New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 5, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
Saturday, August 5, 2000 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 3ATROOPER/From 1A
chocolate chip cookies sitting next to Armstrong in his patrol car Friday.
“They’ve all been concerned about him, of course,” and wanted to know how Vetter was faring, Armstrong said. But from his vantage point, he had little to tell them beyond the occasional update he received from the DPS office.
“It’s a tough situation, but I guess I’m still, like everybody else, holding hope,” Armstrong said. “I think we’re all in the shock phase. Our concerns are for him and his family.”
“We certainly hope for the best for him,” he continued. “That’s all we can do right now is keep praying.” Armstrong worked almost four years with Vetter.
“This is the first time in 12 years (with the DPS) that this has hit this close to home,” he said.
It is this type of incident that heightens officers’ awareness as they work, he said.
Vetter apparently did not have the opportunity to write a ticket Thursday before he was shot. Authorities said Vetter stopped Melvin Edison Hale about 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Yarrington Road access to Interstate 35 near Kyle. They said at first that the officer was writing a citation to Hale when he was shot.
But DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said Friday that the officer had not yet ticketed Hale.
A report filed in the office of Macel Sullivan, Hays County Pct. I justice of the peace, provides a look into Hale’s perspective of what happened. A Texas Ranger who interviewed Hale after he was arrested wrote the report.
“Mr. Hale advised officers upon his arrest that he believed he had been stopped for a traffic violation of no seat belt,” the report said. “Mr. Hale advised that he exited his vehicle with his firearm, believing in his ‘Constitutional right to not wear a seat belt.’ Mr. Hale stated that he knew of an active arrest warrant issued for him for a previous traffic violation and was not going to beDonations Welcome
The Texas Highway Patrol Association has opened an account at Compass Bank for the family of critically wounded Trooper Randall W. Vetter. All of the donated funds will go to Vetter’s family. Donations can be made directly to the account:
Texas Highway Patrol Association
CIO Compass Bank
Trooper Vetter Fund
PO Box 9600
Austin, TX 78766
Or checks can be sent to the association:
Texas Highway Patrol Association Trooper Vetter Fund 8906 Wall Street, Suite 407 Austin, TX 78754
taken to jail.
Mr. Hale advised that the officer aimed his firearm at him and ordered him to surrender his weapon,” the report continued. “Mr. Hale advised that he fired two shots, one of which struck Texas Highway Patrol Officer Randy Vetter in the upper portion of his forehead, rendering him unconscious.”
Mange could not confirm Friday if Vetter drew his weapon. However, she said the DPS still believes he was shot as he was sitting in his car, with the bullet passing through the windshield before it hit him.
Sullivan set Hale’s bond at $1 million on a charge of attempted capital murder of a peace officer.
“He didn’t say anything to me .... He was very subdued when I magistrated him. He only answered my questions,” Sullivan said.
The suspect told her he is a retired crane operator for a construction company and has lived in Kyle since 1945.
Hale had no criminal record, Sullivan said, and she did not find the arrest warrant Hale had feared.
“We don’t understand why he was so distraught," she said.
The DPS reported Thursday that a different trooper issued Hale a citation in October at the same location as Thursday’s incident for the same violation — no seat belt. Authorities said that ticket was never paid and a warrant was in the process of being issued.
But that may not be the case.
Hale’s neighbor, Ed Bullock, reported paying the ticket for Hale in February after learning about the citation from a trooper who lives nearby. The DPS could not confirm this.
Bullock has for the past five years resided in a house behind Hale’s. However, he said he has known Hale 15 years. Bullock said Hale invited him, his wife and two children to live there on the land and had deeded the 125-acre ranch Hale lived on to him.
Hale’s 94-year-old mother lived at the house with Hale until recently, when she fell and was moved to a nursing home.
Bullock described Hale as a “quiet, gentle, friendly person” who he had never known to be angry.
“He’s a well-respected, church-going man who had never been in trouble before in his life,” Bullock said.
However, Bullock said he had seen trouble coming, and tried his best to prevent it.
Hale had been upset recently over a controversy involving the taxes on the ranch, Bullock said.
“I knew Melvin had strong beliefs about his freedoms. I think as he grew older...” Bullock said, and then trailed off as he struggled to keep from crying. “I don’t know what to say.”
“I was fearful that something like this would happen. I think Melvin just snapped,” because of the pressure of his mother being in a nursing home and the tax problems, Bullock said. “It all culminated out there on
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
DPS criminologists search Melvin Hale’s vehicle Thursday morning while he sits in a DPS vehicle (far right) surrounded by law enforcement officials shortly after the shooting of DPS Trooper Randall Vetter.
the frontage road.” Bullock has no sympathy for Hale, in spite of their long-time relationship.
“There is no sympathy for Melvin right now and there shouldn’t be,” Bullock said. “Right now everybody’s hurting.”
Bullock broke down and cried, his body shaking as he sobbed quietly when he tried to speak about Vetter and his family.
“There’s no justification for it,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the family,” he added later. Everyone’s thoughts need to be with Vetter and his family, he said.
“Melvin has kind of chosen his own destiny here,” Bullock said.
