AUSTIN (KXAN) — Shots were fired across an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Wells Branch Parkway to Stassney Lane early Saturday morning. For the first time, we’re hearing from one of the victims in the I-35 shooting spree who dodged bullets on Austin’s busiest highway.
“When I looked back behind me, I noticed a guy standing by with a rifle and as soon as I noticed him I quickly stepped on the gas and sped off and automatically he started shooting at us,” Rigoberto Ochoa told KXAN.
Ochoa said he and his friend were going to get something to eat and found themselves ripping out of a parking lot in north Austin off 183. He was fighting to keep them alive.
“He was shooting at us and I think he was aiming at us to kill us,” Ochoa said, who described the suspect firing seven rounds, one that blew out his tire. “I just kept on hearing the shots fired and the impact to my pickup.”
Ochoa’s friend, sitting in the front passenger seat, was shot in the arm.
It was one stop, during an hour-plus shooting spree that ultimately led to police charging 25-year-old Rolando Martinez with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. At another stop, a man, woman and 7-year-old were shot.
Assistant Police Chief Joseph Chacon said, “What I can tell you is that my understanding is the 7-year-old is out of danger and is moving into a rehabilitation type of stage of her recovery.”
KXAN also spoke with Martinez’s younger brother, who doesn’t know what to think.
“Not an hour goes by that I don’t think, I don’t think of him ’cause it’s just crazy,” he said, explaining the hardest part is that his family still hasn’t heard from Martinez. “That ain’t him. He’s chill, he’s calm, he’s serious but he wouldn’t do nothing like this. Guess… I don’t know.”
As for Ochoa, he says the most important thing he did that early Saturday morning was step on the gas.
“I did believe at the time this was going to be the end of me,” he said. “He should stay in jail. If he gets out, next time he’s going to do it again. He’s going to do it again and I feel there’s no excuses.”
Court documents reveal Martinez told police he had been drinking at the Nocturno Nightclub and didn’t remember much from that night, but he did remember waking up in a grassy median near the freeway.
Martinez is currently being held on a $1 million bond. According to Travis County Jail records, he also has an Immigration and Naturalization Service detainer holding him there.
Police say they’re looking into whether Martinez obtained the gun legally and if drugs were involved.