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Man pleads not guilty to charges in drive-by shooting

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Austin York (Submitted Photo)

The suspect in a March drive-by shooting in Roswell that left one man injured has pleaded not guilty to several criminal counts.

Appearing at his arraignment hearing in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court Monday via video from the Chaves County Detention Center, court documents state Austin York, 22, waived a reading of charges and entered a formal plea of not guilty to one count each of shooting at or from a motor vehicle, causing personal injury; aggravated battery, deadly weapon; and receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon.

York was reportedly inside a blue Chrysler 300 at the intersection of West 10th Street and Michigan Avenue March 7 at about 6 a.m. He allegedly fired three rounds through the windshield of a 2019 Dodge Ram pickup truck that had stopped for a stop sign at the other side of the intersection.

The driver of the pickup — a 26-year-old man — was struck in the upper left chest by one of the rounds. Another man, who was a passenger in the pickup, was not hurt and subsequently drove the victim to Lovelace Regional Hospital.

York, who reportedly drove away after the shooting, was found and arrested later that day in Hobbs by Lea County Sheriff’s deputies. He is now being held without bond while awaiting trial.

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Court documents state that moments before the shooting, York allegedly drove up to the two men while they were outside a South Michigan Avenue home, rolled down the driver’s side window of the Chrysler 300 he was driving and taunted them.

Both men later told police York had been harassing each of them for months: the victim for filing a police report about a stolen gun, and the passenger in the pickup for cooperating with police as a witness in a May 2020 homicide.

The passenger, according to court records, also alleged that York on several occasions threatened to shoot him.

At a March 11 pretrial detention hearing, Frank Rio, York’s attorney, questioned the reliability of the passenger as a witness and said York’s mother and stepfather would be willing to testify that the suspect was at home with them in Tatum at the time of the shooting.

Electronic court documents state that Judge Dustin K. Hunter, at Monday’s arraignment, scheduled York’s jury trial for Aug. 31.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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