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Man accused of killing Hollywood officer had stolen gun, says he ‘panicked,’ records show

Jason Banegas tells investigators he was trying to kill himself

Jason Banegas, 18, told investigators that he pulled out the semiautomatic handgun to kill himself and didn't initially know he shot Officer Yandy Chirino in the head.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The 18-year-old man accused of killing a Hollywood police officer Sunday night was out on probation and had a stolen semi-automatic handgun, according to an arrest warrant released Tuesday.

Jason Banegas told investigators that he pulled out the gun in an attempt to kill himself during a struggle with police and that’s when he shot Officer Yandy Chirino in the face — although he said he didn’t know that outcome at the time — according to an arrest affidavit.

“He stated he was being disrespected by the Officer and panicked because he was carrying a concealed firearm and did not want to go back to jail as he was just released 30 days ago,” the affidavit says.

Chirino, 28, died from his injuries.

Banegas was ordered held with no bond Tuesday morning. Banegas appeared in Broward bond court after being booked into the county jail Monday evening. He was shackled and dressed in a suicide-prevention smock and looked down most of the time, not saying much, other than briefly acknowledging Judge Tabitha Blackmon at one point.

The judge said Banegas was out on juvenile probation stemming from previous arrests and found probable cause for a felony murder charge.

“I am going to hold him no bond based on these allegations that the victim officer was shot in the face which led to his ultimate demise during the struggle with Mr. Banegas,” Blackmon said.

Jason Banegas is accused of fatally shooting Hollywood police Officer Yandy Chirino on Oct. 17, 2021. (Broward Sheriff's Office)

An arrest warrant states that Banegas “was in possession of a stolen Glock 43x, 9mm semi-automatic handgun, stolen out of Miami Dade County, on September 14th, 2021.”

The affidavit specifies that the gun was reported stolen in a vehicle burglary on that date.

“During the physical fight, Jason Banegas was in actual possession of a firearm, discharged said firearm, and as a result of the discharge, death was inflicted upon Police Officer [Yandy Chirino],” the warrant said.

Court records show Banegas had been released from a Miami-Dade County jail last month. He now faces charges including premeditated felony murder, resisting an officer with violence, armed burglary and grand theft of a firearm.

Banegas has an extensive criminal history that dates back to the age of 12, when he was accused of resisting an officer without violence. Since then, Banegas has faced charges that include burglary, property damage and grand theft auto.

Last year alone, Banegas was arrested on charges of burglary, trespassing, and marijuana and cocaine possession near a school.

Following those charges last year, the Department of Juvenile Justice placed the teen in a secure, low-level substance abuse facility for kids in North Florida called Crestview Youth Academy.

Since he was out on probation, Banegas should have been closely monitored by a probation officer, with a strict curfew, community service and ongoing substance abuse and mental health counseling.

So why was the teenager from Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood in Hollywood on Sunday night, and where was the oversight? Local 10 News has posed those questions to the DJJ.

The fatal shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. Sunday after Hollywood police received reports about a suspicious person in the Emerald Hills community in Hollywood. Neighbors said they noticed someone riding a bike driveway to driveway, grabbing door handles of cars in the normally quiet neighborhood on North Hills Drive near 43rd Avenue.

Surveillance cameras from the area capture someone matching Banegas’ description checking for unlocked cars while on a bike.

According to the arrest documents, Banegas was with his sister’s boyfriend in the area when their car broke down and that’s when Banegas went checking cars for items like AirPods and cash.

Chirino, who initially wasn’t even supposed to be working that night, was shot by Banegas as the suspect fought with the responding officers, police said.

Chirino, who graduated from Miami Coral Park Senior High and worked for Hollywood police since 2017, is remembered as a dedicated officer who was recognized multiple times for his work ethic.

“He was a great officer and will have a lasting impact on our community,” Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien said Monday, adding that Chirino “gave his life honorably and without hesitation.”

Over the past two days, a memorial has grown on a playground fence next to the scene of the shooting, and neighbors have been stopping by to pay their respects.

“I wish the police officer could see this in heaven,” said Emee Zakay, who placed flowers at the memorial Tuesday.

That memorial was once again an active crime scene late Tuesday afternoon as investigators returned with police tape and began searching for something there.

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.