Security concerns raised as teenager smuggles gun into Bexar County Jail and kills himself

Jesus Gonzales pulled out a gun while a deputy was strip-searching him and shot himself

SAN ANTONIO – A 19-year-old man walked into the Bexar County jail Sunday afternoon to be booked.

Six minutes later, he was dead.

“It’s pretty apparent to us that it appears to be a suicide,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

KSAT does not typically report on suicides, but we found this raises public safety questions about how a gun made it into what’s supposed to be a secure area.

Salazar said Jesus Gonzales was arrested after he was charged with domestic violence-choking, a felony.

“By our policy, we strip search all inmates that are brought in on a felony,” explained Salazar.

Monday, BCSO confirmed that every person booked into the jail undergoes a pat down search, before those charged with a felony move on to a strip search or body scan.

BCSO Search Policy

BCSO deputies missed that gun in the pat down, but because it was a felony charge, opted to do the strip search.

Salazar said Gonzales pulled out a gun while a deputy was strip-searching him and shot himself.

“How did the gun get there?” asked KSAT reporter Daniela Ibarra.

“It’s a secure facility,” responded Salazar. “I mean, literally nobody is armed. Not even us.”

Salazar said the semi-automatic handgun “should have been found before it got to that point.”

According to a preliminary report from SAPD, an officer arrested Gonzales at 11:25 a.m. Sunday without incident on a family violence warrant.

The officer searched Gonzales, placed him in a patrol car and was buckled in. The officer handed Gonzales over to jail personnel before Gonzales shot himself, the report states.

According to San Antonio police policy regarding searching prisoners, officers are responsible for searching those they arrest for weapons, dangerous objects, contraband, or evidence.

SAPD Search Policy

“Transporting officers are held accountable for any prisoner arriving at a detention facility or processing room with a weapon, dangerous object, or contraband on his person,” the policy states.

“Clearly a weapon was missed,” said Salazar.

SAPD policy also states that officers are supposed to ask the prisoner several questions about their mental health and suicidal thoughts before releasing them to detention center personnel.

KSAT requested to speak with Chief William McManus about the incident. A preliminary report sent to media outlets before noon on Monday states that the SAPD Homicide Unit is investigating the shooting.

SAPD Internal Affairs will conduct a separate investigation.

“All we can assume at this point is that he came into the facility with the weapon, hidden under several layers of clothing,” said Salazar. “But still, absolutely the weapon had to have been, should have been found before that.”

Salazar said the deputy who witnessed the suicide is on administrative duty.

He said none of the deputies in that section of the jail were armed or hurt.

About the Authors

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.

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