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Officers foil possible abduction, students unharmed

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Information received from both City Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks and the Bandera Independent School District shed some light on a disturbing incident that could have escalated into a hostage situation. District administrators commended law enforcement officers for their "quick thinking and responsiveness."

On Thursday, April 4, an adult male had apparently forced two Bandera Middle School students into a vacant building. According to one report, the man indicated to the students that he would commit suicide if they did not come with him.

Luckily, however, after their release, the students were determined not to have been harmed by the ordeal.

According to Hicks, at approximately 4:43 pm, Bandera Chief Deputy Scott MacNaughton responded to a call for assistance in the 900 block of 11th Street. A realtor, who also serves as manager of the property involved, had contacted emergency dispatch after being informed that an adult had possibly accosted two students.

In addition to MacNaughton, Deputy Michael Dyall of the Bandera County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Eric Morgan responded to the call.

Information provided by Bandera ISD indicated the incident occurred as the students were walking to a track meet at Bandera High School. "Through intimidation, (the) homeless person then compelled the students to drink beer with him while in the vacant building," the Bandera ISD press release noted.

When law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, the property manager advised them of the situation - that an adult male had possibly abducted two juvenile males, forcing them into a vacant building at that location.
The woman told officers that vigilant neighbors had alerted her after observing the students enter the building with an older man.

Subsequently, the apparently homeless man was identified as John Scott Hunter, 35.

The property manager also informed MacNaughton, Morgan and Dyall that Hunter had fled the scene, heading toward the river, prior to their arrival. Working together, law enforcement personnel located and apprehended the suspect without further incident. Hunter was subsequently arrested for public intoxication and felony burglary of a building, which was located on the west end of 11th Street behind Lowe's Market.

After entering the building, officers discovered beer and several cigarette butts at the scene.

The students were immediately released into the custody of their families. According to Hicks, however, the students, although uninjured, appeared to have been badly shaken up by the incident.

Although the incident occurred after the close of school and off campus, school administrators immediately notified all parents of the occurrence. All students were also reminded to practice safety precautions should a stranger approach them.

In conclusion, the Bandera ISD press release commended the officers involved in resolving the incident peacefully, thanking them for their "quick thinking and responsiveness."

For more information about this incident, parents are asked to call Hicks at the City of Bandera at 830-796-3456, or school administrators:

• Alkek Elementary School - 830-796-6223

• Hill Country Elementary School - 830-535-6151

• Bandera Middle School - 830-796-6270

• Bandera High School - 830-796-6254

According to Hicks, the case remains under investigation with further charges possibly pending. More details will be provided as warranted.

Pictured: John Scott Hunter