WASHINGTON – Alexander Alazo, 42, of Middletown, Pennsylvania, and Aubrey, Texas, was indicted today by a federal grand jury, which charged him with multiple offenses related to his shooting of the Embassy of Cuba in Washington, D.C., announced Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin; Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Secret Service Matthew Miller; Todd J. Brown Director of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Alazo was arrested on April 30, 2020, and was charged by criminal complaint with a violent attack on a foreign official or official premises using a deadly weapon (18 U.S.C. § 112(a)), willfully injuring or damaging property belonging to or occupied by a foreign government in the United States (18 U.S.C. § 970(a)), and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony (18 U.S.C. § 924(b)). On May 1, 2020, U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey detained Alazo without bond pending trial. Today, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment against Alazo charging him with four federal offenses, the three for which he was charged by criminal complaint, and an additional charge for using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)).
The criminal complaint and Indictment stem from an incident in the early hours of April 30, 2020, when Alazo fired approximately 32 rounds of an assault-style weapon at the Embassy of Cuba in Washington, D.C., which was occupied at the time of the offense. Although the Embassy of Cuba suffered both exterior and interior damage, no one was injured in the attack. Alazo was immediately apprehended by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) without incident, and the weapon used in the shooting was recovered, as was an accelerant-soaked Cuban flag.
Both the criminal complaint and the Indictment are formal accusations of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, Alazo faces a mandatory sentence of at least ten years in prison for the charge of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. The crime of a violent attack on a foreign official or official premises using a deadly weapon and the crime of willfully injuring or damaging property belonging to or occupied by a foreign government in the United States both carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and not more than three years of supervised release. The crime of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison a fine of up to $250,000, and not more than one year of supervised release.
“We commend the efforts of local and federal law enforcement who intervened quickly to protect lives and reduce damage to the property of a foreign government present in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin. “This investigation and prosecution is a testament to the commitment of American law enforcement to thwart the efforts of any individual who would target with violence any foreign embassy in the United States.”
“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to ensuring the safety and security of foreign missions in the United States,” said Director Brown. “We take our responsibilities outlined in the Vienna Convention seriously.”
“Our city has experienced far too many tragic outcomes when someone fires a weapon indiscriminately in our community,” said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham. “With this indictment, it is our hope that the criminal justice system holds this individual accountable.”
In announcing the Indictment, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge Miller, and DSS Director Brown commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Secret Service, the Diplomatic Security Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the MPD. Finally, they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason McCullough and Stuart Allen, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Hutchinson, and Paralegal Specialist Bria Cunningham.