Local News

Shots Fired in High-Speed Pursuit

thumb_police-lights-4TYLER — Smith County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies were involved in a high speed pursuit which ended on FM 850 in the southeastern portion of Smith County. Officials say the pursuit occurred Saturday at approximately 4:00 a.m. and ended with an officer involved shooting. Two suspects are currently in custody. One of the suspects and one of the officers involved were taken to a local hospital. According to a Sheriff’s Office news release, this is an ongoing investigation and further details will be reported as they become available.

Smith County Authorities: Burglary Ring Busted, 6 Arrested

Smith County Sheriffs DeptTYLER — Smith County Sheriff’s Office detectives in the Property Crimes Division have discovered a theft and burglary ring in Smith County and surrounding counties. The investigation began on Wednesday, October 8, when detectives noticed a trend in various theft and burglary reports. The investigation continued throughout the month of October, so far clearing six burglaries in the southern portion of Smith County and one burglary in Henderson County. Judge Christi Kennedy of the 114st State District Court issued the two search warrants and thirteen arrest warrants following an investigation lasting several weeks. As a result, detectives have recovered over $16,000 worth of property, including four firearms. (more…)

Tyler Bank Robbed, One Arrested

Willie WhiteTYLER – Tyler police are investigating a reported robbery at First Bank and Trust East Texas, near the intersection of Old Jacksonville Highway and Three Lakes Parkway. The bank was held up at knife point around 2:15 Friday afternoon. Officers were given the description of the suspect and suspect vehicle that left the scene of the robbery. About seven minutes after the robbery, they stopped the vehicle at the intersection of the Old Jacksonville Highway and West Grande. In the car, officers say they found the knife used in the robbery and the money taken from the bank. There, officers took into custody Willie White, 32, of Tyler. The car’s driver is being detained while the investigation continues.

Family Continues Bid to Send Tiede Back to Prison

bernie_panolaCARTHAGE — The family of the victim of a now freed infamous killer continues its fight to return him to prison. In the movie “Bernie,” Bernie Tiede was portrayed as a kind man who’d been pushed over the edge by his victim, 80-year-old Marjorie Nugent. Nugent’s granddaughter Shannon Nugent says he stole millions from her and shot her to death the morning she was to meet with her bank in Longview about her missing funds. She says Tiede “cleaned up the body, then went to her purse, stole her credit card, and took people out for pizza. That’s who this guy is, and…I can’t believe that anybody in Texas would want this guy out on the streets.” She says because of the amount of cash stolen, this could have been a capital murder case. She doesn’t want a retrial; she wants Tiede to serve out his life sentence behind bars.

Staples Steps Down from Ag Commissioner Post

thumb_toddstaplesAUSTIN — When Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples decided to forgo a third term and run for lieutenant governor, he knew it was a gamble. After he failed to win the Republican primary, his just-completed tour of duty became his final term. Staples remarks, “When I was sworn in as agriculture commissioner for my second term in 2011, I knew the next few years would be a terrific ride, and it certainly has been.” Staples left office Friday to become president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. Staples began his political career in his hometown of Palestine, serving as a state legislator before becoming ag commissioner in 2007.

Dogs Get Halloween Treats from Some Texas Children

St. Cyprian's Episcopal School-LufkinLUFKIN (AP) — Some kindergarten students in East Texas have turned Halloween into a math and science project with treats going to the dogs. The Lufkin Daily News reports that students at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School in Lufkin created a service project called Howl-A-Ween. The project began as a measuring assignment in math. Teachers Barbara Peterson and Kim Watter also incorporated animal adaptation in science. The instructors had the students create and donate dog treats to the Winnie Berry Humane Society of Angelina County. The treats were presented in paper bags decorated with images of pumpkins and pooches.

