An FBI agent on his way to work is accused of shooting a panhandler and putting another passenger in danger on a subway train in suburban Washington D.C.
A grand jury indicted Eduardo Valdivia, 37, on multiple charges that included attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and reckless endangerment, and he turned himself into authorities on June 1.
Valdivia was riding the southbound Metro Red Line train around 6:40 a.m. Dec. 15 when a man sat across from him and asked for money, ABC News reported.
Valdivia responded that he didn’t have any. The man began swearing as he walked away, and the agent told him to “watch your mouth,” prosecutors said.
When the man, who was unarmed, reapproached Valdivia, the prosecutor said, the agent drew a handgun and shot at him twice from between two and three feet away as the train approached the Medical Center station in Bethesda, Maryland.
The shooting victim underwent surgery to treat injuries to his spleen, colon and pancreas and survived.
Prosecutors noted that another passenger in the subway car about 15 feet away from Valdivia was uninjured in the shooting but in the line of fire. The incident was caught on surveillance footage, prosecutors said.
Valdivia’s lawyer, Robert Bonsib, claimed his client warned the victim he would shoot if he didn’t back up and acted in self-defense.
“The law does not require that you wait to be struck before you take action. Had this resulted in a hands-on fight and a struggle for Agent Valdivia's gun, only God knows what could have happened,” Bonsib said.
However, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said prosecutors would not have brought the charge if they believed the shooting was protected by law.
“To explain all of the reasons why we came to this conclusion would be effectively for me to give you a closing argument as to a five-month investigation. This is not the appropriate time,” McCarthy said.
A judge released Valdivia on his own recognizance.
“As is customary following a shooting incident, this matter will be subject to internal review,” said Joy Jiras, spokeswoman for the FBI's Baltimore field office.
According to his lawyer, Valdivia is a 10-year veteran of the FBI and was recently promoted to supervisory special agent. His job entails providing operational guidance and programmatic oversight of investigations involving anti-government and racially motivated extremists.