Our son didn’t have to die.
Authorized by the Terry Family
It has been nearly 19 months since our son, Brian Terry, was shot and killed by a Mexican drug cartel armed by a failed U.S. Department of Justice “gunwalking” operation known as “Fast and Furious.” Much has transpired during that time – especially in the last few months – regarding the investigation of Brian’s death. But not enough has been done, which is why we are writing to you today.
The pain that Brian’s death has caused our family is indescribable. No matter what words we use in this letter to you, we will never be able to justly convey how much suffering we have endured. We still grieve every day, and we are resigned to the fact that the agony of his death will stick with us for the rest of our lives. Not because he didn’t achieve his dreams . . . not because he didn’t live his life to the fullest . . . and not because he didn’t leave anything behind that we couldn’t celebrate or remember.
Our family will be forever grief-stricken because Brian didn’t have to die.
We wish we could take solace knowing that Brian died doing what he loved to do. After all, it was his childhood dream to make a career in law enforcement and become a federal agent.
As a youngster, Brian was inspired by his Uncle Bob, a Michigan police offer who would give Brian tours of the police station and share stories of what it was like to be a police officer. From then on, Brian believed he was destined for a career in law enforcement. He joined the Marine Corps after high school and served four years in Naples, Italy before becoming a police officer in Lincoln Park, Michigan – just like his uncle. But Brian’s ultimate dream was to become a federal agent, and so he applied to the United States Border Patrol.
In 2007, he attended the Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico before being assigned to the Naco station near Bisbee, Arizona, only a few miles from the U.S.-Mexican border.
Brian accomplished exactly what he wanted to. But all of what he had worked for – and all our family had come to adore and love – was taken away so abruptly . . . so needlessly.
On December 14, 2010, Brian was conducting operations as a member of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit in Nogales, Arizona. He and his team encountered five Mexican drug cartel bandits in the “Peck Well” area near Rio Rico, Arizona. Not knowing the bandits were carrying the latest military-grade assault weapons provided by the Justice Department as part of Operation Fast and Furious, there was an exchange of gunfire and Brian was shot in the lower back.
He died on December 15, 2010.
Before then, our family was expecting Brian to return home for Christmas. What we were not expecting was that he would return home in a flag-draped casket. All because of an ill-conceived government gun-trafficking investigation gone horribly awry.
The Justice Department’s “gunwalking” operation called for American gun dealers to sell weapons to “straw purchasers” tied to Mexican drug cartels between 2009-2011. The intention was to track the guns as they were sold to Mexican drug lords, which would theoretically lead to the arrests and dismantling of the cartels.
But that’s not what happened. It turned out that there was no actual plan to track the movement of the guns as they were “walked” into Mexico.
As a result, one of our four children and as many as 200 Mexican citizens were killed with weapons connected to the operation.
Still, hundreds of guns sold as part of Operation Fast and Furious remain unrecovered, putting more brave law-enforcement personnel along the border – like our son – at unnecessary risk.
Unfortunately for our family and the families of others who have been injured or killed with these weapons, our son’s death has ballooned into a national controversy. The House of Representatives recently voted to hold Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General and head of the Justice Department, in contempt of Congress on both criminal and civil charges for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena requesting all of his communications regarding Fast and Furious.
Then, in a step toward receiving the justice that Brian and his fellow Border Patrol Agents deserve, the Justice Department indicted five men involved in Brian’s death and announced a reward of $1 million for information that could lead to the arrest of those men still at large. Even though the Justice Department still refuses to provide the documents that may contain the answers to the questions we’ve been asking since Mr. Holder was served his subpoena more than eight months ago, our family is hopeful that this development leads to the capture of the men responsible for Brian’s death.
But despite these recent developments, we still don’t have answers that explain why Brian had to die. It has been more than 18 months since our son fell in the line of duty, and we know little more now than we did then. We think our family and Brian’s memory deserve better.
So even though this government investigation drags on and prolongs our family’s suffering, we are taking action.
We have established the Brian Terry Foundation not just to preserve Brian’s memory and honor his service to our country, but to also help families of other U.S. Border Patrol Agents who have been killed or injured by providing ongoing emotional and financial support, establish educational scholarships, recognize the heroic efforts of current Border Patrol Agents, and raise public awareness of the flawed Fast and Furious investigation. It is also our personal mission to guarantee that any mistakes made by the Justice Department are never made again.
Because of Operation Fast and Furious, some of the most dangerous criminal organizations in North America have been strengthened, and now our Border Patrol Agents are in the gravest danger of their lives.
So please, we urge you – not just for our son, but for all U.S. Border Patrol Agents who came before him and who will come after him – to join our cause and give as generously as you can. We have to make sure that nothing like Fast and Furious ever happens again, and without support from folks like yourself, our mission fails. This failed government operation cost our son his life, but that doesn’t have to stop us from saving the life of someone else’s son.
In the loving and enduring memory of Brian A. Terry,
Kent Terry, Sr. and Josephine Terry
The Brian Terry Foundation
P.S. Thank you to those who have generously contributed to our mission since we first launched the Brian Terry Foundation a few weeks ago. The recent indictments of the men involved in Brian’s death is a sign of progress, and the next step is convincing the Justice Department to release all documents that can provide the answers our family has been seeking for the last year and a half. You can help us do that by signing our petition. And if you can afford to support us financially, please do so now. We cannot create the living legacy that Brian deserves without grassroots support from people like you, which is why we really need your help today.