Sweetwater shooting suspects indicted following death of 2-year-old

Four suspects were arrested and indicted in the death of two-year-old Alayna Butts, Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones said.
Four suspects were arrested and indicted in the death of two-year-old Alayna Butts, Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones said.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2023 at 12:18 PM EST
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Deadly Sweetwater Shooting

LIVE: One suspect is in custody after five people were shot, including a child, in a deadly shooting. https://bit.ly/40XChEw

Posted by WVLT on Tuesday, February 14, 2023

SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two-year-old Alayna Butts, a victim in a Sweetwater shooting, died Feb. 17 just before noon, the family has confirmed. Now, at least two people are facing charges in her death.

An affidavit obtained by WVLT News provided details on the shooting, which resulted in at least one other death and three injuries.

The shooting happened just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Multiple agencies, including the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a home on Hawkins Road in response, discovering five victims, one of which was a child, MCSO officials said.

According to the affidavit, officers arrived at the home on the call that a two-year-old had been shot. When they arrived, the document said, the officers saw two people on the ground, at least one of which had been shot. One person, identified as Lenning Huerta, was “lying motionless” on the front porch of the home while the second was lying on the ground near a car with a wound to the head.

One of the uninjured victims, identified as Sophia Sloan, reportedly spoke with the officers, explaining what happened. Sloan said that, at the time of the shooting, she had just arrived home from Dollar General and was with her friends Dejaney Gennoe, Kaden McMurray, her boyfriend Lucas Maynard and her two children, who were not identified in the affidavit.

Sloane reportedly said that four men had come to her house, some of who she recognized as Lenning Huerta, Itzhui Huerta, Liu Huerta and someone she did not know. The men then demanded to be let in or they would break in, Sloane said. She added that two of her children, one of which was Alayna Butts, were at the door with her. The situation then escalated, according to the affidavit, and Sloane hit the men with a metal tent pole. From there, the shooting started.

“Ms. Sloane said that Mr. Lenning Huerta fired his pistol, striking [redacted] in the head,” the affidavit said. “Ms. Sloane said that she dropped the pole and shoved [redacted] from the doorway and into her bedroom. Ms. Sloane said that as she turned, more gunfire erupted from behind her.”

Then, the affidavit said, people in the house began returning fire. By the time things calmed down again, the affidavit said, Maynard, had been shot in the stomach. Additionally, McMurray, had reportedly been shot in the head.

Previous Coverage: Strangers show support for Sweetwater child despite cancelled prayer circle

According to the document, Maynard was taken to Sweetwater Hospital by Gennoe and McMurray and the unidentified victim were taken to the hospital via ambulance in critical condition.

An obituary from Loudon Funeral Home confirmed that Lenning Huerta died shortly after the shooting.

WVLT News spoke to a neighbor in the area, whose doorbell camera managed to catch the shooting on camera. While the camera did not capture direct footage of the shooting, gunshots can be heard.

One of the five victims is a child, according to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office officials.

Liu Huerta was arrested on Wednesday just before 10 p.m. by the MCSO and US Marshal’s Smokey Mountain Fugitive Task Force, officials told WVLT News.

Liu Huerta is currently being held at the Monroe County Justice Center and is facing one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, attempted aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and the use of firearm during a dangerous felony.

He appeared in court Friday, being given a $2 million bond.

Liu Gabriel Huerta, 26
Liu Gabriel Huerta, 26(MCSO)

On Monday, Feb. 20, Itzhui Huerta was listed in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office booking system. He was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of domestic assault, illegal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and aggravated burglary, as listed in the system.

Itzhui Huerta
Itzhui Huerta(MCSO)

Malachi Franklin was arrested in Market Square with the help of Knoxville Police Department officials.

Malachi Franklin
Malachi Franklin(Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Fransicso Lagunas Junior from Loudon County was also charged and indicted.

Fransicso Lagunas Junior
Fransicso Lagunas Junior(Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones announced on June 12 that the four suspects were indicted with the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder
  • felony murder (two counts)
  • Attempted first-degree murder (three counts each)
  • Attempted especially aggravated burglary
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent felony.

“While this tragedy is far from over, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office of the 10th Judicial District will continue to pursue justice in this case,” Jones said. “We will continue to provide more information when it is available.”

All suspects are in the Monroe County Jail except for Franklin, who is out on bond.