Felon Who Shot, Paralyzed Man Outside MoVal Bar Sentenced

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

MURRIETA (CNS) – A convicted felon who shot a possible gang rival during a dispute outside a Moreno Valley bar, partially paralyzing the man, was sentenced Friday to 26 years, eight months to life in state prison.

A Murrieta jury in January 2022 convicted Travis Mitchell Hicks, 31, of Los Angeles of the 2018 attack in front of the S Bar & Grill in the 23500 block of Sunnymead Ranch Parkway.

Hicks was found guilty of attempted murder, firearm assault, being a felon in possession of a gun and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations — including an allegation of committing an assault resulting in paralysis of the victim.

During a sentencing hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon imposed the sentence required by law.

According to a trial brief filed by the District Attorney’s Office, on the night of Feb. 16, 2018, the defendant went to the bar with a male friend and two women, including one identified by the initials “M.S.”

The four encountered the victim, identified in court documents only as “A.B.,” a reputed member of the Wild Flaxx street gang in Moreno Valley.

The man knew M.S. and engaged her in conversation, the brief stated.

Hicks did not join them and instead walked away, going outside the establishment, where he began making calls on his cell phone, according to the prosecution.

Minutes later, the victim walked to the parking lot to check his car, then headed back toward the bar. Security video surveillance cameras in front of the business recorded all movements, and according to court papers, they showed Hicks say something to the victim, who replied, though the audio was not available.

“The conversation appears calm but confrontational,” court papers said.

The victim went back inside the bar, and Hicks headed to the parking lot, where he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his car, after which he returned to his previous spot in front of the bar, where he was joined by his buddy.

M.S. and her friend were in the bathroom, and the prosecution said that the defendant was waiting for them to finish so they all could leave.

In the video, the victim exits the bar again less than 10 minutes later but walks away from the defendant, evidently to avoid further contact. However, the two men eye one another and make parting comments, prompting the victim to turn around, according to the brief.

“At this point, the defendant pulls the firearm from his back pants pocket and holds it at his side,” the brief said.

Hicks’ friend, whose identity was not disclosed, attempted to intervene, standing between the victim and defendant.

“During the few seconds’ encounter, the victim is aggressively walking or circling the two men while verbally engaging the defendant,” according to the brief. “As the victim continues to circle, the defendant raises the gun and shoots the victim through his bicep.”

Hicks’ friend ducked, and the victim scrambled to his feet, attempting to run away, at which point Hicks fired a second round, hitting the man in the lower back, the prosecution said.

Hicks and his friend fled the location, as the victim lay on the ground, unable to move his legs. Two good Samaritans went to his aid, loading him into a car and driving him to Riverside University Medical Center.

Surgeons later determined that the shot to the lower back paralyzed the man from the waist down.

Sheriff’s detectives confirmed Hicks’ identity through witnesses, and he was arrested without incident hours later.

According to court records, the defendant was affiliated with an L.A. gang, but it was unclear whether that was specifically what motivated the attack.

He had prior convictions for assault with a firearm and being a convicted felon with a gun.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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