COROPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, with a light rain coming down, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez showed up at a property on El Paso Street in the city's Los Encinos neighborhood to cut the tall grass as he told the Troubleshooters he would.
"So everybody wants to know," we asked Gonzalez on Facebook Live, "why is the District Attorney cutting grass?
"'Cause it needs to get done. I used to cut grass in college. I used to landscape, so I ain't scared of cuttin' no grass," he responded.
This story actually began Monday, when Linda Frias, who's lived next door to the property for more than 40 years, asked the Troubleshooters for help getting someone to cut the grass. She was starting to get rodents on her property.
Frias remembers there used to be a house on the property next door, but it burned down years ago.
Inmates from the Nueces County Jail used to come and cut the grass, but that all stopped when COVID-19 came to the Coastal Bend. And with the heavy rains the Coastal Bend has endured this year, the grass just continued to grow and grow and grow.
Frias says her husband offered to cut it himself, but claims he was told he'd be fined if he did.
We contacted the city Public Works Department, Code Enforcement, the Sheriff's Office, and finally the DA's office. That's when Gonzalez explained to us that the state had seized the property years ago as part of a criminal case, so according to Gonzalez, it was his office's responsibility.
Gonzalez said he had about 20 people offer to help him take care of the grass on this seized property, but he says he didn't want to take them away from their real jobs.
"You were saying, Andy, I'm gonna go out there and take care of that tall grass even though I've got this case backlog in the courthouse. Yeah. I mean it's true. I'm out here cutting grass, but we have a jail full of people. COVID is rampant. We're on another 30-day hiatus from jury trials, and so times are crazy. I'm the DA and I have that to worry about, but today, I'm worrying about grass," said Gonzalez.
In the middle of cutting the grass, Frias and Gonzalez met for the first time.
"You're a blessing," she told him.
The property will be put up for sale at auction in October, and Frias says they may make a bid.