A man who tried to intervene in a mass shooting that left 6 wounded and two dead, including the gunman, underwent his seventh surgery Tuesday at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Byron Wilson, 30, was wounded in the shoulder and both legs by Dionosio Garza, 25, an Army veteran of Afghanistan who may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I think his spirits are incredible. I'm very very proud of him,” Wilson's sister, Lauren Wilson, said.
She said Wilson heard gunfire from his home near the 13200 block of Memorial Drive that day and texted his wife not to return home with their 3-year-old son.
Then, she said, he armed himself with two guns and walked toward the gunfire. But before he spotted Garza, he left the guns in a bulldozer bucket. A short time later, Garza spotted him.
“What happened was Byron walked out ... and was not armed, and was looking to see what was going on and Garza spotted him and Byron distracted Garza and prevented other people from being in the line of fire and getting hurt,” she said.
But there are other versions of what happened. Police said Wilson left his house armed with two rifles. A witness told Channel 2 News that Wilson exchanged fire with the gunman, but discarded both weapons before he was hit.
Garza served four tours in Afghanistan before mustering out of the Army in 2014. His father said he believes his son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Wilson's mother says she holds no anamosity toward him.
“Not at all. I don't. It's just sad,” Sheri Wilson said.
Wilson's mother and sister say they believe more needs to be done for returning veterans who may be suffering from combat-related illness.
Byron Wilson will remain hospitalized for another 6-8 weeks, and will eventually require a prosthetic shoulder.
“When we finally got to speak with him in the hospital, he kept asking me if his wife and son was safe, so we know he's processing. So he's going to have a long way home,” Lauren said.
The family has established a GoFundMe account to help defray medical costs.
Police said Garza, 25, was shot by a SWAT officer.
Among the victims were Wilson, Denise Slaughter, 59 and Eugene Linscomb, 57, who was shot to death inside a black Mercedes.
Investigators found a military-style backpack the next day at the Conoco gas station, which caught fire after being hit by a hail of gunfire. The backpack contained bullets, a birth certificate and several other items.
Investigators believe the backpack was detonated.
Officers responded to reports of shots fired around 10 a.m. Sunday at Memorial Tire & Auto in the 13200 block of Memorial Drive near Wilcrest Drive.
In a news conference, interim HPD Chief Martha Montalvo said two Precinct 5 deputy constables were injured in the shooting. One was saved by his bulletproof vest. The other was struck in the hand. The two officers have since been released from the hospital.
A witness, Shayan Sadri, captured a brief Snapchat video of the gunfire and gas station, which caught fire. The 29-year-old, who is from New York, was in the area visiting his family.
No injuries were reported in connection with the gas station fire.
Police also said Garza allegedly shot a police helicopter five times.
“The suspects had high-powered weapons that they were using — AR-15s that they were using. They were actually able to shoot at a helicopter,” Montalvo said.
Residents were ordered to shelter in place as law enforcement searched for the shooter.
"I saw police and a car and I saw another guy walking up, shirtless," witness Bill Schwartz. "He had tattoos on him (and) dark hair. He put his hands in the air. Then when I got another 15 down Memorial Drive, I heard a pop."