Border Boletín: Bullet that killed Agent Terry went in back, traveled upward

2011-03-04T08:00:00Z 2011-03-04T08:58:19Z Border Boletín: Bullet that killed Agent Terry went in back, traveled upwardBrady McCombs Arizona Daily Star
March 04, 2011 8:00 am  • 

Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed by a medium caliber bullet that entered through his lower back and went upward through his spinal cord, shows the autopsy report.

Terry was struck by the lethal gunshot in his lower back just left of midline, 29 inches from the top of his head, according to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office autopsy report.

Agent Terry was killed on Dec. 14 during a gunfight with suspected bandits in Peck Canyon northwest of Nogales. The Arizona Daily Star reported on Thursday that Border Patrol agents shot beanbags at the bandits before the men fired back, killing Terry.

The autopsy report says the gunshot wound was "an oblique, 1 1/4-inch oval perforation with an approximately one-fourth inch tear at the 1 o'clock position."

"After penetrating the skin and soft tissues of the left lower back, the bullet passed forward, rightward and upward to penetrate the spinal column and cord at the level of L2," the report says. "The bullet continued on to perforate the aorta, mesentery, small intestines, distal stomach, and left lobe of the liver before causing subcutaneous hemorrhage of the anterior midline abdominal wall, 22 inches from the top of the head."

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Terry's brother, Kent Terry, said the autopsy report showed that the bullet found inside his body was one used with AK-47s. That fact erased any doubt about friendly fire being a possibility in the fatal shooting, because agents don't use AK-47s, Kent Terry said. The FBI announced in mid-February that it had ruled out friendly fire, but Kent Terry remained skeptical because he hadn't seen the autopsy.

But the report released Thursday by the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office only describes the bullet as "medium caliber." Here's the passage:

"The bullet is recovered free floating on the upper surface of the liver and is medium caliber, markedly deformed from side to side, and partially jacketed with a non-jacketed tip."

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com.

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