Man convicted in 2019 road rage shooting that left 2 toddlers severely burned after fireworks inside truck ignite, prosecutors say

On Monday, Bayron J. Rivera, 21, was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – A man who shot into a vehicle in an incident of road rage, which prosecutors said sparked a fire that left two toddlers severely burned in 2019, has been convicted in the crime.

On Monday, Bayron J. Rivera, 21, was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Rivera was only 18 years old in 2019 when his anger possibly forever altered the lives of a family of four who were out celebrating the July 4 holiday.

Part of the incident was captured on surveillance video.

RELATED: Video shows moment of fireworks explosion in truck after road rage shooting incident

According to prosecutors, Fred Smith, Jasmin Wolford and their two sons - 2-year-old Messiah and 1-year-old Bentley - had just left a Fiesta after purchasing fireworks.

Smith pulled out in front of Rivera, cutting him off, and the two drivers began to exchange words.

Rivera claimed Smith called him an expletive in front of his girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat, which made him mad, investigators said.

That is when he continued to follow the dad, confronting him after he pulled over to a gas station around 10 p.m. in the 1800 block of West Mount Houston Road near Ella Boulevard.

The verbal altercation continued, and Rivera pulled out a firearm. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez later said an AR-15 was found in Rivera’s vehicle.

Smith said he told Rivera that the situation was not worth going to that extent, then got back into his truck and began to drive away with his family.

A heated Rivera began firing at the truck, which had about $250 worth of fireworks inside. Bullets struck the fireworks, causing them to ignite. The truck burst into flames, with the family trapped inside, prosecutors said.

“(The explosion) sounded like a cannon. Everybody started running and getting out the way. It was a horrible feeling to see something like that,” one witness said.

Good Samaritans who saw the blaze rushed to help, managing to get the mother and father out.

Wolford grabbed one of her sons, but the other one was trapped. Smith fought desperately to free his son from his car seat. Unable to unsnap the buckle and losing hope, he grabbed his son’s arms and was able to lift him out of the restraints.

All four family members suffered burns, with the children being the most severe.

RELATED: Family recovering from burns after fireworks explosion caused by road rage shooting

The boys, who were airlifted to UTMB Galveston, were both burned from head to toe, and the father was burned over half of his body.

Rivera claimed he saw the victim reach for something in his vehicle and that’s why he drew his weapon. He also claimed he did not know there were children present.

“The individual (Rivera) came forward and did show remorse,” Gonzalez said.

Years later, after dozens of doctors appointments and surgeries, the boys still show signs of scarring and their parents said they will be dealing with the injuries for the rest of their lives.

RELATED: Suspect in road rage shooting that sparked fireworks explosion in truck arrested

A mistrial was declared on the two counts of injury to a child because the state couldn’t prove the gunshots set off the fireworks.

Rivera is being held in the Harris County Jail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 10.

It was not immediately known if prosecutors will retry the injury to child charges.