The man who led the Tri-Valley's military base during a critical time in its transition into the Camp Parks that we know today died under chilling circumstances earlier this summer in Texas.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. James H. Doty Jr. was hospitalized and later slipped into a coma nearly a week after he was attacked and robbed of cash he'd withdrawn by assailants who followed him from the credit union to another business, ultimately passing away from his injuries on July 12, according to police in his hometown of Cibolo, a suburb of San Antonio. He was 61.
Doty served as commander of Camp Parks in Dublin when he was a colonel from 2003 to 2005.
"The transition from World War II-era to modern facilities at Camp Parks is the legacy of Col. Doty and those that followed him," Guy Houston, former Dublin mayor and State Assembly member, told me earlier this week. "Col. Doty was an integral part of the community during his time in Dublin and we are all saddened by his unexpected passing."
While the circumstances of his death received some coverage around San Antonio, including the ongoing police search for the assailants, it appears no one in the Bay Area has reported about it thus far. Not too much of a surprise, I guess, considering Doty's tenure in Dublin ended nearly 20 years ago.
It only came upon my radar via a tip from a local resident tied into the military and veteran communities last week. But as I started researching and asking around, I found Doty left an indelible mark on the base in just two short years.
Parks Reserve Forces Training Area "would not be the exceptional garrison it is today without the efforts of Brig. Gen. Doty," the Camp Parks command team told me in a statement Monday.
Doty led Camp Parks during its transition from Combat Support Training Center, Installation Management Agency to Parks Reserve Forces Training Area as it is now known. He was also instrumental in the creation of Village at Camp Parks, a residential area that houses more than 100 military families assigned to PRFTA and elsewhere in the Bay Area, current command staff said.
"Everyone who serves at Camp Parks is treated as a member of the team and more importantly a member of the family, and we were tremendously saddened by the passing of Brig. Gen. Doty," they added.
A Kansas native, Doty served for 33 years -- from joining the Army National Guard as an 18-year-old until retiring from the Army Reserve nearly a decade ago, according to an obituary from his family.
His military career took Doty and his family to posts in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Hawaii, Colorado and California. He served at the Pentagon on three separate occasions, including at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. In retirement, his final "assignment" was commanding Chapter 61 of the Disabled American Veterans in Seguin, Texas, according to his obituary.
Family, friends and colleagues remembered Doty at a memorial service at his local DAV facility on Aug. 5. He is set to be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery soon, according to his obituary. Doty is survived by his wife of over 40 years Charlotte, three sons and six grandchildren.
"He had an unequaled passion for helping wounded warriors," his family wrote. "Jim was a good man with a kind heart, who freely told people how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. He gave his everything for the people he loved. Recent tragedies and hardships left him restless, but he is now at peace."
The investigation into his death remains ongoing, according to Officer Matt Schima, public information officer for the Cibolo Police Department. The case is currently classified as a robbery, pending the results of Doty's autopsy.
"It is still an active investigation and those involved are still at large. We have some promising leads and are following up on them," Schima told me this week.
Cibolo PD first released details about Doty's death in late July, describing the late brigadier general as the victim of a "bank jugging", a crime in which would-be robbers watch customers in a bank or at an ATM and target those with cash withdrawals.
Police said a family member of Doty's called on June 28 to report that Doty had been attacked and robbed by an unknown assailant in a parking lot 13 days earlier. It was the first time the crime was reported, according to Schima. In that interim period, Doty started acting strangely and became hospitalized after a fall.
Detectives then recounted Doty's movements on June 15 as their new investigation unfolded. That day he made a cash withdrawal from the Security Service Federal Credit Union in Schertz, Texas, at around 1:30 p.m.
"Based on bank video, an unidentified Black female wearing a surgical mask appears to be watching Doty conduct his bank business and then proceeds to follow Doty out of the bank," police said. "The female gets into a gray Chevrolet Impala that waits and follows Doty's vehicle out of the bank parking lot traveling in the same direction behind him."
Police said Doty arrived at a business in neighboring Cibolo at around 2:15 p.m., and the same gray Impala is seen on surveillance video circling the parking lot as Doty enters the business.
"When Doty exits the business and while entering his vehicle, a newer model gray Chevrolet Trailblazer drives up and stops behind Doty's vehicle. A Black male wearing a blue hoodie and a surgical mask exits the passenger side of the suspect vehicle and approaches Doty from behind striking him to the ground," police said.
Doty and the assailant struggle on the ground before the culprit hops into the Trailblazer and flees the area with a white envelope apparently containing Doty's cash. Police said the video shows Doty getting up, entering his vehicle and driving away from the scene.
Six days later, Doty began acting strangely and suffered a serious fall. With his symptoms worse the next day, he was taken to a hospital in the San Antonio area for treatment on June 22 and later slipped into a coma and placed on a ventilator, according to police.
Doty died while in the hospital on July 12. The results of his autopsy will determine whether any injuries sustained in the violent robbery on June 15 directly caused or contributed to his death.
As Cibolo Interim Police Chief John Wells said in a statement at the time the case was publicized for the first time on July 25, "Unfortunately, incidents of 'bank jugging' are on the rise across the country. We want to encourage everyone to always be aware of your surroundings, especially when withdrawing money from a banking institution."
"Mr. James Doty was a longtime civil servant and resident in the Cibolo community and our thoughts and prayers are with his family," Wells added. "Our detectives have made this case a top priority and are diligently working to identify the suspects responsible."
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh is the editorial director for the Embarcadero Media East Bay Division. His "What a Week" column is a recurring feature in the Pleasanton Weekly.