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Aug. 21, 2004 | SWAT team had a plan, not called

Fort Lauderdale police officers were so queasy about the people in the sprawling home in the city's Coral Highlands neighborhood that they had red-flagged the house in their computers. The SWAT team had drawn up a plan detailing the layout just in case a siege ever took place.

Kenneth Paul Wilk, 42, who lived there with another man, had once been charged with threatening a police officer over the Internet. Police knew Wilk had a concealed weapons permit and owned a number of high-powered weapons.

But when a special task force prepared to execute a search warrant looking for evidence of child porn and to arrest Wilk, no SWAT units were summoned. A BSO detective, Todd Fatta, 33, was shot and killed, and a comrade, Angelo Cedeño, 36, wounded. Wilk is now facing murder charges in addition to child pornography charges.

Now, some law enforcement officers are questioning why the Broward sheriff's or Fort Lauderdale SWAT teams weren't called in when members of a task force that tracks Internet pedophiles used a battering ram to enter Wilk's $300,000 home.

"We do 10,000 attempts at warrants, probably 20,000 warrants, some more dangerous than this, every time, " said Sheriff Ken Jenne, who called a press conference Friday to give an update on the investigation and to address concerns about the protective gear Fatta was wearing and the decision not to call in the SWAT team.

"We cannot call out the SWAT team every time we do this."

Officers were aware of Wilk's fascination with guns before they entered his home, Jenne said.

But Jenne said he could not answer whether the officers on the scene knew about Wilk's hatred of police.

One of the members of the task force, Detective Neil Spector of St. Lucie County, had arrested Wilk in 2001 on charges of making threats to kill him.

A Fort Lauderdale detective, Richard Love, entered the home in 2001 and removed anti-law enforcement slogans and six weapons, including pump- and bolt-action rifles and three .45-caliber revolvers, according to a Nov. 7, 2001, Fort Lauderdale police report. Love was part of the team that burst through the door at 1950 NE 57th St. on Thursday.

Neither Spector nor Love could be reached Friday for comment.

When a team is set to execute a search warrant, the decision whether to call in SWAT falls in the hands of an incident commander, Jenne said.No one at the scene requested SWAT's presence, Jenne said.

BSO has not released the name of the incident commander in charge of the search of Wilk's home, but Jenne stressed that he or she acted appropriately.

"When you're there, you make that practical decision, and the on-site commander made the correct decision, " he said.

The criteria used to determine whether to call out a SWAT team include knowing that a suspect has barricaded himself and has violently used weapons before.

Previous searches of the home that Wilk shared with his jailed lover, Kelly Ray Jones, 39, had turned up dozens of weapons, Fort Lauderdale police records show.

"You've got to remember, the real violent person in the previous thing was Kelly Jones, the other person in the house. It was not Mr. Wilk, " Jenne said.

Fort Lauderdale police arrested Jones at the home in 2001 and again last month. Neither time was a SWAT team used, Jenne said.Jenne painted a gruesome picture Friday of the search-warrant execution the day before.

When the entry team busted through the door, Wilk was waiting for them, armed with a cocked, .30-30-caliber Winchester hunting rifle, Jenne said.

"Ken Wilk was lying in wait to assassinate the first law-enforcement officer who was through that door, " Jenne said. "He made a conscious, cold-blooded decision to assassinate Todd Fatta."

Investigators found photographs of Wilk honing his rifle prowess on a gun range, the sheriff said.

"It is very evident from what we have now found in Mr. Wilk's home that he is a trained marksman, " Jenne said.

Wilk opened fire, and a bullet pierced Fatta's Kevlar vest, striking him near the heart. Cedeño was hit in the left shoulder and left hand. Surgeons at North Broward Medical Center amputated his left middle finger.

Fatta and Cedeño were part of a BSO special entry team, not members of the Law Enforcement Against Child Harm task force - LEACH, for short - a unit that investigates child pornography, Jenne said.

Six members of the entry team joined the six-member LEACH squad for Thursday's raid.

Fatta and Cedeño had received 40 hours of training, plus additional training every few months on weapons and entry techniques.

"These people have an extensive training to do this, and they do this all the time, " Jenne said. "When someone is killed, all of us . . . have an obligation to ask if there's anything we should have done differently. That's the process we're going through."

The investigation into the shooting is continuing, said Barbara González, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose agency issued the warrants.