Family and friends of Florida FBI agent Laura Schwartzenberger, who was shot dead in the line of duty along with a colleague this week, gathered Saturday for an emotional memorial service in her honor.
Schwartzenberger, 43, leaves behind her husband and two sons.
Schwartzenberger was "a true protector of those she loved and cared for," Schwartzenberger’s friend, Brenda Chavez, told the mourners at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
"To a dear friend, a loving wife, a doting mother, an inspirational sister, an affectionate daughter that would make any parent proud, and to the biggest badass I know, Laura, you blessed the life of each and every person you touched," she said. "We will never forget you."
Schwartzenberger and agent Daniel Algin were gunned down during a search warrant execution in Sunrise, Florida, on Tuesday morning. The search was "to seize evidence in connection with suspected possession of child pornography," FBI Agents Association president Brian O'Hare said. Three other agents were hurt. The suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot, according to the FBI.
Schwartzenberger joined the FBI in 2005.
In 2007, she became the first and only female SWAT team member in the FBI's Albuquerque field office, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the service.
In 2010, Schwartzenberger transferred to Miami and joined the violent crimes against children squad, which was her "true calling," Wray said.
"She led a life of sheer determination, dedication and courage," Wray said, calling her "a true American hero."
"She was brave in pursuit of criminals ... and she relied on her heart and compassion in smaller moments when it was needed the most," he said. "She brought light into some of the darkest places."
"She was like a mom to some of the younger agents," Wray said. "She exuded a quiet confidence and she instilled that confidence in everyone who worked on her cases.
"She was an athlete in body and mind," Wray said. "She had a sharp mental focus, stamina and sense of teamwork and camaraderie that allowed her to keep moving forward, case after case and victim after victim.
"There's a heaviness in our hearts, a burden unlike any other, because there is nothing more devastating to the FBI family than the loss of an agent in the line of duty," Wray said. "It's the news we pray will never come, and when it comes, every FBI employee feels it deep down in their souls."
Wray said Schwartzenberger and Alfin were "two warriors who took on one of the hardest jobs in the FBI -- crimes against children," and called them "two of the very best the FBI had to offer."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said flags will be flown at half-staff on Saturday and Sunday in honor of Schwartzenberger and Alfin.
"Their sacrifice and courage will never be forgotten," DeSantis tweeted.
Schwartzenberger was a native of Pueblo, Colorado. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags on public buildings be flown at half-staff on Saturday.
A memorial service for Alfin will be held on Sunday.