A 16-year-old Miami girl has admitted to taking possession of a stolen pistol that was later believed to have been used by her brother to murder Hollywood Police Officer Yandy Chirino, authorities said.
Katherine Banegas was booked into a Miami-Dade juvenile detention center early Monday and charged with grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm by a delinquent.
She is accused of taking the Glock G43 pistol from a man back in September, and refusing to give it back despite his repeated text messages. She also admitted to taking photos with her brother, Jason Banegas, 18, and the gun, according to an arrest report.
“The defendant stated she wishes she could take everything back,” Miami-Dade Detective Laureano Garcia wrote in an arrest report.
Katherine is also being held on an outstanding juvenile robbery charge, a case in which Miami-Dade prosecutors had previously announced they would consider charging her as an adult. She could also be charged as an adult in the firearm case.
She is the younger sister of Jason Banegas, who is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Chirino, who shot to death earlier this month in a scuffle in the Emerald Hills neighborhood of Hollywood.
According to police, Jason Banegas was on a bicycle breaking into cars when Chirino tried to arrest him. Banegas later claimed he resisted arrest because he did not want to go back to juvenile detention — he’d just gotten out of a “high-risk” detention center.
During the scuffle with Chirino, the teen claimed, he took the stolen Glock and tried to shoot himself, but instead fatally shot the officer, according to his arrest warrant. Another Hollywood officer arrived at the end of the confrontation and arrested Banegas.
Chirino, 28, hailed from Miami and had been with Hollywood police less than five years.
After Banegas’ arrest, Katherine told WPLG-10 that “my brother would never do that for no reason.”
But investigators had already honed in on Katherine, who like her brother had multiple arrests as a juvenile, including for grand theft of a vehicle, burglary and criminal mischief. When she was 14, Miami police said, she and a man followed an acquaintance in their car, and later robbed him of his wallet. Another man’s fanny pack, with a Michael Kors watch, was also stolen, according to an arrest report.
Later, a “pick-up” order was ordered after Katherine failed to show up for court, record show. She was arrested Friday night at a Walmart in Sunrise, smirking at a WSVN camerman as she was led into the Lauderhill police station for questioning.
According to an arrest report, she and another teenager had been in a car with a man in Northwest Miami-Dade on Sept. 15. They stopped at a gas station, the other girl opened the glove compartment and saw the Glock. She asked if “she can have the firearm,” and the man brushed her off, saying the gun was real and “advised her not to touch it,” the report said.
Investigators believe the girls stole the gun as he walked into pay for the gas. Later, at his house, the girls disappeared and he discovered the pistol missing. He texted and called Katherine “numerous” times to get the weapon back, he told police, and later reported the gun missing to police.
After he arrest, Katherine blamed the other girl for actually taking the weapon, but admitted she “made no attempts to return the firearm to the victim or law enforcement. She also blamed the other girl for giving the weapon to her brother. Still, “the defendant admitted to knowingly taking pictures with her brother [and the gun] after the firearm was stolen from the victim,” the arrest report said.
A Hollywood police arrest warrant for Jason Banegas lists the the stolen 9-mm Glock as the murder weapon.