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ICE honors fallen agents and officers in memorial ceremony

ICE's 2011 Police Week Ceremony
ICE's 2011 Police Week Ceremony
ICE's 2011 Police Week Ceremony
ICE's 2011 Police Week Ceremony

In commemoration of 2011 National Police Week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) held a memorial ceremony on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 in honor of fallen officers and agents who sacrificed their lives while in the line of duty.

This year's ceremony was especially poignant for ICE in view of the loss of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent (SA) Jaime J. Zapata who was fatally shot in February 2011 while on assignment in Mexico.

Highlights of the ceremony included the unveiling of SA Zapata's plaque on the ICE Wall of Honor and a video depicting solemn events following SA Zapata's death.

Leaders from the U.S. Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Coast Guard; the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney's Office attended the event, which was held at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Family members of fallen agents and officers, including the Zapata family, attended the event, as well as leadership from the San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Office (SAC). SA Zapata had been assigned to the San Antonio SAC Office before accepting the voluntary detail with the ICE Attaché Office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he served only a week before he was killed.

In his remarks, ICE Director Morton recounted the events in Mexico that took the life of SA Zapata and seriously wounded HSI SA Victor Avila. Both agents were traveling from Monterrey to Mexico City when gunmen stopped their car, opened fire and then fled. SA Avila, who has since recovered from his injuries, attended the ICE memorial ceremony with his family.

Morton acknowledged the losses of ICE's fallen, saying, "The fact that these men shared a great love of law enforcement and a joy of life obviously is not some random coincidence. They were called to a career in law enforcement precisely because they were good people. They were fun people. They were loving people. They wanted to do right."

ICE Office of Public Affairs Assistant Director Brian Hale officiated at the ceremony, which began with a stately Honor Guard entrance, followed by a powerful rendition of the National Anthem sung by ICE Special Agent Patrick Wilhelm, the brother of fallen ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Gray Wilhelm.

Monsignor Salvatore A. Criscuolo, the pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Washington, D.C., and also the chaplain of Washington, D.C. first responders, gave the invocation. ICE Management and Program Analyst Karen McMillan provided a musical selection.

After the ceremony, the families of the fallen and others traveled to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where 153 additional names of federal, state and local law enforcement fallen officers were engraved on the granite wall this year. Next year, which marks the law enforcement losses of 2011, SA Zapata's name will be added to the wall.