Charges: 11 shots fired during Mandolin incident

Published 5:34 pm Friday, December 2, 2016

At least 11 shots were fired and one alleged shooter claims he was shot — but not injured — while wearing body armor  during a Nov. 13 shootout at Mandolin Place Apartments in Austin, according to court records released Friday.

One of the two men arrested after the shooting appeared in court on three felony charges Monday. Roberto Aleman, 21, was charged with second-degree attempted murder with intent but not premeditation, second degree assault with a dangerous weapon and fifth-degree drug possession.

The second man in custody, Romario Luke, 22, did not appear in court Friday.

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The pair is suspected of shooting 9 mm handguns in the parking lot of Mandolin Place. No one was injured in the incident but a car and building siding were damaged by shots.

According to court records, police were dispatched at 9:21 p.m. Nov. 13 for a report of gunshots, but two vehicles had fled the scene and no one would provide much information at first.

Officers canvassed the scene and found five spent shell casings near the west entrance of Building 205 and six shell casings in a parking lot.

One bullet was found to have passed through a pillar and entered the apartment building wall, but it did not enter the apartment.

Then on Nov. 15, an officer was dispatched to the 1500 block of 10th Drive Southeast for an unoccupied 2008 Chrysler Sebring with a broken window. The vehicle belongs to Aleman’s girlfriend, Thania Sanchez, who had been in jail since Nov. 1. Officers observed multiple bullet holes on the vehicle.

Through various interviews from Nov. 16 to 22, witnesses said they saw a man believed to be Luke and Aleman arguing before they started shooting at each other.

Aleman fled into an apartment, while Luke left in a car driven by a man believed to be his uncle, according to the witnesses.

People told police they believed Aleman was trafficking drugs with Luke, which led to the shooting.

Then on Nov. 22, police matched bullet casings from the Mandolin shooting to bullets taken from a garbage at 909 First Ave. NW, Luke’s residence. Luke was arrested during a Nov. 23 drug bust at the residence.

The bust uncovered several weapons, body armor, 144.27 grams of methamphetamine and 225 grams of marijuana, among other items.

Firing pins from a 9 mm pistol seized in the bust matched casings from mandolin.

Police interviewed Luke. Eventually, he admitted approaching Aleman, who he said had been causing him problems, in the Mandolin parking lot on Nov. 13 but that he only wanted to talk. Luke said Aleman pulled a gun and started shooting, hitting Luke, who was wearing body armor. Luke showed officers a red injury on his chest he attributed to the shot.

Luke admitted shooting back at Aleman.

Aleman was arrested during a traffic stop early Friday on the 100 block of 12th Street Southeast, near the intersection with First Place. About half a gram of methamphetamine was found in a pocket on the passenger side door of the car, next to the passenger seat in which Aleman was sitting.

Aleman admitted being at Mandolin the night of the shooting but said he was in an apartment when it occurred.

Luke already faces felony charges filed in connection with the Nov. 23 bust. He is charged with first-degree drug possession of more than 100 grams of cocaine or meth; first-degree aggravated controlled substance crime for possessing a firearm; and being a violent felon in possession of a firearm.

On Friday, Austin Police Chief Krueger said Luke and Aleman’s arrests came as a result of good police work and he was “glad to have these two individuals off the streets.”

—Reporter Deb Nicklay contributed to this report