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Family of Tohono O'odham man killed by Border Patrol says he was 'shot down at his doorstep'

The family of a Tohono O’odham tribal member Raymond Mattia, who was fatally shot by the Border Patrol on tribal land this month, has released a statement about the May 18 incident.

Mattia died outside him home in Menagers Dam, a small Tohono O'odham community about a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border near Lukeville, Arizona.

The day after he was killed, family members told KVOA that Mattia had called the Border Patrol for assistance with migrants at his property and had been shot an estimated 38 times.

→  Customs and Border Protection statement details fatal shooting of Tohono O'odham man

A statement released by the Mattia family this week and first reported by O'odham News Network said he "called for help and, in turn, was shot down at his doorstep." 

"In our eyes and hearts, we believe that Raymond was approached with excessive and deadly force that took his life. He was a father, brother, uncle, friend, and an involved community member," the statement read. "This is not an isolated incident, but it should bring awareness of the oppression our people live through."

The family said for hours "loved ones sat in agony, not knowing of Raymond's condition," until they were told he had died, and said Mattia's body laid in front of his home for seven hours before a coroner from Tucson arrived.

"Raymond's rights were violated by the authorities whom we trust to protect our Nation," the statement read.

In a  statement released earlier this week, CBP said Border Patrol agents had instead joined a Tohono O’odham Police officer to respond to a shots-fired call. It doesn’t name Mattia, but said three agents fired on an individual after he "abruptly raised his right hand," and said total of ten agents were on scene wearing body cameras. The agency did not respond to questions about discrepancies between the accounts, citing ongoing investigations. 

In response to the CBP statement, Tohono O’odham Nation leadership said the new, preliminary information raises “serious concerns” about Mattia’s death but urged community members to wait until the investigations conclude. 

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Tohono O’odham Police, in addition to CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility. Neither the FBI nor tribal police has released additional information yet.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Menagers Dam.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.