Family of Texas State student shot, killed through wall while sleeping files civil lawsuit

The family of a Texas State student killed when a bullet came through the wall of his apartment has filed a civil lawsuit. They’re suing the man who fired the gun, his father, and the girlfriend.

In September 2021, Texas State student Austin Salyer was shot through the wall while he was lying in bed. He died from his injuries.

"He would have done great deeds that this whole world would have benefited from, we’ll never see that happen because of this totally needless and careless incident," Attorney Chris Lavorato said.

Texas State student Austin Salyer was negligently shot by his neighbor through a wall

RELATED STORY: Texas State student shot, killed through wall while sleeping; convicted shooter receives 90 days sentence

Gabriel Brown, Austin’s neighbor, claimed at around midnight, he accidentally fired his gun while modifying it.

"You have a person that was outfitting a semi-automatic pistol and making an assault rifle out of it, what they call a micro conversion kit," Lavorato said. "You shoot a bullet into a wall that you know a person lives on the other side, you call first responders."

The Salyers are suing the shooter, Gabriel Brown, his father, Gregory Keith Brown, and the girlfriend, Chantel Monique Veal, for negligence and gross negligence.

"The incident happened at an apartment we believe was leased to Gabriel’s Brown girlfriend, and we believe she was either present in the apartment or the room itself where the gun was released," Attorney Matt Kelley said. "The same goes for Gabriel’s father, it’s our understanding that he was on the phone with Gabriel as Gabriel was attempting to fit this conversion kit on this gun, he was aware the gun went off."

The attorneys representing the family said they all had an opportunity to call authorities or try to get Salyer help, and they didn’t. The family is seeking more than $1 million for damages.

"The ultimate goal after conducting that discovery, answering the questions that the Salyer’s deserve answers to is to have a jury trial and allow 12 citizens to demonstrate what accountability should look like for a crime like this," Kelley said.

In the criminal case, Brown pleaded guilty to Criminal Negligent Homicide. He was originally sentenced to 180 days in jail. 

Not even a month later, the sentence was changed to 90 days. The attorneys pointed out in the petition, the minimum sentence for a state jail felony is 180 days.

"It’s been close to over 18 months past the incident, we’ve had a criminal case conclude, and there hasn’t been one semblance of real justice that’s been done in this case," Lavorato said.

Gabriel Brown, Austin’s neighbor, claimed at around midnight, he accidentally fired his gun while modifying it and talking on the phone with his father. He turned himself in but wasn’t arrested. Brown was indicted on criminally negligent homicide. Hi

FOX 7 reached out to the Hays County District Attorney and Judge who presided over this case. 

"The case is not over. The judge is the only person who could ever explain why she decided what she decided," said District Attorney Kelly Higgins.

The judge didn’t respond to FOX 7’s requests for clarification.

The attorneys said this case could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months.

The Salyers said they don’t plan on suing the county, but their expectation is for the District Attorney to file a Motion to Enforce and have the judge at least put back her stated sentence of 180 days.