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Crowd kills passenger in car that struck child

Crowd kills passenger in car that struck child

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AUSTIN - Watching her battered brother lie on the pavement outside her home, struggling to breathe as he choked on his own blood, Margaret Morales couldn't fathom why someone would beat him so badly.

It's a question police were still trying to answer Wednesday, a day after an outraged mob kicked and punched David Morales to death as he tried to defend a friend whose car had apparently hit and injured a child.

Hundreds of people who had attended a city-sponsored Juneteenth festival had spilled into the public housing complex's parking lot for an informal after-party shortly before the beating began, neighbors said.

The driver was confronted by several people when he got out of the car to check on the 3- or 4-year-old child, Austin Police Commander Harold Piatt said. When they attacked the driver, Morales got out of the car to protect him and was attacked as well. Police said no guns or knives were used.

Piatt said the mob may have been as few as two and as many as 20 people. The driver got away and is cooperating with investigators, who are not releasing his name.

Margaret Morales said a boy came to her door to tell her that her brother was lying on the ground outside. She found him sprawled on the pavement 100 feet from her town house, gasping for air. Her sister and mother came running after hearing her screams, but police wouldn't let any of them get close to him.

On Wednesday, the lawn outside Margaret Morales' three-bedroom town house in east Austin was littered with potato chip bags and plastic foam cups that partygoers had left behind. She sat with her sister, Elizabeth, on her porch watching her 13-year-old son sob in the arms of two friends.

"I just want the people caught and brought to justice," Elizabeth Morales said. "I want them to feel the same pain that they caused my brother."

Margaret Morales said her brother, who was staying with her, was a painter who was on his way home from work.

The driver, whom she knew only as Victor, picked him up and dropped him off every day, she said.

Police arrived one minute after receiving a 911 call, by which time the beating had stopped, department spokeswoman Toni Chovanetz said. But the Morales family complained that medical help was slow in coming.

David Morales arrived at the hospital about 35 minutes after the 911 call was received, said Warren Hassinger, Austin-Travis County Emergency Services spokesman.

Emergency officials said police ordered them to wait until the area was secure.

A preliminary autopsy listed blunt force trauma as the cause of death.

The Morales family remembered David as a caring brother who loved the San Antonio Spurs and was thrilled when they won the NBA title last week. Neighbor Earl White said David Morales enjoyed sitting on the porch, watching the neighborhood children play in the parking lot.

"He was a good dude," said White, 29.

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