Peñitas man charged with stepdaughter’s murder on Independence Day

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Leonardo Silva

A 54-year-old Peñitas man is being held on a $1 million bond over allegations that he shot his stepdaughter to death on July 4.

Authorities booked Leonardo Silva into the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on Wednesday on a charge of murder.

A probable cause affidavit for his arrest said police responded to 1501 N. 11th St. in Peñitas at approximately 9:22 p.m. in reference to a man shooting a woman.

Responding officers met with Joshua Silva, who advised that his father, Leonardo Silva, had shot and killed his sister, 41-year-old Claudia Gallegos.

He told police his father was on the side of the residence where officers found and handcuffed him.

Authorities found Gallegos sitting down by the driver’s door of a Dodge Journey and police performed chest compressions.

“Palmview Medics arrived at location and transported Ms. Gallegos to Mission Regional hospital where she was later pronounced dead,” the affidavit stated.

During the investigation, police found a spent .45 caliber casing near the Dodge Journey.

Joshua Silva told 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, according to the affidavit.

Investigators also spoke with Gallegos’ daughter, Crystal, who said that a week prior Leonardo Silva had threatened Gallegos that he was going to end his life and take her life as well.

She further said that she and her mother were trying to leave the residence and Leonardo Silva was preventing them from leaving, which prompted her to look for her uncle, Joshua Silva.

That affidavit said that Leonardo Silva admitted to shooting his stepdaughter, but told investigators that he was only trying to “scare her in a joking manner and did not believe that there was bullets in the handgun.”

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.

“Inv. Barron sat down with Christopher Silva, son to Claudia Gallegos (who) advised him that his father Leonardo Silva who is also the husband to Christopher’s grandfather had become jealous because he recently found out that Claudia was talking to another man,” the affidavit stated. “Christopher advised that Leonardo had called him a week before stating that he did not feel good and thought that Claudia was seeing someone else.”