Man accused of randomly punching children in southeast Austin


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man accused of hitting a 3-year-old at the beginning of December has now been arrested for allegedly hitting a 5-year-old at the end of the month near the same location. Neither child or people accompanying them knew the man.

In the most recent case, the 5-year-old boy and his uncle were walking to a Shell gas station at 1211 Montopolis Dr. on Dec. 29. The uncle said he was catching his breath after crossing the road when a man near the entrance “started to yell for an unknown reason,” according to an affidavit. A few moments later the victim’s uncle says the man ran at them.

“I thought he was going to ask people for money and he starts running and waving and yelling,” said the victim’s uncle Ernest Armendarez. “The next thing you know he is real close to me and with a closed fist he hits [my nephew] on the side of the head. He just hit him and kept running. He kept running like he had already planned it.”

The uncle told police he tried to move his nephew away, but the man, identified by police as Qvontay McKnight, was able to hit the boy. Armendarez says a few people at the gas station ran after McKnight but couldn’t catch him.

The boy said “it hurt” when he was hit by the suspect and told investigators he had a “big bump” that eventually went away. Surveillance video showed the incident as the uncle described it.

The case reminded investigators of a similar one from Dec. 4, in which a man with a similar description punched a 3-year-old girl near the 1200 block of Montopolis Drive. They created a photo lineup that included McKnight, 23, who was a suspect from that case. The 5-year-old “immediately” picked him out, according to an affidavit. The uncle also identified him.

McKnight is facing two third degree felony charges tied to the attacks on both the 3-year-old and the 5-year-old. A bond has been set for $85,000 in total for both charges.

“He needs medical attention and he needs to stay in there,” said Armendarez.

According to public records McKnight has been arrested multiple times in the last four years. In 2015, he was charged with two felonies including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and injury to a child. He was found guilty in the injury to a child case and sentenced to 10 months in jail, only a few months later he was out and charged with another assault.

“Why would they let him out?” Armendarez asked. “This time he probably just hit him and next time it will probably be different, I don’t know. For any other parent out there, probably be aware of him.”

We’ve reached out to Travis County prosecutors to find out why he didn’t face a tougher punishment, they tell us they are looking into that and will get back to us.

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