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WPD: Suspect changed story about stolen gun in toddler shooting, may have cut camera feed

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A suspect charged in connection with the shooting death of a Waco toddler changed his statement about the gun used in the shooting, which turned out to be stolen, according to an affidavit obtained Friday.

Police say a Glock 23 handgun was used to shoot 22-month-old Zillyana Thornton on Wednesday afternoon at a home in the 3500 block of Alta Vista Drive. The gun was reported stolen in Killeen, according to police.

Elias Julian Espinosa, 25, released on bond Thursday after being charged with third-degree felony tampering with evidence, changed his account of the handgun, the affidavit states. Espinosa first said that the gun belonged to him and that he bought it from a Dallas gun show.

Elias Julian Espinosa


“Elias later changed his statement by saying he purchased the weapon from an unknown male who purchased from a gun show,” the affidavit reads. “The gun was found to be stolen out of Killeen.”

The affidavit states that detectives also presume Espinosa cut off the feed from a security camera that observed the driveway of the home where they believe Zillyana was shot.

Several security cameras observe the outside of the home, the affidavit states. The homeowners allowed detectives to review video from those cameras.

“Elias was observed after the shooting occurred leaving the residence in his vehicle for more than approximately five minutes before returning and parking in the driveway,” the affidavit reads.

A detective in the case stated Espinosa could be seen on video entering the home through the garage. The affidavit does not state whether Espinosa lived at the home or was related to any of its occupants.

“Several seconds later the camera feed facing that direction cut off,” the affidavit states. “Elias is presumed to have cut off the camera feed by disconnecting a cord from the power outlet.”

Espinosa was arrested and booked into McLennan County Jail on Wednesday and released on bond Thursday.


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Christopher De Los Santos is a U.S. Army veteran with a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas. He previously worked at the Williamson County Sun in Georgetown.

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