Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

Page: 14

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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 29, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas 14 | Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | heraid-zeitung.com MIAS Continued from Poge 1 2009 from Canyon High School, where ne was a competitive power lifter and played defensive end on the Cougars' football team. It was on the* gridiron where John met one of his best friends, 21-year-old former Cougar wide receiver Marcus Medrano. Medrano's voice repeatedly c racked Tuesday as he reminisced about his good, fun-loving buddy. He ret ailed John f arias coming home on leave and hitting Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio together. They spent many a night there enjoying tne music, girls and dancing, Medrano said. Medrano said about four weeks ago he reteived a call from a strange phone number and was hesitant to answer. He finally picked up and was pleasantly surprised his friend John was calling from Afghanistan. They talked about g(x>d times and told jolces, Medrano said, delighted that John took time out to call him. "We talked about what we'll do when he gets bar k," Medrano said. "Now he's not coming back." Felix Farias, a former Army soldier stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War, said he thought it unwise for his son to enlist when the country was involved in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan but supported John as best he could. He described John as a ood kid who had a Ifjving eart. Felix said John was loved by man and loved all his family and friends. John had a great sense of humor and wa; always smiling, Felix said. "When he left, our house was so empty," he said. "Nr»w it's going to be worse knowing that he's not coming home anymore." Felix's birthday was June 9, On Monday, he received the happy birthday letter John wrote June 5, felix said. He said he wrote the reply letter and intended to mail it Tuesday. He didn't get a chance to because Marines bearing the bad news came to his door, Felix said. "I was answering the letter last night and I was fixing to mail it today when they told me the news. I still have it in my pcxket," he said. "I'm going to put that in his casket. Fie'11 read it upstairs." J Farias Facebook com U.S. Marines Lance CpI. John Farias poses in front of Marine banners in this photo from his Facebook page. BAN Continued from Poge 1 Alcoholic Beverage Commission to get a better handle on the question. "But, without having done any research on it, my first impression would be that it would be a possibility that you could pass a no-alcohol law on the Comal River." One big sticking point might be that to ban alcohol on tne Comal, you'd also have to ban it on every other river in Texas, Miller said. But there just might be a backdoor way to ban alcohol on the river. Health and safety The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allows a city to establish laws or regulations on a waterway such as the Comal River — if those laws and regulations have to do specifically with protecting human welfare and safety, Pence said. "So the regulations that the City of New Braunfels has imposed on the river in the past, we have specifically tied to human welfare and safety," Pence said. Take, for example, the city's 16-quart limit on the size of coolers allowed on the Comal. "Everyone thinks the cooler thing was about alcohol," Pence said. "It legally had nothing to do with alcohol." Legally, the cooler regulation is all about health and safety because it helps keep the tubers moving through the Last Tubers' Exit, where delays can create dangerous congestion and the threat of drownings. "You get a mom with a 40-quart ice chest and two kiddoes, she can't get them all to the top. But if you've got a little 16-quart cooler, the kids can carry it, the moms can carry it. The cooler size limit has made a big difference." Like the cooler law, all of the city's other various tuber-related regulations are tied to human safety and welfare, Pence said. Mayor Gale Pospisil, who believes an alcohol ban would help solve problems on the river, nas hinted it may be possible that a booze ban could be achieved by passing a health and safety law, such as banning all containers, because containers contribute to litter, a health and safety problem. They’ve tried before It appears that a health and safety-related alcohol ban has been tried before. Back in 2007, Rep. Nathan Macias introduced a bill that would have banned open containers of alcoholic beverages on any public right-of-way or public easement not more than 500 feet from the river, because of the risk to the health and safety of the residents of the municipality or persons using the river. The bill failed. Carolyn Beck, a public information officer with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said an effort also was made to tie a river booze ban to allowable bans in central business districts. "Cities can go through TABC to ban consumption in central business districts. It was determined a few years ago that the Comal River was not a central business district," she said. "Therefore, there is no statute that would allow the city to ban alcohol on the Comal River." Photos by LAURA McKENZIE | Herald Zeitung A New Braunfels Police Department officer helps remove tubes and river-goers from the Comal River Saturday at the Last Tubers Exit. Photos by LAURA McKENZIE | Herald-Zeitung The river is barely visible as tubers float near the Last Tubers Exit late