EDITORIAL: FBI agents died trying to keep children safe

The Miami Herald

South Florida just earned a shameful distinction — it is the single region in the country where the most FBI agents have been killed since G-men were created in 1908.

The latest bloody chapter played out Tuesday morning. FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, were killed in a horrific shootout at a Sunrise, Florida, apartment building where they were serving a warrant. They died in the line of duty protecting children from a man thought to be a sexual predator. Our condolences go out to their families.

Three other agents were wounded.

What went wrong is now the painful question that FBI investigators will work doggedly to answer. A somber George Piro, Miami FBI Special Agent in Charge, rightly called Alfin and Schwartzenberger heroes, who left home Tuesday morning to do their jobs.

Few details have been released about what happened., Such warrants commonly are served in conjunction with a SWAT team, although Tuesday’s operation was not. And did agents know the suspect had a high-powered weapon?

Piro told reporters that agents are “meticulous” in their preparation before they knock on a suspect’s door.

President Joe Biden publicly recognized the shooting as the tragedy it was and, as any true leader should, sent condolences to the agents’ families. We’ll soon find out “how this happened,” he promised.

The events unfolded as the agents were serving a search warrant at the home of a suspected pornographer, who may have committed violent crimes against children.

It is believed the suspect monitored the arrival of the agents from a doorbell camera and ambushed them through his closed door, firing a cascade of bullets from an assault-style rifle, the Miami Herald reported. He then took his own life.

In the coming days, we’ll learn what possibly depraved acts the suspect allegedly committed that drew the attention of the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

For long-time residents, the deadly shootout between a suspect and FBI agents recalls that morning in the Miami-Dade County neighborhood of Pinecrest in 1986 when FBI agents confronted two killer bank robbers on a quiet street.

A firefight broke out.

When it was over, more than 150 bullets had been exchanged between agents and robbers as residents in the area cowered. Killed were Agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove. Five other agents were wounded. They recovered.

The serial bank robbers, William Matix and Michael Platt, died in the shootout.

What’s clear is that executing a search warrant is among the most dangerous of law enforcement duties.

The Miami Herald

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