AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police say the man charged with a first-degree felony murder charge in connection to a deadly shooting over the weekend recently left the Army. Jacques DeCarlos Garcia reportedly served for six years, including two combat tours in an infantry unit. Garcia has a Concealed Handgun License, and police say “it is clear that Garcia is well-trained in the safe use of firearms.”
Garcia told officers he was trying to de-escalate the situation over the weekend by pulling out his gun. The 38-year-old is accused of gunning down Manuel Trejo, 41, outside a South Austin restaurant and then leading police on a car chase that hit speeds of more than 100 mph. He is also charged with the third-degree felony of evading in a motor vehicle.
Police say Trejo’s death came during an argument in the parking lot of Don Dario’s Cantina at Interstate 35 and Slaughter Lane. Both Trejo and Garcia were at the restaurant celebrating separate birthday parties. Around11:30 p.m. Saturday, police responded to the shooting, which they say began when Garcia tried to reverse in the parking lot. Trejo’s SUV was behind Garcia’s Mustang and couldn’t reverse because there was a line of cars behind him. Garcia told police he was trying to back up to let a friend pull out of a parking space but that there was a car behind him that wouldn’t move. Witnesses say Garcia was revving his engine as the confrontation heated up.
The restaurant manager says Trejo honked and then got out of his car to walk toward Garcia in his Mustang. He told police that he got the cars in front of Garcia’s to clear out so that he could leave and the situation would be diffused.
“As the guy in the SUV was confronting the guy in the Mustang, I was trying to tell the man in the car to drive on,” a restaurant employee told police.
The restaurant manager told police that Garcia almost pushed him aside to get out of the car and confront Trejo, saying the two only spoke for seconds before they started fighting. The manager told police he tried to stop the fighting by grabbing Garcia, which caused them both to fall to the ground. That’s when he heard someone yell from the patio that Garcia had a gun, and the manager ran for cover. He told police he saw Garcia hitting Trejo in the head with the butt of the pistol. He went on to say that he heard a shot and saw Garcia get into his Mustang and drive off.
Police say they chased Garcia north on Interstate 35 and then west on State Highway 71 before cornering him at the Fox Hill Apartment complex at 8800 U.S. Highway 290 and arresting him. Garcia allegedly refused to get out of the car, so police say they physically got him out of the car using a Taser. As police arrested Garcia, they say they noticed a pistol on the driver’s seat under where Garcia had been sitting. Garcia also had an empty gun holster on his belt near his right hip, police say.
Meanwhile, officers at the shooting tried to give Trejo CPR, but he died at the scene. Homicide detectives conducting their investigation say they noticed Trejo had a gunshot wound to the left chest area, appearing to be a close contact wound because the “muzzle impression was clearly visible.”
Police say Garcia was well-trained in the safe use of firearms, saying that “while demonstrating how the shooting occurred … Garcia kept his finger firmly out of the trigger guard and along the edge of the firearm” — even with a simulated firearm — “consistent with safe firearm handling practices. However, Garcia acknowledged that his finger was inside of the trigger guard at the time that the shooting happened.” Police went on to say in their report surrounding culpability that they believe “a person who is well-trained and very experienced in the safe handling of firearms who points a loaded firearm at a person and who places his finger inside of the trigger guard of the firearm is intending to shoot the firearm at a person.”
Furthermore, police contend that “according to Garcia himself, he was never punched until after he drew his pistol,” displaying it in response to verbal aggression. Garcia told police he did not remember what Trejo was saying to him other than it involved a lot of profanity. Garcia told police that Trejo “did not make any threats of injury nor did he display weapon.” Police say in their report surrounding justification that “Texas law is quite clear that force is not justified in ‘response to verbal provocation alone’ … or if the actor ‘provoke[ed] the person against whom the force was used.'” Police say they believe Garcia provoked Trejo into punching him. “Though Garcia’s decision not to retreat cannot be used in an analysis of whether he acted in self-defense, it is clearly appropriate to consider his decision to engage the decedent by exiting his car, by leaning into him aggressively, and by pulling a gun on him.”
Bond for the murder charge was set at $250,000 — and $20,000 for the evading arrest charge.
Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call the Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS or text “Tip 103” + your message to CRIMES.