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Former Suspect In Party Venue Shooting Files Suit Against Hunt County

Brandon Ray Gonzales, 24, was arrested, jailed, and released eight days later. All charges were dropped.
Hunt County Sheriff's Office
Brandon Ray Gonzales, 24, was arrested, jailed, and released eight days later. All charges were dropped.

Newscast transcript

In Hunt County, the suspect who was arrested, charged and jailed in connection with an October 2019 mass shooting has filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages against the county.

The incident happened at a private party venue just west of the Greenville city limits. A shooter fired multiple rounds into a crowded dance floor, killing two young men from the DFW area and wounding 12 others. Four of those injured were students at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

The shooting happened just after midnight on October 27th of last year. A day and a half later, 23-year-old Brandon Gonzales was arrested at his job at a Greenville auto dealership and then booked into the Hunt County Detention Center. Gonzales was charged with capital murder. Gonzales was released eight days later, on Nov. 5th. All charges were dropped.

Today, the Greenville Herald-Banner reported that Gonzales has filed a suit against the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Randy Meeks, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers investigator David Armstrong and also the unnamed witness to the shooting whose testimony investigators say led them to arrest Gonzales.

Gonzales has retained the services of attorneys Andre Wilkerson and Michael Campbell. According to the Herald Banner, “the 32-page suit alleges multiple violations on the part of law enforcement, including false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Hunt County Civil Attorney Daniel Ray said his office learned of the suit this morning, but did not comment, as is standard practice regarding pending litigation.

Witnesses to the shooting told investigators that a male gunman used a handgun and appeared to target a single victim before then firing at others. The two men killed were Kevin Berry of Dallas and Byron Cravens Jr. of Arlington, both aged 23.

The Herald Banner described the lawsuit as saying Gonzales arrived at the party about an hour before the shooting, but soon left the crowded building and went back to friend’s car, where Gonzales did a FaceTime call with a friend in Paris, Texas. Gonzales says he was in the car when he saw people running from the building in an attempt to escape the shooter.

A probable cause affidavit filed by the Texas Rangers, say a witness volunteered information to law enforcement leading to the arrest of Gonzales. The witness was never identified to defense attorneys or the public.

The lawsuit says Gonzales’ reputation was ruined both locally and online. Gonzales lost his job as a result of the arrest and moved to Florida shortly after his release. The suit seeks total damages for $3.15 million, along with interest and costs and attorney fees.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.