Mart: School board OKs complaint over police response to school threat

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MART, Texas (KWTX) The Mart School Board met early Monday morning and approved a formal letter of complaint against the town’s police chief, Albert Cavazos, over his department’s response to a social media video post in which a student threatened Mart High School while wielding two different guns.

Mart High School senior Jerry Donald Shepherd, 18, was charged with terroristic threat in connection with the video. He is free on bond. (Jail photo)

The letter, which will be delivered to city officials pending the signature of the district’s attorney, faults Cavazos for his slow action in handling the threat and for failing to provide requested protection to the school.

The Snapchat video, in which the male student said, "I was kicked out of football, I was kicked out of band, I'm finna gonna show Mart how I'm coming now #*%&*," and displayed two different guns, first appeared on the afternoon of Jan. 7.

School officials identified the student, but police didn’t make an arrest until the night of Jan. 8, and then failed to show up at the start of the school day on Jan. 8 and again on Jan. 9 despite the district’s request for increased security.

"We're already in a rural community,” Mart ISD Superintendent Betsy Burnett said last week.

It’s a problem, she said, “If we can't count on the three officers that we have in this community to respond immediately and be there for us.”

Burnett took the video to the police on the afternoon of Jan. 7.

“They did nothing until I stopped (the student) as he walked up to a basketball game (that) night. The police took him into custody for questioning, but released him, saying he was not a credible threat,” she said.

Mart High School senior Jerry Donald Shepherd, 18, wasn’t arrested until the night of Jan. 8.

He was released from the McLennan County Jail on Jan. 9 after posting a $1,000 bond.

He’s charged with terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, in connection with the video.

Burnett says she asked Mart police Chief Alfred Cavazos to have a police presence on the morning of Jan. 8 at the school, but no officers showed up.

“The morning after the chief knew we had a threat, even if he felt that it was not credible, we didn't even have a policeman making sure that we were doing the speed limit in the school zone,” she said.

“I would think at minimum we would be able to have at least a car,” she said.

Burnett says she asked Cavazos again for a police presence on the morning of Jan. 9 and sent out a message to parents informing them of the threat, and plan to increase security, but Burnett says neither Cavazos nor any of his officers showed up at drop-off time.

Burnett says Cavazos’ apparent unwillingness to take the threat seriously leaves her scared for her schools.

“It makes me feel afraid,” she said. “It makes me feel afraid for our district."

Cavazos was hired in June 2019 to replace former police Chief Paul Cardenas, who resigned in late May 2019 after all four of his officers quit.

Cavazos declined comment last week and referred requests for a response to city hall.