Feud between county officials, sheriff and business exec over boat, social media attacks escalates

Commissioner DeBerry to file police report over threatening messages; business exec fires back in letter

A public feud involving three elected county officials, a local business executive and a boat escalated Tuesday.

SAN ANTONIO – A public feud involving three elected county officials, a local business executive and a boat escalated Tuesday.

The latest developments include Precinct 3 Commissioner Trish DeBerry telling KSAT that she is filing a police report over threatening messages on social media related to the feud.

At the center of the squabble is a roughly $32,000 bill for a vessel that Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar asked County Commissioners to allow him to purchase with funds seized or donated to his office.

When Salazar proposed the idea at a public meeting earlier this year, Salazar told the commissioners that the single-engine boat would be used for rescues and investigations at area waterways, saying that his office does not currently have one and has to request access from other agencies in the area when needed.

At the meeting, DeBerry asked him for details about the purchase and about why he had not provided advanced documentation. Ultimately, the commissioners delayed approving the purchase to gather more information about maintenance and other potential costs.

Jarred Taylor, a local resident who is an executive with Black Rifle Coffee Company, said he was irked by news coverage of DeBerry’s line of questioning. Taylor said he decided to ask his colleagues and co-board members at Black Rifle if they’d cover the $32,000 for the boat and they agreed.

Earlier this month, Black Rifle Coffee Company presented a check to Salazar and the sheriff’s office. Taylor took to his Instagram page to share the news and take aim at DeBerry.

In a post with an image of Taylor and Salazar posing with the check, Taylor tagged DeBerry and criticized her. The post, which was liked more than 28,000 times, ended with “Good luck during the next election season, because I will be making my own ads free of charge.”

The post prompted nearly 1,000 comments, many of them disparaging of DeBerry.

DeBerry told KSAT on Tuesday that some of the Instagram comments threatened her and her family.

“We’re coming after you. You better watch your back. That kind of stuff does give you cause for concern, especially when I have teenage children at home,” DeBerry said in an interview with KSAT 12 News.

DeBerry said because of the threats, she has started the process of filing a police report and is trying to figure out who the report will name.

“I’m talking to the criminal investigator with the district attorney’s office, but by the time I file the report there will be an entity or a person,” she said.

DeBerry also blamed Salazar for instigating the social media attack and for “not giving full context” about her decision. She also expressed concern that the sheriff has not reached out to her directly regarding the threats, but that one of the leaders in his staff was well aware of them.

Salazar commented on DeBerry’s concerns Tuesday around 7:30 p.m. on a KSAT Facebook post after attempting to reach out to his office and not receiving a statement before air time with the following:

“No feud here. I’m just trying to do my job at NO COST to taxpayers. Thanks”

On Monday, the sheriff said the first he learned about the social media backlash was in a scathing letter sent to him by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Monday.

Wolff’s letter criticized the sheriff for ignoring the social media attacks on DeBerry.

Wolff wrote that Taylor’s post on Instagram launched “one of the ugliest and most blatant displays of sexism and personal attacks that I have ever seen in the fifty years I have been in politics.”

“It is beyond reprehensible when community leaders encourage such behavior for political purposes. More importantly, what does it say when other community leaders ignore that behavior and allow it to continue publicly without uniting in condemnation of it? The despicable behavior displayed in this matter is no less an affront to human dignity and the values of tolerance and respect that we as a community share -- it should not be tolerated,” Wolff said.

Taylor sent a letter of his own Tuesday to Wolff, telling the judge that his statements about Salazar “have developed to be one of the most hideous displays of politicians not actually understanding nor comprehending the situation they are speaking about.”

Taylor criticized Wolff for “attacking” his First Amendment right when he asked followers on his Instagram account for their opinion about DeBerry’s questions and perceived attitude toward Salazar at the meeting.

“I then took to my personal social media account, quoted Trish with her own words, and outlined the situation ... so everyone was able to form their own opinions on the situation at hand,” Taylor said in his letter.

Wolff’s letter said Taylor’s post set the stage for hundreds of “vile and despicable posts which attack DeBerry as a woman, as a leader and her family, including comments such as ‘BRCC (Black Rifle Coffee Company) taking down one Sh*tty politician at a time.”

In his letter, Taylor admitted that some of the comments about DeBerry “were strong and, in some cases, used language that I would not have used. However, your beef there is with the commenters, not me or my company.

“Please just stop attempting to overshadow this issue with rudimentary things like storage and operational costs for a single engine rescue boat. The bottom line was Trish took a jab at our Sheriff as if he was requesting a personal watercraft for leisure purposes. She needs to take responsibility for how she handled this, apologize for her ridiculous response, and push this forward so the county can have the safety equipment they need. You have given all of us, the voters, all we need to get to work and start flushing these dinosaur politicians with very skewed frames of mind out of the ranks,” Taylor said.

You can read Taylor’s letter to Wolff in its entirety below:

Editor’s Note: KSAT edited removed Taylor’s address in the letter.

Related Story:

Bexar County commissioner weighs in after social media attacks made by business owner, BCSO donor

About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. He is an amateur triathlete, enjoys playing and watching soccer, traveling and hanging out with his wife.