UT police

UT police investigated a break-in at the Main Building Tuesday, and despite police efforts to lure a ‘suspect’ out with french fries, they still managed to escape.

According to UTPD officer Darrell Halstead’s Campus Watch report released Tuesday, several University of Texas Police Department officers responded to alarms in room eight of the Main Building Tuesday around 2:41 a.m. and discovered entry to the office had been made through the ceiling.

According to the report, an air conditioning vent was lying on the floor of the room, along with dust and other ceiling materials. Officers began searching the office and discovered a “masked non-UT subject attempting to hide by hanging onto the wall molding and a window blind.”

According to the report, “The subject refused to comply with the officers requests to come out with his hands up. The subject even refused the officers coaxing when the officer handed over the Jack in the Box french fries. The non-UT subject escaped through an open window and evaded the officers. The non-UT subject was described as: three feet tall, last seen wearing a brown and black stripped (sic) coat, furry gloves and black mask over his eyes.”

This UTPD surveillance footage shows a suspect in the A&M-related vandalism incident on campus Oct. 27. 

UT police are asking for the public’s help in identifying individuals responsible for painting Texas A&M University-related graffiti on various areas of UT‘s campus Oct. 27.

UTPD released photos of suspects obtained from security footage of the tagging on Friday via the University of Texas Police Department Facebook page. UTPD officer Darrell Halstead said it appears there were two male vandals who are around the age of most college students.

UT spokesperson Rhonda Weldon said the tagging occurred between midnight and 5 a.m. Oct. 27. The security footage, along with most details about the case, cannot be released because the investigation is still ongoing. She said UTPD is working with the Texas A&M University Police Department to investigate the tagging.

Weldon said no arrest has been made at this time in relation to the case, and all the graffiti has now been cleaned up.

Halstead said UTPD has estimated it cost roughly $3,000 to clean up the graffiti, and the vandals in this case would be looking at a graffiti charge. He said normally that would be classified as a class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in prison. Because the tagging was done on a university campus, the charge is raised to a state jail felony, punishable with 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.

Prominent UT landmarks including statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson in front of the UT Tower and the 1987 “The West” sculpture by Donald Lipski were tagged in red with the phrases “ATM,” “MUNGLOAF,” “Howdy,” “GIG ‘EM,” “FARMERS FIGHT,” “Whoop!,” “OLD ARMY Fight!,” “SEC!,” “GO AGGIES,” “CORPS” and “MISS US YET?.” Walls and sidewalks in the area surrounding the UT Tower, the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center and on the East Mall were also tagged.

In October 2011, vandals spray painted a bridge near the F. Loren Winship Drama Building and other campus areas in red spray paint using similar phrases.

This season for the first time since 1914, UT will not play Texas A&M in football. Instead, UT will play Texas Christian University this Thanksgiving after A&M joined the Southeastern Conference this fall. UT and A&M first began playing each other in 1894.

Halstead said anyone with information regarding the case should contact UTPD at (512)-471-4441.

Printed on Monday, November 19, 2012 as: UTPD posts graffiti suspects' photos

Thanks to a new policy, UTPD will now be better informed of incidents in the area surrounding campus that could pose a threat to the UT community.

The Austin Police Department watch commander on duty is now required to immediately notify the UT Police Department by phone of incidents within a two-block radius of campus that could pose a threat to the University. They are also now required to send an email notification to UTPD for less threatening incidents. The changes took effect Oct. 1.

Austin police Lt. Kevin Leverenz said Austin police have always worked to notify UTPD of these incidents, but this requirement helps guarantee notification by formalizing the process.

“There was no systematic rule to ensure that the University of Texas Police Department were aware of an incident that was nearby the campus, so we are just trying to fill in a gap,” Leverenz said.

Leverenz said incidents that automatically qualify for the immediate phone alert are a barricaded subject, hostage situation, active shooter, shooting, stabbing, homicide, suspicious death, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, bomb threat, indecency with a child, riot and person with a gun.

He said incidents that automatically qualify for the email notification are a missing person, suicide, suicidal subject, deceased person identified as a student, crowd control incident, report of hazing, missing person involving a UT student and report of shots fired.

UT police chief Robert Dahlstrom said in some cases UTPD did not learn about incidents in a timely manner or at all, making the policy change necessary.

Leverenz said the Austin Police Department’s communication office will now receive a notification when an incident that falls into the criteria occurs, telling them to inform the watch commander on duty, who will notify UTPD.

Leverenz said for incidents that fall outside of the criteria, Austin police will continue to exercise their judgment in determining whether UT police need to be notified.

Dahlstrom said UT police have always notified Austin police of relevant incidents, although there is not a formal policy in place. He said most police departments use their own discretion on when to notify other police departments of incidents. He said the relationship between UTPD and APD is excellent.

Dahlstrom and Leverenz said both UTPD and APD will evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative in the future and may expand the specified two-block radius if needed.

Dahlstrom said the radius may change as the campus changes as well.

