Nicholas Ivie knew that the terrain in the Arizona desert southeast of Tuscon along the Mexican border was among the most active stretches monitored by the U.S. Border Patrol.
"Nick has always been involved in areas with high traffic," said Brandon Judd, a fellow border agent who worked with Ivie. "He embraced it."
Ivie, 30, was killed by gunfire on Tuesday after responding to a sensor alarm near Highway 80 about seven miles east of Bisbee, according to the Border Patrol. One other agent sustained non-life-threatening wounds.
Ivie lived with his wife and their two young daughters in Sierra Vista, Ariz., where he was involved with the community and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ivie grew up in Provo, Utah, and joined the Border Patrol in January 2008. After graduating from the Border Patrol Academy, he was assigned to the Naco Border Patrol Station. The station was recently renamed after Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty in December 2010.
Tuesday’s shooting occurred about 1:50 a.m., said George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents about 17,000 agents.
The wounded agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks. The third agent wasn’t injured, the news service said. The alarms are meant to guard against smugglers and others trying to enter the United States illegally.
Family members say Ivie was a devoted Mormon who developed a love for the Mexican people and culture while serving on a mission in Mexico City.
Ivie and two other agents were fired upon Tuesday about five miles north of the border as they responded to an alarm triggered by a border sensor. The wounded agent was released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The third agent wasn’t injured.
A Mexican law enforcement official says federal police have arrested two men who may be connected with the shooting but authorities aren’t saying much else.
Ivie’s family described the 30-year-old as a loving father and husband who loved his job as a Border Patrol agent.
Ivie "was just outstanding in every regard," said Judd. "He wanted to go to work every day. He loved his job, loved people, and didn’t shy away from talking to people."
The killing "stands as a reminder of the dangers that agents . . . face every day," Tuscon sector acting chief patrol agent Manuel Padilla said in a statement.
President Barack Obama expressed thanks for Ivie’s "selfless service to his nation" in a call to his family Tuesday, according to a White House statement.
In the past five years, 13 border agents have been killed in the line of duty. Injuries from vehicle accidents have been the cause of many of the deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.