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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Marines say Mendoza died after collapsing in barracks

From Staff and Wire Report

Officials with the U.S. Marines said a Reeves County man collapsed in his barracks before dying at a naval hospital in San Diego last Thursday.

Pfc. Jerry Ray M. Mendoza, 20, of Balmorhea was taken to Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms near the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center after he collapsed on May 12, said Marine spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Frank Patterson.

Mendoza was transferred to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead on May 13.

Family members said on Tuesday they were contacted by the Marine Corps and flown to San Diego on May 12, but were never told of the severity of Mendoza’s illness until after arriving at the hospital, when they were informed he was brain dead and on life supports. Mendoza, a 2002 Balmorhea High School graduate. was a student from Bravo Company, Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School. Mendoza had begun serving in the Marines in January of this year. He graduated from boot camp on Friday, April 2, came home for 10 days and returned to California for Infantry Training.

“He called me last Tuesday night and told me he wasn’t feeling well, and I told him he needed to go see a doctor,” Mendoza’s mother, Sylvia Mendoza of Balmorhea, said on Tuesday. “He said his throat hurt.”

No other information was available from Marine Corps officials on the cause of Mendoza’s death. His mother said the family was given differing stories about her son’s collapse.

“First they told me had gone on a three-mile hike and that he had collapsed out there, then they said that he was in his room and came out into the hall and collapsed,” she said. “He was having trouble breathing.”

Mendoza said the family is asking for an investigation and an autopsy. “If he was sick, why did they make him go running, or why did he go running?” she asked. “I don’t know if that’s a requirement or what.”

Mendoza is survived by his parents, Sylvia and Manuel Mendoza of Balmorhea, two sisters, Marlynn Lujan and Melanie Morales and two brothers, Manuel Lee and Bryan Alonzo Mendoza. Funeral services for the serviceman are pending with Martinez Funeral Home and will be held in his hometown of Balmorhea.

Arrest made, items found from vehicle burglaries

Staff Writer

More property has been recovered, including a rifle and two more arrests made in burglaries that occurred earlier this month on the west side of Pecos.

A 15-year-old juvenile from Barstow was arrested in connection with a string of vehicle burglaries that occurred, in the area of Pecos High School and Crockett Middle School. “Several cars in those blocks, Missouri, Nebraska, Adams, Jefferson, in that area, were reported to have been broken into,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

One individual was arrested last week in connection with the vehicle burglaries, which took place on May 8. Approximately 10-11 vehicle burglaries were reported to the Pecos Police Department.

On May 13, Deishler, Sgt. Armando Granado and Investigator Olga Lopez conducted an interview with Ivan Torres, who was a suspect in the recent vehicle burglaries.

Deishler said at that time that Torres provided a confession in reference to the burglaries and provided information to where a majority of the stolen property was hidden.

“Since then we have recovered most of the stolen property and arrested a juvenile,” said Deishler. “We recovered some of it in Pecos and some it was in Barstow,” he said. Deishler said that in addition, a 22-caliber rifle that had been stolen from one of the vehicles was recovered. The gun was stolen from a vehicle belonging to Ignacio Ybarra and parked on Missouri Street.

“Mundy recovered the stolen rifle and we’re really glad, because any time you have weapons that have been stolen it poses more of a problem,” said Deishler. “Recovering that rifle was a big concern to us.”

Torres was placed under arrest for the offense of Theft over $1,500, but less than $20,000, a State Jail Felony, according to Deishler. The juvenile was taken to the Reeves County Juvenile Center.

Granado said that the police are urging other people to look in their cars and make sure nothing is missing. “We have other property here that has been stolen, but has not been reported,” said Granado. “It might be that these people don’t even know they have something missing,” he said.

Granado said that anybody who believes some of this property is theirs to come to the Police Department to identify it.

In a separate incident, police said two people were arrested in a burglary that occurred last Friday.

Officer Juan Prieto, Jr. was on patrol in the 700 block of West Third Street, when he observed a suspicious vehicle parked adjacent to a business located in the 700 block of West Third.

Prieto detained a female that was in the area of the vehicle.

Deishler said that after conducting an investigation, Prieto recovered some stolen stereo equipment.

During Prieto’s investigation he discovered an open door to a stereo business in the area, according to Deishler.

The owner noted that several pieces of stereo equipment had been removed from inside the building, according to Deishler.

“We went to a residence located in the 500 block of South Hackberry and at this residence the stereo equipment taken from the business was recovered,” said Deishler. At that time, Albert Contreras, 21, was placed under arrest for the offense of Burglary of a Building and taken to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

Deishler said that they had arrested 19-year-old Christina Lopez in connection with this burglary. “Apparently she was helping her boyfriend and was driving the get-away car,” said Deishler.


Jerry Mendoza

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