HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The Harrison County Sheriff held a news conference Wednesday to detail the alleged aggravated kidnapping of a Hallsville woman at gunpoint by a man who had previously been deported for entering the country illegally and the five-hour manhunt that led to his capture.
Sheriff Brandon ‘BJ’ Fletcher says Raul Torrez is charged with assaulting a public servant, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly accosting a woman with a shotgun at a Hallsville home early Tuesday morning, pushing it into her back and trying to pull her into a nearby barn.
Fletcher says she fought back, ran into the house, locked the door, and called 911.
“The complainant in this case refused to be a statistic. She refused to give in. She had the will to fight. In doing so, she probably saved her life.”
Deputies were called to the scene to search for the man, knowing he may be in the barn area and armed. They brought drones and K9s. As law enforcement was setting up a perimeter, a Union Pacific employee spotted Torrez running down the tracks behind the Hallsville post office, still carrying the shotgun.
Hallsville Police Chief Wesley Freeman spotted Torrez running into the woods and the focus of the search moved to that area. Fletcher noted the search area covered a large area, including several creeks and wooded areas, and moved as it tightened.
The call initially came in as a robbery, but Sheriff Fletcher said it quickly became clear that it was more than that.
“We later determined that was not his intentions. As the investigation goes on, we will reveal more of that at a later time.”
However, the sheriff added, “We were in no position to walk away until he was caught. He was an extreme threat to the public. I do believe that he was desperate enough, personally, that somebody else was gonna get hurt.”
Torrez was ultimately captured as he tried to reach Highway 80 with the help of an HCSO K9 team. There was a brief standoff when Torrez allegedly refused to show his hands and guns were drawn before he was taken into custody.
Fletcher said they later learned the gun had been stolen in a burglary in Longview earlier that morning.
The woman who escaped the attempted kidnapping is shaken but will be okay.
The sheriff thanked Union Pacific for helping by stopping trains from moving through the area, and for their help in keeping an eye out for Torrez.
Fletcher said Torrez was caught in August of 2018 for entering the U.S. without inspection, but the charge was dismissed. He was caught again in November 2019 and charged with entering the U.S. without inspection and sentenced to 60 days by a U.S. Magistrate in Del Rio, Texas, and deported from Eagle Pass back to Mexico.
“Raul has obviously since re-entered the United States,” Fletcher said. He was on immigration hold as of Wednesday morning and Homeland Security’s Immigrations and Customs are looking at further charges.