EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) responded to a call about an active shooter on Feb. 15 at Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, and to other shooting incidents this fiscal year.
An El Paso Air Branch AS350 helicopter and aircrew responded after shots were fired at the mall food court. A Ground Tactical Air Controller and ground agents also rapidly mobilized in a coordinated response with law enforcement partners, including El Paso Police Department.
On Feb. 13, AMO crews and law enforcement partners responded to an active shooter incident in Michigan. Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch crews received information of an active shooter situation in progress at the Michigan State University campus in Lansing. An H125 crew responded to conduct aerial surveillance. AMO also deployed a UH-60 carrying a Border Patrol Special Operations Detachment team with a K9, and AMO tactical team members. AMO teams returned to base once reports were received that the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Our crews are ready to respond to active shooter events, day or night,” stated Marc Sledge, Director of Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch. “We remain ready to rapidly mobilize, with our law enforcement partners, to enhance situational awareness and officer safety, and to also keep the public safe.”
Two weeks prior a Yuma Air Branch AS350 crew responded to reports of a possible shooting at Gila Ridge High School. The aircrew worked with Border Patrol partners to locate and arrest the suspect.
AMO teams are postured to dynamically respond to active shooter incidents. The have responded to 12 active shooter incidents since the beginning of this fiscal year to Feb. 16. This figure demonstrates an increase in AMO response to similar contingency events when compared to the previous fiscal year. AMO teams responded to 16 active shooter incidents in fiscal year 2022.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
AMO also assists other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies during contingency operations.
In Fiscal Year 2022, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 967 arrests and 134,981 apprehensions of undocumented individuals, as well as the seizure or disruption of 250,616 pounds of cocaine, 1,475 pounds of fentanyl, 25,625 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,342 weapons, and $21.7 million.