Border Patrol agent engaged in armed standoff after being suspected of child sex crimes: police

Border Patrol agent engaged in armed standoff after being suspected of child sex crimes: police
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A U.S. Border Patrol agent is facing charges on suspicion of sexually abusing multiple children for several years.

Authorities in Sierra Vista, Ariz., reported Friday that suspect Dana Thornhill, 49, had been arrested Thursday evening following an armed standoff at a nearby church lasting four hours, according to The Associated Press.

Police Lt. Sean Brownson said local authorities partnered with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to monitor Thornhill on suspicion of "continuous" abuse of multiple children.

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"We felt strongly at this time that he should not be walking the streets based on what types of crimes he had committed, the sexual assaults on children, and then the fact that they were continuous over multiple years," Brownson said.

Brownson added that investigators moved to arrest Thornhill on Thursday upon a determination that his law enforcement training posed a significant threat to the Sierra Vista community.

Authorities declined to release information about the age or number of victims due to the sensitive nature of the case.

Thornhill was reportedly aware that he was being investigated and on Thursday afternoon fled outside city limits to a church he had access to through a prior affiliation.

He barricaded himself inside the church and was armed with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

Investigators later found a disassembled handgun along with ammunition and Thornhill's Border Patrol credentials inside the church.

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Police also executed a search warrant Thursday for Thornhill's home in Sierra Vista, finding evidence further linking him to his accused crimes.

Thornhill was handed to the Cochise County jail Thursday and is being held without bond.

He faces two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and two charges of sexual assault. Under Arizona law, these charges can carry sentences of up to life in prison.

It is unclear at this time whether Thornhill has an attorney to represent his defense.

Border Patrol's Tucson Sector said it takes the allegations against Thornhill seriously and that Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency's watchdog office, will work with investigators.

"CBP does not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty," the Tucson Sector's statement read.

Thornhill's employment with Border Patrol, including his length of time with the agency and where he was stationed, will not be released, according to the Tucson Sector.

Authorities did promise transparency on all other facets of the investigation.