Commonwealth Journal

Community News Network

November 15, 2013

How does a Secret Service agent manage to leave behind a bullet in a hotel room?

The latest Secret Service scandal has raised an unusual question: How does an agent manage to leave a stray bullet behind?

The issue comes up in the case of two senior supervisors removed from President Obama's protective detail, which began when one of the men allegedly left a Secret Service bullet in the room of a woman he met at the Hay-Adams Hotel bar last May.

According to two former Secret Service agents, the answer is straightforward: Senior supervisor Ignacio Zamora Jr. was likely attempting to clear a round from the chamber of his Service-issued Sig Sauer P229 semiautomatic pistol in order to secure it after joining the woman in her room.

The agency's standard operating procedure requires that all armed agents carry their weapon with a fully loaded magazine of 12 bullets, along with a thirteenth round already loaded in the chamber and ready to fire, the former agents said. There is no safety device on the weapons because they must be ready in case of emergencies, they said.

"In order to fire the gun, all you need to do is pull the trigger," said one former agent, who has worked with Zamora.

"He might have been trying to make the gun safe," this agent said. "To remove the ammo, the first thing you do is remove the source, the magazine. Because if you try to slide the rack first, whatever is in the chamber will pop out but another bullet will be inserted. To prevent that you remove the magazine, so there's no more source. Once you remove the magazine, you slide the rack to get whatever bullet is in the chamber."

One person who was briefed on the details of the case confirmed that Zamora had been attempting to secure the weapon after the woman expressed discomfort with it. She later asked him to leave, which he did before realizing he had left the bullet behind, the person said. His attempt to retrieve it alarmed hotel management, which contacted the Secret Service.

A broader review of Zamora's conduct found that he and another male supervisor had been sending improper emails to a female subordinate, leading to their removal from the protective detail.

The case came as the agency is attempting to recover from a 2012 scandal in which more than a dozen agents were caught cavorting with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia. Whistleblowers have told a Senate committee that Secret Service agents and managers have engaged in sexual misconduct and other improprieties across a span of 17 countries in recent years.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday that Obama has "absolute confidence in the leadership at the Secret Service" despite the agency's woes.

The former agent who worked with Zamora said the agency generally frowns on agents removing the bullet from the chamber because fiddling with the chamber could result in an accident. He said agents are given trigger locks to secure their weapons at home.

But another former agent, who also has worked with Zamora, said he and his fellow agents did not travel with their locks, which are bulky like a padlock and hang off the back of the trigger.

In cases when they do not have the lock, agents are allowed to clear the chamber to secure their firearms.

"I've been in situations at other people's houses where I wanted to take off my coat and I don't want to walk around the house looking like a Texas Ranger," the second former agent said. "I take the gun out of the holster, clear the weapon and put it in my car, in the trunk."

Both former agents noted that another reason to clear the chamber is to be sure that other people do not pick up the weapon and shoot it.

The two former agents said that losing a single bullet would not have resulted in major recriminations inside the Secret Service. They said managers did not account for each bullet issued to agents, who often have three or four boxes of ammunition.

However, if the bullet were found in the room and identified as coming from Zamora's stash, it could raise difficult questions, the agents said.

The first former agent recalled of his days on the road: "What I would do is just get the gun and stick it in a drawer. I never fooled around with it."

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

News Live
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks