Suspect Arrested in Shooting of US Official in Mexico

Mexico News Daily, January 9, 2017

A United States citizen was arrested yesterday in connection with the shooting Friday of a U.S. consular official in Guadalajara.

A man unofficially identified as Zia Zafar, 32, was detained by Mexican authorities in collaboration with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Guardian reported that Zia was carrying a .38-caliber pistol when he was arrested and was in possession of a wig and sunglasses that appeared to match those seen in video footage of the shooting, along with 16 bags of what appeared to be marijuana.

The victim has been identified as Christopher Ashcraft, whose job at the consulate was reportedly interviewing visa applicants. The identity of both the shooter and the victim were revealed by Guadalajara police sources on condition of anonymity.

Jalisco authorities suggested the shooting was linked to a dispute over a visa.

Surveillance videos show the gunman following Ashcraft to the parking lot from a gym and subsequently waiting at the lot’s exit before pulling a gun and shooting at a vehicle as it pulled up to the ticket machine.

The newspaper El Universal reported that that the suspect was caught by security cameras when he entered a nearby Starbucks, wearing the wig and sunglasses. He used a credit card in the coffee shop, enabling authorities to track him down in the Providencia neighborhood of the city.

Ashcraft has been reported in stable condition in a local hospital after being shot in the chest with a .38-caliber weapon.

The federal Attorney General’s office said yesterday the suspect in the “sly and cowardly” attack will be deported to the U.S.

American Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Mexican authorities “for their swift and decisive arrest of a suspect in the heinous attack against our foreign service officer colleague.”

The U.S. embassy in Mexico City issued a security message Saturday, warning U.S. citizens in the Guadalajara area to restrict their movements outside their homes and place of work to “those truly essential.”

“They should also take care not to fall into predictable patterns for those movements that are essential,” the warning said. “They should vary the times and routes of their movements.

Security analyst Alejandro Hope said the shooting didn’t appear to be a robbery or attempted kidnapping and that it wasn’t clear whether organized crime was involved, although Jalisco authorities have ruled that out.

“It’s a very strange case,” said Hope, who observed that Mexican cartels rarely contract foreigners to carry out killings and avoid attacks on U.S. officials that provoke strong international pressure.

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