An Arizona cattle rancher says that the shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent near the boundary with Mexico happened in a remote part of his ranch that is frequently used by drug and migrant smugglers.
Jim Chilton tells The Associated Press in an interview that a Border Patrol official sent him an email Tuesday morning informing him the agent was alone when he was wounded on his ranch, and was struck in the leg and the hand.
Chilton says several bullets also struck the agent's protective vest and that the vest probably saved his life. He also says several people were detained.
"Thank God he had his vest on, his bulletproof vest and he received a number shots into his chest but it saved him."
Chilton is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, saying smugglers can easily cross the border onto his ranch.
"We have nothing but a four-strand barbed wire fence. It's a cattle fence, on my ranch. I have about 14 miles of exposure to the international boundary," Chilton said. "There's a 25-mile gap and that's where the drug packers and the cartel moves people into the United States."
The Border Patrol official who the rancher said wrote the email, Lisa A. Reed, did not immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation of the details that Chilton provided.
Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman Chris Sullivan declined to comment.
A Border Patrol statement says the agent was taken to a hospital Tuesday morning for treatment but provided no information on the agent's injuries or the circumstances of the shooting.
The statement says the shooting happened south of the community Arivaca at 4:30 a.m. and that several people referred to as "subjects" were taken into custody.
The statement says the FBI and the Office of Professional Responsibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating.
Arivaca is southwest of Tucson and about 10 miles from the border
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.