A suspect was killed in a gunfire battle with Border Patrol agents this week, while attempting to illegally smuggle two Chinese citizens into the U.S. through Mexico.
What are the details?
Officials said 23-year-old American citizen Travis James Eckstein opened fire on agents Monday evening, after refusing to stop for an inspection of his pickup truck at the San Ysidro Port of Entry between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.
NBC News reported that after Eckstein drove across the border, he began firing shots while still inside the vehicle, then got out of his truck and began shooting at federal agents who returned fire, hitting him. San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel and CBP officers attempted life-saving measures, but Eckstein died at the scene.
None of the seven Border Patrol officers involved in the incident were injured.
Two Chinese nationals, ages 18 and 27, were discovered hidden in the back of the truck and found to have no legal status to enter the U.S. The men were not injured and taken into custody by Border Patrol.
“The CBP officers risked their own lives to protect the public from this gunman,” director of field operations, Pete Flores, said of the incident in a statement released Wednesday. “Human smuggling is always dangerous. This unfortunate incident demonstrates the total disregard smuggling organizations have for what they consider to be cargo.”
The Morning Call reported that the San Ysidro Port of Entry is “considered the Western Hemisphere’s busiest border crossing,” processing roughly 70,000 northbound vehicles on the daily.
According to CBP, operations following the incident were only “suspended for about 30 minutes,” and “there was no impact to pedestrian traffic or to southbound vehicle traffic at the border crossing.”
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Border apprehensions have increasingly soared over recent months, with a 32 percent spike just from April to May — hitting the highest level of arrests in 13 years, The Washington Post reported.
With that rise, officials say, a majority of the illegal immigrants attempting to enter the United States at its southern border are actually native to countries other than Mexico. Last week, a group of 116 African nationals were caught wading across the Rio Grande River into Texas.