As lawyers re-created it in Charlottesville Circuit Court a year later, March 2, 2007 was a tragic day for Javier Garcia. High on the demon Ecstasy, the 20-year-old stepped out of a car parked on Prospect Avenue, grabbed a gun handed to him, and fired into a crowd of fleeing youths.
Javier Garcia will serve 12 years in prison for shooting an AK-47 into a crowd and wounding one teen.
One of the random bullets struck a 16-year-old, who miraculously pulled through—despite his initial critical condition—to sit in court on March 5 of this year with his mother. As with the earlier sentencing of Carmello “Pee Wee” Martinez, the victim’s red-eyed mother sighed loudly and disapprovingly as the proceedings were discussed. Martinez had been in the same vehicle with Garcia and had already received his just desserts, four years in the pen, and he had not even fired a weapon.
On the other side of the courtroom, Garcia’s support network sat, most notably his mother and longtime girlfriend, who were called to testify.
“Before all of this—” girlfriend Yahira Rivera started to say and then stopped. She had known Garcia since the second grade. They both grew up in the Bronx. “I used to know a happy person,” she explained with contagious sobs. “His passion was dance.”
“I apologize,” said Veronica Garcia, looking over her shoulder at the victim and his family. According to her, one of her sons was almost killed once. “I know how it feels.”
“Javier is a sweetheart, he’s a nice guy,” she said, before changing her tone. “I’m so angry with him.”
To her left sat Garcia, his eyes welled with tears. He had only moved to Charlottesville a few weeks before the shooting and had started working at McDonald’s. But he had also moved in with two old friends from the Bronx, Carmello and Indio Martinez, who are suspected gang members. Garcia received his first paycheck the same day he shot off the AK-47.
“I’m not here to justify my actions,” Garcia told the courtroom and then turned to the victim’s family and his own, apologizing to both. “If you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
“I forgive you but you just don’t know,” said the victim’s mother, shaking her head as her voice cracked. “I almost lost my baby.”
Nearly everyone wept as Judge Edward Hogshire restored order, bemoaning the circumstances that had led this “very talented” kid to get mixed up with an assault rifle. “What in the world is that about?” the judge asked while acknowledging that the 20-year-old had grown up in tough circumstances in the Bronx. “The question is what to do.”
His decision: 12 years in prison for Garcia, who has been in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail since September. At this decree, Garcia leaned his head back and moaned as Hogshire tried to offer some consolation amid the sniffles and sobs: “This young man still has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Indio Martinez has yet to be tried for his role in the shooting or for an unrelated beating. His trial is scheduled for March 27.
C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.