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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 25, 2007

SUV seized at Barstow home used by Stockton slay suspect

The Pecos County Sheriff’s Department is seeking help from the public in locating a gun used in a May 16 murder south of Fort Stockton, while officials said an SUV parked outside a Barstow home that was seized by local law enforcement officials Monday afternoon is believed to have been used that night by the man charged with the murder. Alfonzo Gomez Quiroz, 29, was arrested on May 17 in connection with the shooting death of Jesus Abdiel Garcia, 24. Garcia’s body was found shortly after midnight on May 17 in a vehicle parked south of Fort Stockton on Davis Road. Garcia had suffered a single bullet wound to the head, according to the Pecos County Sheriff’s Department.

“What the investigation has revealed is that’s what the shooter drove to the location,” said Ward County Chief Deputy T.J. Perkins. “It’s being processed and the evidence is being sent to the crime lab.”

Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski of Fort Stockton is assisting Pecos County in the murder investigation. On Monday, Burzynski and Ward County sheriff’s deputies when to a home in Barstow with a search warrant, and seized a black 2004 Chevrolet Trail Blazer parked in front of the house at Rio Grande and Briggs streets.

He said an affidavit in connection with the search warrant was filed at the Ward County Courthouse in Monahans.

In his filing for the search warrant, Burzynski said the shooting took place in Garcia’s vehicle, but that blood, skull fragments and other pieces of hair and skin from the victim landed on Quiroz and his clothing at the time of the shooting, and traces of that were likely left in the Trail Blazer when he drove away from the murder scene.

Burzynski’s affidavit states that Quiroz, who is nicknamed “killer”, made several cell phone calls to Garcia prior to 9 p.m. on May 16. He said in an interview conducted following Garcia’s arrest on May 17, the suspect said he had Garcia were partners in a cocaine business, but that Garcia had become indebted to “the bosses” for $25,000.

The suspect alleged that the unnamed bosses demanded repayment within five hours earlier last week, and that while Garcia repaid $20,000 and then the remaining $5,000 he was told by phone to “put him (Garcia) in the ground.”

The Ranger said that while Quiroz was alleged to have driven the Trail Blazer, he said he borrowed it from a friend. The owner the SUV is listed as Jose Cruz Garcia, 1016 E. Second St. in Pecos, but Burzynski said as of now, no one in Pecos or living in the home in Barstow where the vehicle was located is connected to the slaying.

While the SUV has been seized as evidence, one key piece of evidence that’s still missing is the .357 pistol used in Garcia’s murder.

“We’ve got a couple of leads we’re following out, and we’ll see where we get,” Perkins said. He added that the Pecos County Sheriff’s Department may contact other law enforcement agencies in the area as part of the search for the gun, and may offer a reward in connection with locating the murder weapon.

“We had information the vehicle was used by the suspect that night. We put a locator on it and found out it was in Ward County, then we got a search warrant and picked it up and brought it back to Pecos County,” Perkins said.

“We’re still investigating the whole matter, and we’re trying to gather all the evidence we can,” Perkins said.

Following arrest on Thursday, Quiroz was charged with of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. His bond was set at $600,000 and he remains in Pecos County Jail in Fort Stockton.

Gomez, Navarette receive Rodriguez courage award

Each year the Jaime P. Rodriguez Courage Award Scholarship is given in memory of the courage displayed by Jaime P. Rodriguez, when he sacrificed his life in the war on drugs.

Rodriguez was an officer with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and was shot to death during the line of duty.

This scholarship was created by Attorney Bill Weinacht in memory of the courage displayed by Sgt. Investigator Rodriguez when he sacrificed his life in the war on drugs on May 16, 2002.

In order to win this $4,000 scholarship, a Pecos High Senior must display an act of courage or heroism in the course of their life. The award is not given for an outstanding athletic or academic performance.

The recipient must display an act of courage in order to receive this award.

This year the selection group picked out two winners that will share this scholarship.

This year’s winners are Jonathan Gomez and Christopher Navarette. At approximately at 2 p.m., on April 13, Christopher Navarette and Jonathan Gomez were in Mr. Jones Auto Tech Class. Both young men were working on a class project.

Jonathan looked up and noticed that the house across the street was on fire. Jonathan asked his work partner, Chris Navarette to call 911 and report the fire.

