Ross D. Franklin, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SALT LAKE CITY — Border Patrol agent Nicholas J. Ivie was called to serve in his LDS Church ward bishopric less than two months ago and Sunday was leading church services as second counselor in his Arizona ward.
Two days later the former Provo resident was being mourned by family and friends and a nation still in search of solutions to secure its porous border. Ivie was shot and killed near Bisbee along the U.S.-Mexico line, becoming the 26th agent to die in the line of duty since 2002.
Sierra Vista Arizona Stake President Kevin Goates said Tuesday he was in that church meeting that Ivie conducted in the Sierra Vista 2nd Ward.
"I was thinking what a great man this is and how faithful he was serving," Goates said Tuesday. "It's just a shock to see him gone so abruptly."
Ivie, 30, was killed after he and two other agents responded to an alerted ground sensor while on patrol shortly before 2 a.m. in the remote desert near Bisbee, about 100 miles southeast of Tucson. The area is frequented by cross-border drug smugglers, authorities said.
A second agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks and was airlifted to a hospital and later released. The agents were assigned to the newly dedicated Brian Terry Station, named after an agent who was killed in the line of duty in December 2010.
Ivie grew up in Provo and attended Timpview High School. He and his wife, Christy, are the parents of two daughters, ages 4 and 20 months. His parents and some of his siblings live in Utah, mostly Utah County. Ivie was the youngest in his family.
"We are extremely proud of Nick and for his service both in his community and our country," Ivie's sister-in-law, Corinne Ivie, said in a family statement. "He loved what he did and gave it his all, including his life. Right now our thoughts and prayers are with his wonderful wife and his two beautiful girls. We would also like to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support and love."
His older brother, Joel Ivie, also works for the Border Patrol and steered him toward that career, said Doyle Davis, whose son is married to Ivie's sister. Border Patrol officials said Ivie worked for the agency since January 2008.
In a news conference, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Cmdr. Jeffrey Self said Ivie died "at the hands of criminals" operating near the border.
"Agent Ivie died in the line of duty protecting our nation against those who threaten our way of life," Self said. "His death will strengthen our resolve to enforce the rule of law and bring those responsible to justice."
James Turgal, special agent in charge of the FBI's Phoenix Division, pledged resources from across the country to assist in the investigation. Turgal would not comment on reports that Mexican authorities have two men in custody.
Davis said Ivie was good with horses and was on horseback when he was shot.
"He was a great kid," Davis said.
Turgal offered few details about the shooting during a Tuesday news conference. He said Ivie was in rugged terrain but wouldn't say why he was there or what he was doing. Investigators, he said, were still going over the crime scene and it could take as long as two days to complete the task.
Self said Tuesday was a long day for Customs and Border Protection.
"But it's been longer for no one more than a wife whose husband is not coming home," he said. "It's been longer for no one more than two children whose father is not coming home."
Those who knew Ivie had nothing but praise for the type of man he was.
"He has a personality that just makes you want to love him and appreciate him," Goates said.
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