February 17, 2012 / 4:15 AM / 6 years ago

ICE agent shot boss during performance discussion

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An immigration agent shot his boss six times during a performance discussion in the agency's offices in a Los Angeles suburb and was shot dead by another colleague, authorities said on Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Ezequiel Garcia drew a gun and shot deputy special agent in charge Kevin Kozak six times during the Thursday afternoon altercation, Steven Martinez, assistant director of the Los Angeles field office of the FBI, told reporters.

A third agent, who has not been identified by authorities, then fired on Garcia, 45, killing him, Martinez said.

Kozak, 51, was taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition on Friday.

"Mr. Kozak was counseling Mr. Garcia with regard to his performance," Martinez said. "We believe an escalation in that discussion lead Mr. Garcia to fire his weapon several times, injuring Mr. Kozak."

"After Mr. Garcia opened fire another agent working nearby intervened and fired his weapon to prevent additional rounds from being fired by Mr Garcia," Martinez said. "This resulted as you've heard in the death of Mr. Garcia."

Martinez said he was "not at liberty" to discuss why Garcia was being counseled by Kozak.

Speaking at the same press conference, ICE Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold said Kozak was "alert and talking" at a Long Beach Hospital on Friday and was being visited by family and co-workers.

"This is the first time anything of this nature has occurred within ICE and we are doing everything possible to understand why it happened and ensure that it does not happen again," he said.

The shooting erupted during rush hour near downtown Los Angeles and prompted police to shut down streets and a major intersection for more than an hour.

Local television images showed an ambulance rushing the injured agent to a nearby hospital accompanied by a police escort as law enforcement agents ringed the building.

Additional reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Greg McCune

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