Fort Bliss soldier accused of killing man in front of shocked witnesses

Then-Pfc. Cornelius Dewayne Harrison Jr. is shown in this 2018 booking photo.


By DANIEL BORUNDA | El Paso Times, Texas (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 10, 2018

A Fort Bliss soldier allegedly shot and killed a man in front of shocked witnesses on a desert road near Hueco Tanks, court documents state.

Pfc. Cornelius Dewayne Harrison Jr., 21, was arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on Friday on a murder charge in the death last week of Frank Alexander Hernandez Jr.

Hernandez, 22, of Northeast El Paso, was found lying on the road by a passerby on the night of Jan. 3 in the 4400 block of Stagecoach Drive, according to a complaint affidavit filed by a sheriff's detective.

A sheriff's news release had previously given Hernandez's age as 21.

The complaint states that witnesses to the shooting told detectives that Harrison claimed Hernandez was stealing from him, but they didn't expect Harrison to kill him.

According to the complaint affidavit, the group was hanging out Jan. 3 at Harrison's home at the Butterfield Trail Apartments on Gateway North Boulevard in the Northeast.

Three witnesses told detectives that Harrison invited them and Hernandez to go shoot his rifle at Red Sands, a desert area popular with recreational shooters east of El Paso.

According to the complaint, witnesses said Harrison could not remember the way to Red Sands and asked the driver to turn on Stagecoach Road, where they stopped and got out to shoot because it was desolate.

According to witness accounts in the complaint, Harrison accused Hernandez of stealing from him and told Hernandez to get on his knees, but before Hernandez could respond, Harrison shot him.

He allegedly shot Hernandez three times. Hernandez then fell to the ground and Harrison allegedly stood over him and fired one shot to his head, the document states.

An autopsy found Hernandez was shot four times.

One witness told detectives that he thought Hernandez was going to be beaten up, the complaint states.

The document does not disclose what Hernandez was accused of stealing from Harrison.

After the shooting, Harrison allegedly ordered the other men to pick up shell casings and cigarette butts, the complaint states.

The complaint states that witnesses told detectives they were afraid of Harrison and that Harrison pointed the rifle at the head of one witness because he was angry he had left a cigarette behind at the scene of the shooting.

The complaint mentioned that crime-scene investigators recovered two spent shell casings and two cigarette butts at the scene.

The day after the shooting, a man went to El Paso police to talk about a killing that he had witnessed, the complaint states. The witness was referred to the Sheriff's Office.

The complaint added that Harrison, who is from Houston, claims to have PTSD, previously has tried to commit suicide and claimed that he would kill himself before going to jail.

Fort Bliss officials said Harrison joined the Army in June 2016 and has been at Fort Bliss since November of that year. Harrison is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 44th Chemical Company, 22nd Chemical Battalion.

When questioned by detectives, Harrison allegedly admitted that it was his rifle used to kill Hernandez but claimed another man at the scene shot Hernandez, the complaint states.

Detectives and crime-scene investigators used a search warrant to find the rifle, along with Hernandez's cellphone and wallet, at Harrison's apartment.

No one else has been charged in the case.

Harrison remained jailed Wednesday under a $1 million bond at the El Paso County Jail Annex. Jail records do not list a lawyer for Harrison.


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