Chris used his cell phone and called 911. Both Chris and Jonathan ran across the street and started to pound on the doors to alert anyone inside. No one came outside, but they both believed that someone was inside the house.

While they were waiting for help to arrive they used Chris’ truck to pull vehicles away from the burning house.

When Lt. Juan Vasquez arrive the two boys persuaded him that someone was still inside the house and upon entering he discovered Chris Deishler asleep inside the home.

These boys quick thinking and willingness to take charge in an emergency made them this year’s Jaime P. Rodriguez Courage Award Scholarship winners.

Special events planned in area over weekend

Concerts, along with other activities, are planned for this weekend for Pecos, in conjunction with the Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile, Keep Balmorhea Beautiful invites everyone to their annual Memorial Day Festival this Saturday and Sunday in Balmorhea.

The Pecos events will be held on Saturday, with opening ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m. at the Pecos Park and Zoo.

“This is the third annual event,” said Town of Pecos City Parks and Recreation General Foreman Adolfo Ruiz.

The concert will be held from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., featuring D.J. Ornelas, Grupo Potencia, Grupo Sabor and Grupo Heroe. Local talent is welcome to perform during the special event. Other activities will be games and food vendors will be on hand offering a variety of “goodies” to eat.

Shade will be provided and everyone is welcome to bring their lawnchairs.

Ruiz said that a 40 by 100 shade would be provided and located east of the Gazebo. Several game booths, including a Kiddie Train, a water slide and the jumping balloon will be set up.

“The Mata family will have a booth set up trying to raise funds for their scholarship fund and Wal-Mart will be raising money for Children’s Miracle Network,” said Ruiz. A dunking booth will be set up with several individuals in the community volunteering for the event including Town of Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres.

“We have some bands from Lubbock coming in and one from Monahans, along with a local D.J.,” said Ruiz.

“We’re working on getting a fly-by together and the Color Guard from El Paso will be here,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz said that the Mata family would be releasing 507 balloons in honor of the number of the platoon that was attacked in the opening days of the Iraq war in which Pecos resident Johnny Mata was killed.

The paintball tournament will be held at what used to be the firing range and will begin at 10 a.m. All players must report between 9:30-10 a.m., at the sign in table. They must attend a one-time orientation session that will cover the rules and requirements of the tournament. Those not attending the orientation session will not be allowed to play.

There is a $10 charge to play in the tournament. If individuals don’t have their own equipment they can rent it from “Just For Fun” out of Odessa. They will have a booth set up at the playing field. Anyone needing equipment will be required to pay $15 at that time. This also includes the CO2 needed to fill the tanks. There will also be a food booth set up there.

The field now has shade and stands for spectators.

Those that have their own equipment and only need CO2 or Air to fill their tanks will pay a one-time fee of $5.

All players are encouraged to wear long-sleeved, multi-layered clothing, which will help minimize the impact of the paint balls.

For more information contact Kelly Davis at 445-4911.

In Balmorhea, events begin Saturday morning, featuring food vendors, novelty vendors, including arts and crafts, a washer tournament, softball tournament, and a flea market. There will also be a Brisket Cook-Off at the RV Park. Entry fee is $25. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded. Individuals must cook the brisket on-site. To enter the cook-off contact Pat Smith at 940-0590.

A DJ will play music on Saturday from 1-8 p.m., followed by a free street dance from 8 p.m. until midnight featuring Andy Roman and the Roman Brothers Band.

The event will continue on Sunday.

For more information about this weekend’s Memorial Day Festival, contact Pat Smith at 940-0590 in Balmorhea.

School report better results on TAKS test

Preliminary scores for TAKS results for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD are in and indicate that the students did better on the statewide exams than last year.

“These are just preliminary results, but so far it looks like the scores are a lot better than last year,” said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Manny Espino.

Fifth and eighth grade student science scores still lag statewide averages, and Espino said that the district still have a lot of work to do, but that the preliminary scores indicate that the students did better than last year.

“The scores are better than last year, we’ve made some progress, but we are still working on some things,” said Espino.

He said that they have been talking to Region 18 representatives about some projects and ideas that the teachers can work on to improve the scores.

Test scores for Bessie Haynes Elementary, which was ranked “Unacceptable” last year, were up for this school year, Espino said, “Especially the science scores, which were really low the previous year, they were up some this year.”

He said that they still have work to do and are planning different strategies to work with the students.

