By Charles Rabin and David Ovalle
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MIAMI — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent killed at a West Miami-Dade gun range on Wednesday was accidentally shot by a fellow agent, Miami-Dade police said on Thursday.
Multiple law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald that it happened during a role-playing scenario in which one of them was trying to subdue a bad guy. The sources said the agent who shot Arias had accidentally replaced his training pistol with his handgun, which carried live ammunition. How that happened wasn’t immediately clear.
The Miami Herald identified the agent killed as Jorge Arias, 40, a nine-year veteran firearms instructor with the federal agency. He was shot at least once in the chest in a part of the gun range sectioned off for law enforcement. CBP typically practices there on Wednesdays.
Arias was killed Wednesday morning at the Trail Glades Gun Range, near the intersection of Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail. He was airlifted by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where doctors were unable to revive him. The gun range is owned by Miami-Dade County.
The Herald reported that Arias was 35 in an earlier story. But that was corrected by his wife, Ana Mary Arias, who spoke briefly with WPLG Channel 10 on Thursday. She said her husband, 40, was assigned to Miami International Airport detail and also served as a reservist for the U.S. Coast Guard.
“He came from a small family and he always told me that he was part of a big family,” Ana Mary Arias told the television station. “It is his law enforcement family.”
Miami-Dade Police had released few details about the shooting until late Thursday afternoon, when they named Arias and confirmed that “further investigation has revealed that the shooting that occurred during the training involves a second officer.”
The agency did not name the second officer or offer a further explanation of how the shooting occurred.
The agent’s death drew a large procession at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he was airlifted after the shooting. CBP Spokesman Michael Silva, without naming Arias on Wednesday, said he was a good family man.
Miami-Dade Police said they consider the shooting to be in the line of duty.
If so, that makes Arias the third South Florida law enforcement officer to die while on duty in the past two months.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Cesar “Echy” Echaverry died Aug. 18, two days after a shootout in Liberty City with an armed robbery suspect, who was killed by returned fire. Echaverry was the first member of the department’s elite Robbery Intervention Detail to be killed on duty. And Jose Perez, a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, died Aug. 20, almost three weeks after getting into a car accident while responding to a building alarm.
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