AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin man pleaded guilty to killing a 37-year-old man and assaulting two women in the 10200 block of Missel Thrush Drive in July 2021, according to Travis County court records.
Aaron Garza, 20, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for shooting and killing Joshua Cooper and 20 years for assaulting women.
On the night of the incident, the APD received several calls reporting gunshots, followed by screams. When police officers arrived at the scene, they found Cooper unresponsive. Neighbors and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services attempted to resuscitate Cooper, but were unsuccessful. He died at the scene.
APD located Cooper’s wife and stepdaughter nearby after their arrival. According to the APD, both women suffered non-life-threatening head injuries after they were attacked by Garza, who attacked them with his gun.
The Austin American Statesman reported that Cooper’s stepdaughter, who was injured that night, had previously worked with Garza at nearby HEB. She told police that she had little contact with him and that he quit his job a couple of months before the incident. At the time, she said she hadn’t seen him since she quit her job, according to the Statesman.
On the evening of the incident, Cooper’s stepdaughter left her job at HEB and noticed a car following her. When she got home, Garza blocked her car and approached her while she was in the car. She called Cooper and her mother, saying that someone she didn’t recognize had followed her home, according to the Statesman.
According to Garza, he was looking for the tracker on Cooper’s stepdaughter’s car. Cooper went outside to check on his stepdaughter and ask what Garza was doing. Cooper’s wife went to call the police, but before she could hear gunshots from outside, according to the Statesman.
Cooper’s wife said she saw Garza fire a pistol at Cooper several times. He ran away from Garza, but was eventually wounded. Garza then attempted to shoot Cooper’s stepdaughter, but his gun malfunctioned. His stepdaughter got out of the car and ran away from Garza. He caught up with her and began to attack her with his weapon. Cooper’s wife intervened between Garza and her daughter; According to the statesman, she was also hit on the head with Garza’s weapon.
Cooper’s neighbors came out of their homes to find out what was going on. One sprayed Garza with pepper spray, and he fled the scene in an arriving car. A detective later found a tracking device under Cooper’s stepdaughter’s car, according to the Statesman.