WASHINGTON (AP) — A man armed with an assault rifle opened fire outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington early Thursday, blasting bullet holes into the walls and pillars near the front entrance before he was arrested, authorities said.
The gunfire broke out around 2 a.m. outside the embassy in northwest Washington. Metropolitan Police Department officers were called to the scene after neighbors reported hearing gunshots, authorities said.
Officers found the man, Alexander Alazo, 42, of Aubrey, Texas, armed with an assault rifle and took him into custody without incident, police said. Investigators believe he had been shooting toward the embassy, though details about any potential motivation remained unclear.
Alazo was arrested on charges of possessing an unregistered firearm and ammunition, assault with intent to kill and possessing a high-capacity magazine, a U.S. Secret Service spokeswoman said. No injuries were reported.
Alazo remained in custody Thursday and it wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that embassy staff members were “safe and protected” but that the shooting caused “material damage” to the building. Photos posted on the embassy’s Twitter account showed large holes left in the building’s facade near the front door and in pillars outside the building.
The Cuban government didn’t know the suspect’s potential motives, the statement said, adding that the U.S. State Department was also aware of the incident.
“It is the obligation of States to adopt appropriate steps to protect the premises of diplomatic missions accredited to their country against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity,” the statement said.
Photos from the scene posted to social media showed a group of police officers outside the embassy after the shooting and investigators searching through an SUV parked there. Other images showed investigators surveying the damage in front of the ornate embassy in Washington’s Adams-Morgan neighborhood, including a bullet hole in a window over the front door and damage to a flagpole and a column flanking a statue of Cuban independence hero José Martí.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service were investigating.