Gunshot suspect accepts plea deal

Published 1:53 pm Saturday, September 28, 2013

AUSTIN — A suspect arrested after a fight and gunshots at the Austin Public Library on Aug. 10 took a plea deal Friday in Mower County District Court.

Alex Patrick Hernandez, 26, pleaded guilty to terroristic threats. In exchange, felonies for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, endangering others by intentionally firing a dangerous weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm were dismissed.

Alex Hernandez

Alex Hernandez

Investigators believed 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.

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Police arrested Hernandez after executing a search warrant on a vehicle on Aug. 19. According to the court complaint, an officer found six 7.62×39 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 said someone fired shots after a fight near a taco stand. 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 Ronald Carlyle Cox, 52, of Austin, has 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. 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.

Hernandez was convicted of fifth-degree drug possession on Friday and sentenced to five years’ supervised probation and 40 hours’ community service, as well. In that case, 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.

Hernandez will be sentenced on Oct. 31 in the most recent case.