UPDATED at 1:46 p.m. with comments from the protest organizer.
The organizer of a protest planned in response to the arrest of Brandon Ray Gonzales said the event is to allow the public to vent their frustrations at the investigation which resulted in Gonzales being charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of two people early Sunday morning.
The Rev. Jeff Hood, an author and activist who has been involved in multiple demonstrations alleging police brutality and overreach, most recently in connection with the shooting death of Botham Jean by former Dallas Police Department Officer Amber Guyger, has announced the event for 7 p.m. Saturday outside of the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department.
In speaking with the Herald-Banner Tuesday, Hood said he is organizing the demonstration due to his concerns over the investigation into the case and how it was being handled by Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks.
“They have revealed no evidence,” Hood said. “That’s why I have gotten involved.”
Hood launched a Facebook event page, “Brandon Gonzales is Innocent!” (www.facebook.com/events/2568995956524375/) Monday evening, and is inviting the public to attend and participate.
“Last Saturday, an unbelievable tragedy occurred in Greenville, Texas,” Hood writes on the page. “After the shooting stopped, Kevin Berry Jr. (sic) and Byron Craven were dead and countless others were injured. Though the sheriff's department arrested Brandon Gonzales today, the real killer is still loose. It is not difficult to come to such a conclusion … for the exonerating facts are many … not the least of which is that a multitude of his friends have testified that he was with them.
“In the midst of this growing injustice, we invite you to join us at the Hunt County Sheriff's Department for a protest to demand the release of Brandon Gonzales.”
Hood said the event was to not only allow the family and friends of the victims to share their grief, but to give a chance for the family of Brandon Gonzales to vent their frustrations with the case.
“So that people can express their anger by what happened,” Hood said.
He was critical of Meeks’ press conferences and how the investigation appeared to have been a rush to judgment.
“There’s just a number of spaces that don’t seem right,” Hood said. “There is a perception that he (Meeks) is not going to tell the truth.”
Hood said the atmosphere in Greenville and Hunt County has not been a welcoming one for Blacks, Hispanics or other minorities.
“I think this is a family that doesn’t feel safe in this community,” Hood said. He also understands why some people who were at the club that night have not yet come forward.
“Because they don’t want to be the next person shot,” he said.
Some media accounts have reported Gonzales was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time. Hood said he had spoken with his brother Gabe and both he and Brandon noted there were no metal plates in the vest that night and that it was worn only as a decoration.
“That doesn’t mean anyone who wears a bulletproof vest is a suspect,” Hood said.
As far as the event itself, Hood said it is expected to include members of Brandon’s family and will feature comments on racial injustice and about the party tat evening.
Hood lives in Denton and describes himself as a radical writer, pastor, theologian and activist based in Texas.
Sgt. Jeff Haines with the sheriff’s department said he had not yet heard about the planned event when reached this morning.