A trooper who lived nearby had once stopped at Hale’s ranch in uniform and in his patrol car to talk to Hale about hunting at the ranch, Bullock said. Bullock said Hale was friendly to the trooper after he realized the trooper wasn not there to arrest him. Bullock later learned from the trooper about the citation and discussed the pos
sible danger Hale presented with the trooper, Bullock said.
The DPS said Friday that a trooper, the same one Bullock said stopped by Hale’s house, had issued a memo to other officers about Hale. “Apparently, one of the local troopers had sent out an informal, internal memo to law' enforcement officers in that area saying that he was concerned about Mr. Hale and thought that folks needed to be careful if they came in contact with him,” Mange said.
She said she believes the memo was issued before Vetter’s recent transfer to the San Marco DPS office. Mange did not know if Vetter saw that memo.
While authorities continue investigating the shooting, Vetter’s friends and family pray for a man Trooper Armstrong described as a “self-motivated,” “talented” man. “Anything we can do to help (his family) through this, we’re going to do it,” Armstrong said.
“I know I’m not going to the outlets,” she said.
Several parents said they want the sales tax holiday to be stretched out over a week or longer to lessen the crowds at stores.
And, parents also said they want backpacks to be added to the list of tax-exempt items.
“I wish school supplies were on
there,” Smith said. “They were expensive this year.”
Another parent shopping at Target, 642 S. Walnut Ave., said she saved a money during the sales holiday last year and decided to shop this year, but she did not want to fight crowds at the stores.
“I won’t wait in long lines; it’s not worth it for the little you save,”
the mother of two, who did w ant to be named, said.
Many stores increased the number of staff'during the weekend in anticipation of large crow ds after a successful sales tax holiday last year.
Another mother shopping at Rue 21 in the New Braunfels Marketplace, who asked not to be named.
said she only decided to shop Fnday during the sales tax holiday because of back-to-school sales.
“A lot of stores are having sales right now, so it’s worth shopping now. But, I don’t know if I would bother just for the sales tax holiday,” said the mother, who has one teenager and one elementary-aged child.
Braunfels Utilities trying to determine just what the hole was — if it was part of a culvert or drainage
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t something that leads into something else,” Lombardo said. Nobody offered Specht any answers. Right-mire believes the well was probably covered up before the city acquired the property. It was protected by a layer of heavy planks that were covered with tin. Over that were a cou
ple feet of fill, a clay cap and the pavement.
“I don’t know when it was dug. Who would have dug a 32 foot well?” Rightmire asked.
“We’re having contractors look at it,” Lombardo said. “We’re going to fill the hole with gravel, concrete it and pave it so it doesn’t happen again.”
Rightmire, a historian who is writing a book about old New Braunfels breweries — and who
also privately collects “anything historically significant to New Braunfels,” as his business card says — is intrigued by the well. I Ie collects bottles, jugs, plates, postcards, photos — all sorts of stuff. And he has done his share of dig
ging around, looking for artifacts.
“Anything c 'mid be down there,” he said. Almost anything, anyway. Was there any water?
“I think there was a little mud at the bottom,” Rightmire said.(j ^ “A Sign To Senior Living”
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Clarence (Jack) Jahnsen passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 2,2000, in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 76 years. He is survived by his wife, Betty Jahnsen, of New Braunfels; three daughters, Kathy Krause and husband, Doug, of New Braunfels; Marilyn C. Ivy and husband, David, of Seguin, Texas; and Jackie J. Mercer and husband, Sherman, of Geronimo, Texas; two sons, Henry (Butch) Jahnsen and Shirley of New Braunfels; and Gary Allen Jahnsen of Beeville, Texas; grandchildren John Wayne, Kurtis, Bryan, Kevyn, Sheri, Chad, Reagan, Kaitlyn and Stephanie; great-grandchildren Dustin Merysa and Codi LeeAnn; four brothers, Earl Jahnsen and wife, Zada, of Bulverde, Texas; Robert Jahnsen and wife, Gladys, of Bastrop, Texas; Melvin Jahnsen
Mrs. Wallie Riedel, 98, of Lockhart, died Thursday, Aug. 3, 2000, in Lockhart. Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, 2000, in the chapel of the Feds Funeral Home in Lockhart with Rev. Carolyn Rosenbalm officiating. Interment will follow in the Lockhart Cemetery. Mrs.
and wife, Billie, of Denver, Colo., and Albert Jahnsen and wife, Bea, of Cuero, Texas; one sister, Estelle McRoberts and husband, Jim, of South Dakota. Mr. Jahnsen was preceded in death by one great-granddaughter, Daphne Faye Krause and by one sister, Henrietta and brother-in-law, Alfred Kallies. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Zoeller Funeral Home and continue until service time Monday. Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday in the Zoeller Funeral Home Chapel, with interment to follow in the Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park. The family has bequested that memorial contributions be given to the American Cancer Society.
Riedel is survived by her daughter-in-law, Lorene Riedel of New Braunfels; her grandson, Nile Riedel and his wife, Dana, of New Braunfels; great-granddaughters, Loren Riedel and Kaitlin Riedel both of New Braunfels.
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