A man sought in connection with a Massachusetts teenager's disappearance was fatally shot while federal agents were trying to take him into custody arrest Thursday in Florida, authorities said.
But 18-year-old Jalajhia Finklea remains missing after going missing from New Bedford on Oct. 20, the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Monday.
Luis Zaragoza, who was wanted in Finklea's disappearance, died on Thursday when the U.S. Marshals Service tried to take him into custody, prosecutors said.
Finklea, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, was last seen getting into Zaragoza's rented vehicle in New Bedford on Oct. 20. According to prosecutors, Zaragoza's cellphone was turned off moments later, and Finklea's was found discarded on Route 140 in New Bedford, about five miles from where she got into the vehicle.
Investigators determined that Zaragoza drove to Florida, then Texas, before returning to Florida. Surveillance footage shows some of the places he traveled, but Finklea was not seen in the footage, according to prosecutors' update, which said the search for her remains active.
Detectives with the New Bedford Police Department learned that Zaragoza had been found and were on their way to Florida to arrest him on kidnapping and vehicle theft charges when he was killed in an apparent gunbattle outside a McDonald's in Crestview.
The Oskaloosa County Sheriff's Office in Florida said last week that a deputy was assisting U.S. Marshals take the man who Massachusetts officials later identified as Zaragoza into custody at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The man fired at least a shot from a car in the McDonald's parking lot.
"Officers fired shots and the fugitive, wanted on out of state charges for kidnapping, was deceased at the scene," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Police Department first asked for the public's help to find Finklea last month.
The Cape Cod Times had reported that, before her disappearance, Finklea texted a friend she was meeting with a man named Luis Barboza. Prosecutors said Monday that Zaragoza was known to go by the alias Luis Barbosa.
Finklea is 5-foot-3 with brown hair, hazel eyes and a triangle scar on her left cheek.
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Anyone with information about Finklea has been asked to contact the New Bedford Police Department at 508-991-6360 or the Mashpee Wampanoag Police Department at 774-361-6045.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is offering a $1,000 reward for Finklea's safe return.