Video: Trouble on Juneteenth

updated 6/21/2007 1:14:55 PM ET 2007-06-21T17:14:55

Police pleaded for witnesses who saw an angry mob fatally attack a man in a car that struck and injured a toddler.

Police said Thursday they had no additional information in the investigation into the death of David Rivas Morales, who had been defending the driver from a crowd beating.

Morales, 40, was riding in a car that entered an apartment complex parking lot Tuesday and struck 2-year-old Michael Hosea Jr., police said. The boy was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver got out of the car to check on the child and was confronted by several people, Police Commander Harold Piatt said. When they attacked the driver, Morales got out of the car to protect the driver and was attacked as well. No guns or knives were used, police said.

The driver got away and is cooperating with investigators.

There were conflicting accounts of how many people were in the area. Police originally estimated 2,000 to 3,000 and a woman who lives at the complex said hundreds who had been at a Juneteenth festival filled the parking lot and street.

But late Wednesday, police spokeswoman Toni Chovanetz said witnesses reported that four or five men attacked Morales, knocking him to the ground and hitting him.

Police: No connection to Juneteenth
Chovanetz also said there was no connection to the nearby city-sponsored festival for Juneteenth, which commemorates Texas slaves getting the word that they had been freed.

Margaret Morales said a young boy came to her door to tell her that her brother was lying on the ground outside. She found David Morales, sprawled on the pavement 100 feet from her town house, battered and choking on blood.

She said her mother came running after hearing her screams, but police wouldn’t let either of them get close to him.

Police arrived one minute after receiving a 911 call, by which time the beating had stopped, Chovanetz said. But the Morales family complained that medical help was slow in coming.

David Morales arrived at the hospital about 35 minutes after the 911 call was received, said Warren Hassinger, Austin-Travis County Emergency Services spokesman. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Emergency officials said police ordered them to wait until the area was secure.

Margaret Morales said her brother, who was staying with her, was a painter on his way home from work. The driver, whom she knew only as Victor, picked him up and dropped him off every day, she said.

“I just want the people caught and brought to justice,” said another sister, Elizabeth Morales. “I want them to feel the same pain that they caused my brother.”

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