Printed on Thursday, November 8, 2012 as: APD policy to inform UTPD of close threats

Urban studies senior Raul Zamora may not graduate in 2012 after a broken taillight led UT police to discover his undocumented immigrant status.

Zamora is facing a deportation battle that began on Nov. 6, 2009, when UT Police Department officers pulled him over on Robert Dedman Drive. More than 18 months later, he continues to fight with his deportation hearing rapidly approaching.

After talking to him and running his information in a database, the officers arrested Zamora, who had several outstanding warrants for traffic violations, and he was taken to the Travis County Jail where he stayed for three days.

Zamora said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained him as an illegal immigrant after they questioned him at the Travis County Jail.

Federal agents transported Zamora to the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas, where he stayed for four days. While there, Zamora says he decided to fight against his deportation orders.

UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom said campus police do not inquire about the immigration status of the people they pull over.

“This campus has a lot of students that are from different parts of the world, and we do not stop people for that reason, nor do we know that when we stop them,” he said.

According to Zamora, he and his parents entered the United States from Mexico in 2000 with visitor’s visas. He was 10 years old. His family stayed after the visas expired.

Zamora said he was disappointed by UTPD officers’ treatment of him and in their decision to arrest him — even after he told them he would be deported if they did so.

“He didn’t read me my Miranda rights and kept insisting that they were just taking me to jail to pay my ticket even though I told them ICE was going to get there and try to deport me,” Zamora said.

Dahlstrom said ICE officials are often stationed at jails to check the immigration status of those who get booked — which is exactly what happened to Zamora.

“Officers on the street do not force immigration laws, but immigration officials have every right to check on people that are arrested,” he said. “Had he paid for the tickets beforehand, he would not have been arrested, and this would not have happened.”

Zamora had two hearings last year, but both were postponed because of technicalities on court documents. He will have another meeting before a deportation judge in San Antonio on May 26, and he said he hopes to postpone that, too.

Zamora plans to register for the fall semester soon and said he hopes he will be able to graduate before being deported.

“I’ve been here in Austin since I was 10,” Zamora said. “I’ve been wanting to go to UT since I heard about it. And now they are going to take this away from me?”

Father Jayme Mathias, pastor at Cristo Rey Catholic Church, is helping Zamora collect letters of recommendation and documentation of past achievements to prepare for his next deportation hearing.

“For those who are not deported, a lot of it comes down to their character,” Mathias said. “I have known Raul since he was a freshman in high school. A person who has such great potential and who has committed no real crime should be allowed to stay.”

Mathias said he has seen this situation many times before as the pastor of an undocumented community and that he is saddened that young people with no connection to their home country are deported. About 200 undocumented students attended UT in the 2009-10 school year, according to the Office of Admissions.

On campus, the University Leadership Initiative focuses on supporting the DREAM Act so undocumented UT students can be productive Americans after graduating, said Loren Campos, president of the group.

The DREAM, or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, was a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors to gain conditional permanent residency after attending college or serving in the military for two years.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in December 2010, but it failed to pass the Senate after a Republican-led filibuster stalled the legislation.

Campos said the organization creates online petitions asking the general public to voice their support of students in Zamora’s situation and by contacting officials who can stop their deportation.

“We get all the information about what happened in their case and put it online,” Campos said. “We ask anyone in general to send faxes, send emails and make phone calls. Most cases have been successful in that these students’ deportation status has been deferred.” 

A former UT women’s track equipment manager faces 10 counts of improper photography or visual recording after UT police found footage of team members in stages of undress in his home.

UTPD arrested Rene Zamora late last week in his Uvalde County home and booked him into the county jail, where a judge later released him on a personal bond, said Claire Dawson-Brown, a Travis County assistant district attorney. Zamora has been a full-time employee since 2006.

On Sept. 3, Zamora unloaded equipment near the women’s locker room following their late return from a track meet. Zamora entered what he believed to be an empty locker room to get the team uniforms, court records show. Upon entering, he heard someone in the shower area and proceeded to leave the locker room, only to return with a digital camera.

Zamora placed the camera above the curtain rod and was about to record when the victim screamed. Zamora apologized, ran into the equipment room to check the footage but found none, according to arrest affidavits. The victim told police that Zamora sent her a text message four days later saying he deleted the footage of her showering.

The victim told her coach about the incident on Sept. 7, and UTPD began its investigation the next day. Police began its examination of Zamora’s computer and memory cards after acquiring a search warrant on Sept. 8, said Nick Voinis, the senior associate athletic director. Police found more footage of two former and seven other current track team members during their investigation.

“We believe the earliest video was in spring 2008, and the latest was in fall 2010,” Dawson-Brown said. “At this point, we have no indication that it went out beyond him that we can find.”

Zamora had a clear criminal background check prior to employment, said UT women’s athletics director Christine Plonsky in a statement. UT athletic officials verbally suspended Zamora immediately following the allegations, and the equipment manager formally resigned on Sept. 10 and can no longer work for the University.

The Travis County district attorney’s office is currently preparing the case for the grand jury to see if they will indict Zamora. If guilty, Zamora could receive 180 days to two years in state jail and up to a $10,000 fine for each count.