Two FBI agents were killed and three were wounded in a shooting early Tuesday while agents were serving a warrant in a child exploitation case in Florida, according to the FBI. The suspect died of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound, a person familiar with the matter said.
Authorities are investigating whether the suspect had cameras rigged at the apartment to provide an outside view of people who might be approaching at the time of the incident, said the source, who is not authorized to comment publicly.
At 6:04 a.m., FBI and officers from multiple agencies were serving a warrant at the Water Terrace apartment complex in Sunrise, Florida, when the suspect inside started shooting, according to Otishia Browning-Smith, a spokeswoman for the Sunrise Police Department. The suspect, who was not identified, barricaded himself inside the residence.
"A team of law enforcement officers were there to execute a federal court-ordered search warrant in furtherance of a violent crimes against children case," the FBI said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray identified the two deceased agents Tuesday as Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger.
The director said two of the three wounded were in stable condition at a Florida hospital. The third agent did not require hospitalization.
“Every day, FBI special agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe,” Wray said. “Special Agent Alfin and Special Agent Schwartzenberger exemplified heroism today in defense of their country. The FBI will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”
At the White House, President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to the families of the agents.
“I can only imagine how these families are feeling,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
Biden said the families of those “in a combat zone, in the military or an FBI agent or a police officer… dreads the possibility of that call, of receiving that phone call.”
“My heart aches for the families,” he said. “To put their lives on the line, it’s a hell of a price to pay.”
The FBI's Inspection Division is investigating the incident per bureau policy, according to a statement from the FBI.
"The review process is thorough and objective and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances," the FBI said.
Asked how many rounds were fired, Browning-Smith said, "There were too many to count."
Julius McLymont, whose house borders the apartment complex, told The Associated Press the gunfire erupted with about four shots around 6 a.m.
He thought it was a car backfiring, but about two minutes later, he heard another volley of about five shots. He went outside and looked over his fence as police cars and ambulances rushed in. He saw officers working on someone lying on the ground, who was loaded into an ambulance.
A SWAT team appeared next, officers donning riot gear. They went around the building, yelling, “Go, go, go.”
McLymont said he couldn’t see the apartment where the shooting happened from his location.
Video from the scene shows several law enforcement agencies swarming the South Florida neighborhood, 11 miles outside Fort Lauderdale.
The Sunrise Police Department announced on Twitter that several roads were closed because of the heavy police presence. Hours later, the department said the scene was safe but urged residents to stay inside during the "ongoing investigation."
Another large group of officers gathered outside a hospital in Fort Lauderdale where victims were taken.
Browning-Smith said four to six Sunrise officers worked as a backup unit during the early morning operation, but none of them was injured. She did not identify the deceased suspect but said the department had no prior dealings with the person, nor was she aware of any concern before the confrontation that the suspect was armed.
In December, an FBI agent was wounded while serving a warrant near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Derick Pacheco-Garcia, 32, was charged with assault on a federal officer and as a felon in possession of a firearm. In 2008, FBI Special Agent Sam Hicks was fatally shot while serving a warrant near Pittsburgh as part of an investigation into a violent drug trafficking group.
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson was briefed on the shooting and closely monitored the situation Tuesday, a Justice Department spokesperson said.
The loss of the two agents Tuesday morning marked the deadliest day for the bureau since 2013 when two agents died during training exercises for the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team.
The FBI Agents Association called the deaths “devastating to the entire FBI community and to our country.”
"These agents were working to protect the most vulnerable in our society,” association President Brian O’Hare said Tuesday. “FBIAA stands with the agents’ families and pledges our support to them during this difficult time.”
Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sunrise, Florida, shooting: 2 FBI agents killed in shootout identified