By Greg Ritchie
PALESTINE – Palestine Police Department (PPD) arrested three young men for “waiving guns around” Friday, Jan. 5 at a popular gathering spot for teens. The redacted PPD press release follows:
On Jan. 5 at 8:21 p.m., PPD officers responded to What-A-Burger® at 1717 S. Loop 256 due to a report that multiple subjects in the parking lot were “waving around guns.” The call indicated a witness observed these persons getting in and out of a white Chevrolet Traverse. Officers have responded to several calls in recent months in the area near the Palestine Plaza involving fights, drugs and weapons offenses. Detective Waldon with the Street Crimes Unit was the first to respond and he located the described vehicle in the parking lot, occupied by several young males.
Detective Waldon activated his emergency lights and held the subjects at gunpoint while awaiting back-up. The detective noted one of the passengers, later identified as Brenden Mathews, 17, was making furtive movements and had to be ordered several times to keep his hands up. Officer B. Martin arrived to assist and they had Mathews exit the vehicle. Officer Martin began attempting to detain Mathews but Mathews tried to reach into his waistband, immediately upon exiting the vehicle. Officer Martin stopped him from doing this and assisted him to the ground in an attempt to detain him. Mathews again tried to reach to his waistband with his left hand and Officer Martin grabbed his arm to pull his hands to his back. Mathews was pulling against Officer Martin’s grasp and continually trying to reach for something at the front of his pants. Officer Martin was able to get him handcuffed and attempted to roll him to check him for weapons. Mathews was screaming his objections and resisted having his body moved, continuing to pull against Officer Martin. Officer Martin was able to turn him and discovered that Mathews had a loaded handgun in the front waistband of his pants. This gun was recovered and Mathews was also found to have several rounds of loose ammunition in his pants pocket.
While officers struggled to place Mathews into custody and control the scene, an employee from the business approached the scene, filming with her cell phone and yelling at officers. She had to be told several times to stay back and not interfere.
Additional officers arrived and the other occupants were removed from the vehicle, detained, and identified. Two of the subjects from the vehicle were Damian Salinas, 17, and Judan, AKA Judah McKay, 18. McKay would later explain that while his identification card identified him as Judan, his actual name was Judah. Salinas was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun, and McKay was found to have a “sawed-off” or short-barrel shotgun in his backpack, classified as a prohibited weapon under Texas law.
The subjects explained when questioned they were involved in an altercation with persons in another vehicle before police arrived. They admitted they displayed handguns at these other persons, who left the scene before the officers’ arrival.
McKay, Salinas and Mathews were arrested and transported to the Anderson County jail where McKay was booked for Prohibited Weapon, Salinas was booked for Unlawful Carrying Weapon, and Mathews was booked for Resist Arrest Search or Transport and Unlawful Carrying Weapon.
“The poor judgment of Mathews could have easily led to his own injury or death if not for the skill and restraint demonstrated by the officers on scene, particularly Officer Martin.” said PPD Chief Mark Harcrow. “I commend these Officers on bringing this incident to an end without any injuries.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]