An FBI agent shot and killed a bound kidnapping victim being held for ransom in Texas on Friday, during a raid meant to save him from his captors.
The victim, identified in court documents as Ulises Valladares, had his hands bound and was being held at gunpoint when the FBI executed an early morning raid on Friday. Christina Garza, a spokesperson for the Bureau, did not confirm the identity of the victim when announcing that he had been fatally struck by a round fired by one of the agents taking part in the raid.
“The system failed,” Conroe Police Chief Philip Dupuis said during a news conference, according to the AP. “Whether it was accidental or not, the man is not going home to his family.”
Three suspects were taken into custody during the raid: Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42; Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38; and Sophia Perez Heath, 35. They were each charged with aggravated kidnapping, though Cunningham and Sanchez were also charged with aggravated robbery stemming from the incident.
The kidnapping began on Wednesday, when the suspects reportedly knocked on Valladares’ door as his 12-year-old son was getting ready to leave for school. According to statements the child provided law enforcement, two men then tackled Valladares, and once they had him subdued, they bound both the man and child with duct tape before ransacking the house, claiming that Valladares’ brother owed them $8,000. Eventually, they stole some electronics equipment and left with Valladares, telling his son that they would drop his father off once they were clear of the home, but that if he called the police, they would kill him.
After about 20 minutes of ransacking the house, the suspects placed a black Nike sweater over the father’s head and escorted him outside,” according to the criminal complaint. “The suspects told the child to not call police or they would kill his father. The suspects told the child they would drop his father off around the street corner.”
“The child advised he waited 10 or 20 minutes before he located some scissors, cut the duct-tape off his hands, and ran outside to find his father.”
His father, unfortunately, was nowhere to be found, so the child ran to a neighbor’s house to get help. In the days that followed, the victim’s brother, Ernesto Valladares, received a call from the kidnappers, demanding a $20,000 ransom and claiming to be representatives of “El Cartel Del Golfo” — the Gulf Cartel in Mexico.
The FBI was able to trace the calls back to nearby motel, where they were able to find and arrest Cunningham and Sanchez, who led them to another house, where the shooting took place. What exactly went wrong at that point, however, remains unclear. It is not currently apparent whether Valladares was killed during an exchange of gunfire, or if the FBI agent was the only person to fire during the raid.
A statement released by the FBI on Friday shed no light on the circumstances of Valladares’ death.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Tactical Response Unit made entry in to the house and located the kidnapped victim, Ulises Valladares. The victim’s hands were bound with gray duct-tape. Ulises was transported to the hospital from the scene and later died.”
Image courtesy of the Conroe Police Department