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Police: Man charged with assault for shooting cyclist with pelle

The Austin American-Statesman: Police: Man charged with assault for shooting cyclist with pellet gun

By Joshunda Sanders
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Friday, November 20, 2009

A former Austin High School student, accused of firing a pellet gun at a bicyclist on Southwest Parkway in May, was charged this week with assault with injury.

According to an arrest affidavit, Hollan Dyer, 18, was riding in a friend’s Toyota Prius on May 1 when he and two others in the car noticed a bicyclist on the road.

The affidavit says that John Hanne, Dyer’s friend, told police that Dyer started talking about hating bike riders on the road and then pulled "out his air soft pistol and shot the biker in the back."

The victim told investigators that while he was riding the bike, he sensed a car behind him, but before he could turn around to see it, he felt a sharp pain in his back. The victim "was unable to obtain the license plate on the Toyota because he was in pain and trying not to wreck his bicycle," the affidavit said.

The victim was not seriously injured.

Dyer was identified as a suspect in the case when a corporal with the Austin Police Department, who is identified in the affidavit as a family friend, found the pellet gun in his car. According to the affidavit, the corporal loaned his car to Dyer, and when the corporal’s wife found the gun, the officer asked Hanne about it.

Though cyclists say that such an incident is not common, Austin Cycling Association vice president Gilbert Martinez was shot in the back with a pellet gun while riding his bike in June 2006.

"People just don’t understand; they think it’s just a pellet gun," said Preston Tyree, education director for the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington-based advocacy organization for cyclists. "But you can really harm someone. It should be treated just like an assault in a case when someone else shoots someone with a gun."

Assault with injury is a Class A misdemeanor. If Dyer is convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Dyer was not in police custody as of Thursday, according to jail records.

Relatives said he is in Louisiana. He could not be reached for comment.

"I think his charge is well-deserved," said Alvaro Bastidas founder of the local awareness campaign Please Be Kind to Cyclists. "It sends a strong message to the community that we are being supported by the police and the authorities. I think things are changing in our community. It sends a signal that the law is turning to be in our favor."