AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin man pled guilty to murdering a 37-year-old man and assaulting two women on 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 the women.
On the night of the incident, APD received multiple calls reporting shots being fired followed by screams. When APD arrived on the scene, they found Cooper unresponsive. Residential neighbors and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services attempted to revive Cooper but were unsuccessful. He died at the scene.
APD found Cooper’s wife and stepdaughter nearby after they arrived. Both women sustained non-life-threatening head injuries after being assaulted by Garza, who attacked them with his gun, according to APD.
The Austin American Statesman reported that Cooper’s stepdaughter, who sustained injuries that night, had previously worked with Garza at a nearby H-E-B. She told police she had little interaction with him and that he had left his job a couple of months prior to the incident. At the time, she said she had not seen him since leaving the job, according to the Statesman.
On the evening of the incident, Cooper’s stepdaughter left work at H-E-B and noticed a car was following her. When she got home, Garza blocked her vehicle and walked up to her while she sat in the car. She called Cooper and her mother, saying someone who she did not recognize followed her home, according to the Statesman.
Garza was quoted saying he was searching for a tracker on Cooper’s stepdaughter’s car. Cooper came outside to check on his stepdaughter and to ask what Garza was doing. Cooper’s wife went to call the police, but before she could, she heard gunshots outside, according to the Statesman.
Cooper’s wife said she saw Garza shoot his gun multiple times at Cooper. He ran away from Garza but was eventually hit. Garza then tried to shoot Cooper’s stepdaughter, but his gun malfunctioned. His stepdaughter got out of the vehicle and ran from Garza. He caught up to her and started assaulting her with his weapon. Cooper’s wife intervened between Garza and her daughter; she was also hit over the head with Garza’s weapon, the Statesman said.
Cooper’s neighbors came out of their homes to find out what was happening. One sprayed Garza with pepper spray, and he fled from the scene in the car he came. Later, a detective found a tracking device under Cooper’s stepdaughter’s car, according to the Statesman.