ICE Agent Was Fatally Shot During Struggle For Gun

Published February 18, 2012 10:27PM (EST)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent accused of shooting his supervisor at least six times at the ICE office in Long Beach died after an intense struggle for his gun with another agent, authorities said Saturday.

Ezequiel Garcia struggled for the gun after shooting the agency's second-in-command for the Los Angeles area in the hand, knee and torso, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.

Garcia had just had a discussion about his job performance with Kevin Kozak when the third agent heard gunfire and wheeled back into the office. The unnamed agent killed Garcia during Thursday's struggle, Kice said.

Kozak was hospitalized in stable condition after the shooting, and was alert and talking.

A federal official with knowledge of the investigation earlier told The Associated Press that Kozak had denied a request for an internal transfer request by Garcia, a lower-ranking supervisor agent. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

ICE routinely reallocates resources in line with priorities, but does not disclose information about transfers due to security reasons, Kice has said.

Kozak began his career with Treasury's customs bureau, while Garcia started with the Justice Department's former Immigration and Naturalization Service. Kozak has served in his current role since 2004, and Garcia was promoted in 2004 to be a supervisor within ICE.

The Long Beach federal building, about 20 miles south of Los Angeles, houses ICE, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Probation and Parole Office.

Along with the FBI, the shooting was being investigated by ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility and Long Beach police.

ICE Director John Morton praised Kozak and the third agent for their actions in the "very dangerous situation."

"Both of these men came to work yesterday never imagining if they would literally be fighting for their lives, but that is exactly what in fact happened, and they were tested in a very dangerous way and showed incredible fortitude," Morton said Friday.


Associated Press writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.

By Salon Staff

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