Wild parties in vacant houses have been a “thing” for years, and while they are rare in El Paso, a recent one in an Upper Valley house being remodeled by businessman Meyer Marcus has caused a stir, for a lot of reasons.
The May 18 house party attended by local teenagers began with a break-in and lead to extensive vandalism in Marcus’ house at 425 Camino Real. It isn’t being investigated by the El Paso police, however, but by an Eastside county constable’s office.
According to a statement provided to El Paso Inc. by Precinct 4 Constable Luis “Louie” Aguilar, “The individuals intentionally damaged, destroyed and made markings, inscriptions, slogans, drawings or paintings on the tangible property of the owner.”
Marcus is chairman and owner of Mimco, a commercial real estate investment and management firm that operates in 14 cities. He could not be reached for comment.
So far, the investigation has resulted in 12 arrests, including six individuals from Canutillo High School, five from Franklin High and one that’s unexplained, according to spokespersons for the two school districts and law enforcement officers.
“We know of five who were arrested before the school year ended,” said El Paso ISD spokesman Gustavo Reveles. “They are the only ones we know of, but there may be more.”
For those who have not graduated, Reveles said, “there may be disciplinary action, based on the Student Code of Conduct, but we are handling that on an individual basis.”
All of the arrests were made by the Aguilar’s four-person department. The charges are third-degree felony for burglary and criminal mischief involving damages of $30,000 to $150,000, Sheriff’s Department Commander Robert Flores said.
A third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
Neighbors tell El Paso Inc. there were even more young people involved in what went on that night.
“I saw it out my window,” said Margaret Varner, a next-door neighbor. “It went on for hours, but I didn’t see commotion or anything. I was watching out my window, but didn’t know what it was.”
Another neighbor told El Paso Inc. he didn’t see the party but heard about it the next day.
“It’s awful,” he said, asking not to be named. “It wasn’t just having a party at someone’s house, it was destroying somebody’s house.
“I mean they took it to a whole new level. And to see kids just walking around drinking with their red Solo cups. People saw them wandering inside with stuff on the walls.”
Asked why no one called the police, he said, “Nobody really knew it was happening until after the fact. Then, we started seeing videos, and we got calls from people asking, ‘Hey, you guys, you got any cameras or videos?’”
Exterior damage to the house is evident from the street, included broken windows and stone mouldings around the front door and windows.
Photos that circulated on social media showed extensive damage inside the house, including spray-painted obscenities, holes punched in walls and trash strewn across the living room floor.
The party was on a Saturday night, but it wasn’t until the following Monday that a contractor involved in the renovation, David Garcia, called the El Paso Police Department at 7:43 a.m., according to a police call-for-service report.
But when the police didn’t arrive, Garcia evidently called the Precinct 4 county constable’s office at 2350 George Dieter, which is 37 miles away. Garcia declined to comment.
El Paso Police Department records confirm Garcia’s initial call May 20, and that police didn’t arrive for more than four hours.
Then, department spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said, the responding officer never filed a report, which is unusual.
“This is not an El Paso Police Department case,” Carrillo said, adding he had not seen such a situation before. “Maybe they went to another agency. I can’t tell you who.”
Commander Flores said the involvement of constables in such an investigation is rare but permissible because, under Texas law, a constable’s powers are equal to those of any other peace officer.
As for what happened on May 20, Flores said he understands the police actually arrived first at the Camino Real address, but added, “Constable Aguilar’s deputies said they would handle the call, and the El Paso PD left.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.