Medina County Criminal District Attorney’s Office David Garcia, Jr. is facing a murder charge for the shooting death of 16-year-old Athen Graff. Graff’s body was found in a field just outside of the Castroville City Limits just before 9 p.m. on December 2nd, 2020, not far from his home. Within days, investigators from the Medina County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at a San Antonio home leading to the arrest of David Garcia, Jr., then 18-years-old, for murder. Investigators were able to tie Garcia to the death of Graff through messages found on Graff’s phone, showing a conversation taking place shortly before Graff’s death. Physical evidence found at Garcia’s far westside San Antonio home on Paseo Derecho further corroborated Garcia’s connection to the field where Graff was found shot. Graff was a student at Medina Valley High School and resident of the Castroville area. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday, December 5th, 2022, in the 454th Judicial District Court with Judge Daniel Kindred Presiding. If found guilty, Garcia could face up to life in prison.
Devine PD received a call for a break in on Upson Street this past Thursday, October 24, and responded quickly, catching the suspect in the act. “When I got there, the suspect was standing inside the Little League concession stand with a back pack of stolen items. He refused to comply with verbal commands, and received a dose of pepper gas,” Lieutenant Chris Andrews said. The suspect, 21-year-old David Solana of Devine, is charged with Burglary of a Building was arrested and booked into Medina County Jail.
In skimming the local police reports, this one might stick out a little. A suspect in Lytle apparently stole close to three dozen trees this past Saturday morning, September 24. The theft of the trees valued at $1,100 happened around 3 am at Lytle HEB Plus. “He just pulled up and loaded up something like 32 trees,” said Lytle Police Chief Richey Priest. The suspect was driving a brown Dodge Pickup truck. If you have any tips or information about this crime or others, please call the Lytle Police Department.
A long DPS pursuit that reportedly began near LaPryor came into Devine Sunday morning around 8AM ending near Ingram Road. Local deputies were able to use a maneuver to bring the chase to an end after a dangerous 60+ mile pursuit up and down local highways and many city streets that morning. Later that afternoon, another pursuit crashed-out right in the middle of Devine after skidding across Hwy 173. The first out of town pursuit (from LaPryor) came up I-35, to SH 132 and then went straight down Teel, Colonial, and Allman street near the cemetery, according to local law enforcement, who noted the chase began approximately 60 miles southwest of Devine. The pursuit ended near the intersection of Ingram, where three subjects reportedly bailed out.
“Our officer who assisted at the scene stated that 11 people including the driver were captured. Two were transported to the hospital, while others were transported to be turned over to border patrol,” Devine PD Lieutenant Chris Andrews said. Later on Sunday afternoon, the driver of a stolen vehicle flew straight across Hwy 173 in downtown Devine as suspects evaded another out of town DPS pursuit. “The vehicle went across the library parking lot, took out one of the concrete barriers, jumped the canal and went across Hwy 173 before hitting a backhoe at the old co-op,” said Sheriff Randy Brown. “It’s real lucky nobody got killed.” Ernie Morales, Sr., of Devine, was thankfully sitting at a stop sign, and hadn’t yet turned in the path of the pursuit, as the chase flew across Hwy 173 right in the middle of town. “I looked to my left and just saw this car fly by. It was going so fast…all I saw was dust. He zoomed across 173,” Morales said, thankful that he wasn’t yet on Hwy 173 when the car came crashing across it.
Note: The DPS units that initiated these pursuits were reportedly from other counties, and no additional information was available about any charges that the suspects evading arrest may face as of press time.
