SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — At least two FBI agents were killed and three others wounded while serving a warrant in a child exploitation case in South Florida, authorities said.
The suspect is deceased, the FBI said in a statement. Earlier, the suspect appeared to be contained inside a unit of an apartment complex, surrounded by law enforcement.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray later identified the bureau employees killed as FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger. He said two other agents were shot and wounded but were in stable condition, while a third injured agent did not require hospitalization.
“Every day, FBI Special Agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe,” Wray said. “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. We continue to stand by our FBI Family, and the families of these Special Agents, in the days to come, bringing every resource we can to get through this together.”
The FBI’s Inspection Division is investigating the shooting, the FBI said.
The agents had been executing a search warrant to seize evidence in connection with suspected possession of child pornography, FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare said in a statement.
It is extraordinarily rare for FBI special agents to be shot and killed in the line of duty. The bureau typically makes arrests and executes search warrants by overwhelming suspects with a show of force.
“In the FBI, we tend to defuse situations by removing the fight-or-flight inclination, via our overwhelming presence,” wrote James Gagliano, a former FBI agent, in 2019. “To arrest one, we bring 10. For 10, we’ll bring 100.”
When FBI Special Agent Barry Lee Bush was shot and killed in a friendly fire incident in 2007, he was the first FBI agent to be fatally shot on the job in 10 years. Another special agent, Samuel Hicks, was killed while executing a federal arrest warrant in 2008. He is the last FBI agent killed in a shooting listed on the FBI’s Wall of Honor.
In recent weeks, the FBI has been scrambling to charge and arrest the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and install former President Donald Trump to a second term. So far, there’s no indication that the search warrant executed in South Florida had a link to the Capitol insurrection or that there was a lack of preparation or manpower because the bureau was so overwhelmed with insurrection-related cases.
The gunfire erupted with about four shots at about 6 a.m., said Julius McLymont, whose house borders the Water Terrace apartment complex.
“Boom boom boom boom,” he said.
He thought it was a car backfiring but about two minutes later he heard another volley of about five shots. He went outside and looked over his fence as police cars and ambulances rushed in. Then he saw officers working on someone lying on the ground, who was then loaded into an ambulance.
A SWAT team appeared next, with officers donning riot gear. Then they went around the building, yelling “go go go.”
McLymont said he couldn’t see the apartment where the shooting happened from his location.
Authorities did not immediately release any information about the suspect.
Another large contingent of officers gathered outside a Fort Lauderdale hospital where victims were taken, according to television video.
The Sunrise Police Department tweeted about the heavy police presence and the closure of surrounding roads.
The shooting happened in Water Terrace, a complex of multi-unit homes. Hours later, Sunrise Police urged its residents to remain inside and be patient while law enforcement blocked the entrances to their community.
For the Associated Press, Terry Spencer and Michael Balsamo reported, with Balsamo contributing from Washington and Frieda Frisaro contributing from Fort Lauderdale.
For HuffPost, Hayley Miller and Ryan Reilly contributed reporting.