Officials: No Suspicious Activity Found after Bomb Threat at JT
TYLER — John Tyler High School administrators received a bomb threat from an unknown caller claiming to be a detective, according to information from the school district. District administrators and Tyler ISD police were contacted and an investigation of the claim, campus, and surrounding area was performed per district policy, according to officials. According to a school district statement, no suspicious activity was found and the school continued to operate as normal. The city of Tyler fire marshal is performing a criminal investigation into the validity and origin of the threat. There was no immediate word on any possible connection with an email threat that caused Bullard High School to close early Wednesday.
Anonymous Threat Prompts Early Release, Other Moves in Bullard ISD
BULLARD — Bullard ISD dismissed its high school students early Wednesday after receiving an anonymous email containing a threat toward the high school. The district let students out at 1:00 p.m. Buses transported students to the middle school gym, and exams have been rescheduled. According to a BISD news release, all other campuses were placed on a soft lockdown as an added precaution. Read more …
Suspects Sought after Home Invasion, Knifing
TYLER — Tyler police are following up on a reported stabbing near UT-Tyler that prompted a brief campus lockdown. According to KETK, Tyler PD spokesman Don Martin says a person was cut in the 3200 block of Lexington Drive at around 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. Martin stated a homeowner arrived at his duplex to find two black males taking items from inside. One of the burglars was in a truck and another thief was inside the home. Two other people live at the location but were not present when the incident occurred. Read more …
Pedestrian Dies Following Longview Accident
LONGVIEW – The pedestrian struck by a truck Tuesday in the 1100 block of McCann Road in Longview has died as a result of his injuries. The pedestrian was identified as 77 year-old Robert Shimeld of Longview. Police were able to determine that the driver of a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, Philip Latham, of Longview, was turning left from Glencrest Lane to travel south on McCann Road. As Latham began turning onto McCann Road, Shimeld stepped off the curb and into the path of Latham’s truck, according to authorities. The accident happened around 2:00 p.m. Shimeld was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he died. Latham was not cited in the crash.
Louisiana Authorities Arrest Two East Texans in Vehicle Thefts
SHREVEPORT — Two East Texas men were taken into custody Tuesday in separate incidents after officials say they were caught with stolen vehicles out of the Longview area. According to KETK, Louisiana State Troopers say on December 16 at 10:22 a.m., authorities stopped an SUV driven by Michael Lawson, 35, of Mt. Vernon, on Interstate 20 in Haughton, Louisiana, after learning the vehicle had been reported stolen in White Oak, Texas. Troopers arrested Lawson, and after the vehicle was recovered, took him to the Bossier Parish Jail for illegal possession of stolen things.
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Sheriff Smith Praises Cruz and Gohmert for Border-Related Efforts
TYLER – Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says he sent a personal note of support Monday to U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for what Smith terms their continuing efforts to secure the border and to fight granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Smith said, “The ‘Cromnibus’ showdown in Washington, D.C., last week demonstrates who is really on the side of law enforcement. We’re proud Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz are standing firm for the rule of law.” Read more …
Water Cut Off in Tatum
TATUM — Workers have been trying to restore water services for the city of Tatum. KETK reports a contractor performing work on telephone lines cut into a 6-inch water main, causing the water for the city to be cut off. As soon as water is restored, a boil water advisory will be issued asking all Tatum residents to boil their water for two days.
Authorities Recover over $500,000 Worth of Stolen Equipment
HENDERSON — A huge haul of stolen oilfield equipment from a Kilgore company has been tracked down by Rusk County authorities, but the thieves are still on the loose. KETK reports four trucks loaded with equipment were stolen from the oil field service company around 2:30 Monday morning. The thieves drove off with more than $500,000 worth of property. But according to authorities, what the thieves didn’t know is that surveillance was rolling the entire time, catching everything on camera. Read more …
Kilgore College Deemed Safe from Asbestos
KILGORE — Kilgore College is safe from asbestos. So says a review by ERI Consulting, according to KETK. That review was presented at the school’s board meeting Monday evening. The report shows some asbestos-containing materials were found in a half-dozen buildings, including the Rangerette Gym, but that the asbestos is inaccessible to students and the public. The review was conducted after a school employee claimed there was asbestos throughout campus.
