Galveston Police Chief on leave after SWAT raid to wrong house looking for teen falsely accused of murder
GALVESTON, Texas - One Galveston family is calling for justice after their home was raided by the SWAT team looking for a murder suspect who wasn’t even the right person. Now, the police chief is on leave over a lapse in communication over the incident.
The sound of rubber bullets flying through doors and windows in the middle of the night on January 22 sent a family into panic as the Galveston Police SWAT team waited outside.
SUGGESTED: "$40 for parking? I won't be there" Young Houstonians frustrated by nightlife parking prices
"I was scared, screaming," said Chelsea Peralez.
Home security footage shows the four family members walking out of the home slowly with their hands up where they were detained without any idea why they were there.
"I literally kept asking my son, ‘What is going on? What is going on?’ I had no idea," said Erika Rios. "And he’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t know, I don’t know.’ We were just in a panic."
Her daughter, Chelsea, was in the back of a patrol car alone.
"I was in there for a couple minutes," she said. "I was still having anxiety attacks, and I needed to throw up. They let me step out, and they then told me they were only looking for Cameron, nothing else."
The suspect in question was 17-year-old Cameron Vargas. He had an arrest warrant in connection with the January 20 murder of Malik Dunn, but Vargas wasn’t in the home.
He was later arrested and held on a $250,000 bond.
To make matters worse, investigators realized Vargas wasn't the murderer, and those charges were dropped on January 25.
The incident has led Chief Doug Balli to be placed on a 10-day administrative leave while an internal investigation into his conduct plays out. The City of Galveston is also conducting a separate investigation into failure of communication which led to the SWAT raid.
SUGGESTED: History made with first Sikh female judge elected in Harris County and Texas
FOX 26 reached out to Cameron Vargas' family, and his mother Terry Borrell sent a statement which reads, "We are completely disappointed in our police department and in their investigative process. This has been a traumatizing experience that no one should ever go through. We are glad our son’s innocence was proven, but he should have not spent one second in jail. Cameron is an amazing and respectful young man and did not deserve to be slandered and wrongfully accused or even seen as a suspect. The police wasted valuable time and resources on the wrong person. I hope that for the victims sake, and his family, they find the real murderer and go after the real criminals who lied to police and wrongfully accused my son."
At the time of this writing, Galveston Police have not made any other arrests related to Dunn's murder.