Man shot by FBI shows improvement

Victim, 20, speaks for first time since incident, uncle says

March 06, 2002|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

Joseph C. Schultz, who was mistakenly shot in the face last week by an FBI agent tracking a bank robbery suspect, showed signs of improvement yesterday, an attorney for his family said.

An uncle said Schultz spoke for the first time since the shooting, telling his family: "I thought I was going to die."

Schultz, 20, of Pasadena was shot in the right cheek with an assault rifle after FBI agents stopped the car he was riding in Friday evening. His family's attorney, Joseph C. Asensio, has said Schultz was shot as he reached to unfasten his seat belt to comply with an agent's order to get out of the car.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions about the FBI's accidental shooting of an Anne Arundel County man incorrectly identified the victim's uncle, Willis Shelley of Pasadena, as Will Schultz. The Sun regrets the error.

FBI officials acknowledge that Schultz had no connection to the bank robbery or the suspect, who was apprehended Sunday.

Schultz's right cheek and jaw were shattered by the bullet, which lodged in the left side of his face. He remained yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, with his family nearby. He had been listed in serious but stable condition.

As local and federal investigations into the shooting continued yesterday, an area congressman and an uncle of the victim expressed their concerns about the FBI's actions. For a fifth day, the FBI refused to release details about the incident.

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., whose 2nd District includes northern Anne Arundel County, called the facts of the case "egregious." Ehrlich said that his office has contacted the Justice Department to make sure appropriate attention is focused on the case.

"The facts as we know them now raise real serious questions, so we're going to be talking to them," he said, referring to the FBI and Justice Department. "We're letting this investigation play itself out, but people are going to be looking into this investigation."

In an interview on WBAL radio, an uncle of Schultz's called the shooting a "criminal act."

Will Schultz, 53, described his nephew as a mild-mannered young man - "Joe Anybody" - who never should have been mistaken for a bank robber.

"The good news is, he's off the ventilator," the uncle said on The Ron Smith Show. "The first two things he wanted to say: `Why did they shoot me?' And the second thing, that made me cry when I heard it: `I thought I was going to die.' "

Anne Arundel County police and the FBI, which are conducting separate investigations into the shooting, remained tight-lipped about Friday's incident. The FBI has said the agent who shot Schultz has been reassigned to duties unlikely to involve "armed confrontations," and it has scheduled a news conference for today.

FBI officials have noted bureau policy in refusing to release the names of agents involved or other details about what led to Friday's traffic stop in Pasadena, as Schultz and his girlfriend were returning home from a shopping trip.

In contrast, area police departments typically release the names of officers involved in shootings within hours of such incidents.

Baltimore police release the names once officers have notified their families that they were involved in an incident, said Ragina C. Averella, a spokeswoman.

Maryland State Police release the names as soon as the initial investigation is complete and the agency's superintendent has been updated on the situation - sometimes within hours of a shooting - said Cpl. Robert A. Moroney, a state police spokesman.

Sun staff writers Laura Barnhardt, Karen Hosler and Kimberly A.C. Wilson contributed to this article.

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