HOUSTON (AP) — A kidnapping victim killed during a rescue attempt was shot after grabbing the rifle of an FBI agent when the agent tried to enter the home where the victim was being held, police said Tuesday.
The FBI agent didn't know it was the victim who grabbed his rifle during last week's rescue attempt as the room was dark, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
"A well intentioned effort to rescue a man who had been kidnapped ended in a tragic outcome," he said.
Acevedo identified the victim as 47-year-old Ulises Valladares.
Police said Valladares was kidnapped from his home in Conroe, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Houston, on Jan. 24. His 12-year-old son called police, who called the FBI for assistance.
The FBI tracked down two male suspects to a motel near Houston. The suspects directed FBI agents to a house in Houston where another suspect — a woman — was located along with Valladares.
At around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 25, a SWAT team from the FBI began entering the house. While one team of agents entered through the front of the home, two other agents began entering by breaking through a back window. When the tool one agent was using to break the window fell into the home, he started using his M4 rifle to break the glass, Acevedo said.
Someone then started to pull the agent's rifle and the agent, fearing the weapon could be used against other agents entering the home, fired twice, Acevedo said. One bullet hit Valladares, who died later at a hospital.
The agent didn't know that Valladares, situated right by the window, was the person pulling at his rifle, Acevedo said. The room was dark and the agents breaching the window didn't use any lights because they didn't want to blind the entry team coming in through the front of the home, Acevedo said.
While Valladares' hands had been bound with tape to the front of his body, he was apparently still able to grab the weapon, Acevedo said.
"Everyone involved, their heart breaks," he said. "Those agents that morning went there with the best of intentions. They went there to rescue a man who had been kidnapped."
The police investigation into the shooting is ongoing and once it's concluded, its findings will be presented to prosecutors, Acevedo said.
Christina Garza, an FBI spokeswoman, said Tuesday the agency can't provide any additional details on the case due to the ongoing investigation.
Two men and one woman have been charged by authorities in Montgomery County, where Conroe is located, with aggravated kidnapping. The men also are charged with aggravated robbery.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70