Several recent incidents at the local Walmart in Devine have residents on edge. Reports of men following and approaching female shoppers have come in one after another on social media. Two of the men actually followed a woman out of the store. Devine PD is asking victims to please call them instead of just posting online, so they can identify subjects and address the situation. “In one case, the two men actually followed a woman out of the store and all the way to the frontage road, and were on both sides of her vehicle, on bicycles, from what I understand,” Chief Kandi Benavides stated. “She took a different route home, but still, no one called us. After seeing social media posts, I followed up with a few of the women in these cases because I want to get to the bottom of it.” So far, police made contact with one juvenile male and one adult male from Guatemala who were identified. “The two men who were identified were spoken to. We let them know we are aware of what has been occurring and unless they are shopping at Walmart, they don’t need to be there,” Chief Benavides said. “They did not really have an explanation as to why they were there.” Benavides notes that Devine PD has officers patrolling in Devine 24/7. “There is no excuse for this kind of behavior and we won’t tolerate it,” Benavides said. “Please call us and we will send someone immediately. We will make contact with you, and then address the suspects, so that it is properly documented. So if it happens again, and it is the same subjects, then we can take further action.” “A third subject (seen in footage) will be contacted when we are notified of his return to Walmart in Devine,” Devine Lieutenant Chris Andrews said. “Unfortunately, we were not notified until after the fact in these cases. We made contact with each victim for every post that was brought to our attention,” Andrews added. “If something occurs, please notify the police department immediately, and/or store management.” Earlier this August, one local family shared their story of one of these incidents. “First, my daughter was approached by a man who started speaking Spanish to her. She acted like she didn’t understand him, so he moved closer to her and repeated it until she got out of line and moved to another register. She asked for someone to walk her to her car. It scared her to death,” the family stated. “The next night, while I was at Walmart, I could tell I was being followed by two men with an empty basket. I called my husband to come to the front and pick me u. In the meantime, my husband noticed there was a white van in parking lot with Mexico plates and a man standing out by it talking on the phone. Then another man came out of the stores and got in the van. I will not be going back there. They need to hire security officers!” Devine PD is urging citizens who encounter situations like this to please call 830-663-4403. After 5 pm, this same number will transfer to county dispatch who will notify an officer in Devine immediately. “We have to be aware of our surroundings everywhere we go,” Chief Benavides adds. “Some of these women have said they felt something was not right but didn’t want to bother us. So instead they asked an unarmed employee to walk them out to their car. So I asked, without a weapon, what could that person have done to stop someone from harming you? Follow you gut–if something doesn’t feel right–please call us. We are here to help. We want our community to feel safe.”
August 11, 2022 – The Medina County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your assistance in identifying a person/persons responsible for multiple fires that have been started in the last 48 hours.
“The fires have been started along our rural roadways, in the Castroville, Mico, Dunlay, Quihi, New Fountain, Hondo, and D’Hanis areas,” said Keith Lutz, MC Emergency Management Coordinator in an I-Info press release.
“Please report any tips or suspicious activity to the Medina County Sheriff’s Office dispatch at 830-741-6153, Medina County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-FOR-CUFF, or dial 911.”
A young man and woman were pulled over by suspects impersonating police officers around midnight right on the edge of Lytle city limits this past Thursday, July 7th. It happened at Wisdom Road and Ball Road. “They pulled the victims over using red and blue sirens, according to witnesses. One of the suspects was dressed in a police-like uniform and equipment, and he was armed with a handgun,” said Lytle Police Chief Richey Priest. They had the victims lying down on the ground with zip ties when one of our officers on patrol spotted them. Luckily, nobody got hurt.” Upon seeing the Lytle PD officer, the suspects fled in their vehicle. The suspects crashed striking a railroad crossing arm at Old Frio City Road and Pearsall Road. At that point they bailed out and fled on foot. “We have video of what looks like five suspects that fled on foot from the crashed vehicle. They bailed out and ran in all different directions. We do have suspect(s) in this case, and we will be working with the Texas Rangers as we continue this investigation,” Priest added. A purse, gaming console, jewelry and a handgun were stolen from the victims during the armed robbery. We discussed what to do if you ever find yourself in a rural area where you feel uncomfortable and cannot see a clearly marked PD car. “Every situation is different,” Chief Priest said. “If it’s not a marked vehicle and you feel uncomfortable, you might need to just turn on your flashers and slow down until you get to a parking lot or lighted area where you can pull over. Our officers are also aware of that and sometimes we will follow someone until we get to a more well-lit area to make a stop.” Sheriff Randy Brown adds, “You can call the Sheriff’s Office and they can most likely confirm that it is one of our officers. You’ll need to know where you’re at. If you are in Medina County, call Medina County Sheriff’s Department, or if you’re in Atascosa County, you’ll need to call Atascosa Sheriff’s Department. Slow down, put on your emergency flashers and drive to a place where you feel safe.”
