Days after a second suspect was apprehended in the shooting death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the slain agent’s family tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview that they are “frustrated” with the Fast and Furious probe and “incredulous” that the Obama administration has not turned over information that would shed light on the events leading up to the slaying.
“The family believes that we deserve that information. The American public deserves that information and we don’t understand why that information is being kept from the family, from the American public,” declared Terry’s cousin, Robert Heyer, who serves as chairman of the recently formed Brian Terry Foundation.
News of the arrest of Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza comes nearly two years after a single 7.62 millimeter round entered Terry’s lower back, passed into his chest and perforated his aorta on Dec. 14, 2010. “Brian died in a minute or two. He bled out very, very quickly,” recalled Heyer, who described his 40-year-old cousin as having movie-star good looks with the build of an NFL player.
Two of the weapons found on the scene were subsequently linked to the failed Operation Fast and Furious in which U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents lost track of about 1,400 of more than 2,000 weapons — including AK-47s and other high-powered assault rifles — which authorities believed were headed for drug cartels in Mexico.
“We know that the weapons turned up at Brian’s murder scene and that they were carried by the men that killed Brian. What we don’t know is everything in between,” he said, noting that FBI ballistics proved inconclusive as to whether the fatal round was fired from one of the AK-47-styled assault rifles found at the scene though the weapons are capable of firing such rounds.
Heyer stopped short of calling for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign even though many House Republicans have called on him to do so, and the House in June found Holder in contempt for withholding documents related to the failed gun-running probe.
Terry's family filed a $25 million wrongful-death claim against the U.S. government earlier this year, saying he was killed because federal investigators allowed guns to fall into the hands of violent criminals.
In addition to the most recent arrest, four other men have been charged in the slaying, only one of whom is in custody and awaiting trial. The FBI has offered $250,000 for information leading to the capture of Terry's killer.
Heyer said the family didn’t learn about Fast and Furious until two months after the slaying. “It was not a government representative. It was not an ATF special agent in charge. It was not a U.S. attorney that came to the family to say ‘we’ve got bad news on top of losing Brian. You guys need to know this information,’” he explained. “That didn’t happen. We had to find out through the news media. And thank God for whistleblowers.”
He accused the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix with demonstrating an overall “lack of accountability” for the operation. “We’ve never asked for the attorney general to step down. What we don’t understand is why so many documents are being withheld from congressional investigators who are seeking the truth and the facts behind Operation Fast and Furious,” he said, adding that the loss to his family member has been exacerbated by the circumstances.
“It’s never easy to lose a son, a brother, a friend. But Brian was the rock of the family,” Heyer explained. “Although he was the youngest boy, he was the boy that everyone looked for in guidance for counseling. He was an amazing young man, a high achiever. . . He set very high goals, and then went about achieving those goals.”
While the family has learned that Fast and Furious was approved by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the ATF in Phoenix as well as at headquarters, “We don’t know how high it went within the Department of Justice,” Heyer explained.
“I think we deserve to know that. I mean [Assistant Attorney General] Lanny Breuer evidently has testified that he knew at some extent that weapons were being walked by ATF,” according to Heyer. “We’re incredulous that an individual at Lanny Breuer’s level would not shut this down immediately and instruct all of his U.S. attorneys to say we can never do something like this.”
The creation of the Brian Terry Foundation in June has been one of the only bright spots for the Terry family, he said.
“The foundation intends to raise money to do good deeds such as establish education scholarships for men and women like Brian that want to have a career in law enforcement and study criminal justice in college,” said Heyer. “We want to be able to raise money and support the families of slain border patrol agents. We want to be able to keep the American public educated on important border related issues that affect the wellbeing and safety of border patrol agents like Operation Fast and Furious.”
The foundation is hosting a 1ST Annual Benefit Dinner on Monday in which the Terry family will be presented with the Congressional Badge of Bravery in honor of the slain agent’s sacrifice. On Tuesday the station where Terry first served near Bisbee, Ariz. will be renamed the Brian Terry Border Patrol Station in accordance with the Brian Terry Memorial Act signed by President Obama earlier this year.
For more information on the foundation or the upcoming events visit honorbrianterry.com.
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