DALLAS — 2013 will go down as the least deadly year on record when it comes to lightning strikes, but not without taking a toll in our region. Two Texans were among 13 people nationally killed by lightning. They included an IHOP employee in Lufkin killed in May as she stood under an umbrella outside the restaurant. An 8-year-old San Antonio boy was struck and killed as he played in his back yard with two friends, who were both injured. San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says, “In my seven years of being here, I can’t remember a lightning strike involving a child — and it’s one of those kind of surreal events.” Florida and Arizona each recorded four lightning deaths.
LONGVIEW — A man found dead on a Longview street two days before Christmas may have been lured to his death by a catfish. A catfish is a person who creates a false online identity to pursue an online romance. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, Alejandro Garcia (pictured), 22, had allegedly set up a fake Facebook account. Authorities say he posed as a woman named Monica Ayalin and had several conversations with the victim, Andres Chavez, 19. According to Facebook posts, Ayalin and Chavez were in a relationship and he believed he was meeting “her” for a date. Garcia was arrested in Smith County and booked into the Gregg County Jail.
TYLER — Due to the installation of a new water tap, there will temporarily be no through traffic off WSW Loop 323 onto Timms Street, by the Mike Pyle BMW in Tyler. For access to Timms Street, turn north from the loop onto Old Noonday Road, east onto Goss Street, then south onto Timms Street. The road will be closed until approximately 4 p.m. today.
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY — An East Texas man has been arrested after being found passed out at a red light. It happened at 3:15 Wednesday morning in the 3200 block of North University Drive and Austin in Nacogdoches. Police found Jeffrey Alan Haley, 32, of Nacogdoches passed out in the driver’s seat of his car at a red light. According to KETK, when officers tried to get the man to put his car into park, Haley fail to comply with orders and drove away from the scene. Officers pursued Haley in a short chase where they later caught him. He was booked into the Nacogdoches County Jail.
LONGVIEW — A Kilgore man remains in the Gregg County Jail on two sex charges. Johnathan Anderson Whatley, 27, was arrested earlier this week following his indictment by the Gregg County grand jury. The Longview News-Journal reports Whatley was indicted last month for indecency with a child by exposure and aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond has been set at $70,000.
EAST TEXAS — The new year was just 6 hours and 33 minutes old when Tyler’s first baby of 2014 arrived. Gavin Reed Galaz arrived at East Texas Medical Center weighing 8 pounds and was 21 inches long. His parents are Ruben and Chantel Galaz of Lindale. Ruben works for ETMC as an EMS paramedic. Read the rest of this entry »
LONGVIEW — A man is working with Longview police to help them find the men who stole his vehicle. Alfonso Morales Hernandez, 21, was found unconscious in the parking lot of a business on Highway 31 on Christmas day. He has since been released from the hospital. Surveillance video shows three men dragging him from the vehicle and driving away in it. KETK is reporting that Hernandez is not able to remember any of the incident. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Longview Police.
LUFKIN — Lufkin police have arrested a woman on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. She is accused of attacking her boyfriend with a knife. Arrested following the incident in the 100 block of Shady Bend Drive was T’Mari Sade Robinson, 20, of Lufkin. She was booked into the Angelina County Jail. Her bond was set at $10,000. The victim suffered minor injuries in the incident.
NACOGDOCHES — A man in his late 50s has died at Nacogdoches County Memorial Hospital from the H1N1 virus, which is also called Swine Flu. The man died last Saturday. East Texas Medical Center’s Public Relations director, Rebecca Berkley, told KETK that as of December 22, 2013 there have been 59 cases of flu at the Tyler hospital. One of those cases came back positive for H1N1. Earlier this month, two persons died in Gregg County from H1N1.
COOPER (AP/STAFF) — Two men have been charged in connection with the shooting of a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Cox says Eli Stephens, 18, and Dalton Haddix, 21, both said to be from Illinois, were taken into custody Tuesday and booked into the Delta County jail in Cooper. Stephens is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and Haddix failure to report a felony. Cox says off-duty Game Warden Chris Fried was bow hunting in the Cooper Wildlife Management Area when he was shot around 6:00 Sunday evening. Investigators say Fried was looking to see if someone might be hunting illegally when he was struck by a bullet from a high-powered rifle. Cox says the 31-year-old Fried remains in stable condition at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.
