FBI Team Trains At Old Gulfport Motel

Published: Jan. 27, 2003 at 8:43 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2003 at 6:56 PM CST
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The FBI swat team broke down doors and smashed windows at a Gulfport motel Monday morning.

Special agents found the old "Alamo Plaza" the perfect training ground for their forced entry maneuvers.

The shuttered motel will be demolished this week. But before the bulldozers arrived, the FBI checked in.

"Alpha six. You're going to be our breach, so you're going to be a window cover," said a SWAT team member as he prepared others to storm a corner room at the old Alamo Plaza.

Agents shout as they break down the wooden door and charge inside the vacant motel room.

The shuttered business provides a rather unusual training grounds. Practicing hostage dramas on an actual motel rooms is as realistic as it gets.

Matteo Valles is the FBI supervisor in charge of the coast office.

"It is unique. Because a lot of times you have to simulate these sorts of things. It isn't every day you have a dozen doors or so you can break down without anybody complaining," he said.

Not to mention the windows. It's easy enough to smash through a window. But swat teams pay attention to training technique.

"You want to hit it here and drive through this. And especially if you want to do an entry you want to rake it out. So, we can get all the glass out of there if possible," explained team leader, Steve Godfrey, as he talked about window smashing technique.

"You can simulate it all day long, but until you start pulling on the windows and hitting doors, you don't know what's going to happen," Godfrey said.

The view from inside the motel room is unnerving. The door is suddenly pounded open, and an explosive device tossed inside.

The flash bangs are designed to give agents a split second advantage.

"Face it, if you're in a room and there's only one way in, you know which way we're coming in. So, it gives us the extra second to get in the room and dominate the situation, allowing us to take control with as little force as possible," said Godfrey.

An aging motel gave FBI agents a rare training chance, just days before the real wrecking crew comes calling.

By Steve Phillips