Peñitas man indicted for alleged murder of stepdaughter on Independence Day

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Leonardo Zapata Silva

A 54-year-old Peñitas man who allegedly shot and killed his stepdaughter on July 4 is set to be arraigned Tuesday.

Leonardo Zapata Silva was indicted on a murder charge on Aug. 8 after allegedly shooting 41-year-old Claudia Gallegos to death.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police responded to 1501 N. 11th St. in Peñitas at around 9:22 p.m. in reference to a man shooting a woman.

Officers met with Joshua Silva who told police that his father, Leonardo Zapata Silva, had shot and killed his sister.

He then told them his dad was on the side of the residence where officers found and handcuffed him.

Gallegos was found sitting down by the driver’s door of a Dodge Journey where police performed first aid.

She was eventually transported to the Mission Regional hospital where was later pronounced dead.

Police also found a spent .45 caliber casing near the Dodge Journey during the investigation.

According to the affidavit, Joshua Silva explained to an investigator that he was outside the residence when he heard a loud bang, looked up and saw his father pointing a handgun toward the lower part of his sister’s body.

Gallegos’ daughter, Crystal, told investigators that a week prior Leonardo Zapata Silva had threatened Gallegos, saying that he would take her life before ending his.

Crystal further stated that she and her mother were attempting to leave the residence when Leonardo Zapata Silva began to prevent them from leaving, which prompted Crystal to look for her uncle, Joshua Silva.

The affidavit states that Leonardo Zapata Silva admitted to shooting Gallegos, but said that he was only trying to “scare her in a joking manner and did not believe” there were any bullets in the gun.

That gun, however, was separated from the magazine, meaning that Leonardo Silva would have seen bullets in the magazine and would have had to chamber a round, according to the affidavit.

Gallegos’ son, Christopher Silva, revealed to investigators that his father, Leonardo Zapata Silva, had become jealous because he recently found out that Gallegos was talking to another man.

Leonardo Zapata Silva remains jailed on a $1 million bond.


Peñitas man charged with stepdaughter’s murder on Independence Day