A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent was killed and two others were wounded in a shootout with individuals on board a suspected smuggling vessel near the coast of Puerto Rico on Thursday.
CBP spokesman Jeffrey Quiñones told The Associated Press that one of the suspected smugglers also died in the incident.
The agents were airlifted by CBP and Coast Guard to the Puerto Rico Trauma Center, the agency said in a statement, according to Fox News. The agents’ conditions were not immediately released.
“On Nov. 17, at approximately 8:00AM, three CBP Marine Interdiction Agents were involved in an exchange of gunfire with individuals on board a suspected smuggling vessel upon approach 14 miles off the coast of Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico. The Marine Agents suffered various gunshot injuries as a result,” the CBP said in a statement.
The CBP said the incident is under investigation and “additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”
While testifying before a Senate committee on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was briefed on the shooting.
“These are brave members of our air and marine operations within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so the difficulty of this job cannot be compared to the difficulty that our frontline personnel face every day,” he said. “And their bravery and selfless service should be recognized.”
Earlier this month, a group of illegal migrants waving a massive Venezuelan flag illegally crossed into the United States and attacked Border Patrol agents, assaulting at least one agent with a flagpole, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said. Video of the scene shows Border Patrol agents forcing the group of illegal migrants back across the border.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.