DA’s office recommended low bonds for man accused of being ‘ready for war’ with Universal City police

Jordan James, 25, found with loaded guns, 160 rounds of ammo after investigators said he threatened to kill family, have shootout with officers

SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County assistant district attorney recommended low bonds for a man accused of threatening to kill a Universal City family and get in a shootout with police, footage obtained by KSAT Investigates shows.

Jordan James, 25, faces charges of unlawful carry of a weapon, terroristic threat to a family member and terroristic threat causing fear to the public after an incident that unfolded on Aug. 28 and ended with James being arrested in a strip mall parking lot in the 900 block of Coronado Avenue.

Universal City police recovered a loaded semi-automatic rifle, a loaded shotgun, a loaded 9mm handgun and 160 rounds of ammunition from James’ car.

The firearms were within arms’ reach of James as officers pulled him over, UCPD officials and James’ criminal defense attorney confirmed to KSAT.

“That date in question, it sticks in my mind and it still has. It’s very worrisome,” said UCPD Cpl. David Fawcett.

A 911 caller told Universal City police that James had threatened to come to a home while armed with the guns “to kill everyone inside then get into a shootout with law enforcement,” charging paperwork obtained by KSAT Investigates shows.

Fawcett said officers made the decision to evacuate the home and move the residents to police headquarters for their safety.

Body-worn camera footage released by UCPD following a public records request shows James yelling at someone on the phone while officers order him to get out of his station wagon and walk backward towards them.

Jordan James walks back toward police Aug. 28. (KSAT)

James eventually drops to his knees and drops his phone as officers take him to the ground to handcuff him.

James had been Facetiming with his girlfriend during the felony traffic stop, charging paperwork shows.

“Anytime somebody is saying, ‘I want to come into a community and I want to initiate a violent interaction with police,’ the threat level is high. Not only because it threatens our lives but it threatens the community at large. This was a residential, heavily populated area. There were lots of people home. Why? Because it was nighttime,” said Fawcett.

The weapons and ammo recovered by Universal City police Aug. 28. (KSAT)

UCPD Chief Johnny Siemens called the situation “extremely volatile.”

“He was certainly ready. He was motivated and he had the means. We were fortunate he listened to the police commands and stood down,” said Siemens.

Officers also recovered a bag containing marijuana from James’ vehicle, but KSAT could find no record that he was charged with marijuana possession.

Magistrate judge triples DA’s bond recommendation

James, who has no previous criminal history in Bexar County, was taken to jail and formally booked on Aug. 29.

James was among a group of five defendants magistrated before Judge Rolando Ramos around 12:30 p.m., jail footage obtained by KSAT through a public records request shows.

Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Michael Acevedo, who was appearing remotely, recommended a $5,000 bond for the unlawful carry of a weapon charge, a $5,000 bond for the terroristic threat-family charge and a $30,000 bond for the terroristic threat-public fear charge, the footage shows.

Judge Ramos, after noting the gravity of what he had read in James’ charging paperwork, tripled Acevedo’s recommendations, setting James’ bond at $10,000 for unlawful carry of a weapon, $10,000 for terroristic threat-family and $100,000 for terroristic threat-public fear.

“I don’t want you texting. I don’t want you emailing. I don’t want other people bothering them. I want them left alone. That is my intent. Do we understand each other? Or I have to leave you in jail because I believe it is borderline on that,” said Judge Ramos, before adding that he was tempted to set James’ bond at one million dollars to ensure that the family would be left alone.

Jordan James is magistrated at the Bexar County Jail Aug. 29. (KSAT)

Judge Ramos did not respond to a phone call seeking comment for this story.

KSAT Investigates requested an interview with Acevedo but was told by a DA spokeswoman on Sept. 13 that District Attorney Joe Gonzales was a more suitable candidate for the interview.

The spokeswoman said Gonzales was unavailable the rest of that week. After KSAT followed up with another request for an interview, the spokeswoman said via email she would need to discuss Gonzales’ schedule with his assistant.

“Should there be an opportunity for an interview slot, I will get in touch,” the spokeswoman wrote.

KSAT has still not heard back.

‘Certainly on the surface, it doesn’t sit well with us.’

The bond recommendation from the DA’s office came days after three San Antonio police officers were shot while trying to arrest convicted felon Jesse Garcia, and in the middle of a violent stretch for area law enforcement that saw five SAPD officers shot by suspects in 12 days.

A sixth SAPD officer accidentally shot himself during that same period of time while investigators said he was pursuing a burglary suspect armed with a gun.

The rash of violence against police prompted SAPD Chief William McManus and DA Gonzales to publicly jab at one another.

McManus has repeatedly said the suspects accused of shooting officers should have been in jail, either because of their violent criminal histories, pending cases that had not moved forward or that had been dismissed.

Gonzales has retorted that some of the cases had not moved forward or were dismissed because SAPD had failed to provide the proper evidence to the DA’s office.

Universal City Police Department Chief Johnny Siemens. (KSAT)

Asked about the DA’s office recommendation on bond for James, Siemens told KSAT, “Certainly on the surface, it doesn’t sit well with us. I’m grateful that the judge had the wherewithal and recognized that might not have been the best decision.”

“As a law enforcement official, having been one for 20, 21 years now almost, I don’t know another officer that supports that type of low bond on violent offenders, or even if it’s a first-time offender but such an egregious act. You’ve got this one egregious act. It warrants a little more attention in that area,” said Siemens.

Motion to modify bond conditions denied

James was released from jail on bond on Aug. 30, booking records show.

During a Sept. 15 hearing, a judge denied James’ request to be allowed to work while on house arrest, records show.

James remains on full house arrest and a no-contact order remains in place, his attorney, Bobby Barrera, confirmed to KSAT.

James is also prohibited from possessing or being around guns, records obtained by KSAT show.

“Clearly appears to have been an emotional outburst, and not a true threat to anyone,” Barrera told KSAT in a phone interview, claiming that a majority of the evidence against James has come from people with whom James never spoke.

“If he wanted to have a shootout he would have had a shootout,” said Barrera, who pointed out that his client surrendered without further incident after being pulled over.

Find more KSAT Investigates reports here

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.