LAS CRUCES — Daniel Garcia had just finished a study blitz on Oct. 3 when he decided to take a spin on University Avenue.
The 22-year-old New Mexico State University student is working to get into medical school and has begun the arduous process of studying for the entrance exams. He rides a bike to decompress. As he rode off that Monday, he had no idea the trip would end with a gunshot to the face.
Police reports and court records show that a verbal altercation between Garcia and a motorist escalated into a shooting and an arrest.
Although Garcia continues to recover, the physical and emotional scars will remain, he said, though he hopes his story will warn others.
What happened on University Avenue
For Garcia, a typical commute means leaving his home near West University Avenue, driving east to the Pam American Center, then returning home. It usually takes him about an hour and acts as a stress reliever for the pre-med student.
Garcia also takes precautions when riding at Las Cruces. He dresses in bright colors and wears a bright orange helmet to be seen by drivers. In New Mexico and the city of Las Cruces, cyclists are also required to ride on the same side of the road as traffic.
Garcia said he followed those rules because he had been on the road long enough to know riding a bike could be dangerous. Near misses are expected, he said.
“It happens a lot, to be honest. I usually wear a mirror on my bike,” Garcia said. “I constantly look back to see how far cars are from me. And I usually ride on the right side of the road, almost off the road, because people just aren’t paying attention.”
As Garcia approached the intersection of University Avenue and Main Street, heading east, he said a white Subaru nearly cut him off as the cyclist and motorist moved side by side.
When the two arrive at the intersection, Garcia says to the driver, “Do you want to get a little closer next time?”
“And the first thing that comes out of his mouth, he’s like, ‘You shouldn’t be on the effing road.’ And I was like, ‘where else am I supposed to ride my bike then?’ “, said Garcia.
Stopping at the intersection, the situation escalates. At one point, Garcia said the driver threatened to shoot him after Garcia called 911. Witnesses at the scene told police the driver left his vehicle and attempted to push Garcia out of the car. his bike.
This leads to Garcia hitting the driver. As the driver stumbles, Garcia notices him reach into his pocket and pull out a gun.
“I see him point the gun at me and see the flash go off. I hear the shot, then I feel my face turn around,” Garcia said. “I look and out of the corner of my eye I see my cheek hanging down, bad as that sounds.”
From there, the driver returns to his Subaru and eventually drives away from the area. Passers-by rush to help Garcia at the hospital.
The case against the driver
Police have charged Christopher Dieter Gerzymisch of El Paso with one count of aggravated battery causing grievous bodily harm and one count of battery after the shooting.
In an affidavit, police said Garcia picked Gerzymisch, 43, from a queue. According to the affidavit, other witnesses at the scene described seeing a man of the same age and build as Gerzymisch.
Gerzymisch first appeared in court Oct. 31 after returning to Las Cruces to face a judge. He is not being held in jail, which is typical for defendants if prosecutors choose not to seek remand, which they did not in this case.
Gerzymisch is due for a preliminary examination in December, according to court records. The court has yet to set a trial date in the case, which comes after the preliminary examination.
fear on bike
Today, Garcia is in a better mood. He said he had resumed his studies at NMSU and planned to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday. However, he hasn’t ridden a bike since the shooting.
He said every time he passed the intersection where the shooting happened, he tensed up and remembered the violent altercation.
“I’m a little scared to ride my bike again,” he said. “I feel like I just have this gut feeling like you know like you know, something’s gonna happen.”
Doctors have cleared Garcia to start exercising, and he has plenty of studying to do before his medical school entrance exams in January. He said he found other ways to let off steam.
He said he hopes his story will warn other cyclists and motorists in the area and inspire change.
“It happens every day and happens to a lot of people, and just, I don’t know, there really hasn’t been much change that I’ve seen in the years that I’ve been riding,” he said. .
Note: The subject of this story has no familiar connection with the author.
Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at JEGarcia@lcsun-news.com.
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