Local News

Tyler Police Probe Early Sunday Homicide

thumb_police-tyler-carTYLER — A shooting near a Tyler club has killed a Tyler man. Killed in the early Sunday morning incident was Brandon Deroyce Gray, 30. He died at Tyler’s Mother Francis Hospital following the shooting near the Wild Bunch Club at 1714 North Palace Avenue. (more…)

Tyler Business Robbed

police lightsTYLER — Police are looking for the lone gunman who robbed a Tyler business. It happened shortly after 7:15 last night at Vapor Corner, a tobacco store, at 712 West Houston. The store was robbed by a black male wearing all black clothing. He took an undisclosed amount of cash and merchandise while holding the clerk at gun point. No injuries were reported.

One Dead in Friday Night Crash

billy_joe_armstrongSMITH COUNTY — A Palestine man was killed late Friday night in a head-on collision in southwestern Smith County. KETK reports the collision happened around 11:30 p.m. near Farm Road 2661. State troopers say the victim was Billy Joe Armstrong, 30. Troopers were still investigating the incident at last report, and no other details were immediately available.

Three, Including Toddler, Critically Injured in Wreck

tyler_wreck_SMITH COUNTY — Smith County emergency crews responded Saturday morning to an accident with critical injuries, and a toddler was one of the victims. KETK reports the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. on Toll 49, one mile north of Highway 64. State troopers say a small Lexus crossed the center lane for unknown reasons and sideswiped a van before colliding head-on with a Mustang. Troopers say three people, including a 2-year-old, were taken to the hospital. They were last reported in critical condition. No other details were immediately available.

Tyler Church Damaged by Fire During Sunday Services

Voices of Victory Missionary Baptist ChurchTYLER – Minor damage was reported from a church fire that was spotted during Sunday morning services yesterday. A late arriving church member spotted the smoke coming from the roof of the Voices of Victory Missionary Baptist Church at 201 South Baxter Avenue. Tony Gumber with Tyler Fire Department told KETK “firefighters found some smoldering wood and damage and appears to be due to electrical wiring that shorted out.” No injuries were reported.

Longview Reacts to Possibility Glass Dragon Could Reopen

glassdragonlnjLONGVIEW — The Glass Dragon reopening its doors may just happen. KETK reports it was the case that sent shock waves across Gregg and Upshur counties earlier this month. That’s when three people were arrested after a federal, state, and local investigation into the Glass Dragon’s alleged distribution of synthetic marijuana. According to the Longview News-Journal, Jeremy Tidwell has filed a motion in federal court to let him reopen one of his smoke shops to sell electronic cigarettes and other legal items. Some businesses surrounding the Glass Dragon are not happy about the news, though Tidwell’s effort has at least one supporter. (more…)

ETCF Responds to Signing of Charitable Provisions Bill

TYLER – Friday afternoon President Obama signed into law a tax extenders package which includes time-sensitive charitable opportunities for the end of the year, and the Tyler-based East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF) is responding to the news. The bill, HR 5771, known as the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, reinstates for 2014 dozens of expired tax provisions, including the IRA charitable rollover and enhanced deductions for donating land conservation easements and food inventory. (more…)

Trinity Mother Frances CMN Director Earns CFRE Designation

thumb_MotherFrances-signTYLER – CFRE International has announced the most recent class of Certified Fund Raising Executives (CFREs), which includes Robin Rowan, Director, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Trinity Mother Frances Foundation. According to a Trinity Mother Frances news release, these individuals join over 5,000 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation. (more…)

Longtime Tyler Newspaper Editor Retiring

TYLER (AP) — The editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph is retiring after 46 years in the newspaper business. The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports Dave Berry, 66, will retire at the end of the year. He’s worked at there for more than 20 years, starting as the managing editor before being promoted to editor five years ago. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1970 he served in the U.S. Army’s information office in Vietnam, reporting stories for military papers for eight months. He then worked on the copy desk for the Tulsa Tribune in Oklahoma. He’s also served as city editor and then managing editor of the Brazosport Facts, editor of the Arlington Daily News, executive editor of Dallas-Fort Worth Suburban Newspapers and editor of the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer in Kentucky.

