Last Thursday, I was on the phone with Poteet Strawberry Winery owner, Jim Collums, while at the Pleasanton Express. He asked me to cover his Windmill presentation to the Pleasanton Rotary Club at the Longhorn Museum that night. I walk when I talk and I approached our front door and saw myriad law enforcement agencies pull into City Hall in full gear with bulletproof vests and shields and were locked and loaded.
I said “Jim, I have to go.” Our scanner was blaring with information from dispatch. The news team hit the front porch. A law enforcement officer pulled up and said that there was a lone female with a handgun in Pleasanton City Hall. He said, “Please go back inside.” We did.
Our sports editor, Stephen Whitaker, and I were due in City Hall at the Pleasanton City Council Chambers at 1:20 p.m. that day to meet with Pleasanton Mayor Clinton Powell and Jourdanton Mayor Robert Williams for their annual football wager on the Pleasanton vs. Jourdanton High School football game. Needless to say, that was called off. I do want to mention that Mayor Powell called to the Pleasanton Express to check if we were OK and asked if we needed help getting out of the office. It was a very nice gesture. But we were right where we needed and wanted to be.
The Pleasanton Express covered this news story for the next 10-plus hours live via Facebook and with breaking news stories on www.pleasantonexpress.com. The news part was not difficult to tell. But it was impossible to express the emotion that goes with knowing a woman is attempting to take her life right across the street and that officers were in grave danger.
Throughout the day and night, the Pleasanton Express made every effort to cover this story respectfully to keep citizens informed and safe. To watch the team of law enforcement officials who spent countless hours on the scene was impressive. They had one goal — to get this woman out safely and to get her help.
Pleasanton Chief Ronald Sanchez gave us two update statements. In the first statement, he gave us the name of the woman inside and what the current situation was which was that she was alive and that negotiations for her to surrender peacefully were still in process. That message gave us and the community such a sense of relief. Rumors that the woman was deceased had spread across social media.
The second statement came at 9:20 p.m. after all the TV stations had left for the day. Chief Sanchez stated the standoff was resolved peacefully and the suspect, identified as Lorraine Gonzales of Pleasanton, was transferred to University Hospital where she will receive the proper medical care.
The Pleasanton Express posted this update on our website and social media. Often times, when we post on our Facebook page, we hold our breath knowing there are going to be flippant, mean and callous comments. We love our followers, but some people have lost all common decency on social media.
I, along with the Pleasanton Express team and many social media followers, commented how heartwarming it was to read the many wonderful responses to the peaceful ending. Dozens of people left comments thanking the law enforcement officers and that they were so happy that Ms. Gonzales was OK and getting the help that she needed.
Considering the ending that could have happened, this story has a happy ending. Mayor Powell in his column thanked the following business owners for the kindness they showed during the situation. I would like to take this space to do the same. We saw these acts and it was a thing of beauty. Thank you to Susan Phillips, owner of The Good Health Store; John Rosas, owner of The Barbershop; The Office Bar and Grill; Fire Scene Rehab; Leroy and Cindy Urrabazo, owners of Atascosa Liquor to name a few.
Thank you to all the LEOs and first responders including Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez and the Pleasanton Police Department, Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, San Antonio S.W.A.T. Hostage Negotiation Team, the Texas Rangers and the Pleasanton Fire Department.
There are still everyday heroes. They live amongst us. We were honored to have witnessed them at work — the first responders and the citizens who took time to offer relief.
If you or a loved one know anyone who is suffering from domestic violence, please have them call the 24-hour Safer Path Hotline at 830-569-2001. If you are contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you need mental health help, please call SAMHSA at 800-622-4357.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.