FBI executes warrant at wrong home; ordering man’s wife to the ground at gunpoint

River Valley News

"Under any other circumstances, we could have been dead"

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — An unexpecting Fort Smith couple received a wake-up call on Thursday morning like one they’ve never experienced before.

Tyrus Bell Jr. told KNWA News he and his wife were abruptly woken up to the sound of banging on their bedroom window at their duplex home in the 900 block of Creston Street. When Bell looked out to see the commotion, he said he was greeted by blue lights and an FBI SWAT team armed with semiautomatic weapons, commanding the couple to come to the door.

Bell said that’s when his wife went to the door to meet FBI agents who told her to exit the home with her arms up in the air and get down on her knees as their weapons were drawn. Bell said agents also pointed a firearm at his dog who was barking and frantic from the noise.

“We were like, what have we done? What did we do wrong? and we couldn’t think of anything and we were still half asleep but I’ve never had an experience like that before,” Bell said.

Agents later showed the couple a photo of the suspect named Shaun Eason who was previously known to be located at the home. Bell explained he and his wife have only been tenants for the past six to nine months and have never heard of the wanted suspect. He said agents commanded him to stay inside the home while they interrogated his wife on the front porch; that’s when Bell said he quickly went to get his wife’s cell phone to record the incident.

In the cell phone video Bell recorded, FBI agents are seen dressed in full tactical year, armed with weapons and an armored vehicle in the couple’s front yard. FBI spokesperson Connor Hagan told KNWA News that agents were executing a federal warrant in connection to a major drug trafficking investigation and roundup, which resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals. The individuals are believed to be part of a violent methamphetamine trafficking organization with direct ties to Mexico and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Hagan said FBI agents approached Bell’s home in a safe and professional manner. Adding when the FBI SWAT team set-up of a perimeter, they saw a man looking out the window presumably Bell, directing him to go to the front door. After further questioning, it was apparent agents had outdated information on the wanted suspect’s whereabouts and left Bell’s home.

Bell told KNWA News he knows the entire ordeal could have had a different outcome.

“Under any other circumstances, we could have been dead. Because if they had busted in they would have shot the dog who would have attacked them and then they probably would have shot me,” he said.

Hagen tells KNWA News the agency understands why the couple was alarmed.

“We certainly understand that encountering a full FBI SWAT team is an alarming and intense experience. As with all our operations, we will review this one to address any issues and ensure that improvements are made in the future.” he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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