Man accused of killing Austin father of 6 arrested, says it happened during a drug deal

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, a man accused of murder of a south Austin father of six was arrested in Kyle by the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.

The U.S. Marshals say 32-year-old Francisco “Pako” Lopez, of Austin, was wanted in connection with the June 23, 2018 deadly shooting at an apartment complex on Southridge Drive.

The victim, 32-year-old Guillermo Bernal was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:59 a.m. Austin police Sgt. Eric De Los Santos said at the time that Bernal’s injuries were so severe that “no one who would have survived them had they sustained them.”

BACKGROUND: “..He left my sister-in-law to raise all six of them alone… their dad was everything.”

After an investigation, the Austin Police Department filed a warrant and requested help from the U.S. Marshals to find Lopez. He was ultimately found at a home in the 300 block of Zebra Drive in Kyle, the U.S. Marshals say.

Officers say they saw Lopez walk out of the house and get into a car that they quickly surrounded. He was taken without incident.

During the investigation, a friend of Bernal’s spoke to police and claimed that Bernal sold “large quantities of narcotics” and that he owed a lot of money. The friend suggested that Bernal’s death may have happened because he was either involved in narcotics or owed money to drug dealers.

The friend also said that the morning after Bernal’s death, Lopez visited his home and said that Lopez apologized to him for killing Bernal. The friend told police that Bernal said he did not pull the trigger but that “There was an issue…and it had to be taken care of.”

When police talked to Lopez, he said that Bernal had asked to buy two ounces of methamphetamine from him on the night of his death and so the two had gone to a south Austin McDonald’s to get “ice” from another dealer.

Lopez told police that the other drug dealer — who he said was an acquaintance called “E” — met them at McDonald’s and then Bernal and “E” went off together to an apartment complex on Rose Hill Circle in south Austin.

This is the area near where Bernal’s body was later found.

Police say they ultimately tracked down “E,” identified as Evan Zanders who reportedly told police he was there when Bernal was killed. Then, according to Lopez’s arrest warrant, Zanders told police that Lopez asked him to “set-up a fake drug deal for two ounces of ‘dope’ at an apartment complex so he could kill Bernal.”

Zanders reportedly corroborated Lopez’s account of the meet-up at McDonald’s and then to the apartment complex and said that he led Bernal up the stairs and to the apartment to appear as if they were about to do a drug deal.

At this point, according to the warrant, Zanders said Lopez shot Bernal and the two drove off.

Police say Lopez’s arrest was based on phone records, interviews, surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts.

Lopez is being held at the Travis County Jail where he awaits judicial proceedings. His bond is set at $750,000.

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