Coast Guard officer killed in law-enforcement operation

LOS ANGELES – Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, a Boatswain Mate onboard the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, died early in the morning of Dec. 2 from injuries sustained during law enforcement operations near Santa Cruz Island, Calif.

According to the Coast Guard’s description of the incident, the Halibut was investigating a panga-type vessel - a 30-foot-long open-bowed fishing vessel - suspected of illicit activities. The cutter deployed its small boat, which made an approach on the suspect vessel. When the Coast Guard small boat approached with its blue law-enforcement light energized, the panga maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly towards the Coast Guard small boat and struck it before fleeing the scene.

Two Coast Guard members were thrown from the boat into the water, and both members were immediately recovered by the Coast Guard small boat.

Chief Horne had sustained a traumatic head injury when struck by a propeller, and the other had minor injuries.

According to a UPI report, after ramming the small boat and killing Horne, the panga boat fled and was tailed by Coast Guard aircraft before it was intercepted about 20 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Jose Meija-Leyva, who told investigators he was the panga boat's captain, and Manuel Beltran-Higuera were detained and charged with killing an officer of the United States while the officer was engaged in his official duties.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate," said Coast Guard commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp.