CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
BERTRAM — Additional charges could be filed against a man accused of injuring a Bertram firefighter who tried to intervene during a confrontation sparked by a reference to a “black truck” the suspect believed was a racial slur, police officials said.
John “Johnny” Coleman Walker, 56, of Burnet faces a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, according to Burnet County Jail records.
The incident occurred at about 8 a.m. Oct. 17 at the Good Grazin Cafe, 240 Texas 29 West in Bertram.
“There were several elderly ladies in there talking and socializing. One of the ladies had bought a new pickup truck, and the other lady commented ‘That’s a pretty black pickup truck. At least you’re not prejudice,’” Bertram Police Chief J.J. Wilson said. “The gentleman (Walker) took that as a racial slur, and then he acted upon it, began to curse out people in the restaurant.
“He confronted the ladies, hit their table, and knocked over all their drinks,” Wilson added.
One of the women involved in the conversation was white and the other was Hispanic.
Bertram volunteer firefighter David Custer, who was in the cafe, watched the incident unfold, approached Walker, and attempted to get the suspect to “calm down,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
“The firefighter was attacked by this individual, thrown into a booth and across a table,” Wilson said. “He jumped on top of the firefighter, began to hit him in the back, and (then) fled the location before the police arrived.”
Custer sustained broken ribs and fractured back bones, according to the affidavit.
“(The suspect’s) eaten there before, but this particular morning, he took offense to them talking about a black truck,” Wilson said.
On Nov. 1, authorities arrested Walker and booked him into the Burnet County Jail, where he posted a $50,000 bond. His charge is a second-degree felony.
“Because of the seriousness of the injuries, we went with that,” he said. “Assault on a public servant (a first-degree felony)? We may go with that as well because this man knew he was attacking a firefighter because (Custer) announced himself as such.”
Wilson said he is turning over the case to the 33rd/424th Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Multiple phone calls to Walker’s legal counsel Arthur Walker were not returned.