The results indicated that all Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Schools have been ranked as “Academically Acceptable,” with the exception of Austin Elementary School, which will be “Recognized.”

“Austin almost received a ranking of ‘Exemplary,’” said Director of Special Services Juanita Davila.

Results for all P-B-T schools are listed below:

In third grade, reading scores were 96 percent and math scores were 89 percent. Statewide reading third grade scores were 93 percent and math, 82 percent.

Fourth grade: reading, 78 percent; math, 80 percent and writing 89 percent. State: reading, 84 percent; math 86 percent and writing 91 percent.

Fifth grade: reading 74 percent; math, 68 percent and science 49 percent. State: reading 89 percent; math 85 percent and science 77 percent.

Sixth grade: reading, 89 percent; math, 83 percent. State: 92 percent and 79 percent. Seventh grade: reading, 81 percent; math 67 percent and writing, 98 percent. State: 85 percent; 76 percent and 93 percent.

Eighth grade: reading, 83 percent; math 63 percent; Social Studies, 81 percent and science, 41 percent. State: 89 percent; 71 percent;87 percent and 70 percent.

Ninth grade: reading, 75 percent and math 50 percent. State: 86 percent and 60 percent. Tenth grade: ELA, 74 percent; math 54 percent; social studies, 82 percent and science, 42 percent. State: 84 percent; 63 percent; 86 percent and 58 percent.

Eleventh grade: ELA, 92 percent; math 57 percent; social studies, 88 percent and science 56 percent. State: 90 percent; 80 percent; 92 percent and 77 percent.

Third and fifth grades reading results include the first and second test administrations, according to Davila.

The third administration will be held in June. Fifth grade math results include the first test administration only.

Any student group with fewer than 30 students tested is not evaluated.

If there are 30 to 49 students within the student group and the student group comprises at least 10 percent of all students, it is evaluated.

If there are at least 50 students within the student group, it is evaluated.

Student group size is calculated subject by subject, according to Davila.

“For this reason, the number of student groups evaluated will sometimes vary,” said Davila.

For example, an elementary school with grades third, fourth and fifth, tested may have enough Hispanic students to be evaluated on reading and mathematics, but not enough to be evaluated on writing, (tested in fourth grade only) or science (tested in grades five only). “Results for each subject are summed across grades,” said Davila.

For example, the percent passing for TAKS reading in an elementary school with a grade span of K-5 is calculated as: number of students who passed the reading test in grades, third, fourth and fifth. Number of students who took the reading test in third, fourth and fifth grades.

Officers on long run to benefit Special Olympics

Several runners made a pit stop in Pecos earlier this week, during their 460-mile run to benefit the Special Olympics.

The group was escorted in to Pecos by the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department and stopped at the Border Patrol office for snacks and drinks on Monday, May 21. The runners traveled from El Paso on their way to Arlington to raise funds for Texas Special Olympics.

“This is one of the biggest fundraising groups,” said Pecos resident Laura Teal. “We’re also the team that runs the farthest from any team in Texas,” said El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Baca.

The group has been participating in this event for several years.

“We took off Sunday at noon from El Paso and will reach Arlington Wednesday night at about one or two in the morning,” said Baca, who has been participating in this event for the past 12 years. Another deputy, Federico Castillo has been doing it for 10 years and some newcomers joined the team this year.

“About 15 years ago, we started this with the sheriff’s and police department, getting together we each carry the torch,” said Baca.

He said that each runner, runs about three miles and then another individual takes over. The group travels with an RV and there are four groups participating this year.

The first group consists of: Carlos Arellano, Joe Baca, Raul Sigala, Rick Orosco and Anna Bowling.

Group two: Armando Gutierrez, Jorge Andrade, Federico Castillo, Vanessa Perez, Gracie Guitano and Myra Navarrette.

Group three: Larry Guerra, Luis Rodriguez, Ralph Chavez, Sergio Juarez, Omar Gonzales and Eddie Orozco.

Fourth group: Eddie Sanchez, Guillermo Maldonado, Javier Chavez and Jose Mascorro. Drivers for the special event were, Tony Portillo, Jose Marruffo and Saul Villalobos.

They will be in Arlington for Friday’s opening ceremonies for the 2007 summer Texas Special Olympics at the University of Texas at Arlington. The torch run began in 1985.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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