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ICE agent told wife of work problems before allegedly opening fire

February 18, 2012 |  9:11 am

Photo: On the morning after the shooting, a Homeland Security vehicle and a Long Beach PD car are still parked in front of the building on Ocean Blvd. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times
A federal immigration agent had told wife he was having trouble at work on Thursday, shortly before allegedly opening fire on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor.

According to his wife, Ezequiel Garcia seemed fine Thursday but said before he came home he had to talk to his high-supervisor about his job performance.

Authorities allege Garcia, 45, who supervised a document and benefit fraud task force, shot Deputy Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kozak, 51, in his upper torso, legs and hands before being shot and killed by another immigration official. Kozak, a 30-year veteran agent who previously served as acting head of ICE's Los Angeles operations, remains hospitalized but is in stable condition, and is alert and talking, federal officials said at a news conference Friday. Officials did not identify the third supervisor, who has been placed on leave, citing "concern for his privacy."

One police source who was present at the scene said a group of Los Angeles Police Department detectives and officers who happened to be in the building rushed over to the office, responding to a call for medical help over the speaker system.

Amid thick smoke and the smell of gunpowder, they saw Garcia lying on his side, apparently dead, recalled the source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. The ICE agent who shot him stood stunned, and the supervisor lay on the floor cursing in anger and saying that his stomach felt like it was burning, he said.

"This guy's a fighter," he said of the wounded agent. "He was awake, and lucid."

"Kozak is alive today because of the heroic action of another ICE supervisor," Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold said at a news conference. "This is the first time anything of this nature has occurred within ICE. And we're doing everything humanly possible to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The shooting occurred as Kozak was having a meeting with Garcia over his job performance.

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-- Victoria Kim, Paloma Esquivel, Phil Willon, Hector Becerra and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A Homeland Security vehicle and a Long Beach Police Department car are parked in front of the building on Ocean Boulevard Friday where an ICE agent was shot. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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