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TPWD News Release — April 4, 2005

TPWD Game Warden Field Notes

The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

E-Bay Bust — Recently, investigators found a fish shocking device offered for sale on EBay, made contact with the seller, and became the high bidder. Undercover investigators then made contact with the seller at his residence in Erath County. Before the deal was completed, the seller bragged about killing 12 ducks after sunset the day before and gave the breasted ducks to the officers. Additionally, he gave them several homemade “fish bombs” with wet fuses and told of his latest invention, a way to shock doves off a highline. The person was “charged” with selling an electricity-producing device designed to shock fish, a Class B Misdemeanor, and was placed in the Erath County Jail.

Tragic Courthouse Shooting — Game Wardens were driving toward the Tyler office recently, to discuss a major case in Wood County. They heard one of the district judges on the radio describing shots fired at the courthouse. A pursuit began involving sheriff deputies and Tyler Police officers. Dispatch called for all officers, all agencies to rush to the courthouse where the man had been shooting, not knowing if other assailants were present. Game wardens assisted other officers in working perimeter security around the courthouse, which became one large crime scene. A Tyler man embroiled in a bitter child support dispute had opened fire with an AK-47 rifle killing his ex-wife and a good Samaritan on the East side of the courthouse, wounding two deputies, one police officer, and the shooter’s oldest son. Others were injured from flying glass. The 43-year-old suspect, wearing body armor, died in a gun fight with officers after a vehicle pursuit. The good Samaritan, a private citizen and a concealed handgun license holder, had critically wounded the suspect. This citizen is credited with saving the life of the wounded 23-year-old son of the assailant. One 28-year-old Smith County Deputy Sheriff remains in critical condition with multiple rifle wounds. Other wounded officers were treated and released. The Smith County Courthouse was closed Friday as the investigation continued.

Bald Eagle Death Being Investigated — An Angelina county Game Warden recovered a mature bald eagle on Easter Sunday on an FM road south of Lufkin. It had been run over. The bird was sent to a federal repository in Colorado for an autopsy to make sure it was an accident.

Don’t Let Personal Views Lead to Law-Breaking — Game Wardens were inspecting the trapping operation in Sun City when, on two separate occasions, Sun City residents began honking their horn at one of the trap sites to scare the deer away. The wardens stopped the residents and advised that this was illegal under the hunter harassment law as this was a permitted process. The residents were issued warning citations. The wardens then asked the trappers if they could move their trap site so the public would not have easy access to it and to avoid future incidents. The trappers complied, and the rest of the operation went smoothly. Sun City had a permit to remove up to 150 deer by the end of March.

Game Wardens Like to Fish Too — An Aransas County Game Warden was wadefishing in Aransas Bay on a day off recently. The speckled trout were being cooperative, as the game warden was catching a few keeper fish and releasing the undersize schooling fish. A neighboring fisherman not far from him was not being as conservative. The game warden waded his way toward the unsuspecting subject and asked if his day was going all right. The subject stated that everything was just fine as long as the game warden did not show up. A very surprised and very shocked subject got a real close up look at the badge, and the subject now has a date with the Justice of the Peace in Rockport.

Congrats! Wichita County Game Warden Pat Canan was awarded Officer of the Year for Texas at the recent National Wild Turkey Federation Conference. The award was based upon: public relations, positive attitude, professionalism, enthusiasm, dependability and investigative skills.

And More Kudos — Williamson County Game Warden Brad Guinn and Milam County Game Warden Mike Mitchell were presented with Life Saving Awards from the Milam County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2010. The honors recognized their efforts during a flood on Nov. 22, 2004. Guinn and Mitchell had retrieved a woman, her dog, and her horse from rising waters that morning in southwest Milam County.

Big Bust — Galveston County Game Wardens caught a commercial snapper boat in possession of 3,493 pounds of undersize red snapper, or a total of 2,726 undersize fish. While conducting the inspection of the vessel, a hidden compartment was located which contained all of the undersize red snapper and an additional 2,128 pounds of fish, for a total of 5,641 pounds of hidden red snapper. Cases are pending.

Unauthorized Used of TPWD Logo — A Motley County Game Warden received a call from a concerned landowner about a Web site that she had visited. The Web site, advertising a guide service, listed TPWD as a sponsor. Game wardens had previously filed charges on one of the owners of the guide service and his family members related to a scheme to exceed the bag limit on deer. The landowner was wondering why TPWD would sponsor a known violator. TPWD attorneys handled the matter.

“$10 or $19,000 — What’s the dif?” — A Cameron County Game Warden completed a boat fraud investigation where two individuals purchased a 33-foot sailboat for $19,000. The subjects reported on the registration paperwork that they had only paid $10 for the vessel. Charges were filed for falsifying state documents and a total of $1,400 was recovered in taxes and penalties.

Boat Busts — Marine Theft investigators have been busy. From December through February, they seized seven personal watercrafts, 10 boats, 11 trailers, and six motors. Of these, five personal watercrafts, four boats, two trailers, and two motors have already been awarded to the department and additional property hearings pending.