A picture depicted Sheriff’s office with trademark magneto detonator
An ocean is a desert with its life underground and the perfect disguise above… – America
Somewhere in the Valley of the Brazos – One bumps into these things seemingly by accident, and slowly an impression begins to form in the mind’s eye.
It’s rather like diving in hazy waters over a chalky marl bottom near a blue hole in a reef rimmed with coral and beginning to get the impression of a really big fish. A fish with a hump on its back and a very large dorsal fin. Huge tail, really ugly teeth in a semicircular mouth; and then, suddenly, you realize the fish is actually a very large shark that has been circling you slowly as you paddled along looking at nothing in particular, unaware of the eyes tracking you in your true surroundings.
There it is, and it has so cleverly concealed itself in plain sight because of its natural coloration, a hazy bluish gray on top and a fish belly white below so that if it’s above, it blends into the surface glare, and if it’s below, it’s the same color as the depths in shadow. Its peripheral appearance is easily ignored if it keeps itself just out of the direct line of sight and in that murky area of the mind’s eye.
At that point, one begins to realize there are only atmospheric degrees, gradations of experience on the surface of a planet so constantly shifting that its prairies are really the bottoms of ancient oceans and gulfs, its piedmonts and rocky ranges once mighty archipelagos, its people cast in similar roles throughout their tenure as creatures native to its shifting soils and drifting tectonic plates masquerading as continents.
Behold, the celebration of a milestone year of a legendary Cossack steeped in the mystique of the family business, in which the government supplies only the ammunition in return for the militant services of an entire clan at the ready to soldier on for the guarantee of land, lots of land in return for victory obtained at the point of the sword, the lance, the rifle, the pistol.
Sheriff Parnell McNamara, Jr., a fifth generation central Texas fed, entered the first of his septuagenarian years on April 29 with all the attendant fanfare of a traditional birthday bash of one of T.P. Senior’s boys at a spot in the country not far from the banks of the Bosque, complete with full automatic bursts from government model sub guns fit to cut the door hinges on junk cars, TNT blasts detonated with timed fuses, electrical caps and magneto plungers able to breach mighty walls, buckshot barrages that will shred walls and doors in a blink.
Like a rendezvous of the fabled trick riding mustachoied men on horseback, enforcers for the Tsar, whose rodeo stunts consisted of entirely practical skills used to keep the peasants in line and guide the pogroms across the steppes, the McNamara brothers have marked the years of their lives with coveted invitations to the people of North Waco and Bosqueville to their famous birthday parties so celebratory of their badass ways in the saddle, behind the trigger, a’strut in the corridors of power, dressed in the traditional garb of the Ranger, that knight in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, his hundred peso piece badge, boots and 10-gallon stetson all a part of getting by in a thorny world of sun, sandstorms, fanged critters, stealthy scorpions and skittish cayuses.
In fact, a recent news picture of the Sheriff posing in his office depicts him relaxing with trademark carbines, .45-70 cavalry rifles, Thompson Submachine guns, and a magneto plunger detonator in the background, with a big smile on his face, reporting a recent triumph.
It all adds up to an immediate impression of monumental interest. This hombre will deal in violent death at the drop of a hat before he will let any punter, piker, bad actor or confused fool divert his mission to take care of the business at hand for the courts.
I give you the former Deputy U.S. Marshal In Charge for the Waco Division of the Western District of the United States of America in Texas, deep in the middle of his second term as the Sheriff of McLennan County.
In fact, the image is so potent that a senior masthead of slick east coast publishing of lettres machismo, “Esquire” Magazine, once included McNamara in a pictorial of legendary tough guys. He posed in a photo shoot on the streets of Hico, the rumored redoubt of a legendary outlaw, Billy the Kid, said to have lived out his latter years peacefully in that leafy little river town.
It all fits in with the rest of the story, the tale of the youth who fled his home in Ireland on some dimly defined date in a by-gone century, headed for the New World, who left a note for his kin to find.
“Milk your own cow.”
So, what’s so new? Plenty.
Unlike the “instigation” of the manhunt for the vicious serial killer Kenneth McDuff that appeared on “America’s Most Wanted,” the many appearances escorting outlaws and scalawags in and out of the federal courthouse, Lear Jets, and federal motorcades headed for an eternity behind bars, McNamara’s media image is now not so much that of a man reacting to the world around him as a bailiff for the U.S. District Court system, but is now that of a proactive cop leading his men in world of the kind of crimes that have a lot to do with the quality of life.
In the daily soap opera of the local Waco newspaper and the three area network broadcast outlets, McNamara appears often in his trademark Stetson with the specified Parnell McNamara flattened wide-awake crimp on its crown, inveighing against human traffickers and detailing how his men used their wiles to ensnare the captors of innocent womanhood in sweatshops of sin giving massages with happy endings, their hairy-legged alter egos wooing molesters on-line as they pose from an office cubicle as a virginal young woman astray in a world of indecision as they arrange assignations with eager men looking for an opportunity to grab the brass ring with an underage woman.
The familiar mosaic in county orange and flesh tone has become a familiar accompaniment to the blaring headlines proclaiming dozens of arrests and indictments of these enemies of the people so depicted on bulletin boards and easels at press conferences. Clearly, McNamara is on the move.
Forgotten are the campaign promises of 2012 to investigate 53 cold cases of homicide. Asked about that, McNamara admitted that police agencies such as Waco P.D. are reluctant to turn loose of the kind of information it takes to continue such difficult investigations. No can do.
Similarly, the Sheriff’s Office under his guidance has displayed a lackluster performance level when it comes to serving arrest warrants on men who have beaten and brutalized women. At least two have suffered the constant threat until, at last, the bad actors turned up at their doors to kill them.
