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US teen suspect in child’s death shot by police

July 24, 2013

SAGINAW, Texas (AP) — A U.S. teenager suspected of suffocating his 6-year-old neighbor with plastic bags and dumping the girl not far her home was shot in the head in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Tyler Holder, 17, was hospitalized, but authorities have not released his condition. A police detective was seriously wounded but was expected to recover.

The police team had gone to Holder’s home in Texas to serve search warrants.

Authorities suspect Holder sexually assaulted and suffocated Alanna Gallagher, who was found with plastic bags taped around her neck, a capital murder arrest warrant affidavit says. Holder’s DNA matched evidence found on the girl’s body and on a belt wrapped around the tarp, according to the affidavit.

Two teenagers three weeks ago found the girl’s naked body, which was stuffed in a large trash bag, wrapped in a tarp and dumped on a street.

Police also are trying to determine who set fire to a makeshift memorial for the girl and burned a car owned by the girl’s family.

Holder lives two doors down from the house where Alanna lived with her family. She had been playing outside the afternoon she went missing, and a neighbor told authorities that the girl was last seen by Holder’s flower beds, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says Holder told neighbors that the child found dead was Alanna before authorities had revealed the victim’s identity.

Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman with Fort Worth’s MedStar Emergency Medical Services, indicated the teen was shot in the head Tuesday.

Kimberly Holder, who lives at the home with her son, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she does not know his condition. She referred questions to her attorneys.

One of the attorneys, Lance T. Evans, said in an email to the newspaper that Kimberly Holder was in shock and worried about her son’s condition. He declined further comment.

Yolanda Sierra, who lives in the same neighborhood, said he was wearing a T-shirt that read “Wanted” at a memorial service for Alanna.

“It’s inappropriate because ... she was murdered,” Sierra said.

Neighbors described Holder as a nuisance.

Richard Spencer, 15, said Holder seemed odd and suspicious.

“He put off a weird attitude, a weird vibe,” Spencer said. “It was the way he talked, his tone of voice.”

Update hourly