The Border Patrol, which in 2003 became part of the Department of Homeland Security under Customs and Border Protection, has more than doubled its size to approximately 21,000 agents since 2004. Most, close to 18,500, guard the Southwest border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a congressional committee in September.
“CBP law enforcement personnel are trained to use deadly force in circumstances that pose a threat to their lives, the lives of their fellow law enforcement partners and innocent third parties,” agency spokesman Michael Friel said in a statement.
In fiscal 2012, the agency recorded 249 rock-throwing incidents along the Southwest border, down from 769 in 2008. Although rock-throwing is the most common form of assault, agents also must contend with attacks involving vehicles and weapons, for example.
Few details are known about what transpired in Nogales on Oct. 10.
US authorities have said that agents came under attack from rock-throwers as several suspects carrying marijuana were fleeing back into Mexico. "After verbal commands from agents to cease were ignored, one agent then discharged his service firearm," according to an Oct. 11 press release by CBP.
But an attorney for José's family, Luis Parra, maintains José was on his way to a neighborhood store and was "in the wrong place at the wrong time." Mr. Parra is trying to gain access to a Border Patrol surveillance video that he says may have recorded the shooting.