HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County Sheriff’s Office has asked Texas Rangers to investigate what it calls an “incident involving an elected official and his staff” in Wimberley on Feb. 5. It occurred after a political forum hosted by local law enforcement associations at the Wimberley Community Center.
A KXAN reporter and photographer were there attempting to interview Hays County Precinct 3 Constable Ray Helm. He’d declined multiple requests since November to schedule an interview with KXAN, sending written responses instead. Helm is seeking re-election, facing a challenger in the Hays County Republican primary March 3rd. The TV crew approached Helm before the forum, and again after it concluded, to ask him questions on camera.
“At the conclusion of the forum, an altercation occurred involving an Austin area television crew and staff members of Hays County Precinct 3 Constable Ray Helm’s office,” said the Hays County Sheriff’s Office in a news release last week. “The altercation resulted in a minor injury to a person attending the forum.”
KXAN’s camera did not stop recording throughout the incident. Video shows reporter Jody Barr attempted to interview Helm as he exited the room. Darrell Ayres, a deputy constable who works for Helm in Hays County Precinct 3, is first seen in the video approaching the TV crew and pushing Barr in the chest, forcing him backward.
As the reporter and photographer continue walking toward Helm, audio and video indicate something forced the photographer and his camera to lunge forward. It caused the camera lens to hit the head of a woman who was in front of the photographer.
As that happened, a Hays County Sheriff deputy is heard saying, “Darrell… you cannot do that, Darrell!”
Darrell Ayres is then seen in the video coming around in front of the photographer.
Witnesses later told the KXAN crew that Ayres had tried to obstruct the photographer. In a written statement collected by Hays County deputies, the photographer said he was “shoved by who a witness told me was Darrell Ayres.”
Hays County Sheriff deputies responded to the incident and gathered statements after the KXAN reporter called 911 from his cell phone.
The woman hit on the head was a citizen attending the forum. She is also seen in another KXAN video, recorded before the forum, stepping in front of the reporter and photographer as they attempted to interview Helm.
The morning after the incident, KXAN’s News Director called the woman to apologize and explain what caused the camera to accidentally hit her head.
KXAN has attempted repeatedly to contact the Rangers for an update on the investigation but so far has received no information.