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FBI shooting suspect is purported gang member, court papers say

Ronell Watson, who was shot in the hand when the agent returned fire, was arrested Saturday.

Detectives examine the scene where an FBI agent

Detectives examine the scene where an FBI agent was shot in Brooklyn on Saturday. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

An alleged Crips gang associate was arraigned Monday on attempted murder charges after authorities said he shot an on-duty FBI agent on a Brooklyn street Saturday afternoon in an incident captured on surveillance video, according to court papers. 

Ronell Watson, 31, of Brooklyn, who was shot in the hand when the agent returned fire, was arrested Saturday evening. 

The agent was struck by one round in the torso, authorities said. The condition of the unnamed male agent was not released Monday. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. 

Watson's live-in girlfriend, Molissa Gangapersad, 30, of Brooklyn, was charged with lying to the FBI about whether she witnessed the shooting. Authorities said they found 1.5 pounds of marijuana, $15,000 in cash and large amounts of jewelry in Watson and Gangapersad's bedroom. 

At their arraignments Monday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione ordered Watson held without bond and Gangapersad held on a $500,000 bond. 

Watson, who is not licensed to carry a gun in New York State, has been arrested at least 11 times for narcotics trafficking, grand larceny, resisting arrest and other offenses, prosecutors said in their bail letter to the judge.

Defense attorneys for Watson and Gangapersad could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. 

"The unprovoked assault of a law enforcement officer is a grievous crime that threatens the safety and security of our communities," said William Sweeney, FBI Assistant Director-in-charge of the New York office. "As alleged, Watson demonstrated callous disregard for life when he targeted and then deliberately opened fire on a fellow citizen. In this instance, that citizen was an FBI Special Agent who fought back." 

The incident began when the on-duty FBI agent, parked in an unmarked car on one-way Canarsie Road, spotted a dark-colored BMW M5 driving down the street in the wrong direction about 3:20 p.m., according to court papers. 

The driver of the BMW, who authorities identified as Watson, parked his BMW near the front of the agent's car, "partially obstructing the FBI Agent's ability to drive forward," the court papers said. 

Watson then got out of his vehicle and approached the driver's side of the agent's door "with one hand inside the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt," authorities said.

The agent tried to "maneuver" his car around the BMW and Watson "pulled out a firearm and began firing at the FBI agent," authorities said. Immediately after the agent was struck, he got out of his car, and fired back at Watson, who was standing near his BMW, striking Watson with at least one round, authorities said. 

Watson then fled in the BMW, arriving at an auto body shop about two miles away on Remsen Avenue about 3:45 p.m., authorities said. Watson, with a makeshift bandage on his left hand, left his BMW at the body shop and was picked up by an unnamed person and driven to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, authorities said. 

Watson told law enforcement officers at the hospital that he was driving home when he stopped along Canarsie Road and was struck as an innocent bystander as shots rang out, authorities said. Watson was overheard on the phone by law enforcement officers at the hospital, telling a woman, believed to be Gangapersad, to go to the house and "get the jewelry and get rid of it," authorities said. 

Gangapersad initially told FBI agents that she had not seen the shooting, but when was confronted with video surveillance showing her on the porch of her home in view of the shooting, she admitted she had witnessed it, authorities said. 

If convicted, Watson faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.


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