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT logoTYLER — Here’s a look at work planned in the Tyler District during the next two weeks: December 22, 2014 and December 29, 2014.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintenance crews in Tyler will be patching on mostly low volume roadways throughout the county during the next two weeks. On Monday, December 22, weather permitting; crews will have a moving operation while patching potholes on Interstate Highway 20. Motorists should watch for safety equipment and personnel in this traveling work zone.

Crews will start patching low volume roads on Tuesday with little impact on traffic. Pavement repair work on Loop 323 between the loop extension and Commerce Street will resume on January 5th. (more…)

State News

Police: 2 Killed, 2 Injured in Denton Shooting

crimescene-2DENTON (AP) — Denton police say two people were killed and at least two were wounded during a shooting at an apartment complex. Public information officer Orlando Hinojosa says the police department received a 911 call reporting gunfire at the apartment around 5:30 Sunday afternoon. Officers determined that five individuals, including three men they identified as suspects and two men identified as victims, exchanged gunfire. Hinojosa says the victims shot the suspects, killing two of them. The third suspect fled the scene. It was not immediately clear whether he was injured. The two victims were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. Hinojosa says it is unclear what prompted the shooting. No officers were involved, and no further details were immediately available.

Suspect in Austin Police Chase Dies in Crash

Austin Police patchAUSTIN (AP) — Austin police say a sexual assault suspect who led police on a short high-speed chase died when his car crashed. Police say that early Saturday morning, they received a call about a sex crime. A few minutes later, police got another call in which the caller said the suspect was leaving the scene. Nearby officers saw a car matching the description less than five minutes later and tried to pull it over. But the driver did not stop and led police on a pursuit. During the chase, the suspect lost control and crashed the car. The suspect died on the scene. Police are still investigating the sexual assault case.

At Least 7 Horses Dead in North Texas Stable Fire

fire imageROWLETT (AP) — At least seven horses have died in a fire that destroyed a Dallas-area stable. Eric Zimmerman, a Rowlett fire department investigator, tells The Dallas Morning News officials were called to the fire late Saturday night. He says a dirt road, muddy conditions and a creek made it difficult to get to Rowlett Stable. They finally got there by driving fire engines through a neighboring pasture and stretching the fire hose across the distance. Firefighters rescued at least 10 horses. The stable is home to 18 horses whose owners board them there. Zimmerman says all that’s left of the stable is debris. He says the cause of the fire is under investigation. He says the surviving horses are staying at a nearby stable or in the property’s pasture.

Dog Killed after Biting Round Rock Police Officer

Round Rock Police DepartmentROUND ROCK (AP) — Round Rock police say an officer shot and killed a dog that bit him on the hand and lunged at his throat following a police chase with the animal’s owner. Police spokeswoman Angelique Myers tells the Austin American-Statesman the incident started Sunday morning when the suspect, wanted in connection with a recent car theft, used his vehicle to lunge at officers before taking off. Then, after hitting some electrical wiring at a car wash, the suspect got out of the car with the dog on its leash. Myers says the suspect then tried to carjack a family’s vehicle. That’s when officers used a stun gun to subdue him and the dog attacked the officer. The suspect was arrested for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, evading arrest and attempted kidnapping.

Dallas Police Officer Arrested for Sexual Assault

Dallas Police PatchDALLAS (AP) – A Dallas police officer has been arrested for sexual assault, accused of using his position as a peace officer to force prostitutes to perform sexual acts while he worked an extra job. Police said Officer David Kattner was arrested early Sunday morning. The 47-year-old remained in Dallas County jail on $50,000 bond Sunday afternoon. Jail records did not list an attorney for him. Police say Kattner, a 26-year veteran of the department, will be placed on administrative leave pending the results of the ongoing investigation. Police say as the investigation continues, detectives will try to determine if there are other victims. A Dallas Police Association spokesman said Sunday afternoon that the group was working on a statement.

