British hitchhiker shot dead by US border patrolman

AN AMERICAN border patrolman shot and killed an unarmed British hitchhiker who had jumped over the fence from Canada, United States officials said yesterday.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry was under way into the circumstances surrounding the death of Gary Mayers, 34, who was killed by a single shot to the chest on Thursday.

Mr Mayers, who died at the scene, was deported from the US a month ago. According to the immigration service yesterday, he was challenged by the patrol officer after crossing a remote stretch of the border illegally. He was shot after a violent struggle in the officer's car during which Mr Mayers allegedly tried to grab his gun.

Bill Strassberger, a spokesman for the immigration service, said the officer had gone to investigate a sighting of a backpacker jumping a border fence and then hitch-hiking along the main road. He said that Mr Mayers lunged at the officer as he radioed for help from his patrol car.

"The agent went to call for assistance and the individual violently attacked him and got on top of him in the front seat of his vehicle," Mr Strassberger said. "I believe the assailant was at least 50lbs heavier than the agent and there was a very tough struggle.

"At one point the attacker had the advantage and he pinned the agent down and had his hand on the weapon. He couldn't get the weapon out, so he then tried to choke the agent with the radio wire."

Mr Strassberger said the officer managed to break free and drew his gun. "He told his attacker to stop because he was under arrest, but he lunged again, and so the officer had no choice but to fire a round."

"The shooting occurred along the banks of the Kettle river, which runs from the mountains of British Columbia down to the Grand Coulee Dam. It is a sparsely populated area about 100 miles from Spokane, the nearest big town.

"Mr Mayers jumped a fence near the Laurier border crossing, in north- east Washington State, shortly before 10.15am local time. The confrontation took place five miles south of the border."

Mr Strassberger said that Mr Mayers acted suspiciously when the agent questioned him, so the officer returned to his car to radio for back-up.

Mr Strassberger could not say why Mr Mayers had been deported from the US. Nor would he speculate as to why he might have wanted to return to the country. Investigators making an initial survey of the scene said they found nothing suspicious in his backpack.

Border shootings of this type are highly unusual. The FBI said that it was looking closely into the circumstances surrounding it. The patrolman involved has been put on leave with full pay, as is customary in such cases.

The FBI is involved in the case because the patrolman is a federal officer.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said that Mr Mayers' family would be contacted. He said any investigation into the matter would be left to the American authorities. "It is for the authorities there to investigate. We will be trying to contact the family and offer assistance," he said.

The spokesman said the British consul in Seattle would be handling matters in the US.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'