By Elliot Spagat
SAN DIEGO — A man who fired a starter pistol as he fled border inspectors was wounded after two officers shot at him at the nation's busiest border crossing Thursday.
The afternoon shooting prompted U.S. Customs and Border Protection to temporarily suspend pedestrian travel into the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Angelica De Cima said.
The man grew nervous under questioning at an inspection booth and tried to run away, she said. He fired a shot from a starter pistol as officers converged on him and then the officers opened fire.
Starter pistols are used in horse or car races and do not fire bullets, but the metallic object appeared to be a weapon, San Diego Police Lt. Kevin Rooney said.
"It appears to be a semiautomatic weapon to the naked eye," he said. "It's metal, silver in color with rubber grips on it."
The man, who told authorities he was 47 years old, was taken to a trauma center for treatment. Rooney said he didn't know the man's name, nationality or how many times he was shot.
One of the border officers sustained a minor injury to his hand, authorities said.
Rooney said police will investigate whether the officers' use of force was justified. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators will determine if the man should face criminal charges.
Inspection for pedestrians travel was suspended for two hours until officials converted two of the 24 U.S.-bound vehicle lanes to handle pedestrian traffic.
About 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians enter the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing each day.
Last week, all U.S.-bound traffic was halted at the crossing after scaffolding installed to protect cars from overhead construction collapsed onto eight lanes, seriously injuring a construction worker. Ten others were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
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