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‘Don’t you do it’: Reports detail shooting by FBI agent

An Albuquerque police officer speaks with witnesses outside Nexus Brewery after an off-duty FBI agent fatally shot a man in June. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Lorraine Hardy, an off-duty FBI agent, anxiously told a 911 dispatcher her ex-boyfriend was stalking her and waiting beside her truck in the parking lot.

While on the phone, Hardy yelled, “Don’t you do it,” before gunfire erupted and the line went dead.

Within seconds, another call came in to report that a shooting inside a crowded brewery has caused a flood of people to flee frantically into the parking lot. Inside, 43-year-old Cody Wrathall lay in a puddle of blood with two pistols nearby, one still in its leather holster. The man who shot him, off-duty FBI agent Eric Bruce, tried to stop the bleeding before help arrived.

The FBI has released little information since the June 8 incident, but more than 100 pages of police reports released to the Journal this week detail the tumultuous days and moments leading up to the Utah veterinarian’s death. The records include documentation of interviews with witnesses, the FBI agent who shot him, Wrathall’s family and Hardy.

The incident also set off two separate investigations: a shooting review for the FBI and a homicide case for the Albuquerque Police Department.

Frank Fisher, an FBI spokesman, said Wednesday that the federal case was closed after the agency’s Shooting Incident Review Group determined the deadly use of force followed Department of Justice policy.

APD’s homicide case has been turned over to the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. DA spokesman Michael Patrick said the office is still reviewing the case to decide whether any charges will be filed.

Numerous reports filed by APD officers describe the incident.

Just after 8 p.m., police responded to the shooting at Nexus Brewery, near Interstate 25 and Montgomery NE, and found Wrathall on the ground, covered in blood. Several people inside the brewery had their hands up in the air as officers walked in with guns drawn. Some diners huddled behind walls and under tables.

Bruce identified himself as the shooter and an FBI agent, and officers took his badge and gun before putting him into a police vehicle. Wrathall was taken to a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. On the way, paramedics found a third gun in a holster on his ankle.

Hardy told responding officers that she and Bruce, a fellow agent, had met for dinner at the brewery when Wrathall unexpectedly showed up, sat at their table and threatened them. She said Wrathall then went to the parking lot, returned with a gun and pointed it at her and said, “Let’s have a gunfight.”

“Lorraine (Hardy) and Eric (Bruce) were directed by (counsel) not to give any further statements reference their involvement in this shooting at this time,” a detective wrote.

However, police say, dozens of employees and diners – including an 8-year-old boy – were inside when Bruce drew his own weapon, telling Wrathall to drop the gun before opening fire. Some witnesses heard yelling, while others heard nothing at all, before the gunfire jolted them.

A waitress told police the two off-duty agents came in together, ordered food and beers, before Wrathall sat with them and ordered beer and gumbo without looking at a menu. Soon after, the waitress said, a “frazzled” Hardy and Bruce approached the hostess and asked for their food to go and Wrathall walked out.

Surveillance camera video shows Wrathall reenter the brewery, walk up to Hardy and point a silver pistol at her face, then point it at Bruce.

During their own investigation, police learned Wrathall was a horse veterinarian and father of three from Utah. His ex-wife told police that Wrathall and Hardy had dated since 2011, and the couple had broken up in the last year – leading him to overdose on horse medication and alcohol in front of their children.

The ex-wife told detectives Wrathall planned to help Hardy move to Albuquerque after she graduated from the FBI academy in May. Wrathall helped her move from Utah to New Mexico days before the shooting. Police say Wrathall’s mother said the couple had a “very toxic” relationship, and she believed Hardy, who had gone “out of her way” to ask Wrathall to help her move, had “set up” the whole shooting.

A detective’s search of Wrathall’s phone found he had called Hardy dozens of times in the hour before the shooting and sent several threatening text messages. The detective was told Hardy and Bruce could be interviewed at FBI headquarters on June 11, three days after the shooting.

At that time, the FBI told a detective that the agency was conducting an investigation for assault on a federal officer and an internal investigation into Bruce and Hardy’s conduct as federal agents.

During an interview, Hardy told police she took Wrathall up on an offer to help her move to Albuquerque but the two “were just friends” and she believed the feeling was mutual. When they got into town, Hardy said, the two went out with fellow FBI agents for dinner.

One of those agents, who was Hardy’s new roommate, told police Wrathall drank a 16-ounce beer “within seconds” of getting it and did not talk much throughout the evening. The roommate said he offered Wrathall a spare bed to sleep in, but Hardy said he could sleep with her, making the roommate think the two were “closer than just friends.”

The next day, the roommate said, Wrathall went to Santa Fe to apply for a veterinarian job. He said he heard Wrathall crying in the house before he went out and began yelling at Hardy in the driveway, saying “she doesn’t care” and calling her “selfish.”

Hardy told a detective that Wrathall “appeared to be on something” and accused her of being unfaithful even though the two hadn’t dated in a year. She said he called her names, began packing up his belongings and said he was going to Utah. Hardy said Wrathall backed up into her truck, attached his horse trailer and peeled out of the driveway.

The roommate told the detective that after Wrathall drove off, Hardy came inside crying and upset. He said Hardy told him about the couple’s past and how she wanted to be friends with Wrathall because she “cared about him so much” but “probably went about it the wrong way and may have led him on to believe they may get back together.”

Police say Hardy had planned to take Wrathall to meet Bruce, whom she had befriended in the FBI academy, and his wife at Nexus but went alone after the outburst.

During a separate interview, Bruce told police his wife couldn’t make it, so he met Hardy alone. He said Wrathall’s truck pulled into the parking lot soon after they arrived, and Hardy said, “I hope he doesn’t cause any drama.”

Police say Bruce said Wrathall came in and, without introducing himself, sat “extremely close” to Hardy, “awkwardly staring at her with a weird smile.” He said he felt “very uncomfortable” with Wrathall’s demeanor and made several failed attempts at conversation.

“At one point Cody (Wrathall) leaned over and whispered something into … (Hardy’s) ear and she appeared very uncomfortable,” the detective wrote.

Bruce told police Hardy asked Wrathall why he was acting that way, and Wrathall told him “let’s take this outside” and called him a name when he refused. When Wrathall wouldn’t go away, the two decided to leave and told the waitress to box their food to go.

Police say Hardy called 911, and Bruce called his wife once Wrathall went to Hardy’s vehicle and stood beside it. Bruce told the detective that Hardy said she was nervous and that, being a horse veterinarian, Wrathall carried guns on him “at all times.”

Then Wrathall walked back inside and pulled out a handgun, Hardy said.

“Immediately after she saw Cody (Wrathall) point the gun in her face, she stated she believed she was going to die and heard several gunshots,” a detective wrote. “She realized that Eric (Bruce) had fired several shots – incapacitating him and saving her life.”

At the end of the police report, the detective wrote the case “will be considered closed” and sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review and possible prosecution.

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