01172017Tue
Last updateFri, 13 Jan 2017 1pm

Arrest made in US consular officer shooting; embassy issues ‘Guadalajara area’ security advisory

State police have arrested a man in connection with the shooting of a U.S. consular official at a Guadalajara shopping mall on Friday. The Fiscalía General  de Jalisco (State Attorney General’s Office, FGE) sent out a tweet just before 10 a.m. Sunday announcing the detention of the alleged agressor, who was later named by media sources as Zafar Zia, 31.

The suspect is being held in custody at the disposition of federal authorities, the FGE noted.

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According to local news reports quoting federal sources, Zia was detained at his home in the Providencia neighborhood of Guadalajara in the early hours of Sunday morning.  

Spanish-language daily Mural reported that the victim, unofficially identified as consular officer Christopher Ashcraft, had told investigators that he believed he was targeted because he denied the assailant a visa while working at the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara.  

The Notisistema news agency reported that police also seized a .38-caliber handgun, 336 grams of marijuana and a Honda Accord, model 2000 from Zia’s home.

The consular official is reported to be in stable condition in a private hospital and under the guard of state police and the FBI.

The U.S. officer was shot in the chest with a single round by a lone gunman as he left a city shopping mall in his car Friday evening.  Video surveillance cameras recorded the incident, and also captured images of the suspect in the plaza prior to the assault.  To avoid recognition, the aggressor wore a wig, dark glasses and dark blue surgical-style clothing.

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Soon after the incident, the FBI posted a reward of $US20,000 for information leading to the arrest of the aggressor.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City issued a brief bulletin Saturday urging “U.S citizens in the Guadalajara area” to “restrict their movements outside their homes and places of work to those truly essential.”

The bulletin also noted that they should “take care not to fall into predictable patterns for those movements that are essential” and “vary the times and routes of their movements.”

The embassy statement appears to be a precautionary reaction rather than an advisory based on any intelligence regarding whether U.S. citizens in Guadalajara are potential targets.

Neither the embassy or the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara has issued a statement regarding the likely motive for the assault, or the reasons behind their issuance of a security advisory.

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