Father didn’t know son accused in Texas convenience store deaths had gun, attorney says

GARLAND, Texas — An attorney for a man accused of driving his son to a Dallas-area gas station where the 14-year-old is accused of fatally shooting three teens and wounding a fourth says the father didn’t know his son had a gun.

Attorney Heath Harris told The Dallas Morning News he believes evidence will show that 33-year-old Richard Acosta, who is charged with capital murder, is innocent.

“Our position is he didn’t do anything to solicit or encourage his son to do this,” Harris said.

An arrest affidavit for Acosta released Tuesday afternoon states surveillance video shows him in the driver’s seat of a Ram pickup stopped yards from the front door as the suspect was “in plain view standing in the front doorway” shooting people inside.

Acosta’s son, Abel Elias Acosta, has been on the run since the Dec. 26 shooting in Garland. Police said the teen faces a charge of capital murder and warned that he is armed and dangerous.

Richard Acosta, who surrendered to police a day after the shooting, remained in Dallas County jail Tuesday on $3 million bail.

Surveillance video shows a shirtless boy or man with a handgun approaching the store in a crouching position. He swings the door open and shoots from the doorway.

The video, played by police during a Dec. 27 press conference, shows a stopped white Ram truck in the background as the shooting takes place.

Police said the shooter fired more than 20 rounds from a .40-caliber pistol before fleeing in the pickup driven by Richard Acosta, who they said also brought the suspect to the gas station.

Harris said he thinks evidence will show that Richard Acosta initially went into the store alone to pick up medicine for his wife and that after he got back into his pickup, his son said he needed something and went inside alone. Harris said the father heard gunfire but didn’t know the source.

Harris said the son was hysterical when he ran back to the pickup and the father drove them home. The son then got into a car and fled, Harris said.

The affidavit also said that prior to the shooting, the surveillance video showed that the driver of the pickup went into the store and “appeared to buy some medicine” before returning to his vehicle.

Police named those killed in the shooting as 14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 16-year-old Ivan Noyala, and 17-year-old Rafael Garcia. A 15-year-old who was a cook at the store was taken to the hospital following the shooting and was expected to survive.

Investigators believe the shooting was a retaliatory attack on one or more of the people in the store, Garland police Lt. Pedro Barineau said.

Police initially took a different 14-year-old boy into custody, saying he was the shooting suspect.

On Dec. 28, police said in a statement the boy was not a suspect but rather someone with “intimate knowledge” of the attack who was helping detectives. He was released to his family without charges.

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