ORANGE COVE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Exactly one month from her 15th birthday, authorities said Araceli Gutierrez was shot and killed by a 16-year-old male suspect in front of her Orange Cove home.
Her 19-year-old boyfriend was also shot but is expected to be okay. On Tuesday, Gutierrez’s mother, Yesenia Gutierrez Lorea, explained that she is heartbroken and still can’t believe her daughter is gone.
“She never deserved for her life to be taken in that way, because she’s innocent and she will always be innocent,” she said in an interview translated from Spanish.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Tony Botti said detectives began following leads on the day of the shooting.
“We were able to establish a person of interest that afternoon. We contacted that person of interest it was a 16-year-old boy, we found him to be in illegal possession of a gun so we took him into custody on that charge, the evidence return that we got days later pointed to him being the one that pulled the trigger,” Botti said.
Following Tuesday’s arrest, Botti said the suspect is now facing murder and attempted murder charges.
While an arrest has been made in this case, Botti said there’s another homicide where a teen was killed this year in Orange Cove that still hasn’t been solved.
Botti said he hopes the arrest of a suspect in Gutierrez’s death sparks momentum in the unsolved cases.
“Sometimes as time passes, people feel more comfortable coming forward and giving that information, and if you’re there right now we want to hear from you,” Botti added.
While the suspect’s arrest has helped provide some closure for Gutierrez’s father, Carlos Izazaga Rivera, he explained that he still misses his daughter.
“My daughter’s never coming back, and that’s something that makes my heart hurt,” he said.
Both parents are now begging that suspect isn’t tried as a minor in Gutierrez’s death.
“I want them as soon as possible if they can, to judge him as an adult because what he did is unexplainable,” Lorea said.
The suspect is being held at juvenile hall and officials said they will not release his name or photo because he is underage.