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Accused shooter at Hunt County party makes first court appearance

Brandon Gonzales went before a judge on Wednesday but did not enter a plea.

GREENVILLE, Texas — Update: Brandon Gonzales was released from jail Nov. 5 after the Hunt County Sheriff's Office recommended the capital murder case against him be dropped. 

Brandon Gonzales appeared in court Wednesday morning. It was his first court appearance since his arrest on charges of capital murder.

Gonzales, 23, is accused of killing two people and injuring a dozen others in a Saturday night shooting at The Party Venue in Hunt County.

According to a court coordinator for the 354th District Court, the judge asked Gonzales if he had an attorney and Gonzales answered that he did.

Court documents show Gonzales has hired attorney Andrew Wilkerson of Dallas. 

The court coordinator said the appearance was not an arraignment, meaning Gonzales was not asked to enter a plea.

Court documents filed Wednesday also show investigators seized a black cell phone when they executed a search warrant in the case. 

An estimated 750 people or more were at The Party Venue for an event that had been billed as a Halloween party and a celebration of homecoming for nearby Texas A&M University at Commerce. It was not a university-sanctioned event.

According to an arrest affidavit, a confidential witness identified Gonzales as the shooter.

The affidavit says the witness saw Gonzales playing in a dice game in a bathroom at the party seconds after Gonzales left the bathroom, the witness claims to have seen Gonzales pull out a gun from his waistband and fire it, aiming at victims’ heads “intending to kill,” according to the affidavit.

Friends, family members and some party goers are claiming on social media that Gonzales is being wrongly accused.

But the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office said they have not made a mistake.

“We’re confident in the investigation that was conducted by our investigators, Texas Rangers, and the Department of Public Safety criminal investigation division. And we believe that we have the right person,” said Sgt. Jeff Haines of the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

“100 percent, without a doubt,” he added.

In an interview from jail with WFAA’s Jason Whitely, Gonzales admitted he was at the party but said he was not the gunman. He claimed he was outside in a car when the shooting happened.

"I'm innocent," Gonzales said. "Hopefully they're not just trying to pin it on me."

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