Mile Marker 323 at Lorena, Tx, on I-35 south of Waco, directly adjacent to a Brookshire Brothers Supermarket with a filling station
The deadly assaults that led to the debacle at Twin Peaks Restaurant on May 17, 2015, began months before that date. Federal officials of the FBI, ATF, Marshal Service, and other agencies of the umbrella agency, the Department of Homeland Security, quietly took over the investigation at the time, and have been running events ever since.
There is an invisible, but clearly discernible, in fact, palpable line between east and west Texas. Some say it’s loosely defined by Interstate 35, but there are parts of west Texas situated way, way east of that line.
What’s the difference?
It’s the people, and the way they react to events, new situations, strangers. In general, west Texas is just flat friendly as aw, get out. East Texans are about as concerned with who you just might be and what kind of bogey man you probably are, and they make it painfully obvious.
In west Texas, you’re a-ok until you just haul off and prove how wrong you are. In east Texas, you are a total pest and a complete rat, police bait the minute you come in sight. Jerk up the phone; we got us one, now. Call the po-leece.
Mile Marker 370 – Kim Winblad stands in a pool of flickering fluorescent light in a gray and milky midnight world intersticed with vibrant and vivid red and yellow logos for junk food, fuel additives, and assorted shiny gadgets of the road – the big twin-ribboned super slab the truckers call “the boulevard.”
She’s an experienced cashier, and she’s breaking in a newbie, a woman unfamiliar with the electronic gadgets that run inventory on items, punch in prices, calculate change, and print receipts for motor fuels.
This is the southern tip of Palo Pinto County, at Gordon, a twin hamlet with Mingus, located just a hoot and holler north of “Rodeo U” – Tarleton State at Stephenville. Hot, rugged, dusty cattle country in dipping and diving washes and hummocks over dry creek beds and brushy pastures, the mind’s eye barely registers te nature of the terrain at 75 miles per hour rushing down Interstate 20 on the way to nowhere.
This is the Bar-B Truck Stop, and when Kim is quizzed about whether she saw what happened to a man named Arthur David Young, 38, a few minutes after 1 pm on Saturday, March 22, 2015, she is visibly shaken. She turns her shoulders half-way to her right and looks directly at the gas pump in a long line of gas pumps where, she says, “probably a dozen – ten or fifteen of them – beat him in the head with all kinds of stuff. It was the worst thing I ever saw.”
Only then, does she look – really look – at the one asking the question. A dispatch record obtained from law enforcement said a filling station attendant had telephones to say a crowd of men were beating another man in the head with hammers.
“Why?” she asks. Her eyes narrow noticeably. One looks back at the notebook, then realizes there is no ballpoint in the breast pocket of the t-shirt, and points to a spare on the counter next to her cash register, where she has been counting the day’s receipts and stapling them. “May I?”
She nods, then does the math on her fingers and says, “He’s my, let’s see, uh, I guess he’s my second, no third – ah, yeah, second cousin. I saw the whole thing; in fact, I’m the one called the law…”
And then she points to a woman waiting to pay the new cashier who is struggling with the cash register for sodas and potato chips for her kids, and says, “His wife? She was standing right there, watching through the window.” She hooks a thumb over her shoulder and turns to look again, pointing to the gas pump. And you know it’s the very gas pump by her gesture.
“She said, ‘Oh, my God! Look what they’re doing to him.’ When I turned around to look, I grabbed the phone and called 9-1-1. They hit him in the head with a hammer.” She sounds incredulous about it, even sixteen months later.
Young’s wife tried to go outside to intervene, but, “I called her back. I told her, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it. Look how many of them there are.’”
Young was still holding the gas nozzle in his hand; he’d just just finished filling his motorcycle tanks with gasoline.
“One of them. One of the Bandidos came in here and asked me to turn off the pump. He stood right there.” She nods at a man waiting in line by the door to pay for a tank of gas.
“He was afraid he would douse them with gasoline and set them on fire, but he’d already turned the pump off. He’d finished filling his tanks. I just told him, no, I wouldn’t turn the pump off. No.”
And then she shudders. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
And, there, as simple as that, an eye witness who actually saw the Bandidos beat up a Cossack, gives her account of what she saw, how it happened.
She lowers her eyes and her voice, and says, “They say they did it to him because he wouldn’t stop wearing his patch on his jacket. That’s why they did it.”
One nods in agreement, says “That’s what they all say,” and it all seems so simple – until it comes to mind that no matter the rumored motive, it’s still a case of aggravated assault. It says so on the Palo Pinto County offense report. It says two county mounties were dispatched at 13:13, arrived at 13:29, and were clear at 13:57, about 45 minutes later, after they got the victim in the ambulance and found no one to arrest. That means they left.
They noted it was an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Mile Marker 322 On the same day, on Interstate 35 south of Waco, at Lorena, Texas, on a service road fronting a Brookshire Brothers Supermarket where there is a filling station, a police report about a similar, equally savage assault on a Bandidos patch holder is vague about the exact time that a group of men rammed the motorcyclist with a pickup truck, curbed his machine, and had at him with deadly weapons.
An “adult gang” left Rolando Campos, date of birth redacted, with “severe lacerations, other major injury.” Weapons included “personal weapons, motor vehicle, blunt object.”
No one said anything about the Cossacks or patches, or turf disputes. Or anything at all.
As in the previously described case, the same penal code section applies, 22.02, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The circumstances? “Unknown cir” are noted. Since there was no one to arrest, the officers merely left once they had Campos loaded in the ambulance.
Seeking the bare bones public record of these two events is as different as night and day. At Lorena, the custodian of records elected to send the inquiry to an attorney, who recommended to the staff of the Attorney General that no information be released.
When a personal appeal was made to Chief Tom Dickson, he realized all that was requested was the basic information and faxed it immediately.
An appeal to the Custodian of Records at the Palo Pinto Sheriff’s Office netted the same information, but Records Chief Angela Bryant made the observation that, “The people you are dealing with throughout the state, they don’t have it to give. The FBI came in here right away and took over these cases.”
For the first time, someone in a position to know – a custodian of record for a local constitutional office – just stated plainly the obvious truth.
We thank you, ma’am. The federal government is running the show; it has been since March of 2015, if not earlier.
The same goes for her boss, Sheriff Ira Mercer, who hauled off and suggested the Cossacks omit their annual blow-out at a piece of private property just up the road from the Bar-B Truck Stop. Just like the Sheriff of Ector County at Odessa, he ran them all off, and it made the news on prime time all over the Metromess and greater Texas the next day.
He and his coutnerpart in the oil patch reasoned that you can’t have trouble if the troublemakers aren’t there to do it. They told them to “Git!”
What happened on the border with east Texas, at the corner of Highway 6 and Interstate 35, Six Shooter Junction? There is a lot of secretive conjecture about maneuvers behind the scenes and so on and so forth, what have you.
Matters brewed on, and local law enforcement struggled with the consequences – badly.
Judges sent ‘messages’ with the amount of bond they set, and the DA ‘commandeered’ an investigation of aggravated assault when he ordered the police to arrest everyone wearing any kind of distinctive patch or identifying as a member of any organization for engaging in organzied criminal activity that led to capital murder and/or aggravated assault.
No trial date has been set for any defendant.
So mote it be.
Mile Marker 370, Interstate 20, at Gordon, Tx, at the Bar-B Truck Stop