A man was being treated Friday for gunshot wounds he suffered when he brandished a replica handgun at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, drawing fire from two U.S Customs and Border Protection officers, police said.
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Hugo Quintero-Veytia, 47, entered a pedestrian crossing area at the border station at 720 E. San Ysidro Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday and tried to pass through before being fully screened, according to San Diego police.
"When (he) continued through the turnstile without permission, (an) officer yelled for him to return," SDPD Lt. Kevin Rooney said. "Additional officers grabbed (him) and escorted him behind the turnstile for proper screening."
At that point, Quintero-Veytia allegedly "reached into his waistband and produced a chrome-finished replica handgun, which he raised above his head," according to Rooney.
"Several people reported hearing the handgun making a noise consistent with a gunshot," the lieutenant said. "In response, two (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) officers fired at the suspect."
Each of the officers involved has been with the agency two-and-a-half years, police said.
Medics with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department took Quintero-Veytia to a trauma center, where he underwent surgery for non-life-threatening bullet wounds.
"He is going to recover," Rooney said, adding that the suspect likely would remain hospitalized for at least several days.
A Customs officer suffered a minor hand injury while struggling to get Quintero-Veytia back behind the turnstile he had passed through without authorization, CBP officials said.
The shooting prompted a nearly two-hour closure of northbound foot-traffic processing at the border port. About 7 p.m., federal officers began allowing pedestrians through two vehicle lanes.
Quintero-Veytia faces federal charges of assault on peace officers. The suspect is believed to have a visa allowing him entry to the United States, though it may be expired, according to Rooney.
It was unclear what might have motivated Quintero-Veytia to allegedly become combative at the border station, the lieutenant said.
Security Concerns After Shooting
Thursday's shooting at the San Ysidro Port of Entry is raising alarming questions about security at the border crossing.
Customs and Border Protection Port Director Frank Jaramillo said the port does not have metal detectors for pedestrians to walk through.
"No, we don't have magnetometers in the facilities so he would have entered from Mexico and he would be processed as any traveler would," said Jaramillo.
The San Diego Association of Governments website says 54,000 walk through the San Ysidro Port of Entry every day. Comparatively, the San Diego Airport Authority website says 50,000 passengers walk through metal detectors every day. However, at the Port, someone theoretically could walk through carrying a gun or a knife.
CBP officials declined to talk to 10News Friday. On Thursday night, Jaramillo said CBP officers are prepared for situations like the shooting.
"Officers are well trained and based on their skills, they interview individuals and determine if the individual poses a threat and they will respond accordingly," he said.
"If they have all this other inspection modes in place, then I don't know why you would not have magnetometers and they should have them," said security consultant Glen Winn.
Winn said a simple metal detector, or magnetometer could prevent future shootings and wouldn't delay the wait at the border that much.
"You are being looked at [for your] passport, green card, whatever, and to put somebody through a magnetometer would be nothing," said Winn.
Last week, all U.S.-bound traffic was halted at the crossing after scaffolding installed to protect cars from overhead construction collapsed onto eight lanes, seriously injuring a construction worker. Ten others were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
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