By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
All I needed was an excuse, someone to emerge from the shadows and into the light of my flashlight to attack me. I fantasized about this – I even prayed for it – so that I could defend my family. And if I needed to use deadly force…So be it.
There I was one hot summer night, walking around my block, not to mention searching our utility easement and other nooks and crannies, along with my brother-in-law with a flashlight in hand and covered in sweat and mosquitoes. My wife, mother, sister and niece had all received death threats via text messages that evening – in some cases even warning not to step outside lest they be shot and killed – from a deranged 17-year-old Rio Hondo High School student, a girl who has taken the term “fatal attraction” to a whole new level. This teenager was arrested on two counts of phone harassment for threatening via text to kill and to eat the organs of my niece, also a 17-year-old RHHS student. Then, to make matters worse, the suspect gained access, admittedly through school records, to my family’s cell phone numbers. Obviously, it didn’t take long for the rest of us to be subjected to similar threats.
Some days we received bomb threats from the suspect, prompting RHHS authorities in at least one case to release students early, and other times we witnessed the suspect traveling in different vehicles outside our home, following us while on the road and even parked from afar in a not-so-subtle attempt at being inconspicuous. She’s almost always accompanied by her boyfriend, who I believe has recently threatened to rape, kill and burn my niece. I guess I could have simply referred to him as a coward just now, especially since he has yet to threaten any of the men in my family.
So how did this all start? Well, it began as a simple high school dispute, or drama, if you will. You see, the suspect started bullying my niece during the summer of 2012 because she, my niece, was dating her would-be attacker’s ex-boyfriend. Case closed, right? Consider first that when my niece began receiving text messages from the suspect, some of which read that she’d cut my niece’s fingers off and “eat them like French fries,” she laughed and even mocked her tormentor. The only problem is that this was no ordinary high school drama but a legitimate cause for concern.
Pulling my niece’s emergency contacts to increase the scope of the suspect’s threats, sending in just three weeks’ time over 2,000 text messages, stalking us and even taking responsibility for breaking into our home were enough incidents to lend credence to an investigation, an arrest warrant and eventually the apprehension of the suspect responsible for these crimes.
What infuriates me is why the San Benito Police Department, the arresting agency in this case, was the first to take any action. Understand that this case was initially reported to Rio Hondo ISD officials, including school district police and high school faculty, in January 2013 yet little has been done since. Meanwhile, SBPD needed just two weeks to make an arrest.
What gives, Rio Hondo? All I’ve heard in response to our concerns have been excuses as to why RHISD authorities can take no action: 1.) You lack resources; 2.) The suspect couldn’t possibly be responsible because she’s in the high school band and therefore a “good kid;” 3.) There’s no proof.
I don’t know, perhaps I’m being too hard on these folks and should accept the fact that RHISD police officers are not equipped to conduct actual police work; that students who are in the high school band receive immunity from investigation and that phone records and a taped admission of guilt don’t necessarily qualify as proof.
Then again, maybe laziness is the real culprit. As I understand it, one of the phone numbers used by the suspect to send us threatening texts is also associated with past bomb threats, more notably dating back to a 2012 incident. That alone suffices the need for an internal investigation into Rio Hondo ISD police, high school staff and administrators regarding these matters and more. Their gross inaction has helped place my family in danger and God knows who else before us, not to mention leaving our personal information exposed to your students. I’m looking for answers, Rio Hondo. It’s in your best interest that you provide them sans resistance.