READINGTON, N.J. (AP) _ An FBI agent who was killed Thursday in a shootout with three bank robbery suspects might have been shot accidentally by another agent on his stakeout team, the FBI said.
Agent Barry Lee Bush, 52, assigned to the Newark office, died after agents confronted three men suspected in a series of armed bank robberies.
``Preliminarily, information suggests the agent may have been fatally wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of another agent's weapon during a dynamic arrest situation,'' the FBI said in a statement Thursday night.
Bush and his team were tracking a group of men believed to be responsible for four robberies, the FBI said. In two of the robberies, the suspects had fired assault weapons while inside the bank, the agency said.
When the agents found three suspects outside a bank on Route 22 in Readington around noon Thursday, a shootout ensued and Bush was hit.
Josh Bavosa, 35, said he was making a business deposit at the PNC Bank when heard three gunfire bursts that sounded as if they were from an automatic weapon.
When he looked out the window, Bavosa said, he saw law enforcers swarming around a car, pulling two people out and ordering them onto the ground.
Brian Agans, who works in an engine shop across from the bank, said he heard a ``pop, pop, pop.'' He ran outside to make sure a mechanic wasn't having a problem with equipment, but instead saw law enforcement swarming.
``All hell was breaking loose. I've never seen so many police and authorities take action ever in my life,'' Agans said.
Two suspects, Wilfredo Berrios, 28, and Michael Cruz, 21, both of New Brunswick, were captured, officials said. State and local authorities were searching for another man who ran into the woods, identified by state police as Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, of New Brunswick.
Berrios and Cruz were to be charged wtih attempted armed robbery of the Readington bank, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark said.
It was not immediately clear if the men had attorneys.
The FBI had started investigating Berrios, Cruz and Herrera-Genao after a March 2 bank robbery. A surveillance camera at a shopping center caught the masked gunmen abandoning a stolen car they had used in the robbery and getting into their ``switch car,'' a rental vehicle that was traced to Berrios, according to a criminal complaint released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The FBI started watching the men, and on Thursday found them driving up to the bank in Readington in two cars that had been stolen earlier in the day.
Believing the men were preparing to rob the bank, FBI agents approached one of the cars and arrested Berrios; Herrera-Genao fled into the woods. At the same time, shots were fired as agents approached Cruz, who was in another car, and that was when Bush was hit, the complaint said.
After his arrest, Cruz admitted the men were attempting to rob the bank, according to the complaint. He also said they had robbed a bank along with Efrain Lynn, 21, on March 16. Lynn was arrested Thursday on a bench warrant unrelated to the bank robberies, federal prosecutors said.
Bush, 52, joined the FBI in August of 1987, serving in Kansas City and transferring to Newark in 1991. He is survived by a wife and two grown children, the FBI said.
Giovanni Finazzo, owner of Mangia Bella, a nearby pizzeria, said that other than a string of break-ins several years ago, there is not much crime in the area.
``Are you kidding?'' Finazzo asked. ``After 7 o'clock, you don't even see a ghost in this town.''