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ICE office where shooting occurred has had a troubled few years

February 18, 2012 |  2:34 pm

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

The shooting that left one federal immigration official dead and another wounded follows a troubled few years for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Los Angeles field office.

A high-ranking ICE official and his wife, an intelligence analyst, have been indicted and are on trial in federal court on charges of defrauding the government. Another official, suspected of doctoring his college diploma, has been on leave for more than a year while a grand jury investigates the matter.

According to court files, two other ranking supervisors were internally investigated and disciplined for an extramarital affair and related professional misconduct.

Thursday's shooting occurred at the federal building in Long Beach.

Ezequiel Garcia, 45, who supervised a document and benefit fraud task force, allegedly shot Deputy Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kozak, 51, in the 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, 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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Photo: A Homeland Security vehicle and a Long Beach Police Department car are parked in front of the federal building in Long Beach after the ICE agent shooting. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times