Update: Customs & Border Patrol Officer Shot & Killed During Training

Our story from October 21st about Customs and Border Protection Officer Jorge Arias,40, being shot and killed during training has an update.

Arias, who was assigned to the Miami International Airport in his regular duties, was working as a firearms instructor at the time of the accident. The shooting, which happened at the county-owned Trail Glades Range, near Southwest Eighth Street and Krome Avenue, took place during a role-playing building search exercise.

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I stated in that piece that negligence would be the cause of this death. I truly hate to say that I was correct. “sources say” there was a “gun mix up” during the training that led to Arias’ shooting and death. From what we understand, the officer that shot Arias during the exercise briefly left the room and switched back to his real gun but forgot to swap it back out for the training weapon when he came back, leading him to shoot Arias in the chest after the exercise began.

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I am still unsure as to what type of firearms they were using. Many firearm terms are thrown about. Many departments use the Simunition brand marking cartridge. The officer removes the barrel out of their service weapon and installs a barrel that shoots special 9mm cartridges with paint inside instead of lead. Some department use blank firing guns, some use airsoft weapons. I am a firearms instructor, as well as a confrontational Simunition instructor.

I have participated in this type of training as a good guy, a bad guy, and as an instructor. Regardless of the system used, you must keep the scenario training area free of live ammunition. There must be a sufficient number of range safety officers to ensure weapons checks are performed properly. As we’ve seen in this case, egress and ingress to the training area must be strictly controlled. In this case, it was not.

One of the first cases of this type I ever heard about was a Nebraska State Trooper who was shot in the chest and killed by a fellow trooper. This happened because the trooper had to leave mid-training for court, when he returned, he entered the scenario area but was not safety checked. He still had his service weapon with live ammunition with him. When the time came in the scenario, he pulled his weapon and shot a fellow trooper in the chest and killed him.

After the shooting, Officer Arias was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Arias is survived by his wife and two children.

The Miami-Dade Homicide Division is continuing its investigation into the shooting.

R.I.P. Officer Arias.


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