AUSTIN (KXAN) — A suspect is in custody at the Travis County Jail facing murder charges after he admitted to shooting the man who died at a north Austin apartment complex on Wednesday afternoon.
Melvin Stephens, 47, is believed to have shot and killed Dedrick Earl, 22, at the Avesta Solano Apartments on Interstate 35 near Rundberg Lane, according to the affidavit. Officers were called to the complex around 2:40 p.m. to find a gunshot victim with a wound to his neck lying on the ground. The victim was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he was pronounced dead at 3:11 p.m.
Police say there were witnesses to the shooting who are now being interviewed by officers. One witness told police prior to the shooting he and the victim burned a magazine and threw the ashes on Stephens’ car. The affidavit states one hour later the suspect asked them to clean the ashes off of his car, but they refused and said children in the complex left the ashes there.
An estimated 30 minutes later, the witness and the victim “had a change of heart,” according to the affidavit, and decided to clean Stephens’ car with water. It was then the suspect walked out of the complex towards them holding a revolver. The witness told police Stephens’ said “you better get this [expletive] off my car,” or he was going to “blow your head smooth off.”
The victim then followed the suspect up to his apartment out of the witnesses’ view. He heard two gunshots before Earl came back downstairs holding his neck, which was bleeding. Stephens allegedly followed the victim with his revolver in hand. Fearing for his life, the witness ran towards the apartment’s leasing office to call 911.
At that same time Stephens reportedly also called police stating he had a gun and would wait for officers at his apartment. Minutes later he claims he saw the victim and witness pouring liquid on his car, which he responded to by confronting them with his Taurus .357 revolver in hand. The affidavit states Stephens said the victim threw something at him and followed him back up the stairs.
Stephens eventually admitted to police he fired two rounds at the victim. He told officers in the police interview that he is “remorseful” for shooting the victim and that is was “the biggest mistake of his life.”
Stephens is being held on a $125,000 bond. He works as a security guard and was off-duty at the time of the shooting. Through his job he has been trained on use of deadly force and how to use less lethal options.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on the incident to call the APD Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.