Andy Alexander wanted to join the police academy. Tarvis James considered a career as a lawyer. The friends, in January 2012, were on their way to a security guard class when their SUV broke down in Hialeah.
As they waited for repairs to the SUV, a Hispanic man hurled racial slurs, the young men told jurors Wednesday. Then, the man tried to reverse his truck into them in the parking lot of a pizza joint.
“I was fumbling because I was scared, it was happening so fast,” Alexander testified during the trial of their accused attacker, Luis Gonzalez. “I was stuck.”
James jumped out of the way and squeezed off three rounds from his .25-caliber pistol, shots that saved his frozen pal. Gonzalez’s truck swerved away, barely missing Alexander, before barreling into a funeral home across the street, they said.
“I was trying to kill him because he was trying to hit us,” James told prosecutor Breezye Telfair.
Gonzalez, 51, is on trial charged with two counts of attempted murder with prejudice, a hate crime that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Prosecutors say Gonzalez harbored a deep resentment toward blacks because he had been shot and wounded in Miami’s McDuffie race riots of 1980.
Shot in the neck, Gonzalez initially told police that the two men robbed him. He later changed his story after detectives tracked down James and Alexander, who retrieved their SUV from the nearby mechanic, never reporting the attack.
On cross-examination, Gonzalez’s defense attorneys hammered the two friends for illegally carrying weapons. And defense attorney David Sisselman pressed James repeatedly for not calling 911.
“You fired three shots, you saw the crash, and you didn’t report it,” Sisselman asked.
Alexander and James admitted they drove away and went to their security class.
“The area we were in, nobody would have believed us about what occurred,” James said.
The trial continues Thursday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat.