After two children came home from a weekend at their father's residence in Arvin, their mother asked how their time with dad went.
"Daddy shot his friend," one of the children said, according to police reports contained in recently released court documents.
Aware a fatal shooting had occurred in the area, the mother at first kept quiet about her suspicions because the children's father, Francisco Banos, is a member of an Arvin gang, and she was afraid, according to the documents. A week later, however, she took the children to speak with Arvin investigators.
Banos, 24, was eventually tracked down to a hotel in Castaic, where he'd been hiding out with his girlfriend, the documents say.
On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and is being held without bail.
Banos is accused of gunning down 22-year-old Fabian Zuniga on April 15 in the 700 block of Monroe Street. The killing may have been motivated by Zuniga's dating an ex-girlfriend of Banos, at least one person told investigators.
Zuniga suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest, the round passing through his heart.
One of Banos' daughters told police she was in the backyard playing with a scooter when the shooting occurred. Later, the children saw their father cleaning blood from a rear concrete fence, according to the documents.
After obtaining a search warrant for Banos' girlfriend's cell phone, Kern County sheriff's investigators — who worked on the case along with Arvin police — determined she was staying in Castaic. They believed Banos was with her.
On May 3, deputies found a vehicle connected to the couple parked at a hotel in Castaic, according to the documents. They spoke with employees and examined surveillance footage and confirmed Banos was inside a room while the girlfriend had gone out.
A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department SWAT team was called to the hotel and used a flash-bang grenade in the room after Banos refused to leave. Banos then came out with his arms up and surrendered.
The girlfriend, who is six weeks pregnant with Banos' child, told investigators she tried to get him to turn himself in. He refused, saying he wanted to wait until the child was born.
Banos is next due in court May 24.