SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Two FBI agents were fatally shot and three wounded Tuesday while serving a federal search warrant in a child exploitation case in South Florida, authorities said.
The suspect also died at some point during the standoff in which he barricaded himself inside a home, said FBI Miami Special Agent Michael D. Leverock.
The confrontation in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Sunrise marked one of the bloodiest days in FBI history in South Florida and among the deadliest nationally as well, according to the FBI website.
The FBI agents had come to the apartment complex to serve a federal search warrant in connection with a case involving child pornography and violent crimes against children, according to FBI Miami Special Agent Michael D. Leverock and FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare.
Two of the wounded agents were taken to hospitals to be treated and were in stable condition, Leverock said.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray identified the two slain agents as Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger. Wray said one of the three injured agents did not require hospitalization.
“Every day, FBI Special Agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe,” Wray said in a statement. “Special Agent Alfin and Special Agent Schwartzenberger exemplified heroism today in defense of their country. The FBI will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the following statement:
“We mourn the tragic loss of two of our FBI colleagues who were killed today in the line of duty,” said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson. “Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones and with their three colleagues who were shot in today’s devastating events. On this dark day, we pay tribute to the brave men and women of the FBI who put their lives on the line every day in support of our mission. We will never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by these special agents.”
Television video showed police motorcycles, with lights flashing, escorting a fire rescue truck that was bringing the body of one of the agents to the medical examiner’s office in nearby Dania Beach. Law enforcement officials from numerous agencies lined up to pay their respect as a flag-covered body was removed from the vehicle and taken inside.
Alex Piquero, a University of Miami sociology professor who has specialized in criminology, said serving search warrants at a person’s home is incredibly hazardous for law enforcement officers.
“Serving warrants, next to domestic dispute calls and high speed chases, are among the most dangerous for law enforcement — they don’t know what awaits them on the inside,” Piquero said.
The shooting happened around 6 a.m. in a middle-class neighborhood of single family homes, duplexes and apartment buildings. Hours later, Sunrise Police urged residents of Water Terrace to remain inside their homes while law enforcement blocked the entrances to their community.
Balsamo contributed from Washington. Frieda Frisaro contributed from Fort Lauderdale.