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Texas A&M party ends in a fatal shooting

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 09:00 pm
Brandon Gonzales was charged with murder following a shooting at a Texas A&M party location (left) which claimed the lives of two and injured 12 others.
Brandon Gonzales was charged with murder following a shooting at a Texas A&M party location (left) which claimed the lives of two and injured 12 others.

A man was arrested and charged with capital murder on Monday, Oct. 28, in connection to the Texas A&M University-Commerce shooting that killed two people and wounded 12 others.

Brandon Gonzales, 23, allegedly “entered [The Party Venue] through the back door and began firing with a handgun,” according to Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks via USA Today.

The Party Venue was host to the unsanctioned college Halloween-themed homecoming party on Saturday, Oct. 26. Prior to the shooting, Hunt County deputies were called to the venue to investigate complaints about illegal parking, according to Dallas News. The deputies arrived on the scene about 20 minutes before gunfire erupted and were questioning a person in front of the venue who they believed was intoxicated when they heard the gunshots. 

According to USA Today, “Meeks described ‘complete chaos’ after the shots rang out, with hundreds of people fleeing, including the gunman.” The gunman was believed to be wearing a blue hoodie and was not in any kind of costume. 

Kevin Berry Jr. and Byron Craven Jr., both 23, were killed in the shooting, and 12 more were injured, including six people being trampled or hurt by glass in the commotion and six others injured by gunfire. 

According to Dallas News, “Meeks said it appeared that the first person shot was a target of Gonzales’, but then the rest appeared to be fired at randomly. The sheriff did not say who was shot first.”

Gonzales denied any wrongdoing. In a jailhouse interview with WFAA, Gonzales said he was at the party dressed as a security guard. However, he claims he was outside in his car when the shooting occurred.

“I have a vest,” he said to WFAA. “It looks bulletproof, but it doesn’t have the plates in there though.” 

The Dallas News reported authorities were able to identify Gonzales through “tips from the community” and “pushing and pushing from investigators.” Several law enforcement agencies were also called to assist with the investigation, including the Texas Rangers. 

Gonzales also mentioned to WFAA he had witnesses to his alibi, but he would not reveal the names of the alleged witnesses. 

According to Dallas News, the authorities have not determined a motive yet. Bail was set at $1 million for Gonzales.

A vigil was held on Sunday, Oct. 27, at a Dallas park for Berry, one of the victims. After the vigil, shots rang out. Mourners and reporters at the event took cover and at least one vehicle was struck by bullets, according to USA Today. No injuries were reported, and Dallas police said the shooting stemmed from a “disturbance” at the vigil. 

A vigil at the university was canceled for Monday, Oct. 28, due to the shooting at the one held on Sunday, according to Dallas News.

“Based on conversations we have had with various students across campus, the decision has been made to postpone the community gathering,” the school wrote on Facebook. “We appreciate the feedback you have provided, and care about your concerns. We remain committed to the health and well being of our campus community.”

Some students still gathered prior to the Virgil’s cancellation and organized a small prayer gathering. 

Classes were not canceled on Monday, Oct. 28, but few students attended them, according to Dallas News. The university canceled all classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, students have criticized the university for not giving a “grieving period” of a week to give students a chance to heal. 

Texas has been in the news a lot recently for shootings. It is especially interesting given Texas loosened its gun laws following the mass shooting in Odessa at the end of August. 

For Texas A&M students, what should have been a fun night out turned into a war zone when gunfire erupted, and what should have been a time for mourning became muddled with more gunshots. 

While the investigation is still ongoing, Gonzales will likely continue to maintain his innocence. However, Commerce will likely remain on edge for some time. Hopefully the community can find peace soon. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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