You know how in the movies, people will get into a gunfight and duck behind any wall to shield themselves from the bullets? Peeking out from behind their cover to fire at each other? Well that’s the movies, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in real life.
It’s a lesson that was learned the hard way for a Colorado community. Eleven-year-old Angelica Martinez was celebrating the new year with family, inside a home in the 4700 block of West 11 ‘th Avenue in Denver. Angelica’s Aunt, 48-year-old Becky Yanez, was also enjoying the family festivities. Unfortunately for Angelica and Becky, another person was out celebrating the New
Year, by firing his .44 caliber revolver at a street light.
It was shortly after the new year rang in, about 12:15 to be exact, when a single stray bullet would change this families life forever. Fired from several hundred feet away, it traveled through the exterior of the home, and according to reports, at least one interior wall. It then hit the aunt, Becky Yanez, in the head. She was
killed instantly. The bullet traveled all the way through Becky’s head and continued on, striking Angelica in the chest. The little girl died a short time later at a local hospital.
Twelve hours later, police had arrested 25-year-old Pedro Cortez on first-degree murder. Probably not the way he wanted to start off the new year either. In talks with police, Cortez told detectives that he was standing in a parking lot across from the home where the two were killed, firing his .44 caliber revolver at a streetlight. Detectives initially believed that the fatal shot must have been fired from a high-powered rifle, on account of how far the bullet traveled. But it appears Pedro’s story is correct. When detectives stood in the spot where Cortez fired at the streetlight, the family’s home stood directly in the
background to the South, according to a police affidavit. It’s a sobering example of the destruction that can be caused by the reckless use of firearms.
The sixth-grader from Lake Middle School will be deeply missed, as will her Aunt Becky. “She was our DQ, our drama queen, our bully, our tomboy,” said Angelica’s other Aunt, Norma Kaholo, in describing the girl. “It’s a senseless death. It has to change. If you can’t feel safe in your home, what can you do?” Many later gathered at a candle-light vigil near the home. They left flowers,
photographs, stuffed animals, as well as hand-written notes and drawings for the two victims.
Senseless indeed. A little carelessness and one small piece of metal was all it took to take two lives, one of them a child. Not a very good tradeoff. Hopefully this incident will serve as a lesson to anyone who owns a gun.