Saturday afternoon on the Comal River in New Braunfels. Rioting on river not likely CpI. Clint Penniman and Officer Jack Kuhl are surrounded by tubers while patrolling the Comal River near Stinky Falls on Saturday. POLICE Continued from Page 1 The weekend force was bumped from 31 to 39 officers. Besides the increased numl>er of officers working, it's basically business as usual for cops, said Capt. Michael Penshorn. He said the department holds an orientation around the beginning of tourist season to indoctrinate new officers on the ms and outs of river duty. Some old hats show up for refresher courses but no cither river-specific training occurs. The high-profile incidents started around the beginning of the tourist season. On June 4, a drunken man reportedly was standing in tne street yelling at officers. Andrew Ashby, 27, of Killeen, and a sergeant in the U.S. Army, told police they didn't know who they were messing with dealing with him because he kills people for a living, Pensnorn said. He said Ashby resisted arrest and an officer used a pepper spray-like substance but it didn't slow down Ashby. An officer used his electroshock weapon and finally subdued Ashby, Penshorn said. He was charged with resisting arrest That same day, Eric Luedke, 24, also of Killeen, was involved in an argument with his girlfriend on Flinman Island Drive, Penshorn said. F1e said Luedke resisted and punched an officer when they tried to arrest him. An officer tried to use an electroshock weapn, but it was wet and didn't work, Penshorn said. Officers used pepper spray to subdue Luedke, who was charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, littering and the third-degree felony of • assaulting a public servant, Penshorn said. Then, on June 28, U.S. Marine Matthew Mitchell Cothron, 28, of San Antonio, was charged with aggravated assault against a public servant after allegedly choking a police officer to unconsciousness. Penshorn said he checked back as far as 2009 and found no other incidents of officers being attacked on the rivers. But still, he said, officers are watching each other's backs and working at a "heightened sense of awareness" He said it's still police work, just like any other day in any other part of town. "We basically have to be extra cautious and be aware of not only our own safety," Penshorn said, "but also that of other officers." Experts: By Doiondo Moultrie The Herald-Zeitung Mob mentality. What is wrong to an individual gets tossed aside when that person become part of a larger crowd. The energy and the emotion of the surrounding masses makes drastic behavior seem appropriate, leading to riots or group violence. That is likely what hap-[>ened recently in Vancouver, Ontario, Canada, when the city's professional hockey team lost game 7 of the National Hockey League Finals and a riot ensued, said Art Markman, professor in the psychology department at University of Texas at Austin. But the same dynamic is unlikely to manifest itself in New Braunfels on the rivers, he said. Markman said even though New Braunfels Police Department officials and officers on the Comal River have their hands full with recent incidents of law-breaking, including NBPD officers being attacked, likely the behavior won't escalate to a mob-type mentality. "Tubing is not an activity likely to promote a riot," Markman said. "Tubing promotes lying on your back. Tubing is going to promote THE RIVER WILD A Herald-Zeitung special report low-energy crime, a little vandalism, walking off with someone's wallet, keying someone's car." He said bad behavior breeds bad behavior. But, Markman said, the same is true for the opposite. He called the phenomenon "goal contagion." That's where if a person sees another person doing something, it increases the likeli-hood of the observing repeating the same or a similar action, Markman said. "That kind of combination can feed on itself," he said. "Is that going to cause a riot? I suspect you have to have a little more going on for a big scale riot." David Kirk, an assistant professor in UT's sociology department, said violence generally involves an altercation between two individuals with a conflict and rarely rises to the level of riots. Riots, Kirk said, often occur because of some perceived injustice or illegiti macy. He used as an example the recent protests in the Middle East, which brought governments down. What happens on the Comal is a far stretch away from such uprisings, he said. "Of course, with heavy alcohol consumption, things 'may' get out of hand," Kirk said. "Thus, isolated incidents of violence between members of the public or between a member of the public and the police may occur, but I don't see how this would lead to mob violence." NBPD is doing something to help ensure things don't get too far out of hand, Markman said. He said generally law- breakers only push as far as the law enforcers allow. If someone sees someone else getting away with poor behavior, the observer is more likely to try that behavior and continue to push the envelope, Markman said. By arresting alleged criminals and publicizing their arrests, police are sending a firm message that abhorrent behavior will not Ix tolerated, Markman said. "If people realize that's a step too far, that's going to provide one more reason not to do it" he said. "You'd like people to think the line is even farther than assaulting a police officer. You really don't want people getting to that point." Sgt. Stephen Hanna crosses a pedestrian bridge connecting Hinman Island Park and Prince Solms Park while patrolling the Comal River on Saturday.