The FBI agent killed Friday night when he was struck by a vehicle along Interstate 270 was the epitome of the American dream, and his family is finding his tragic loss unfathomable. Family members sat down with WTOP and reminisced about the kind of person Carlos Wolff was. See photos.
WASHINGTON — The FBI agent killed Friday night when he was struck by a vehicle along Interstate 270 was the epitome of the American dream, and his family is finding his tragic loss unfathomable.
A driver struck Carlos Wolff and Sander Cohen, a volunteer firefighter, as they stood near Wolff’s disabled vehicle.
Carlos, 36, and his family moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, from Venezuela in the late 1980s, and worked their way up from there. Carlos was only the third oldest, but he was the first son and unequivocally the big brother.
Carlos leaves behind a wife, two children, ages 2 and 7, his parents and five siblings.
His family sat down and talked with WTOP over the weekend. The stories the Wolff family told about Carlos described a man who lead with humility, love and wit.
“He took charge of the siblings, and of the family,” says Chris Wolff, who would follow his brother Carlos into law enforcement. “No matter what.”
Carlos was described as the first to raid the fridge while on vacation, and the first to step in to help no matter how big or small the situation was.
David Gaviria, Carlos’ brother-in-law, remembers that Carlos was eager to meet him when he started dating Carlos’ younger sister Linda, and basically interview him. Carlos’ opinions and advice would go on to become invaluable to the couple.
“I just can’t think of a single moment, single important step in our lives in which we didn’t reach out to him to ask his opinion, to ask for adivce, to ask for his help,” Gaviria said.
Jorge Wolff, Carlos’ father, says his oldest son picked up his knack for woodworking, and the rest of the family says that pretty easily extended into every other sort of household project you could imagine.
“Whether you had a leaky toilet,” noted Chris Wolff.
“Whatever you had around the house,” added Brian Pickering, Carlos’ brother-in-law. “He was great with the projects around the house and making things look great.”
“He’d get a phone call and be like ‘Oh, gotta go,’” conceded Carlos’ wife, Marla.
Tears still strain Marla’s voice.
“Carlos was such a great guy,” she says. “He was more popular than I was anywhere that I went.”
“He really cared about people and when they talked to him he was really listening to them, he wasn’t just making small talk. I actually remember at my last work party, there was a line for him, like an actual line.”
“He loved his children so much. They’re going to miss their daddy so much.”
His sister, Alejandra Wolff-Pickering, started her story by saying “if you ever went to a wedding, you knew exactly where Carlos would be,” before pausing to laugh and say “the old people’s table.”
“He was the only one who could sit there and talk to somebody who was 5 years old and 100 years old, and he could talk for hours. But then he would also ask you 100 questions.”
Carlos never talked about his work. One of his brother’s children thought Carlos was just the guy who drove the bus at church. But it’s known the agent of 11 years worked in the FBI’s criminal division, and his father Jorge believes there were a few moments when Carlos was involved in some dangerous situations, but he would usually tell people he spent the day checking badges.
“He went to American University, was very successful, very brilliant, had a great career with the FBI. However, was very humble throughout the entire time. Anytime you asked him about work, he’d just smile at you and he’d joke around that he was checking badges at the door. And then he’d turn it around on you, be like ‘hey, what’s going on with you?'” Chris said.
Carlos Wolff graduated from Watkins Mill High School in 1999, and went on to get a degree at American University. The family that moved around Gaithersburg together working their way up the ladder remains extremely close — cousins know each other as siblings — and no one lives more than a quick drive away from each other.
This all came out in an interview that was supposed to start with just one brother and sister, but quickly turned into a family gathering of stories, where even the spouses of Carlos’ siblings spoke admirably of the man.
“To me, Carlos was the hero behind the scenes and he was OK with that. He was everybody’s hero and didn’t need much recognition and he knew that, but we all knew that,” Chris said.
The other aspect of Carlos’ personality that quickly became apparent was his faith. His father, clutching a bible full of passages Carlos had highlighted and made notes about, says that faith is what the family is holding on to during this trying time.
Jorge Wolff says a recent Christmas play that Carlos led at his church centered on a story about an FBI agent “looking for Jesus.”
“Many, many people are afraid of the dead, because they don’t know where they’re going,” Jorge Wolff said. “But when you know where you’re going and you know it’s a nice place you’re going happy. That’s the difference between being a ‘Christian,’” he said, using his hands as air quotes, “and a Christian. And that was Carlos, our son.”
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