LANCASTER – A suspected drunk driver involved in an early morning crash Sunday that killed two Walmart employees is facing eight felony counts, including two counts of second degree murder, according to court records.
Tommie Lee Cole, 24, appeared briefly in an Antelope Valley courtroom Tuesday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Ogden and was represented by private counsel J. Nigel Villanueva.
Cole did not enter a plea Tuesday. His case was continued to March 29, 2012 for arraignment and plea. Bail was increased from $100,000 to $2 million.
Cole, who was arrested for felony DUI Sunday, has now been charged with two counts of murder in the second degree, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of driving under the influence and causing injury, and two counts of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or greater and causing injury, according to court records.
“I’m glad because this may prevent him from doing this to somebody else,” said Linda Gilstrap. “I wouldn’t want anybody else to go through this.”
Gilstrap’s son, Jeffrey Gilstrap and his coworker Beau Josh Owen Fluker were killed Sunday when the vehicle they were riding in collided with Cole’s vehicle at the intersection on 20th Street West and Avenue J in Lancaster.
Cole was determined to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, according to authorities.
Sympathy from the community has poured in for Jeffrey Gilstrap and Fluker, who were associates at Walmart traveling home after a late night shift at the time of the crash (read more here).
Linda Gilstrap, along with several family members of both men, attended the court hearing Tuesday.
Gilstrap said it has been extremely difficult for her to come to terms with the loss of her son.
“It hasn’t really sunk it to me yet, I think I’m still numb because I just keep going from moment to moment,” she said. “But the way I feel right now is I’m just glad he’s [Cole] not going to be on the road… and if he was partying with his friends, maybe this will sober them up too.”