DA: Suspect in El Jebel double murder purchased gun legally on the same day
Williams Anderson Amaya made a legal purchase of a handgun from a retailer in Grand Junction on the day that authorities say he fatally shot his aunt and uncle in El Jebel, according to a preliminary investigation.
The gun that he bought is believed to be the gun he used to shoot Eliseo and Mayra Lopez on July 12 at their home in the midvalley subdivision of Sopris Village, according to 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown.
Investigators with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office looked into the purchase and found Amaya was cleared in a required federal background check performed by the retailer, Brown said.
“We have no reason to believe the dealer has any responsibility,” Brown said.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said Amaya purchased a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Amaya, who was born in El Salvador, was a legal alien in the United States, according to authorities. There are no restrictions on legal aliens legally purchasing and possessing a firearm, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s website. The federal background check looks to see if the person wanting to make a purchase was convicted of any crime that required imprisonment for more than one year, “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution,” is under a court restraining order for threatening an intimate partner or has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, among other factors, the CBI’s website said.
“For us, the significance of the purchase is the time,” Brown said. Information wasn’t available immediately on when Amaya entered the retail gun shop or when he cleared the background check and completed the purchase. Brown said it was during the daytime on July 12. Amaya is accused of shooting the Lopezes at about 11 p.m. that night.
Amaya was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, indicating that authorities believe it was premeditated. Autopsies showed the victims both were shot four times and died immediately.
“He would have had to reload” his handgun during the shooting, Brown said. The Lopezes’ two sons, plus Amaya’s brother’s family of three, escaped the house unharmed. Brown said during Amaya’s first court appearance July 14 that he may have targeted other occupants of the house during the shooting.
The shootings occurred after Amaya argued with his aunt about the family dog, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit by a detective working the case. However, Brown said there “is no obvious reason why” the shooting occurred. Amaya was renting a room in the Lopez house.
Amaya is being held in Eagle County Jail without bond because a judge determined he is a flight risk. His next court appearance is scheduled July 28.
Indicted Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters turned herself in to Pitkin County law enforcement authorities on Thursday after an arrest warrant had been issued.
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