PUEBLO, Colo. - Court documents released to KRDO Newschannel 13 on Tuesday help explain how Pueblo police were finally able to arrest Leo Montoya, 23, for the killing of Isaiah Vialpando.
Vialpando was not a gang member and he didn't have a record, so when the 20-year old CSU Pueblo student and mariachi band member was shot dead in September of 2015 in the middle of the afternoon in downtown Pueblo, his family and the community took it especially hard.
PPD Captain Eric Bravo says while his detectives work hard on every case regardless of the parties involved, the Vialpando case was one that came with a heightened sense of urgency.
Almost immediately after learning of the shooting that happened while Vialpando was driving his silver BMW, investigators suspected it could be related to the nonfatal shooting of another man driving a similar BMW two days earlier.
Within a matter of days, they had connected the bullets fired in the two shootings to the same gun, they had identified the vehicle believed to be involved in the first shooting, and they had a slew of tips identifying Leo Montoya as the shooter.
However, the evidence still wasn’t strong enough to tie Montoya to the murder, due to uncooperative witnesses and tips that couldn’t immediately be confirmed.
After several interviews, it was Montoya’s girlfriend who eventually admitted to police that she drove the car during the first shooting, and that Montoya was the one who fired the gun.
Carlos Montoya (not related to Leo Montoya) was shot twice in the back, but survived.
Pueblo police also obtained cell phone records that showed Montoya’s phone was at the scene of the shooting around the time it happened.
In October, an arrest warrant was obtained for Leo Montoya in connection with the Carlos Montoya shooting.
Leo Montoya was already in jail for unrelated drug and weapons charges.
Two months after the attempted murder charges were file, police obtained a separate murder warrant in connection with he Vialpando killing.
While in jail following an arrest on drug and weapons charges in August, Leo Montoya
Police believe both shooting victims were mistakenly targeted because of their silver BMW’s.
The affidavit states Montoya was after another man thought to be driving a silver BMW, who was responsible for shooting and paralyzing Montoya 8 months earlier.
Ironically, the BMW thought to be driven by the man who shot Montoya in January of 2015 was not even operation and had been off the road for several years, according to the affidavit.
Capt. Bravo said there was never a major break in the case, but rather a large amount of interviewing, fact-checking, and evidence gathering that ultimately came together to build a case strong enough to obtain an arrest warrant and hopefully earn a conviction.
Pueblo police hope this arrest will ease the Vialpando family and community's frustration.
“For the family, I’m sure it was hard, and I hope this gives them a moment of peace to know that the man responsible is in jail,” said Bravo.
He added that more arrests are possible, as they still haven’t pinpointed who was driving the car the day Vialpando was shot.
In exchange for her statements, Bravo said Montoya’s girlfriend is partially protected from criminal prosecution, but made it clear that she doesn’t have total immunity.