U.S. citizen charged with shooting US diplomat in Mexico

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A man accused of shooting a U.S. consular official in Mexico is being arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court.

Zia Zafar, a U.S. citizen, is charged with attempted murder of an internationally protected person, according to court documents.

The attack occurred on Friday evening in Guadalajara. Security video showed the gunman, wearing blue scrubs, dark sunglasses and what appears to be a wig, waiting outside a shopping center for a car to pull up on a ramp alongside him. He then fires a gun into the vehicle and runs away.

The wounded consular official is Christopher Ashcraft, who is in his first posting with the State Department, according to an affidavit from FBI agent David J. DiMarco.

In an interview from a hospital, where he remains in good condition, Ashcraft told FBI agents that when he left a nearby gym that evening he sensed that a person was waiting for him, according to court documents. He walked to a kiosk to pay for his parking.

When he turned to walk to his car, he said, saw the person was following him, so he walked to a populated part of the garage. Seeing that the person was no longer following him, Ashcraft said he got into his car and drove toward the garage exit. It was as he left the garage that he was shot in the chest.

According to DiMarco, Zafar was identified a day later by another security video, showing him making a purchase at a Starbucks about an hour before the shooting. Law enforcement got a copy of his receipt, signed with the name “Zafar Zia.”

Officials say Zafar entered Mexico on a student visa and holds a U.S. passport. He has a California driver’s license, and a Honda Civic with California plates.

Mexican law enforcement searched Zafar’s local residence, recovering a pistol, a pair of sunglasses and a wig, according to court documents. The court papers do not detail a possible motive.

In a statement after Zafar’s arrest, Secretary of State John F. Kerry thanked the Mexican government “for the prompt and decisive arrest of a suspect in the outrageous attack on one of our colleagues.”

(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Rachel Weiner / Featured image Source: Georgia Newsday