SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar put out an appeal for help in the search for a missing mother. The response, though, surprised even him.
More than 160 people gathered Tuesday morning in a parking lot on Overlook Parkway, volunteering to try to find Andreen McDonald, 29.
"This is great to see. Community policing at its best right here," Salazar said, visually taking in the huge crowd. "This is giving us the capabilities that now we can start expanding our horizons a little bit more."
Sheriff's deputies on Monday were mostly on their own, as they searched a wooded area about a quarter-mile from the North Bexar County home that McDonald shared with her husband and daughter.
The mother and businesswoman was reported missing Friday under what turned out to be suspicious circumstances.
Evidence found inside her home led sheriff's investigators to suspect foul play.
Salazar later referred to her husband, Andre McDonald, 40, as a suspect in the case.
The U.S. Air Force reservist was arrested on a charge of tampering with evidence and remains in jail.
According to Salazar, Andre McDonald has not expressed any concern for his missing wife or offered any assistance in locating her.
With the assistance of the volunteers, investigators set out Tuesday morning to try to find some answers.
"I heard about this tragic incident through our Next Door app as well as the news," said Eileen Kennedy, a volunteer. "I felt that, for the sake of her little daughter, we had to have a team from our community come out here and assist."
Kennedy came dressed for the cold weather and rough terrain, wearing a ski jacket, hiking boots and carrying a walking stick.
The American Red Cross brought hot coffee and breakfast tacos to help others take the edge off the tough job they had ahead.
At one point, Andreen McDonald's father, Paul Anderson, addressed the crowd, offering words of gratitude.
"I really appreciate it and I just want to say, 'Thank you very much,'" he said.
While the group included some professional search teams, there were plenty of regular people who wanted to help, including those who didn't know McDonald personally.
"We're all moms, most of us," said Alexis Horton, a volunteer. "We can only imagine what her daughter is going through and what her mom (is feeling)."
Horton's group organized through an app that caters to people with children.
For Bruce Bailey, a retired Army veteran, there was a different connection.
"She's part of our community. (Andre McDonald) is military; she is, too, as far as I'm concerned," he said.
For now, Andreen McDonald is a missing part of the community who the volunteers hope to bring home.