Multiple witnesses, evidence lead police to suspect in shooting near library

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Investigators identified the man they believe fired an assault rifle after a scuffle near the Austin Public Library early on Aug. 10.

Alex Hernandez

Alex Hernandez

The suspect, Alex Patrick Hernandez, 26, of Austin, was charged Tuesday with four felonies: 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.

Police have been investigating the shooting after multiple witnesses reported gunshots after 3 a.m. that morning. The night before the incident, a vehicle with two firearms was reported stolen. Police have not said whether the stolen firearms, an SKS assault rifle and Taurus .380-caliber pistol, have been recovered.

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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 near the library Aug. 10 and commonly used in an SKS rifle. The T 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. That man, Ronald Carlyle Cox, 52, of Austin, was charged on Aug. 16 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm because of previous cases. Police searched Cox’s home, where they reportedly found a .22 caliber rifle and 31 grams of marijuana. Current court complaints do not necessarily connect him with the stolen car and guns, however.

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

Hernandez’s bail has been set at $100,000. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 29.

Hernandez 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 allegedly found marijuana plants, reflectors, lights and a heat source. Police also found hydrocodone and another controlled substance, according to the complaint.