911 Call Details Murder on Falcon Lake
FALCON LAKE - The frantic 911 call a wife made after her husband was shot by Mexican pirates has been released. It’s a firsthand account of those terrifying moments on the water as David and Tiffany Hartley came under attack. In the end only Tiffany would survive.
Dispatcher: Hello? Ma’am? Yes. Okay. Are you sure that your husband got shot?
Tiffany: Yes. In his head.
Dispatcher: Okay. Yeah. Was he thrown out of the jet ski that he’s in the water or something?
Tiffany: He was thrown off the jet ski and I couldn’t pick him up to get him on mine. (sobbing)
Dispatcher: Ma’am? Were you shot at on the Mexican side or on the US side? So it was the Mexican Side. Okay, did you see anybody?
Tiffany: There were three boats.
Tiffany Hartley told deputies she and her husband David were jet skiing near the town of Old Guerrrero. Hartley told investigators her husband was shot in the head and killed. She says she was forced to leave his body behind as the gunmen fired more bullets at her.
Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. thinks those boats were pirates working for a drug cartel. He’s been warning people for months to stay off the water. The pirates are patrolling the Mexican side of the lake and robbing boaters at gunpoint. Gonzalez wants authorities in Mexico to search for David Hartley’s body; however, he thinks it may already be too late.
The family of Tiffany Hartley called a press conference Friday evening at the McAllen International Airport. Minutes before it was supposed to begin, they cancelled it. They say they’re afraid for Tiffany’s life. The security firm working for Hartley decided it wasn’t safe for her. Tiffany was going to talk about her experiences on Falcon Lake. No word is she will release a statement anytime soon.
Hartley did tell authorities after the shooting she got help from a man on shore. The Good Samaritan told deputies he saw the Mexican boats chasing her into US waters. CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to the man who stepped up to help Tiffany in those first terrifying moments after her husbands murder.
The Good Samaritan wants to remain anonymous because he fears for his life. He was on the west side of the lake. He goes there once a week, but for some reason he went twice this week.
For him it was just another day on Falcon Lake. The sky was clear, and there were people out having fun. Then, out of the blue he saw a jetski being chased by a boat. Everything would change for the Good Samaritan when he heard Tiffany Hartley rushing toward him. As she sobbed she told him her husband had been shot.
“She could see the gunshots wounds to his head. His brains were falling and he was not breathing,” he said. The man tried to console her. She told him she and her husband David had gone to old Guerrro on the Mexico side of the lake to take pictures of a Spanish mission.
“Three boats approached them, waving guns talking in Spanish,” he said. “They got scared, spooked then they heard the gunshots going on. She could see they were hitting the water and the water was coming up at them. [A]ll of a sudden she sees her husband flying off.”
Tiffany told him she turned around to go take care of her husband, but two pirates went after her jetski. One pirate held a gun to her head. Once he left she tried to pull her husband body onto her jetski but she didn’t have the strength.
She told the Good Samaritan she made an agonizing decision. She left her husband behind because she could see a pirate charging towards her. Her story is forever imprinted in his head.
“I’m trying to block it but I can’t. It’s unbearable to lose your spouse,” he said.
He believes he was meant to be at Falcon Lake that day. He believes God put him there to help Hartley. He was at the right place at the right time.
A number of Texas law enforcement agencies are telling boaters on Falcon Lake to stay on the US side and avoid crossing into Mexican waters. CHANNEL 5 NEWS has been tracking at least five violent incidents on the lake over the past 5 months.
-April 30th: Four heavily armed men boarded two boats near the Old Guerrero area demanding money.
-May 6th: Two armed men approached a boat near marker 14 and demanded cash.
-May 16th: Five armed men boarded a boat on the United States side of the lake near marker 7.
-Aug 31st: Falcon lake pirates, using a small boat marked “Game Wardin” tried to stop a Texas fisherman.
Then, of course, the worst violence incident to date happened on Thursday September 30th when David Hartley was murdered. Authorities say the robbers are believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization. They’re heavily armed using AK-47s or AR-15 rifles to threaten their victims.