(WHTM) — Retired FBI agent Gary Legore says their focus before September 11, 2001, was on everything but terrorism. “Our priorities were other things at the time, organized crime, bank robberies, all those things at the time took up the bulk of our work,” Legore said.
Legore was working in the Harrisburg area on the day of the attacks when he got a call from his wife who told him to turn on the TV. “It is a tourist plane or something like that and we didn’t realize it was a terrorist attack until the second plane hit and then our wheels started to turn,” Legore said.
Three attacks, New York City, The Pentagon, and Shanksville. Legore had a lot on his plate, he was waiting on orders to respond to Shanksville and waiting to hear if his brother who worked at The Pentagon survived the attack. “I knew he would call my dad who worked in Cumberland County,” Legore said. “Within a few hours two, three, or four, we found out he was ok.”
Legore says there was a lot of uncertainty on that day and in the days that followed. They were following up on leads and threats in the region. “We had all these things. We had pipelines and we had nuclear plants and we had airports. It became important to deal with that. The TSA was not there,” Legore said. “The FBI said we have to follow every lead. It does not matter what the lead is. Every lead will be covered.”
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Legore’s wife was a television news anchor and reporter at the time of the attacks. She was called around 1 a.m. to cover a threat to Three Mile Island, and that generated an early morning conversation Legore will never forget with their young child close by in the next room.
“You know, we always talked about what happens if something happens to you because I was an FBI agent. We never really talked about what if something happens to me so if something happens to me you can’t go into work,” Legore said. “Well dear if I get called in, I have to go and she got this close to me and screamed at me and said wrong answer.”
Legore, now retired, says it’s important we continue to remain vigilant as we near the 20th anniversary of 9/11. “We have done a good job of preventing terrorism and keeping the public safe,” Legore said. “The lone wolf has been advertised and that is something that keeps a lot of people up at night then and now but I think our technology is much better.”
Legore says dedicated men and women in the FBI and other agencies continue to work around the clock to keep us safe. “I think we have a good bunch of dedicated public servants and the public is fortunate to have those folks,” Legore said.