Person of interest in East Austin deadly shooting released amid questions of self-defense

The Austin Police Department (APD) released a suspected shooter Monday amid looming questions whether the killing was justified. 

Timothy Mota, 45, was shot to death inside a home on View Ridge Drive around 1:40 a.m. FOX 7 Austin is not publishing the name of the man who shot Mota in the chest, as charges have not been filed. 

Police took the suspected shooter in for questioning, but released him shortly after. They said the decision was made after "[they] discussed details with the District Attorney’s Office." 

In a statement, the Travis County District Attorney's Office explained, "The district attorney’s office has prosecutors on call 24/7 to consult with law enforcement when they are considering making an arrest. In this situation, APD sought our advice related to matters of self-defense and defense of third-person issues. And our advice was that at this time additional evidence was necessary to establish probable cause."

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Police said the shooting was the result of a confrontation.

"I am worried," a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told FOX 7 Austin Monday after watching the "person of interest" return to the View Ridge Drive home.

Records show the suspected shooter lives at the address. He has 19 Travis County court cases dating back to 2004. The most recent charges were filed in 2019 when he was accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assaulting a family member. The case was dismissed. 

In 2015, he was charged with having a prohibited weapon, but the charges were also dismissed. APD would not disclose whether he was permitted to possess the firearm that was used to kill Mota. Most of the 19 cases are tied to assaults, firearms, and cocaine. 

FOX 7 Austin spoke to the suspected shooter Monday afternoon through an open homemade peephole in his front door. He called the shooting a "terrible thing" and an "unfortunate incident" but declined a full interview. 

His neighbor told FOX 7 Austin she also heard gunshots inside the home two nights before the deadly shooting. 

"We also heard gunshots and when we looked outside there was somebody yelling outside that house," she said in Spanish. 

The woman said this week is the first she has heard gunshots inside the home. However, she said it is not the first time she has heard screaming. 

"We have called the cops several times. They see girls coming out of the house yelling or on drugs, and we tell the police about the things that are happening there, but we think that the cops are already annoyed with us calling them to come to the house," she said.