By Steve Neavling
An FBI agent who fatally shot a hostage he was trying to rescue from a Houston home last week made a “split-second decision” to fire his rifle because he believed the victim was trying to grab his kidnapper’s gun in a dark room, police said Tuesday.
The agent, who has not been identified, was part of an FBI SWAT team that swarmed the modest, one-story home hours before dawn Thursday in an attempt to rescue 47-year-old Ulises Valladares, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint the day before and was being held for ransom, NBC News reports.
The agent use an M-4 assault rifle to breaking through a back window after another agent dropped a breaching tool to enter the home.
Unaware the kidnapping victim was bound and still being held in the room, the agent fired his rifle twice after he felt someone trying to grab his weapon. That person ended up being Valladares, who lated died at a hospital.
“This is a tragedy you can’t take back,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. “It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.”
The agent has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a use-of-force investigation.
Three people were arrested in the case: Sophia Perez Heath, 35; Heath’s boyfriend, Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42; and a second man, Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38.