WARNING: Video captures sound of a deadly shooting
GREENVILLE, Texas -- Cell phone video released Wednesday shows a deadly shooting unfold between two bounty hunters and a fugitive who opened fire inside a showroom at a Nissan dealership Tuesday.
According to the City of Greenville, two men with F.N.G. Security and Investigations of Corpus Christi went to the Greenville Nissan dealership attempting to arrest a fugitive.
The bounty hunters identified as Gabriel Bernal, 33, and Fidel Garcia, 54, waited more than two hours until their fugitive arrived in the company of a Nissan customer.
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At about 7:10 p.m. they approached the fugitive, Ramon Michael Hutchinson, aka Raymond Hutchinson, 49, of St. Paul, Minnesota. They approached the man and pulled out handcuffs to make an arrest. Video shows Bernal and Garcia pointing guns at Hutchinson. Officials say that's when Hutchinson attempted to pull a gun from his waistband, but dropped his pistol on a desk.
A scuffle ensued in the office and Hutchinson was able to grab his weapon and began firing. Both Garcia and Bernal returned fire.
The gunfight, between all three of them, happened in front of employees and customers, including children, in the showroom.
Garcia served on the board of the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators (TALI) for several years, fellow board member M. Randall Hicks told KIII-TV in Corpus Christi.
In a statement, Bradley Smith, the president of TALI said they were saddened to hear of the loss of a 20+ year investigator.
"Fidel was a consummate professional and well respected," Smith said.
On Wednesday questions began to emerge about the tactics used by both bounty hunters. State licensing for each did not appear to legally allow for their actions, according to industry observers.
Rick Ford, the president of the Nissan dealership, told reporters Tuesday night both men presented themselves as federal agents.
"They didn't have badges, they didn't show identification," Ford said.
Jon Alfaro, the co-owner of Austin-based Texas Bounty Hunters, said problems started with how Garcia Jr. and Bernal presented themselves.
"You have to clearly state who you are and what your intentions are and what your business is there," Alfaro said.
A check of state licensing for private investigators maintained by The Texas Department of Public Safety indicates Garcia and Bernal were listed as "commissioned security officers".
Under state law, commissioned security officers must be in uniform with a weapon holstered and visible.
"They were dressed casual, we thought they were plain clothes officers," the dealership owner told reporters a few hours after the shooting.
Neither Garcia or Bernal have an active private investigator license according to the Texas Online Private Security (TOPS) database maintained by DPS.
Alfaro, a licensed private investigator, told WFAA it is nearly unheard of for a commissioned security officer to be involved in bond apprehensions, the term Texas uses commonly associated with fugitive recovery.
"People run from uniformed police," Alfaro said. "There’s nothing to indicate at this point that what they were doing is legal in the state of Texas.”
Wes Bearden, legal counsel for TALI, said late Wednesday it was his understanding that Garcia was a licensed private investigator.
"He had an investigative license, there's no way he could be on out board without one," Bearden said.
The state database does show a private investigator license for Garcia that expired in 2002.
Hutchinson had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a 1st degree drug charge from the Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office in Minneapolis.
Hutchinson was in an office at the dealership with another person when he was approached by Bernal and Garcia.
About 20 shots were fired in a time span of an estimated six seconds.
All three of them sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene.
All three bodies were transported to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.
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