Temple Police have apologized for mistakenly suggesting they were actively searching for the suspect in the deadly June 23 boating tragedy at Temple Lake Park.
The confusion stemmed from two statements. First, Temple Police Spokesperson Shawana Neely used a standardized press release Friday that included a call for the public’s assistance locating Jason Bernal. Second, detectives did not tell Neely they were already negotiating with attorney Barrett Thomas to coordinate Bernal’s second booking in jail. So, when contacted by phone for clarification Friday, Neely incorrectly reaffirmed that officers were asking for tips to help them find Bernal.
“That was my error,” Neely told KCEN-TV Monday. “That was not something done intentionally.”
Thomas rebuked the erroneous claims over the weekend.
“I have seen various reports indicating that Mr. Bernal is ‘on the run.’ and that the community should assist law enforcement in finding him,” Thomas wrote in an emailed letter. “I have personally been in contact with law enforcement, including the Bell County District Attorney’s Office, the investigating officer at Temple Police Department, and a Bell County jail supervisor for over two days. We have worked together over these two days to coordinate a safe and efficient booking on the second complaint.”
Bernal ultimately turned himself in Monday.
“We know that this situation won’t happen again because we learn from our mistakes,” Neely said Monday – apologizing repeatedly for the error.