A 33-year-old Chino Hills man was sentenced Nov. 7 to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to a Jan. 6, 2017 non-fatal shooting of a U.S. diplomat in Guadalajara, Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier this month.

Zia Zafar, a former medical student, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person and a count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, officials announced. 

“Zia Zafar targeted a U.S. government employee and surveilled him before shooting him in the chest at close range,” said assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. “The Department of Justice does everything in its power to prosecute anyone who targets U.S. officials at home or abroad.”

Prosecutors said the vice consul was targeted and shot because he represented the United States. Mr. Zafar, who at the time of the shooting was in medical school and living in Guadalajara, was armed with a gun and wore a wig and sunglasses to disguise his appearance. He waited in a parking garage for the vice consul, who worked at the U.S. Consulate in the city, prosecutors said. Mr. Zafar followed the victim as he walked towards his vehicle.

“After noticing a security guard nearby, Mr. Zafar changed his location to the vehicle exit ramp, where he waited for the vice consul to exit,” Mr. Benczkowski said. “When the vice consul approached the exit in his car, Mr. Zafar fired a single shot into the vehicle, striking the vice consul in his chest.” 

The victim survived, but a bullet remains lodged in his spinal column, Mr. Benczkowski said. “It was deemed too dangerous to remove,” he added.  

Mr. Zafar was also sentenced to an additional eight years of supervised released. 

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