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UPDATE: According to Sweetwater Police Chief Jim Kelley, Carlos Rico has been booked into Nolan County Jail charged with attempted capital murder. His bond has been set at $500,000. The charge is a first degree felony and possible punishment includes 5-99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
After a press conference given by Sweetwater Chief of Police Jim Kelley, new details emerged about Sweetwater's Angel and his ordeal.
According to Kelley, Angel Flores' father, Carlos Rico, 22, said that God told him to choke his son and leave him on the road. He then allegedly stopped at a gas station in Eastland and told those in the convenience store that he had killed his son. Rico told his brother when he reached Saginaw, that after he returned to the car from the gas station, he saw a dead bird in the grill of his truck and the bird told him that Angel was not dead. Rico's brother then encouraged him to turn himself in and wanted to find Angel. Kelley stated that there was bruising around Angel's neck and that Rico stated that he left Angel in Sweetwater around 3 a.m., leaving the boy alone in the dark for over three hours.
Four-year-old Angel Flores was found wandering in the middle of Interstate 20 on Tuesday morning around 6:30 a.m. in Nolan County covered in as many as 500 cactus spines, when Sweetwater High School basketball coach Al Hunt saw him and brought him to safety.
Hunt said he initially thought he was looking at a guardrail post until it moved.
"It took me seconds to realize, 'it's a little kid there,'" the 54-year-old coach said.
He said he pulled over and, not seeing a vehicle the child might have been in, ran across the road and scooped the boy into his arms. He said the boy's lips were cracked as if he were dehydrated, and that the only response the boy gave to his questions was when he held up four fingers when Hunt asked his age.
"He didn't say a word to me. He didn't say a word to anybody. He never said a word," Hunt told the Associated Press.
Angel was taken to the Emergency Room at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital to remove the cactus spines and was admitted for observation. He has now been released to Child Protective Services. Angel's step mother, Isabel Serna, 18, who has been in Angel's life for about three years, came from Lubbock to be with Angel. His biological mother has been absent for most of Angel's life.
According to Kelley, the step mother stated that there was no history of abuse in the family. They also have another child and one on the way. Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, told The Associated Press that a custody hearing is set for July 7.
Rico had been charged with child endangerment and did not have a lawyer representing him. His bond was set at $50,000. Kelley said Rico would be brought to Sweetwater, where he could face additional charges, including attempted murder or attempted capital murder, which could apply because the boy is younger than 6, he said.
According to Chief Kelley, many people have called and come in wanting to bring clothes and toys to Angel. "So many people have been touched by Angel's story and want to help. It just shows the heart of this community in wanting to help a child that they don't even know. Just knowing that a child is in need drives the community to do whatever they can to help."
Kelley also stated that besides the cactus spines being removed from his body, Angel has been in great spirits the entire time he has been in the care of police. "He's just a ball of fire. He's bright, sharp, happy and just a great kid. Everyone has wanted to take him home."