By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Jerry Lee, 61, was shot to death while working at Apple Four Points car dealership on Friday just after 5 p.m. Austin Police Department released on Monday that Alberto Torres and Modesto Hernandez have been arrested and charged with capital murder.
Ron Kramer, Apple Four Points finance director, was working with Lee that Friday night on Nov. 6. At around 5:06 p.m., two armed men attempted to steal a vehicle.
Kramer noticed the two men appeared to be “fighting over the keys” with Lee at the small, locally owned dealership at 11320 RM 2222, near H-E-B and Bank of America.
They were after a 2019 Lincoln Navigator with about 10,000 miles on it, said Scott Crossett, president of Apple Leasing.
One of the suspects tripped when shooting at Kramer who was going back to office. Kramer called the police then went to try “to protect Jerry”, Crossett said. “Jerry was going back to the office when he got shot.”
When APD officers arrived on scene, they located two men with gunshot wounds and detained Hernandez.
“Police and paramedics tried to save Jerry, but all attempts failed. He was killed while trying to earn an honest living by men who were trying to steal what they hadn’t worked for, and they were willing to hurt and kill in order to do so,” stated Kramer, who created a GoFundMe account “Jerry Lee Crime Victim Fund” for Lee’s family.
Kramer had a license to carry his gun, APD said.
APD homicide investigators and crime scene personnel processed the scene and spoke with suspect Hernandez. “In the course of that conversation, detectives learned that he and Alberto Torres went to the dealership with the intention of stealing a car. During that attempt, a gun fight ensued between Torres and the manager of the dealership. The manager shot Torres multiple times. Torres shot Jerry Lee, a dealership employee.”
Austin-Travis County EMS transported Torres to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Lee’s manner of death homicide as a result of gunshot wounds.
As of Nov. 9, Torres and Hernandez were arrested and each with a bond of one million dollars. Hernandez was booked into the Travis County Jail and as of midweek, Torres remained in critical condition, according to APD.
Both men have prior records, according to Crossett. He does not know how the two men got to the neighborhood or why.
“A local neighborhood business has been attacked… by a random act of violence. Two bad guys picked our place out of clear blue to steal a car,” Crossett said.
Lee worked at Apple for close to three years and has been a car salesman for the past 30 years, Crossett said.
Kramer said he loved working with Lee and that he will miss his friend.
“I am still trying to reconcile how the man — who was kind to everyone and always treated strangers like they were friends and family — was murdered by strangers who he would have likely helped had they asked him,” Kramer stated.
“(Lee) always put a smile on the faces of those around him with his contagious happiness, joy for life, and outgoing nature,” Kramer stated. “His sense of calm, combined with his infectious kindness made anything bad you were going through fade away.”
Lee was a family man. One of Kramer’s last conversations with him was about Lee looking forward to helping his son buy a car in the near future.
“Recently, Jerry’s wife had been in a terrible car accident involving an 18 wheeler and he had also become her caregiver. Jerry never let this bother him – he just felt blessed that he still had his wife and best friend and dedicated himself to helping her heal,” Kramer said.
Lee’s family described him as “an incredible person, stepfather, grandfather, father and husband.” They also started a GoFundMe account “Jerry Lee’s Official Family Victim Fund”.
Apple Leasing will match up to $20,000 for the family, Crossett said.