Five teenagers face murder charges in the tragic drive-by shooting death of a 5-year-old girl hit in the head by a rifle bullet while she slept in the New Mexico mobile home trailer of her babysitter, whose grandson was the intended target in a long-running feud over a girl.
The teens face charges in the Aug. 13 killing of little Galilea Samaniego. Police have publicly identified one of them, an adult — Sencheray Renee Hernandez, 19. The others were her 17-year-old boyfriend, his 15-year-old brother, a second 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy. They were charged with an open count of murder, conspiracy, shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, police said in a news release.
Police said Hernandez admitted to being in one of the vehicles driven to the home when the shooting occurred, but she denied firing a weapon and declined to answer any further questions about the incident, police said. She faces a court hearing on Tuesday, online court records show.
A GoFundMe post for the girl captured the heartbreak.
“We never expected this to happen,” the post said. “Never thought my little baby would die this way. She was only 5 years old.”
In a statement, Albuquerque District Defender Dennica Torres, whose office is representing the suspects, said, “Our young people really need to be educated about the dangers of gun violence, the Albuquerque Journal reported. “Gun violence prevention just has to be at the forefront, not only at home, but in schools, and everywhere we possibly can, so they understand the repercussions.”
It all went down around 5:48 that morning when authorities said the teens were in two stolen Kia Soul vehicles that entered the Vista Del Sol mobile home park, police said. Several gunshots were fired from at least one of the vehicles toward a trailer at 2718 Paseo del Canto Dr. S.W.
According to a criminal complaint in Hernandez’s case obtained by Law&Crime, the babysitter told police she woke up at 5:50 a.m. to a loud noise she thought was the ceiling fan falling. At that same moment, her son came out of his room, and they realized they were being shot at. It was hard to see as it appeared the living room ceiling fan had been broken, and the “house was covered in smoke,” the document said.
The babysitter went to the bedroom where Galilea slept with her two sisters. The little girl had been shot and was unresponsive. She died at a hospital.
The girl’s mother told investigators she didn’t know the grandson lived in the mobile home trailer but knew he had been in trouble with the police. She said she did not know the details about the beef but that “‘maybe’ that’s who the target of the drive-by shooting was,” the complaint said.
In an interview with investigators, the grandson immediately stated he believed the 17-year-old boy shot his residence, saying they were friends in middle school, and “their friendship ended over a girl,” the document said. He told police they had fought and that when they see each other, he “bulldogs him,” “tries to act tough when he is with his friends,” and “hates him,” the document said.
He said he saw him about two months before the shooting at a carwash when he “immediately started to cause problems with him.” They exchanged words, he said, according to the complaint. He added that the boy told him he would “catch him” — which police noted in the complaint is a term often used about shooting someone.
Police said they were ultimately led to the suspects through video surveillance, social media and a second drive-by in a nearby neighborhood — where the homeowner, his wife and his 4-year-old son escaped injury — four minutes after the fatal shooting at the trailer park.
It was the second drive-by that the family had been subjected to in recent weeks, police said. The family told police video surveillance showed two Kia Soul vehicles slowly approaching the home before shots were fired from both cars, officials said.
Police quickly determined the drive-by shootings at the mobile home park and the home were likely related “because of family relations,” police said in the news release. The grandson told police he was friends with two teens associated with the home, police said.
Detectives found one of the stolen vehicles believed used in the killing using the car’s GPS. It had two bullet casings outside the windshield and additional bullet casings inside, police said. Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies found the second stolen Kia Soul. It had been intentionally set ablaze, authorities said.
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