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Gun used to kill teen found hidden inside vacuum, affidavit says

Za’Riyah Thomas, 16, was shot and killed on March 7 near 26th and Welton streets in Denver.

DENVER — The gun used to kill a 16-year-old girl in Denver was later found by investigators inside a vacuum at the home of one of two women arrested in connection with the fatal shooting near a music venue in Five Points earlier this month, an arrest affidavit says.

Za’Riyah Thomas,16, was shot and killed in the early hours of March 7 near 26th and Welton streets, according to the Denver Police Department (DPD).

Shardae Rideaux, 19, was arrested for investigation of first-degree murder. Gabrielle James, 23, was taken into custody and faces a charge of being an accessory to the crime.

Court documents indicate that on March 7 Za’Riyah and a group of friends were inside The Roxy Theatre. 

An employee of the venue said that shortly before midnight there was a fight near the bathroom involving several women over an unknown issue, the affidavit says. The employee said that one of the people involved was bleeding and reported that most of the people involved were pushed out the front door onto Welton Street.

RELATED: 2 arrested in teen's deadly shooting in Five Points

She reported that the group went toward 26th Street where she thought they continued fighting because shortly after she heard gunshots from that direction, according to the affidavit.

The employee said she then locked down the business for the safety of the employees and customers still inside.

DPD responded to the area at 12:04 a.m for a report of a shooting but did not locate a victim. They did find spent shell casings and a purse containing Za’Riyah's ID card.

About 30 minutes later a "walk-in shooting" was reported at St. Joseph's Hospital. The victim, identified as Za’Riyah, was dropped off by people in a silver Impala which fled the area, the affidavit says.

She was suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest and due to the seriousness of the injury, she was taken by ambulance to Denver Health. She was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly before 1 a.m.

Video camera footage obtained from the night of the shooting shows three females exit Roxy at 11:56 p.m. and get into an Impala, the affidavit says. The vehicle leaves the area in the northbound direction, according to the document.

It's believed it's the same vehicle that dropped Za’Riyah off at the hospital, according to the affidavit.

At midnight the suspect, identified as Rideaux, left Roxy and got into a GMC Yukon, briefly got out, and then got back in, the affidavit says. The Yukon then moved forward slightly toward the 2600 block of Welton Street and stopped, according to the document.

RELATED: 16-year-old girl identified as victim in Five Points shooting

At 12:02 a.m., the Impala returned to the area and stopped in the 2600 block of Welton Street where five females, including Za’Riyah, got out of the car, the affidavit says.

Two minutes later, Rideaux began firing a gun and the females associated with the Impala ran back toward the vehicle, the affidavit says. Rideaux moved toward the Impala and appeared to continue firing shots as she moved forward, the affidavit says.

Za’Riyah collapsed on the passenger side of the Impala and the others helped her get inside the vehicle, the affidavit says. 

The Yukon fled the area headed northbound leaving Rideaux behind, according to the affidavit.  At 12:05 a.m. a white Nissan pulled up and Rideaux got into the backseat and they left the area, the affidavit says.

Following the shooting, investigators received an anonymous tip that James was the shooter in the case. When detectives arrested her, they found the murder weapon hidden inside a vacuum cleaner at her home, the affidavit says.

However, investigators determined that Rideuax was actually the one who fired the weapon, in part because a tattoo she had matched a tattoo seen on the shooter in a video, the affidavit says.

Credit: Denver Police Department

Rideaux also made statements to another person that she was assaulted at the Roxy and "fired gunshots and may have killed someone," the affidavit says. DPD also received several anonymous tips identifying Rideaux as the shooter, the affidavit says.

James later told investigators she witnessed the shooting and that afterward Rideaux gave her the gun, which she eventually hid in the vacuum, the affidavit says.

Rideaux is due in court on June 3 for a preliminary hearing.

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