Two veteran FBI agents were killed and three others were wounded in Florida on Tuesday as they were ambushed by a child pornography suspect who allegedly opened fire on the agents as they approached his door to serve a search warrant.
A law enforcement source told The Miami Herald that the gunman, who has not yet been identified, had been watching the agents approach the door through a doorbell camera and then fired through the closed door with an assault-style rifle, leaving the door with “huge holes” from the spray of bullets.
The hail of gunfire killed Special Agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43. Both had a long history of working cases involving crimes against children.
“Dan and Laura left home this morning to carry out the mission they signed up for and loved to do — to keep the American people safe,” George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office said during a press conference about the shootings. “They were valuable members of our team. They will forever be heroes. We will always honor their ultimate sacrifice.”
Piro said that on Tuesday morning, FBI agents and officers from other law enforcement agencies had assembled in Sunrise, Florida to serve a court-ordered federal search warrant as part of a violent crimes against children investigation.
The gunman, who authorities said they believe later died after barricading himself in his apartment, was suspected of possessing illegal graphic images of children, the paper reported.
Authorities have not released any additional details about the investigation.
“FBI Miami conducts search warrants almost daily. They are an essential and important part of what we do and are thoroughly researched and meticulously planned to take into account any threats or dangers,” Piro said. “The vast majority of these warrants occur without incident and the investigation continues.”
But just before 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, gunfire erupted at the Water Terrace apartment complex where authorities had been trying to serve the warrant. The bullets killed Alfin and Schwartzenberger and injured three other agents with “varying severity,” Piro said.
The FBI quickly called for backup and was assisted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit, which had been in the area to arrest another child porn suspect in a separate case. The SWAT team was able to help extract at least one of the wounded agents, sources told the paper.
Piro said two of the wounded agents were transported to a local hospital, while the third was treated at the scene.
The gunman, who authorities said they won’t identify until his next of kin is notified, died by suicide, sources told local station WPLG.
Alfin, a married father of one, joined the FBI in 2009 and was initially assigned to the FBI’s Albany office before he relocated to the Miami office in 2017. He played an integral role in the major child exploitation investigation, dubbed Playpen, that resulted in more than 500 arrests around the world, according to the FBI.
“It’s ongoing and we continue to address the threat to the best of our abilities,” Alfin previously said of the massive investigation. “It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”
He had been investigating crimes against children for more than six years before his death.
Schwartzenberger, a married mother of two, began her FBI career in 2005 at the agency’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, Piro said. She was reassigned to Miami in 2010 and had worked on crimes against children for seven years.
In a series of messages on Twitter, Florida state Sen. Lauren Book called the deaths “horrific.”
“Special Agent Dan Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger were heroes among us, making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while working to keep children safe from sexual abuse and online exploitation — scourges amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote. “Our community will never forget these agents’ bravery. We are safer because of their service."
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