HOUSTON (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard has closed part of the Houston Ship Channel due to chemicals spilling from a petrochemical tank farm after a days-long fire, affecting commerce on one of the nation’s most important commercial waterways. The Coast Guard said Friday that it was closing the channel near the Intercontinental Terminals Company plant east of Houston. The company said earlier that a dike wall breached near a damaged tank where crews were trying to drain potentially hazardous liquids. Coast Guard spokesman Kelly Parker says that caused a mix of chemicals, firefighting foam, and soot from the fire to enter the channel. By closing the channel, the Coast Guard hopes to limit the spread of those liquids into the nearby bay. The ship channel connects the Port of Houston to Galveston Bay and is a key waterway for refineries and industrial sites.
DALLAS (AP) – Federal prosecutors say they will not pursue charges at this time against the teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 18, faces a state capital murder trial for the deadly shooting last May at Santa Fe High School that also wounded 13 people. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas says prosecutors and FBI agents met with the victims and family members Tuesday and that no federal charges will be filed at this time. A spokeswoman declined to say whether Pagourtzis might face future federal prosecution. If convicted in state court, Pagourtzis could be sentenced to life in prison. But he has the possibility of parole after 40 years because he was a minor at the time of the shooting.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A government watchdog has found the Federal Emergency Management Agency wrongly released to a contractor the personal information of 2.3 million survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the California wildfires in 2017. The Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General found the breach occurred when FEMA was working with a contractor that helps provide temporary housing to those affected by disasters. Some information, like names, last four digits of a Social Security number are required to confirm eligibility. But FEMA also provided the contractor bank names, electronic funds transfer numbers and bank transit numbers. The watchdog says the victims could be vulnerable to identity theft. FEMA officials say they are changing how they deliver information to avoid giving too much information and it will be completed by 2020.
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) – Colorado police have arrested a 73-year-old man wanted in Texas for a killing that happened 25 years ago. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office says deputies and federal marshals arrested Jesse D. Hogue of Pueblo West without incident Thursday and booked him into the Pueblo County Detention Center where he will await extradition to Texas. A warrant was issued for Hogue after a grand jury investigation into the death of 40-year-old Jackie Hogue in February 1994 in Potter County, Texas. It’s unclear whether Hogue has an attorney.
BOISE, Idaho (AP/Staff) – Bump stocks – the attachment used by the killer during the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to make his weapons fire rapidly like machine guns – will become illegal in the U.S. next week. It’s the only major gun restriction imposed by the federal government in the past few years. Bump stocks were invented by a man in Moran, Texas. Owners of the devices are anxiously watching the legal wrangling and wondering what to do. Their options are to destroy the devices, turn them over to federal authorities or risk getting caught and face a felony. Federal authorities have estimated there may be as many as 500,000 in circulation.
SAN ELIZARIO (AP) – Authorities say a West Texas sheriff’s deputy is recovering after being shot during an early morning traffic stop. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office on Friday identified the wounded deputy as Peter Herrera. Herrera underwent surgery after he was shot early Friday as he approached a vehicle in San Elizario, southeast of El Paso. The deputy did not return fire, and the people in the vehicle fled on foot. Two suspects were arrested a few blocks away, and authorities say deputies found the gun likely used in the shooting. The suspects have not been identified, and officials haven’t named the charges pending against them. Fellow deputies were attending a blood drive that was being held to benefit Herrera.
McALLEN (AP) — A Mexican national suspected in a fatal 1998 shooting on a college campus in Texas has been extradited to face a capital murder charge. McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said Thursday that 39-year-old Roberto Ojeda Hernandez arrived in Texas on Wednesday. He was arrested in July in Reynosa, Mexico. Ojeda Hernandez is being held on $2 million bond in the Hidalgo County jail. Court and jail records don’t list an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Ojeda Hernandez is suspected of opening fire as students registered for classes at the Pecan Campus of South Texas College on Jan. 13, 1998. The campus is in McAllen, about 300 miles southwest of Houston. The shooting killed 32-year-old security guard Carlos Hernandez and wounded three students. Rodriguez says police believe at least two other people were also involved in the shooting during an attempted robbery.
HOUSTON (AP) – Police in Houston say a 5-year-old boy has died after a table fell on him at a church. Police were called to the Signs And Wonders Apostolic Outreach Ministries in northwest Houston about 9:30 p.m. Thursday and found the child injured. Police say he was taken to a hospital where he later died. The child’s name has not been released and police say officers are still trying to determine what caused the table to fall.
HOUSTON (AP) – The lawyer for a flight attendant detained by U.S. immigration authorities on her way back from an international work assignment says her client has said she is being released. Attorney Belinda Arroyo says 28-year-old Selene Saavedra Roman called her husband Friday from a Texas immigration detention facility and said she would be getting out. It was not immediately clear when. The call came shortly after Arroyo, Mesa Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants publicly called for her release. A message sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not immediately returned. Arroyo said the airline had mistakenly reassured the enrollee in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that she could work a flight to Mexico, but Saavedra Roman was detained Feb. 12 upon her return to Houston.
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Kansas State University is becoming cheaper for good students from five more states. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the Kansas Board of Regents agreed this week to allow new students from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas to begin paying less in fall 2020. To qualify, they must have at least a 3.25 overall high school GPA and scores of either 22 on the ACT or 1100 on the SAT. President Richard Myers says it will help with recruitment. Under the reduced rate, they would have paid $6,562.50 this fall for 14 credit hours. Regular out-of-state students spent $11,610, and in-state students shelled out $4,375. Qualifying students from nine other states already can receive out-of-state tuition at the same reduced rate, which is 150 percent of the in-state tuition cost.