Garland convenience store shooting: Man turns himself into police

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Police said Richard Acosta Jr., 33, has been charged with capital murder for his involvement in the fatal shooting — but police do not believe he was the shooter.

GARLAND, Texas — A man wanted in connection to a shooting that left three teens dead and one critically injured at a Garland convenience store turned himself into police, officials said.

The Garland Police Department says 33-year-old Richard Acosta Jr. of Garland has been charged with capital murder for his involvement in the shooting. 

He was being held at the Garland Detention Center in lieu of an $1 million bond in the hours after his arrest.

Police say they do not believe Acosta was the shooter, but rather the shooter’s getaway driver. 

They said Acosta drove a suspect to the Texaco in the 700 block of West Walnut Street on Sunday evening, where a shirtless suspect was seen on surveillance video getting out of Acosta’s truck and firing his weapon into the store as he opened the door.

The shooting happened the day after Christmas. 

One day later, police said a 14-year-old was in custody and believed to have pulled the trigger. 

But about 24 hours after announcing the teen’s arrest, police reversed course saying new information revealed the teen had direct knowledge of the crime, but they no longer believed him to be the shooter. 

The teen was released to his family and is cooperating with the investigation, police said.

Police said Acosta and the suspected shooter were seen via surveillance video fleeing the scene. Acosta was also observed on surveillance video entering the convenience store shortly before the shooting took place.

“If we had definitive evidence that the 14-year-old we had in custody was the shooter he would not have been released,” Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau said. “This is very much an active investigation and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure the right person is arrested.” 

The victims were identified as 14-year-old Xavier Gonzalez, 16-year-old Ivan Noyala and 17-year-old Rafael Garcia. The fourth victim, a 15-year-old boy who worked at the taco stand inside the gas station, is said to be in stable condition in a local hospital, per police.

At a vigil for the victims Tuesday night, family members and friends lit candles and left flowers outside the Texaco station.

Gonzalez’s family said he was simply picking up tacos for his family when he was shot.

RELATED: 14-year-old boy suspected of killing 3 teens, injuring another in Garland convenience store shooting, police say

“He didn’t deserve to die like this,” Erica Gonzalez, Xavier’s aunt said. “I don’t think anyone deserves to die at a gas station, especially at a young age.”

The Gonzalez family said they learned from social media that the teenager was released from custody and the 33-year-old driver was charged. 

They confronted police at the vigil, asking for more communication.

Barineau apologized to them and said he agreed they should have been contacted personally by the department.

Police said in a news release on Tuesday that at least two of the victims appeared to be targeted as retaliation to a previous disturbance.

Detectives are still searching for evidence that can help positively identify the shooter.

“We’re hoping with everything we’ve uncovered and through the continued investigation that we’re going to be able to tie everyone together someway, somehow to get the killer off the street,” Barineau said. 

“There’s still a shooter out there who’s still free, and we know that somebody knows who it is.” 

The incident remains under investigation and police are asking anyone with information about the suspected shooter or the crime itself to call the department at 972-485-4840. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Garland Crime Stoppers at 972-272-8477 (TIPS) or at www.garlandcrimestoppers.org.

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