The man Garland police believe drove the gunman to and from a gas station where three teenage boys were killed and another was wounded Sunday evening has turned himself in, and the 14-year-old who authorities initially thought was the shooter has been released, police announced Tuesday.
Richard Acosta Jr., 33, of Garland was arrested Monday on suspicion of capital murder, police said in a news release. His bail was set at $1 million, and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.
On Monday, Garland police Chief Jeff Bryan said authorities had taken a 14-year-old boy into custody and believed he was the shirtless male seen in surveillance footage opening the front door of the Texaco in the 700 block of West Walnut Street and firing at least 20 rounds about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
But the teen has since been released and is not facing charges, police said Tuesday.
“Detectives learned that the 14-year-old male who was taken into custody yesterday has intimate knowledge of the shooting and he is cooperating with the investigation,” police said in a written statement. “Based on new information in the investigation, the 14-year-old is not being charged at this time, and has been released to his family.”
Lt. Pedro Barineau, a Garland police spokesman, said new evidence “does not solidify” the 14-year-old as the shooter. Speaking to victims’ family members and others at a vigil held outside the Texaco late Tuesday afternoon, he said the teen remains a person of interest and could still face charges but that he doesn’t appear to be the gunman.
“As of right now, the person who pulled the trigger is at large,” Barineau said.
Barineau would not say how police identified the teen as a suspect but noted that he has “a lot of similarities” to the gunman’s physical description.
The teen has spoken to police and revealed “intimate knowledge” of the shooting, Barineau said, adding that it’s possible the teen has been communicating with those involved in the incident.
Barineau would not say whether police have identified someone else as a suspect in the slayings.
The shooting killed three teen boys — 14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 16-year-old Ivan Noyala, and 17-year-old Rafael Garcia — and wounded an unidentified 15-year-old cook who had started working at the store last week.
Two of the victims had come into the store together, Bryan said. Another was already inside and was buying food for his family, Bryan said.
Authorities believe the shooting was in retaliation to a “previous disturbance,” but did not elaborate on that incident. Police believe the shooter was targeting at least one person inside the store, but they did not say whether any of the victims was the shooter’s intended target.
Surveillance video showed the gunman and driver in the parking lot within 30 minutes of the shooting. The driver was seen in the store, and the gunman was seen in the white, four-door Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
Just before the shooting, the driver stopped the pickup in front of the store. The gunman got out, crouched as he walked along the store’s windows, opened the door and began shooting a .40-caliber pistol with an extended magazine, Bryan said.
The shooter then got in the rear passenger side of the truck and the driver sped off before police arrived.
Police said the store, which is near downtown Garland, didn’t have a history of significant trouble.
‘Had their entire lives in front of them’
Garland Mayor Scott LeMay said “no amount of police work” could undo the tragedy.
“I can only imagine what their families are going through right now,” LeMay said of the victims. “They had their entire lives in front of them.”
The mayor added: “These are kids, and that is just absolutely tragic.”
City Council member Deborah Morris, whose district includes the Texaco, said that “this senseless shooting — kids killing other kids — has left our community … stunned and shaken.”
“We’re all praying for the surviving teen’s recovery, and for comfort for the families,” she said.
Police said the investigation remains active and that the department had executed several search warrants overnight.
Anyone with information about the shooting may contact police at 972-485-4840.
Anonymous tips may be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 972-272-8477 or garlandcrimestoppers.org. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the gunman.
Staff writer Michael Williams contributed to this report.