By Brad Poole
TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man in the Arizona desert near the boundary with Mexico on Thursday evening after a brief nighttime struggle over the agent's gun, police said on Friday.
The agents had been tracking suspected illegal border crossers through the desert on foot about 10 miles northeast of Douglas, Arizona, when they came upon a group of three men, two of whom were quickly caught.
A third man fled into the night and was later found hiding in brush near a rural stretch of state highway, according to a statement from the Cochise County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the shooting.
Once found, the man tried to take the agent's gun, and after a struggle that lasted for "several minutes," the agent drew the weapon and shot him in the upper body, the sheriff's department said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the shooting, which happened at about 8:30 p.m. local time, according to a statement from spokesman Victor Brabble. The sheriff's department got a call at 9 p.m. reporting the incident, according to a news release.
Tension has been elevated in some spots along the border, after U.S. authorities declined in August to charge a border agent who shot through the fence in Douglas, killing a rock-throwing teen in Mexico in 2011. Another teen was shot through the border fence in Nogales in October after U.S. authorities said he threw rocks at agents.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Richard Chang)