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Reading Man Who Shot at FBI Agents Convicted at Trial

by U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Feb 06, 2024

Photo courtesy of Marco Chilese on Unsplash

United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Rafael Vega-Rodriguez, 41, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was convicted on Friday, Feb. 2, at trial of three counts of attempted murder of a federal law enforcement officer, three counts of assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon, and two related firearms charges, stemming from an incident during which he shot at and tried to kill three FBI Special Agents.

On March 1, 2020, FBI Special Agents were conducting surveillance in the area of Gordon Street in Reading, looking for the defendant, who was the subject of an active state arrest warrant for a parole violation. At approximately 11:45 p.m., the agents saw the defendant walking in the area of West Greenwich Street with a second individual. When the agents attempted to stop him, Vega-Rodriguez drew a handgun from under his sweatshirt and shot at them. He continued to shoot as he and the second individual fled from the scene.

After an intense manhunt, investigators discovered that Vega-Rodriguez had fled to Leola, Pennsylvania, approximately 30 miles southwest of Reading. He was arrested there by FBI Special Agents and Pennsylvania State Police Troopers in the early morning hours of March 3, 2020.

“Rafael Vega-Rodriguez was so determined not to be arrested and go back to prison that he immediately opened fire on approaching FBI agents,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “It’s incredibly fortunate that none of the agents, or anyone else for that matter, was hit. When Vega-Rodriguez pulled the trigger that night, he sealed his own fate and now faces spending the rest of his life behind bars.”

“Every day, FBI agents put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Philadelphia. “Let this verdict serve as a clear message that if you commit an act of violence against a federal agent, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy M. Stengel, Assistant United States Attorney Everett Witherell, and former Assistant United States Attorney Mary Futcher.

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