San Marcos police helping with FBI investigation into incident involving Trump supporters, Biden campaign bus

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The FBI is investigating an alleged incident involving supporters of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s campaign bus as it traveled through Central Texas on Friday.

Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo tweeted Trump supporters followed the bus in an attempt to intimidate Biden voters.

“They ran into a person’s car, yelling curse words and threats. Don’t let bullies win—vote,” she added.

The bus was headed to a small campaign event in downtown San Marcos near Texas State University. State Rep. Erin Zwiener was supposed to be one of the attendees at the event, which was later canceled after the incident.

Videos and photos that surfaced online after the alleged incidents described by Democratic activists show drivers with Trump flags appearing to box the bus in. Trump tweeted video of part of the situation on Saturday saying, “I LOVE TEXAS!”

KXAN spoke with several law enforcement agencies, who said they received calls related to the caravan moving north on Interstate 35 on Friday, including the New Braunfels, San Marcos and Kyle Police Departments.

A statement from the City of New Braunfels said police responded after receiving several calls but did not observe any traffic violations, and there were no traffic accidents reported within city limits. The statement goes on to say officers monitored the procession as it made its way north, and the next jurisdictions were notified about the activity that was headed in their direction.

San Marcos Police said it received a call from the Biden-Harris bus requesting a police escort as they traveled through the city. However, when officers responded, they weren’t able to catch up with the bus before it got out of their jurisdiction because of traffic.

In a follow-up email to KXAN on Monday, spokesperson Kristy Stark said there was an unrelated car crass on IH35 that forced traffic to a halt. She says that impaired the officers’ ability “to reach the bus which never stopped traveling on IH35 as it went through San Marcos.”

Kyle Police said it received reports around 4 p.m. Friday that indicated two or more vehicles may have made made contact while traveling north on I-35. A statement said officers responded to the area, but no vehicles stopped to share information with them. Kyle Police then noted the person’s information so they could make contact at a later time.

A statement from San Marcos Police said after research of the incident and viewing online video, it appeared the crash happened in the department’s jurisdiction.

“The at-fault vehicle may be the white SUV and the victim appears to be the black truck,” the statement continued. “Calls to the driver of the white SUV have gone unanswered and SMPD has not been contacted by the driver of the black truck. Since SMPD has not spoken to either driver at this time, additional investigation would be required to fully ascertain who was at fault.”

On Monday, San Marcos Police released a statement saying its working with the FBI to get the bureau information about the incident. They confirmed the police report filed by Kyle Police saying the at-fault driver may have been the white SUV after looking at “available video footage,” and they told drivers of both vehicles to file reports with them since it happened in their jurisdiction.

SMPD said the driver of the black truck did eventually contact them and was given instruction on how to file a crash report with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra is calling for a state investigation into the incident and law enforcement’s response to it. State Rep. Terry Canales also called on the Texas Department of Public Safety to use its “full weight of their resources to investigate the events around the Biden-Harris campaign bus incident” in an open letter.

State Rep. Terry Canales’ letter to the Texas Department of Public Safety

In an email to KXAN on Monday, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler responded to Becerra’s call for an investigation into law enforcement:

“I find Judge Beccera’s comments about the Biden bus incident to be irresponsible and without merit.   It shouldn’t surprise me since he was the proponent for defunding law enforcement in Hays County.  My office was never notified in advance about the visit and after we were told about it, the bus was supposed to go to Texas State University for a rally.  By the time we were notified that it was continuing north on IH 35, our Kyle/Buda deputies were working a vehicle accident with injuries and could not respond in time to help.  Furthermore, the IH 35 corridor from San Marcos to the Travis County line is handled by the San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda police departments.  Our agency does not respond to incidents on IH 35 unless assistance is requested by the respective agency.  Becerra saw an opportunity to be on center stage and decided to take another jab at law enforcement.  Shame on him for not seeking facts.”

Gary Cutler, Hays County Sheriff

Hays County constable David Peterson says his office was also never contacted to provide an escort or any sort of security for the Biden bus, nor were they notified in advance of the bus route.

“If Judge Becerra had information and details on the Biden Bus, the only failure lies on Judge Becerra and his Chief of staff by not providing my department with any information that a Biden Bus would be traveling through our jurisdiction(s),” Peterson wrote to KXAN. “As far as the traffic accident goes, my deputy constables were not dispatched to the scene nor is my department assisting with any investigation at this time.”

As a result of the reported incidents, campaign events in Austin and Pflugerville were canceled.

“This is a first for me, but we unfortunately just had to cancel the joint campaign event in Pflugerville due to security reasons,” Rep. Sheryl Cole, incumbent candidate for District 46, wrote in a Facebook post. “Unfortunately, Pro-Trump protesters have escalated things well beyond safe limits, and we cannot risk the safety and security of anyone involved.”

“Sorry to all who looked forward to this fun event and now have to miss out,” she added.

“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump tweeted later on Sunday. “Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”

Tariq Thowfeek, Biden for President Texas communications director, said in a statement that Trump supporters put “our staff, surrogates, supporters and others in harm’s way… to the Texans who disrupted our events: We’ll see you on November 3rd.”

The Texas Tribune reached out to the Texas Republican Party with questions regarding the incident. “Where is the liberal corporate media’s concern about that real violence?” a statement from Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said in part. “It is more fake news and propaganda. Prepare to lose… stop bothering me.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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