18 July 2010

UPDATE: Authorities Shoot, Kill Child-Murder Suspect

CBS 11

After a Sunday afternoon chase, police shot and killed the man believed to have kidnapped and murdered a four-year-old boy over the weekend, Mineral Wells Police Chief Mike McAllester confirmed.

Police believe Arturo Pacheco-Barrera, 23, kidnapped Salvador Briones Jr. Friday and demanded a $15,000 ransom from the family. He killed the boy and dumped his body 12 hours later, police believe.

This triggered a manhunt throughout Palo Pinto County involving state, local and federal agencies, which culminated in a Sunday afternoon chase.

Police tracked down Pacheco-Barrera to a private field off Dobbs Valley Road. Police said he was armed and shot by two officers after he refused to drop his weapon.

Police found the boy's body late Friday night near an abandoned house on the 3600 block of N. Highway 281.

"The way this thing ended was tragic the way it started was tragic," McAllester said. "Nobody's a winner with this one."

Officials did not issue an Amber Alert as they typically would as to not alert Pacheco-Barrera, who was a family friend, of the manhunt.

"Typically, Amber Alerts are for abductions where you have a known suspect and known vehicle and possible direction of travel," McAllester said. "That wasn't the case here."

But Pacheco-Barrera remained on the loose until Sunday. He was treated as a witness rather than a suspect so investigators could obtain more information about the case. He allegedly told investigators that he had an accomplice with him before guiding them to where he dumped the boy's body.

After locating the body, authorities said they transported him to his home to recover more evidence. He then evaded police officers until Sunday, when a tip alerted officers to his location.

"A citizen from Palo Pinto County about seven miles south of town called the sheriff and said a Hispanic male was seen on her property climbing her fence," McAllester said. "He was wearing a backpack and his general description matched that of what we were looking for."

After learning of Briones Jr.'s death, the boy's parents had to be hospitalized and sedated because of their intense grief.

"I hope they catch him," family member Linda Ramirez said Saturday. "I hope they catch him and he's going to pay. God's up there and he's going to take care of him. No child deserves that; none."

Police believe Pacheco-Barrera entered the home through a back door around 9 a.m. Friday. He took the boy while he slept, wrapped in a blanket.

His mother was asleep with her newborn child in another room of the house. Ramirez said Barrera was familiar with the outlay of the house, and often helped with renovations.

Residents said they felt suddenly unsafe, and many said they were leaving town until police found Pacheco-Barrera.

"We want to know what's going on," mother of six and Mineral Wells resident Raeann Lee said Saturday. "We don't feel safe anymore. Used to be able to sleep with your doors unlocked, now you can't."

Briones Jr. had an older brother, an older sister and a three-week old sister. The official cause of his death is pending autopsy results from the Dallas County Medical Examiner.

"His birthday was next month, he was going to start school," Ramirez said. "He didn't even get a chance to start school."

The Texas Rangers are now investigating the case and whether there was a second suspect involved. The two officers who fired the shots are on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

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