By Kathi Bliss
Two Central Texas residents were arrested and a third remains at large after a minor accident turned to madness in Lockhart last week.
Just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, Lockhart police said they received a call from an area resident complaining of a hit-and-run collision. The woman, who has asked that her name be withheld, opted to give chase rather than staying at the scene.
“There was traffic at the light at Mockingbird, and when they hit me, I pulled over to get off the road,” she said. “Instead of pulling over behind me, they just whipped around me and took off. I don’t know why, but in that second I decided that I just wasn’t going to put up with that.”
She said she pursued the suspects because she feared the damaged done to her vehicle in the collision had been substantial. While pursuing the other vehicle, she contacted the Lockhart Police Department on her cell phone, giving them a description of the vehicle and the individuals in it.
“She did a great job,” said LPD Sgt. Richard Torres on Friday. “She was pretty calm, and gave us great information. She chased them over to the east side of town and they pulled into a cul de sac and she used her vehicle to block them in, and we told her we were on the way.”
A woman, later identified as San Marcos resident Patricia Garcia, left the suspects’ vehicle and approached the woman, first asking that she not report the incident to the authorities. When she discovered the police were on their way, she became hostile, got back in the vehicle with the others, and they rammed the unnamed victim’s vehicle until it was moved enough for them to make an escape.
The Caldwell County woman gave chase again, this time ending near the ML Cisneros Freshman Campus on Bois D’Arc Street, where the three suspects fled the vehicle.
Two of the three forced their way into a passing vehicle stopped at a nearby traffic sign, while the third sought refuge in the nearby residential neighborhood.
“I sat there and I watched them force their way into someone else’s car after all this,” the woman said. “And I started thinking, I drive around all the time with my car doors unlocked, because you just don’t think something like that will happen in Lockhart. But it did and it does, and I want to make sure that people think about locking up their cars. Because what if a child had been in that truck, or what if…”
The second victim, who chose not to press charges against the two suspects for the carjacking, drove to HEB, where the suspects fled again and were apprehended by police.
Along with Garcia, San Marcos man Moses Gamboa Cortez, 25, was taken into custody.
Both refused to name the third suspect, who was driving the vehicle.
Torres said the investigation into the incident revealed the 1996 Chevrolet Blazer the trio had been driving was reported stolen in Midland last week.
“I’m not sure yet how the stolen car factors in,” Torres said. “But these people have extensive criminal histories, which include prior assaults, thefts, evading arrest, resisting arrest, hindering apprehension, drug charges and weapons charges. These weren’t just dumb kids out on a joyride. These are criminals.”
Torres said the first victim was extremely fortunate that she wasn’t injured or worse during the chase, but also applauded her bravery in pursuing the suspects.
“If she hadn’t done what she did, we wouldn’t have caught them, and we wouldn’t have recovered that stolen car,” he said. “She gave us great information the whole way through. She told us what car we were looking for, and when she saw the suspects, she was able to tell us what they all looked like, what they were all wearing, and that’s why we were able to get them.”
Garcia and Cortez were both booked into Caldwell County Jail and charged with a variety of charges, including Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, as well as charges stemming from the stolen vehicle and the hit-and run.
The third suspect remains at large and the investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401.