72-Yr-Old Man Raided by SWAT Team Over Cold-War Era Fallout Shelter (Statesmen) Two years ago today, Joe Del Rio was awakened to find city officials at the door of his lifelong home in East Austin, demanding entry. Before it was over, the Police Department's SWAT team and the Fire Department had been deployed, and Del Rio said he was detained and questioned for about 10 hours because of what officials called a multilevel bunker-like space under the house with suspicious and unusual materials.
After the city billed Del Rio in April for about $90,000 in repairs it said were critical to make the home on Canterbury Street safe, Del Rio sued the City of Austin last week for what his lawyers say was a heavy-handed and unconstitutional seizure of his property without compensation.
"The ordeal they put me through was unnecessary," Del Rio, now 72, said the afternoon before the second anniversary of his forced eviction. "I've gotten the runaround. I think they want the property. Condemning it is a cheap way to get it."
[...]Del Rio's description of his questioning by police and city officials in May 2010 suggests that they thought they might have another "Unabomber" on their hands. They questioned why he was shirtless and his hair was messed up. His response was that he had been awakened at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. City crews also found military memorabilia, inoperable hand grenades and a collection of about a dozen firearms in the home.
Del Rio's lawyers Monday produced documents stating that Del Rio was a military veteran with a high security clearance who later worked as a part-time security guard for the Austin City Council.
"He guarded the council 22 years, and now nobody's guarding his rights," lawyer Mack Ray Hernandez said.