When deputies spotted a stolen vehicle coming down I-35 this Monday, June 28, things quickly took a turn for the worse. The driver fled, exiting the interstate and went straight through fences and into a family ranch just south of Devine. The two suspects are still at-large. After going through fences, trees, and then stuck buried in the sand, the vehicle erupted in fire, burning 10 acres. The thick brush and deep sand kept volunteer firefighters on scene for about five hours that afternoon, building fire breaks and putting out hot spots, Chief Greg Atkinson said. “Two subjects fled on foot from the vehicle according to a witness,” Sheriff Randy Brown stated. “We did an extensive search but they are still at-large, most likely picked up by their pilot vehicle. They usually always run IA’s with a second vehicle close by. Often, as we try to stop the suspect vehicle, the pilot vehicle will attempt to block us by trying to ram or wreck our vehicles.” The incident occurred on the same day that 50 illegal immigrants were found dead in a tractor trailer on a back road not too far away, southwest of San Antonio. It’s being recorded as the deadliest human smuggling incident ever. “I blame each senseless death on the White House,” Sheriff Brown commented. “Close the border, and stop the human trafficking. There is a process to enter a country, not hidden in a vehicle, or a trailer. These people are paying big money for a trip to paradise… then they are lied to, raped, assaulted, robed, and left to die. Yesterday day we had a pursuit with a female driver, who is 9 months pregnant. She is now charged with human trafficking, sad what people will do for money.”
“A Medina County jury deliberated for only 45 minutes before finding Tina Gabrielle Rendon, 34, guilty of murder on Wednesday afternoon, declining to convict her of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Later the same day, that jury sentenced her to 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional division,” a press release, the Medina County District Attorney’s Office stated. The crime occurred on August 22nd, 2020. Continued on page 8 7 “Brittnee Jones, 28, and Tina Rendon were living together in a Natalia mobile home park at CR 471 and 3rd Street, a home they had moved to just days before. Eye-witnesses described seeing Rendon and Jones arguing when Rendon entered a maroon minivan. Witnesses described Jones as trying to stop Rendon from leaving when Rendon hit the accelerator and ran over Jones. Investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol Division, determined that Jones was dragged under the rear wheel of that maroon minivan for at least 126 feet. First responders arrived on scene within minutes of an eye witness calling 911, but Jones died from blunt force trauma as she was dragged on the street,” the press release stated. Rendon must serve at least half the sentence before she is first eligible for parole. Rendon was represented at trial by the Hill Country Regional Public Defenders Office. “This defendant would not accept responsibility for dragging the victim under her vehicle for over 100 feet, protesting that it was an accident. The jury saw through her defense and is holding her accountable for this senseless, brutal crime with such a swift conviction and strong sentence,” said Criminal District Attorney Mark Haby. First Assistant District Attorney Julie Solis and Assistant District Attorney Christian Neumann prosecuted this case in the 454th Judicial District Court. Numerous agencies assisted in the investigation of the case, including the Natalia Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Rangers.
Authorities are actively searching for two suspects in the case of an aggravated robbery on Hwy 132 in Natalia last Tuesday, June 21 around 7 pm. The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. The suspect reportedly knocked on the door and then forcibly entered the home wearing a bandana over his face, instructing the elderly homeowner to lay face down on the couch for as long as two hours possibly, police said. “The suspect then ransacked his home, before stealing his vehicle,” said Natalia Police Chief Valerie Naff. The stolen truck, a 1996 white Toyota Tacoma with a camper shell, was recovered in a BMA canal outside of Lytle this Friday, but the suspects are still on the loose. The suspects also stole welding equipment, his phone, and various items. The robbery occurred at a home in the 2100th block of Hwy 132 in Natalia. “The suspect was described as a thin, Hispanic male,” Chief Naff said. “The victim only saw and heard one person, the suspect did claim there was a second person with him.” “We are asking for the public’s assistance. Please let us know if you have any information or might have security camera footage in this area,” Naff added. If you have any information about this crime, you are urged to call the Natalia Police at 210-355-1382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Medina County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 REWARD for information leading to the arrest. Crime stoppers can be reached at 1-800-367-2833. Chief Naff reminds residents, that if you don’t know who is knocking, please do not answer the door.