Grassley Questions If Border Patrol Shooting Connected to Fast and Furious

By Fred Lucas | October 2, 2012 | 3:21 PM EDT

Rep. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Nov. 10, 2011,( Starr)

( – It could take years to know if the recent shooting of two U.S. Border Patrol agents – one of whom was killed – has any connection with the Justice Department’s gunwalking program known as Operation Fast and Furious, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday.

One Border Patrol agent was killed and another wounded in a shooting early Tuesday in Naco, Ariz., at about 1:50 a.m. MST Tuesday, the Associated Press first reported. The shooting was near the Border Patrol station named for slain agent Brian Terry, who was murdered in December 2010. Two guns from Operation Fast and Furious were found at his murder scene.

“Border Patrol agents put their lives on the line every day to stop the border crossers and drug cartel members who venture illegally into the United States,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday.

“There’s no way to know at this point how the agent was killed, but because of Operation Fast and Furious, we’ll wonder for years if the guns used in any killing along the border were part of an ill-advised gunwalking strategy sanctioned by the federal government,” he said.

“It’s a sad commentary. We all mourn for the Border Patrol agent who was killed near the border station named after another fallen hero and fellow agent, Brian Terry,” Grassley added.

The agents who were shot were on patrol with a third agent, who was not harmed, according to George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing about 17,000 border patrol agents, the AP reported. The last U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty was Terry.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has been investigating the Fast and Furious scandal, called the shooting “a tragic reminder of the dangers the brave men and women who guard our borders face every day.”

“Just last month, I attended a ceremony with agents based at the Bisbee station naming it in honor of their fallen colleague, Brian Terry,” Issa said in a statement Tuesday. “My prayers are with the family of the agent who lost his life today and his wounded colleague.”

“Authorities must investigate the full circumstances of this shooting,” Issa added. “I urge everyone to think of the families of these agents and avoid drawing conclusions before relevant facts are known.”