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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Leesburg man accused of pistol whipping man at homeless camp

Augustine Garza
Augustine Garza

A 23-year-old man is in the Lake County Jail after he reportedly hit a man with the handle of a sawed-off shotgun during an altercation at a homeless camp in Leesburg.

Augustine Antonio-Cort Garza, whose address is listed as 8 Lee Road in Leesburg, was charged with simple battery after the incident, which happened shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday in wooded area near the intersection of Picciola and Park Holland roads.

A witness came out of the woods and told the responding Leesburg police officer that a man known as “Tony” – later identified as Garza – was “pistol whipping” people. He said one person was hurt badly and bleeding from his head at a campsite, according to the police report.

Several officers arrived and started searching the woods, following a heavily traveled dirt path. They came upon a travel trailer in a clearing, where the victim was sitting. A female witness said Garza came to the campsite demanding she apologize for entering his campsite, the report said.

The witness said when she refused to apologize, Garza pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and pointed it at the victim. The witness said she stepped between Garza and the victim, and Garza told her to step aside. She said once she stepped aside, Garza turned the shotgun around and hit the victim on the head and upper body several times, according to the report.

A male witness said he was inside the trailer during the initial confrontation when he heard Garza threaten to shoot the victim. He said he got up and told Garza to leave. The male witness said Garza started hitting the victim and threatened to shoot up his camper. He said once emergency services were contacted, Garza pointed the shotgun at the victim one more time and then ran away, the report said.

Before being taken to the hospital, the victim told police that Garza came to the trailer and started an argument. He said Garza pulled out a small shotgun and pointed at him. The victim said he told Garza he wasn’t afraid of him, and Garza hit him once in the head and several times on his upper body, according to the report.

The victim said Garza then pointed the shotgun at him and said he was going to shoot him, before turning around and running away. The victim, both witnesses and several other people familiar with “Tony” described him as a Hispanic male with medium-length hair wearing a Batman t-shirt and shorts, the report said.

An officer at the intersection of Park Holland and Picciola roads observed a man matching that exact description walking north on Picciola Road and turning onto Eureka Avenue. They placed him under arrest due to the fact he matched the exact descriptions given by the victim and witnesses, according to the report.

Garza was taken to the Leesburg Police Department for booking. Officers were unable to recover a weapon from the crime scene or in Garza’s possession. Garza said he had no idea what officers were talking about when they described the incident, the report said.

Garza is being held on $1,000 bond and is due to appear in Lake County Court on Oct. 19.

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