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Waco Police looking into whether gun that killed toddler was stolen in Killeen

Following the death of Zillyana Thornton at a home in the 3500 block of Alta Vista, police...
Following the death of Zillyana Thornton at a home in the 3500 block of Alta Vista, police arrested Elias J. Espinosa, a family member of the girl, on a third-degree felony charge of tampering with or fabricating evidence.(KWTX)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 3:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Waco police detectives who continue to investigate the shooting death of a 22-month-old Waco girl on Wednesday are trying to determine if the gun used to kill her was stolen out of Killeen.

Following the death of Zillyana Thornton at a home in the 3500 block of Alta Vista, police arrested Elias J. Espinosa, a family member of the girl, on a third-degree felony charge of tampering with or fabricating evidence. He was released from jail after posting $5,000 bond.

Officers initially were alerted to the incident by a report the toddler accidentally shot herself in the stomach. However, Waco police spokeswoman Cierra Shipley said Friday the investigation into how the child died is ongoing.

Shipley declined to specify what evidence police have that led to Espinosa’s tampering arrest, but said investigators have taken gunshot residue tests and are reviewing other forensic evidence to try to determine how the girl died. Shipley also declined to reveal how Espinosa is related to the girl.

An arrest affidavit filed to support Espinosa’s arrest states a Waco police detective spotted a Glock 23 .40-caliber pistol “tucked inside of the couch” next to where Espinosa was sitting in the living room. The gun later was determined to be the one used in the shooting, the affidavit states.

While the affidavit, sworn in front of a magistrate on Wednesday, says the gun was stolen out Killeen, Shipley said Friday the detective may have been mistaken and that investigators still are trying to determine the origin of the gun.

The affidavit alleges Espinosa initially told officers the gun belonged to him and he bought it at a gun show in Dallas. He later changed his statement, saying he purchased the gun from an “unknown male who purchased it from a gun show.”

“The gun was found to be stolen out of Killeen,” the affidavit states.

The home in which the child was shot was equipped with numerous security cameras outside. Detectives got consent from the homeowners to review the cameras, the affidavit says.

“After further investigation, Elisa was observed after the shooting occurred leaving the residence in his vehicle for more than approximately five minutes before returning and parking in the driveway,” according to the affidavit.

A detective saw Espinosa enter the home through the garage. He alleged the camera feed facing that direction went off several seconds later, the arrest affidavit states.

ARREST AFFIDAVIT CHARGING ELIAS ESPINOSA WITH TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE:

Elias J. Espinosa arrest affidavit
Elias J. Espinosa arrest affidavit(KWTX)

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