Two men have been detained after a veteran U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer was killed Sunday after suspected smugglers in a panga rammed his vessel off the Ventura County coast.
The Coast Guard declined to identify them or say whether drugs were found aboard the boat. A second suspicious vessel was believed to have been traveling alongside the panga before the incident.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate," said Adm. Robert J. Papp, the Coast Guard commandant. "Our fallen shipmate stood the watch on the front lines protecting our nation, and we are all indebted to him for his service and sacrifice."
Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach was second in command of the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter based in Marina del Rey. Authorities said they could not recall a Coast Guard chief petty officer being killed in such a manner off the coast of California.
Early Sunday morning, the Halibut was dispatched to investigate a boat operating near Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California's eight Channel Islands. The island is roughly 25 miles southwest of Oxnard.