Cyclist maimed in random shooting gets $15K in donations

Alonso Solis gets donation check at the Mexican Consulate. June 29, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Alyssa Goard)
Alonso Solis gets donation check at the Mexican Consulate. June 29, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Alyssa Goard)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The cyclist attacked on East Riverside Drive by a random passenger shooting out of a car received a large donation Thursday from Austin community members. These community members — most of whom had never met 42-year-old Alonso Solis before — came together to offer him care and financial support as he faces medical costs that seemed insurmountable.

On June 7, Solis was biking back from the store late at night when he was hit in the back, neck, head and face with pellets from a shotgun blast. Police arrested 19-year-old Merrick Isaacks for shooting Solis. A police affidavit showed that Isaacks was looking to “blow off steam” and held an acquaintance who was driving a car at gunpoint.

Isaacks then fired out of his car window around Austin. He is still being held in the Travis County Jail on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond totals $250,000.

After that incident, Solis was unconscious for nearly two days, before waking up in the hospital.

When KXAN visited with Solis at his home weeks ago, he could barely sleep or eat because of his pain. He has to take several months off from his job laying carpet because he can no longer lift his arm due to his injuries. He does not speak English or have many friends in Central Texas; his wife and four children live in Mexico. Solis had no insurance and no idea how he would pay for all of the medications.

That is, until people from all around Austin stepped forward to help him.

Alonso Solis of Austin was hit in the face while cycling by a shotgun blast from a random shooter. KXAN Photo/ Frank Martinez.
Alonso Solis of Austin was hit in the face while cycling by a shotgun blast from a random shooter. KXAN Photo/ Frank Martinez.

After KXAN’s initial story, our station was overwhelmed with requests from people who’d watched our report and wanted to help. Rich and Anne Barger of Leander were two of those people. The two immediately set up a GoFundMe page for Solis.

“As we were just reading that story my wife and I said, ‘Hey we have to do something, no one has set up a GoFundMe,'” Rich Barger explained.

Barger got in touch with others who’d seen the KXAN story, including Sasha Knight of Austin. “Once I saw Alonso’s story that evening and of course being so heartbroken about it, I reached out to KXAN immediately afterward,” Knight said. “That’s when I started thinking OK this is something we need to start.”

Knight’s friend, an immigration attorney, began communicating with Solis about his limitations and medical needs. Knight and the Bargers decided to set their fundraising goal to $25,000. As of Thursday morning, the page has raised nearly $15,000 with almost 400 people donating.

To keep the fundraising transparent, the people behind this GoFundMe have been working with the Mexican Consulate in Austin to coordinate these donations. The Consulate helped Solis to set up a bank account where his donations will be sent to, Knight explained that the first donation of $13,450 was transferred to him Wednesday.

Solis was notified of this donation at a formal presentation at the Mexican Consulate on Thursday.

“I’d like to thank the people here for helping out very much, these people, even without knowing me, they’ve come forward to help out and again I want to thank you for what you have done,” Alonso said with the help of a translator.

“We get together to recognize the compassion, the charity, the good character of people who helped one of our nationals, Alonso Solis,” said Consul General Carlos González Gutiérrez. “People who, in the face of tragedy, have shown solidarity to another human being regardless of ethnic or national origin.”

“Alonso didn’t have his family here to support him and be with him,” Knight said. “This can show Alonso how many people care about him and hope for a speedy recovery and some sense of healing.”

“Hopefully this outpouring of love overshadows what was this really negative thing,” Rich Barger said. “What happens if we all start to do these things a little more often? Maybe that’s altruistic, but that’s kind of the heart behind everything we’re doing here.”

Barger explained that to meet Solis’ medical needs, they are looking to raise a total of $25,000. You can find the GoFundMe page here.

The Consulate tells KXAN that Solis will need to have another surgery next Tuesday to remove more of the pellets in his head.

Alonso Solis meets the family who organized the fundraiser for his medical expenses. KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard.
Alonso Solis meets the family who organized the fundraiser for his medical expenses. KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard.

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