MONTE VISTA, Colo. (KRDO) -- The family of a Monte Vista teen killed in a shooting last August is outraged over the "lenient" plea deals offered to all three people involved in the crime.
KRDO13 Investigates previously reported on the arrest of 22-year-old Emiliano Vargas, who was charged with giving a gun to multiple teen girls, which resulted in the shooting death of 14-year-old Aaliyah Salazar.
In arrest documents obtained by KRDO13 Investigates, the shooting occurred while multiple girls were filming videos on the social media platform "Tik Tok," all while using a handgun in the videos.
According to the arrest affidavit, officers with the Monte Vista Police Department (MVPD) were dispatched to the 300 block of Monroe St. at 4:26 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7. At the scene, officers found the victim unconscious and not breathing. Emergency Medical Services arrived and confirmed, that "there were no vital signs or signs of life from the victim."
Investigators later determined Salazar had been shot in the head.
While being interviewed, one of the suspects said "It just happened," initially saying she did not see the one accused of shooting the gun picking it up, but she did see the victim get shot and fall to the ground.
Vargas, the gun owner, was charged with providing a handgun to a juvenile, a class-four felony in Colorado. Court records say he was not at the house where the shooting happened when the gun went off.
The names of the other two minor, female defendants have not been released publicity because court records for minors accused of crimes are not public records.
On July 5, 2023, Vargas and his attorney struck a deal with the Colorado Attorney General's office's special prosecutor that would recommend a deferred sentence of two years on probation for giving the three girls a handgun.
Salazar's family members claim one of the girls involved in the alleged TikTok dances, and also fired the shots that killed their loved one, was also given probation after pleading guilty to 3rd-degree child abuse resulting in death.
Former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne was removed from office that year, and Attorney General Phil Weiser's office offered to place prosecuting attorneys in the office while interim 12th Judicial DA Anne Kelly was getting her bearings. Since then, DA Kelly has been elected to serve as the permanent District Attorney in the San Luis Valley.
Gary Salazar, Aaliyah Salazar's grandfather, expressed his outrage with the plea agreement offered in the criminal cases against Vargas and the two girls prosecuted as juveniles.
"It has nothing to do with TikTok. I know there's more to it, but it's like nobody wanted to investigate anything," Salazar said. "I honestly think this had to do with jealousy."
Salazar claims the usage of the handgun was meant to be a "scare tactic" to keep his granddaughter away from Vargas, who was in a relationship with one of the teen girls involved in the shooting.
He says he dropped off his granddaughter at the home where she was shot, and thirty minutes later, he got a call from a sergeant with the MVPD informing him that she had been shot and was dead.
Salazar is still grappling with the grief of losing his granddaughter and struggling with feeling like her case wasn't given the proper attention by prosecutors.
"I still go through a lot of anger, a lot of sorrow. I mean, I still cry for my granddaughter. I miss her extremely," Salazar said. "Everybody gets to go on with their life. But now my granddaughter is six feet underground with a bunch of dirt on top of her. She don't get a second chance at this."
KRDO13 Investigates reached out to the 12th Judicial District Attorney's Office, to ask a variety of questions regarding why a plea agreement was offered, and whether the Salazar family was consulted before the offer was given. Their full statement is below.