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Archive for March, 2022

New Book Chronicles True Story of TSA Agent Who Saved Baby’s Life

TSA Agent Cecilia Morales

By Steve Neavling

A new children’s book explores the true story of a rookie TSA agent who leaped over a conveyor belt at Newark Liberty International Airport to save a baby who wasn’t breathing. 

The book, “Baby’s Breath,” was published by J2B Publishing and written by James Brewster. It’s available for $10.99.

The author told Southern Maryland News that he took a creative writing class with his wife at College of Southern Maryland.

The book tells the story of Cecilia Morales, a trained emergency medical technician who joined TSA in late October 2021. She sprung to action when a mother screamed for help. Morales shouted instructions to the mother, “but she was so nervous and I knew if I didn’t get over there, it wasn’t going to be a good outcome.”

“I jumped over the checkpoint conveyor belt rollers and she gave me the baby,” Morales said in a news release at the time “I performed the infant Heimlich maneuver on him.”

Holding the 2-month-old baby to keep his airway open, Morales patted him on the back. After the first effort failed, she did it again, and the baby began to breathe again. 

As an EMT, Morales previously saved adults and children with the Heimlich, but she never tried it on a baby. 

Excerpt from the book:

“The mother looked up at Officer Kate.

“Thank you for saving my baby,” she said. “Thank God you were here. Thank you, thank you!”

Officer Kate thanked God that she had remembered her training for saving the baby. Officer Kate stood up straight and looked the mother in the eye. She gave a quick salute, and said, “Glad to do it!”

New CBP Horse Patrol Unit Opens in Honor of Border Patrol Agent Who died in Car Crash

Ribbon cutting ceremony for CBP El Centro Sector’s Horse Patrol Unit.

By Steve Neavling

CBP opened a new facility for El Centro Sector’s Horse Patrol Unit and dedicated it in honor of a Border Patrol agent who died in a car crash. 

The Calexico Stable Facility is dedicated in honor of Agent Alejandro Flores Bañuelos, who was fatally struck by a vehicle on March 15, 2021. At the time, he was responding to a car crash on State Route 86 during a dust storm that caused low visibility. 

His family and friends, along with Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the new facility.

In 2003, El Centro’s HPU began with four agents and five horses. Today, it has 13 riders and 17 horses, whose primary duty is to patrol the Jacumba Wilderness region and Yuha Desert, where the terrain makes it impossible for vehicles to operate. 

The facility, located next to the Calexico Border Patrol Station, has an 18-stall mare motel, a large and small arena, a 50-foot round pen, a one-acre turnout, multiple storage shelters, and three wash racks with multiple hitching posts.

TSA, Hammered by COVID-19 Infections, Issued 922 Fines for Face Mask Violations During Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

The TSA issued 922 fines totaling more than $644,000 for face mask violations on airplanes, airports and surface transportation since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a General Accounting Office report.

In all, the TSA investigated 3,815 incidents of alleged face mask violations between February 2021 and March 7, 2022. The agency issued 2,709 warning notices and took no action in 180 of the incidents. 

The average fine was $634. 

The TSA issued a mask mandate beginning in February 2021. 

No federal agency was more impacted by COVID-19 infections than the TSA. 

A total of 22,354 TSA employees tested positive for COVID-19, and 36 have died, according to TSA data.

Utah Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison After Shooting at FBI Agent, Sheriff’s Deputy And Fleeing Jail

Cecil Vijil. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

A Utah man who fired a gun at an FBI agent and sheriff’s deputy and later escaped from jail was sentenced to nine years in prison. 

Cecil Vijil, 39, of Aneth, fired several rounds at an FBI special agent and San Juan County Sheriff’s deputy when they went to his home as part of a separate investigation on April 30, 2020. No one was injured. 

Vijil was convicted of assault on a federal officer and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. 

He also was convicted of escaping from federal custody after scaling two fences at Cache County Jail and running into a field in March 2021. Police quickly captured him.

Walter Slosar Named Chief Patrol Agent in Charge of Border Patrol’s Miami Sector Headquarters

By Steve Neavling

Walter N. Slosar has been named chief patrol agent in charge of Border Patrol’s Miami Sector headquarters. 

Slosar replaces John Modlin, who now leads the Tucson Border Patrol Sector.  

Before the appointment, Slosar was serving as acting deputy chief patrol agent of the El Paso Sector. 

During his career with Border Patrol, Slosar has held a variety of supervisory, managerial and leadership positions, including patrol agent in charge of the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Fort Hancock, Texas, stations, assistant chief patrol agent at Border Patrol’s headquarters in Washington D.C., and division chief of operations for the El Paso Sector. 

“I am excited for this opportunity, and I am honored to serve alongside the dedicated men and women who make up the Miami Sector,” Slosar said in a statement. “The Miami Sector has established tremendous partnerships with law enforcement partners and stakeholders throughout Florida and the Caribbean. I look forward to working with all of our partners and supporting a unified effort to secure our coastal border and to protect our communities.”

DOJ Reaches $127.5M Settlement with Families of Parkland School Shooting Victims over FBI’s Inaction

Nikolas Cruz via instagram

By Steve Neavling

The federal government has agreed to pay the families of victims of the 2018 Parkland shooting massacre $127.5 million. The families alleged in lawsuits that the FBI failed to act on tips that may have prevented the shooting, the Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday. 

“The settlement does not amount to an admission of fault by the United States,” the DOJ said. 

The shooting occurred on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and wounded an additional 17. 

The settlement will go to 16 of the 17 families of those killed. One of the families opted not to sue.

The families accused the FBI of negligence for failing to act on tips about Cruz. One came about five weeks before the shooting, when a tipster said Cruz had purchased guns and planned to “slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”

The tip never made its way to the FBI’s South Florida office, and the bureau never contacted Cruz, who had a troubling history of mental and behavioral problems. 

Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder in October 2021, faces a death sentence or life in prison when he is sentenced in April. 

DOJ, Jan. 6 Committee Received Capitol Riot Video Footage from Documentary Crew

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

Cameras for a documentary film were rolling as the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were meeting in downtown Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, the day before the assault the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said in a memo. 

The congressional committee that is investigating the attack also is in possession of the recording, Politico reports.

Goldcrest Films International , which received rare access to the groups, also provided hours of footage from Jan. 6, including video from inside the Capitol. 

The raw footage could provide key evidence against the extremists, who are facing conspiracy and obstruction charges and other counts related to the riot. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio was ordered to be detained while he awaits trial on charges connected to the riot. 

FBI Investigates Shooting Involving Homeland Security Investigations Agents in New Mexico

Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating a shooting involving Homeland Security Investigation agents in New Mexico. 

The shooting occurred at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday near Route 66 Casino, the FBI said in a statement.

No agents were injured, but “one subject” was wounded. 

Details of the shooting remained murky Wednesday.