Sunday Morning Robbery Under Investigation
SMITH COUNTY — An early morning robbery is under investigation. Smith County Sheriff’s Office received reports that a convenience store was robbed early Sunday at the 11800 block of Highway 64. Just before 3:00, 911 Dispatch received a call about an armed robbery. According to KETK, the caller advised that she had just been robbed at gunpoint and that the suspects had fled the scene. Witnesses said that two unidentified black males came into the store, one holding a gun, and instructed the clerk to give them the money. When the clerk refused, the suspects then took the entire register and fled the scene in an older model silver passenger car. The cashier was not injured.
Tyler Police Issue Another Scam Warning
TYLER — Tyler police are reminding everyone that a scam can happen to anyone — and there are several that have become quite popular lately with local con artists. All it takes, police say, is a victim to fall prey to the scammer’s story that usually deals with someone in trouble, including the victim. On Thursday, a middle-aged female victim in Tyler was scammed out of a large sum of money. She received a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent. She was told that if she did not send the person a large sum of money for back taxes owed, she and her husband would have warrants out for their arrest by the end of the day. The suspect kept her on the phone all day giving her instructions on how to ultimately send the money to an unknown destination by utilizing the Green Dot Cards. Read more …
Downtown Parking Changes Begin Tuesday in Tyler
TYLER — Several changes to Tyler’s Downtown Business District parking will become effective Tuesday, Sept. 2. Extended parking is now available at the Fair Plaza Garage at Elm Street and College Avenue, across the street from the Tyler Public Library. According to a city news release, an automated gate system will allow a driver, without a monthly agreement, to obtain a ticket upon entering the garage. The ticket should be paid at an electronic kiosk, and the “paid” ticket is inserted upon exit. The new garage has 384 parking spaces, with both monthly leased parking and daily/hourly parking available. The garage will operate Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., except on official city holidays. Read more …
District Clerk Indicted
HARRISON COUNTY — A Harrison County grand jury this week indicted District Clerk Mellinda Craig on misdemeanor charges of assault causing bodily injury, deadly conduct and criminal trespass. A complaint says that on March 1, Craig hurt her niece by hitting her twice in the face with her hands as the girl attempted to stop an altercation involving Craig at a family member’s house in Hallsville. According to the Longview News-Journal, the complaint also says that on June 26 Craig engaged in conduct that placed another victim in imminent danger of serious bodily injury by pointing a firearm at him. The victim sent a video to an investigator. Regarding the criminal trespass charge, the complaint says that on June 21, Craig remained on the victim’s mother’s property without her consent after being told to leave. Texas Rangers arrested Craig, 44, in July.
Suspect Sought in High Speed Chase
EAST TEXAS — DPS Troopers in Lufkin are on the look out for the man involved in a late night chase. The chase began just after 10:30 on Jim Stephens Road in Angelina County. According to KETK, troopers pulled over a 2004 Pontiac passenger car for a traffic violation. The operator of the vehicle initially stopped, then began evading the trooper in the vehicle.
The suspect turned left onto FM 2497 until the vehicle drove off the roadway and struck a tree. The driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Meanwhile, the vehicle caught fire and burned. Officers with the Texas Highway Patrol, Lufkin Police Department and the Diboll Police Department were unsuccessful in locating the driver of the vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to contact authorities.
Officials Continue Search for Child Predator
KILGORE — The Kilgore Police Department is seeking the whereabouts of an accused child predator. Police tell KETK Lewis Lavon Jones, 51, of Kilgore, is wanted for aggravated child sexual assault and indecent exposure. He reportedly ran from police Thursday night in Rusk County and was able to escape capture. Jones is known to drive a 1992 tan Ford pick-up truck with Texas license plate number BNK-4913. If you know of this suspect’s whereabouts, contact the Kilgore Police Department at (903) 983-1559. If he is spotted in Rusk County, call the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 657-3581. You can also contact Rusk County Crime Stoppers at (903) 655-8477, and you may be eligible for a reward for information leading to an arrest of Jones.
