Hollywood, FL – Police arrested the teen sister of the gunman who fatally shot Hollywood Police Officer Yandy Chirino on Friday because it turned out she had stolen the gun that her brother used to kill the officer.
The fatal encounter occurred in the 4100-block of North Hills Drive at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 as officers were investigating a report of a man on a bicycle who was breaking in to cars, WPLG reported.
Police said Officer Chirino confronted 18-year-old Jason Banegas and the two fought.
During the altercation, Banegas shot Officer Chirino in the face, WPLG reported.
The wounded officer was loaded into a police vehicle and rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital, where he succumbed to his injures.
Investigators said that Banegas confessed to shooting the 28-year-old police officer but said he had meant to shoot himself, WPLG reported.
His 17-year-old sister, Katherine Banegas, talked to reporters after her brother killed Officer Chirino and defended him.
“I don’t even know how this happened. My brother would never do something like this,” Katherine told WPLG.
“I’m gonna talk for my brother. He’s innocent,” she said.
But on Oct. 21, police got a warrant for Katherine’s arrest, too, after investigators discovered the gun her brother used to kill Officer Chirino had been stolen in nearby Miami-Dade on Sept. 15 by a woman matching her description, WPLG reported.
Law enforcement officers showed the victim of the gun theft a photo lineup and he identified Katherine Banegas as one of the two women who had stolen his pistol.
Detectives also showed the victim a WPLG video clip of Katherine defending her brother and he confirmed she was the one.
Lauderhill police said Katherine was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals at a Walmart located off West Oakland Park Boulevard and University Drive in Sunrise on Oct. 22, WPLG reported.
Officials said she was processed at the Lauderhill Police Department and then transferred to a Broward County juvenile assessment center.
Katherine went before a juvenile court judge on Sunday and remained in custody, WPLG reported.
Authorities said she admitted to taking the gun that her brother used to shoot Officer Chirino, the Miami Herald reported.
The arrest report said she took the Glock 43 pistol from a man and refused to return it despite repeated text messages from its owner.
Katherine admitted to taking pictures of herself and her brother posing with the gun, the Miami Herald reported.
She has been charged with grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm by a delinquent, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Her brother is charged with the first-degree murder of Officer Chirino, among other offenses.
The Hollywood Police Department (HPD) said that Officer Chirino was a member of its force for four years before he was murdered by Banegas.
“Last night Officer Chirino died in the line of duty while responding to a call for help,” the department said in a Facebook post. “Officer Chirino will be remembered for his selfless actions and his sacrifice. He gave his life honorably and without hesitation, protecting those in our community.”
He had an “outstanding work ethic” and was awarded five commendations during his short career, according to the HPD.
Officer Chirino was also named Officer of the Month in June of 2020.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to Officer Chirino’s family,” the HPD said. “Your son selflessly devoted his life to law enforcement, was a great officer and will leave a lasting impact on our community.”
Today is a sad day for our Hollywood community, and particularly for our Hollywood Police Department Family. Please share in our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Hollywood Police Officer Yandy Chirino who died in the line of duty last night. pic.twitter.com/1EtpNjD216
— City of Hollywood,FL (@cohgov) October 18, 2021
“There are no words that can comfort the pain your family is feeling right now. Please know that pain extends here, with his brothers and sisters at our Department,” the agency continued. “The Hollywood Police Department Family will stand beside you in the difficult days ahead and will always carry on your son’s legacy.”