Relatives of slain men file law­suit against club

Fam­ily claims Pink Mon­key man­ager es­ca­lated the fight

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Isadora Vail

The fam­ily of two slain step­broth­ers is su­ing the strip club where the men were killed for dam­ages and loss of com­pan­ion­ship, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Six peo­ple are su­ing the Pink Mon­key Cabaret, claim­ing a man­ager fired shots that es­ca­lated an ar­gu­ment May 31 in­volv­ing step­broth­ers Jose Her­nan­dez, 24, and Ar­turo Ro­driguez Jr., 26, at the club in northeastern Travis County.

Jorge Gu­tier­rez, 28, was ar­rested and charged with cap­i­tal murder in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ings and re­mains in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $1 mil­lion. A sur­veil­lance video from the club, at 9705 Reser­voir Court, shows Gu­tier­rez in­volved in a fist­fight with the step­broth­ers, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Sher­iff’s of­fi­cials said they were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing what caused the fight, but the sis­ter of Her­nan­dez and Ro­driguez told po­lice that a fe­male cus­tomer at the club had ac­cused their 15-year-old brother of steal­ing her iPhone, which led to the fight and shoot­ing.

The law­suit, which was filed Tues­day and seeks un­spec­i­fied dam­ages and a jury trial,

Con­tin­ued from B says “the shoot­ing was the re­sult of a fight which was started when de­fen­dant’s dancer ac­cused the mi­nor of steal­ing her iPhone and es­ca­lated to shoot­ing af­ter de­fen­dant’s man­ager dis­charged a firearm.”

Capt. Art Car­de­nas with the sher­iff’s of­fice said Thurs­day that wit­nesses told of­fi­cers that they saw a se­cu­rity guard fire shots out­side the club, but he could not con­firm whether shots were fired by an em­ployee of the Pink Mon­key.

Club man­agers did not re­turn phone calls Thurs­day.

Car­de­nas said the Pink Mon­key had a few in­ci­dents in­volv­ing weapons prior to the shoot­ing.

“The club came into our radar around spring break, when a drive-by took place,” Car­de­nas said. “Then not too long af­ter that, the homi­cides took place.”

He said that since the slay­ings, the club has com­plied with sher­iff’s of­fice re­quests to tighten se­cu­rity and dress codes and to add more light­ing to the park­ing lot.

“Even with good se­cu­rity mea­sures in place, you just can’t pre­dict or con­trol when some­thing like this will hap­pen,” Car­de­nas said.

Gu­tier­rez’s ar­rest af­fi­davit said that on the night of the slay­ings, he was seen go­ing to a pickup, re­triev­ing a gun and re­turn­ing to shoot the men. Eleven wit­nesses iden­ti­fied Gu­tier­rez as the gun­man and also de­scribe him flee­ing in a white pickup, ac­cord­ing to his af­fi­davit.

Gu­tier­rez, of Manor, had been the tar­get of a ma­jor co­caine traf­fick­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion since Fe­bru­ary, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral court doc­u­ments.

He’s sus­pected of lead­ing a group that smug­gled loads of co­caine from Mex­ico to Austin and to north­ern Vir­ginia in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to a fed­eral af­fi­davit filed in June by a Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion agent.

The at­tor­ney for the vic­tims’ fam­ily, R. Gary Laws of Cor­pus Christi, did not re­turn calls Thurs­day.

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