Defendants in shooting say they are not guilty

Published 11:20 am Friday, August 30, 2013

AUSTIN — Two men charged after shots were fired Aug. 10 near the Austin Public Library say they are not guilty.

Alex Patrick Hernandez pleaded not guilty Thursday in Mower County District Court to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, terroristic threats, endangering others by intentionally firing a dangerous weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality. All charges are felonies.

The other, Ronald Carlyle Cox, 52, of Austin, pleaded not guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, both felonies.

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Investigators believe Hernandez fired an assault rifle after a scuffle near the Austin Public Library at about 3 a.m. Aug. 10. Multiple witnesses reported gunshots after that morning. The night before the incident, a vehicle with two firearms was reported stolen. The weapons have not been recovered.

Police arrested Hernandez after executing a search warrant on a vehicle on Aug. 19. According to the court complaint, an officer found six 7.62 x 39 mm cartridges in the car, the same size of bullets that matched three shell casings found at the scene and commonly used in an SKS assault rifle. The officer also found an extended magazine for those bullets in the trunk.

Officers interviewed several witnesses who tried to flee the scene after gunshots that night and were eventually led to Hernandez. Witnesses say someone fired shots after a fight broke out near a taco stand. They said three men approached, threatened them and called them “scrap,” which Norte 14 gang members call SUR 13 gang members, according to the court complaint.

Witnesses say the three men left; however, one man returned and warned them that the two others would return with guns. According to the complaint, that man was Cox.

Police searched Cox’s home, where they reportedly found a .22 caliber rifle and 31 grams of marijuana. The court complaints do not connect him with the stolen car and guns, however.

Cox told officers men at the stand refused service to the juvenile and then beat him up, according to the complaint. Cox further admitted he warned those at the scene that people would be returning with guns.

For now, Hernandez remains in the Mower County jail on $100,000 bail. He also pleaded guilty to fifth-degree drug possession earlier this year in a 2012 case in which he was accused of assaulting a woman. Police reportedly found Hernandez hiding in a crawl space behind a child’s bed, where they reportedly found marijuana plants, reflectors, lights and a heat source. Police also found hydrocodone and another controlled substance, according to the complaint.