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Tower Down 12.02.19 (TX)


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Tow Truck Driver Shot and Killed While Repossessing a Car

Zach Johnson, 24, died Monday at Medical City Denton

 

ZachJohnson.jpeg

 

Family and co-workers are mourning the loss of a tow truck driver who was killed on the job early Monday.

 

Zach Johnson, 24, was a tow truck driver at Texas Auto Towing Service in Sanger.

 

Business owner Joe Baker said Johnson was hired about three weeks ago.

 

"This is the very first person I've ever lost," said Baker, who's been in business for 20 years.

 

Johnson loved life, fishing and mudding in his pickup, which was still parked at Texas Auto Towing Service on Tuesday evening.

 

At about 1 a.m. Monday, he was killed repossessing a car at the Best Western Inn & Suites on Swisher Road in Lake Dallas.

 

"A $500 car. It was literally a 2003 Nissan model car," Baker said.

 

Police said Johnson was about to drive off with the car when 37-year-old Barry DeGeorge walked outside, claimed it was his, then went back in.

 

"That's when the gentleman opened up the window of the hotel and proceeded to fire on him," Baker said.

DeGeorge fired 12 times, police said.

 

Police performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Johnson was taken to Medical City of Denton, where he died.

 

"He left way too soon," Baker said tearfully.

 

Since the shooting, work at Baker's business has come to a screeching halt.

 

Now, every minute is spent planning for a funeral for an employee who came to work, but never went home.

 

Funeral services for Johnson are Friday at 2 p.m. at Meador Funeral Home in Gainesville.

 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover funeral expenses.

 

Baker said he's considering shutting down his business for good, saying he and his wife couldn't bear to have another tragedy happen on their watch.

 

DeGeorge is in the Denton County Jail charged with murder. 

 

Lake Dallas Police said he told them he thought Johnson was stealing his car.

 

RESOURCE LINK

 

UPDATED:

Funeral arrangements for Zach Johnson are as follows:
Services will be @ Meadow Funeral Home
1204 East California
Gainesville, TX 76240

Visitation Thursday Dec 5th from 6-8pm
Funeral will be Dec 6th @ 2pm

 

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Horrible. Rest easy Operator. Your shift is over.

As a side note, I pray that this scum gets the gas chamber. Even that is too good for him. You took a mans life because you cant pay your bills. A man who was just doing his job.And from the sounds of it, you have devastated and destroyed a thriving business.  There is NO lower life form on this planet than you.

Maybe my words are harsh, but I am disgusted by people like this

PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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I believe most vehicle owners know they're in arrears and know their vehicle is about to be repo'ed. Mark Lacek and I've discussed where surrender of vehicles should be a process of a court order. Once a civil matter deems that a vehicle should be seized, deputies go to a residence to seize a vehicle (during daylight hours) and they call the tow truck company. Whats stopping that process? If law enforcenent is dispatched to protect the peace and deputies are servants of the courts ... why can't repos be a process of a court action? Wouldn't that eliminate the late night sleuthing and clains of car theft?  R

Randall C. Resch

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I have always had the mindset that the best repo is the one with zero contact. You hook it and book it. You do not pull it to the street and put on lights and straps. You do this away from the debtors residence. You do not ask for, or knock a door for keys. Any contact with a debtor is likely to be confrontational. You also need to be aware that finance company representatives in some cases provoke negative behaviors by riling up the debtor. 

I do not know anything about this situation that lead to this incident, but I will state that there is not even anywhere near the training required to be an adjuster as far as the state is concerned. I have never had a weapon pulled on me personally. I avoid debtor contact if at all possible. I will NEVER knock a door for keys, EVER.

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As far as finance companies being required to pay court services costs ... if they fail to pay for a deputy to, "protect the peace", then repo towers should opt out of picking up their assets. This was one of those scenarios where not even the best trained tow operator or repo agent can predict the mentality of some psycho with a gun. In plain terms, Zach was purely assassinated when the shooter thought his $500 Nissan was being stolen. All the training in the world can't prepare anyone from being killed by a shooter with a penchant for violence. And, I firmly believe that any man or woman doing asset recovery should be wearing a bullet vest if they're involved in repo activities for this very reason. Christine and I send our prayers to his family and the Baker's at Texas Auto Towing Service. Mr. Baker wouldn't be wrong to shut down his business because of this tragedy.    R.

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Randall C. Resch

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That part about the shooter thinking his vehicle was being stolen was simply and attempt by a murderer to justify his actions. There is no excuse this coward can make that will justify his killing this tow operator from a distance. Reporters were that the debtor actually spoke to the wrecker driver taking the vehicle, then retreated into the motel/hotel room and began to shoot out of the window at the tow truck.

 

Back when I did involuntary REPOS years ago, about 90% of the time I either a Bank Officer or Deputy Sheriff with me. Their job was to run block if someone came out. Then the Repossession Industry took flight and they took the repo biz from regular towing companies by saying we do not need a blocker for back up. Most of the time you probably don't, it's that 1 in 100 that the repo goes wrong. The repo agent having caught a fish isn't willing to cut the line and release the fish to save their own life. I released a couple that I recall only to turn around and get them a few days later. But, that makes no sense to most who believe they are invincible. If your doing repos and your scared, repos are not for you. If your doing repos and your not on heightened awareness then repo work is not for you. This was very likely the first time this young tower had dealt with a situation such as this one.

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From the narrative, it was stated that he had just started out in the collections aspect. I question as to whether he had contacted the debtor for keys per the lenders instruction, or per some type of SOP. 

According to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act the mere presence of a LEO constitutes a breach of the peace, and quite possibly tips the scale to becomming an illegal repossession. In Texas there is NO, ZERO, required training for recovery adjusters. All you need is to be robbed of your $100.00 for the consent tow license.

Also the pay schedule for recovery adjusters is horrible. I recently applied at a few companies, and was not impressed. No protected zones, having to pay for your fuel, and no recovered vehicles equals no pay is not conduciveof safe operating decision making. A man or woman has to eat, and pay the bills.

There are many contributing factors to this unfortunate death. It will be interesting how sharp of a learning curve the totality of the circumstances provide. 

I would like to hear Mr. Lacek's perspective as well.

On a happier note, I am graduating Friday with an associates degree in Construction Technology. I am also ten classes away from an associates degree in Commercial Refrigeration!

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The murderer apparently spoke to the operator BEFORE he went into his room, grabbed a gun and opened fire through the window of his motel room.... So did the operator say to him I am stealing your $500 turd?? ...No... I am sure the operator told him his s#!t box was being repossesed for non payment. And whats worse is I can picture this dirtbag saying to him "ok I will get the key for you" which made this young, inexperienced operator stay and wait for the key. The murderer baited the operator. of course this is just my OPINION and I do not have any inside info regarding this cold blooded MURDER, It is just the way I see it happening.

PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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