AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police arrested a man accused of using bad checks to steal multiple cars, one of which an officer shot at after someone drove it through a barricaded downtown Austin street.
Before 2 a.m. on March 2, an officer shot at a dark blue Cadillac CTS after it drove around barricades at the 500 block of Neches Street and nearly hit him. According to an affidavit, officers saw the car go around the barricade, which turns the street into a pedestrian-only zone. Officers tried to stop it, but it “accelerated as it maneuvered through officers and pedestrians on the street.”
Nearby officers saw the car on East Seventh Street and chased it, but did not catch it. That afternoon, police asked for the public’s help to find the car and the three people inside.
A man came forward the next day, saying he thought the car was his. He had listed it online, and a man named Cristian Alexis Avilez-Garcia, 25, had bought it using a check he said belonged to his father. The bank put the check on hold when the seller tried to deposit it, saying there weren’t enough funds.
Avilez-Garcia’s brother had filed a report after he saw his checks had been used to try to make big purchases, including the Cadillac. He told police “he was hesitant to file a report on his brother, Cristian, as the person who stole his checkbooks, but this was not the first time Cristian had stolen checks from him and used them.”
Police tracked down the stolen Cadillac. They initially tried to perform a traffic stop, but the driver drove off. Officers later found it in a backyard using the car’s OnStar technology to find it. They saw a bullet hole in the car and found a handwritten list of vehicles inside, which included the Cadillac’s information.
Police later also received a report from a woman who said she had been scammed by Avilez-Garcia, and that he had threatened her when she tried to get her car back. Officers pulled over her stolen car on March 8 and arrested Avilez-Garcia.
According to Travis County jail records, Avilez-Garcia is in custody as of Monday and faces theft of property as well as obstruction or retaliation charges. It is not clear if he was one of the people in the car when it drove around the barricades March 2 and an officer fired at it.
The Austin Police Department says the officer who shot the car has been with the department for almost 10 years and is on administrative duty during the investigation.