Punks, Jocks and Justice

There was a killing and now a conviction. Even those can't stop the fierce war raging between the Panhandle punks and athletes of Amarillo.

Here the stories diverge sharply: At least four of the punks -- Oles, King, Jason Deneke and Jacqui Balderaz -- say they saw Brian Deneke curled up on the asphalt, getting clobbered by several jocks. "He was down in the fetal position," says Balderaz. "I remember kicking and hitting."

The jocks report a remarkably similar scene, though this time the kid on the ground is one of their own.

What seems likely is that so much was going on, no one person could take it all in.

Chris Oles and Jacqui Balderaz return to the scene of Deneke's death.
Chris Oles and Jacqui Balderaz return to the scene of Deneke's death.
Friends say Brian Deneke had the magnetic charm to be a punk leader.
Mark Graham
Friends say Brian Deneke had the magnetic charm to be a punk leader.

"By now the fighting is in full force," Thompson remembers. "There are just tons of people, everybody's going crazy. I mean, I'd never seen anything like that. To me, it just looked like this mass confusion of people Š just running after each other, hitting each other with sticks and chains and bats, horrible, horrible.

"Then Rob says, 'Oh my gosh, look at Andrew [McCulloch].' "

Their jock buddy was on the ground, getting hammered by armed punks. Mansfield opened the car door and stuck his foot out, thinking he'd help rescue his friend. But Camp hit the accelerator, and Mansfield quickly pulled the door shut.

Camp maneuvered his car toward the throng surrounding McCulloch. He took aim, pushed the pedal and thunk -- that was Chris Oles's gangly frame rolling off his hood like a Panhandle tumbleweed.

Oles quickly got back on his feet; he seemed more shocked than anything.

"He just hits him, like, in the heinie," Thompson says. "Then he starts driving around, through where the body of the fighting is. I remember [chains and clubs] were being beaten on the car windows; it was really scary."

Then "just all of a sudden," Camp wheeled the car around, skipped a median and headed straight for a punk who turned out to be Brian Deneke. Off to his side, away from the car's path, Thompson saw the shape of another man. The two men were fighting each other, though she can't explain how, given the distance between the two.

"I realize, oh my gosh, we're heading directly for a human being."

She remembers no sound on impact. Just a freeze-frame of Deneke, stick in hand, looking directly at her, directly through her.

"I bet he liked that," Camp said as he drove away.

"Dustin was heading for the highway Š and, like, from the moment we hit him till we got on the highway, it was complete silence. It seemed like forever. And then I started, like, freaking out, rocking back and forth and stuff, and just covering my face.

"Then I just started saying, 'Oh my God. Oh my God.' Over and over again. And then I was praying -- I was crying out to God, you know, like, 'Oh my God, help me, please.' And then I sat up and leaned into the front seat, and they were completely silent sitting there.

"I said, 'What if he's dead?' And no one said anything."

Memories of Brian Deneke's final moments are tattooed in the consciousness of everyone who witnessed them, even though the details don't always agree.

Chris Oles: "You know those low-rider cars? That's what it looked like. It just went over the top of him and bounced. You know what the scary thing was? After he ran over him, they all started cheering."

Jennifer Hix: "Blood was coming out of every hole in his head. He got Š squished. There was blood, like, from his nose, ears and mouth."

John King: "He was saying something, but I don't think anybody understood it. There was all of us surrounding him, and Jason was like holding him in his lap. There was blood everywhere -- tons of blood."

Hix: "I felt like I was in a movie or something, like it was fake. All these Christian people were, like, saying prayers, and I said man, he's fuckin' dead. He's dead he's dead he's dead."

Deneke's body lay in a patch of snow against the median Camp's car had jumped. The crime-scene photos show him lying on his left side, arms grotesquely askew. His Mohawk is flopped to the side, like a wilted flower.

His front teeth are broken. A deep gash runs down the left side of his face. His left shoulder is ripped out of joint. An autopsy would reveal that his skull, spine, pelvis and several ribs had been crushed.

None of the jocks stopped to see what happened, much less give aid.

In the days that followed Deneke's death, the punks would turn to each other, retreating into their close-knit community.

That's what happened, but no one can tell you much about it. "I stayed drunk for a long time," Hix says. "There would be cases of beer in our house every night."

When the kids emerged from their drunken trance, they gathered remembrances of Deneke's life. Some attached bits of Jason's bloody jeans onto their leather jackets; others, such as Oles, tattooed the victim's name onto their arms. Later Deneke's family printed T-shirts with his face against a field of orange flames, with the words, "Brian Deneke: Hate Kills!!!" Another version, more popular with the girls, read, "Punk Angel -- Will You Be Mine?"

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Jocks are Americas scourge.They think they are above the law and are worshipped as all American by conservatives. They deserved to get shot when they messed with the wrong people in Colorado.

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