of what happened in the Dec. 14 gun battle northwest of Nogales that left agent Brian Terry dead.
On the night of the deadly encounter, agents were trying to apprehend at least five suspected illegal immigrants.
The records, first obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, also show that an illegal immigrant wounded in the shootout _ who's now the only person in custody linked to the slaying _ contends he never fired a shot.
The man hasn't been charged in connection with the fatal shooting _ only with illegal re-entry after deportation _ and is awaiting a May 10 trial, according to newspaper.
He was one of four people arrested near the scene on the night of the shooting, authorities said. The other three were illegal immigrants from Mexico and they were cleared and deported back to their home countries.
An FBI spokesman in Phoenix said the agency's investigation remains ongoing. No arrests have been made, but the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona said investigators and prosecutors aim to bring criminal charges against the people responsible for Terry's murder.
Terry, 40, was the 10th agent to die on duty in the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector since 1926 and the first agent shot to death since 1998. He was buried in his hometown of Detroit on Dec. 22.
The documents show the group of illegal border entrants refused commands to drop their weapons after agents confronted them.
Two agents fired beanbags at the migrants, who responded with gunfire. Two agents returned fire, but Terry was mortally wounded in the shootout.
Border Patrol officials declined to answer questions about protocol for use of force, citing the ongoing investigation.
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com