Firefighter charged with shooting at bicyclist
Josh Boatwright • July 27, 2009 12:33 PM
ASHEVILLE — An Asheville firefighter charged with attempted first-degree murder after witnesses said he shot at a bicyclist, made his first appearance today in Buncombe County District Court.
Charles Alexander Diez, 42, apparently fired at the Asheville man after arguing with him about riding his bike on the busy road with his 3-year-old child in a bike seat behind him, Asheville Police Capt. Tim Splain said.
Diez's case is set to be heard on Aug. 17 in Buncombe County Superior Court.
Diez was driving his car off Interstate 40 at Exit 55 at about 11:24 a.m. Sunday when he saw Alan Ray Simons and his wife riding bikes up the road with Simons' 3-year-old son behind him in a bike seat, he said.
“He decided he needed to tell them he thought it was unsafe that they would do that and have their child out there in an area where they had a lot of traffic,” Splain said.
Diez stopped his car and confronted Simons near 1360 Tunnel Road. When Simons began to walk away, Diez shot at him, Splain said.
The bullet blew a hole through the outer lining of Simons' helmet and went straight through both sides of it, but he was not hit.
Simons and others who witnessed the incident took down Diez's registration plate number and called police.
After consulting with the Buncombe County District Attorney's Office, police charged Diez with one count of attempted first-degree murder.
“A matter of an inch or less in either direction would have meant that bullet could have easily killed Mr. Simons,” Splain said.
Buncombe County Sheriff's deputies found Diez's vehicle at his home on Rowland Road in Swannanoa and arrested him. Diez was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting and has no prior criminal record, Splain said.
He has been employed by the Asheville Fire Department since February 1992, according to interim Chief Scott Burnette. Diez has been placed on paid leave during the investigation, Burnette said.
Diez was being held today at the Buncombe County Detention Center with a secured bond set at $500,000