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Tag: christopher wray

Heads of FBI, Homeland Security Issue Statements Following School Shooting in Texas

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued statements Wednesday following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 

Here is Wray’s statement:

“Yesterday we got the news we all dread. Parents received calls that are too devastating to even fathom. And a community, really the whole nation, was shaken by another horrific mass shooting. This time—once again—at an elementary school full of young children just days away from finishing the school year.

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims and to the entire community in Uvalde. I know you’re experiencing unimaginable pain and trauma. The entire FBI family feels your heartbreak and stands with you. There will certainly be more we learn about this heinous attack in the days ahead, and I know the American people—and especially the people of Uvalde—are looking for answers.

“I want to acknowledge the heroism of all law enforcement who responded immediately to the scene. For our part, the FBI will continue to work around the clock with the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Uvalde Police Department; and our other state, local, and federal partners to assist in any way we can. We’re dedicating the full resources of the FBI San Antonio Field Office and a host of other FBI Divisions to helping the Texas DPS and Uvalde PD, which have the lead in the investigation.

“On top of that, we’ve deployed national resources, including investigative and analytical support, evidence response and laboratory personnel, victim services professionals to assist families of the victims, and crisis management and behavioral analysis units.

“We’re absolutely heartbroken about yesterday’s tragic events and committed to doing our part to support our partners in the investigation and the Uvalde community as we begin to try to move forward.”

Here is Mayorkas’ statement:

“No words can come close to comforting the families of those lost in Uvalde yesterday. We at the Department of Homeland Security are horrified by this callous act of violence. We grieve for the families and loved ones of the children and teachers lost, and with the people of the community of Uvalde. We are hopeful for the full and fast recovery of those who suffered injuries.

“We are grateful for the courageous members of our Border Patrol, many of whom are part of the Uvalde and surrounding communities, who immediately responded to the scene along with local and state law enforcement. Without hesitation, they put themselves between the shooter and students to end the bloodshed and administer medical aid. Without question, their heroism yesterday saved lives. A Border Patrol Agent was injured in the crossfire yesterday and we know the loss and trauma from this tragedy will continue to impact many other CBP families for a long time to come.

“The Department will continue coordinating with federal, state, and local partners and offering our full support to the Uvalde community. As we pray for the families and loved ones and recognize the bravery of frontline law enforcement personnel, we must redouble our collective efforts to make our communities safer.”

Mass Shooting in Buffalo Was ‘Racially Motivated Violent Extremism,’ Wray Says

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The mass shooting that killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo grocery store was “an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday. 

Wray made the remarks in a conference call with faith leaders and civil rights leaders. 

“I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime, and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” Wray said. “While there remain a lot of unknowns, as there always do in an investigation at this stage, what is absolutely certain is that we at the FBI are committed to comprehensively and aggressively investigating Saturday’s attack.”

The bureau’s Buffalo Field Office responded immediately to the shooting, and FBI headquarters, the Laboratory in Quantico, and other field offices have been providing additional resources. The FBI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Investigative Divisions are also providing assistance. 

In addition, the FBI created a web page for the public to upload videos of the shooting or suspect. 

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, wrote extensively online about his intentions to kill Black people. 

FBI Director Wray Says Hostage Standoff in Texas Was ‘An Act of Terrorism’

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray called Saturday’s hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue an “act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.”

“This was not some random occurrence,” Wray said in an address to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday. “It was intentional; it was symbolic, and we’re not going to tolerate anti-Semitism in this country.”

He added, “We recognize that the Jewish community, in particular, has suffered violence and faces very real threats from really across the hate spectrum.”

Wray’s statements are in stark contrast to the bureau’s initial statements that the attacker, Malik Faisal Akram, was not motivated by antisemitism. On Saturday night, Matthew DeSarno, special agent charge of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, said Akram was driven by an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

Wray’s sought to send a different message. 

“To be targeted at your place of worship, a space meant to be a sanctuary in every sense of the word, is, in my view, one of the most heinous acts of violence that can be committed,” Wray said. 

Wray pledged to continue combating anti-Semitism. 

“e’re going to keep digging to get more answers for Congregation Beth Israel, for the Colleyville community, and for the Jewish community as a whole,” Wray said. “I know it’s disheartening to see that these kinds of attacks continue to happen and that there are people out there who target members of the Jewish faith.

“But you can be confident that we in the FBI stand with you. And it is my hope that you will continue to see us as a trusted partner and as a valued resource, as we work together in our collective fight against violent extremism.”

To read Wray’s full address, click here.

Wray Op-Ed Focuses on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in Line of Duty in 2021

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling

One law enforcement officer was killed every five days on average last year, the highest number since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote that the death toll “hasn’t received the attention it deserves.” A total of 73 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2021.

Among those who died in the line of duty were FBI Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin, who were killed while serving a search warrant at a home in Florida early last year.

