3 charged after kidnapping victim shot, killed by FBI SWAT agent during rescue attempt in NE Houston

HOUSTON — A kidnapping victim was killed at a home in northeast Houston early Thursday during a rescue attempt by FBI SWAT members, according to authorities.

The shooting happened around 2 a.m. at a home in the 7300 block of Elbert Street near S. Finch Circle.

Police released details surrounding the incident at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

According to Conroe police, a man and his 12-year-old son were at their home in the 1700 block of Tyler Lane when two men knocked on the front door. The father answered the door, and the men forced their way inside, armed with handguns.

Police said the men demanded money, bound the child and father, and began searching the home for cash and other valuables. The men took the father with them, and told the boy not to call police.  The boy was able to free himself and went to neighbor's house to call for help.

An uncle who lives at the home, but was not present during the incident, received a call from someone who demanded money for the victim's safe return.

The Conroe Police Department contacted the FBI for assistance.

Authorities were able to obtain warrants for phone pings, etc, and the suspects were tracked down to a hotel room in the Bay Area Blvd. area.

"Early this morning, we were able to locate two of the suspects at a hotel in Webster, Texas, at which time, they were taken into custody," a police spokesperson said. "At that time, we were able to determine where the victim was located."

FBI agents went to a residence in the Trinity Gardens area where the victim was being held. Agents made entry, and somehow, the victim was caught in the crossfire.  The man was rushed to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where he later died.

Nicholas Chase Cunningham, 42, and Jimmy Tony Sanchez, 38,  have been charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. Sophia Perez Heath, 35, was charged with aggravated kidnapping.

Police say those charges could be upgraded to capital murder.

"Unfortunately the victim in the kidnapping has died as part of the shooting," Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said. "The kidnappers put this into play and so they are ultimately responsible for the outcome. Regardless if the outcome was intentional or not, under the felony murder rule, we can charge that."

"It's a difficult day. I want to say that law enforcement did a great job investigating this in a timely manner. We do have suspects in custody. The public is safe from these suspects, we were able to take them off the streets and bring them back to Montgomery County where justice will be served."

The agent who fired the fatal shot has been placed on administrative leave -- standard protocol -- pending the investigation, officials said.

The FBI released a statement that read:

"FBI was conducting an operation at a home in the 7300 block of Elbert Street in Northeast Houston. During the course of the operation, an individual was fatally injured. The FBI's Evidence Response Team is on scene. As with any Agent-Involved shooting, the Shooting Incident Review Team will investigate the matter."