A vacant home on the corner of Blue Jay and Oriole with grass waist high, cars speeding down Oriole, meth addicts loitering in the park that borders NAS property, and a tent city along the Oso that appeared to be a haven for the homeless and drug users prompted Diane Bonneau and other Turtle Cove residents to take action in their neighborhood in June of 2015. This subdivision is the home to many long-time residents who love their once serene neighborhood that was built around Turtle Cove pond where many water birds, including the Black-bellied Whistling Duck, glide in at sunset and settle in among their human neighbors. In the last few years, Bonneau and her neighbors have grown tired of the illegal activity taking place in their neighborhood and are worried about the effects on the children in the area.
“I love my amazing view on the Oso and my incredible neighbors who have become my extended family. I don’t believe I will ever live anywhere else,” said Bonneau. “I am saddened by what I see in and around the Bluff and the drug that has robbed so many lives and all the collateral damage that goes along with a meth addiction. It’s a community problem and requires a community response. I am frustrated with the mentality that ‘It’s the Bluff. There will always be meth in the Bluff.'”
Like many neighborhoods across America, Turtle Cove is suffering from the fallout from the methamphetamine problem that is growing daily. The difference is that the neighbors of Turtle Cove decided to take control of the situation. After promises made by City officials at a town hall meeting failed to come to fruition, Bonneau and several of her neighbors made multiple calls to code enforcement, law enforcement, Parks and Recreation, and District 4 Council member Colleen McIntyre but got no results. The residents decided to clean up the tent camp on the Oso themselves. This prompted McIntyre and the other contacted entities to follow through with the promises to clean and patrol the area. With everyone working together, the homeless tent community was cleared out and hauled off; the park was mowed and lighted; and all seemed well in the little community.
Six months later, the neighborhood was faced with a new problem. On December 29, 2015, a man later identified as a registered sex offender and known methamphetamine user who had been evicted from his parents’ home, allegedly entered a house unlawfully on the corner of Raven and Oriole, took a shower, exposed himself to a 12-year-old girl who resided there, and left, according to Diane Bonneau and other neighbors. The owner of the house, who is the father of the victim, called the police. After the responding officer dusted for fingerprints, collected articles for evidence, and took statements, he left, and the owner sent his wife and daughter away for the night.
The next morning, between 4 and 5 a.m., the intruder returned, allegedly opened the window to the room of the 12-year-old girl, then fell asleep on the back porch. Upon discovering the man, the owner of the house called the police and reported the incident. The officer who responded recognized the intruder and stated that the man was known to do this. When the officer addressed the intruder, the man jumped the fence. The police apprehended him and removed him from the neighborhood.
Later that morning, the owner of the house was going to breakfast at a nearby restaurant when he spotted a suspicious-looking man walking down the street, so he followed him in his car. It was the intruder from earlier, and he was attempting to enter the man’s yard again. When he saw the owner, he ran off. The next day, the intruder was seen at approximately 7:00 a.m. by a neighbor. He was again attempting to gain entrance into the man’s back yard. The neighbor chased him, but the man escaped through a hole in the fence surrounding a nearby apartment complex. The Turtle Cove neighbors did not give up. After many calls and emails to CCPD, Mayor Martinez’s office, and anyone who might be able to offer assistance, they were able to provide enough information to have the man arrested.
- What can we realistically expect this time around knowing that there are issues throughout the city, and resources can’t be continually concentrated in one area?
- Is there a long-term plan to reduce the drug activity and crime that inherently goes along with drug issues for our area?
- As a neighborhood, how can we help?
- Since most neighbors are not interested in participating in a Neighborhood Watch program that requires meetings and a block captain, what are the other options?
Two days before the meeting was to occur, another incident occurred in the Turtle Cove neighborhood. Bonneau explained in an email to Chief Markle that she had seen a male wearing a red, Under Armour hoodie. The man seemed to be upset and was cussing about something. She watched as he walked to a light maroon, Dodge Ram, four-door pickup that was parked in the cul-de-sac. The vehicle’s reverse lights were on, and a woman was inside. The man got in and continued to sit there. Within a minute, a neighbor on Lovebird walked out of her garage and yelled something at them about being in her garage. A girl in the front seat of the truck started yelling and cursing in response. Bonneau then walked toward the truck and took a photo of the plates with her cell phone. The driver backed up a little and said, “We aren’t doing anything.” (Please find below a clarification submitted by a woman who was involved in this incident.)
According to Bonneau, an officer stopped by her house later to let her know that the couple tossed some of their possessions and ran into a home on Flour Bluff Drive. The officer recovered a phone belonging to the female. Bonneau was hopeful that the phone might offer some information that would lead to an arrest or at least to the discovery of other people who might be driving through neighborhoods, entering open garages, and taking valuables from her neighbors.
Chief Markle was unable to attend the January 12 meeting but sent several officers in his place. The officers who were in attendance were unable to appease the Turtle Cove residents and left them wondering what to do next. Bonneau was unhappy that the only advice they were given was to look out for each other, something that the neighbors of Turtle Cove have been doing for some time. The next Flour Bluff Town Hall Meeting will be February 10, 2016, at the Texas A&M Center for Innovation, at 6:30 p.m. Council members McIntyre and Magill have agreed to attend and attempt to answer the questions posed by this very connected neighborhood. Another meeting just for the Turtle Cove residents has been tentatively scheduled February 1, at 6:00 p.m.
Note: Watch for an update in The Paper Trail News relating recent events in this neighborhood.
Clarification: “My garage door had apparently not closed all the way when I’d last come home. I walked into my garage to do something and realized the door was opened. At the same time, the man was approaching the garage and walked in towards me. I believe I startled him, because he quickly said he was going to come ask if he could use my phone. He said something about that he probably shouldn’t have come up ‘like this,’ referring to the bandana he had on his head. I said no to the phone request, and he walked back out. When I came back in the house, I noticed him walking down the street on a phone. Just then, my mom pulled into my driveway. I didn’t want her out there alone with this man so I went out to walk her inside. He was yelling into the phone, attracting the attention of other neighbors. The man got into the back of the truck that had been parked in the cul-de-sac. It was then that Ms. Bonneau approached and started taking pictures of the truck. I did not come out yelling at the girl in the truck. She rolled down the window and began yelling at me for ‘mean-mugging’ her because I was standing in front of my house looking at the truck. She yelled obscenities at me as they drove away as well. “
Related Article: “Involved Neighbors Make for Good Neighborhoods”
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.