GREGORY, Texas — San Patricio County Sheriff’s Office chase procedures were put to the test while in pursuit of a Sinton man on Monday.
The chase began with Sinton police when the sheriff’s office was called in to assist. Sheriff Oscar Rivera said the priority in these situations is public safety. They first see how long the suspect will go before determining their next move. Rivera said they were fortunate here because it was a low speed chase.
“Slow is better for us as far as safety of other people," he said. "But gun fire is not.”
Rivera said they then were able to use stop strips to blow out one of the Eddie Tamez's vehicle tires, outside Gregory. This particular suspect kept driving on his rim.
“The next step is to stop and block the road which we tried to do and then he opened fire on us," said Rivera. "So, it’s a no-win situation this kind of deal.”
When Tamez started firing, Rivera said deputies returned fire, but were concerned because the suspect had his teenage daughter in the car.
When the chance arrived, his daughter was able to run from the car. Rivera said that’s when deputies were able to use deadly force.
After a gun battle, deputies wounded Tamez and arrested the him. No injuries to law enforcement. Although, when the suspect first shot at deputies he came close to hitting one, shooting through a windshield and hitting the deputy’s hat.
“You got to think here, the past few months we’ve lost two troopers exactly that way, where they’ve been shot through a windshield and we were no different," said Rivera. "Shot through our windshield at our deputy. And so, this is getting to be a really serious situation for law enforcement.”
With gunfire going on, Rivera found it hard to protect the public when their curiosity took over.
“My concern here is we have people out there with video cameras, cell phones. Trying to record the events and not realize there’s gunfire going everywhere and bullets going in all directions," said Rivera "That’s a big concern of ours, but how do stop that? Sometimes a person’s fame of glory trying to get something recorded could cost them their lives.”
The sheriff’s office were joined by Sinton PD, Taft PD, Gregory PD and constables. Department of Public Safety provided assistance later on, Rivera said. He added, having the municipalities in the county go through the same dispatch center made things smoother.
“It makes it easier when you’re trying to get help from different agencies. In this case, we even had people from Portland coming in to help out.”
Rivera hopes for some new technology in the future to make these chases less risky. He hopes for tech that may be able to bring a car to a complete stop and avoid chases through crowded neighborhoods.
The 30-year-old Tamez is being moved to jail on Tuesday after Rivera said he’s been uncooperative with hospital staff.