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Suspect in shooting of Denver toddler arrested at US border

Guadalupe Jose Villanueva, 19, was arrested in El Paso, Texas in connection to the shooting of the child and a man, Denver Police said.

DENVER — A 19-year-old man wanted in connection with the shooting of a toddler and another man in a Denver parking lot was arrested as he tried to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

Guadalupe Jose Villanueva was taken into custody on Sunday in El Paso, Texas after community tips helped investigators identify him as the suspect, the Denver Police Department (DPD) said.

Villanueva is being held on the following charges, according to DPD: 

  • First-degree attempted murder with extreme indifference
  • First-degree assault
  • Second-degree attempted murder

Villanueva is currently being held in Texas and is awaiting extradition to Colorado, DPD said.

CBP said that Villanueva was arrested while entering the country from Mexico. CBP said officers encountered a 2008 Toyota Camry with four people inside, and determined that one of the occupants was "a wanted armed and dangerous fugitive."

The man was identified as Villanueva, who is a U.S. citizen, according to CBP.

“CBP officers are diligently working to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “On a daily basis CBP officers identify and apprehend people who are being sought by law enforcement. Some seek sanctuary across the border but when they return to the U.S. history has shown that they will be stopped by CBP officers.”

CBP said another person in the vehicle, 18-year-old U.S. citizen Amaya Wild, was wanted by DPD as an accessory to a crime, and was also taken into custody.

The other two occupants were processed and allowed to proceed into the country.

PREVIOUS: Young child sitting in van critically injured when man opens fire in Denver parking lot

According to DPD, officers responded to 2969 South Federal Boulevard at about 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 following reports of a shooting. That's near West Bates Avenue and is not far from the former Colorado Heights University campus.

Responding officers discovered two victims, a child and a man, police said.

Police said the child was hit by gunfire and critically injured. She remains in critical condition a month later, but DPD said she is now expected to survive.

The man was hit and injured, but was later released from the hospital, DPD said.

The adult victim injured in the shooting said he spotted a vehicle parked in a handicapped parking spot with its tire up on a curb and began taking pictures, according to police. As he was taking those pictures, the man driving the car came out of a business and began firing a gun toward the man, DPD said.

The man was hit and injured, but was later released from the hospital, and according to DPD it's unclear if the suspect and the adult victim had any prior interactions.

The young child was sitting inside a van in the parking lot when she was hit by gunfire. DPD said they don't believe the child was targeted and said the child was there with family to pick up food. 

RELATED: 'She's a little warrior': Toddler's family asks for help finding man who shot her

Credit: Denver Police
A photo of the suspect's vehicle.

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