Emaciated East Texas Baby Died of Malnutrition, Dehydration
LUFKIN (AP) – A pathologist has testified that the 2013 death of a 2-month-old East Texas baby occurred due to malnutrition and dehydration. Dr. Candace Schoppe testified for the prosecution in the Lufkin murder trial of the boy’s parents, 19-year-old DeQuisha Jackson and 20-year-old Isaiah Tolliver. Attorneys for the couple were due to begin their defense today in the trial involving the death of Imauri Jackson. Schoppe, who took the stand Tuesday before prosecutors rested their case, says the infant was very small, and severely dehydrated. Autopsy results indicated the baby weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces at birth. He weighed 5 pounds, 6 ounces when he died in October 213. The death was ruled a homicide due to neglect.
Several Displaced in Longview Fire
LONGVIEW — Several people are at least temporarily out of their homes after crews responded to a structure fire in northwest Longview Wednesday afternoon. KETK reports that officials were dispatched around 3:00 p.m. to a reported duplex fire in the 300 block of Tammy Lynn Drive, near Gilmer Road. Firefighters were able to quickly put out the flames. Fire Marshal Johnny Zachary said the fire was likely started on the “A” side of the duplex by a kitchen fire. A total of six people are believed to be displaced. Red Cross will be assisting the victims. The fire remains under investigation.
Rally Planned in Tyler Following Ferguson, Staten Island Incidents
TYLER — Tyler is responding in the aftermath of recent police-related deaths in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, N.Y. Tyler resident Ambra Phillips is organizing what she terms a peaceful rally, scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Phillips is working with a new group known as Tyler United. She says the rally will begin at Front & North Broadway, with a march up Broadway to the downtown square. According to Phillips, activities on the square will include a short program and a candlelight vigil to promote peace. Participants may join the group on the square if they don’t wish to take part in the march. Read more …
Flint Woman Pardoned by President Obama
FLINT — An East Texan is one of 20 people granted clemency Wednesday by President Barack Obama. KETK reports the moves consisted of eight commutations and twelve pardons. One of the individuals, Claire Holbrook Mulford of Flint, was pardoned for a December 1993 drug-trafficking crime. Mulford was sentenced to 70 months imprisonment and two years of supervision upon release after being convicted of using a residence to distribute methamphetamine. Individuals from Dallas and San Antonio were also pardoned by President Obama from other drug-related convictions.
“Commended Students” Named at Robert E. Lee
TYLER – Robert E. Lee High School Principal Gary Brown has announced the names of six students who have been recognized as Commended Students in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are Megan Abrameit, Joshua Bice, Kali Dodez, Joseph Spellman, Rebecca Strange, and Melanie Webb. About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2015 competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). Read more …
Kilgore Names Interim City Manager
KILGORE – Until a full time city manager can be found, Mark Israelson will be Kilgore’s interim city manager. The Kilgore city council named Israelson to the post Tuesday. The Kilgore News Herald reports, as part of the agreement, the City of Plano will grant Israelson professional development sabbatical leave. He was recommended to the council by Strategic Government Resources, a Keller government leadership consulting firm hired by the council in late November to look for a new full-time city manager. The position becomes open at the end of the year when city manager Scott Sellers leaves after three years on the job. He leaves Kilgore to become city manager in Kyle.
Arkansas Man Charged with Texas Cattle Theft
CARTHAGE (AP) — An Arkansas man has been accused of stealing about 70 cattle and trying to sell some of the livestock at auction in East Texas. Panola County jail records show Bradley Wayne Guthrey of North Little Rock, Arkansas, was being held Tuesday on counts including livestock theft, burglary and evading arrest. Online jail records don’t list an attorney for Guthrey, who was arrested Dec. 9 in Carthage after a chase. Workers at the Panola Livestock Company Inc. contacted authorities after Guthrey allegedly offered eight unbranded cattle for sale. The animals turned out to be stolen. His bond was set at $10,000 on an evading arrest charge. Guthrey was held without bond on the other charges, including parole violation in Arkansas and a stolen property-related count in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.
