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05/05/2014

2013 mass shooting averted by Houston HSI special agent

2013 mass shooting averted by Houston HSI special agent

Most of us don't know how we will respond to a true crisis. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Matthew Malmquist never has to wonder how he will respond.

Assigned to Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) within the HSI Houston office, Malmquist's quick thinking and heroic actions led to one suspect being killed immediately after shots were fired. Due solely to his actions, no one else was injured.

At about 1:35 p.m. on May 2, 2013, a Beaumont, Texas, man entered IAH Terminal B's non-secured ticketing area with a roll-along suitcase. He sat down in the open terminal's lobby seating. After sitting for several minutes in an apparently distraught manner, the subject pulled a handgun from an unknown location on his body and fired two rounds into the air inside the terminal.

The entrance of the HSI Airport Group Office where Malmquist works is located about 30 yards from where these initial shots were fired. Malmquist was alone in the office and sitting at his desk typing when he heard the gunshots and understood exactly what they were. He immediately exited the office into the open terminal lobby, drawing his weapon as he moved. He saw people frantically fleeing the area and taking cover, but he was not able to immediately identify the shooter. He managed to get the attention of a United Airlines ticket agent and shouted "where, where?"

The ticket agent responded by nodding her head towards the subject who was seated in front of her about 30 yards away. Malmquist looked in that direction and saw the subject still seated with a handgun clearly visible in his hand. It first looked as though Malmquist was in an advantageous tactical position about 20 yards to the right, and slightly behind, the subject. However, seated three or four yards behind the armed subject was a wheelchair-bound man who had been left alone and unattended once the shooting started.

Malmquist couldn't chance firing on the subject with the wheelchair-bound man directly behind the subject. Instead, Malmquist moved from his advantageous position to an exposed position slightly to the right and in front of the subject. He identified himself as a police officer and ordered the subject to drop his weapon. When the subject rapidly raised his weapon hand, Malmquist fired one round striking the subject in the chest. As this was happening, the subject simultaneously placed his handgun to his head and fired one shot. Both rounds were later determined by the coroner's office to be fatal.

"A true hero acts where others pause," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI in Houston. "There was no pause in SA Malmquist's selfless and decisive actions as those shots rang out. The entire HSI family can take great pride in how Matt carried out his duties when it mattered most."

Houston Police officers assigned to the airport responded after these fatal shots were fired. EMS also responded and pronounced the subject deceased at the scene. A black roll-along suitcase was found beside the subject. Inside the suitcase was a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle with one fully loaded 30-round .223-caliber magazine. The suitcase also contained an additional 20-round box of .223-caliber ammunition. Also in the suitcase was a hand-written note by the subject stating (paraphrased) that he had come to the airport with the intention of committing a mass shooting, but he changed his mind and indicated he planned to kill himself instead. According to HPD and FBI personnel assisting in the after-action investigation, the subject had posted on social media that he had intended to commit a mass shooting that day, which was averted by HSI Special Agent Matt Malmquist.