A federal Customs and Border Protection spokesman says a U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot “a suspected illegal border crosser” after the agent was assaulted while patrolling the U.S.-Canada border near Sumas.
The agent shot the man around 3 p.m. on Kneuman Road, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo. Neither the agent nor the person killed was immediately identified.
Over police radio a Sumas officer reported shots had been fired. He requested immediate backup. Multiple radio dispatches stated the man suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
The agent had been hit by pepper spray but wasn’t seriously hurt, according to police radio traffic.
Authorities blocked the entire 3/4-mile length of Kneuman Road, keeping media and others out of the area. Multiple agencies including local police, FBI, border agencies and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office responded.
A multi-agency team led by the sheriff’s office will investigate the shooting, Elfo said, but all information regarding the incident would come from the Border Patrol.
In a short statement Thursday night, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Friel offered no details about the nature of the assault or how the agent encountered the person at the border.
Friel confirmed the FBI has been briefed and a multiagency team will investigate the shooting.
Kneuman Road, an east-west road less than 1,000 feet from the U.S.-Canada border, was expected to be closed into the night for the investigation. The small border crossing at Sumas is about 100 miles north of Seattle.
The Bellingham Herald and Associated Press contributed to this report.
Border Patrol statement
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement that read, in full: “On Thursday, March 19, at approximately 2:30 p.m. PST, a U.S. Border Patrol agent on patrol along the U.S.-Canadian border near Sumas, Washington, discharged his service-issued weapon, fatally striking an individual. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Use of Force Incident Team (UFIT) is coordinating the agency’s investigation with the Border Patrol and the Law Enforcement Multi-Agency Response Team (LEMART) of Whatcom County. Details of the incident have been provided to the DHS Office of Inspector General and the FBI.”