NEW YORK — Federal authorities charged a New York man Monday in the shooting of an FBI agent over the weekend, calling the case an “unprovoked assault” by a member of a violent street gang.
Ronell Watson, 31, of Brooklyn, was charged with attempted murder and using a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. He was ordered held without bail at an afternoon court hearing.
The FBI described Watson as a member of the Crips street gang and said that he has been arrested at least 11 times— though not previously convicted— on counts ranging from drug trafficking and larceny to resisting arrest.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue referred to Watson in magistrate court as a “gun-wielding, drug-dealing gang member” who faces a minimum prison term of 10 years if convicted.
“Watson showed an utter disregard for human life when he fired multiple shots without provocation at an on-duty FBI special agent,” Donoghue said in a statement.
Watson’s public defender, Michelle Gelernt, declined to comment on the charges.
The agent’s injury was not life threatening, authorities said.
The shooting happened Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn’s Canarsie section. The agent, whose name was not released, had been parked in an unmarked vehicle on a one-way street.
The FBI said Watson drove the wrong way down Canarsie Road and partially blocked the agent’s vehicle. Authorities said Watson opened fire after the agent manoeuvred around and began driving away.
The agent was struck in the torso before exiting his vehicle and returning fire, striking Watson in the hand.
The FBI said the shooting was captured on several surveillance cameras. Investigators said they also recovered footage of Watson arriving at the hospital to seek treatment and getting rid of his vehicle.
From the hospital, authorities said, Watson called a woman and ordered her to “get the jewelry and get rid of it.”
The FBI later identified that woman as Molissa Gangapersad, Watson’s live-in girlfriend. Authorities said she falsely told investigators that she had not seen the shooting and was charged with making false statements to the FBI.
The FBI said surveillance video showed Gangapersad on her front porch during the shooting and “in a position to observe it.”
Gangapersad’s attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment
Authorities searched the shared residence and said they found 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana, $15,000 cash and a large amount of jewelry.
Jim Mustian, The Associated Press