AUSTIN (AP) – A bill that would “harden” Texas campuses with increased security and a boost in student mental health resources has cleared a key hurdle in the Legislature a year after a mass shooting at a local high school killed eight students and two substitute teachers. The Texas House on Tuesday gave tentative approval to the measure that responds to the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston. The current Texas legislative session is the first since that event. The session ends May 27. The bill with bipartisan support calls for schools to develop safety plans to be reviewed by the state and engage in active shooter and emergency response trainings. The Texas Senate is set to take up another measure that would increase the number of armed school marshals.
AUSTIN (AP) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signaled he’ll sign a contentious measure that Republicans call a defense of Chick-fil-A and religious freedom but was tearfully opposed by gay lawmakers. The Texas House gave final approval to the bill Tuesday. It comes two months after San Antonio City Council members refused to let Chick-fil-A open an airport location. Some councilmembers said they were taking a stand against the fast-food chain owner’s support of anti-LGBT causes. Abbott teased in a tweet that he would sign legislation prohibiting cities from taking “adverse action” against an individual or business based on contributions to religious organizations. A caucus of LGBT lawmakers says the bill invites discrimination. One Democrat, state Rep. Celia Israel, said she was “tired of this” in Texas.
HOUSTON (AP) – U.S. border agents have temporarily closed their primary facility for processing migrants in South Texas one day after authorities say a 16-year-old died after being diagnosed with the flu at the facility. In a statement released late Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it would stop detaining migrants at its processing center in McAllen, Texas. CBP says “a large number” of people in custody were found Tuesday to have high fevers. The processing center is a converted warehouse that holds hundreds of parents and children at a time in large, fenced-in pens. CBP said Monday that a 16-year-old from Guatemala died after being detained at the facility for six days, twice as long as generally allowed by U.S. law.… Read the rest of the article…
MCALLEN (AP) – A South Texas man identified by prosecutors as leader of a human smuggling ring must serve nearly 22 years in federal prison over a 2015 wreck that left two immigrants dead. Osvaldo Gonzalez of Mission was sentenced Tuesday in McAllen. The 26-year-old Gonzalez in November pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport immigrants. He awaits sentencing in another immigrant harboring case and for being a felon possessing a firearm. Investigators say Gonzalez in November 2015 was on the lookout for officers when a pickup truck, transporting 13 immigrants, veered into oncoming traffic, crashed and rolled near Mission. One immigrant died at the scene. Another died later. The driver pleaded guilty to smuggling-related counts and was sentenced last month to eight years in prison. Prosecutors say the immigrants were bound for Houston.
AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would give child sexual abuse victims more time to sue in civil court after restoring a key provision that allows them to take on institutions. Senate lawmakers approved the legislation unanimously on Tuesday after former Olympic and U.S. national team gymnasts urged legislators last week to include the provision House lawmakers had quietly removed. The revised Senate version would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser and institutions up to 30 years after their 18th birthday. A push to expand statute of limitations laws for child sex abuse victims is underway in statehouses nationwide amid lawsuits against large institutions like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and USA Gymnastics.
DALLAS (AP) – Police in Dallas say they are investigating whether the killings of two transgender women and an assault on a third are connected. Maj. Vincent Weddington said Tuesday during a news conference that there are similarities in the three cases. No arrests have been made. The most recent killing occurred over the weekend. Twenty-three-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was found shot to death Saturday. Her death came a month after a cellphone video showed her being brutally beaten in a separate incident. Police say the first killing, which was also a fatal shooting, occurred last October. They say the assault happened in April and the victim was stabbed repeatedly.
AMARILLO (AP) – Police now say a Texas Panhandle man shot and killed his 12-year-old daughter, set fire to his house, then shot and killed himself. In a statement Tuesday, Amarillo police say officers first went to the house of 45-year-old Robby Elsworth Fithen after a structure fire was reported Monday with people trapped inside. Firefighters entered the house and found the bodies of Fithen and his daughter. Detectives later determined their deaths were a murder-suicide and an autopsy has been ordered.
AMARILLO (AP) – Firefighters had to rescue a dozen schoolchildren after their train of roller coaster cars stalled at a Texas Panhandle amusement park. An Amarillo Fire Department statement says the train of cars became stuck at the top of the Mouse Trap roller coaster at Wonderland Park in Amarillo about 11 a.m. Tuesday. Rescue crews used a cherry picker to lower the children to safety. No injuries were reported.
ROSHARON (AP) – A former Texas prison sergeant is slated to stand trial, accused of throwing a handcuffed prisoner onto a concrete floor so viciously that the inmate died. Lou Joffrion slammed inmate David Witt in August 2017 in an attack that was captured on video at the Darrington Unit in Rosharon, south of Houston. The Houston Chronicle reports that Joffrion will stand trial in September on an aggravated assault charge. State officials say Joffrion had just weeks before completed six months of disciplinary probation for another violent encounter with the 41-year-old Witt. Prison officials Monday condemned Joffrion’s conduct but noted a powerful painkiller in the slain inmate’s blood as a possible cause of the altercation. Officials didn’t report Witt’s death as a homicide until the full autopsy was completed a year later.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A federal grand jury has indicted a San Antonio-area man for pointing a laser at a San Antonio Police Department helicopter. In a Tuesday statement, U.S. Attorney John Bash says 37-year-old Justin John Shorey of Schertz was arrested Friday and accused of aiming the pointer intentionally at the helicopter and its flight path on Feb. 17. The laser can cause temporary blindness for the flight crew of any aircraft. Conviction could bring a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
DENVER (AP) – Prosecutors want a judge to require a GPS monitor for the truck driver accused of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people on a Colorado highway now that the man has posted bond. In the request filed on Monday, prosecutors say investigators believe Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos attempted to flee the scene of the collision. The filing says investigators learned this after a judge had set a $400,000 bond for the 23-year-old from Houston. Jefferson County district attorney spokeswoman Pam Russell said Tuesday that she could not provide more information. Aguilera-Mederos was released from jail Saturday after paying bond. His defense attorney has said the April 25 crash was an accident. A judge has not scheduled a hearing on the GPS monitoring request. KDVR-TV first reported the request.
PHOENIX (AP) – A self-driving truck company has partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to test autonomous technology on the long-haul route between Phoenix and Dallas. San Diego-based TuSimple is planning for two autonomous trucks to carry mail and parcels on five round trips between the Postal Service distribution centers in the two cities starting Tuesday. TuSimple says a safety engineer and driver will be on board to monitor the trucks during the two-week pilot program. The trucks use a camera system that allows the vehicles to view about 3,280 feet ahead. The company says the Postal Service has contracted TuSimple to examine if the technology could reduce fuel costs, increase safety and improve fleet operation.