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ICE agent who allegedly opened fire was mulling divorce, wife says

February 19, 2012 |  8:18 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 who allegedly opened fire on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor on Thursday was considering divorce after 14 years of marriage, his wife said.

Ezequiel Garcia told his wife he was having trouble at work shortly before the shooting. They had planned to have a dinner of Korean BBQ that night, but he told her he had to first talk to a supervisor about his job performance.

"He never made it home," his wife, Balbina, said.

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