Murder indictment handed down in homeless McAllen man’s death

Gregorio Garza

The suspect in a homeless person’s assault has been indicted in the case, which involved the victim — a McAllen man with a disability — being beaten with a board with rusty nails and later dying.

Gregorio Garza, a 52-year-old Reynosa man, was scheduled to appear via videoconferencing for an arraignment in the 370th state District Court on Wednesday morning . Garza was set to face a four-count indictment against him that was returned on Sept. 16.

However, when his case was called, the deputy said Garza was uncooperative when being removed from his cell, so he was not brought out for the hearing.

In the death of Michael Wright of McAllen, Garza is charged with single counts of murder, felony murder, injury to a disabled individual and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

A probable cause affidavit for Garza’s arrest said police responded to 1700 N. 10th St. on July 23 for a report of an assault in progress.

“Upon arrival I observed Michael, who appears to be disabled (had leg amputated and needing a wheelchair to move around) to be on the ground, screaming for help, next to his wheelchair,” a McAllen police officer wrote in a report. “I also observed Gregorio to be sitting a close distance away, holding his hand which appeared to be bleeding, next to a 2×4 piece of wood.”

The officer said he asked Wright what happened and Wright replied “that guy hit me with a piece of wood!”

The report says Wright pointed to a nearby piece of wood with rusty nails in it.

The officer pulled out his duty weapon and pointed it at Garza telling him to get away from the wood and put his hands up, according to the report, which said Garza was taken into custody without incident or resistance.

During an interview, Wright told the officer he was traveling through an alleyway and saw Garza but did not exchange any words with him.

“Michael stated he had some of his belongings in a cart at a lot around the 1700 block of N. 10th St. Michael stated that he went to the lot and started sorting through items there,” the report read.

That’s when Garza walked up to him and told Wright that the area belonged to him while holding the board with rusty nails and telling him to go.

“Michael stated that he told Gregorio ‘ok’ and started travel, in his wheelchair, away from Gregorio,” the report stated. “Michael stated that as he was going southbound, away from the area, that Gregorio then (struck) him with the 1×4 piece of wood with rusted nails.”

The report initially says the board is a “2×4” but then it is referred to a “1×4” throughout the remainder of the report.

“Michael stated that he tried to get away from Gregorio but that Gregorio followed him and continued to strike him multiple times with the 1×4 piece of wood that had nails at the end, causing him extreme discomfort,” the report read.

The officer wrote in that document that Wright said he began to scream for help and tried to use a personal stun gun on Garza, but could not get close enough to his alleged attacker.

“Michael eventually was struck and knocked out of his wheelchair. Michael stated that he started to use the wheelchair as a shield to block the rest of the strikes from Gregorio, however he would still get hit,” the report stated.

Then, Garza suddenly stopped hitting him and walked away, according to McAllen police.

After his arrest, Garza told another officer that Wright did not want him where he was staying, according to a report.

“Garza stated that Wright told him to leave so people would not give him money. Garza then stated that Wright told him to go buy beer for him and also wanted to have sexual relationships with him,” the report stated. “Garza advised that he told Wright that he was not going to have sexual relationship so they began to argue. Garza stated he got upset and hit Wright with the stick.”

The report says that Wright was admitted to the intensive care unit at McAllen Medical Center and that his lungs began to swell, possibly as a result of the assault.

It’s not immediately clear when Wright died.

As for Garza, he has a long criminal history in Hidalgo County that dates back to 1987 and reflects a total of 56 arrests, which are largely for criminal trespass, petty theft, failure to appear, minor drug charges, indecent exposure, resisting arrest, and multiple arrests for injury to disabled individuals.

He’s remained jailed in the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on a $100,000 bond for the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Garza’s arraignment has been reset for an in-person hearing in front of Gonzalez, the judge, next Wednesday.