Boys burned in road rage shooting from July 4, 2019, still recovering as trial underway

Jessica Willey Image
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Gunman faces trial after allegedly causing fire in 2019 road rage
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Bayron Rivera faces trial after being accused of shooting at a family along Highway 249, causing a fire, during a road rage incident on July 4, 2019.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A trial is underway in downtown Houston for the man accused of a road rage shooting that sparked a fire and burned two children and their father.

Bayron Rivera, 21, is on trial for the shooting that ignited fireworks inside the family's truck three years ago.

SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: 3 young men rescue family from burning car after road rage shooting in N. Harris County

The fiery crash happened on July 4, 2019, in northwest Harris County. Bentley and Messiah Smith, then one and two years old, and their father, Reginald Smith, were badly burned. Rivera was 18 at the time.

The boys were in their car seats, riding in their truck with their mother and father when investigators said Rivera fired rounds from a semi-automatic rifle into their vehicle. The shots ignited fireworks inside the family's vehicle.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the incident was the result of road rage.

"(Expletive) that. I'm going to blow you up," Jasmin Wolford, the boy's mother, said as she took the stand on Wednesday and recalled what she heard Rivera say before the shooting.

The boys' father testified on Tuesday.

Investigators believe Rivera followed the family, even after they stopped at a store for diapers.

SEE ALSO: Suspect who shot into car carrying family of 4 and caused fireworks to go off surrenders, sheriff says

The family was rescued from the fire. The boys spent weeks at Shriners Burns Hospital in Galveston. Rivera was charged with multiple offenses, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, serious bodily injury, and injury to a child, serious bodily injury.

Wolford has documented the boys' recovery on social media. They are now 4 and 5 years old and attend kindergarten and pre-K. They have undergone more than a dozen surgeries and procedures.

Wolford said they are no longer burn victims, but rather burn survivors. A relative told ABC13 there are good and bad days, but they are grateful, and their faith in God is strong.

The trial resumes on Thursday.

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