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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Two FBI Agents Killed in Training Exercise Accident

     In 1984, the FBI, in preparation for the Olympics in Los Angeles, formed an elite counterterrorism hostage rescue team comprised of so-called "assaulters," and snipers. Trained in scuba diving, rappelling from helicopters, and close combat tactics, the hostage rescue agents were equipped with military-style gear and assault weapons.

     Unlike FBI SWAT teams that only train a few days a month, members of the hostage rescue unit prepare full-time. This highly militarized squad is more comparable to Navy Seal Team 6 and U. S. Army Delta units. The elite FBI counterterrorism team is headquartered at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

     Since its inception, agents in the rescue unit have responded to 850 incidents including last month's Boston Marathon Bombings. Members of this civilian combat force have also responded to situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     On Friday night, May 17, 2013, twelve miles off the Virginia Beach coastline, two hostage team members participating in a maritime counterterrorism exercise, fell to their deaths into the Atlantic Ocean. Forty-one-year-old Christopher Lorek and forty-year-old Stephen Shaw were rappelling from a helicopter when the aircraft suddenly tilted because of a strong gust of wind. As the pilot struggled to regain control of the helicopter, the agents, loaded down with gear, lost their grips and fell.

     By the time the agents were pulled out of the ocean, one of them was dead. The other hostage team member died at a hospital in Norfolk. The men were killed by blunt force trauma. Both agents were married and lived with their wives and children in the northern Virginia town of Quantico.

     During the past thirteen years, six other FBI Agents have died in the line of duty. There are currently 14,000 special agents in the bureau. 

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