Two men have been charged in federal court with the killing of a U.S. Coast Guard officer who was trying to intercept their boat off the Ventura County coastline.
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III was fatally injured early yesterday morning when the small boat he was in was rammed by a suspected smuggler’s boat near Santa Cruz Island, in Channel Islands National Park. A Coast Guard aircraft had been tracking the suspicious boat, and the Cost Guard cutter Halibut was sent to the area. Just after one a.m., the cutter deployed an inflatable boat with for officers on board. They activated the craft’s police lights, but officials say instead of stopping, the panga boat sped up, and hit the inflatable boat. Horne and another crew member were thrown in the ocean by the impact, and the Redondo Beach man was hit in the head, and fatally injured by a propeller. The other crew member escaped with a knee injury.
The panga boat sped away, but it was tracked by aircraft until it was intercepted about 20 miles north of the Mexican U-S border. The Coast Guard took Jose Meija-Leyva, and Manuel Beltran-Higuera into custody. In a criminal complaint filed this afternoon, the two have been charged in federal court with killing an officer of the United States while that officer was involved in official duties.