Art Metzinger and Matt Briscoe
The Southside Light
Late one Thursday evening Brandy Childress and her husband Randy had just finished putting their 3 children to bed and were settling in to watch the 10 p.m. news on channel 3 like they do almost every night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and to them it seemed like it would be just a run of the mill night. But in a heartbeat all of that changed.
"It started with what we thought was one of the neighborhood cats rummaging around," said Brandy. "Man, were we wrong!"
It was only when they heard talking that they began to feel increasingly concerned. Randy, an avid outdoorsman immediately walked to his bedroom closet and unlocked their gun cabinet and pulled out his Glock while Brandy quickly dialed 911 hoping that help would come to their rural Nueces County residence fairly quickly.
Randy walked outside and turned on the light just in time to see 4 men standing around in his driveway, gathered around a Chevrolet pickup.
Randy, gun in hand immediately asked what the men wanted and what they were doing on his property?
"Hey, Bro. where is Hector?" one of the men asked.
Randy sharply explained that the men were at the wrong residence and that whatever beef they had with "Hector" was certainly not going to be found there. Randy also told the men that the police were on the way and that he did not want any trouble and then asked the men to leave.
"Look, the dude gave us this address and said that he thought that Hector lived here and we just came to deliver him a message," said the obvious leader of the group. "But you ain't him, Bro."
After a few words among themselves, they slowly got back into their truck, backed down the Childress' long driveway and made their way back towards Corpus Christi.
Some 45 minutes later is when the deputy finally arrived at their home to take their statements and information regarding the incident. Initially, that isn't what concerned the Childress family, and to some extent it still doesn't.
"What concerns me the most is that the Corpus Christi crime is starting to come out here to us," Randy says in disgust. "I think that Sheriff Hooper and his Deputies do a fantastic job and the delayed response is only a small part of the issue."
Both Randy and Brandy grew up here in Nueces County. Randy grew up in Flour Bluff while Brandy spent her teen and young adult years living out on the Island.
"We have one of the finest men in the world leading our Sheriff's Department right now and we ought to thank our lucky stars that he is willing to serve," says Brandy. "I've known of him since childhood and everybody just trusts him and his intentions."
For Randy, he admits that he feels the same way about Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper, but he also admits that crime is why he decided not to raise his children in Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi proper.
"I drive through Corpus and all I see these days is a shell of the great city that once stood here," says Randy. "Not like where I grew up was ever that great, but it just seems worse than ever when it comes to crime."
The Childress family are not alone in their concern. Property like Chris Vasquez say that they are increasingly concerned about the crime in the area and he believes that transients and homeless are only a small part of the problem.
"Look, it's not the homeless going around stealing electric boxes and stripping houses for copper," says Vasquez. "These are trained and skilled thieves that are doing this and I know that many of these crimes happen to out of town residents and often just do not get reported."
One such incident happened off of Laguna Shores near Hustlin' Hornet in Flour Bluff earlier this year where two weekend homes ended up being stripped of their entire electrical boxes and lines were cut at near the pole. The homeowners, ended up spending hundreds of dollars to fix the damage and install elaborate security systems on their property in hopes that crimes like these don't happen to them again.
"We have a serious problem around here and it needs to be addressed," said Mr. Vasquez. "I don't know if the answer is more police or what, but there certainly is a problem."
It's not just a Flour Bluff problem, either. The serious crime issue is stretching all across the Corpus Christi community. Acts of vandalism occurring in broad daylight, random assaults, vehicle burglaries and all sorts of similar crimes are in fact being called into question here in Corpus Christi and the overall consensus is that something needs to be done.
"Chief Markel and Sheriff Hooper are both absolutely wonderful human beings and marvelous administrators," says Corpus Christi resident Mark Hinojosa. "But what they need is more support from us in the community and telling city hall and commissioners court that we need more funding for these wonderful leaders and their departments."
Hinojosa points out that with all of the new development and all of the new revenue streams being brought into the area, there has to be more room in these budgets for public safety.
"I believe that Peter Zanoni in City Hall is helping change things for the better and that Barbara Canales is helping change the tide on Commissioners Court," says Hinojosa. "But how much more property is going to be damaged and random assaults are going to take place before we wake up and realize that we have a serious problem and that it is only going to get worse?"
National Night Out is on October 1st and citizens are encouraged to get out in their neighborhoods and meet each other and get to know those in their neighborhoods who protect and serve them. Experts say that National Night Out is a great way for neighborhoods and law enforcement to band together and make their communities safer.
"There is work being done and thank God that it is, but we really have to get better at supporting those who keep us and our property safe," says Randy Childress. "We don't need leadership changes right now in the Sheriff's office and police department. They just need to know that we're behind them and they need us to send a clear message to their bosses that we the people are demanding more of them and they need to get their heads on straight or else the citizens and voters will handle that problem."