NM Congressional Candidate slashes opponent's tires, has similar history in El Paso

Saturday, January 5, 2013 - 12:31am

Caught on camera - a politician accused of becoming a criminal. Police in New Mexico and a family here in El Paso say this man really knows how to hold a grudge, and that his weapon of choice is a blade to slash car tires.

A Congressional candidate by day and serial tire-slasher by night?

Surveillance video allegedly shows Gary Smith, a Republican who ran for Congress in New Mexico last year, slashing the tires of Janice Arnold Jones. She was the opponent who had defeated him in the primaries.

Police charged Smith with aggravated stalking and a judge ordered him to stay away from Jones. But Jones seemed to have caught Smith on camera, again, lurking outside her home on New Year's Day. Now, he's in an Albuquerque jail.

"These are all stalking issues that he's stalking them. who knows if he was there all night, if he was planning on doing vandalism or further damage or harm to either Mr. Jones or Janice Arnold-Jones," said Detective Lorenzo Garcia from Albuquerque. 

But the story doesn't end there. An El Paso family called police immediately after seeing a national broadcast. They reported Smith terrorized them too, before he moved to New Mexico.

"He's cost us a lot of money. I'd say over $20,000 plus on tires and the damage to the house," said Smith's former neighbor in El Paso, Kenneth Propps.

Propps and his family lived next door to Smith for several years. He says in 2008, Smith became angry about accidental damage to his property and later tried to set their house on fire, and even poison their dog.

"He's just, he's a scary person... My wife was always miserable. Scared. Everybody was scared," said Propps.

Another strange thing was happening. Over the years, somebody kept puncturing the family's car tires. They lost dozens of tires that way. So, Kenneth Propps installed a surveillance camera, hoping to catch the slasher in the act.

"You couldn't sleep at night. You'd just be listening. Always checking the windows. Even though we had the cameras," said Propps.

At last, Propps got footage of a man in a sweatsuit puncturing the tires of both cars in his driveway. He says it was his next door neighbor, Gary Smith.

Then about a year ago, Propps told NC 9 that his German Shepherd sensed an intruder outside their home. Propps says he ran outside and saw Smith running away, after slashing another set of tires. Propps told us he grabbed Smith and tried to hold him down until police arrived but that Smith escaped by cutting Propps' arm with the same blade he used on the tires.

There are two arrest warrants out for Gary Smith in El Paso. Police say it's up to the District Attorneys to decide if Smith will be tried in Texas or New Mexico because he faces charges in both states.

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