Daniel Alfin, one of the two FBI special agents slain in a Florida shooting, was a veteran investigator of crimes against children who testified in federal court more than 20 times and trained other agents.
In a statement, FBI Director Chris Wray named the deceased agents as Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, and Alfin, 36. The suspect was named as a computer consultant named David Lee Huber.
The FBI director paid tribute to to both agents for exemplifying “heroism today in defense of their country.”
The agents were “shot and killed this morning in the line of duty while executing a federal court-ordered search warrant in a crimes against children investigation in Sunrise, Florida,” said the FBI director. Wray added that five agents were shot in all; two of the three agents expected to survive are in stable condition at the hospital and one did not suffer wounds requiring hospitalization.
The shooting unfolded as the suspect barricaded himself in at an apartment complex; he shot and killed himself, but has not yet been named. The last time an FBI agent was killed was in 2008.
The Miami Herald reported that the suspect saw the agents coming through a doorbell camera and opening fire through a door.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alfin, a Member of an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Was Remembered for His Bravery
FBI Director Chris Wray: "Special Agent Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger, were shot and killed this morning in the line of duty while executing a federal court-ordered search warrant in a crimes against children investigation in Sunrise, Florida.” pic.twitter.com/Ct7USw2ihm
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) February 2, 2021
Alfin had worked for years to protect children from Internet predators.
Both of the slain agents were “veteran agents of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program,” according to the Miami Herald.
FBI Director Wray said in his statement that the FBI “lost two of our own today” and that Schwartzenberger and Alfin “put themselves in harm’s way to keep the American people safe.”
“Special Agent Alfin and Special Agent Schwartzenberger exemplified heroism today in defense of their country,” continued Wray. “The FBI will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”
He added, “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.”
Videos showed the bodies of the agents accompanied by law enforcement escort as they were transported to the medical examiner’s office. One body was draped with an American flag. You can watch that video here.
The Sunrise, Florida, Police Department tweeted that the shooting occurred “in the area of 4200 Nob Hill Rd.”
2. Alfin, Who Was Married With a Child, Was Helping Serve a Warrant When He Was Shot & Killed
Alfin was helping serve a warrant on the suspect when he was killed; the suspect was wanted for “violent crimes against children,” NBC Miami reported.
The Miami Herald reported that the two agents were executing a “routine search warrant to seize the suspect’s computer and other evidence.”
They had matched an internet search history to the suspect, the newspaper reported.
The Water Terrace apartment complex was the scene of the shooting at 6:04 a.m. in Sunrise, Florida, which is near Fort Lauderdale.
3. Alfin Worked as a Special Agent With the FBI Since 2009
Alfin signed the affidavit that backed up a complaint against former Miami mayoral aide Rene Pedrosa, who was accused in a groping and lewd photo case.
According to the affidavit, obtained by Heavy.com, and filed in federal court with the case, Alfin was
a Special Agent with the FBI since April 2009.
“I am currently assigned to the FBI Miami Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task force,” he wrote.
“In this capacity. l am responsible for conducting criminal investigations of statutes contained in Title 18 of the United States Code, including crimes related to child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children.”
He added, “I have participated in investigations of persons suspected of violating federal child pornography laws, including Title l 8, United States Code, Sections 2251 , 2252 and 2252A. These investigations have included the use of surveillance techniques. the interviewing of subjects and witnesses and the planning and execution of arrest, search, and seizure warrants. In the course of these investigations, I have reviewed thousands of still images and videos containing child pornography and images depicting minor children engaged in sexually explicit conduct on various forms of electronic media including computers, digital cameras, and wireless telephones, and have discussed and reviewed these materials with other law enforcement officers.”
Alfin was quoted in an FBI article on the sentencing of the creator of what the agency alleged was “the world’s largest child pornography website,” Playpen.
“We were only able to pull it off with a lot of support from our international partners and field offices,” Alfin was quoted in the story, which said he “investigated the case as part of the Bureau’s Violent Crimes Against Children section.”
He added, “…we took normal investigative steps—seized a copy of the website, served search warrants for e-mail accounts, followed the money—and everything led back to Steven Chase.”
According to the New York Times, Alfin was also involved in an investigation “into a dark web forum beginning in 2014 where members would upload and trade graphic images of child sexual abuse.”
4. Alfin Instructed Other Agents on Child Exploitation Investigations as a Member of the FBI Adjunct Faculty Program
#FBI Seattle offers our condolences to the family and friends of Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, including our colleagues at @FBIMiamiFL. We’re grateful for their bravery, and we honor their ultimate sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/Wh62KbzIgy
— FBI Seattle (@FBISeattle) February 2, 2021
Alfin was so experienced in the area that he instructed other FBI agents on child exploitation cases, according to the federal affidavit.
“I have also participated in training programs for the investigation and enforcement of federal child pornography laws relating to the use of computers for receiving, transmitting, and storing child pornography,” he wrote in the federal court document.
“I am a member of the FBI Adjunct Faculty Program and certified to provide instruction to other FBI Agents and law enforcement officerse in certain areas relating to child exploitation investigations. I am proficient in the area of computer forensics and trained to perform computer forensics for the FBI.”
He added, “I have been recognized as an expert in federal court in areas relating to computer forensics and the investigation of child exploitation crimes. I have testified in federal court on more than 20 occasions, both as an expert and a lay witness.”
Alfin had previous addresses in New York, Maryland, and Washington State, according to online records.
5. Schwartzenberger Spoke to a Middle School About Cyber Safety & Gave an Interview About a Sextortion Scam
As with Alfin, Schwartzenberger was an expert in investigations to protect children.
A 2016 tweet from a Florida middle school indicated Schwartzenberger spoke to children at the school about cyber safety. “Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger giving a lesson on cyber safety in Law Studies!” the tweet reads.
In 2020, she spoke at the school again. “Great to have FBI Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger join us to present to our 6th Grade Legal Studies & Forensic Science students about online safety and cyber crimes!” a tweet reads.
Great to have FBI Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger join us to present to our 6th Grade Legal Studies & Forensic Science students about online safety and cyber crimes! @MDCPSCentral @FBIMiamiFL @FBI @miamimagnets pic.twitter.com/sJ906w1Wdc
— Rockway MS (@rmsfalcons) February 13, 2020
In 2018, Schwartzenberger spoke to a local CBS affiliate about a sextortion scam in which criminals pretended they had hacked into people’s computers to get explicit photos of them. “It is very traumatizing for the victim,” Schwartzenberger told the station in that interview. “Their reputation is on the line.”
She warned, “There has been cases where they’ve hacked into the victim’s computer and hacked the person’s camera. That is where they got images or videos.”
The Miami Herald reported that Schwartzenberger had been an FBI agent since 2005 and was assigned to the Miami office of the FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative, which “investigates the online sexual exploitation of children.”
An affidavit quoted Schwartzenberger as saying, according to the Herald, “I have conducted and assisted in several child exploitation investigations and have executed search warrants that have led to seizures of child pornography.”
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