BARTOW — A Louisiana man faces up to life imprisonment if a jury this week finds him guilty of firing two gunshots into a random car in Auburndale in September 2018.
Prosecutors said the shooting was related to Aaron Delaune’s membership in a motorcycle crime gang, the Kinfolk Motorcycle Club, and to earn the coveted 1% patch that designates him among the 1% of motorcycle gang members who disregard society’s laws.
“The defendant, you will find, was desperate to earn the 1% patch for himself and for [girlfriend] Lindsey [Gouzy], and gain favor with the gang and get her back,” Assistant State Attorney Victoria Avalon told jurors Tuesday in her opening statements in the trial. “He had to prove himself.”
Angel Manuel Tirado Estien, 77, was traveling along Havendale Boulevard to a city park in Auburndale on Sept. 1, 2018, to celebrate a family birthday with Carolina Zorrilla, 29, and 9-year-old twins Shane and Abie Tirado. He pulled his 1999 Dodge Durango into the center lane, separating Delaune from the group of motorcyclists he’d been following, according to an Auburndale police report.
A witness testified that Delaune, 26, who was alone in a 2015 Dodge Charger, raised a handgun and fired two shots into the rear of the Durango, though neither bullet struck anyone inside the car.
The witness obtained the license number on the Charger and notified law enforcement, police reports stated, and Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped the car shortly after the shooting.
Prosecutors charged Delaune with four counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle and one count of discharging a firearm from a vehicle within 100 feet of a person. The state is alleging the crimes were committed to further the interests of a criminal gang, which enhances the penalty if Delaune is convicted. He faces life imprisonment with a 20-year mandatory term.
Assistant Public Defender Marlisa Demond told jurors Tuesday that Delaune fired the shots because he felt threatened.
“There’s a Dodge Durango that’s driving erratically,” she told jurors, “and it comes close to hitting the motorcyclists at that time. And then as Mr. Delaune is driving along, something hits his vehicle, and something else hits his vehicle. And at that point, he thinks somebody in the Dodge Durango is doing something to his vehicle, and he reacts to protect himself, to protect the other motorcyclists from the aggressive driver.
“He does fire the two shots into the back of the vehicle. Not through the windows, not toward the passengers, but to the back of the vehicle. To protect himself.”
Testimony in the trial is expected to continue into today.
Delaune has remained in the Polk County Jail since his arrest Sept. 1, the same day as the shooting. He is being held without bail, jail records show.