Bean Bags Fired First in Arizona Shootout Killing Border Patrol Agent

New details in the murder of Brian Terry have fueled family's outrage at feds.

ByABC News
March 4, 2011, 12:24 PM

March 4, 2011— -- U.S. Border Patrol agents caught in a violent December standoff with illegal immigrants in Arizona fired the first shots, but with bean bags not bullets, newly obtained records show.

At least one of the suspected bandits armed with AK-47 assault rifles returned fire, hitting Agent Brian Terry, who later died.

"When the suspected aliens did not drop their weapons, two Border Patrol agents deployed 'less than lethal' bean bags at the suspected aliens," FBI search warrant requests say, according to the Arizona Star newspaper, which first obtained the documents. The ammunition is designed to wound and take down targets not kill them.

"At this time, at least one of the suspected aliens fired at the Border Patrol agents. Two Border Patrol agents returned fire, one with his long gun and one with his pistol."

Officials have confirmed the agents hit one of the suspects -- Manuel Osorio-Arellanes -- who is the sole individual in custody but not charged with Terry's murder. He's awaiting a May trial for illegal re-entry to the United States after a previous deportation.

Authorities last month deported to Mexico and released three other suspects detained in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The emergence of new details of the Dec. 14 attack, for which no new arrests have been made, outraged Terry's family, who have complained publicly that government officials have not kept them informed of the investigation.

"From the very beginning, at the funeral home when they spoke to us face to face, the Border Patrol said there were no bean bags shot. That's what they told us," Brian's stepmother, Carolyn Terry, said in an interview. "They told us that when we were out in Tucson for his memorial. There were no bean bags shot. And what's the first thing on these reports? The guys shot bean bags."

FBI spokesman Manuel Johnson declined to comment on details in the search warrant requests but said the agency walks a fine line in the release of information to the family and the public.

"When there is information to provide to the family and when it's appropriate, we do that," he said. "The last thing we want is to make a mistake and have a case thrown out on a technicality."