EDINBURG — A fiery political scene nearly turned physical here on Wednesday.
Shortly before the polls closed Wednesday night, an altercation broke out between the two camps vying for the Precinct 4 Place 2 justice of the peace seat.
The incident between the two opposing political factions pitted incumbent Homer Jasso Sr.’s adult children — Edinburg council member Homer Jasso Jr. and his sister Laura Jasso — against Miguel Angel “Mike” Garza, a political supporter for Armando Guerra.
Garza made headlines last week when he was arrested on a suspicion of driving while intoxicated but was released before seeing a judge — this after a call by Mayor Pro Tem David Torres.
Video of the altercation at the poll began circulating on social media Wednesday night and soon both camps began casting the blame on each other.
It’s difficult to tell exactly what transpired before the chaos ensued, but Guerra’s supporters allege Jasso’s camp broke the lines of demarcation.
Jasso Jr., an Edinburg councilman, said he grew tired of what he characterized as “harassment” and “disorderly conduct” by Garza and went over to ask that he stop.
Garza is an ardent supporter often present at rallies and who is known for his enthusiasm and boisterous persona.
“He’s saying he’s going to put my dad in a coffin,” Jasso Jr. said about Garza. “And there’s only so much we can take as a son, as a family, as a cousin. So I walked over to them and told them to stop. … As I started walking away, that’s when they came at me.”
That’s also when his sister got involved, he said. Video of the incident shows her charging at Garza as others attempt to hold her back.
The Edinburg councilman said Garza “assaulted” his father last week. Jasso Sr. reportedly filed a complaint with Edinburg police on Friday shortly after the alleged incident.
“We want to press charges and nothing is being done,” Jasso Jr. said.
An Edinburg police officer posted outside the Hidalgo County Election Annex in Edinburg can be seen in the video trying to break up the argument.
Edinburg Assistant Police Chief Orlando Garcia said the officer didn’t witness an assault and no one was arrested as a result.
“According to the officer, it was both camps shouting back and forth to each other,” Garcia said.
The incident, however, was enough to draw Edinburg Police Chief David White to the scene.
Jasso Jr. believes the officers posted there did not do enough to prevent the altercation.
“You go there, you set the tone — what’s harassment, what’s disorderly conduct — and then if people get out of hand, you send them home,” he said about police. “It’s that simple. Today it got out of hand.”
The finger-pointing didn’t stop there.
“I blame Armando Guerra for letting this happen,” Jasso Jr. said. “He’s saying, ‘Hey its freedom of speech. He can say whatever they want.’ He is encouraging them to do this.”
Guerra declined to comment Wednesday night, but said he would discuss it Thursday morning.
For his part, Jasso Jr. says he was not trying to start an altercation.
“I just got out of the hospital,” he said. “I just got surgery. I can’t fight nobody.”
A witness said Garza left the scene in an ambulance. It’s unclear if the incident will affect the terms of his bond.
“It would be up to the judge who issued the order (to determine) violations of the bond,” Garcia said. “I don’t know what kind of violations he would be committing right now.”
In the meantime, Jasso’s camp will avoid the polling site.
“For the safety of our camp we are instructing everybody to not be at the campsite,” Jasso Jr. said. “People already know who they are voting for. It’s not worth someone getting hurt there.”