A supervisor shot Thursday by a co-worker remained hospitalized Friday with non-life threatening injuries as authorities released more information about what led to the gunfire in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Long Beach.
The victim, identified as 51-year-old Kevin Kozak, was counseling 45-year-old supervisory special agent Ezequiel Garcia about his job performance when Garcia opened fire, FBI officials said during a news conference Friday. Authorities did not provide details regarding the discussion that preceded the shooting, but would only say it was related to Garcia's job performance.
Officials characterized the situation as a "discussion that escalated" to violence.
Kozak is deputy special agent in charge of the Los Angeles area ICE office. The Associated Press, citing a federal official with knowledge of the investigation, reported that Garcia's request for an internal transfer had been denied.
The shooting occurred on the seventh floor of the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building on West Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. Kozak sustained six gunshot wounds.
"He is a fighter and I believe that's why he's alive today," said Claude Arnold, ICE special agent in charge. "He refused to succumb to his injuries and in law enforcement that's what makes the difference between people who go home at the end of the day and those who don't."
Garcia was shot and killed when a third agent working nearby intervened and fired his weapon, according to authorities.
That third agent has been place don administrative leave, standard procedure in an investigation like this, authorities said.
The FBI, ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility and Long Beach police are investigating.
Arnold says workplace violence training is done on an annual basis, but that training will now likely be reassessed.
“This will cause us to take a look at this situation more closely and see what we can do in the future to prevent them,” said Arnold.
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton arrived in Long Beach Friday afternoon. After visiting Kozak in the hospital, he had this to say.
“Yesterday (Thursday) was a dark day, no doubt about it,” said Morton, “but we will emerge a stronger agency.”