Teen gets 5-year sentence for fatally shooting girl running from Thornton party

BRIGHTON, Colo. — An 18-year-old man was sentenced Friday to five years in the Youthful Offender System for fatally shooting a teenage girl as she ran from an out-of-control homecoming party in Thornton in 2016.

Angelo Alvarez pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder to the shooting death of 16-year-old Haley Vargaz.

Alvarez was indicted on one count of first-degree murder with extreme indifference and five counts of attempted first-degree murder with extreme indifference in March.

He took the plea deal with the conditional five-year sentence. But if he does not follow “strict requirements,” the sentence will be revoked and he will go to prison for 20 years, Chief District Judge Patrick Murphy said at sentencing.

“This is a difficult case,” 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young said. “The punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime and no one is happy with this outcome, but we have to look at what justice is in this case, and in my mind, this is justice.

“There was significant risk that the defendant could be found not guilty based on the evidence in this case. Now he must take responsibility for his actions and comply with this program. If he doesn’t, he will be spending 20 years in prison.”

Prosecutors said a homecoming party on Sept. 17, 2016, in the 13000 block of Monaco Way got out of control after several Facebook posts led to carloads of people showing up uninvited.

A fight broke out between two groups of females and Alvarez fired his gun into the air from the front porch of the home, prosecutors said.

Another person then fired his weapon into the air, then Alvarez shot into the crowd as the teens began running away.

Vargaz, a junior at Thornton High School, was shot in the back and killed as she was trying to get to her car.

“This is as sad and tragic a case as I have seen,” Young said. “Angelo Alvarez fired a gun into a crowd of people at a party without any thought of the consequences and Haley Vargaz was killed.

“This remarkable young woman had won a battle with cancer but her determination in overcoming cancer could not save her from the defendant’s bullet. The loss of Haley has devastated her family and everyone who knew her.”