FBI Shooting

Serving Warrants Is Always Hazardous, and Law Enforcement Meticulously Prepares for Them

Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director of the FBI, talks about the uncertainties law enforcement face when serving search warrants

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Flags are at half staff at the FBI building in Miramar, a building named after the two FBI agents killed in a 1986 shootout with bank robbers in South Miami. 

Tuesday morning’s tragedy happened as the agents were executing a search warrant. Now the bureau is in mourning, the South Florida law enforcement community is stunned, but every cop knows there’s potential danger every time they knock on a door. 

“The nature of serving a warrant, whether it’s arrest or for a search, always involves an element of the unknown and when people understand that law enforcement is coming for them, that their freedoms may soon be ended, all bets are off,” said Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director of the FBI. 

“It’s not about second guessing here," said Juan Perez, former director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. "The perpetrator’s the one responsible for it, these men and women who went there today, they went to serve their community, they went to protect children."

Whether it’s the FBI or local police agencies, they try to prepare for everything. Threat assessments are done before anyone approaches a door, but they can’t prepare for the subject’s mindset.

“The unknown is what that person has in their head, what they’re thinking, and how far they’re willing to go, and law enforcement is a reactionary force, we react to peoples’ actions and unfortunately, because we’re reacting, sometimes we react and it may be too late, and in this case, it was,” Perez said. 

The FBI shooting in Sunrise hits particularly close to those who work in law enforcement. It's a reminder of the constant danger they face. NBC 6's Marissa Bagg reports

Perez told us Tuesday's awful events reminded him of the two Miami-Dade Police officers who were shot to death as they tried to serve a warrant ten years ago, detectives Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo. 

In 2004, a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy, Todd Fatta, was killed serving a search warrant on a child pornography suspect. Figliuzzi says those cases might be the most dangerous of all.

“Most people don’t understand the extremely high-risk nature of a child pornography, crimes against children warrant execution," Figliuzzi said. "You don’t typically think of that with this violation, but the reality is that the nature of that crime, the nature of that warrant is that you are essentially ending someone’s reputation in the community. They have nothing left to lose."

Figliuzzi just wrote a book called “The FBI Way” and says the Bureau does as much advanced, meticulous preparation as possible before they execute warrants, which is why the vast majority of them are executed without incident. He also says this incident feels personal because he was second in command at the FBI Miami Field Office for five years.   

“We should be grateful for the men and women who are essentially heroes, who get up every day trying to do the right thing and protect our community," Figliuzzi said. "In this case, protect the most vulnerable in our community, our children."

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