Local News


Tyler Police Need Your Help in Identifying Suspect

image003TYLER — Tyler Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect. On Thursday, officers responded to Dairy Queen and Family Dollar, located on Gentry Parkway, in reference to a female suspect passing counterfeit $50.00 dollar bills. If you can identify this suspect please contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1032, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833). Crimestoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspects in this case or any felony case.

Body Found in Gregg County Identified

Gregg County Sheriffs Office patchLONGVIEW – Gregg County Deputies are investigating the death of a Longview Man. Donald Merrills, 40, was found dead just after 6:00 Monday evening. His body was outside a residence on Rebecca Circle near his home in Longview. The Sheriff’s Department says Merrills is known to have mental issues. He was found wearing multiple layers of clothing and a fleece lined coat. Foul play is not suspected, but his body was sent for an autopsy.

Details Released on Hawkins Official Oppression Case

Rogers__William.1406577983HAWKINS (AP/Staff) – A newly elected East Texas mayor has been accused of threatening to ticket and fine a woman $500 daily in a messy yard dispute. Hawkins Mayor William Rogers was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor official oppression charge and freed on $1,000 bond. Fire Marshal Eileen Frazier says the mayor is not authorized to write tickets or issue fines. Rogers, who was elected in May, denied wrongdoing. He didn’t immediately returned messages Tuesday. An arrest affidavit says Rogers stopped at a house July 10 and told a resident she must clean up her yard or he would ticket and fine her. Code enforcement officials later said the grass did not violate city rules.

Murder Indictment Returned in Smith County

Kelly GageTYLER – An East Texas man who had been charged with assaulting his wife has now been indicted for her murder. The indictment was returned Monday against Kelly Gage, 52, of Gun Barrel City. He remains in the Smith County Jail, where he has been held on an assault of a family member complaint. The incident occurred in November, 2011. His wife, Patti McHugh Gage, later died from her injuries, which her son Nicholas claimed were caused by his dad. Later, Patti Gage’s son, Nicholas McHugh, and his younger brother, Caden, both took out protective orders against Gage. At the time, Nicholas told KETK, “I’m really scared of any type of retaliation. He’s really nuts and he’s threatened my life and my grandmother’s life particularly in the past.”

Pair Arrested for $200K Equipment Theft

thumb_Harrison-County-Sheriffs-DepartmentMARSHALL — Deputies have arrested two people accused of stealing more than $200,000 in equipment in Louisiana and East Texas. According to KETK, Harrison County Lt. Jay Webb says the sheriff announced the arrests Monday morning. James Robert Arnold, 47, and Michael Stephanie Arnold, 35, were booked into the Harrison County Jail on separate charges. Sheriff Tom McCool said his department recovered a $90,000 backhoe, $10,000 goose neck trailer, $5,000 flatbed trailer, $75,000 mini track hoe and three golf carts worth $24,000 from a Longview business off Highway 259. Property was taken from Harrison County, Van Zandt County, Longview, and Lincoln Parish. Authorities are also looking into two missing tractors from DeSoto Parish. (more…)

Mother Arrested for DWI with 4 Children in Car

sarahbrunsmugLONGVIEW — An East Texas woman is behind bars after troopers say she was driving while intoxicated with children in the car. According to KETK, the Texas Department of Public Safety says Sarah Veronica Bruns, 36, was arrested around 10:00 Sunday night on U.S. Highway 259. She reportedly had four children in the car with her at the time of her arrest. Bruns was charged with DWI and four counts of child endangerment. She remains in the Gregg County Jail on $25,000 bond.

Man Wanted in Vegas Arrested in Rusk County

HENDERSON – A man wanted on fraud charges in Las Vegas has been arrested in Rusk County. William Joseph Chrissikopoulos, 43, of Las Vegas was arrested Sunday at the Sexton City Trade Days. In April, a grand jury indicted Chrissikopoulos on 15 counts. He has been accused of mortgage lending fraud, “multiple transactions involving fraud and deceit in the course of enterprise or occupation and two counts of preventing or dissuading victim, person acting on behalf of victim, or witness from reporting crime, commencing prosecution or causing arrest. He will remain in the Rusk County jail until turned over to Nevada authorities.

Louisiana Woman Allegedly Kicks E. Texas Deputy in Throat

Amanda KluthHENDERSON — A Louisiana woman was arrested last week after she allegedly kicked a Rusk County deputy in the throat. According to Chief Deputy Charles Helton, at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, a woman was taken into custody for DWI in the Walmart parking lot off Highway 79. While the suspect, Amanda Kluth, 27, of Youngsville, Louisiana, was being placed into the patrol car, she allegedly kicked a deputy in the throat. At this time, she was pepper sprayed, according to KETK. Authorities took Kluth to a local hospital where she was checked and released. Deputies then transferred her to the county jail. She was charged with DWI, resisting arrest, and assault on a peace officer. She has since been released on bond.

Parents, Community Invited to Go “Inside Tyler ISD”

thumb_TISD_Logo_NewTYLER — Tyler ISD is inviting parents, business leaders, and community members to join the inaugural class of the District’s new Inside Tyler ISD leadership program. Beginning in the fall, Inside Tyler ISD participants will gain an in-depth, firsthand understanding of the goals and operations of the school district, according to a TISD news release. “We are very excited to launch Inside Tyler ISD in the fall,”¯ Interim Superintendent Kim Tunnell said. “Many districts across the state have initiated and had great success with similar programs. Community feedback from these programs shows that participants take away a greater sense of the magnitude of what it takes for a school system to be successful.” (more…)

Texas Deputy on Admin Leave after Fatal Shooting

Texas Rangers BadgeLINDEN — According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he was involved in a fatal shooting Sunday morning. KETK reports that Deputy Johnny Bailey was involved in the incident around 11 a.m. Sunday off Cass County Road 4915 south of Bloomburg. Officials say Bailey was attempting to serve felony warrants stemming from Ward County on Charles Alver Jones, Jr., 33, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a family member and impeding breath. Bailey was placed on administrative leave per departmental policy. An investigation is being conducted by the Texas Rangers, and no further information was immediately released.

