Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Perry Woo earned praise for his courage and quick thinking after he fatally shot a colleague who opened fire on a supervisor last week. But before that, he was known for his work investigating sex crimes against children.
Woo received the U.S. Justice Department’s Officer of the Year Award for Missing and Exploited Children in 2004 for an investigation that led to the capture of eight alleged child molesters and pornographers, including the suspected ringleader.
Authorities credited his work for rescuing 30 Mexican children, including an 8-year-old.
ICE officials have not publicly identified Woo as the agent who killed his colleague, Ezequiel Garcia, after Garcia allegedly fired his weapon at Kevin Kozak, ICE’s deputy special agent in charge of investigations in the Los Angeles region.
However, an official familiar with the investigation of the shooting confirmed Woo’s identity to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the source is not authorized to speak publicly.
The shooting occurred Thursday at ICE’s offices in Long Beach. Kozak, ICE’s second-in-command in Los Angeles, had summoned Garcia for a meeting to discuss the agent’s job performance. Authorities say Kozak was shot at least six times, including in the hand, knee and torso. He continued to recover Tuesday.
Without naming him, ICE officials have praised Woo for his actions.
“This agent acted with extraordinary calm and took quick and decisive steps to deal with a very dangerous situation,” ICE Director John Morton said last week.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice has said the agent attended the meeting and left then returned when he heard shots fired and tried to disarm Garcia. After an intense struggle, the agent drew his own weapon and shot Garcia.
Woo made a mark at ICE by tracking the use of the Internet to commit sex crimes against children. In his most celebrated case, a federal jury in Hammond, Ind., convicted Timothy Julian in 2003.
Prosecutors said Julian rented a mansion in Acapulco, Mexico, and advertised it on the Internet as a resort, featuring a photo of a 12-year-old boy and an offer to provide escorts. One teenage boy testified at trial that he and others who lived at the mansion were expected to provide sexual services to American guests. Another boy testified that Julian raped him.
Julian was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Woo, who led the probe with a postal inspector, was among several law enforcement officials and other civilians honored by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft for “unprecedented cooperation in the recovery of missing and exploited children.”
Woo was identified then as a senior special agent based in ICE’s Fairfax, Va., office.
He is quoted in a 2004 article in The New York Times about sex crimes against children. The story says ICE agents in Fairfax were tracking demand for harder-core pornography with the growth of the Internet.
“Pornography is becoming more pervasive. With Web cams we’re seeing more live molestation of children,” Woo said.