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Suspect in attack on US official in Mexico brought to US

By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Of the Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The U.S. citizen arrested by Mexican authorities in connection with last week's shooting of a U.S. consular official has arrived in the United States for prosecution and was making his first appearance Tuesday in federal court.

Zia Zafar, 31, of Chino Hills, California, was to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, said U.S. attorney's office spokesman Joshua Stueve.

The office of the federal attorney general in Mexico said in a statement late Monday that the suspect was repatriated in coordination with U.S. authorities and in accordance with Mexican law. It said Mexican authorities would continue their investigation into the shooting.

An affidavit for the arrest filed in a federal court near Washington and unsealed Tuesday identified the victim as consular officer Christopher Ashcraft, who worked at the consulate in the western city of Guadalajara. It said he is recovering at a medical facility in the city. The affidavit did not mention any motive for the shooting.

According to the affidavit, Ashcraft told FBI agents he had left a gym on the evening of Jan. 6 when he noticed a person he believed was waiting for him. The person, who was later identified as Zafar, was wearing a wig, blue scrubs, and white shoes, the affidavit says. Ashcraft told agents he felt threatened and walked to a populated area in a parking garage before getting into his car when he was no longer being followed. Ashcraft was shot once in the chest while leaving the garage, the affidavit says. The affidavit says Zafar is seen on surveillance firing into the car's windshield and then fleeing. Some of those surveillance images are also included in the affidavit.

The affidavit says that Mexican officials obtained surveillance video of a person matching the description of the shooter paying for a purchase at a nearby Starbucks ahead of the shooting. The person paid with a credit card in Zafar's name, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says Zafar entered Mexico on a student visa and holds a U.S. passport as well as a California driver's license. He was living in Guadalajara. A search of his home uncovered a pistol as well as a pair of sunglasses and a wig similar to the ones seen on the person in the surveillance video.

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Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the consular officer's last name is Ashcraft, not Ashcroft, and that the affidavit didn't mention any motive for the shooting.

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