- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

An FBI agent was fatally shot yesterday afternoon during a confrontation with three bank-robbery suspects in a rural New Jersey town, apparently after another agent accidentally fired his weapon when the agents tried to arrest the men.

Agent Barry Lee Bush, 52, assigned to the bureau’s Newark, N.J., field office, was rushed by helicopter shortly after the shooting to University Hospital in Newark, but efforts to save his life failed.

He was a member of a task force of FBI agents and other law-enforcement officers investigating a crew of violent criminals who have been identified as the armed robbers in several bank robberies in Middlesex and Monmouth counties in Central New Jersey. The task force was tailing the crew when the agent was shot in a parking lot across from a PNC Bank branch in Readington.

“Barry Lee Bush … was shot and killed today while working a criminal investigation into a series of armed bank robberies,” the FBI said. “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.

“As in any case where agents are involved in a shooting, a team of investigators from the FBI’s inspection division is dispatched to the scene to conduct a comprehensive review,” the FBI said.

The inspection division and the FBI’s Newark office will be coordinating their efforts with state and local authorities in New Jersey.

Mr. Bush and a task force of FBI agents and other law-enforcement officers were in pursuit of heavily armed serial bank robbers thought to be responsible for four bank robberies in the Readington, N.J., area, a rural township 35 miles southwest of Newark.

Two of the robbery suspects were captured, and the third suspect fled into a wooded area behind the bank, near the Fox Hollow Golf Course, where golfers and staff members were evacuated. State police identified the two captured men as Wilfredo Berrios, 28, and Michael Cruz, 21, and the man at large as Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22. All three are from New Brunswick.

More than 100 officers from the New Jersey State Police and local law-enforcement searched the area on foot and with helicopters and dogs. State Route 22, the town’s major thoroughfare, was closed off.

“We will be bringing all necessary resources to bear in this investigation,” said John Miller, FBI assistant director.

New Jersey State Police secured schools in the area and put about 3,000 people, including several elementary-school-age children, in lockdown at Raritan Valley Community College in nearby North Branch.

In each of the robberies, a masked gunman entered a bank and fired a single shot signaling the start of the robbery. In at least two of the three robberies in Middlesex County, the gunman was assisted by accomplices carrying rifles.

The task force includes members of the FBI, Middlesex County prosecutor’s office and local police departments. It had been placed on high alert.

Mr. Bush, who joined the FBI in August 1987, serving in Kansas City and then transferring to Newark in 1991, is survived by his wife and two grown children.

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