SUNRISE, Florida (Associated Press) – Two FBI agents were fatally wounded and three wounded while attempting to execute a search warrant in Florida, prompting a rapid response team to storm an apartment building where the suspect was holed up while neighbors congregated inside their homes. The suspect ended up dead.
The standoff in the Sun Rise suburb of Fort Lauderdale was one of the bloodiest days in the history of the FBI in South Florida and among the deadliest days nationally as well, according to the FBI website.
FBI agents came to the apartment complex to issue a federal search warrant in connection with a case involving child pornography and violent crimes against children, according to Miami FBI Special Agent Michael D.
Leverock said that two of the wounded were taken to hospitals for treatment and were in stable condition. FBI Director Christopher Ray said in a statement that the third did not require hospitalization.
The shooting occurred around 6 a.m. in a middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings west of Fort Lauderdale, near the Everglades.
The shooting erupted with about four shots – “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!” Said Julius Maclemont, whose home is on the border of the Water Terrace apartment complex where the suspect was trapped.
At first Maclemont thought the shooting was the result of a reverse car, then two minutes later he heard about five more shots. He went out and looked over the fence of his house as police cars and ambulances rushed in. Then he saw officers working on a person lying on the ground before they transported the person in an ambulance.
The SWAT team appeared next, with officers wearing riot gear. Then they ran around the building shouting, “Go go, go, go!” Maclemont said. He said he could not see from his position the apartment where the shooting happened.
Hours later, El Shorouk police urged Water Terrace residents to stay indoors while law enforcement authorities closed the entrances to their community.
Ray identified the two murdered agents, Daniel Alvin and Laura Schwartzenberger, both of whom specialize in investigating crimes against children.
“Special Agent Alvin and Special Agent Schwarzenberger are embodying the heroism today in defending their country,” he said. “The FBI will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”
Schwartzenberger, 43, has been an FBI agent since December 2005 and has worked in the Miami field office as part of a group of agents dealing with violent crimes against children, according to court records. Her work has focused primarily on tracking down child sexual exploitation perpetrators online and investigating other crimes against children.
Alvin, 36, who also investigated child abuse cases, previously worked at FBI headquarters to deal with major cases involving violent crimes against children, according to court records. He earned a college degree in information technology and underwent the FBI’s specialized cybercrime training programs. He was involved in a major child exploitation investigation dubbed Playpen that led to arrests around the world.
After Tuesday’s shooting, police motorbikes flashing with their lights escorted a fire rescue truck while bringing the body of a customer to the medical examination office in nearby Dania Beach. Law enforcement officials from several agencies lined up to pay their respects as a flag-covered corpse was removed from the car and taken inside.
Alex Pecero, a professor of sociology at the University of Miami who specializes in criminology, said that executing search warrants in a person’s home poses a great risk to law enforcement officers.
“Arrest warrants, along with local dispute calls and high-speed chases, are among the most dangerous for law enforcement – they don’t know what awaits them from within,” Pekero said.
There have been several other shootings throughout the history of the FBI where two agents have died, according to the FBI’s Wall of Honor.
In South Florida, the infamous “Miami Shootout” in 1986 took the lives of Agents Ben Grogan and Jerry Dove in a gunfight with two heavily armed robbery suspects who were also killed. Five FBI agents were wounded in the shooting, prompting the bureau to modernize the weapons the agents carried.