Slain Border Patrol officer's legacy lives on

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The family of a fallen Border Patrol agent is fighting not only for justice but to make sure the memory of Brian Terry lives on forever.

“The establishment of the Brian Terry foundation has been one of the few bright spots that the family has had in the last 21 months since Brian’s death,” said Robert Heyer, Brian’s cousin and chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation.  “The foundation was created to honor Brian and create a legacy in his name.”

Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was killed near the Arizona/Mexico border in December 2010, when a group of armed bandits shot him in the back. Two of the guns found at the scene of his murder were linked to the ATF's controversial Operation Fast and Furious operation in which agents allowed a risky tactic called gunwalking, allowing low-level “straw” buyers to purchase loads of weapons at Phoenix area gun stores. The goal was to track the guns to drug cartels in order to bring cases against kingpins but agents lost track of about 1,400 of more than 2,000 weapons, including AK-47s and other high-powered assault rifles.

“Who in the ATF, who in the U.S. Attorney's Office, who in the Justice Department authorized this flawed operation?” asks Heyer. “A flawed operation and concept that allowed these weapons to flow to the most dangerous criminals in North America.”

Josie Terry says her son spent his life putting everything on the line for his country as a Marine, a police officer and a Border Patrol agent and it is sad that he had to die to bring attention to Fast and Furious.

“He was 100-percent dedicated to his job and he would be very furious,” she said.

This week this frustrated family, desperate for answers, will celebrate Terry’s legacy with the launch of his foundation, which will raise money for the families of fallen Border Patrol agents, establish criminal justice scholarships and keep the public informed of border issues. All the while, they're anxiously awaiting the release of the Inspector General's report Wednesday.

“I think it will most likely provide answers but it will also cause further questions and thus require further investigation,” Heyer said.

But one this is for sure, the Terry family will never give up the pursuit of justice.

“He would always say, ‘This is what I think we should do,’ and we'd say, 'OK we're going to do that,”  Josie Terry said.  And now I think he would say, 'Go get them Ma! Don't let up.'”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the congressman who has been leading the investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ flawed Fast and Furious case, will be speaking at the Brian Terry Foundation benefit dinner Monday in Tucson.  Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

This week, the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, is expected to testify in front of that committee about his findings in the investigation into the Fast and Furious case.

Also this week the Naco Border Patrol Station, one of the eight stations in the CBP's Tucson sector, will be re-named after Brian Terry.  It's an honor his family greatly appreciates and believes the very humble Terry would be proud of.