Phoenix-based specialist part of FBI team that focuses on victims’ needs

Apr 9, 2019, 4:25 AM | Updated: 8:55 am
Lance Leising (left) leads the FBI’s violent crime task force in Phoenix. Sarah Lynne Vasquez is ...
Lance Leising (left) leads the FBI’s violent crime task force in Phoenix. Sarah Lynne Vasquez is a victim specialist with the agency. (FBI Photo)
(FBI Photo)

PHOENIX — When a mass casualty event occurs, the FBI works to secure the crime scene, collect evidence and determine what happened.

But the FBI’s work doesn’t end there. Victim specialists are deployed to support the victims and their families.

“I feel that a lot of people don’t realize the footprint that we have,” said Sarah Lynne Vasquez, one of seven FBI victim specialists based in Arizona.

“In the aftermath of mass casualty events, the FBI has a victim services deployment team where we’re boots on the ground within 24 hours, and we help the victims.”

The team provides a long list of services to victims, including temporary housing, assistance with food and clothes and emergency transportation for medical care.

“We want to do whatever we can [for the victims] to make things just a little better in the aftermath of their victimization,” Vasquez said.

Lance Leising, the supervisory special agent with the FBI’s violent crime task force in Phoenix, describes victim specialists as “one of the most important resources the FBI provides.”

He said having specialists focus on getting victims the help they need allows investigators to focus on crime investigations. He said victim specialists also often help with investigations.

“Often times, the victim specialists during the course of providing services to the victims identify some issues that the investigators weren’t aware of,” he said.

As part of the FBI Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team, Vasquez has responded to several mass casualty events, including the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 and the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017.

Vasquez said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children and six adults were killed in 2012, was “by far” the worst event she has responded to.

“When you think of children, you think of innocence, joy, little pieces of love – and it was very hard to witness that,” she said.

Nationwide, the rapid deployment team has responded to 24 mass casualty events since it was formed in 2005.

FBI victim specialists have served 1.8 million victims, averaging about 235,000 per year.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(City of Flagstaff Photo)...
Associated Press

United to stop service to Flagstaff airport for at least 6 months

Officials at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport say United Airlines plans to suspend service to the northern Arizona airport starting Oct. 30 and will review the situation after six months.
6 hours ago
(Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)...

Ballots sent out, early voting begins in Arizona for 2022 primary election

Early voting is underway in Arizona for the 2022 primary election and ballots were sent out to voters in Maricopa County on Wednesday.
6 hours ago
A desert tortoise with radio transmitters installed on his back. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times vi...
Alex Weiner

Arizona wildlife officials seeking forever homes for 200 tortoises

Arizona Game and Fish Department has 200 captive tortoises available for adoption primarily due to illegal breeding.
6 hours ago
(Photo by Soeren Stache/Getty Images)...
SuElen Rivera

Chandler approves construction for water facility supporting drought prevention

The Chandler City Council approved construction last month for a reclaimed water facility supporting drought prevention. 
6 hours ago
(George Oliver Photo)...
SuElen Rivera

Developer buys Biltmore Commerce Center, plans $52M renovation

A Phoenix developer announced on Thursday the purchase of the Biltmore Commerce Center with plans for a $52 million renovation.
6 hours ago
(ADOT Flickr Photo)...

​​Broadway Curve Project to close I-10 near Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport this weekend

Drivers going to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport over the weekend will have to detour around a closure of westbound Interstate 10.
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Phoenix-based specialist part of FBI team that focuses on victims’ needs