Guilty plea emerges in December shootout in Austin

Published 3:09 pm Friday, January 18, 2013

While two of three suspects in a December shootout in Austin recently pleaded not guilty, the third suspect admitted his guilt Friday in Mower County Court.

Raymundo Verza, 34, of Austin, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and second-degree assault, both felonies. His sentencing is set for March 21. Felony charges for first-degree riot and drive-by shooting have been dismissed.

Fidel Molina, 31, of Austin, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and felon convicted of a crime of violence more than a week ago. And Reynaldo Veraza, 35, of Austin, previously pleaded not guilty to felonies for first-degree rioting armed with a weapon, drive by shooting with dangerous weapons and second-degree assault in the case.

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Officers went to the 700 block of 11th Street Northeast at 4 p.m. Dec. 3 after a call about shots fired. Police also received a call at about 4:45 p.m. from Reynaldo, who said he had been shot in the chest. He was later treated and is OK.

Reynaldo told officers a man stepped in front of his vehicle and threatened to fight, so Reynaldo got out of the vehicle, according to the court complaint. While the two argued, Molina reportedly emerged from near a house and shot the rear windows out of Reynaldo’s SUV. Reynaldo claims the man who confronted him in the street dropped a handgun, so Reynaldo grabbed it, got in his SUV, fled and tossed the gun near East Side Lake. Police didn’t find a weapon, the complaint adds.

In a differing account, Molina claims Reynaldo and his brother, Raymundo, were the aggressors. He said the Verazas drove separate vehicles by Molina’s house, parked across the street and argued with the man in the street — the same man who was previously sitting with Molina on Molina’s porch. Molina claims Raymundo drew a gun, so he yelled to his friend in the street before he and that man ran behind the house. Molina and that man reported hearing gunshots. According to the court complaint, Molina admitted grabbing a .22-caliber rifle and returning fire, which struck Reynaldo’s SUV and hit Reynaldo in the chest.

Detectives found .22-caliber and 9 mm shell casings at the scene. According to the court complaint, gunfire from Raymundo went through Molina’s house and lodged into a neighbor’s house, too.

A witness nearby also saw men standing by the SUVs and arguing before one raised his arm and fired shots. The witness said someone returned fire from near the house, as well.