By Doug Wyllie
Late last month, officers with the San Antonio Police Department responded to reports of a man with a “long gun” in his possession getting into the passenger seat of a vehicle with an as-yet-unidentified person behind the wheel.
It’s worth noting that seeing a man with a rifle in Texas is a little bit like getting wet in the rain—it’s to be expected—but when that man is also a known criminal with outstanding warrants for his arrest, people tend to get a little antsy. So police were notified.
According to Fox News, Officers Adam Rule and Rhett Shoquist positioned their marked patrol vehicle behind the automobile in which the man—identified as 28-year-old Jesse Garcia—was riding. Garcia reportedly opened fire through the rear window of the moving vehicle, striking Rule in the forearm and Shoquist in the head.
Rule administered life-saving aid to his partner until medics arrived at the scene, while other SAPD officers continued to pursue Garcia—who at this point had carjacked another vehicle—through the downtown area and ultimately to residential area on the west side of the city.
There, Garcia barricaded himself in an apartment—sound familiar?—and during a three-hour standoff, reportedly opened fire again. This filicide left an officer with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. In the end, the gunman surrendered to officers and was taken into police custody.
Garcia now faces eight new felony charges for aggravated assault of a public servant, aggravated robbery, and aggravated kidnapping. He’s being held in the Bexar County Jail with bonds totaling $4.3M. The driver who picked up the suspect was briefly detained, but has not yet been charged.
All three officers wounded during the two incidents are expected to fully recover.
Compelling Questions (with Obvious Answers)
According to KSTA-TV News, Garcia was out on bond related to a handful of four outstanding and ongoing cases—Evading Arrest with a Vehicle, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Felony Drug Possession, and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle—at the time of his most recent confrontation with law enforcement.
It goes without saying—but we’ll say it anyway—that this fact is cause for consternation among people who value safety and security in our society.
One such person is San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus, who after the incident said on social media, “One of the concerning aspects surrounding the shooting of our [officers] last [night]… the [suspect] was out on [two] bonds for almost a [year] despite committing more crimes [and] being re-arrested [and] wanted on [three different] warrants.”
McManus went on to ask, “Why wasn’t he in jail? Why [weren’t] his bonds increased?”
McManus said he was not pointing fingers at anyone, but in a written statement President of the San Antonio Police Officers Association Danny Diaz sharply criticized Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, accusing the top prosecutor in San Antonio of failing to prosecute repeat criminal offenders and continuing to allow violent criminals to be released on bail.
Diaz said, “SAPD Chief McManus has raised the same concerns following last Thursday’s standoff which critically injured two SAPD police officers while attempting to arrest a convicted felon out on bond—a criminal, wanted on two felony warrants, along with misdemeanor offenses.”
Diaz asked, “When will our District Attorney take accountability for his inactions? How many more citizens will need to lose their lives, and how many more officers will have to face similar consequences? How many repeat offenders will it take for District Attorney Joe Gonzales to follow the laws to prevent these felons from causing more harm?”
Compelling questions, all—but if we direct just a little attention to Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Joe Gonzales, some pretty obvious answers become pretty painfully apparent.
Who is (and Who is Financing) Joe Gonzales?
A third generation American of Mexican heritage, Joe Gonzales earned his law degree at St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1988 and began a modest private practice—specializing in family law—until taking a job as a prosecutor with the Bexar County DA in 1990. He left that post in 1992 while his new bride attended law school in Houston, and returned to the job in 1995.
Three years later, he left the DA’s office a second time—this time to run for a seat on the county court bench, subsequently serving as Magistrate and Municipal Judge for the City of San Antonio until 2005.
He then began a comfortable career as a criminal defense attorney.
During that 2018 campaign, Gonzales told KSTX Public Radio, “Part of my whole progressive philosophy about restorative justice is to give people an opportunity to avoid convictions, avoid being straddled with having convictions on their records.”
During that 2018 campaign, Gonzales also…
- declared his desire to seek “life without parole” instead of the death penalty, outlined his intention to destroy firearms seized in connection with criminal cases, and hope of creating a policy of releasing “nonviolent offenders” without bail.
- expressed his support for San Antonio’s so-called “cite-and-release” policy, which stipulates that persons caught with less than four ounces of marijuana be ticketed rather than arrested.
- received nearly $900,000 in campaign contributions from—wait for it, wait for it—liberal-billionaire-mega-donor George Soros and his Texas Justice & Safety PAC.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Soros’ PAC supplied Gonzales’ campaign with at least 22 separate donations—totaling at least $897,000—that went toward direct mailing efforts, print and television advertising, and “related expenditures.”
Gonzales won that race in a landslide, defeating Republican Tylden Shaeffer by a margin of 59% to 41%.
He won re-election in 2022 by a similarly lopsided tally of 56% to 44% over Republican Marc LaHood.
His current term is due to conclude in 2026.
(Returning to) Returning to the Streets
SAPOA President Danny Diaz SAPD Chief Bill McManus were—directly and indirectly—disapproving of Gonzales’ performance as DA, particularly with respect to keeping Jesse Garcia off the streets.
Just days after Garcia fired upon and wounded three SAPD officers, another armed and dangerous felon—also wanted on numerous felony warrants including Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Aggravated Assault on a Public Servant—fired upon and wounded an officer with SAPD.
According to KSAT-TV News, the subject—identified as 40-year-old Michael Kirkland—was on an access road adjacent to the Interstate 10 highway when officers with the department’s Street Crimes Unit began to engage him in an attempted arrest on those outstanding warrants.
Upon seeing the officers, Kirkland reportedly crashed, exited his vehicle, and started shooting at police while attempting to carjack another car. Police fired back, fatally wounding the gunman.
It’s worth noting that Kirkland had faced at least seven criminal cases in the past four years. All of those cases—which included charges such as Aggravated Assault Against a Public Servant, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Arson of Habitation—were dismissed by District Attorney Gonzales.
Following this incident, Chief McManus said, “I remain concerned about people who are on the street who should be in jail because they’re habitual offenders, especially the violent crime habitual offenders, which this individual was.”
McManus’s comment apparently—okay, obviously—put District Attorney Gonzales on the defensive.
Gonzales said in response that Kirkland “has had incredible luck because every one of those cases where we’ve tried to go to trial—where we’ve tried to make him accountable—we’ve been unable to do that because of proof problems.”
Given what we know about Gonzales’ predisposition toward returning criminals to the streets, that explanation—okay, excuse—rings rather hollow.