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2016-07-07

Independence Day weekend brings shooting, rescue, fire & wreck fatality

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

“We had 127 calls for service during the extended holiday weekend,” said Chief Deputy Matt King of the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, July 5. “A lot of people poured into the county to the lake and river, and we did have several serious incidents.” The first critical event occurred the afternoon of Sunday, July 3.
Shooting in
Timber Creek
At about 3:50 pm on that date, a call to emergency dispatch reported that shots had been fired in the Timber Creek subdivision, located off Highway 16 South near the Medina County line.
Although details are sketchy, according to King, an unidentified homeowner reported that a suspect had fired at him with an “AK-47” and that he had returned fire with a handgun. The incident occurred in the 1600 block of Mountain Creek.
Responding BCSO law enforcement officers included Deputy Tomas Rodriguez, Cpl. Bruce Page, Cpl. Rob Vela and Sgt. Danny Sanchez. During a subsequent interview, the homeowner purportedly described the incident as a dispute over money that his son apparently owed the suspect. The adult son lives with his parents on Mountain Creek.
The suspect, who may have been driving a black BMW, reportedly fired shots at the homeowner, who returned fire by shooting “into the ground.” According to the law enforcement report, the suspect drove down Mountain Creek after firing the initial shots then returned to the front of the house where he proceeded to open fire again.
“The investigating officers discovered a lot of brass scattered on the ground,” King said. “They immediately began a search for the black BMW, but neither the homeowner nor his son could describe the driver. They also failed to get a license plate number.”
Although the suspect has not yet been apprehended, King reassured other residents in the Timber Creek subdivision that their safety appears not to be at risk.
“The dispute between the two individuals centers on what appears to be a somewhat ‘illicit’ business transaction. We feel that no other residents in the subdivision will be targeted. This occurrence, while unfortunate, appears to be an isolated incident.”
Meanwhile, King added, the search for the suspect continues.
River rescue
At 9:49 that evening, the action shifted to the English Crossing-Rohrbach Road area after a 56-year-old man and a 24-year-old man were reported missing on the Medina River. “According to the report, a woman said her son and boyfriend had launched upstream into the river on a canoe and inflatable tube about four hours earlier,” King said. “The woman became concerned because she hadn’t heard from them and called 9-1-1.”
Deputy Corey Bolt was dispatched to the scene. While he was interviewing the unidentified woman, she received a call from her son, who said he was with a group of people at the end of Rohrbach Road near the county park, according to King.
Because the son had become separated from the older man, County Fire Marshal John Stith enlisted the aid of a pilot and helicopter from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to conduct an air search. First responders at the staging area at Rohrbach and the county park also included Pipe Creek and Bandera Volunteer Fire Departments and EMS personnel.
“The helicopter took an hour and a half to get to the area, but located the man in approximately 10 minutes,” Stith said. He noted that the man was heading toward his final destination of English Crossing, where he had parked his vehicle. Instead, he ended up beached on the riverbank about a quarter of a mile before his destination.
“The man was located downstream and was in good shape,” Stith said. “He had simply gotten lost on the river while tubing.”
Garage fire
Additionally, Stith reported a garage fire had occurred at 6:20 pm, Monday, July 4, in the 100 block of View Ridge in Pipe Creek.
“The residents were at home and heard a noise outside,” he said. “When they investigated, they discovered one corner of their garage was on fire.”
By the time firefighters with the Pipe Creek and Lakehills Volunteer Fire Departments arrived on the scene, quick action by the homeowners had gotten the blaze under control.
The detached three-car garage sustained $25,000 in damage, Stith estimated. A preliminary investigation revealed that rags used to stain furniture had been stored in the garage might have ignited the flames, Stith said. “The rags were in the vicinity of lawn chairs with plastic webbing. That caused a great deal of smoke and damage,” he added.
Stith cautioned people who refinish and refurbish furniture to store chemicals and rags soaked in chemicals carefully. “This is important at all times, but most especially in the summer heat,” Stith said.
Accident fatality
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 5, a major accident involving a fatality occurred on Highway 16 North, almost directly in front of the former Longhorn Saloon.
King said that at approximately 3:59 am, a 23-year-old driver – apparently driving at a high rate of speed – went off the road, rolled his car several times and hit a tree with enough force to uproot it.
The unidentified Hondo resident was killed instantly. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Mike Towers.
Deputies on the scene said that the force of the impact had pushed the driver’s seat into the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Additionally, the driver’s door column had been completely crushed.
It proved difficult to remove the driver from the remains of his smashed vehicle. An autopsy will be performed. However, officers at the scene reportedly did not smell intoxicants inside the vehicle. In an abundance of caution, a crew from Bandera Electric Cooperative arrived on the scene to ascertain if power lines had been damaged by the crash.
When asked if the unidentified driver had been wearing a seatbelt, King replied, “I’m not sure, but, by the looks of the car, I don’t think a seatbelt would have helped him much.”