A Texas mass shooting suspect jailed and later released has filed a lawsuit against a sheriff and law enforcement.
Brandon Gonzales was charged with capital murder in the 2019 mass shooting outside of Greenville, a city 80 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The Oct. 26 shooting at a crowded college homecoming party that left two dead and at least a dozen injured.
Gonzales was in jail for nine days with bail set at $1 million until the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office asked prosecutors to drop charges “because exculpatory evidence was discovered during the investigation,” according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court.
But the damage against Gonzales was already done, and he “became infamous around town as a mass murderer,” the lawsuit says.
In the days after his arrest, a sheriff’s office investigator said he was “100 percent, without a doubt, sure that Brandon Gonzales was the shooter,” in response to Gonzalez’s assertion he was innocent during an interview with WFAA, according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff Randy Meeks also told news outlets Gonzales was the shooter, the lawsuit says.
On Thursday, Meeks told KXAS he had not yet been served with the lawsuit. The sheriff’s office said the shooting investigation is ongoing and likely gang-related, the news outlet reported.
“With as many people that were in attendance that night, someone knows exactly the identity of the shooter,” Meeks told KXAS.
Gonzales, who was 23 at the time of the shooting, acknowledged he was at the party with friends, but said he had gone outside because it was crowded and hot and was in his friend’s car when the shooting started, according to the lawsuit.
Gonzales lost his job and moved to be closer to his mother, but “when he landed in Florida he quickly realized this nightmare would follow him,” the lawsuit says.
“At the airport in Florida, people followed him and questioned him about being a mass shooter in Texas,” the lawsuit says.
In an interview with the New York Times last year, Gonzales said he was still unable to find work.
“It shocks me how I can look up my name on Google or on YouTube, and it’s going to pop up everything,” Gonzales told the New York Times. “My kids, their kids, can always look up and they can see, oh, he was arrested for capital murder.”
Gonzales is seeking $3.1 million in damages. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.