FBI Task Force Officer Greg Ferency of the Terre Haute, Ind., Police Department also was killed in an ambush outside an FBI office in July.

Wray wrote:

“When I started as FBI director, I made it my practice to call the chief or sheriff of every officer intentionally killed in the line of duty. I have now made more than 200 such calls. Each conversation reminds me that behind the uniform, the badge, and, yes, sometimes the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, there are real people. With each call, I think about the families and friends who lost someone they loved, the children who will grow up without a parent, and the communities deprived of a public servant.  

“We owe it to them to redouble our efforts to take the most violent offenders off the streets and to make sure officers have the resources, equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely. Even more, we need to ensure the brave men and women know that the communities they serve have their backs. 

“Every day, officers willingly put themselves at risk not knowing what dangerous situation or traumatic event they might encounter. I won’t pretend every person who carries a badge is beyond reproach, but the overwhelming majority do the job with the professionalism and commitment to equal justice citizens rightly expect. ” 

To read the entire op-ed, click here.

Wray Says FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Caseload Has More Than Doubled

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in February 2020.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday told a U.S. Senate committee that the number of domestic terrorism cases has more than doubled in the past 18 months. 

The caseload increased to 2,700 current investigations from about 1,000 since the spring of 2020, Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. 

“Some of these same people before might have been stewing away in the basement or the attic in one part of the country and not communicating with each other, but today terrorism moves at the speed of social media,” Wray testified. “You have the ability of lone actors, disgruntled in one part of the country to spin up similar like-minded individuals in other parts of the country and urge them into action.”

Wray said that white supremacy represents the “biggest chunk” of racially motivated violent extremism tracked by the FBI. 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who also testified, said social media is a “terrain that can so easily propagate misinformation, false information and allow communications to occur among closely affiliated individuals.”

To read Wray’s complete statement before the committee, click here.

Wray Apologizes to Larry Nassar Victims for FBI’s Handling of Case, Pledges to Do Better

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in February.

FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized Wednesday for the bureau’s “totally unacceptable” failures in the Larry Nassar case, telling senators he had fired an agent who was involved in the case.

“I’m sorry that so many people let you down again and again,” Wray said to the victims while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am especially sorry that there were people at the F.B.I. who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Wray’s testimony comes two months after the Justice Department’s Inspector General concluded that the Indianapolis Field Office “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.”

After reading the report, Wray said he wasted no time firing Michael Langeman, who was a supervisory special agent in the Indianapolis Field Office. 

“When I received the inspector general’s report and saw that the supervisory special agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a special agent,” Wray said. “And I can now tell you that individual no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.”

Star Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testified at the hearing and criticized the bureau for turning a “blind eye” to the sexual abuse that she and hundreds of other young athletes had endured at the hands of Nassar, the former national team doctor. 

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, but I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles, 24, said.

Wray said the bureau has strengthened polices and training for agents to properly handle abuse cases and pledged to ensure it never happened again. 

“On no planet is what happened in this case acceptable,” Wray said. 

Scalise Calls on FBI to Reevaluate Conclusion on 2017 Baseball Shooting Probe

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-L.A.

By Steve Neavling

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-L.A., joined more than a dozen other House Republicans demanding the FBI reevaluate its conclusion about the 2017 shooting that left him and others wounded at a congressional baseball team practice. 

The Republicans, who were on the field when gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire and struck four people, are questioning the FBI’s conclusion that the shooter was motivated by “suicide by cop.”

“We fear that the FBI’s inability or unwillingness to fully investigate this shooting as a matter of domestic extremism four years ago leaves a blind spot within the Bureau in fully assessing risks we face today,” the Republicans wrote in a letter Tuesday FBI Director Christopher Wray. 

Hodgkinson, who was fatally shot by police, had supported liberal causes. As the FBI investigates domestic extremism, the Republicans are pointing to violence from supporters on the left. 

“We all agree that violent extremism of any kind must be rooted out and addressed by our law enforcement agencies,” the letter states. “But we cannot presume to understand the scope of this issue if our law enforcement agencies do not investigate all instances of extremism, regardless of motivating ideology, with equal vigor.” 

Wray Appoints 2 Executive Assistant Directors to Oversee Vital Branches

FBI Director Christopher Wray, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray appointed two executive assistant directors to vital positions in the bureau. 

Brian C. Turner was named executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, where he will oversee criminal and cyber investigations worldwide. Turner had been serving as the assistant director of the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters. 

Turner joined the FBI in 2002 in the Philadelphia Field Office. 

Jill Sanborn was named executive assistant director of the National Security Branch, where she will help the FBI defend the U.S. and its interests from national security threats. Prior to the appointment, Sanborn was serving as the assistant director of Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. 

Sanborn’s FBI career began in 1998, when she was assigned to the Phoenix Field Office.