Photo of child shooting at border sparks outrage

SAN DIEGO - A photo of a Border Patrol agent helping a child shoot a powder-filled ball at a target resembling a person sparked outrage by activists, who say the scene appeared to represent the shooting of an immigrant.

But the Border Patrol said in a statement Friday that any suggestion the picture means the agency shows citizens how to attack immigrants is "patently false."

"It look like a person with real clothes and little kids are shooting, this place where people have died," said Pedro Rios with American Friends Service Committee.

10News learned many of the photos were sent anonymously to Rios's office. They were taken in June 2013 during a 5K run event with activities intended to honor fallen Border Patrol agents.

"It's sickening," said Rios.

The Border Patrol released this statement in response:

"Media reports that the U.S. Border Patrol provides training on how to 'attack migrants' are patently false. The photos published as part of these allegations were from a local event meant to bring members of the community together to build relationships and increase awareness about law enforcement. The U.S. Border Patrol, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies in the area, participated in this local public exposition in June 2013, which included displays, demonstrations and activities. This specific activity was meant to create awareness about law enforcement tools used to address some violent situations without the use of deadly force. The U.S. Border Patrol takes pride in participating in community events to help build awareness about our activities and operations.

Displays at the exposition included information about the U.S. Border Patrol's horse patrol, fire and emergency rescue services, vehicles and other equipment used by Border Patrol agents, and other topics. The expo also coincided with the annual Fallen Agent Memorial Run, a local San Diego five kilometer run that agents participate in during their free time to remember U.S. Border Patrol agents lost in the line of duty, and raise money for scholarships for local high school children. The photos in question are from an activity at the event that allowed members of the community to fire a pepper ball launch system that had been loaded with 'inert rounds' -filled with a baby powder-type substance to be able to see whether the intended target had been hit. The target is a standard practice target used by law enforcement and even amateurs throughout the U.S., and is clothed in plain jeans and a t-shirt, also standard when conducting exercises/demonstrations. The 'stop' for the exercise was an existing fence that is at the back of the parking lot chosen for safety reasons, rather than facing the exercise toward the crowds attending the expo. It is not the border fence (primary or secondary), but rather a fence that helps ensure safety at the mall by marking a clear space that can be used for U.S. Border Patrol agents conducting law enforcement activities along the border."

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