Pubdate: Tue, 21 Aug 2001
Source: Waco Tribune-Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Waco-Tribune Herald
Author: Tommy Witherspoon, Tribune-Herald staff writer


Department of Public Safety officials in Waco are investigating why
state narcotics officers on a drug raid charged into the wrong
apartment with guns drawn, reportedly causing a woman to faint and her
grandson to have an epileptic seizure.

Debora and Charles Alexander say the harrowing experience has left
them angry and wondering why the officers didn't even apologize for
barging into their apartment Friday afternoon and traumatizing their
9-year-old grandson.

"It scared us so bad that I just fainted and my grandson had a
seizure. He hasn't had a seizure for four years," Debora Alexander
said. "I am very upset. Since this happened, I can't get my grandson
to turn loose of my pants leg. He is up all night, he can't sleep and
we didn't even get an apology."

After the officers realized their mistake, they asked Alexander's
daughter, Bria, if she thought her mother, who had fainted, would be
OK before backing out of the apartment and leaving, Debora Alexander

Alexander, 46, said she thinks her Lake Shore Drive North apartment
door might have been unlocked because she was expecting her daughter
to arrive. When the officers came in about 3 p.m., she said she was in
a bedroom unpacking because she and her husband, who have custody of
their grandson, Matthew, had just moved into the two-bedroom apartment
less than a week ago.

"The really scary thing is that if they would have come down that hall
about 15 seconds earlier, they would have caught me putting my
husband's gun away," Debora Alexander said. "It was unloaded, but we
were unpacking boxes and I put it in a dresser drawer just before the
officer came into that room and pointed a gun at me."

The thought of what could have happened keeps running through Charles
Alexander's head, he said. Alexander, 54, a longtime bus driver for
Central Texas Trailways, was at the Dallas-Fort Worth International
Airport waiting to drive the Baylor University volleyball team back to
Waco after a trip to Japan when his wife called to tell him what had

"God only knows what would have happened if they would have walked
down that hall with her holding that gun," Charles Alexander said. "If
that officer would have seen her with that pistol, he instinctively
probably would have pulled that trigger and shot her."

Despite the close call, Alexander said he and his wife are more
concerned about their grandson, who was born with Down Syndrome, has
glaucoma and a history of seizures.

"We had some missionaries knock on our door the other night and it
scared him absolutely to death," Alexander said. "It took us forever
to calm him down. We went through all that trauma again. He was just
shaking and grabbing onto my wife. We had to fight like hell to get
him to school this morning."

DPS Lt. Gary McCully said Monday that he was not aware that his
officers entered the wrong apartment last week until a Tribune-Herald
reporter called and asked him about the incident. He said his
investigation will continue until he interviews each of the seven
officers who participated in the drug raid at 1600 Lake Shore Drive.

"This is a very unusual situation," McCully said. "I have heard of it
happening before, but I have never been a part of something like this.
I am just glad nobody was hurt."

McCully said the narcotics officers were directed to the Alexanders'
apartment by Veronica Bravo, the subject of the search warrant who
lives in apartment 1013. The Alexanders live in 1012.

The officers encountered Bravo, 20, and two children on the apartment
grounds and asked her to return to her apartment with them because
they had a search warrant, McCully said. When they got near 1012,
Bravo reportedly told the officers that she lived there, he said.

The officers went inside 1012 with their guns drawn, yelling "Police,
search warrant," despite having a search warrant that showed Bravo's
address as 1013.

"Therein lies the breakdown," McCully said.

After the officers left the Alexanders' apartment, they found more
than 200 grams of what they believe to be powdered and crack cocaine
inside Bravo's residence, McCully said. Bravo was released from the
McLennan County Jail Saturday after posting $20,000 bail.

Still unsure Monday morning where the officers had come from or why
they were inside their apartment, the Alexanders consulted with
attorney Felipe Reyna about the situation. Reyna told them to lodge a
complaint at the Waco Police Department and said he would look into
the matter to determine if the Alexanders had any legal recourse.

Waco Police Cmdr. Steve DeLaRosa said he told the Alexanders that he
would try to determine which agency was involved in the incident. In
the meantime, he said he referred Debora Alexander and her grandson to
victims' services specialists who could offer them counseling if needed.

"What upsets me is that after they found out they were in the wrong
apartment, they gave no explanation of what they were doing here and
didn't even give an apology," Charles Alexander said. "My wife passed
out and they didn't even try to help her out."
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