Man sentenced to serve time after gas station shooting

James Viltz Thomas

Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham announced that State District Judge Raquel West of the 252ndDistrict Court of Jefferson County accepted a jury verdict and sentenced James Viltz Thomas, 40, to 10 years in prison. 

According to the announcement, on December 21, 2016, the Port Arthur Police responded to a 911-dispatch call referencing a shooting at the Raceway gas station located at 2705 Memorial in Port Arthur. Jerry Hernandez was approached by a stranger, Thomas, and then assaulted. After a physical scuffle Thomas then retrieved a loaded AR-15 from his vehicle. Once law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, they found Thomas on the ground with a loaded AR-15 rifle. The investigation revealed Thomas had violently assaulted the victim, Hernandez by shooting him in the arm with the high-powered rifle. The victim’s wife and baby were also in the vehicle but did not sustain injury. In an effort to escape the attack Hernandez struck the shooter with his vehicle and retreated to a nearby store.

Thomas was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The range of punishment faced was 2 to 20 years in prison. The 12-person jury deliberated and returned a verdict of ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Amy E. Tomlinson and Ashely Molfino prosecuted this case.