Campus police searched student, possibly no consent

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Jacob Escobodo and David Brieten, patrol officers for the Alamo Colleges Police Department, search a student’s backpack Oct. 4 in Gonzales. The Alamo Colleges Police Department received a tip after 10:30 a.m. from a student who reported suspicious activity from an African-American male, possibly armed, carrying a black backpack and wearing jeans. Escobodo and Brieten continued the routine search through Gonzales, Loftin, Nail and the nursing complex. Sgt. Guillermo Perez said there was no cause for an emergency. Deandra Gonzalez

By Zachary-Taylor Wright

Campus police responded to a call describing a man potentially carrying a gun in Gonzales Hall Oct. 4, but first-person accounts are inconsistent with police reports and shed new light on the case. 

In an interview Oct. 16, kinesiology sophomore Micaela M. said she provided the Alamo Colleges Police Department with a description of a student potentially carrying a gun.

“It was just a really shady guy just walking around,” she said. “He had his arms crossed. He was making eye contact with everybody. He was being really observant. As soon as he walked in, you know, you get that gut feeling.”

Concealed carry at institutions of higher education was made legal by Senate Bill 11, which passed Aug. 1, 2015, and went into effect at two-year institutions Aug. 1. Open carry is still illegal at higher education institutions. 

She said the man was dressed “just normal,” wearing what she thought was a “really light gray” sweater and jeans walking down Gonzales Hall toward the west exit near San Pedro Avenue. She said the man had his arms crossed and what looked like the handle of a gun protruding from behind his left torso.

According to the initial police report received Oct. 13, the suspect was “a black male wearing a gray sweater and blue jeans pants carrying a handgun.”

The report states that after speaking to the witness the description was expanded to include the man was “bald headed,” standing at 5’9 to 5’11 and weighing 180-200 pounds.

The report states that no contact was made with anyone matching the description or carrying a handgun.

A supplemental report from Patrolman David Breiten received by The Ranger Oct. 18 states Breiten identified a man matching the description “wearing a gray jacket and blue jeans.” 

The witness said she was in class for 10-15 minutes before the police arrived. Her class began at 10:50 a.m., meaning campus police arrived around 11 a.m. Oct. 4 to interview her.

Nursing freshman Victor U. said he was pulled out of class by campus police at 11 a.m. Oct. 4 in response to the call.

The witness was in Room 101, and he was in Room 129. Both were in Gonzales Hall.

He said campus police had him face the wall to conduct a body search. He said campus police received a report that fit his description and asked if he had a gun. 

He told campus police he did not have a gun. He said campus police went into the class, pulled his backpack out and searched it. 

“I did not give consent to search my backpack or take any pictures of me,” he said.

He said campus police took a photo of him, his school ID and driver’s license.

In an interview with The Ranger Oct. 18, Deputy Chief Jesse Trevino said he was unaware that a student was searched or interviewed in front of the person who provided the description because it is not written in the reports.

Trevino said the district’s police typically ask students for consent before searching personal belongings, clarifying that there is a difference between searching a student and patting them down.

He said campus police pat a suspect’s outer clothing when the person may be carrying a weapon, but looking through a student’s personal belongings is considered a search.

Trevino said neither the police reports nor the report supplements mention the search of a backpack.

The witness said she was on the man’s right side waiting for her class to start.

The witness said she thought her English professor, Alex Bernal, called campus police, because she did not provide campus police her contact information.

The initial report Patrolman Jacob Escobedo released to The Ranger Oct. 13 states “a girlfriend had sent a text message to her boyfriend who then called dispatch.”

Bernal said he did not contact campus police and did not see the person she described before class started.

Bernal said a student told him they saw an angry student with a backpack and something that “didn’t look like a book.”

When asked if her boyfriend called campus police, she said her boyfriend may have because she was on the phone with her boyfriend when she saw the potentially armed man.

“I was on the phone with him as I saw it, and I was just like, ‘Shoot! What do I do?’” she said. “He was like, ‘Just tell someone.’ I was like, ‘No. I don’t want to.’ I was kind of like, ‘What if it’s nothing?’”

The witness said her boyfriend told her to go to class and that’s when everything happened. 

Bernal said he met with Mike Burton, English, humanities, education and journalism/photography chair, and the two took immediate action, performing a sweep of Gonzales Hall to see if anybody matched the description provided by the student.

Bernal said he and Burton searched all classrooms and labs in Gonzales Hall and didn’t see anyone matching the student’s description and didn’t want to be in a position of profiling.

“What if the person said they (the suspect) had long hair and black jeans? We wouldn’t stop every person with long hair and black jeans,” Bernal said.

When asked if it is common procedure to have the witness in view of a person being investigated, Trevino said sometimes, if there is only one caller, the witness may need to identify a person.

Trevino said he was not sure if the witness and the investigated student were in sight of each other because it was not in a police report.

Breiten’s report supplement states the “reporting party said he (the student investigated) was not the individual that she saw.”

J. Del Valle contributed to this story.


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