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Game and Fish Employees Attacked Near Arizona-Mexico Border

June 17, 2009.

From the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

Three government agency employees, including an officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, another Game and Fish employee, and an employee with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, were fired upon on June 11 by a group of men they encountered while scouting the area for a land access project in southern Arizona.

None of the agency employees were injured.

The three were riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on a road through a small canyon area about four miles east of Arivaca Lake when they encountered a group described as at least four Hispanic males dressed in camouflage.

According to Leonard Ordway, supervisor for Game and Fish’s Tucson region, two of the individuals in camouflage immediately fled a short distance up a hill and dropped down in the grass upon the encounter, while the agency employees backed out of the immediate vicinity and regrouped.

After a few minutes, the Game and Fish officer crept up a small rise a short distance from the road to look over the scene with binoculars. He observed two other males in camouflage in the area, but in a different direction from the first two. He then started back down the hill to return to the ATVs.

“As he started back down to the quads, a gunshot coming from the direction where the first two individuals had fled impacted the ground about 10 feet behind him,” said Ordway.

The three agency employees immediately departed the area and notified Game and Fish Radio Dispatch, which in turn notified the Border Patrol, Pima County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

About 30-40 law enforcement personnel, aided by three helicopters, were on site within 45 minutes to search the area and investigate the scene. They were not able to find the suspects but did recover several fresh 9mm casings from the area where the initial shot came from, indicating subsequent shots may have been fired as the agency employees were leaving the area.  

“We’re thankful no one was hurt,” said Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles. “Our law enforcement officers and other field personnel often work in remote areas, and yesterday’s incident serves as a reminder of the potential dangers that they—and personnel from other agencies—face in areas near the border."

Voyles added that Game and Fish is reviewing its operating procedures for employees working in borderland areas.


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