The city of Austin, Texas, was looking for an excuse to steal Joe Del Rio’s modest home. It found one – it insisted he had a “bunker” beneath the house.
Actually, it was a fallout shelter built during the Cold War, something millions of Americans were encouraged to build by the federal government, beginning in 1961 under the Community Fallout Shelter Program.
The city began its theft by sending the code enforcement team to Mr. Del Rio’s home early one Saturday morning in May of 2010. After the retired Air Force reservist, Vietnam veteran, and former state employee put on some clothes and opened the door, he was rushed by an Austin Police SWAT team. He was detained and interrogated over a period of ten hours.
Neighbors were told to evacuate and the home was searched for more than four hours as emergency personnel staged units nearby. Cops found several weapons and 55-gallon drums they considered suspicious. There was nothing sinister about the drums and the legal weapons were returned to Del Rio after the cops examined them.