From Firearms to Injured Animals to Dead Deer: Just Another Day in West Texas
When it comes to crimes in West Texas, it’s not unusual to read about arrests associated with DWI, public intoxication and drugs. It’s also not unusual to learn someone fired a firearm in the city of San Angelo; nor is it unusual, especially this time of the year, for people to get arrested for poaching. This is just another day in West Texas, and Monday was no different.
Overall, however, Monday was quieter than usual at the Tom Green County Jail as far as bookings go. There were only 15 arrests, and out of those, eight consisted of new complaints. The rest were warrant related.
However, one San Angelo resident, who didn’t make the report, got off with a citation after shooting a firearm in the city limits. San Angelo Police officers were dispatched to the 800 block of E. 36th St. at 5:24 p.m. for a shots fired call. When they arrived, the officers learned two pit bulls belonging to the home owner, Justin Bublitz, 29, were fighting. The man could not separate them, so he fired a shot into the air.
“Neither dog was shot but had wounds from their fight,” said Sgt. Cade Solsbery, public information officer for SAPD. “Animal control was contacted to take possession of the injured dogs at the request of Bublitz. Bublitz was issued a citation for firing a firearm in the city limits.”
While the two dogs made it out alive, a few deer weren’t so lucky, and their shooters, Michael A. Sharpsteen and Benjamin J. Burkhalter were arrested and booked into the Tom Green County Jail for hunting or killing deer at night and from a public roadway.
Lane Pinckney, Texas Park and Wildlife Game Warden 6 assigned to Runnels County, said this is a common occurrence this time of year.
In fact, many San Angeloans and West Texas residents may have seen a post circulated on Facebook by TPW about several deer carcasses left on Twin Buttes land about a month ago. Pinkney said this is the time of year carcasses are commonly found on the side of the road and places that the public frequents, including Twin Buttes and the city lakes around Ballinger.
“Sometimes, it’s simply just a dumping case, and sometimes it’s a waste of game case where they take nothing but the head and waste the meat,” Pinckney stated.
Because of this issue and knife hunting in the area in the past month, Game Wardens in Concho County, Tom Green, and in Runnels have been working the Eola area around the Concho County line. Therefore, the two men arrested chose the wrong time to poach.
“Last night, these guys were arrested around 11 o’ clock for traveling numerous county roads in the Eola, Mereta, Wall and Veribest area and shooting deer at night,” Pinckney explained.
This was the first time these men were charged with such an offense, and both were released on a $500 bond.
Pinckney added that about a month ago, at the end of November, there were two juveniles from Wall High School who also had charges filed on them for hunting deer at night and on a public road after they were observed killing a deer from a public road at night by a Game Warden with the TPW.
A follow-up investigation after that incident revealed two other bucks the juveniles killed at night, off the road, a week previous.
“This time of year, it’s a problem in a lot of places,” Pinckney said. “It seems like we’ve had quite a lot of problems in [the Eola area] this year.”
Thus, for those people who are doing, or thinking of doing the same thing, they may want to reconsider.
“Keep in mind, a first offense for hunting deer at night or hunting from the road is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the highest misdemeanor,” Pinckney warned. “It’s one grade below a felony. It’s punishable by a $4,000 fine and/or a year in jail. Hunting licenses can be suspended for 1 to 5 years, and we can seize any other equipment: night vision, guns, lights, and anything used in the commission of the offense, with the exception of vehicles. [Hunters are] subject to lose that.”
Pinckney added that upon a second conviction, the charge is bumped up to a state jail felony.
As for the other booking charges Monday night, here is what made the list:
- DWI: 1
- Public Intoxication: 1
- Fail to Identify Fugitive from Justice: 2
- Driving While License Invoked/Invalid: 2
- Expired MVR: 1
- Possession of Controlled Substance and/or Marijuana: 3
- Hinder Apprehension or Prosecution: 1
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