The man accused of firing shots at the Cuban Embassy early Thursday told authorities he had been living out of his car for the past nine months and thought Cuban gang members were out to get him, the U.S. Secret Service said.
Federal Public Defender Tony W. Miles is representing suspect Alexander Alazo, now being held without bond. Lead prosecutors are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Hutchinson and Stuart Douglas Allen.
A detention hearing in the case was set for 1:45 p.m. May 4. See criminal complaint and arrest warrant.
Below is a statement of facts filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
On April 30, 2020, at approximately 2:13 a.m., officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) arrived at 2630 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, to investigate the sounds of gunshots in the area. This location is the Embassy of Cuba. The officers located an individual later identified as Alexander Alazo (ALAZO), in front of the location. ALAZO was standing in front of the location holding what appeared to be a Cuban flag and yelling nonsensical statements. The officers detained ALAZO, and observed a firearm laying in front of the pedestrian entrance gate to the Cuban Interests Section. ALAZO told the MPD officers that the firearm was his.
Crime scene technicians collected 32 spent shell casings and a Century Arms Inc. rifle from the sidewalk and street where ALAZO had been standing. Crime scene technicians took photographs of damage sustained to the building’s facade and damage from projectiles that had penetrated the building and which had struck interior objects of the occupied building. Crime scene technicians also recovered a Cuban flag that had writing on it and was possibly doused with an accelerant.
At the time of the offense, there were individuals within the Embassy of Cuba, including the Chief of Mission.
ALAZO was transported to the MPD Third District station for prisoner processing and questioning by Secret Service Protective Intelligence Agents and MPD detectives.
ALAZO was read his Miranda rights prior to any questioning by the Protective Intelligence Agents and MPD detectives. ALAZO was willing to waive his rights and answer questions.
ALAZO stated he was born in Cuba and served in the Cuban army. He said he migrated to Mexico in 2003 and migrated to Texas claiming political asylum in 2007. ALAZO stated he went to Cuba in 2014 and began to preach at a church. ALAZO stated while preaching at his church, he began to receive threats from Cuban organized crime organizations.
ALAZO stated he was living out of his car for the past nine months because he did not want the Cuban organized criminals to harm his family. ALAZO stated he would park his vehicle at different rest stops and parking lots in various states due to the belief organized Cuban criminal organizations are after him.
ALAZO stated he was previously mentally evaluated at a psychiatric hospital. ALAZO stated that his wife is a traveling mental health nurse and told him to seek help because he was hearing voices in his head. ALAZO stated he was prescribed medication in March 2020 after an evaluation at a psychiatric hospital, but that he was not completely compliant with his medication.
ALAZO stated he had a Glock 19 which he bought in Texas and traded it for an AK-47 about a month ago in Loudoun County, Virginia. ALAZO stated he traded the Glock 19 for the AK-47 because he wanted better protection for his family. ALAZO also stated that was the only firearm he owned and had access to.
ALAZO stated he drove to Washington, D.C. on the night of April 29, 2020, because he wanted to get them before they got him, referring to the Cuban government, for the constant threats from the organized Cuban criminal organization. ALAZO stated he arrived at the embassy and began to yell at them, and tried to light a Cuban flag on fire but was unsuccessful. ALAZO then grabbed an American flag and yelled towards the Cuban Embassy that he was a Yankee. ALAZO then stated he proceeded to grab his AK-47 from his vehicle and shoot towards the Cuban embassy.
After being advised of, and waiving his Miranda rights, an additional interview of ALAZO was conducted by a U.S. Department of State Special Agent and a Department of State-Joint Terrorism Task Force agent at the MPD Third District station.
During that interview, ALAZO said that he had heard voices two nights ago that told him to protect his family. ALAZO stated that after his best friend was killed in Canada, that was when he believed the Cuban criminal organization started going after him. ALAZO told the agents he began to hear those voices in his head after his friend was killed.
A small red plastic baggie was located in the rear of the transport vehicle that had brought ALAZO from the location of the offense to the MPD Third District station. A presumptive field test concluded that the white powder substance in question tested positive for cocaine and cocaine base.
When ALAZO travelled from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., with the firearm and ammunition, he did so with the intention of committing a violent attack on a foreign official or official premises using a deadly or dangerous weapon, or attempt to do the same. He also intended to commit mayhem, or of an assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of 22 D.C. Code Section 402.
Based on the foregoing, your affiant submits that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant violated 18 U.S.C. § 112(a), 18 U.S.C. § 924(b), and 18 U.S.C. § 970(a).
Officer, United States Secret Service
Badge Number 1952
Attested to by the applicant in accordance with the requirements of Fed. R. Crim. P. 4.1 by telephone, this 30th day of April, 2020.
The Honorable Deborah A. Robinson
United States Magistrate Judge