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Nirenberg and Sakai call for meeting between DA and SAPD chief over string of violent shootings

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus
Joey Palacios
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus

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Over the last two weeks, five San Antonio police officers have been hospitalized from shootings involving violent offenders.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai want Joe Gonzales and William McManus to sit with other city and county leaders to discuss the issues that may have led to the release of those offenders from police custody and how to prevent it from happening again.

“We need to get the folks who are in charge of the varying aspects of law enforcement, the judiciary, etc, to identify what we have to do to protect the public,” Nirenberg said.

The string of violent incidents began on Aug. 24, followed by two shootings hours apart on Aug. 30, another on Sept. 4, and a fifth one the following day.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Thursday evening that a suspect who shot two officers and led dozens of police cars on a chase across the city has been arrested.
The 40-year-old man crashed into one of the SAPD patrol units and another car. He then got out and started shooting at police and other drivers on the highway main lanes while trying to carjack them. One officer was wounded before police shot and killed the suspect.

McManus said some of those responsible for the shootings should have been in jail over prior charges but were out due to dropped cases.

Gonzales countered that some of the dropped cases resulted from SAPD not providing evidence or missing witnesses. The accusations appeared to paint a divide between two essential entities that are tasked with arresting and charging violent offenders.

“It’s frustrating that folks like this are out on the street, cases are being dismissed, or receiving deferred adjudication, no time in jail, and this is the result of that,” McManus said on Aug. 30. “I don’t want to get into back and forth with the DA. ... this isn’t an anomaly here. … This is happening over and over again.”

Gonzales has issued several statements and held press conferences of his own following the string of five shootings. Earlier on Aug. 30 over Zoom, Gonzales said multiple times, defendants accused of crimes saw their cases dismissed because there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

“I have now looked at six or seven cases again since the year that I came into office, and almost without exception, in every one of those cases, we were unable to go forward because we either had a missing witness, or a missing complainant or victim, or a complainant or victim that was uncooperative and was not willing to come to court to testify,” he said.

Nirenberg said both were right to be frustrated but to find the answer it will take discussion beyond a single meeting.

“No one wants to see violence perpetrated on any one of the members of our community, let alone law enforcement, and so I understand their frustration, I certainly understand the chief’s frustration in taking colleagues to the hospital, but we’ve got to come up with solutions," he said.

Within the next month, Nirenberg and Sakai plan to bring together the chief, DA, city and county managers and judges to see what that solution may be.

The top city and county executives both put out statements regarding the shared goal of gathering all of the parties together. Nirenberg agreed to a direct interview with TPR, A spokesman for Sakai said he was not available for an interview regarding the incidents.

“Public safety is the priority for everyone in Bexar County, including law enforcement personnel, the judiciary, and all our residents. Working together, we need to come up with approaches to this complicated issue. Our judiciary and law enforcement are committed to addressing our challenges, and most importantly, reducing the violence we’re currently experiencing in our community,” Sakai said in a press release.

A date for the proposed meeting has not yet been set. However, both McManus and Gonzales are scheduled to attend a town hall meeting being held by District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia at 6pm at Monday evening at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. They're expected to take questions from residents.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules