EDINBURG, Texas — A competitive target shooter was charged Friday in a shooting last month in which two teens were severely wounded during basketball tryouts behind their South Texas middle school.
Dustin Wesley Cook, 36, was arraigned on a charge of second-degree felony aggravated assault in the Dec. 12 shooting behind Harwell Middle School in Edinburg. He was only charged in the shooting of 14-year-old Edson Amaro. Investigators haven't been able to test the bullet that wounded 13-year-old Nicholas Tijerina because it's lodged near his spine.
Cook's attorney, Michael Guerra, said that once the details of what happened come out they will show his client "didn't have any criminal responsibility, whatsoever." He said Cook is a parent and has been praying for the two boys and their families.
But Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino called the shootings "reckless" during a news conference after Cook's arraignment hearing, because he said Cook told investigators that he knew the school was behind the targets he was aiming at.
"He admitted knowing that there was a school in the trajectory," Trevino said.
Edson and Nicholas were among about 50 students trying out for the team on an outdoor court behind the school when they were shot. Edson lost a kidney and shortly before Christmas, Nicholas' doctor said the boy was unable to move his legs, at least for the time being.
Authorities said after the shooting that they had detained three armed men from adjacent ranchland. Two of the men, one of them Cook, had been practicing target shooting nearly a mile from the school and were released. The third man, an illegal immigrant with an assault rifle, according to authorities, was kept in custody on charges of misdemeanor trespass and poaching.