Convicted shooter receives 90-day sentence after fatally shooting sleeping Texas State student through wall.
A bereaved family is fighting for a Hays County judge to review the sentencing for Gabriel Brown, the man who negligently shot and killed Texas State student Austin Salyer through his apartment wall. Austin was a junior at Texas State University and was studying criminal justice and military science when the tragic incident occurred. He had just signed a contract with the Army in September 2021.
On the night of the incident, Austin texted his mother, Bonnie Salyer, informing her that he was heading to bed and wishing her a good night. Little did Bonnie know that this was going to be the last communication she would have with her son. Austin was supposed to be up early the next morning for his first road march with his new platoon, and Bonnie had expected him to wake up early. However, when she checked his location and saw that his phone was still in his apartment, she began to panic.
It was around 11:15 a.m. when Bonnie texted one of Austin’s friends to check if he was in his apartment. Instead, the friend saw Fire and EMS on the fifth floor, the floor Austin has in his apartment. Tragically, Austin had been shot through the wall while lying in bed, and nobody had been there to help him.
Gabriel Brown, Austin’s neighbor, claimed that he accidentally fired his gun while modifying it and talking on the phone with his father. He turned himself in, but he wasn’t arrested. Brown was indicted on criminally negligent homicide, and his bond was set at $3,000. The Salyers were not happy with the charges, which they felt were too light, and felt that the justice system favored the accused rather than the victim.
Brown pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide and was initially sentenced to 180 days in jail, reporting to jail for 18 days during Austin’s birthday and another 18 days on the anniversary of the shooting for five years. However, the sentence was later reduced to just 90 days, leading the Salyers to request a hearing to review the change, which was denied.
The Salyers felt that justice had not been served, and while Brown spends 90 days in jail, the family is left with only memories of Austin. The family is now fighting for the justice system to be more lenient towards victims and for judges to consider the impact of lenient sentencing on the victim’s family.