ETMC among First in Nation to Offer New Sleep Apnea Treatment
TYLER — East Texas Medical Center Tyler is one of the first sites in the United States to offer Inspire therapy for people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to an ETMC news release. Inspire therapy utilizes first-of-its-kind technology — a small, fully implanted system that has been clinically proven to significantly reduce sleep apnea events and significantly improve quality of life measures, according to the release. Read more …
Keystone Pipeline to Top Senate Agenda Next Year
WASHINGTON (AP/STAFF) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January. The issue could set up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns. The pipeline, which comes through eastern Smith County, would carry tar sands oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast. The Republican-led House has repeatedly passed legislation approving the pipeline. But the bills have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and McConnell said approving the pipeline will be the first issue on the agenda. McConnell said the pipeline would create jobs.
Central Texas TV Meteorologist Shot, Gunman Sought
BRUCEVILLE-EDDY (AP) – Authorities are searching for a gunman who shot a Central Texas television meteorologist during an altercation in the station parking lot. The Department of Public Safety says the attack happened around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday outside KCEN-TV in Bruceville-Eddy, 75 miles north of Austin. The suspect ran away. Investigators are seeking a motive for the gunfire. A message left for management of KCEN, the NBC affiliate in the Waco area, wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday. KCEN, on its website, identified the victim as morning meteorologist Patrick Crawford. Trooper D.L. Wilson says the victim was in his personal vehicle when the suspect approached, the two argued and the employee was shot. Crawford was transported to a Temple hospital for surgery. He was listed in fair condition late Wednesday afternoon. KCEN is located along Interstate 35.
Condemned Killer of 2 in Waco in 2011 Loses Appeal
HOUSTON (AP) – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a 25-year-old Waco man’s conviction and death sentence for a double slaying more than three years ago. The state’s highest criminal appeals court Wednesday rejected what attorneys for Rickey Donnell Cummings contended were nine errors at his 2012 trial in Waco. They included arguments of improper jury selection, exclusion of some evidence related to Cummings’ background and admission of evidence related to purchase of the assault rifle used in the March 2011 deaths of 20-year-old Keenan Hubert and 17-year-old Tyus Sneed outside a Waco apartment complex. One of Cummings’ companions, Albert Love, last year also was convicted in the shootings and joined Cummings on death row. Prosecutors described both as gang members and suggested the shootings were in retaliation for another slaying.
Ex-Religious School Teacher Gets 80 Years
WACO (AP) – A former Waco Baptist Academy teacher has been sentenced to 80 years in prison after being convicted of molesting two students during piano lessons. Sergio David Bezerra received the maximum penalty Tuesday a day after being convicted of four counts of indecency with a child by contact. Prosecutors in Waco say Bezerra improperly touched two 9-year-old girls while giving them piano lessons in 2007. The 54-year-old Bezerra sought probation. He was sentenced to four prison terms of 20 years, to be served consecutively. Bezerra must serve 40 years before being eligible for parole.
North Texan Indicted for Not Reporting to Prison
DALLAS (AP) – A Dallas-area man sentenced to nearly six years in prison for fraud has been indicted for not surrendering as scheduled. Michael David Carroll of Irving was in federal custody Wednesday. Carroll was indicted Tuesday in Dallas on a charge of failure to surrender to serve his prison term. He faces up to 10 additional years if convicted. Carroll last year pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a salad restaurant franchise scam. Carroll in March was sentenced 70 months in prison and ordered to repay investors more than $1.4 million. Carroll was allowed to remain free on bond until May. A judge allowed a defense request to delay Carroll’s surrender date to July, then to Sept. 15. A warrant was issued when Carroll failed to report to prison.
