SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Police have arrested a man from Mexico allegedly responsible for the murder of a Utah teenager.
Salt Lake City Police arrested 27-year-old Fortunato Villagrana in connection to the murder of 16-year-old Paris Gustin back in 2016. Police extradited Villagrana on Jan. 6 from Mexico and transported him back to Salt Lake City.
His mother, Ashley Gustin went public with the news on her Facebook late Thursday night.
“I’m obviously ecstatic,” Gustin told ABC4 News. “We’ve been waiting five-and-a-half years now, we’re going on six.”
The fatal incident happened on July 6, 2016 when police responded to a shooting near 1100 West American Avenue. When officials arrived, they discovered the victim on the ground with a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and authorities have been searching for Villagrana since.
Police say the victim was in a group of teens throwing eggs at various cars from a moving vehicle. One of the eggs struck Villagrana in the ear and landed in his backseat.
Afterwards, police say Villagrana went home, picked up a firearm and enlisted help from another suspect, 21-year-old Martin Cruz, to search for the teens.
When Villagrana located the victim’s car, police say he leaned out of the car’s window and shot at the victim. After the deadly incident, the suspect fled to Mexico.
Authorities within the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Marshals Service worked together to locate and arrest Villagrana in Mexico.
“That investigation started very early on and our homicide detectives have been working around the clock, every single day trying to bring answers and justice to this case,” said Salt Lake City police spokesman Brent Weisberg.
He has been arrested on one count of murder and three counts of felony discharge of a firearm. Villagrana is currently booked in the Salt Lake County Metro Jail. His bail was set at over one-million dollars.
“In my heart I always knew that I’d never stop looking for him and that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure he was caught,” said Ashley Gustin.
She said Villagrana’s arrest is bittersweet. On the one hand he will finally face charges, Gustin said. But there’s also a broken heart to deal with.
“It’s one of those moments where you’re happy but you’re also sad because unfortunately this doesn’t mean that your child gets to come home,” Gustin said.