Yakir Gabay Affirms: TAMIU police chief arrested on shots fired incident

TAMIU police chief arrested on shots fired incident

TAMIU Police Chief Fructoso San Miguel is facing allegations of recklessly firing shots at an opossum in the backyard of his Lakeside home, according to an arrest affidavit.

San Miguel, 60, turned himself in to the Webb County Sheriff’s Office on Friday morning to be served with an arrest warrant for discharge of a firearm in certain municipalities, a Class A misdemeanor punishable with up to one year in jail or a $4,000 fine or both.

Webb County Jail records show San Miguel is out on bond.

“Our University Chief of Police has cooperated fully with authorities and presented himself to them (on Friday morning). No additional comment is possible at this time as this is now a legal matter,” the university said in a statement.

The Gonzalez Druker Law Firm is representing San Miguel and released a statement on his behalf.

“It is unfortunate that Chief San Miguel was arrested under these circumstances. We look forward to clearing his name as this case progresses and the evidence unfolds,” said Attorney Uriel Druker.

Shots fired

The case unravelled at about 11:20 p.m. April 18, when a Laredo Police Department officer responded to a shots fired call in the 400 block of Lake Nakuru Court. The officer rang the doorbell of the residence A man later identified as San Miguel opened the door. The officer told San Miguel that a shots fired call was reported at his residence.

“Fructoso (San Miguel) told (the officer) he was trying to shoot and kill an opossum in his backyard. Fructoso (San Miguel) stated he was a retired chief from Laredo PD and he is currently the Chief of Police at TAMIU (Texas A&M International University),” states the affidavit.

San Miguel had used his Laredo police retirement pistol, a SIG Sauer, according to the affidavit. San Miguel allegedly told the officer he had only fired three shots because the gun jammed. The officer asked San Miguel where the firearm was. San Miguel escorted the officer to the dining room where the .45 caliber SIG Sauer P220 was on top of the dining room table.

Police said the gun had a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson casing jammed in the barrel. The officer contacted the Webb County District Attorney’s Office hotline to speak to an assistant district attorney. After learning the facts and circumstances about the case, the assistant district attorney told the officer not to arrest but to file a report for discharge of a firearm in a municipality, states the affidavit.

A forensic identification services investigator responded to the scene. The investigators recovered the firearm, spent casings and ammo. Police also recovered three .45 caliber Winchester spent casings from the backyard of the residence. All items seized were placed in the LPD property room as evidence.

On April 22, A detective spoke with one of the callers who reported the shots fired. He stated he was getting ready for bed at about 11 p.m. when he heard shots fired coming from the back left of his backyard. The residence located in that area is San Miguel’s.

‘Opossum problem’

That same day, the detective spoke to San Miguel in a telephone interview.

“Fructoso explained that he had used his former service weapon, a SIG Sauer pistol which was awarded to him for retirement from the Laredo Police Department. Fructoso told (the detective) that he had an opossum problem in his backyard,” states the affidavit. “Fructoso (San Miguel) conducted some research on killing opossums and found the best way to kill them was to cut off their head or shoot them in their head.”

San Miguel stated he thought about getting a cage to trap the opossums but did not want to inadvertently poison his cats with the bait used in the cage, according to court documents. San Miguel further stated that he did not shoot recklessly into the air. He told the detective that he “shot down into the ground and not up because opossums do not fly,” states the affidavit.

San Miguel explained to police that he did not shoot when the opossum passed by the back door to his residence, by his swimming pool or by the brick wall that bordered with his neighbor, states the affidavit.

“Fructoso (San Miguel) explained that he discharged his firearm in a safe manner (aware of the backstop) and made sure he was firing into the dirt. Fructoso fired his weapon four times before his weapon jammed,” stats the affidavit. “Fructoso then grabbed a pitch fork and stabbed the opossum. The opossum was observed with (the officer’s) body worn camera. The opossum was impaled with the pitchfork. The opossum managed to escape after being impaled with the pitchfork while officers were on scene.”

On April 30, the District Attorney’s Office accepted the case for prosecution because the home did not appear to have sufficient or adequate light for someone to safely shoot at a moving opossum, states the affidavit.

Yakir Gabay

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