Only one person, a Sumas police officer, has been publicly identified as a witness to the fatal shooting of a wanted Canadian man by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Contrary to earlier reports, Jamison Edward Childress, 20, was confronted by one border agent on Kneuman Road on the afternoon of Thursday, March 19. Two agents responded to a tripped sensor — suggesting someone had tried to cross into the United States illegally — but the second agent was up near the border around 2:45 p.m. when Childress was shot, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.
It’s not clear how much of the lead-up to the shooting the second agent saw, if anything. Some neighbors, Elfo said, also might have seen moments leading up to the shooting on Kneuman Road near Arthur’s Way, about 600 feet south of the border.
According to Dan M. Harris, chief of the Border Patrol’s Blaine sector, Childress disobeyed orders to stop and “displayed erratic and threatening behavior,” then sprayed the agent in the face with an irritant like pepper spray. The agent opened fire. Childress died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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A Sumas officer witnessed the shooting, Elfo said. He radioed to dispatch to report shots fired and to ask for backup. Childress had a hatchet in his backpack, though it was not shown or used in the encounter, according to authorities.
Other straightforward questions about the shooting — how many shots were fired, for example — remained unanswered this week. One neighbor, Michael Kipling, 19, said he heard three distinct gunshots a few hundred feet east of his house on Kneuman.
Border Patrol has not released the names of the two agents involved. They were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure following a shooting. Both had more than a decade of experience.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs division, and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.
Last week Canadian police had plans to arrest Childress on a charge of murder in the first degree for the killing of Brando Walker, 18, of Calgary, Alberta. Fishermen found Walker’s body, beaten and partly burned, in the Elbow River on a Tsuu T’ina Nation reserve. Mounties in Alberta alleged Walker had been killed in the Saddle Ridge neighborhood of northeast Calgary. An RCMP spokesman, Constable Jason Curtis, confirmed Canadian police were working to get a warrant for Childress, of Prince George, B.C., when the shooting happened.
Three other Canadians have been arrested in connection with Walker’s death. Each had scheduled appearances in Calgary courts this week:
• Chad William Gosselin, 21, on a charge of accessory to murder.
• Dylan Steven Cameron, 20, on a charge of manslaughter.
• An unnamed boy, 15, on a charge of murder in the second degree.
Childress’ mother, Nicole Smith, told the Calgary Sun her son had problems with drugs.
“I do know in the last year or so drugs have taken my boy and changed him,” Smith told the Sun. “I do know that wasn’t my son acting in those actions against the guard. He was always a very loving, generous boy when he was younger.”