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Update: Gunman's Job Performance was Discussed Before he Shot ICE's Second in Command

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was being 'counseled' by supervisor before he shot him 6 times. A third agent was called a hero today for intervening and fatally shooting gunman.

Updated with L.A. Times report that Garcia was undergoing a divorce.

ICE Supervisory Special Agent Ezequiel Garcia of Murrieta was being counseled about some under performance of his job as he sat in an office with the supervisor he would shoot six times, and with the agent who felt forced to shoot Garcia, authorities said.

Agent Garcia, who was 45 years old, served as a supervisor on the Homeland Security Investigations-led Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, and ICE leadership said that while Garcia was not being disciplined, he was being "counseled" about some aspect of his work.

The Los Angeles Times Saturday quoted an unnamed source who reported arriving to the shooting on the seventh floor of the federal building moments afterward. The source descirbed the smell of gunpowder, and Garcia lying dead on his side, with the supervisor he shot cursing. The agent who killed Garcia to save the supervisor looked stunned, the source said. The Times also reported Garcia's wife stating they were undergoing a divorce.

KABC-Los Angeles reported Friday night that Garcia may have been denied a transfer. It also reported that Garcia filed a lawsuit against LAPD charging racial profiling and alleged that officers beat and arrested him while he was on an undercover assignment. He did not prevail in the lawsuit, KABC reported.

The federal agent who shot and killed Garcia, his fellow Immigrantion and Customs Enforcement agent, was hailed as a hero Friday by the federal agency's national director.

The intervening agent first struggled with the gunman before shooting him, the agency said. He was not named in order to shield his privacy a day after he felt forced to fatally shoot one colleague in order to save another one, the ICE agency leadership said Friday.

The agent that he saved was Kevin Kovak, 51, the second in charge of the Los Angeles bureau of ICE, the first in command, Claude Arnold, said at an earlier televised news conference.

ICE National Director John Morton echoed the praise for the intervening agent and called for healing. He also thanked the support of other law enforcement agencies, and the community, in the shootings' aftermath.

The Los Angeles bureau is responsible for Southern California, and led by Claude Arnold, the special agent in charge. Kovak, along with another deputy special agent in charge, share the second-highest command positions, said ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

A transcript of Morton's late afternoon news conference:

"As you know, a third agent intervened and shot agent Garcia after agent Garcia opened fire on Mr. Kozak. I just visited him and his family and I am very happy to report that while agent Kozac suffered multiple gunshot wounds all over his body, he is alone, stable and focused on his recovery.

"That he is alive is due, in no small part, to his own conviction, reactions and his iron will to survive. I'm also happy to report that he is surrounded by a very strong and loving family. This family, let me tell you, is going to see our agent through.

"I also had a chance to meet with the agent who intervened and shot the agent Garcia. While I cannot name the agent at this time, I can tell you that he, too, is doing remarkably well under the circumstances.

"This agent acted with extraordinary calm and took brief, quick and decisive steps to deal with a very dangerous situation. Both of these men came to work yesterday, never imagining that they would literally be fighting for their lives.

"But that's exactly what in fact happened. And they were tested in a very dangerous way and showed incredible fortitude, for which I am very grateful and very proud, as the head of the agency.

"The outpouring of support we have received from the Southern California community and the nation has been simply tremendous. I cannot thank the Long Beach Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and our own I.C.E. family enough in this circumstance.

I also want to take a moment to note the particular heroism demonstrated by several LAPD officers who tended to Kevin's wounds immediately upon this shooting upstairs in the office. ICE owes them a deep, deep debt of gratitude.

"What happened yesterday is going to take some time to investigate, so I ask your patience as the FBI, the Long Beach Police Department, and the ICE office of professional responsibility gathers the facts and evidence. I know you'd like to know more details. We all want to know the detail as soon as possible but we need to do this investigation properly for all involved. Events like this test us as an agency, and it will take time for all of us to heal. But I can assure you this: We are a resilient agency, focused on promoting the public safety of this community and communities around this country. Yesterday was a dark day. No doubt about it. But we will emerge a stronger agency. We're going to continue to do what we do every day, which is enforce the law, catch criminals, put them in jail and promote public safety."

