Cops: Denver slaying suspect shot at streetlight |

Cops: Denver slaying suspect shot at streetlight

George Merritt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
George Kochaniec Jr./APPedro Cortez makes his first appearance in Denver County Court, charged with two counts of first degree murder Wednesday.

DENVER, Colorado ” A man accused of firing a single bullet into a home that killed two people early on New Year’s Day told investigators he had shot at a streetlight with a .44-caliber handgun, according to police documents released Wednesday.

Pedro Cortez, 25, was arrested hours after the shooting on two counts of first-degree murder. He was being held without bail.

Police said they believe Cortez fired a shot at about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday that tore through the front wall of a west Denver home and killed an 11-year-old girl and a woman at a family gathering inside. They said the bullet passed through the seated woman’s head and struck the girl in the side.

Cortez said nothing during a brief court appearance Wednesday but mouthed “I love you” to family members.

Investigators said earlier the bullet may have been fired by someone celebrating New Year’s. After Cortez’s arrest, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he couldn’t comment on a motive.

The affidavit said the home where the victims were shot was visible from the spot where Cortez told police he had fired the handgun. The two locations are on opposite sides of a park, several hundred yards apart.

Cortez told investigators he fired at about 12:35 a.m., the affidavit said. The 15-minute discrepancy from the time that police said the victims were killed was not immediately explained.

Family member Norma Kaholo identified the younger victim as her niece, Angelica Martinez, and the woman as Kaholo’s cousin, Rebecca Yanez.

Kaholo said the shooting cannot be excused as an accident, even if the deaths were unintentional.

“When you shoot, the bullet has to go somewhere,” she said.

Police Chief Gerry Whitman said earlier that investigators thought the weapon had been a high-powered rifle. He said investigators used lasers to trace the trajectory of the shot and to determine that one bullet killed both victims.

“It might have been an accident, which still would be illegal if someone was firing a weapon recklessly in the city,” Whitman said.

The judge agreed to hold a hearing to consider setting bail for Cortez but did not set a date.

Jackson said the police work that led to Cortez’s arrest was “amazing.”

“They pull some stuff off, I tell you. I’m surprised that hours later they got an arrest,” he said.

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