June 20, 2007, 12:17PM
Crowd kills passenger riding in vehicle that struck child
By LIZ AUSTIN PETERSON Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press
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AUSTIN, Texas — A crowd attacked and killed a passenger in a vehicle that had struck and injured a child, police said Wednesday.
The man who was killed Tuesday night had been trying to stop the group from attacking the vehicle's driver when the crowd turned on him, authorities said. The Austin Police Department identified the victim as David Rivas Morales, 40, of Austin. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The beating began after the car struck the child as it entered an apartment complex's parking lot, said Commander Harold Piatt, who leads the department's homicide division.
The driver got out of the car to check on the 3- or 4-year-old girl and was confronted by several people, Piatt said. When they began to assault him, Morales got out of the car to help and was attacked as well.
The driver got away and is cooperating with investigators, police said. Piatt did not know how many witnesses had been identified but said anywhere from two to 20 people may have participated in the attack.
When police arrived, Morales was lying in the parking lot. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A preliminary autopsy listed blunt force trauma as the cause of death, and Piatt said no guns or knives were used.
Police believe 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for a city-sponsored Juneteenth celebration when the attack occurred, though Piatt said he did not know whether anyone involved had attended. The daylong party featured a parade, a motorcycle show, music, food and events for children.
Juneteenth marks the day Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston in 1865 to share news of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves two years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863.