LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Two Mexican nationals charged with killing a U.S. Coast Guard officer were scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
Federal prosecutors have charged Jose Mejia-Leyva and Manuel Beltra-Higuera in the death of 34-year-old Coast Guard Officer Terrell Horne III.
Horne, of Redondo Beach, was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 2 when suspected drug smugglers rammed his vessel near Santa Cruz Island.
He was second in command of the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter based in Marina del Rey.
The Halibut was dispatched to investigate a “panga”-style vessel that had fallen under suspicion becasue it was operating at night without lights.
When Horne and his team approached in a smaller inflatable boat, the suspect boat gunned its engine, rammed the Coast Guard inflatable and fled.
The impact knocked Horne and another Coast Guardsman into the water.
Both were rescued, but Horne suffered a massive head injury caused by a propeller and was pronounced dead at the Port Hueneme Pier.
Military aircraft followed the alleged smugglers’ 30-foot craft as it made its way toward Mexico.
Another Coast Guard vessel overtook them as they tried to restart their sputtering engine, and the two suspects were detained.