FBI agent may have been killed by fellow agent in N.J. robbery stakeout
READINGTON, N.J. — State police captured a third bank robbery suspect Friday connected to the deadly shooting of an FBI agent who had been tracking the men.
The agent's team had fired on the armed suspects outside a bank branch in Readington on Thursday, but the FBI said the suspects did not shoot back and the agent may have accidentally been killed by one of his own colleagues.
"Preliminarily, information suggests the agent may have been fatally wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of another agent's weapon during a dynamic arrest situation," the FBI said in a statement released Thursday night.
Two of the robbery suspects were captured shortly after the shooting. The third fled on foot and was arrested Friday morning in Branchburg, within a couple miles of the bank, State Police Lt. Gerald Lewis said.
Some 300 officers had been searching for Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, of New Brunswick since the shooting. A Somerset County 911 dispatcher said authorities were tipped off Friday morning by a resident who saw someone matching the man's description.
Beverly Hardon was leaving her driveway for work when a man began banging on her car, she told WNBC-TV New York, her voice quivering as she spoke.
"He started hitting on my window, trying to get in my car," Hardon said. "I went so fast up that driveway."
The suspect was arrested minutes later nearby.
The dead agent, Barry Lee Bush, 52, had been assigned to the FBI's Newark office and had been searching for suspects believed to be responsible for at least four bank robberies, the FBI said. In two of robberies, the suspects had fired assault weapons while inside the bank, the agency said.
Pedro Ruiz, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark office, said the suspects captured Thursday had two assault rifles and a handgun with them but didn't fire when Bush and the other agents confronted them outside a PNC Bank branch.
Investigators from the agency's Inspection Division have been assigned to investigate the shooting, the FBI said. Ruiz said he did not yet know how many shots were fired and would not elaborate on what led the agents to shoot.
The men arrested outside the Readington bank in north-central New Jersey were identified as Wilfredo Berrios, 28, and Michael Cruz, 21, both of New Brunswick. Both were to be charged with attempted armed robbery, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark said.
The FBI had started investigating Berrios, Cruz and Herrera-Genao after a March 2 bank robbery. A surveillance camera at a shopping center caught the masked gunmen abandoning a stolen Honda they had used in the robbery and getting into their "switch car," a rental vehicle that was traced to Berrios, according to the criminal complaint released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
After his arrest, Cruz said the men were preparing to rob the Readington bank, according to the complaint. Cruz also said he, Berrios, Herrera-Genao and Efrain Lynn, 21, of New Brunswick, had robbed a bank in South Brunswick on March 16, the complaint said.
Lynn was arrested Thursday on a warrant unrelated to the bank robberies, federal prosecutors said.
It was not immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment. Telephone listings for the men could not be located.
Witnesses in Readington described a chaotic scene as the gunfire broke out Thursday.
Brian Agans, who works in an engine shop across from the bank, said he heard a "pop, pop, pop." He ran outside to make sure a mechanic wasn't having a problem with equipment, but instead saw law enforcement swarming.
"All hell was breaking loose. I've never seen so many police and authorities take action ever in my life," he said.
Bush joined the FBI in August of 1987, serving in Kansas City and transferring to Newark in 1991. He is survived by a wife and two grown children, the FBI said.
Associated Press writers Chris Newmarker, Angela Delli Santi and Tom Hester Jr. in Trenton, and Jeffrey Gold in Newark contributed to this report.