Officials say that the F.B.I. and federal border officials are looking into why U.S. border guards shot and killed a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation on a reservation near the U.S.-Mexico border last week.
Robert Daniels, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said that the killing happened around 10 p.m. Thursday near Ajo, Arizona and that it was done by agents from the Ajo Station. After a few days, the police had not said much about what happened on Monday.
The man who was killed was not named by the police, but Ned Norris Jr., the leader of the Tohono O’odham Nation, said in a message to The Associated Press that the man’s name was Raymond Mattia. On Monday, Mr. Norris and the Nation did not answer their phones or texts.
KVOA, an NBC station in Tucson, said that cousins who did not want to be named said that Raymond Mattia had called the police because several migrants had broken the law and entered his yard. The New York Times could not prove these stories on its own.
Mr. Daniels said that the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility was looking into the killing. He also said that the FBI and the Tohono O’odham Police were also looking into what had happened.
The tweet below confirms the news:
The FBI and federal border officials are investigating after a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation was shot and killed at his home by U.S. border agents on the reservation in Arizona near the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said. https://t.co/rbV9LB3aMN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 22, 2023
The killing happened in Menagers Dam, which is about a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border and about 40 miles north of Ajo, according to the F.B.I. The Phoenix field office of the FBI admitted that it was helping the Tohono O’odham Police, but it wouldn’t say anything else.
The killing happened as the United States was getting ready for a rise in asylum seekers crossing the southern border. Title 42, a public health law that told most migrants to leave right away during the pandemic, was set to expire this month.
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In the Tohono O’odham statement, Mr. Norris said, “Our hearts go out to his family and all those affected by this difficult time.” “As the investigation goes on, the Nation expects that all facts related to the incident will be fully considered and that the right public safety agencies will move quickly and in the right way. We won’t say anything else right now because the investigation is still going on.”
The nation is in southwestern Arizona on almost 3 million acres. It has about 28,000 members, making it the second biggest reservation in Arizona in terms of both size and number of people, according to the website of the tribal nation.
A family friend named Ophelia Rivas told News 4 Tucson that Mr. Mattia was a law-abiding citizen who was also an artist, a singer, and a traditional hunter.
She said, “He was not an aggressive or violent man, and he was always kind to his family and took care of them in any way he could.”
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