Great Texas Balloon Race Gets Underway; Safety Tips Issued

ContentHandler.ashxLONGVIEW — The Great Texas Balloon Race got underway Monday, with activities continuing in Longview and the surrounding area through Sunday. Meanwhile, local police want to make sure that everyone enjoys the activities safely, and they’ve issued a set of safety tips, which you can read below. A practice flight was held Monday morning, and competitive flights began today. The Great Texas Balloon Race Festival, with a variety of family-friendly activities, gets underway Friday. According to the event website, the Balloon Race is “a world class event attracting the very best competitive pilots from across the United States and the world.” The website also highlights Friday and Saturday night’s popular Balloon Glows, which “entertain crowds with an awesome display of color and excitement.” (more…)


State News

Cruz Ends Hold on Nominees Over FAA Flight Ban

Ted Cruz3WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer blocking confirmation of a series of ambassadorial and other diplomatic nominees over the Federal Aviation Administration’s 36-hour ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel. Cruz said in a statement Monday that he received a briefing from FAA officials, who responded to his questions about the prohibition. The FAA banned flights after a rocket landed about a mile from the Tel Aviv airport. Cruz accused President Barack Obama of imposing an economic boycott of Israel while it is fighting the militant group Hamas in Gaza. The State Department had described Cruz’ comments as offensive and ridiculous. Cruz said he hoped the administration would not repeat its actions.

2 Texas Men Get Prison in Food Stamp Fraud Case

DALLAS (AP) – The owner of a Dallas convenience store and the business manager must go to federal prison and repay nearly $2 million in a food stamp scam. Kamardeen Ogunleye of Arlington was sentenced to five years in prison. Robert Gordon of Balch Springs received a 27-month term. Ogunleye and Gordon in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. Prosecutors in Dallas say Ogunleye also pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the case involving a KSO Dollar Mart. Investigators say the men paid cash for food stamps at a rate of about a dollar for every $2 worth of benefits. The men then redeemed the full amount of the benefits. Ogunleye and Gordon, who were sentenced last week, must report to prison in September.

New San Antonio Mayor Pulls Support for Streetcars

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The new mayor of San Antonio says $32 million in city money pledged for a streetcar system should be diverted to other projects. Mayor Ivy Taylor on Monday said any future streetcar or rail plans should be voted on by the public. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also announced he’s pulled his support for the VIA Metropolitan Transit proposal. VIA has funding to build part of a nearly 6-mile downtown system projected to open in 2017. VIA and the Texas Department of Transportation each pledged $92 million. An anti-streetcar coalition has gathered signatures for a charter amendment against the proposal. Fellow city council members last week chose Taylor to replace Mayor Julian Castro, who was sworn in Monday to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Obama Considers Large-Scale Move on Immigration

white houseWASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials are making plans to act before November’s midterm elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants in this country illegally. The move could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama. Advocates and lawmakers who’ve been in touch with the administration say officials are weighing a range of options including changes in the deportation system and ways to grant relief from deportation to targeted populations in the country. That might include parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizen children, which could be around 3.8 million people, or parents of immigrants brought here illegally as kids who’ve already received executive relief from Obama. That could be an additional 500,000 to 1 million people.

Texan Gets 35 Years in Infant Daughter’s Death

GALVESTON (AP) – A Southeast Texas man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the death of his 2-month-old daughter after he shook her and fell on her. Christopher Morgan Benson of League City pleaded guilty to murder in a plea deal Monday in Galveston. Lola Glover died in 2012. Benson was charged with injury to a child. The count was later upgraded to murder. The Galveston County Daily News reports the 28-year-old father told police that Lola was crying as he played video games. An affidavit says Benson shook the baby for about 10 minutes, panicked when she became unresponsive and “fell” on her with his full weight. The mother discovered the injured baby after returning from work. Lola was taken to a hospital and died a week later.

Texas Doctor’s Family Under 21-Day Fever Watch

Kent BrantlyFORT WORTH (AP) — State health officials say the family of an American doctor infected with the Ebola virus is under a 21-day fever watch, but it’s believed they had no contact with anyone with the deadly disease. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday the agency interviewed Amber Brantly and her two children, ages 3 and 5, in the past couple of days and determined they hadn’t been exposed to an infected person. Carrie Williams said “there is no need for isolation at this point” for them. Amber Brantly’s husband, Dr. Kent Brantly, is in a Liberian hospital receiving treatment. Williams stressed that people aren’t contagious until they show symptoms, and the doctor’s family left Liberia days before he got sick.

Texas Regents Meet to Pick Chancellor Finalist

U-T SystemAUSTIN (AP) — University of Texas System regents are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to possibly name a finalist in their search for a new chancellor to oversee the 15-campus system. If the regents name a finalist, the candidate must wait 21 days before being officially confirmed for the job. The chancellor oversees the system’s nine academic and six health campuses. Current Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced in February he would step down to return full time to his job as a transplant surgeon. Cigarroa’s tenure was notable for the creation of the new Rio Grande Valley university and the creation of two new medical schools. But it was also marked by clashes with Austin campus President Bill Powers and efforts by some regents to fire Powers, who is stepping down next year.