In the area of enforcing the law on minor offenders in the ghettos of Waco where the police department has jurisdiction, McNamara’s night shift has left the rural areas of the county without police protection while its night shift wolf pack patrolled minority ghetto dwellers, searching out perpetrators of the dreaded offenses of driving while license suspended, driving while insurance is not in force, and failure to appear in municipal, justice and county courts to answer for misdemeanor crimes – against the peace and dignity of the people of the State of Texas.
Similarly, marginally employed men who are forced to live in third rate motels located along the interstates and U.S. Highways because of their lack of a credit rating or past history of felony convictions had best stay inside their rooms after dark. If Parnell’s Posse catches them walking up and down the balconies, they are liable to face a trip to jail or a long, loud, drawn-out discussion about their pedigree, or their particular little problems in getting along in the world. Bummer.
Fee fi fo fum.
During the campaign of 2012, soon-to-be Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon, a retired Texas Ranger who had worked as a member of the Lone Star Federal Fugitive Task Force seconded as an officer of the Texas Department of Corrections Institutional Division, Office of the Inspector General, faced a civil action brought by a residential building contractor named Marvin Steakley who demanded an additional $70,000 in building fees and to pay for supplies in the completion of a residence.
Steakley was holding the certificate of occupation for the home hostage in return for his money, which Cawthon had already paid to creditors, suppliers and subcontractors. He and his wife Shelly could prove it, and did prove it to a 74th District Court jury over the course of a five-day trial.
As the trial progressed, McNamara held forth about his career during the numerous breaks in the action as the attorneys conferred in the judge’s chambers, recesses prompted by arguments over points of law, and the like.
It emerged that he and his brother Mike McNamara, who had worked for their father T.P. McNamara, Sr. from the time they were in high school in the office of the Deputy U.S. Marshal in Charge of the Waco Division Office, were very much opposed to patch holders in what the G has labeled Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
They were somewhat expert in the intricacies of Civil Asset Forfeiture, he confided, between tales of operations long forgotten. Their travels often took them to San Antonio, he reminded me, the headquarters of the Western District of Texas and the place where the Mother Club of the Bandidos, U.S.A. is organized.
He explained the mechanics of forfeiture of money, anything of value such as motor vehicles, guns, tools, homes – and especially motorcycles.
“I mean, we would have the wrecker drivers pick these hogs up and they would go down the street with them swinging in chains, these big old motorcycles that weigh better than a thousand pounds…” he said.
By his gestures, one could see what the chains did to the paint and chrome pieces of the motorcycles, something he found hilarious.
One learned that McNamara is not the kind of man you have to ask questions. All you have to do is listen. He will tell you exactly what he thinks, and you get his version of what has happened if you will just listen carefullly. His personal style brings back memories of spitoons in the courtrooms, cigar smoke and long poker games in the back rooms of saloons and club cars of trains, confidential talk in barber shops and law offices, gabardines, spurs, Stetsons, moustache wax, tack and polished silver.
For instance, he was at pains to explain the litigation he and his brother Mike went through at the time of his retirement at the age of 57. Because they never wanted to rotate to other cities as members of the Marshal’s Service, they remained in a certain category of employment throughout their careers in order to avoid routine reassignment to such places as Detroit or New York, Los Angeles or Cleveland. Naturally, there was a hassle about retirement benefits, and in the shakeout, they got no retirement pensions.
One learned he’d been making it as a handgun licensing instructor. Becoming Sheriff would be a significant trade up for he and his family. He needed the job.
When he came to the Tokio Store near West to make his stump appearance, bikers from all over the area were there in their finest regalia, riding their scooters polished to perfection, ready to hear country and rock music played by local musicians lined up Al Cinek. Cawthon warmed up the crowd and McNamara gave his stump speech, pressed the flesh, answered questions, and moved on.
In a phone conversation a week or so later, Cinek mentioned that Facebook videos and announcements appearing on social media had attracted many bikers from the Metroplex, east Texas and the near reaches of the west, including members of the Cossacks MC and their support clubs.
That’s when the phone crackled, pop popped, hissed and crackled again, then popped and popped before it re-bopped the be-bop.
“What was that!” Al asked, alarmed.
That’s what it does when the computers hear a word they’re programmed to pick up in surveillance, I said. This was years before Snowden did his thing. Who knew?
You could feel his anxiety over the phone. It didn’t feel good. The social media thing was good about attracting a crowd, but was it the right crowd? He left the topic open. It wasn’t anything one was welcome to discuss; he made that plain.
As the years have gone by, Parnell stories available for collection have piled up in my notebooks. They include numerous mentions of the birthday parties, but law men like to throw in meat and potatoes about the full auto carbines, just what kind he loaned out to law men on the days of the final assault on the Branch Davidian compound in April, 1993. The rumor is that they were antique Schmeisser Machine Pistols, 9 mm parabellum, as well as AR-15 models with select fire for full auto operation.
And now, we learn that a man depicting on-screen a Texas Ranger, Jeff Bridges, The Dude, has patterned his walk, talk, wardrobe and style by studying videos of Parnell McNamara, Jr., much the way John Wayne patterned his act in a brief acquaintance with the legendary law man, Wyatt Earp when Earp worked as a consultant to movie producers in Tinseltown.
In an interview immediately following the “melee” at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015, McNamara chuckled loudly, compared what had happened at the shopping mall to the Gun Fight at the OK Corral by saying, “That only got three. This got nine!”
The ammunition: .45 acp. 5.56 NATO, .308 NATO, .45-70 Government.
The fighting men: Clan McNamara.
The family business. Soldiering for the United States of America.
So mote it be.
Two Cossacks brothers arriving at Ellis Island in traditional garb