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2014-05-29

Bandera's latest 'unsubstantiated threat'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Regardless of how much one wants them to go away - or be arrested - some scofflaws just keep turning up. Interestingly, the latest one currently under investigation last surfaced in Bandera County in 2012.
On the afternoon of Sunday, May 18, a 9-1-1 caller threatened to create mayhem locally using a machine gun. According to law enforcement reports, at 3:40 pm, emergency dispatch received a call from a man with a heavy Middle Eastern accent. The caller told the telecommunications operator he was at the Bandera Medical Clinic in the strip mall off Highway 16 South and armed with an M16. The M16 rifle is designed for three-round burst or single-shot semi-automatic firing. It is a lightweight, yet still pinpoint accurate rifle, capable of hitting targets with precision at a maximum effective range of 550 meters. This information was gleaned from www.marines.com/operating-forces/equipment/weapons/m16.
To confirm the veracity of the caller's location, the 9-1-1 operator asked him if he could see the donut shop. The caller answered in the affirmative.
According to City of Bandera Chief Deputy Scott MacNaughton, the caller then informed the emergency dispatch operator he had "just killed his best friend and intended to shoot people as well as responding law enforcement officers."
All available county and Department of Public Safety patrol units were immediately dispatched. "We increased our patrols to assist city marshals," said Bandera County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matt King.
The law enforcement units converged on the essentially shuttered Bandera Village Shopping Center, with weapons at the ready, according to several eyewitnesses. The witnesses assumed that some kind of training was taking place.
According to one report, those staying at the Lodge, a motel adjacent to the strip center were evacuated.
King said that as the caller remained on the 9-1-1 line, deputies intermittently activated their sirens attempting to ascertain if he was in the vicinity.
As it turned out, he wasn't. While on the line with the caller, the telecommunications operator heard no sirens or other extraneous noise in the background. At that point, it was decided that the call constituted "an unsubstantiated threat."
MacNaughton noted that although the first "ping" from the phone call came from a cell phone tower located on Highway 173 South, it was eventually determined that call had originated in San Antonio. The Bandera marshal's office contacted the San Antonio Police Department. "The guy apparently used a computer and the Internet to route the call, making it difficult to pinpoint his exact location," MacNaughton said.
Although the caller remains unidentified, law enforcement officials believe he is the same man who, in November 2012, had made vague - and subsequently unsubstantiated - threats against the county courthouse and school district.
In response to the threats, the courthouse was evacuated and administrators with the Bandera Independent school District contacted parents and guardians, stating, in part: "Bandera ISD takes the safety of its students and staff as its highest priority. Routine safety procedures at every campus are in place to protect the well being of all students at all times. Administration and faculty remain vigilant to any situation that might endanger students."
"All signs point to this caller as being the one who also recently issued a threat against schools in San Antonio and the surrounding counties, as well as the Walmart in Hondo," MacNaughton said.
He added that the information gathered during this most recent investigation of the increasingly annoying 9-1-1 caller will be forwarded to the San Antonio field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.