FBI Director William H. Webster on Monday attended the funeral for one of two agents slain in a gun battle with suspected bank robbers on the bloodiest day in FBI history, and he praised the agents as heroes who gave their lives to protect others.
Webster promised an exhaustive investigation into the battle and into the background of the agents' killers, a pair described as family men with no criminal records who also died in Friday's shoot-out.
"Before we're through, we're going to know everything about them from the time they were born to the time they died," Webster said of the gunmen.
Webster joined more than 800 people packed into Visitation Roman Catholic Church, which slain agent Benjamin Grogan, 53, attended. About 700 more, including hundreds of uniformed law-enforcement officers, their badges banded in black, stood outside.
Webster, who flew in by helicopter after visiting three agents still hospitalized from the shoot-out, said he also would attend services today in Charleston, W.Va., for Gerald Dove, 30.
Webster said Friday's actions by his agents were "brave and comendable" and declined to second-guess the weapons they carried and the way they tried to arrest two men suspected in a string of violent bank and armored-car robberies and some isolated shootings.
He said the most appropriate thing he could say to the families of the dead agents was to recall the words of a eulogist at a service for two agents killed in El Centro, Calif., in 1979, the last time two agents died together.
"He reminded everyone that they stood in our place. I think that's very important," he said.
Webster also visited agent Edmundo Mireles, 33 who is in fair condition,and with agents Gordon McNeill, 43, and John Hanlon, 48, who are in good condition.