SUNRISE, Fla. — Two FBI agents were killed and three wounded Tuesday after a standoff with a shooter in South Florida that forced people living nearby to huddle inside their homes as shots rang out and SWAT teams stormed an apartment building.
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.
The fallen agents have been identified as Special Agent Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger.
"Every day, FBI special agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe," FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote 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. 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."
Two of the three wounded agents were taken to hospitals to be treated and were listed as stable, FBI Miami Special Agent Michael D. Leverock said in a statement. The third injured agent did not require hospitalization.
Leverock said the shooter died, but he did not say how or identify the person.
The shooting happened around 6 a.m. in a middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes, duplexes and apartment buildings located west of Fort Lauderdale, near the Everglades.
The gunfire erupted with about four shots — “Boom, boom, boom, boom!” said Julius McLymont, whose house borders the Water Terrace apartment complex where the shooter was barricaded.
At first, McLymont thought the gunfire was a car backfiring, then two minutes later he heard about five more 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 before they loaded the person 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 said he couldn’t see the apartment where the shooting happened from his location.
Hours later, Sunrise police officers urged people in Water Terrace to remain inside their homes while law enforcement blocked the entrances to their community.
The FBI agents had come to the apartment complex to serve a federal search warrant in connection with a case involving violent crimes against children, Leverock said.
FBI agents shot in Florida
"Infuriated by the cowardly killing of federal agents shot while serving a warrant on a suspect accused of crimes against children," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody tweeted. "Instead of answering for his despicable crimes, this pathetic, evil man opened fire on officers. Justin and I pray for our entire LE family."
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.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed his condolences to the families of the fallen FBI agents Tuesday during an unrelated news conference.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also noted that President Biden was briefed on the matter and is expected to comment later today.
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.
There have been several other shootings throughout the FBI's history in which two agents have died, according to the bureau's Wall of Honor.
In South Florida, the infamous “Miami Shootout” in 1986 claimed the lives of Agents Ben Grogan and Jerry Dove in a gunbattle with two heavily armed robbery suspects who were also killed. Five other FBI agents were wounded in that shooting, which led the bureau to upgrade the weapons that agents carry.
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis issued the following statement:
“I just received a briefing from FDLE Commissioner Swearingen and the situation and facts on the ground are fluid. What we know is there are multiple deaths and injuries and we may see these numbers fluctuate as the day goes on. First and foremost, we offer our thoughts and prayers to the law enforcement officers who were involved in this catastrophic event. This tragedy is a reminder that we’ve got men and women all throughout the nation who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. The truth is there are no routine law enforcement operations – especially when serving warrants.
Second, we communicated to FDLE that my Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) stands ready to support any investigative needs if requested. When one law enforcement agent is hurt or killed in the line-of-duty, it affects all of us – and we need every man and woman with a badge to know that Florida supports, loves and appreciates their service to our country.”
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