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And the chase was on & on & on

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

(Editor's note: We are not making this up.)

A couple of burglaries, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle or maybe two, a high speed chase, two burnt vehicles and several foot chases later, two suspects are in custody and one remains at large as a result of a recent crime spree.

The only component missing from the pickups-bicycle-ATV-foot chase scenario were bloodhounds hot on the trail. Oh, wait, tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Corrections in Hondo were employed in a nearly 12-hour search that was initiated at approximately 11 am, Monday, Sept. 30.

According to Bandera County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matt King, the melee began at 10:31 am in the 2200 block of South Goat Ridge, just off Bear Creek Road in Pipe Creek. When a man confronted three suspects who appeared to be burglarizing a residence, one pulled a gun on him.

For his self-protection, the Good Samaritan jumped into his vehicle and sped off. The suspects returned to their pickup truck and gave chase, slamming into the lead car several times.

The Samaritan eventually turned off the road and the scofflaws disappeared down the travelway. In short order, however, a report of a vehicle on fire in the 700 block of Bear Creek Road came through emergency dispatch.

"The suspects' truck apparently became disabled and they set fire to it before fleeing through the woods," King reported. However, the suspects left their swag, which consisted of jewelry and firearms, in the burning vehicle, which was a total loss. In addition to the swag, a female suspect, Tara Brueland, 31, of San Antonio, was also left behind. At about 5 pm, law enforcement officers picked her up on Bear Creek Road.

"We're still trying to figure out who owned the truck," King said. "The license plates and VIN number were destroyed by the flames so it's going to take some doing." He said that specialists with motor vehicles with the Department of Public Safety would attempt to determine the VIN number on the engine block.

Undaunted, the one of the male suspects, Richard Pompa Jr., 28, of San Antonio, hotfooted it over to the 900 block of Privilege Creek Road where he discovered a vehicle with keys still in it. "It appears the residents had just arrived home and hadn't retrieved the keys from their vehicle before the suspect stole it," King explained.

With a fresh vehicle at his disposal, the chase was on. Followed by BCSO deputies and troopers with the Texas Department of public Safety, Pompa traveled north on Highway 16 before turning off on FM 470 toward Tarpley. When the suspect reached the Tarpley area, a game warden joined the chase - to no avail. "The guy was going way too fast for the game warden to keep up," King reported.
After turning left onto FM 462 toward Hondo, Pompa lost control of his vehicle and drove off Ross Road into a dry creek bed.

When law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, they found the vehicle engulfed in flames. "We thought he had torched the second vehicle; however, no evidence of accelerants were found," King said. He speculated that the fire was most likely caused by the vehicle idling in tall grass, adding, "In any event, the vehicle was a total loss."

Officers immediately searched the area assisted by tracking dogs from the correctional facility in Hondo. The search was called off at 10 pm.
However, area residents remained vigilant - especially after a house was reportedly burglarized that night. At 5 am, a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report seeing a suspicious person with a flashlight. A deputy, dispatched to the area, observed a man riding a bicycle. The deputy turned his patrol vehicle around, and shouted, "Stop." Replying, "No," Pompa abandoned the bicycle and took off on foot with the deputy hot on his tail. Firearms were found near the abandoned two-wheeler.

A little later, the suspect was discovered riding on a Gator-type all terrain vehicle on a ranch in the area. Once again a cadre of law enforcement converged on the scene. After Pompa abandoned the ATV, officers apprehended him at 9:30 am, Tuesday, Oct. 1, in a wooded area after a short foot chase.

According to King, Pompa was charged with two burglaries of a habitation and aggravated assault with a vehicle and Brueland with one burglary of a habitation.

Although the third suspect remains at large, King remained confident that wouldn't be the case much longer. "We have a good indication of who he is and we're just waiting for a warrant before making an arrest." The suspect was last reported walking on Bear Creek Road.

King continued, "This was a group effort between law enforcement and observant citizens. We want to thank everyone who helped us apprehend these suspects."