As the FBI looks into the tragedy that took the lives of agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin, law enforcement experts say the raid may be the catalyst to change how warrants are executed.
Doorbell cameras and other surveillance systems are fantastic for homeowners, but they appear to have also alerted the man who killed the two agents and shot three others.
“These cameras now are in every home in our communities,” said retired South Miami Police Captain Michael D’Angelo, who now provides security expertise to companies.
The FBI agents were at the South Florida apartment complex on Tuesday serving a court-ordered federal search warrant for a violent crimes against children investigation when the suspect opened fire, hitting five agents, FBI officials said.
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Special Agents Alfin and Schwartzenberger were shot and killed. Two other agents were shot multiple times and taken to Broward Health Medical Center in stable condition, while the other agent was treated at the scene. The suspect died at the scene.
D’Angelo says cameras, like the ones where you can see if someone takes off with the packages from your doorstep, played a big role in Tuesday’s tragedy.
Sources told NBC 6 that the suspect, identified Wednesday as 55-year-old David Lee Huber, began shooting through the door and windows before Schwartzenberger and the FBI team even got a real chance to execute the warrant dealing with a child pornography investigation.
“It's changed the getting the upper hand — the surprise," D'Angelo said. "Now with so many devices and technology alerting them and giving them the upper hand, I think it's time to maybe rethink the tactics of how we execute warrants especially when there’s such a high risk involved.”
The head of the FBI in South Florida said the agents' work up before getting to the apartment was done correctly.
“FBI Miami conducts search warrants almost daily. They are an essential and important part of what we do and are thoroughly researched and meticulously planned to take into account any threats or dangers," Special Agent-in-Charge George Piro said in a news conference Tuesday.
“I think it's time to turn the technology in that way and we can start disabling residential wi-fi and shutting down those cameras when law enforcement is going to serve a warrant,” D’Angelo said.
D'Angelo and others with extensive police backgrounds said the tragedy may be a turning point, and now law enforcement should be looking at ways to detain suspects away from their homes.
"Maybe it's time to starting thinking about another location that takes them out of their comfort zone,” he said. “Once you’ve got him secured, you can always go back to the location and take care of the search warrant after the fact.”
Experts say this is really going to be between balancing public safety and the risk of going up to a door when the person inside can clearly see who's outside, but the agents or police officers can’t see them. An alternative method might be detaining someone at the gas station when they get out to pump fuel, experts say.