State News

New Question in Texas: Can Davis Survive Defeat?

thumb_Wendy-Davis-2KILLEEN (AP) – Wendy Davis once stirred excitement among Democrats nationwide, but her quest to be the next Texas governor now appears to face insurmountable odds. Davis has struggled against her popular and well-funded Republican opponent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott. So the question is no longer whether she can win. It’s whether her likely defeat will reduce Davis to a spent political force. The Fort Worth state senator built a national brand and showed more sizzle than most unsuccessful candidates. But her challenge will be retaining enough notoriety to capitalize on her state’s booming Hispanic population, which could eventually help Democrats eventually end a 20-year losing streak in statewide elections. Since Davis is giving up her Senate seat, she could seek work at a think tank or on television.

Official: Ebola Waste Not Ending Up in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s attorney general says two waste disposal companies have agreed not to bring ash from the incineration of a Texas Ebola victim’s belongings into Louisiana. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said on Friday that Veolia Environmental Services and Chemical Waste Management signed a court agreement saying they would not bring the ash into Louisiana. On Oct. 13 Caldwell obtained a state restraining order to stop the ash from being brought into the state. Caldwell said he was pleased the “agreement ends this chapter in the controversy of the transportation and disposal of Ebola waste.”

State Fire Marshal Weighs in On Houston Hotel Fire

HOUSTON (AP) – A State Fire Marshal’s Office report on a hotel fire that killed four Houston firefighters found communication problems between first responders at the scene. The report also mentioned an incomplete assessment of the structure that could have given those at the scene more information on how to best battle the blaze. However, the report released Friday also says its final analysis doesn’t suggest the firefighters who were killed and injured “failed to perform their duties as trained….” Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison says he’s pleased with the report and that its conclusions are similar to those reached by an internal fire department probe. The May 31, 2013, fire was the deadliest day in the department’s 119-year history. In addition to the four deaths, another 12 firefighters were injured.

More than 60 Arrested in 3-Day Enforcement Sweep

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Federal authorities say more than 60 people with criminal records and in the country illegally have been arrested as part of a three-day law enforcement operation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a statement Friday said officers apprehended offenders in Austin, San Antonio, Waco and elsewhere. Authorities say 54 of the people had previous convictions for aggravated assault, burglary, alien smuggling and other felony charges. Others arrested this week were longstanding fugitives or had been previously deported. ICE officials say that in fiscal year 2014 alone, a fugitive operations team based in San Antonio arrested more than 940 people.

Fracking Ban Vote Looms over Denton Election

DENTON (AP) – Tensions are mounting as big oil and gas companies and anti-fracking activists try to sway voters ahead of a Tuesday referendum that would make Denton the first Texas city to ban the drilling practice. The citizen-led measure would ban the city from issuing new hydraulic fracturing permits. Preexisting permits would remain valid. Opponents decry the initiative as an attempt to ban all drilling. State regulators and industry groups have said the move would be followed by litigation and a hit to the economy of Denton, which sits upon large natural gas reserves. The treasurer of the political action committee supporting the ban, Ed Soph, calls it a “David versus Goliath issue.” According to Oct. 27 campaign finance reports, the ban’s opponents have raised $466,000 compared to the supporters’ $24,000.

Acreage by Bat Cave Saved from Subdivision

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The city of San Antonio has joined with The Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International to save from subdivision more than 1,500 acres next to the world’s largest bat colony. The three agencies bought 1,521 acres of land adjoining BCI’s Bracken Bat Cave, home to the world’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. The price was $20.5 million for the land, which was previously planned to be subdivided for 3,500 homes. The land, called Crescent Hills, is situated about 20 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio. The city provided $10 million toward the purchase, but The Nature Conservancy still had to obtain a $5 million loan to close the purchase. Fundraising efforts continue.

Death of Texas Girl in Refrigerator Ruled Homicide

Ayahna CombHOUSTON (AP) — The death of a 9-year-old Houston girl whose body was left in a refrigerator for six months has been ruled a homicide. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said that Ayahna Comb died from malnutrition and dehydration and suffered from other ailments such as a bone infection. A neighbor called police after Comb’s sibling found the body in June. A Child Protective Services worker said Comb’s mother acknowledged putting the body in a fridge drawer after finding the girl dead in January. The caseworker said the girl had cerebral palsy and weighed just 14 pounds when she died. A Houston Police Department spokeswoman told The Houston Chronicle the agency expects to file unspecified charges against Comb’s mother. The mother declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper.