Minneapolis FBI Honors Fallen Agents in National Police Week Message
Rainer Drolshagen, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Field Office, and others from the division acknowledge special agents who gave their lives to an adversarial action or in the performance of their duties.
Hello. My name is Rainer Drolshagen and I am the special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Field Office.
This is a very important week as we memorialize those officers that were killed in the line of duty. As for the FBI, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge those special agents who gave their lives due to an adversarial action or in the performance of their duties.
This year is a much different way that we memorialize those officers and agents.
But today, although we do not gather in solidarity, we will remember in solidarity.
And while I would much prefer that we come together to remember and honor our fallen with hugs and handshakes, I am afraid this video will have to suffice.
The men and women we remember today from our region were our colleagues and our friends. But to you, their families, they were much, much more.
So today, we remember the following:
Robin L. Ahrens
Jack R. Coler
Mark A. Kirkland
Lee E. Morrow
And Ronald A. Williams
This solitary candle represents the eternal flame of our fallen brethren.
My name is Deborah Strebel pierce and I am a former special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Division and a former deputy assistant director of the Criminal Division.
On October 5, 1985, Special Agent Robin Ahrens was killed in Phoenix, Arizona while attempting to apprehend a fugitive who was wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for armed robbery. Special Agent Ahrens was unfortunately shot by other agents at the arrest scene who mistook her for an armed associate of the fugitive. She was the first female agent to be killed in the line of duty.
Special agent Ahrens was born in May of 1952 in St. Paul, Minnesota and was raised in Hudson, Wisconsin. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University in 1974, she taught school and entered on duty as a special agent in 1984. A scholarship in Robin’s name at Hudson High School keeps her memory alive.
My name is Richard A. Waller. I’m a special agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office.
On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams were killed while attempting to serve arrest warrants for robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon on the Oglala Sioux Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The agents were ambushed by members of the American Indian Movement.
Special Agent Coler was born in January 1947 in Bakersfield, California. He graduated from California State at Long Beach with a degree in police science.
After working in the Los Angeles Police Department, Special Agent Coler joined the FBI in 1971. He reported to the Rapid City RA of the Minneapolis Division in 1973.
Agent Coler was 28 when he died and left behind a wife and two young boys.
Hello. My name is Brenda Born. I am a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.
On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Ronald A. Williams and Jack R. Coler were killed while attempting to serve arrest warrants for robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon on the Oglala Sioux Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The agents were ambushed by members of the American Indian Movement.
Special Agent Williams was born in July 1947 in Glendale, California. He graduated from Glendale College and California State College at Los Angeles.
A few years later, in 1972, he was appointed as a special agent and in 1973, he transferred to the Minneapolis Field Office.
Because of the activities of the American Indian Movement in South Dakota, agents from Minneapolis were assisting the Rapid City RA in covering leads. It was this assignment that took Special Agents Williams and Coler to Pine Ridge on that tragic day.
Special Agent Williams was 27 years old when he died.
Although four people were indicted, only Leonard Peltier was convicted of their murders. He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences.
My name is Bernard Zavala and I am an assistant special agent in charge in the Minneapolis Division.
On August 25, 1977, Special Agent Trenwith S. Basford was killed in an airplane crash in Northern Minnesota. Special Agent Mark Kirkland was also on board and died in the crash, too.
Agent Basford was flying his personally owned plane, which had been approved for official use and was assisting agents in the Duluth Resident Agency by conducting an aerial surveillance when the crash occurred.
At the time of his death, Special Agent Basford was 60 years old and had served more than 35 years in the FBI. Agent Basford loved to hunt, fish and fly. His widow, Letitia, said the crash was “...an act of nature. Tren never had to face the ravages of old age, disease and frailty. He died in his prime being useful and doing what he most liked to do.”
My name is Tom Perzichilli and I am a special agent in the FBI Minneapolis Division.
On August 25, 1977, Special Agent Mark Kirkland was killed in an airplane crash in Northern Minnesota. Special Agent Trenwith Basford was with him and also perished.
Agents Kirkland and Basford were assisting agents of the Duluth Resident Agency by conducting aerial surveillance when the crash occurred.
At the time of his death, SA Kirkland was 33 years old and had been in the FBI for four years. SA Kirkland left behind a wife and two young boys.
It was not revealed until years later that that aerial surveillance was on a Soviet spy during one of the longest running espionage cases of its time called Operation Shocker.
My name is Ian Diem and I am a special agent in the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.
On March 3, 1960, Special Agent Lee Morrow was killed in a tragic two-car crash while covering leads out of the Fargo Resident Agency.
Agent Morrow was 38 years old. He was raised in Fairmont, Minnesota and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. And, Morrow earned a Bachelor Degree of Science from Mankato State Teacher’s College. He subsequently graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1950 with a Master of Arts degree. Agent Morrow taught school for a year before joining the FBI on July 30, 1951. He left behind a wife and two children.
In 1994, Special Agent Morrow’s name was added to the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Memorial located on the North Dakota State Capital grounds in Bismarck.
These stories resonate today just as much as they did when each of these agents died.
Thank you so much for honoring these agents by taking the time to watch our video.
Yes, it was an unusual way to bring you our remembrance. But as you know these are very unusual times
No matter, we must remember our fallen.
While we honor those FBI agents from our region who died while serving, this week reminds us to honor all members of law enforcement who have fallen while keeping their communities safe, and to tell their families and friends they will not be forgotten.
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