Man Wanted in Child's Death Fatally Shot

Man was "person of interest" in connection with child's kidnapping and death

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Investigators said Arturo Pacheco-Barrera, 23, is a person of interest in the kidnapping and death of a 4-year-old Mineral Wells boy.

    An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that police said it was 130 degrees inside the building where the body of Salvador Briones Jr. was found. Mineral Wells Police Chief Mike McAllester speculated that it could have been that hot inside the building but did not say it was that hot inside. NBCDFW.com regrets the error.

    Mineral Wells police said a law enforcement officer shot and killed on Sunday a man wanted in connection with the kidnapping and death of a 4-year-old boy.

    Police said Arturo Pacheco-Barrera was shot and killed at about 2 p.m. in a rural area about seven miles south of the city.

    Police Chief Mike McAllester said it's not yet clear if two shots were fired by city police, Palo Pinto County sheriff's deputies, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers or FBI agents. The shots were fired after Pacheco-Barrera was surrounded and refused orders to surrender, McAllester said.

    DNA May Lead the Way

    [DFW] DNA May Lead the Way
    The search continues for a possible accomplice in the kidnapping and murder of a 4-year-old North Texas boy.

    McAllester also told the Dallas Morning News that Pacheco-Barrera may have tried to commit suicide. The police chief said he does not know if law enforcement officers were "responsible for his death," the newspaper reported.

    Police found Pacheco-Barrera after a woman called police Sunday after seeing a man fitting his description jumping a fence on her property.

    Authorities said Pacheco-Barrera, 23, was a person of interest in the kidnapping and death of 4-year-old Salvador Briones Jr. He escaped FBI custody Friday night as he was being interviewed about the child's disappearance.

    Authorities said Pacheco-Barrera had earlier led officers to the vacant house next to Advanced Tooling on Highway 281 where the child's body was found.

    The boy died from homicidal violence, Palo Pinto County Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart said Sunday.

    McAllester speculated Sunday that the heat could have contributed to the child's death.

    "In the place where he was found, I'm guessing, the temperature that day inside that house was probably 130 degrees because it was 103 outside," he said.

    Authorities are investigating the possibility that another person was involved in the child's kidnapping and death.

    Boy Kidnapped From Home

    The Briones family said the boy was last seen sleeping in his bed near the back of his home on Southwest Fourth Avenue when his father left for work just before 7 a.m. Friday. Shortly after, his mother discovered him missing.

    "She noticed the door was open, and she walked in there, and he was gone," said Perla Ramirez, the child's aunt.

    Family members said his father, Salvador Briones Sr., received phone calls from a man disguising his voice and demanding $15,000 ransom for the boy's safe return.

    The Briones family said Pacheco-Barrera was a friend who had done remodeling and fence work at their house.

    "He keeps saying that Salvador owes him money," Ramirez said. "He doesn't, but I don't know."

    Police called Pacheco-Barrera a person of interest in the case, but had not charged him.

    "I don't see why they would do something to a child this young," Ramirez said. "Why? I just don't understand it."

    The family said the child's body was found wrapped in his own blanket.

    "Oh my goodness, it brings me chills. He (Pacheco-Barrera) probably, he has no heart," said Linda Ramirez, a relative of the victim.

    Family members said Salvador Jr. loved playing with cars and riding his bike.

    "We were a really close family," Perla Ramirez said through tears. "It's just been very hard."

    Police said they did not issue an Amber Alert for the boy because they already had an idea of who had abducted the child and did not want to tip him off.

    The Hunt for Pacheco-Barrera

    Pacheco-Barrera fled while in FBI custody as he was leading authorities to evidence at a second location, the Dallas Morning News reported. He had earlier led investigators to the building where the child's body was found.

    FBI agents did not handcuff Pacheco-Barrera because he was cooperating, the newspaper reported McAllester saying. Investigators believed a second person could be involved in the kidnapping and wanted him to continue to cooperate, McAllester said.

    Pacheco-Barrera was not under arrest at the time of his escape, the newspaper reported.

    Mineral Wells police, with the help of the FBI, set up a command post just a few miles from the house where the boy's body was found. Mounted patrols, a SWAT team and dogs went out to look for Pacheco-Barrera Saturday, but police said at the time they had no idea of his whereabouts.

    Officers also stopped cars at major intersections and checked inside to see if he was hitchhiking his way out of town.

    His father, Esteban Pacheco asked his son Saturday to turn himself in.

    "If you watch me, hijo, turn yourself in," he told a television reporter. "Call the police wherever you are and tell him to come pick you up. Or call me and tell me where you are now, and I'll call the police and tell them to come pick you up."

    Pacheco said the last 48 hours have been difficult for his family.

    "I feel bad for whatever he's doing," he said.

    "My wife -- she's been sick, and he comes with this big mess," Pacheco said.

    NBC DFW's Julie Tam, Ashanti Blaize, Shane Allen, Susy Solis and Lita Beck contributed to this report.