Two FBI agents were shot and killed and three other agents were wounded early on Feb. 2 as they tried to serve a search warrant at a Florida home, in one of the bureau’s deadliest episodes in decades.
FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger died in the line of duty while executing a federal court-ordered search warrant in connection with an investigation of crimes against children, according to the bureau. The subject of the warrant also died.
Marc Ruskin, a former FBI special agent with 20 years of experience in undercover operations and a contributor to The Epoch Times, said it was “probably one of the worst days in the history of the FBI.”
“Over the past few years, the Bureau has been heavily politicized due to the actions of the upper management, but this is a real reminder that the field agents—the ones who toil day and night and put their lives on the line—are still there protecting people, even in this age of ‘defund the police,'” Ruskin told The Epoch Times.
Ruskin, now retired, worked primarily in undercover operations, for which he was awarded five commendations from the bureau director. He said the only comparable incident in his memory took place in the mid-1980s. In 1986, two agents were killed and five others were wounded in a Miami shootout with two bank robbery suspects, according to the bureau’s website.
He said he remembers feeling a “tremendous shock” when he heard the news of that shooting over the radio at the time.
The FBI is reviewing the Feb. 2 shooting, which occurred at about 6 a.m. in Sunrise, Florida, according to an FBI statement. Because it’s an ongoing investigation, the bureau hasn’t released any further information.
Ruskin said the incident reminds him that there aren’t many jobs “where you have to really fear for your life.”
He recalled as a young agent sometimes “really feeling fear” and also questioning why he chose such a deadly career.
“I was lucky I survived 27 years, with 20 years of undercover work,” he said. “I was often in fear. Being courageous doesn’t mean you don’t have fear, it means you have fear and you acknowledge it and you face it. You don’t let it overcome you, you overcome it.
“The public should appreciate what these agents are doing. When you do go to work in the morning, especially when your going to do an undercover meet, or executing a search warrant, you may not come home that night.
“That’s different from being an accountant or a politician or any other job pretty much.”
The last fatal shooting of an FBI agent on duty occurred on Nov. 19, 2008, also during the execution of a warrant, according to the website. Agent Samuel Hicks was shot and killed as he sought to execute a federal arrest warrant associated with a drug trafficking organization in Pittsburgh.
In a public statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that two of the wounded agents required hospital care and are now in stable condition; the third injured agent didn’t require hospitalization.
“Every day, FBI special agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe,” Wray said. “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.”
Reuters contributed to this report.