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Man injured in gang fight turned police shooting booked into jail

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — Prosecutors have charged an Idaho Falls man with a felony after a gang fight turned into him allegedly pointing a gun at police who subsequently shot him.

Levi Bautista, 21, is charged with felony unlawful possession of a gun by a convicted felon, according to court documents. Bautista has been recovering after being wounded in the September 2021 shooting with officers but on Friday he was booked into the Bonneville County Jail.

Idaho Falls Police reports previously obtained by show on Sept. 11, 2021, two rival gangs got into a fight-turned shootout outside Hurricane’s Bar on North Holmes Avenue. One of the suspects, Bautista allegedly got into a chase with officers before the situation escalated into an officer-involved shooting.

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The incident started when a security guard at the bar escorted Bautista outside after a fight. Security camera footage at the bar shows three men following Bautista outside of the bar and confronting him in the parking lot. According to prosecutors, Bautista told investigators a man yelled: “F*** BWC” which is slang for Budweiser Crew, a gang in the Idaho Falls area.

Bautista claims he told the men he no longer associates with the gang. Bautista continued to talk with the men who followed him outside when — a man later identified in court documents obtained by as Jose Nery — lifted his shirt and showed a large “13” tattoo on his back. The tattoo is common for MS-13 gang members, which according to police is a rival to the Budweiser Crew.

Another man, Juan Manuel Gonzalez, 29, walked past the ongoing argument and grabbed a gun from a car, police said. Bautista then went across the street toward the Elk’s Lodge, and Gonzalez allegedly fired his gun at least once. Bautista started shooting back, according to reports. He then got into a silver Chrysler 200 and began driving around the area.

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Gonzalez handed the gun off to Nery, who got into a car with Cooper Allison, 21. Neary and Allison then drove away from the bar.

Police arrived at the scene and were given a description of Bautista’s car. With dozens of people now outside of the bar, Bautista sped around the area at high speeds. An officer identified the vehicle and rammed his car into Bautista because he had not stopped at the sight and sounds of police vehicles.

With the Chrysler pinned, Bautista reportedly got out of the vehicle holding a black handgun in his right hand. Bautista turned towards an officer which prompted the officer to fear for his life. Believing Bautista would shoot him, the officer fired four rounds at Bautista with two bullets hitting the man.

Police found Bautista held a Glock 19 with a 40-round, 9mm magazine. The gun had been loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition, according to reports.

RELATED | Prosecutor says officer was justified in shooting after gang fight in Idaho Falls

The East Idaho Critical Incident Task Force was called in to investigate the officer-involved shooting. According to prosecutors, Bautista told investigators he “got out of the car, took off running and since I had a gun in my hand, they shot me,” according to a report released by Bonneville County prosecutors.

Prosecutors determined the officer was justified in shooting Bautista in November.

Gonzalez was later arrested after prosecutors charged him with felony aggravated battery and aggravated assault. Nery was arrested for felony aggravated battery, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. Allison was arrested for felony accessory to aggravated battery and harboring a person who committed a felony.

Bautista made his initial court appearance Tuesday and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 1.

Although the suspects are accused of crimes it does not necessarily mean they committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.