--2 UPDATED: Tire-Slashing Spree May Have Started in Texas
       
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UPDATED: Tire-Slashing Spree May Have Started in Texas

January 4, 2013, 10:00 am
By Peter St. Cyr

A Texas couple says they are not surprised to hear that former Republican Congressional candidate Gary Smith has been charged with felony damage to property and aggravated stalking after allegedly slashing the car tires of his political opponents in Albuquerque.

Kenneth and Esther Propps, who lived next door to Smith in El Paso for more than a decade, claim Smith has been damaging their tires and home since 2008. SFR has obtained copies of multiple police reports detailing their complaints (scroll down to read them).

The Propps say they spent thousands of dollars installing surveillance cameras after repeatedly finding their vehicles tires flattened.

Kenneth Propps says the cameras caught Smith puncturing tires at the Propps’ home last February, just before Smith moved to New Mexico to run for Congress.

On Feb. 25, 2012, Propps says his dog alerted him to an intruder in their gated courtyard.

“He wouldn’t stop licking my face,” Propps tells SFR. “He was using his snout to push my face.”

That’s when Propps says he heard a loud hissing sound coming from outside.

After pulling on clothes, Propps ran outside to check his tires and spotted Smith trying to run away.

“I grabbed him and tried to hold onto him until the police arrived,” Propps says.

But Propps says Smith swung at him, cutting his left arm with a sharp blade.

“Normally, he would use an ice pick,” Propps says. “But this time he had a blade.”

Bleeding, Propps tried to keep hold of Smith, but says Smith somehow managed to hurdle himself over a wrought-iron fence. When he did, Propps’ right arm was punctured, he says.

In pain, Propps says he chased after Smith but lost him running down the street. During the altercation, Propps says Smith’s face mask slipped up to the top of his head, allowing Propps to recognize his longtime neighbor.

“Something is wrong with him,” Propps tells SFR. “I don’t know what is going through his mind. I think he strikes out at people he doesn’t like or people he thinks hurt him.”

Later that morning, Propps says, Smith returned and went inside his home.

“He acted liked nothing had happened,” Propps says.

When police returned to question Smith, Propps says they couldn’t get him to come out of his house. Instead, they talked to him through a window.

“I was disappointed they didn’t arrest him right there,” Propps says. “They said they didn’t have enough proof. They always said they didn’t have enough proof.”

Propps believes Smith started lashing out his family after an air conditioning panel was blown off Propps’ roof in a summer wind storm in June 2008.

Smith claimed the incident damaged his house. But when a judge determined it was an act of nature, Smith appealed.

“After he lost a second time in court, he just wouldn’t leave us alone. He started harassing us all the time,” Propps says.

That includes the morning in January 2009 when Esther Propps awoke to the smell of smoke in their bedroom.

Police found flammable ignition fluid used to ignite fire on several exterior walls and launched an arson investigation. But no arrest was ever made. The Propps tell SFR they spent over $10,000 repairing their home from the fire and water damage.

“He put us through hell,” Propps says. “I hate to think about what could have happened if my wife didn’t wake up.”

Esther Propps wrote a detailed letter to police after her car tires were slashed six times at Providence Hospital, where she worked. In a signed statement to the El Paso Police Department, she wrote that hospital security staff showed her security video.

“Right away I 100% recognize my neighbor Gary Smith doing the act of vandalism,” she wrote.

She also told police she was tired of Smith calling the Animal Control and Environmental Department to report that their yard was full of dog waste.

“He use to call them every week, two or three times, telling them our yard stunk,” Esther Propps says. “Every time they would come out to inspect, they found no violations.”

Esther Propps told police she caught Smith throwing dog waste into her yard and driveway and heard him tell her husband “he was tired of our Mexican trash.”

The Propps also called police to their home on Valentine’s Day 2009 after finding red paint tossed on to their side walls and rock garden.

Police investigated and suspected Smith, but did not make an arrest.

Instead, the Propps say police kept warning them not to retaliate against Smith.

SFR attempted to contact El Paso police for their comment on the Propps case, but they did not return our calls.

Back in Albuquerque, Smith is expected in court this afternoon for a conditions of release hearing.

Police Detective Lorenzo Garcia says he plans to tell the judge about the Propps story and hopes it adds weight to his request that Smith remain on a jail hold until a mental evaluation is completed.

DOCUMENTS: Read police reports filed by the Propps between 2008-2012.


UPDATE Jan. 4, 2:45 pm: Setting a cash bail of $100,000, an Albuquerque Metropolitan Court judge put Smith behind bars on Friday on new charges for violating an order that said Smith must stay away from the residence of Janice Arnold-Jones, his opponent in the First Congressional District GOP primary. She alleges Smith had been slashing her tires for months following his unsuccessful effort to get his name on the primary ballot.

APD Detective Garcia tells SFR Smith has two outstanding felony warrants out for his arrest in Texas, one for criminal mischief and one for aggravated assault. 

"I can sleep now," that Smith is behind bars, says Arnold-Jones' husband, John Jones. Jones alleges he spotted Smith near his home early Tuesday.

-Justin Horwath contributed to the update

 

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