 

Earlier story:

ICE's national director, John Morton, will address the media at 4 p.m. and has flown out from Washington, D.C. to offer support to the staff and families with relatives involved in the shootings--the first such workplace violence of ICE agents since ICE was formed in 2003, the agency said.

Here is the text of Claude Arnold's media statement that ICE spokeswoman Kice sent Patch:

“Good afternoon.  My name is Claude Arnold - I’m the Special Agent in Charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles.

 As you all know, late yesterday afternoon, two HSI agents who work here at this federal building in Long Beach were shot inside the office.

 One of the agents, died at the scene; a second agent suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was rushed to a local hospital.

 The wounded agent is Deputy Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kozak.   Mr. Kozak is one of my two deputies here in Los Angeles and he reports directly to me.  Mr. Kozak has served as a Deputy Special Agent in Charge here since August 2004.  Mr. Kozak began his federal law enforcement career with the legacy U.S. Customs Service almost 30 years ago in San Diego, Calif.  He subsequently transferred to the Custom Service’s Miami office where he served as a criminal investigator until 2001, when he returned to California to take a position as a supervisory investigator in Los Angeles.  Mr. Kozak remains hospitalized in stable condition at this time.  His family and colleagues are with him.  He is alert and talking. 

 The deceased officer was Supervisory Special Agent Ezequiel Garcia.  Agent Garcia, who was 45 years old, served as a supervisor on the HSI-led Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.  Agent Garcia began his federal law enforcement career in 1988 with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service.  In 1991, he became a criminal investigator for the INS and transferred to Los Angeles.  In 2003, with the abolishment of the INS, he became a part of the newly created agency known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  In 2004, Special Agent Garcia was promoted to supervisor and he has served in a supervisory capacity with ICE HSI in Los Angeles ever since. . 

 Agent Kozak is alive today because of the heroic actions of a third ICE supervisor.  While that agent’s quick thinking saved Agent Kozak’s life, it also meant one of his colleagues died.  We are not currently releasing the third agents’ name out of consideration for his privacy in this difficult time. 

 I know many of you have questions about the circumstances surrounding yesterday’s shooting.  Since the FBI is the lead in the ongoing investigation, I’m going to defer to the Bureau to discuss those issues.  However, I want to emphasize - this is the first time anything of this nature has occurred within ICE and we are doing everything humanly possible to understand why it happened and ensure it will not happen again. 

 ICE’s national director - John Morton is on his way to Los Angeles at this hour – and will be here to offer his support.  Meanwhile, we want to again thank our law enforcement colleagues here and around the country for their assistance.  I would also like to express my personal appreciation to all those in the community who have reached out to us to express their condolences.  In times like this, those kindnesses are a source of great comfort.

 As I said last night, HSI agents devote their lives to protecting the public and our communities from harm.  We know things like this happen in other workplaces, but no one ever expects it will happen to them.  Our agents deal with diversity on a daily basis. They are courageous and dedicated professionals and I am confident we will emerge from this tragedy stronger and more committed than ever to carrying out our mission.”

Jay Grosflam February 18, 2012 at 05:51 PM
IMO on this sad story - all I got out of reading this is 1st in command, 2nd in command, 2nd highest, etc...instead of one team trying to be successful. There is only one ICE, not emperors and cardinals. Sad all around.
Nancy Wride February 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Unfortunately, because the setting was a job performance discussion with a supervisor, and the shooting victim was the overall supervisor, the relationship of the shooter and victim seems essential to the story, and most of us work for somebody, even if it is our customers, the taxpayers, our readers, and so on. Do you work this agency, Jay?

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