The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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
  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • watching-tv.jpg Cutting the cord on cable TV, and not missing it a bit

    Three years ago, Royse City Herald Banner reporter Chris McGathey and his family decided to ditch pay TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other cheaper web-based services. It's a decision they haven't regretted.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_baylor.jpg VIDEO: Angels hitting coach suffers bizarre leg injury

    LA Angels hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a broken leg while squatting to catch a ceremonial first pitch from former Angel Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • barbour021614.jpg Sibling says Dexter drama motivated sister's 'lie' of mass murder

    The older sister of Miranda Barbour, who claims she murdered more than 22 "bad people" over six years, says the story is a lie that stems from infatuation with the Showtime TV series about a Miami cop who leads a secret life as a serial killer.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Fact Checker: 'Birth control' for something other than family planning?

    "When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it's outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous."

    March 31, 2014

  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • touch.jpg Divorce is on the rise, and it's the baby boomers' fault

    A new paper from demographers at the University of Minnesota found that the age-standardized divorce rate has actually risen by an astonishing 40 percent since 1980.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • firefighters.jpg VIDEO: Firefighters sing song from 'Frozen' to calm girl stuck in elevator

    Firefighters in Reading, Mass., sing the Disney power ballad known by children everywhere -- "Let It Go" -- to calm a 4-year-old stuck in an elevator.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • muffin-brunch-food-breakfast.jpg Can what you eat affect your mental health?

    Jodi Corbitt had been battling depression for decades and by 2010 had resigned herself to taking antidepressant medication for the rest of her life. Then she decided to start a dietary experiment.

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140325-AMX-BARISTA251.jpg Coffee's third wave? The Apple to Starbucks' Microsoft

    Do you remember when Starbucks was cool? It opened in Seattle in the 1970s as a local specialty roaster, a trendy alternative to the prevailing generic swill. But the price of conquest is cachet. What was once novel — the warm décor, the gentle music, the faux-Italian lingo — has become banal. Today's coffee snobs would rather snort Sanka than set foot inside a Starbucks

    March 25, 2014 2 Photos

Elections
Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.