CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi family is upset with police and are demanding more from them.
On Friday, two teenagers playing baseball at Jones Elementary School said they were threatened with a gun by an older man.
“It was devastating," Amanda Aguilar said, the boys mother. "No parent wants their kids to have a gun pointed to them, ever. That’s any parent’s worst fear is to have your kids say there was a gun pointed to them.”
Nathaniel and Brandon Garza said they were playing baseball they like often do. The boys rode up on their dirt bikes parked them along the back stop fence and had been playing for about 25 minutes. When Nathaniel was in the outfield gathering the balls, they said a neighbor who’s property meets the school’s, started yelling at them.
The older man told the boys to take their bikes somewhere else or he was going to call the police.
“That’s when the guy came out and he was holding his rifle in his hand. And the first thing I thought was, is my brother about to die?" said Brandon, the younger brother. "Or are we going to get shot at? Nothing happened before he pointed the gun at my brother so i didn’t think nothing of it. Just real quick.”
“I was going to go get the other balls and I was walking back and he had a gun with him," Nathaniel said. "I was very scared I didn’t know what to do . I just got my phone and I started recording it so I could have evidence. Then he just said (if) y'all don’t go I'm going to call the cops.”
The teens called their mother who quickly came to their aid. They live around the corner from the ball field. When police arrived they determined the rifle was an air soft gun, but the Garza's couldn’t tell the difference.
“He goes, ‘well, it was only a BB gun.’ like if that’s supposed to make it any better," said Aguilar. "But I said it doesn’t matter, he used it to scare them. He used it as intimidation. So, regardless that’s wrong.”
There are several instances across the country where a BB or air soft gun were mistaken and led to the death of another. A 14 year old in Tempe, Arizona in 2019. A 12 year old in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014. A 22 year old in Beavercreek, Ohio also in 2014.
Nathaniel told police he was scared for his life when the man walked out with the gun. The Garza's told police the gun was pointed at them, but the cell phone video they captured didn’t show that.
The family walked away in a shocked state. The man walked away with no arrest. According to a Nueces County property search, the home the man came out of belongs to 79-year-old Kenneth Bruckenhoefer. A report was to be written.
“It basically told them their lives didn’t matter, but they do," said Aguilar. "They do. It doesn’t matter what it was, he used it as intimidation to scare them and that’s wrong.”
“What if he did that to someone else and maybe it was a dark skinned kid—a dark skinned guy?" said Nathaniel. "They could have shot him they could’ve done something else. But it’s a white man so they can’t do nothing about it.”
A lieutenant at CCPD said a report was generated for a a charge of making a terroristic threat that placed any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. He said the report will be filed with the investigative criminal division who will submit it to the district attorney.
Aguilar said her kids are known around the neighborhood as the helping hand. She said had the man not yelled at the boys, they might have helped with whatever yard work he was working on.
“I want to press charges on the man because I would hate for another family to have to go through this," she said. "Luckily—I'm not trying to say that it’s better that they were older and I could explain it a little bit more, but what if it’s any other kid and they take it totally different.”
The charge would be a class b misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
Efforts to contact Bruckenhoefer were unsuccessful.