Bus Dropped Young Student at Wrong Address
LONGVIEW — Longview ISD officials said Friday that staff members and a bus driver at Ned E. Williams Elementary School are at fault for a 4-year-old child being dropped off a couple of miles from his home, violating district safety precautions put in place after a similar incident four years ago. According to the Longview News-Journal, The child’s mother said she was terrified to learn her son, a pre-K student at Ned E. Williams in south Longview, was dropped off at an apartment complex about two miles from his home. Longview ISD children who ride the bus have tags attached to their backpacks or in some cases on their clothing that show their name, address and bus number. The bus driver, who has worked for the district for three years, will go through extra training as a result of the incident.
Perry Says Disparaging Tweet Unauthorized
AUSTIN (AP) — Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry says a disparaging tweet from his personal account about the Democratic district attorney he’s charged with unlawfully trying to oust was unauthorized. A tweet from Perry’s account Sunday, after the other post was deleted, said he does “not condone the tweet.” The tweets were sent from Perry’s verified account, but it was unclear who does the actual posting for the feed. Perry aides did not immediately return messages. The earlier tweet linked to an unflattering mock image of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who was convicted of drunken driving in April. Perry vetoed funds to her office when she refused to resign, which led to a grand jury indictment. Perry has pleaded not guilty and called the abuse of power charges a political ploy.
Fake Sheriff’s Deputies Rob Home Outside Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities say two men impersonating sheriff’s deputies have robbed a home where authorities previously searched for drugs. The Houston Chronicle reports that the robbery occurred around 4:30 Sunday morning in Ames, outside Houston. The home’s occupants told Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Joel Davila that the men wore black with badge shoulder patches. They brandished handguns and shouted, “Liberty County Sheriff’s Department! Get on the floor!” The men put pillowcases over the heads of the home’s occupants and stole a suitcase containing about $6,000 and two guns. The home had been the target of an August 21 raid by the Texas Department of Public Safety and federal drug authorities. But no law enforcement agency reported such activity this time. Investigators concluded it had been a robbery, not a raid.
Soccer Trainer Charged in Texas Slaying Cold Case
HOUSTON (AP) — Police have charged a Texas youth soccer trainer in connection with a 19-year-old homicide case. Chad Bujano has been arrested and accused of the broad-daylight shooting of Kristian Gaona, 18, in 1995 on a Houston street. Investigators say Gaona was walking with friends when a sport utility vehicle approached. Its occupants harassed Gaona and someone inside the vehicle eventually began shooting. Bujano was 16 at the time. Police say he was suspected from the start, but fled to Mexico to live with relatives. A recent review of the cold case file revealed that Bujano had returned to the U.S. under an assumed name. He was living in Cypress, outside Houston, and had been working as a Texas United Football Club trainer. Bujano is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
Animal Cruelty Trial Set to Begin in Dallas
MESQUITE (AP) — The trial of a Mesquite man charged with felony animal cruelty for beating and drowning his dog is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Dallas. Robert M. Prichard has been behind bars since June for violating the terms of his bond. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. KTVT-TV in Fort Worth reports that Prichard allegedly beat his pit bull with a shovel before throwing her into a swimming pool. At Prichard’s bond hearing, a snippet of a home security video was played allegedly showing the 60-year-old drowning the dog with a pool net.
School Co-founded by Sanders to Mull Rehiring Him
DALLAS (AP) — A Texas charter school co-founded by Deion Sanders is set to consider rehiring him as its athletic director, the latest chapter in an ongoing employment saga involving the NFL Hall of Famer. The Dallas Morning News reports that Prime Prep Academy’s board is scheduled to debate and vote on Sanders’ possible new post Tuesday. The former football star was fired, rehired and fired again within a couple months last year. His first dismissal came after Sanders was accused of assaulting the academy’s chief financial officer during a staff meeting. He was later fired as head football coach without explanation. Sanders’ employment turmoil came during a fight with co-founder D.L. Wallace for Prime Prep. Wallace eventually resigned, and most of his supporters in top positions resigned or were fired.
