PHOENIX — A U.S. Border Patrol agent killed along the Mexico-Arizona border this week was a devoted Mormon who developed a love for the country's people and culture while serving on a mission in Mexico City, his family said Thursday.
Agent Nicholas Ivie and two other agents were fired upon Tuesday about five miles north of the border as they responded to an alarm triggered by a sensor aimed at detecting people crossing into the U.S. illegally. A second agent wounded in the shooting was released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The third agent wasn't injured.
A Mexican law enforcement official says federal police have arrested two men who may be connected with the shooting but authorities aren't saying much else.
Ivie's family described the 30-year-old as a loving father and husband who became a Border Patrol agent four years ago after first wanting to become a firefighter, then working as a paramedic.
"He always wanted to be in law enforcement," Ivie's brother, Chris, said during a news conference Thursday in Sierra Vista near where the shooting occurred.
Ivie's family said he learned Spanish and developed a love for the Mexican people at 19 when he served on a two-year mission in Mexico City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He grew up in Utah and joined the Border Patrol in 2008.
"There was a time he was out on patrol and came across a woman that was in a small group but she was pregnant and she had lost her shoes and her feet were cut up and she had them wrapped in rags," Chris Ivie said. "He carried that woman a mile and a half to where she could receive the proper help that she needed."
Chris Ivie said it's been difficult explaining his brother's death to the man's two young children.Comment on this story
"They know something is going on but they don't quite understand," he said. "Nick loved his kids, and it's difficult when they ask for their dad and you can't really explain it that well."
Meanwhile, authorities continued to investigate the shooting, but have released few details about the case. Officials with the FBI and Border Patrol declined to comment on the detention of the two men in Mexico.
Ivie's death marked the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010 and spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.
AP writer E. Eduardo Castillo contributed to this report from Mexico City. Jacques Billeaud contributed from Phoenix.