Bounty hunters claiming to be police stormed property with guns drawn, family says

Sheriff says residents did right thing by refusing entry, calling 911

By Tim Gerber - Reporter/Anchor

SAN ANTONIO - On June 25 of this year, Michelle Blount said she and her family were fast asleep in their rental home located in southeast Bexar County when they were awakened by someone pounding on the front door.

"That's when our big dog inside started barking," Blount recalled. "At that moment, we just heard loud bangs, like boom, boom, boom!"

Blount's husband went to the front door and looked out the window, where he saw a man with a gun shining a flashlight into his eyes, yelling commands.

"They said, ‘We're the cops. Let us in. We have warrants. If you don't let us in, we're going to kick in your door,’" Blount said. "He asked them, 'Who are you looking for?' They wouldn't tell us."

While the man at the door was dressed similar to a police officer, he refused to identify himself. Blount and her husband grew more concerned, because they had been the victims of a home invasion at another home a few years ago.

"He was wearing just regular pants, like cargo pants, and like a black shirt and he was wearing a gun. They had guns on them and they were pulled and they were facing the home," Blount said. "I didn't know if there was, like, five of them. I didn't know if it was an ambush. I didn't know if they were real cops. I mean, I kept thinking, 'Hey we haven't done anything.' We haven't been in trouble with the law. There's no way there could be cops here for us."

The 911 calls have been edited to redact personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses.

Blount grabbed a phone and called 911, telling the dispatcher about the armed men attempting to get into her home. She told the dispatcher she was worried about her safety and that she had a gun in the home.

She placed her kids in an upstairs closet and stayed on the phone while deputies responded. Her husband stayed at the front door.

"Dustin asked them, 'Where's you badge? Where's your cop car?' He asked them, 'Who are you looking for?' They wouldn't tell us," Blount said. "I just remember, like, hearing them yelling, and they kept saying, 'We're going to come into your house, and we're going to search your house and we're going to find drugs on you. We're going to take your kids. We're going to take you.' And I'm just thinking, like, 'Who are these people?'"

The men outside Blount's door were bounty hunters who were looking for a wanted woman.

One of them also called 911, telling the Sheriff's Office who they were and what they were doing at the home.

The Defenders obtained copies of the 911 calls. The bounty hunters can be heard telling the dispatcher they have information from an informant that the woman they were looking for was inside the Blounts' home.

"The residency is refusing to open the door. They were very hostile through the front door, very hostile," the bounty hunter is heard saying. "I'm wearing a vest, some khaki pants. I do have a duty belt on me and my gun and all that on me so they don't freak out."

The 911 calls have been edited to redact personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses.

When responding deputies arrived, they confirmed who the bounty hunters were and asked the residents if they could search the home for the wanted person.

The Blounts allowed the deputies inside but refused to let the bounty hunters inside. The deputies searched the home and didn't find the wanted woman.

The deputies then issued the bounty hunters a notice of criminal trespass, ordering them and the company they were working for, JR Investigations, not to return to the home.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the residents did the right thing by calling 911 and refusing to let the unidentified men into their home.

"It's a rare occurrence, but even so, you can easily see how things could go badly in a situation like this," Salazar said. "Don't just open the door. Make sure 100 percent that the person standing outside that door is a law enforcement officer before admitting them to the house."

Salazar said under Texas law, homeowners are not required to open their door for bounty hunters, and bounty hunters cannot force their way into a residence. They also can't pretend to be something they are not.

"To identify yourself as a police officer when you are not, that is a violation of the law," Salazar said. "What they are not allowed to possess is a badge or a vest or any sort of equipment that says police or sheriff or identifies them as any sort of law enforcement at all. That's something that's not allowed."

Salazar said while the residents alleged the bounty hunters identified themselves as police, there is not enough evidence to charge anyone for impersonating a law enforcement officer in this case.

The Defenders contacted the bounty hunter who made the 911 call from the Blounts' home. He said he hasn't worked for JR Investigations since the incident but also said he had body cam video that tells a different side of the story. So far, the man has refused to allow the Defenders to see that video.

The Defenders also tried to contact JR Investigations to get their side of the story, but no one answered the doors at any of the publicly listed addresses for the company which were local homes and apartments.

According to the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents, Texas has some strict laws when it comes to regulating bounty hunters.

"In Texas, there are regulations at the state level overseen by the TX DCJS (Texas Department of Criminal Justice Services) that require Agents aka Bounty Hunters to be licensed as private investigators. The DCJS also has the authority to investigate misconduct and take action against that license," said NAFRA president Chuck Jordan in an email.

According to Jordan, incidents like the one that happened to the Blounts are pretty rare.

"Fugitive Recovery Agents don't just randomly hit houses. There would have to have been some perceived connection between the fugitive and that address for them to have gone there. Unfortunately, there are times when outdated or inaccurate information leads to situations like this. Due diligence in verifying and cross referencing information and surveillance normally helps prevent these situations from happening but sometimes for whatever reason things like this sometimes occur," Jordan said. "The vast majority of people that work in this industry are very ethical and professional and the last thing they want to do is unnecessarily intrude on innocent parties, so I'm sure the Agents involved find the whole thing very regrettable."

Blount said the terrifying events from that early-morning disturbance have left her family feeling unsafe. They recently moved out of the rental property and are now working with a lawyer.

"I want an apology. I want the license taken from those bounty hunters, because that's what started all of this," Blount said. "You can't put a price on what they've done to my family."

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