Indian Man Arrested for Shooting of U.S. Consular Official in Mexico

A daytime shooting of a U.S. diplomat in Guadalajara came as a shock, but it now looks like it may have been a visa issue gone terribly awry.


TIJUANA.-Mexican authorities have arrested a man believed to be responsible for the non-fatal shooting a U.S. consulate employee in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city after the capital.

The shooting of the officially unnamed U.S. State Department employee this Saturday was caught by nearby security cameras, which showed the gunman waiting for the official on the sidewalk near an upscale shopping center, before shooting the consulate employee at close range as he exited an underground parking structure in a black vehicle.

Security footage recorded just prior to the shooting showed the official—who has been identified only by local media as Christopher Ashcraft—validating his parking lot ticket while carrying a gym bag. Moments later, he is followed by the shooter, who appears to be disguised in a nurse’s uniform.

The U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara said the F.B.I. was offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the suspected shooter of the consulate employee, who state authorities have now turned over to federal authorities.

The suspect, at the time of his arrest Sunday, had in his possession a .38-caliber pistol and a wig.

A spokesperson at the Jalisco state prosecutor’s office confirmed that the suspect is a 31-year-old naturalized American from India named Zafar Zia, suggesting the shooting may have been related to a dispute over a visa. State authorities denied any link to organized crime.

Jalisco is one of the more than a dozen states in Mexico for which the State Department has issued travel warnings, alerting U.S. citizens of areas impacted by organized crime to avoid. In Jalisco, “intercity travel after hours” is strictly prohibited for U.S. government personnel.

Wedged between two cartel hotbeds, Zacatecas and embattled Michoacan, violence is far from uncommon in the region, but a brazen daytime shooting involving foreigners in Mexico is certainly a rarity.

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I want to thank the Government of Mexico for their swift and decisive arrest of a suspect in the heinous attack against our Foreign Service Officer colleague,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Sunday.

The consular official is recovering in a Guadalajara hospital.