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Former Asheville firefighter pleads guilty in cyclist shooting

The Asheville Citizen-Times: Former Asheville firefighter pleads guilty in cyclist shooting

CLARKE MORRISON • NOVEMBER 19, 2009

ASHEVILLE — A former Asheville firefighter pleaded guilty today to charges he shot at a bicyclist, narrowly missing his skull.

Charles Alexander Diez, 42, was sentenced to 120 days jail.

Diez pleaded guilty in Buncombe County Superior Court to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

 

Police said Diez, a 17-year veteran of the Fire Department, fired a handgun at cyclist Alan Ray Simons on Tunnel Road on July 26, striking his helmet.

Diez had stopped his car and confronted Simon, apparently because he was concerned about the safety of the Asheville man riding his bicycle with his young child on the back on the busy road, police said.

Diez, of Swannanoa, was released from jail July 28 after a judge reduced his bond from $500,000 to $200,000, and the department put him on leave with pay. He lost his job Aug. 10, officials said.

Police said Diez was driving his car off Interstate 40 at Exit 55 at about 11:24 a.m. when he saw Simons and his wife riding bikes up the road with Simons’ 4-year-old son behind him in a bike seat, he said.

Diez stopped his car and confronted Simons near 1360 Tunnel Road. When Simons began to walk away, Diez shot at him. The bullet blew a hole through the outer lining of Simons’ helmet.

"A matter of an inch or less in either direction would have meant that bullet could have easily killed Mr. Simons," police Capt. Tim Splain said.

Simons and others who witnessed the incident took down Diez’s license plate number and called police. Deputies found Diez at his home on Rowland Road.

Police initially charged Diez with attempted first-degree murder after consulting District Attorney Ron Moore. But a grand jury declined to indict him on that charge, instead opting for the lesser assault charge. A first-degree attempted murder conviction requires a trial jury to find the elements of premeditation and deliberation.