Study Finds More Arsenic in Wells Near Drilling
FORT WORTH (AP) — University of Texas at Arlington researchers say their study of North Texas water wells shows higher levels of arsenic and other carcinogens compared to a decade ago. In the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, UTA biochemists measured 100 wells across the natural gas-rich Barnett Shale. The Denton Record-Chronicle reports that 30% of those within 1.8 miles of active gas drilling had 18 times the amount of arsenic and other heavy metals. One of the researchers, UTA biochemist Zacariah Hildenbrand called the results “alarming.” Researchers believe the wells were contaminated when shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing knocked rust off old pipes and into fresh water. But Texas Alliance of Energy Producers spokesman Alex Mills called the theory “a little farfetched.”
Austin Not Yet Seeking Pipelines for Water Needs
AUSTIN (AP) — San Antonio is preparing to move forward on a $2.2 billion pipeline that could eventually skirt outer Austin as it brings water to the thirsty Alamo City. But, despite a punishing drought affecting most of the state, Austin officials say they aren’t interested in participating in the pipeline. The Austin American Statesman reports that as other Central Texas communities mull piping in water to meet growing needs, Texas’ capital is largely foregoing pipelines. That means Austin’s destiny more than ever will be tied to the Colorado River, just as San Antonio’s long has been tied to underground water. The Colorado has been crippled by a shortage of inflows from its tributaries amid droughts. But forecasters say this fall and winter may be wetter than normal.
Explosion in Mexican Customs Office Closes Bridge
EAGLE PASS (AP) — A four-lane bridge crossing the Rio Grande has been closed after two gas line explosions set the customs and immigration office ablaze in the Mexican community of Piedras Negras. Local news reports Sunday said firefighters and emergency workers have arrived on-scene in Mexico. It was unclear how many people were injured, but they were reportedly taken to area hospitals. Eagle Pass police spokesman Sgt. Orlando Escareno said the source of the leak is unknown. He said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials were directly communicating with their Mexican counterparts. Escareno added that a two-lane bridge through U.S. Customs to Mexico remains open. A customs agent in Eagle Pass said she wasn’t allowed to comment. South Texas CBP public affairs officers did not return calls seeking comment.
Fort Bliss Amps Up Security Over Holiday Weekend
EL PASO (AP) — Fort Bliss says it’s taking extra security precautions over Labor Day weekend. Spokesman Ltc. Lee Peters says the U.S. Army post has closed some entry gates to non-Defense Department personnel, and increased random vehicle searches through Tuesday. He said Sunday that the added security comes amid recent Defense Department guidance and internal security assessments. Peters also cited media reports that have to be “assessed” about a possible attack on America’s southern border by militants from the Islamic State extremist group that’s attacking cities in Iraq. The Army post also has warned the approximately 30,000 soldiers and 10,000 civilians who work there to expect “future change access controls” beyond Tuesday. Peters says new protocol is also being developed due to recent shootings at Fort Hood, Fort Lee and the Navy Yard.
No Animals Affected by Minor Crash at Dallas Zoo
DALLAS (AP) — Officials say no animals were affected when a pickup truck veered off a nearby roadway and flipped onto the property of the Dallas Zoo. The Dallas Morning News reports the crash occurred around 3 Saturday morning. The pickup was traveling on South Marsalis Avenue when it crashed through a guardrail and rolled onto zoo property. Zoo spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said the crash caused “very minor” damage to the zoo’s hospital. She said it did not occur near any habitats, and that the zoo’s animals were doing fine. The driver fled, and the pickup was towed away within hours. Holloway said there was no indication the driver remained on zoo property for long, adding: “Not many people are crazy enough to wander around the zoo at night.”