With only a population of two thousand, Shiner, Texas is a small town that lies an hour and a half east of San Antonio. It also happens to be the hometown of Shiner Beer, one of the best-selling independent beers in the country.
For decades, Shiner was a minuscule blip on the country’s radar, that is, until 2012, when it became the center of a scandal that rocked the little city to it’s core…
He was small town rancher who owned a farm right outside of Shiner and not far from Yoakum. It was a little place, by ranch standards anyway, but it was still enough that he needed some help now and again to tend the horses and do odd jobs around the place.
It was the type of thing you imagine happened in movies about Depression-era farms or homesteads in the American west. Despite the fact that our story takes place in 2012, this sort of farm lifestyle is still very much a part of daily life for many Americans. The farmer in question needed a hand and he knew just who to call…
Jesus, of Gonzales, Texas had been looking for work for some time and had spent his life doing odd jobs on local farms throughout Texas. Despite his age, Jesus was nearly 50, he was a dab hand at tending horses and was soon hired by the farmer in question to work on his land for a few weeks.
It had been a hot, Texas afternoon and the sun way high when another worker on the farm noticed something peculiar. Jesus was missing. He thought nothing of it, until he noticed the 47-year-old making off into a secluded pasture holding what appeared to be a struggling child…
Find Her Dad
The witness noted with dismay that the child was crying out and fighting to get away from the older farm worker. He rushed to find the child’s father, who thankfully had been nearby but was distracted by the horses he was tending to notice what was about to transpire on his land.
Screams in the Distance
Suddenly, the little girl let out a blood-curdling scream. Her father looked up with a start and ran in the direction of Jesus. Following the sound of her struggles to the place where the farmhand had taken her, he came upon a terrible sight; Jesus was on top of his little girl, his pants and underwear were pulled down…
The enraged father couldn’t contain himself. He grabbed hold of the molesting farmhand and yanked him off his screaming child. In an instant, he was on top of him, beating him about the head, punching him over and over until finally, Jesus fell limp and silent.
Call for Help
It took him a moment to realize what he’d done. The blood and bruising had rendered Jesus Flores’ face completely unrecognizable. Once he’d come to his senses, the farmer called 911, telling them, “I need an ambulance. This guy was raping my daughter and I beat him up and I don’t know what to do…”
Didn’t Mean It
He had meant to punish the man, to stop him from hurting his daughter, but he certainly never meant to kill the guy. As the 911 dispatcher tried to keep him calm, the farmer became more and more frantic. “This guy is fixing to die on me, man, and I don’t know what to do.” he told them, his voice quaking with fear and the last vestiges of his righteous anger.
Can’t Find Us
The farmer became even more frantic when it became clear that the emergency vehicles the operator had dispatched, were nowhere near his farm. Apparently, the ambulance had been having some trouble finding the remote ranch on the small, two-lane country road. Jesus Flores was running out of time…
No Other Choice
With no other choice, the farmer had to make a last-minute decision. He had inflicted the wounds, he was going to have to take responsibility for what happened next. Pushing past his seething hatred of the man, the father screamed at the dispatcher and told them he was getting in his truck and driving the man to the hospital.
As soon as he got the battered abuser to the hospital, emergency personnel administered CPR, but it was too late. Flores’ heart had stopped beating sometime on the way to the hospital. Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon arrived at the hospital not long after, only to find one dead man, and one grieving, sobbing father, who hadn’t meant to kill anyone…
Dead on Arrival
Jesus Flores was soon taken to the Medical Examiner’s office where it was determined that the fornicating farmhand had died from “blunt force head and neck injury.” Despite the farmer’s best efforts and most sincere regrets, the police confirmed that Flores’ cause of death was murder: and the farmer was responsible.
Thankfully, for the farmer, he was able to go home that night and had not been placed under arrest. Of course, the grand jury hearing would eventually commence soon enough. The names of the father and the little girl were omitted from any article like this in order to keep their identities secret…
The father’s emotional 911 call was brought up and it made it very clear that there was no sense of satisfaction or apathy about what he’d done. “Come on! This guy is going to die on me!” says the regretful father on the 911 call. “I don’t know what to do!”
A special grand jury was called and convened soon after, reaching its decision almost immediately. It was not a cut and dry case by any stretch of the imagination and the farmer’s selfless heroism, even towards his enemy, had to be considered carefully in court…
Finally, the district attorney came out in a press conference to deliver the jury’s verdict on indictment. “Under the law, deadly force is justified to stop a sexual assault, as such, no charges would be filed against this father.” It was a justifiable homicide, and one he clearly hadn’t meant to cause.
Yet, as with many cases like this one, the verdict became a point of serious contention across the country. While many Americans share a similar take on the incident as the courts, there are a few that believe that murder is murder, no matter the reasoning and that he should pay some recompense for what he did…
Many At Odds
Indeed, there are those among the populace who believe that as despicable as Flores’ actions were, condoning and even justifying the farmer’s administration of vigilante justice sets a dangerous precedent, especially because in this particular case, the angry father was judge, jury, and executioner all in one.
Ultimately though, it’s up to us to each make our own determination about such a situation. I suspect that many of our readers with children will invariably side with the father. Still, if we allow vigilante justice to be meted out in such brutal ways, even when remorse is shown, where does it stop? And perhaps more importantly, where does it lead?