UPDATE – Letter from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, sent out as his monthly message, at bottom of post. He mentions 100 “illegalls” apprehended within 24 hours of law enforcement search of the shooting area as well as new tactics that include deputies working in pairs and carrying their handguns as well as at least one M16/AR-15 or similar long gun/rifle.

UPDATE – Photos sent by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at bottom of post. All surveillance photos are from federal agencies’ “strategically placed” cameras focused on area where deputy was shot. “Within feet,” of the shooting location, according to Pinal County Sheriff’s Department. Photo dates range from January through April. Apologies for earlier confusion.


Original post:

Just when we thought it was safe to go play outside in a state nestled next to a largely unsecured border, a deputy who was out in a remote desert area has to go and get shot.

Pina County sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll was shot April 30/submitted photo

Pina County sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll was shot April 30/submitted photo

What bad timing.

This only adds fuel to that raging new immigration law fire, feeding the myth that something must be done to secure the border.

The Pinal County sheriff’s deputy who was shot, 15-year veteran Dep. Louie Puroll, is home from the hospital and “doing very well” according to sheriff’s public information officer Lt. Tamatha Villar.

Puroll, 53, was wounded on his left side while out in the desert near Antelope Peak after he encountered “five male subjects” in the area April 30.

Please do not jump to conclusions. We must keep an open mind. Those subjects could be anyone.

A manhunt ensued. “Searchers have apprehended 17 illegal immigrants inside the search perimeter,” Villar wrote in an e-mail. “Three of the 17 match the description given by Dep. Puroll to investigators on scene. Those three are being interviewed by investigators at this time.”

Calling these suspects “illegal immigrants” may be out of line. While they may be here illegally, they may not technically be immigrants. Immigrants come to settle permanently in a new land. Maybe the 17 were just visiting, collecting postcards of Antelope Peak and other area Arizona attractions.

Besides, illegal immigrants come here to better themselves, not shoot people. There must be some mistake. And we still don’t know if these people were the shooters – even if three just so happened to look like the dudes Puroll saw. We must give these poor folks the benefit of the doubt.

“Although there is no confirmation at this time that the criminals involved in (Friday) evening’s violence are drug smugglers,” Gov. Jan Brewer said in her April 30 statement about the shooting, “this incident occurred in a known drug trafficking corridor, and law enforcement believes that the five suspects being sought were walking through the middle of the desert with backpacks and at least one automatic weapon.”

Posh. This is all speculation.

Say the shooters were, in fact, drug smugglers. They still could have come here legally. Perhaps they had passports and went through the proper checkpoints, obtaining special clearance for their backpacks and automatic weapons.

Actually, there are so many gaps in the border that it would probably waste too much time traveling out of their way to go through a checkpoint. We don’t want things to be inconvenient. This is why we should just leave the border as it is.

Making it more secure may violate the rights of those who want to sneak over and make a better life. So what if a few miscreants get through? American citizens – and even sheriff deputies – getting shot or killed is just a chance we’ll have to take.

It’s much more important to cater to others who feel entitled to enter. America owes it to them.

Please note: This piece was written with the utmost sarcasm and I am an advocate for a more secure border and still undecided on the new immigration law. While the controversial SB 1070 law may not be the answer, we do need action other than misplaced empathy and arguments over the definition of “illegal immigrant.”


Please note: Poll responses delete themselves when post is updated.

UPDATE – Surveillance photos courtesy of Pinal County Sheriff’s Office

Suspects caught on camera/PCSO photo

Surveillance photos from shooting area/PCSO photo

Suspects caught on camera/PCSO photo

Surveillance photos from shooting area/PCSO photo

Gunshot wound/PCSO photo

Puroll's gunshot wound/PCSO photo


Puroll's gunshot wound/PCSO photo

UPDATE 05/19/10 – Letter from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu sent out as his monthly message

May 9, 2010

Law Enforcement Leaders,

I wish to express my deep appreciation for your swift and immediate response in answer to our call for help during our officer involved shooting in western Pinal County. At approximately 4 PM on April 30th, Deputy Louie Puroll was tracking six drug smugglers (later known to be armed) in the remote desert area south of I-8 and west of Casa Grande, when he was ambushed and shot. Over 200 officers from local, state, tribal nations and our federal partners responded. Your help and support was tremendous and underscored the strength of our professional bond.

Though the investigation continues, we have several investigative leads and have identified three other Mexican Nationals, who are victims (robbed of cash and personal belongings) of the same suspects that shot Deputy Puroll. The Border Patrol apprehended two of four (two escaped) illegals along this smuggling corridor and recovered four fully loaded AK-47s in the three points area, located along the Pima/Pinal border. Two illegal immigrants with felony drug trafficking (cocaine) warrants out of the mid-west were also apprehended within our security perimeter. There were over 100 illegals apprehended within our security perimeter in the remote desert area south of I-8 and west of Casa Grande, just within 24 hrs we were there.

We conducted an internal AAR and also debriefed most participating agencies this past week. We have identified the strengths and weaknesses of our large scale tactical response, rescue and search for suspects. We have many areas that need improvement, largely in the command and control of such a critical incident. All leaders are in agreement that we must rehearse by means of table top and scenario based exercises, to ensure our coordinated response is most effective/successful.

I attached some recent Intel photos (taken in the past couple months) which clearly show numerous armed smugglers in Vekol Valley smuggling corridor along I-8. Yes, this is the very location of the shooting just 9 days ago.

Pinal County is not a border county with Mexico, yet we have para-military squad sized elements who are operating deep within Arizona. This is unacceptable and must be stopped. Though PCSO Deputy Puroll is safe and is back to work – must we have a Deputy killed by these smugglers before the federal government hears our plea for help?

We are discussing a multi-agency response to re-secure this part of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, that is within Pinal County. In the interim, I have directed a change in PCSO tactics, where all assignments for Operation Stonegarden shall be staffed in teams of two Deputies. They shall be armed with their assigned handgun and at least one M16/AR-15 or similar long gun/rifle.

Many of you joined me, when Sen. John McCain unveiled the McCain/Kyl 10 Point Border Security Plan, that calls for the immediate deployment of 3,000 National Guard Soldiers to the Arizona/Mexican border. http://johnmccain.com/borderplan

In my opinion, the only long term solution to slow and eventually stop the unending flow of illegals crossing into Arizona is this 10 Point Plan. It is comprehensive and it will work. If you have not seen this youtube video with many of us and Senator John McCain, then you should watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jb2RnFNb64 The national focus on border crimes couldn’t have come at a better time, given the heightened level of violence by drug and human smugglers.

Thanks again for your partnership and your immediate response, when we called for help.


Paul Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona
President, Arizona Sheriff’s Association

Photos Babeu mentions in letter:

Photos submitted by Pinal County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy Pinal County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy Pinal County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy Pinal County Sheriff's Office


What do you think?

Are we jumping to conclusions thinking Puroll was shot by people here illegally?

Is there a difference between “drug smugglers” and “illegal immigrants”?

Are you sick of the controversy and just wish someone would build a great wall already?

Are you proud Arizona has the least secure border of all the border states? Please explain.