Homeland Security

American of Indian Origin Arrested in Shooting of U.S. Consular Official in Mexico

An American citizen was arrested in Mexico for attempting to assassinate a U.S. consular official in a Guadalajara parking lot.

On Friday, consular official Christopher Ashcraft, who had been stationed in Jalisco state since June 2015, was followed through the lot by a man who appeared to be attempting to disguise his appearance. Surveillance video showed Ashcraft climbing into his car and pulling up to the ticket machine at the lot exit when the shooter steps up and fires once through the windshield.

Ashcraft was shot in the chest and is expected to recover.

After the shooting, the consulate warned U.S. citizens in Guadalajara “to restrict their movements outside their homes and places of work to those truly essential.”

“They should also take care not to fall into predictable patterns for those movements that are essential,” the warning added. “They should vary the times and routes of their movements.”

But when the alleged shooter was captured, he turned out to be a U.S. citizen of Indian origin: 31-year-old Zafar Zia. He was reportedly driving a Honda Accord with California plates and was carrying the .380 used in the shooting when he was arrested at a gym in a well-to-do neighborhood of Guadalajara on Sunday morning.

A search of public records shows a Zia Zafar, 31, who has lived in Chino Hills, Calif., and worked for loan and mortgage services.

Mexico was quickly deporting Zia to the United States, “where his juridical situation will be determined,” according to a joint statement from Mexico’s attorney general and secretary of foreign affairs.

“The Government of Mexico has offered full support to the attacked official and his relatives to overcome this difficult situation and clarify the facts,” they added.

“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 in Guadalajara, Mexico,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens and our diplomatic staff overseas are among our highest priorities. My thoughts and prayers remain with this officer and his family during this difficult time. I wish him a speedy recovery.”