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'It is a political stunt': Candidate sounds off on sheriff's arrest of child sex assault suspect who was mistakenly released

Sheriff's candidate Gary Garcia says the unusual arrest of a fugitive was a political stunt by sheriff Javier Salazar.

SAN ANTONIO — Hours before voters hit the primary polls to cast their ballots, Sheriff Javier Salazar was engaging in what one of his political challengers called a "political stunt."

Deputy Gary Garcia, who is a member of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office's Fugitive Apprehension Unit and a republican candidate for sheriff, was part of the team responsible for recapturing a child sexual assault suspect who was mistakenly released from custody Monday.

The inmate, Pedro Gonzales, was booked on a charge of sexual assault of a child, but was also wanted on another warrant of sexual assault of a child, records show. He was released on bond on only one of the charges. When officials realized the error, the FAU, including Garcia, was sent to rearrest Gonzales.

"Basically, all of the FAU officers and most of the (Criminal Investigation Division) officers that were there at the time, we all went toward Floresville," Garcia explained. "However, the sheriff went in his own personal truck to Floresville, to try and find this individual."

Garcia said the FAU officers were able to arrest Gonzales and that he and his partner took Gonzales to the Wilson County Sheriff's Office to go before a magistrate judge when Salazar notified them he would take Gonzales to Bexar county himself.

"While we were inside Wilson County, the sheriff decided he wanted us to leave and that he was going to transport this individual in his own personal vehicle, which, again, is not correct procedure especially when you have a county vehicle there," Garcia said. "It’s not like this was an exigent circumstance where you have no other choice."

The Sheriff's Office confirmed that Salazar took the inmate to be booked using his personal vehicle, adding that an investigator with the traffic homicide unit was also in the car. KENS 5 asked why the specially trained deputies who were present during Gonzales' arrest were unable to take him to the jail themselves, but the agency did not respond.

Instead, the agency sent a photo of Salazar bringing Gonzales in to be booked.

Garcia said had something gone wrong, including the inmate experiencing a medical emergency, the move could have cost someone their life.

“He’s putting his life in danger by being narcissistic and he’s putting the citizens and the people of Bexar county in danger by being narcissistic,” Garcia said.

A county spokeswoman said Tuesday morning that they were unaware of any policy prohibiting the sheriff from arresting individuals in his personal vehicle.

Salazar is challenged by four other democratic candidates including retired sheriff's deputy Jose Trevino and former Precinct Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela.

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