By Matthew Nestel
NEW YORK — A federal agent shot and killed a man suspected of peddling explosives yesterday as he tried to flee in a car, dragging the agent down a Bronx street, law enforcement sources said.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent was not seriously hurt in the 6 p.m. shooting at 136th Street near Willis Avenue in Mott Haven. He was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan.
Authorities said the suspect was sitting in a car discussing the sale of hand grenades with a confidential informant who wore a wire so federal agents could listen to their conversation. During the conversation, the suspect said he had at least one explosive with him. Then, for some reason, he started to drive off, sources said.
The possible presence of a live grenade and the suspect's abrupt departure startled ATF agents, who moved in to stop the vehicle, sources said. One agent, who was unidentified, got caught on the vehicle and was dragged several feet. He fired one shot, killing the suspect. An inert grenade was later recovered from the vehicle. It had been hidden in a "vehicle compartment," a source said.
"We were not even sure that he actually had a grenade," said William McMahon, special agent in charge of ATF's New York field division. "They came there only thinking of the possibility of a purchase." The street was sealed off for hours last night as crime scene investigators collected evidence and bomb squad experts combed the vehicle for the grenade.
One resident of the street, Jessica, 20, who did not give her last name, finished her shift as a supermarket cashier but could not return to her apartment. Jessica said her mother, who was taking care of her son, had spoken to her, saying she heard a loud noise at the time of the shooting.
"She sounded scared," Jessica said. "Now she's by herself with my sister and my 2-month-old son."
Copyright 2007 Newsday
ATF agent fatally shoots man selling explosives