- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

A third bank robbery suspect was arrested yesterday in connection with a shooting in a rural New Jersey town Thursday during which an FBI agent was fatally shot after another agent accidentally fired his weapon as authorities confronted the suspects.

More than 200 federal, state and local police had been searching the area around Readington, N.J., for Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, of New Brunswick, since the shooting. He was taken into custody after a local resident reported that someone matching the man’s description had tried to carjack her vehicle.

Mr. Herrera-Genao was taken into custody about 7:30 a.m., caked with mud, twigs and shoeless after a night on the run in a wooded area near a PNC Bank branch in Readington. Authorities said he told Robert Pasquino, the New Jersey state trooper who found him, “Just shoot me, just kill me.”

FBI Agent Barry Lee Bush, 52, assigned to the bureau’s Newark field office, was rushed by helicopter shortly after the Thursday morning shooting to a hospital in Newark, where he died.

Agent Bush was a member of a task force of FBI agents and other law-enforcement officers investigating a crew of heavily armed criminals identified as the armed robbers in several bank holdups in Middlesex and Monmouth counties in central New Jersey. The task force was tailing the crew when the agent was shot.

It was not clear yesterday if the suspected bank robbers fired shots at the task force members.

“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.

A probe into the shooting is being conducted by a team of investigators from the FBI’s inspection division, working with the bureau’s Newark office and state and local authorities in New Jersey.

Two of the robbery suspects were captured immediately after the shooting, but Mr. Herrera-Genao 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, also of New Brunswick.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Pedro Ruiz, who heads the bureau’s Newark office, said the suspects captured Thursday had two assault rifles and a handgun with them but didn’t fire when agents confronted them outside the PNC Bank branch.

Agent Ruiz declined yesterday during a press conference to discuss the circumstances of the shooting, including how many shots were fired and whether Agent Bush was wearing a protective vest. He also would not elaborate on the task force investigation, but told reporters the arrests had prevented another bank robbery.

The three suspects are expected to appear Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark.

The FBI investigation began March 2 after the three were named in connection with a bank robbery in which a surveillance camera at a shopping center caught masked gunmen abandoning a stolen Honda used in the robbery and getting into a “switch car,” a rental vehicle that was traced to Mr. Berrios, according to the criminal complaint.

After his arrest, the complaint stated Mr. Cruz said the men were preparing to rob the Readington bank, and that he, Mr. Berrios, Mr. Herrera-Genao and Efrain Lynn, 21, of New Brunswick, had robbed a bank in South Brunswick on March 16. Mr. Lynn was arrested Thursday on a warrant unrelated to the bank robberies.

In each of the four robberies under investigation, 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.

Agent Bush joined the FBI in August 1987, serving in Kansas City and then transferring to Newark in 1991. He is survived by his wife, son and a daughter.

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