Lubbock Woman Accused of Child Abuse Set for Trial

Wonda DixonLUBBOCK (AP) — Court records show that a Lubbock woman accused of withholding food, water and medical care from her 12-year-old adopted daughter is set to go on trial in February. A Lubbock County grand jury indicted Wonda Dixon, 59, last year on a charge of injuring a child knowingly or intentionally, resulting in severe bodily injury. Her husband, 63-year-old Dave Dixon, faces the same charge. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that court records do not show when the case against him will go to trial. The two, who remain jailed on bond of $150,000 each, have denied wrongdoing. Affidavits say the couple ignored the girl’s disturbing behavior and punished her by withholding food and water and ordering her siblings to hit her. Officials found that the 12-year-old weighed 58 pounds.

Man Spent Stolen $1.7 Million on Escorts, Gambling

Justice Department logoSAN ANTONIO (AP) — A man has admitted in federal court in San Antonio to spending most of the $1.7 million he embezzled from his employer on escorts and gambling. The San Antonio Express-News reports Bexar Waste employee Michael Dennehy pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud, admitting he forged numerous company checks over six years. Sentencing is set for March 9. He faces up to 30 years in prison. Records show Dennehy agreed to plead guilty before the FBI and federal prosecutors took his case to a grand jury. An FBI affidavit says Dennehy began writing checks to himself after being promoted to a position managing accounts payable. Defense attorney Alan Brown said Dennehy, married with five children, feels remorse. Brown says, “I think those are big addictions.”

Federal Oversight of Immigrant Shelter Questioned

Pete OlsonMANVEL (AP) — A Texas congressman says he wants more information about a behavior treatment shelter for immigrant children near Houston that has received $13 million in federal funding. The Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that Congress is pressuring the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to increase oversight of facilities such as the Shiloh Treatment Center. State records show that children at Shiloh have made allegations of physical abused and painful restraints. A local prosecutor wrote to federal authorities in 2011 with concerns. Shiloh president Clay Dean Hill told the newspaper that staff is “deeply concerned” about the well-being and security of the children they serve. He said its higher costs are justified because they specialize in mental health services. Republican U.S. Representative Pete Olson (pictured) says he’s frustrated by a lack of transparency.

Austin, San Antonio Drivers Prepare for Phone Bans

cell phone ban while drivingSAN ANTONIO (AP) — City leaders in San Antonio and Austin are trying to get drivers ready for bans on handheld devices behind the wheel starting in January. Police in both cities won’t start issuing fines until February. Talking on a handheld phone while driving is banned in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and all but a handful of states have made texting while driving illegal. Texas is among the states without a statewide texting while driving ban, though many cities have its own ordinances. The San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday that San Antonio has seen more than 250 crashes related to cell phone use in each of the past three years. Fines in San Antonio starting in February will be $200. Violators in Austin will face fines up to $500.

Task Force to Combat South Texas Public Corruption

FBI SealHOUSTON (AP) — The FBI and Texas Rangers are leading a new task force to combat public corruption in the Rio Grande Valley. The unit was formed earlier this month in the wake of public corruption cases that brought down a sheriff, a judge, a district attorney and other elected officials. Rock Stone of the FBI says all his agency’s field offices investigate public corruption, but an “inordinate amount” of such cases in the Valley necessitated extra resources there. Stone declined to say how many people are in the unit, but said the number of agents working on public corruption has more than doubled. Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz is applauding the new task force. But he says its formation shouldn’t indicate corruption is more prevalent in the Valley.

Texas Experts Say Use Care with Holiday Fireworks

fireworks-smallAUSTIN (AP) — Some Texans have made fireworks part of their holiday traditions and experts say use care where and when setting off authorized displays. The Travis County Fire Marshal’s Office reports the winter retail fireworks season began Saturday and runs through midnight New Year’s Day. The Texas A&M Forest Service says people celebrating should check for and obey burn bans and fireworks restrictions. The agency reports 53 of the state’s 254 counties, as of Saturday, had outdoor burn bans. A New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Dallas will include a fireworks display as part of Big D NYE (N-Y-E). The December 31 Celebrate San Antonio event will also include fireworks. Austin’s New Year’s Eve celebration at Butler Park features art projects, outdoor film screenings and music, capped by a fireworks show.