AUSTIN — The Austin Police Department has charged the man accused of shooting a man to death outside of a South Austin apartment complex with murder. The man also allegedly embarked on a shooting spree days after the murder, causing several people to be hospitalized.
Charles Curry, 29, who police said is linked to the July 11 shooting spree and a murder that happened at a South Austin apartment complex just days prior, was acting "strangely" the day of the shooting spree and attempted to buy a gun suppressor, according to an arrest affidavit.
On Saturday, July 14, police told KVUE that the murder warrant for killing 32-year-old Christian Meroney had been issued to Curry.
According to an arrest affidavit, on July 9 around 1:43 p.m., APD received a call stating that a man was shot and possibly dead. Austin police and emergency personnel then reportedly responded to the Post South Lamar apartment located at 1500 South Lamar Blvd.
Detectives said they found Meroney face up in a pool of blood outside of the apartment next door to his apartment. He was pronounced deceased at 1:56 p.m. According to police, a temporary check made out to the apartment complex for July rent was crumpled up next to the victim.
On July 10, an autopsy report revealed that Meroney died from multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide. Police offered a $1,000 reward for information that led to the arrest of the suspect in the shooting death of Meroney.
According to Claybar Funeral Home, a memorial service for Meroney was held on July 16 at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. Funeral services are expected to be held July 19 at First Baptist Church in Bridge City.
An employee from the Range at Austin reportedly told police that around 2 p.m. July 11, Curry entered the store and asked for a gun suppressor, a device that reduces the sound of a firearm. The employee said Curry was acting "strangely" and that he did not want to sell a suppressor to him, according to the affidavit. Curry allegedly told the employee that he had a rifle and walked out of the store.
One victim told police she was driving northbound on Interstate Highway 35 and approaching the Range at Austin when Curry pulled out in front of her. The victim reportedly told police this caused her to switch lanes and go around the SUV. Police said at that point, Curry started shooting at the victim's vehicle.
According to police, one bullet grazed the left portion of the victim's forehead and the second bullet entered the victim's driver's side door.
At 2:06 p.m. July 12, officers responded to the 8100 block of the Interstate Highway 35 northbound service road for reports that shots had been fired. A 33-year-old woman suffered a superficial gunshot to the head. She had three children in the vehicle with her. She was taken to the hospital and is recovering well, police said.
The suspect was possibly involved in three other apparently random, unprovoked incidents at nearby locations, police said. In each case, all reported the driver of a white SUV that was confirmed to be a Chevrolet Tahoe was firing at them:
- 5300 block of Ponciana Drive around 2:40 p.m.
- 1500 block of S. Lamar (near the Post South Lamar apartments) at 2:32 p.m.
- 4000 block of S. Lamar at 2:35 p.m. Police said the bullet entered the vehicle right behind the driver's head. The 25-year-old female suffered facial injuries from broken glass.
Police said they were able to take surveillance video from the incident at 8100 block of I-35, where they were able to take identifying information from the vehicle that inconclusively tied the suspect back to the incident on July 9. Ballistic testing shows that the same weapon was used in at least two of the incidents, police said, adding that two possible firearms might have been used throughout the five incidents.
"As we were developing that information and who that vehicle was registered to, we began to make ties back to the murder that occurred on the ninth, there were, there were some similarities, based on some very preliminary information we had received in that investigation, that made it sound very similar to this individual," said Assistant Chief Joseph Chacon.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, police reported that Travis County officials received an additional call stating a man was shooting a firearm at the 6300 block of Bob Wentz Park Road. Police said the caller reported a man with a rifle unloaded a boat into the water. Curry was then identified as the registered owner of the boat.
According to the affidavit, police then went to the Post South Lamar apartment complex and saw Curry attempting to get into the side door of an apartment building. Police said it is possible he may have been a resident there. According to police, the apartment complex revoked Curry's building access which caused his keys to no longer work.
KVUE confirmed Thursday that Curry worked in the Texas Legislature. Officials confirmed to KVUE that Curry worked for Sen. Joan Huffman for a period of time. According to Curry's LinkedIn account, he has "campaign experience working for The Speaker, Joe Straus and Representative Lyle Larson." KVUE has confirmed that Curry was not employed by Larson or Straus' campaigns or their offices, but rather had ties to political consulting firm Murphy Nasica.
Craig Murphy of Murphy Nasica told KVUE Curry was never an employee. Instead, last summer he worked for them for 22 days. In between, he disappeared for two weeks claiming he needed arthritis treatment. Curry did not pass their trial period. Murphy reported he believed Curry was not a hard worker and had inflated much of his resume.
"Charles Curry was employed in the office of Senator Joan Huffman from November 2, 2016, until terminated on May 5, 2017," said Wroe Jackson, chief of staff in the office of Senator Joan Huffman. "He was hired as a temporary employee for the 85th legislative session. The crimes alleged are tragic. Senator Huffman and her entire staff grieve for the deceased young man and for his family, and pray for the quick recovery of the other victims."
On March 20, 2018, employees at an office at 816 Congress Avenue filed a complaint with building security after Curry walked into the office and threatened two staff members, according to an incident report shared with KVUE. A photo of Curry was added to the security company's BOLO (be on the lookout) book following the incident.
Residents at Post South Lamar were sent the following text message from management:
URGENT -- We do not have any details at this time other than APD is here and actively in pursuit of a possible shooter suspect that was last seen in Phase 1 parking garage. We have no further details at this time. Please stay where you are or in a secure place. --PSL team
Viewers sent KVUE videos of the arrest:
After the suspect was taken into custody, Post South Lamar sent another text to its residents that said the following:
Suspect is now in custody at this time from Monday's incident. Lockdown has been lifted to all of Phase 2 and Phase 1; however the 3rd floor of Phase 1 hallway between units 3001-3040 is still under APD control. This means that this area is actively being evacuated and anyone that lives in these apartments should meet in the Phase 2 Clubroom. We will send more updates as we learn more. --PSL
Police said they are still investigating a motive.
"We don't believe that this is something that is continuing and ongoing, we think that it is isolated in nature, and right now the motive is really unknown," said Chacon.
Curry's cash bond for the murder charge was set at $3 million. He's also charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and his bond is set at $250,000.