Ex-Homeland Security Official Gets Prison
BROWNSVILLE (AP) — An ex-Department of Homeland Security supervisor in South Texas must serve three years in prison for trying to cover up lapses in investigations and operations. Prosecutors say the conduct of Eugenio Pedraza of McAllen resulted in the premature closing of criminal cases without resolution. Pedraza was special agent-in-charge of the Office of Inspector General’s McAllen field office from 2009 to early 2012. A federal jury in Brownsville last March convicted Pedraza of conspiracy and five counts of falsifying government documents. Pedraza was sentenced Monday to 37 months in prison. Prosecutors say Pedraza, in advance of an internal audit, conspired to prepare documents that falsely indicated investigative activity had taken place. The Office of Inspector General is responsible for investigating alleged criminal activity by DHS employees.
A&M Academic Building Could Be Renamed for Perry
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Governor Rick Perry could get a building named for him on the campus where he graduated in 1972. The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday will consider changing the name of the Academic Building on the main campus in College Station. The proposed new name is the Governor Rick Perry ’72 Building. The 100-year-old Academic Building formerly housed A&M’s library. It’s now used for other campus departments. A school website says the building is considered by Aggies to be the center of Texas A&M. A replica of the Liberty Bell, donated by private industry in memory of Aggies who defended their country, hangs from the rotunda dome. All nine regents are appointees of Republican Perry, who’s considering a 2016 run for president.
Perry to Help Detail Fujifilm Acquisition of A&M Biotech
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to be on hand as representatives of a Fujifilm division announce details of its acquisition of a large stake in a biotechnology firm founded by Texas A&M University. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is to announce details Thursday in College Station of its new stake in Kalon Biotherapeutics. The Austin American-Statesman reports A&M will recoup the state’s $40 million investment in Kalon. Fujifilm is purchasing a 49% stake in Kalon initially but could acquire the rest. Financial details of the sale have not been disclosed, but the American-Statesman reports Perry’s office said Kalon’s owners will receive between two and five times their original investment in the cash deal. The final price depends on Fujifilm buying 100% of the business after it reaches certain milestones.
West Side of Kyle Field to be Imploded Sunday
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — The west side of Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field will be imploded this weekend to make way for more football stadium improvements. Chancellor John Sharp says the blast will happen Sunday morning at 8:00. Portions of some nearby roads will be closed amid the implosion that’s part of a $450 million redevelopment plan. The updated west side of the stadium will include new suites and premium areas for fans, the Hall of Champions and upgraded facilities for television broadcasts. A&M officials say the redevelopment should be finished in time for the 2015 football season. Final seating capacity for Kyle Field will top 102,500.
Exxon Mobil Wins Environmentalist Lawsuit Over Baytown Plant
HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled for Exxon Mobil in an environmentalist lawsuit that accused the company of ongoing clean air violations at its vast Baytown refinery. In an 80-page ruling filed Wednesday in Houston, U.S. District Judge David Hittner concluded that the environmentalist nonprofit groups Sierra Club and Environment Texas fell short of meeting their burdens of proof. The groups had accused the Irving, Texas-based oil giant of willfully violating federal clean air laws by emitting millions of pounds of pollutants over an eight-year period. Baytown refinery spokeswoman Deedra Moe tells The Baytown Sun that the ruling upholds the company’s belief that it has “acted responsibly, respecting both regulatory requirements and the environment.” Environment Texas director Luke Metzger described his reaction to the ruling as “shock, disappointment, and outrage.”
Texas Plumber’s Truck Ends Up with Militant Group
TEXAS CITY (AP) — A Texas plumber is getting some unwanted attention after one of his old company vehicles appeared in a photo posted on an Islamic militant group’s social media account. The Galveston County Daily News reports Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City has been flooded with calls after the picture appeared online. The photo shows a black pick-up truck with a Mark-1 Plumbing decal on the door and an anti-aircraft gun in the bed. Company owner Mark Oberholtzer says the pickup truck in the photo is his but he no longer owns it and has no idea how it ended up in Syria. Oberholtzer says he traded in the truck three years ago. He says his business has received thousands of calls about the photo, some of them “really ugly.”