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ICE agents, while arresting undocumented Brooklyn immigrant, wind up shooting second man in wild street brawl

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 2/6/2020 Wes Parnell, Rocco Parascandola, Thomas Tracy
a group of people standing in front of a crowd © Kendall Rodriguez

Federal immigration agents trying to bust a previously-deported Mexican immigrant wound up in a wild Brooklyn street brawl, with the wanted man tasered Thursday morning and one of his girlfriend’s sons shot point-blank in the face, law enforcement sources and witnesses said.

Construction worker Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, 33, was returning to his home on W. 12th St. in Gravesend around 8:15 a.m. from work to grab something he forgot when agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Enforcement and Removal Operations descended with a warrant, sources said.

Avendano-Hernandez lives in the house with his girlfriend, who came running out of the home with her son Eric Diaz-Cruz, 26, who also lives there. Her other son, Kevin Yanez-Cruz, 19, had returned to the home with Avendano-Hernandez, with whom he works for the same construction company.

© Kendall Rodriguez

A wild scuffle erupted, with federal authorities saying agents were “physically attacked while attempting to arrest” Avendano-Hernandez.

He and Diaz-Cruz were tasered. Diaz-Cruz was also shot by one of the ICE agents, with the bullet tearing through his hand and into his face, sources said.

The ICE agent "pointed straight to the face,” said Yanez about the shooting. “He didn’t even think twice. He just shot him. (Eric) had no weapons in his hand. Nothing.”

Diaz-Cruz, listed in critical but stable condition at Maimonides Hospital, collapsed to the ground unable to speak as blood spurted from the gunshot wound, according to his brother. The federal agent who first grabbed Avendano-Hernandez is also Hispanic, said Yanez.

“You know how crazy that is?” asked Yanez.

The 33-year-old Avendano-Hernandez, taking advantage of the chaos, bolted back into the house and remained barricaded inside until surrendering a short time later, according to the sources.

“(Gaspar) resisted because he didn’t know what was going on,” said Yanez.

A video viewed by the Daily News shows Avendano-Hernandez struggling with the two agents, yelling in Spanish, when an agent wearing a light grey hoodie and a hat zaps him with a Taser as he is propped against a car.

A few seconds later the shot was fired, witnesses said. A law enforcement source said Diaz-Cruz was unarmed but described as holding something in his hand at the time of the shooting, though his brother said he had nothing in his hand.

“We saw people in the street, trying to get him handcuffed,” said a witness who wished not to be named. “There were a lot of people involved. The next thing I know there was this big bang.”

“I heard a shot and I ran,” she added. “I didn’t know if more shots were coming.”

Once everyone took cover, the woman’s daughter looked up and saw the agents giving medical aid to the wounded men. The gunshot victim “was lying on the floor with a towel on his head, bleeding profusely,” she said.

Avendano-Hernandez was stopped by the NYPD for driving around with a forged Connecticut licence plate earlier in the week, sources said. ICE heard of the incident and began taking steps to arrest and deport him.

Yanez said Avendano-Hernandez was driving with the dealer’s plates still on the vehicle.

Avendano-Hernandez took a cab to work Thursday to avoid re-arrest and was planning to pick up legal plates from state motor vehicles on Friday, according to Yanez.

ICE issued a statement describing Avendano-Hernandez as a “a twice-removed illegal alien from Mexico with a 2011 assault conviction in New York City.” Two ICE officers were taken to a local hospital for treatment after the Thursday brawl.

The ICE statement noted its agents were “forced to locate (Avendano-Hernandez) on the streets of New York rather than in the safe confines of a jail” because city cops turned him loose after his arrest this past Monday. He was previously deported to Mexico in April 2011.

The NYPD had been to the home prior to 2016 for a domestic violence incident, though it wasn’t clear who was involved.

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