CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A volunteer fire department's Facebook post about robbers faking car trouble to lure victims has been shared more than 2,000 times and has sparked concerns in a rural Nueces County community.
"Just trying to figure out why people are doing this and what can we do to help," Cpt. Alvaro Maldonado of Nueces County Emergency Services District 4 Bluntzer Fire Department said.
The post says there have been "at least five armed car robberies in the FM 666 and FM 624 area." A Bluntzer volunteer firefighter says he's one of the most recent victims, but he asked that his identity be concealed and Maldonado speak on his behalf for fear of the robbers going after him a second time.
Around 3:30 a.m. on June 24 the firefighter said he was driving his brush truck back to the fire station when he saw a man walking along FM 666 not far from Bluntzer.
"Somebody walking down the side of the road, you're going to try to help them out, especially in the middle of nowhere where there's no lights," Maldonado said.
But the situation quickly turned dangerous. The firefighter says the man he nearly hit ordered him to get out of the truck. He refused, and hit the accelerator instead. That's when he says he heard at least one gun shot.
Maldonado believes every word of the story after simply hearing the firefighter's emergency call over police radio.
"It was just the sound of the voice that just... I knew something was wrong," Maldonado said.
The Bluntzer fire fighter's case is one of three that are open investigations at the Nueces County Sheriff's Office. While the fire department believes there are more of them and that they could be connected, Sheriff John Hooper says the only thing connecting the three cases before his office is their location.
"A lot of social media misinformation is put out there, and there's been an awful lot of embellishments and exaggerations and social media energy," Hooper said. "We do know that we have three reports of aggravated robberies or attempted aggravated robberies in that geographic area of Nueces County."
Hooper also offered words of advice on two topics stemming from these cases.
"If you are driving in any desolate, uninhabited area and somebody jumps out in the roadway or tries to wave you down or get you to stop at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, know your location and call 911," he said.
"And by all means, if you are the victim of a crime, report it to a law enforcement agency," the sheriff continued. "Don't initiate the investigation on a social media platform. That puts us in a very challenging position."