2011-09-15 / Front Page

Hay Thief Suffers Gun Shot Wound

Rancher – Hay Stealing – And an AK 47

A man was shot last Monday morning after he was caught trying to steal hay from Joe Campbell near Dime Box. Bernard McDowell suffered a gunshot wound to his upper inside left thigh after Robert Campbell, Joe Campbell’s son, tried to shoot out the tires to his truck and hay buggy to keep him from stealing hay.

According to Captain Adam Gonzales with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell had noticed that they had been missing some hay bales over the past several days, so he and his son decided to guard the area where the bales had been missing in hopes of catching whoever was absconding with their hay.

Sunday night, Joe Campbell did not spend the night in his pasture, but his son, Robert, did. At about 3 a.m. Monday morning, Robert heard an approaching truck and hay buggy and watched as McDowell backed up to the line of hay in order to load one of the bales.

In anticipation of catching a thief, the Campbells put some old bales in front of the new bales that had been violated and cut the twine that held the bales together, making it difficult for anyone to be able to load the hay. When McDowell tried to load the first bale, it wouldn’t load, so he began to move his truck and buggy over to another bale to load it. That’s when Robert pulled up next to McDowell in his truck and told him “that he had been caught!”

A surprised McDowell closed the door to his truck and began to pull out on to Highway 21. Robert, who brought an AK 47 with him on his watch, began to try to shoot the tires out on McDowell’s vehicles to stop him. The Sheriff’s report indicated that Robert shot ten rounds at the truck and buggy.

McDowell got out on the highway and Robert followed, both of them traveling west bound on Hwy. 21 at speeds of up to 100 mph. Robert tried to call his father, who didn’t answer, so he called a friend and tried to read the license plate on McDowell’s truck to him. He managed to get three of the letters of the plate when he noticed the hay buggy begin to bounce as it moved down the road. He slowed down, putting some space between himself and McDowell. McDowell also began to slow, but his truck and buggy jack-knifed and then rolled near the Highway 21 and CR 3403 intersection.

When the Sheriff’s deputies arrived, McDowell had managed to get out of his truck. He was found to be unarmed, but with an apparent gunshot wound to his leg.

B & M Ambulance was called, who took McDowell to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Caldwell. Caldwell sent McDowell to St. Joseph’s in Bryan, where he was treated for the injury.

Lee County Chief Deputy Nathan Lapham went to Bryan to interview McDowell about the incident. He was released from the hospital and taken to the Lee County Law Enforcement Center where he was charged with Criminal Trespassing. He was released to family members on a Personal Recognizance bond.

Captain Gonzales said the case will be sent to the Grand Jury since a gun was involved; however, it is not anticipated that charges will be filed against Campbell.

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