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Crime
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Crime
5 arrested in Swan Drive shooting investigation

Victoria Police Department detectives arrested five people Monday in connection with an Aug. 1 drive-by shooting of two teenage boys, officials announced Tuesday.

Each suspect was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and engaging in organized criminal activity. The arrests were made at multiple locations throughout Victoria County. The police department was assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, according to a news release from the Victoria Police Department.

Those arrested were:

  • Jordan Paul Martinez, 17, of Victoria, at a home in the 300 block of Golden Eye Loop.
  • Jonah Jonmichael Garcia, 17, of Victoria, at a home in the 300 block of West Murray Street.
  • Richard Santos Guerra II, 17, of Victoria, at a home in the in the 3200 block of Cherry Street.
  • Jose Luis Vazquez Jr., 18, of Victoria, at the Victoria County Jail, where he was already in custody on charges of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance more than 4 grams.
  • Jaycob Mark Tristan, 17, of Victoria, at the Victoria County Jail, where he was already in custody on a separate charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

All remained in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.

The arrests follow the shooting of two juveniles outside a home in the 3600 block of Swan Drive on Aug. 1. They were shot multiple times by people traveling in a dark-colored sedan, according to the news release.

The juveniles were transported to local hospitals by the Victoria Fire Department EMS.

One victim was treated and released from the hospital, while the other remains hospitalized, according to the news release.

Victoria police detectives immediately launched an investigation after the shooting.

The suspects were subsequently identified, and arrest warrants were obtained for each of them.


Crime
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Public Safety
Fire destroys mobile home, kills family pet

Flora Escobedo, 42, and her daughter, 8-year-old Reina, were asleep at 11:30 p.m. Monday when they were awoken by loud noises.

“I heard banging on the AC and then on the wall and then on the back wall,” Escobedo said Tuesday.

She got up and ran to the porch to see what was going on, only to see that flames had started to creep up the stairs that led to her front door at 2701-33 Leary Lane.

Escobedo ran back into her room, where her daughter was sleeping, and saw her neighbor outside the window. The neighbor yelled at her to get out, so she grabbed her child and escaped through the bedroom window.

She wasn’t able to grab her daughter’s Chihuahua puppy, Lily Bird, before the flames forced them out.

The blaze was put out shortly after midnight, but the fire destroyed the mobile home, which Escobedo said was not insured.

“It was quick,” Escobedo said. “It’s an older trailer.”

Victoria City Fire Marshal Tom Legler said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Also lost in the fire were countless possessions.

“We went school shopping, and we had everything laid on the couch,” Escobedo said.

Investigators turned the home back over to Escobedo. She returned Tuesday morning to salvage the belongings that remain, including clothes and a few pictures.

“You work so hard and then to just lose everything — it’s hard,” Escobedo said.

The American Red Cross has been in contact with Escobedo, who said they plan to discuss next steps in the days to come.

As Escobedo and her daughter wait to figure out what they’ll do next, they are staying with her sister, who lives down the road.

She said she had to return to work Tuesday as a housekeeper at a Victoria hotel.

“I’ll go crazy here just thinking,” she said.


Victoria
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Courts
Case involving mental illness displays new district attorney's style

A Victoria man who was arrested as a teenager with an untreated mental illness avoided spending more time in a jail that his family says exacerbated his symptoms and caused him to rack up more charges.

Tyler Shelton, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary of a building.

In exchange, the district attorney’s office dismissed five counts of aggravated assault of a public servant and one count of assault of a public servant that remained against him.

Shelton will spend the next five years under the supervision of the probation department for the burglary of a building charge, and if he completes the term successfully, the charge can be dismissed.

“Good luck to you, sir,” Judge Eli Garza said to Shelton, who had been before him to resolve his cases at least eight times.

Shelton’s mother, Kristen Herrmann, waited nearby to take him to the probation department across the street.

“I think he’s just relieved to finally put this behind him and focus on his future,” she said Tuesday.

Shelton referred questions to his attorney, Eddie Wilkinson, who asked that the questions be emailed. Wilkinson did not respond by deadline Tuesday.

The Advocate also reached out to District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson by phone and email. She responded via email that the case was resolved in this way to hold Shelton accountable for his actions but be mindful of his needs at the time of the incident. Filley Johnson campaigned last year that she’d like to divert people with mental illness and addictions from the criminal justice system.

“We will always evaluate cases with a mental health component individually and continue to partner with other agencies in our community to best bridge the gap in available services. We recognize that law enforcement faces enormous challenges in these situations and are grateful to the men and women of the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office for their cooperation and support of the just resolution in this matter,” she wrote.

Herrmann came forward with her son’s story after the sheriff’s office issued a press release in September 2017 that he had assaulted jailers who had tried to take a shirt from him that he had fashioned into a noose.

She explained Shelton has bipolar I disorder, and the Victoria Advocate learned through interviews and open records requests that she and other family members were the ones who called the sheriff’s office about the building Shelton burglarized.

His family said Shelton was off his medication and thought the building belonged to him, but records showed mental health officers were not available to respond. He was taken to the jail rather than to treatment. His family said at the jail, he went without medication for even longer.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, people in mental health crises are more likely to encounter police than get medical help. This has led to 2 million people with mental illness being booked into the county jails every year. The majority are not violent.