Seeing one’s hometown in the national spotlight is usually a proud, strutting and momentous occasion, but not when the spotlight shines upon us for all the wrong reasons.

I’m referring, of course, to the recent soldier assault case, during which a female soldier was, according to police, physically assaulted causing bodily injury and unlawfully restrained at the hands of two males at a Cove residence.

This incident gained national attention largely because of its military connection.

A female Fort Hood soldier was allegedly assaulted at a party at a Copperas Cove residence April 3.

Cove police became aware of the incident April 3 upon being dispatched to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood to meet with the victim, Melissa J. Centeno, a private with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

An arrest warrant was issued for Spc. Jacob A. Avila, a combat engineer assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, for assault causing bodily injury and unlawful restraint. Avila turned himself in to Cove police April 5.

A second arrest warrant was issued for Lucas Curtis, 22, of Killeen, for assault causing bodily injury and unlawful restraint.

Curtis turned himself in to Coryell County Sheriff’s deputies April 7.

According to the arrest affidavit for Avila, the victim said she was “making out” with a fellow soldier when Avila and Curtis entered the room and told her to leave so they could talk to the male soldier she was with. The affidavit also said Centeno left the room and went to the bathroom. Both Avila and Curtis attacked Centeno as she left the bathroom. The affidavit said Curtis grabbed Centeno by the throat, shoved her against a wall and began slapping her, choking her hard enough to cause her to lose consciousness.

According to the affidavit, Avila also slapped the victim. Police said the victim fell over a metal rabbit cage, causing injuries to her back.

An unidentified soldier got Centeno out of the residence, taking her to the home of a military policemen, who subsequently transported her to Darnall for treatment.

According to police, Centeno suffered a ruptured eardrum, a mild concussion and abrasions to both sides of her face and neck.

We are all aware of the inordinate number of family/domestic violence assaults and assaults in other categories that have plagued the citizens of Cove in recent months, so one more assault isn’t much of a surprise — until the event is reported by national media outlets, casting a critical eye on this otherwise docile little town.

No, this incident is not considered to be domestic violence as neither of the suspects were members of the household.

Let’s look at the definition of family violence as defined by the Texas legislature and enacted as Penal Code Title 5, chapter 22, Section 22.01. It defines domestic violence as the use of force in situations that causes bodily injury, threatens to cause bodily injury or causes physical contact that the victim may regard as offensive or provocative.

In this statute, “family” includes individuals related by blood or affinity, marriage, former marriage, biological parents, foster parents and members of the household, including roommates or those in a dating relationship.

Had either of the assailants been dating the victim, this assault would fall under the definition of family violence but no information has surfaced to confirm or deny such a relationship.

Unfortunately, this incident does little to improve the image of Copperas Cove as the “city for family living.”

Assaults

In addition to the above reported assault, seven assaults were reported to police this week. Two of these were sexual assaults and five involved family violence.

  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported April 4 in the 500 block of Sunset Lane.
  • A sexual assault was reported April 7.
  • A sexual assault was reported April 8. Locations of this category of crime are omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported April 7 in the 2100 block of Jake Drive.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported April 9 in the 500 block of Bermuda Street.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported April 9 in the 200 block of West Truman Avenue.
  • An assault by threat/family violence was reported April 8 in the 700 block of north 23rd Street.

Theft/burglary/robbery

Eight thefts were reported to police this week. While this number is down a bit from previous weeks, thefts remain a bane on Cove.

  • A burglary of a residence was reported April 5 in the 900 block of 10th Street.
  • A theft of currency was reported April 5 in the 1600 block of North Main Street.
  • A theft of a bicycle, fishing rods, miscellaneous tools and bags was reported April 4 in the 1400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
  • An aggravated robbery was reported April 7 in the 900 block of 15th Street.
  • The theft of a 2008 Yamaha motorcycle was reported April 7 in the 800 block of Hackberry Street.
  • The theft of currency was reported April 7 in the 2300 block of Boyd Street.
  • The theft of a coffee pot was reported April 7 in the 1200 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A cellphone was reported stolen April 7 on Cedar Grove Drive.

Other crimes

  • Criminal mischief with damage to tires estimated at $450 was reported April 8 in the 100 block of Bridle Drive.
  • Criminal mischief was reported April 9 in the 1200 block of Briscoe Court.
  • False report to a police officer was reported April 4 in the 300 block of East Avenue E. This is a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Failure to identify and forgery of a government document was reported April 4 in the 500 block of North First Street.
  • Possession of a controlled substance was reported April 7. An arrest was made.
  • Debit card abuse was reported April 7 in the 900 block of Hackberry Street. This does not mean the owner of the debit card overextended the balance of the card. It means someone other than the card owner used the card without the owner’s consent.
  • Interference with child custody and assault by threat were reported April 7 in the 300 block of West Avenue G.

Indictments

  • Timothy Cornelious Jackson, 38, of Copperas Cove, on a charge of driving while intoxicated, third or more.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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