LUFKIN — A Lufkin woman has been arrested in connection with a fatal accident on Christmas day. Taken into custody early Tuesday afternoon was Jennifer Isabel Mireles, 21. She is said to be the driver of a car that struck and killed bicyclist Alexander Jansen, 22. Using debris at the crash scene, they were able to identify the vehicle that left the scene as a 2001 to 2003 model Mazda Protege. After the information was released to the media, Mireles contacted Lufkin Attorney, Lisa Flournoy, who arranged a meeting for Mireles and Lufkin police. Read the rest of this entry »
LONGVIEW — An update to the City of Longview’s Burglary and Robbery Alarms ordinance will take effect with the start of the new year. Originally adopted in 2001, the purpose of the ordinance is to encourage alarm users to properly maintain the operational effectiveness of alarm systems, to reduce or eliminate false alarms, and to defray associated costs through permit fees and false alarm charges. The City Council amended the ordinance on December 12, 2013. Read the rest of this entry »
TYLER — Brookshire Grocery Co. stores throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas recently completed the 32nd Annual Spirit of Christmas Food Drive. Donations collected in each store remained in that community to help needy families. “In the midst of our busiest season of the year, our store teams and customers assisted some 18,000 needy families by supplying more than 20,000 boxes of food. Thanks to the efforts of our employees and customers, more than 30,000 grab bags and $40,000 in scan coupons were sold, making Christmas brighter for many,” said BGC President and CEO Rick Rayford. Read the rest of this entry »
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP/Staff) – The operator of the $2.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline between Cushing, Oklahoma, and the Gulf Coast of Texas expects to begin shipping oil on January 22. Along the way, the pipeline runs through much of East Texas, including eastern Smith County. TransCanada Corp. began injecting crude oil into the 485-mile, 36-inch pipeline in early December. Spokesman Davis Sheremata says the process involves injecting about three million barrels of oil into the system at Cushing and moving it to the Houston area. Once line fill is complete, TransCanada’s team will move into the final phase of commissioning meters, pump stations, and other facilities. Read the rest of this entry »
TYLER — At the request of County Judge Joel Baker, the Smith County Commissioners Court has essentially tabled the proposal to establish a Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) in the county for now, pending further review by the court. A county spokesperson says the judge and commissioners want to give themselves time to further study and review the proposal. Baker mentioned that he still has questions that are unanswered, and several of the commissioners concurred that they did as well. Read the rest of this entry »
DIANA — The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man who allegedly robbed two local stores Saturday. The first robbery happened at 10 p.m. at the Dollar General Store on Highway 259 in Diana. On arrival, deputies found that a white male had entered the store, pointed a handgun at the two clerks, and demanded money. The suspect then struck one of the clerks on the head with the handgun. The man left the store southbound on foot with the money. About 20 minutes later, an individual reported that he had been approached by a white male meeting the same description of the suspect that robbed the Dollar General, walking to the Family Dollar Store. After robbing that store, he fled on foot west behind the Family Dollar Store. Read the rest of this entry »
LONGVIEW — Sheriff Maxey Cerliano and the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office are requesting assistance in identifying a burglary suspect. In the early morning hours of Saturday, December 28th, a man broke into Taqueria Jalisco at 4712 Estes Parkway in Longview. Officials say the attached video surveillance image from the business shows the suspect, who is said to have been driving a double-cab dually pickup. Authorities ask that anyone with information about this man or this case contact Investigator David Falco at the Gregg County Sheriff’s at (903) 237-2506 or Crime Stoppers at (903) 236-STOP.
TYLER — Police are looking for the suspects of a robbery of a Tyler woman. She was walking on Oakland Street around 7:00 Monday night when she was approached by three women. They are said to have struck her several times and took her purse. They then got into a dark colored 4 door pickup and left. The 29 year old woman was taken to East Texas Medical Center where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
KILGORE — Three persons have been arrested in connection with a Kilgore robbery. They are accused of robbing of the EZ Mart convenience store at 600 Houston Street just before 3:00 Sunday morning. While one suspect remained outside, two others entered the store, pointed a handgun at the clerk, and left with cash and tobacco products. With the help of the store’s video system, officers arrested Kabreun Brager, 18, of Kilgore. He was booked into the Kilgore Municipal Jail under bonds totaling $102,500 on charges of aggravated robbery and possession of marijuana. Also taken into custody were two juveniles, one from Kilgore and one from Ducanville. They were taken to the Gregg County Juvenile Detention Center.
EAST TEXAS — Tyler and Longview police are reminding residents that the discharge of firearms into the air in celebration is a violation of the law. The act of discharging a firearm in the air is seen by some as a harmless expression of their parent culture or of good cheer. The reckless use of any firearm is hazardous, and the act of indiscriminately discharging a firearm in celebration is not as harmless as some believe. Read the rest of this entry »
LONGVIEW — Longview Transit, in partnership with R&K Distributors, is providing a “Safe-Ride-Home” on New Year’s Eve. For the sixth consecutive year, Longview Transit will give free rides to anyone within Longview city limits on New Year’s Eve between 8:00pm and 3:00am. Rides can be scheduled by calling Longview Transit at 903-753-2287 ext.10. To prepare for the Safe-Ride-Home project, Longview Transit’s regular route service ended early, at 3:00 Tuesday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
TYLER — Funding road construction and maintenance is emerging as an issue in Texas the next couple of years. Both Democrats and Republicans are pledging to increase sources for the cash-strapped Texas Department of Transportation. Larry Krantz with TxDOT’s Tyler District office tells KETK, “Having a predictable and sustainable funding source of any kind is vital to being able to plan for a system long-term. If you know how much money you’re gonna have year over year, it makes prioritizing projects and planning projects that much easier.” But Krantz says maintenance costs often drive budgets through the roof.
QUITMAN — Wood County Crime Stoppers has increased the reward for information about the person(s) responsible for the theft of raw crude oil in the county. KETK reports three thefts have occurred so far over the past seven weeks and have resulted in the loss of over 300 barrels of oil from three locations in the Farm to Market 2966 and Farm to Market Road 69 area of Wood County. These thefts occurred November 7-8, December 14-15, and December 22-23. Anyone with any information is asked to call 903-763-2274. If your information leads to the identification and/or arrest of the person(s) responsible, you may be eligible for a reward of up to $3,000.
TYLER — Tyler fire officials reported Monday afternoon that the cause of a weekend house fire “is undetermined after conclusion of the investigation.” The blaze was reported at 3:45 Sunday afternoon at 6300 Sutherland Drive. Fire units saw heavy smoke before arriving on scene and called for a second alarm. Five engines and one Ladder Company, along with a District Chief and an Investigator, responded to the scene. No one was home when the fire started and there were no injuries reported. The fire appears to have started in a sunroom. There was heavy fire and smoke damage throughout the house, and the home is considered to be a total loss.