‘He dropped the ball:’ Anaqua Springs shooting victims’ families blast Bexar County sheriff – San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO — The families of two children shot to death with their mother in the Anaqua Springs Ranch community in far Northwest Bexar County in 2019 expressed their frustration Monday with Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar’s silence on the investigation.

The father and aunt of London Sophia Bribiescas, 10, and the grandparents of Alexa Montez, 16, spoke at a news conference of their pain and their need for answers.

London’s aunt, Emma Bribiescas Mancha Sumners, sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday asking him to intervene in the case and to let the Texas Rangers conduct their own investigation into the deaths. The letter cited a lack of confidence in the sheriff’s office.

A spokesman for Paxton confirmed Monday that his office received the family’s letter, which has been referred “to our investigators for appropriate review and consideration.” He declined further comment.

The two girls were were found dead with their mother, Nichol Olsen. The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Olsen’s death a suicide and both children’s deaths as homicides. A handgun was found near Olsen’s body. The sheriff’s office has kept its investigation open.

Sumners said Salazar “likes the spotlight,” but she doesn’t expect him to talk to her family “because I think we’re a constant reminder of the fact that he made a lot of mistakes on this case.

“He doesn’t like anything that shines a negative light upon him,” she said.

Montez’s grandmother, Erma Montez of San Antonio, said she was “very disappointed” in the sheriff.

“I feel like he dropped the ball on our case,” Montez said. “They stopped the subpoenas to investigate right away, which is what the detectives told me when I went to see them. And they already knew right off the bat that there would be no trial.”

Erma Montez said when she reaches out to the sheriff’s office for updates on the investigation, her phone calls are not returned.

“As a family, we’ve had our lives torn apart,” the grandmother said, fighting back tears. “And we have had no justice. So that alone is a heavy burden to carry.

“And now we yearn for (Alexa) so much that we just have to go to her grave. And that’s where we get our peace.”

Hector Bribiescas, the youngest child’s father, said he has grown weary and impatient with the wait for answers.

“Not knowing is the hardest part,” he said. “It’s just very frustrating.”

The girls and Olsen, 37, a San Antonio hairstylist, were found dead on Jan. 10, 2019, in an upstairs hallway area in a $1 million residence then owned by Olsen’s boyfriend, Charles Edward Wheeler.

Wheeler, now 35 and living in Austin, reported he had argued with Olsen and left the home before the shootings. He found the bodies when he returned the next morning and called 911.

Salazar soon labeled Wheeler a “person of interest,” but not a suspect in the case. No charges were ever filed against Wheeler, whose attorneys have long said he had nothing to do with the deaths.

Nearly four years later, the sheriff’s office said it’s continuing to work on the case. In a statement Friday, it said the assigned investigator “will continue to devote his efforts until every facet of this investigation has been completed, in order to provide closure for the families of Nichol Olsen, Alexa Montez and London Bribiescas.” The agency avoided answering questions on whether Wheeler is still a person of interest.

The sheriff has said previously that he won’t rush the investigation and that he wasn’t ready to blame Olsen for the violence.

“Until you can show me definitively that she killed both of those little girls, then I’m not prepared to call Nichol Olsen a murderer,” Salazar said in November 2020. “To me, that’s the worst thing that a parent could be accused of.”

Joe Hoelscher, the Bribiescas family’s attorney and advocate, accused Salazar of prolonging the families’ pain.

“We believe based on all of our other interactions with Javier Salazar and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office that they are intentionally withholding an outcome in this investigation to punish this family for holding Javier Salazar accountable for the missteps in the investigation and his own incompetence. And that is a travesty,” Hoelscher said at Monday’s press conference.

“I do not believe this man should be sheriff. Because he’s inflicted more pain on this family than anyone else other than whoever it was that killed their daughters.”

Wheeler’s attorney, Therese Huntzinger, has said the Texas Rangers don’t have purview to investigate the deaths and emphasized that it’s the sheriff’s responsibility to handle the investigation.

But Hoelscher said the Texas Rangers can step in if they wish and could also conduct a public integrity investigation into Salazar’s actions if they choose. He accused the sheriff of “potentially” interfering with his own agency’s criminal investigation.

“There’s multiple reasons the Texas Rangers could get involved,” Hoelscher said.

pohare@express-news.net | Twitter: Peggy_OHare

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