Monday, July 30, 2012

Whitney killing resembles similar shooting in Valley

McAllen dust-up caused by the same fear

Hargill – In the darkness of night, terror stalks rural homes when an unfamiliar vehicle cruises by, parks in the dark, or its occupants start nosing around an isolated farmhouse.

The tiny hamlet of Hargill, Texas, sits at the intersection of two farm to market roads - FM 490 and 493 - in the rich valley floodplain farmlands just north of the border, about 25 miles northeast of McAllen and Reynosa.

There is an eerie similarity to what Pedro Alvarado's relatives are telling newsmen in the shooting of an ICE Agent who was doing a stakeout for the Department of Homeland Security of his home in a wooded area north of town on July 3, and the fatal deep night shooting of a 15-year-old girl at Whitney in a wooded area of the family's property near the corner of two rural highways - 933 and FM 1713 - on July 24.

In the Hargill shooting, Special Agent Kelton Harrison staked out a rural farm house in an "anticipated drug deal."

Mr. Alvarado and his two sons, one 18, the other 16, piled into the car and cruised past Agent Harrison's Jeep SUV, which was parked near their home.

The 16-year-old boy shot an estimated 6 rounds with a .22 rifle, shattering both the rear and front windshields of the vehicle.

The rifle shots wounded Agent Harrison in his back.

He put his Jeep in gear and fled, driving down the highway in an effort to escape the deadly onslaught.

Mr. Alvarado and the older brother, Arnoldo, shot numerous times with 9 mm handguns as the agent fled down the arrow-straight farm to market road that leads to the crossroads at Hargill.

When Agent Harrison lost control due to the shock of his wounds, his Jeep veered into another wooded area at the roadside.

Mr. Alvarado and his elder son are both charged in U.S. District Court with assault of a federal officer and knowingly carrying a firearm during a violent crime.

The younger son, whose name was witheld because of his youth, is charged with attempted capital murder in State District Court. It remains to be seen if he will be certified by a juvenile court as an adult.

Sentiment in the Hispanic community is running high. The local press has carried stories that assert juveniles are tried as adults in state courts because of a desire to punish them, while federal judges rarely if ever try juveniles in federal courts for their offenses.

A U.S. Magistrate declined to set bond on Mr. Alvarado and his son, noting for the record that the father's behavior showed “dangerous traits.”

In the Whitney case, when Edwin Odell Collins, a 40-year-old truck driver, saw the approach of flashlights focused on the ground, he assumed it was a band of people coming to get him and possibly harm his family.

He told investigators at the Hill County Sheriff's Department that he loaded a 12 gauge semiautomatic shotgun and urged his two sons and his daughter to get in the family's mini-van with him and flee.

They headed for the back door of the family's convenience store, which is located at the front of the family's home place and open 24 hours, but for some reason he changed his mind. The four of them alighted from the vehicle and began to run across the pasture for the perceived safety of a heavily wooded treeline.

He ordered his kids to fall back a hundred yards while he waited with the shotgun to kill the people with the flashlights.

But when he heard a scream, he turned and fired in the dark.

The blast struck his daughter in the back; she died at the scene of the shooting, where Mr Collins and his two sons hid in a state of terror for the rest of the night.

At daylight, they approached the store, where he asked his father if police had responded to a dropped call he had attempted to place to the 911 emergency line.

He didn't tell his father, the children's grandfather, that his daughter lay dead in the woods. According to Chief Deputy S. Girsh, Mr. Collins did not appear to be intoxicated by alcohol, under the influence of drugs, or suffering from a psychiatric emergency.

When his father said no, he had not heard anything from police, he and the two boys continued to the Hill County Sheriff's Office in Hillsboro, where he told investigating officers that he had shot his daughter and left her body in the woods without calling in for emergency medical assistance.

He is charged with the murder of his daughter, and has been released on a $500,000 surety bond.

1 comment:

  1. Similar...but still strange. I still feel there is something else happening....I don't know any of the people involved so I am speculating but perhaps Collins was in the midst of a meth induced halluciation. His first reaction was panic and certainty that "someone was trying to get him". But why? Most people who are sober and have no reason to don't react that way.