WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the White House announced President Obama commuted the sentences of 330 more people, including four East Texans. KETK reports Juan Garcia from Tyler had his prison sentence commuted to expire in May. He was arrested in Tennessee more than 8 years ago for drug-related charges. The 3 other East Texans were from Mabank, Kilgore, and Jefferson.
TYLER – A Tyler teen has been arrested on one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child. According to KETK, Smith County Jail records show 17-year-old Matthew Clinton Branin was apprehended by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. The assault reportedly occurred Wednesday. Branin was jailed on $400,000 bond. The details concerning the alleged crime were not immediately known.
LONGVIEW – A Carthage man whose car became stuck in a ditch Wednesday was arrested later after a Longview police officer reportedly discovered he had two stolen guns in the vehicle and that he was wanted on an aggravated assault charge. KETK reports Ravon Rashad Sewell, 27, was charged with two counts of theft of a firearm. He also was arrested on a Panola County warrant charging him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Sewell remained in the Gregg County Jail with bond set at $6,000 for the gun charges. Bond was withheld on the Panola County warrant. … Read More
ANDERSON COUNTY — Anderson County Deputies and the Texas Rangers are investigating the deaths of two people in the Elkhart area. According to KETK, the victims were found dead in the 7600 block of FM 2419. The Sheriff’s Office said they received a call for help from a family member at around 7:20 Wednesday night. The caller said he found his mother and father deceased in their home. Deputies said he reported not talking to his parents in the last three weeks. He said his father had been ill recently and his mother had not been working. Both appeared to have been dead for some time. Their bodies were sent for autopsy.
TYLER — Tyler Police are investigate an armed robbery at the Family Dollar Store on Troup Highway. It happened last night around 7:50. Officers said store employees reported that a black man armed with a handgun entered the store and demanded cash from the register and safe. He left with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspect is described as 5’7 with a thin build, wearing a black hoodie, black sweat pants and black shoes. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tyler Police Department.
DALLAS (AP) – More details come out regarding an autopsy on a prominent personal injury lawyer found unresponsive in his car. It was announced earlier that Brian Loncar died of an accidental cocaine overdose. Loncar was found Dec. 4 in the front seat of his vehicle, which was parked in front of his downtown Dallas law office. The Dallas County medical examiner’s office says the autopsy showed hypertension and hardening of the arteries were secondary factors in the 56-year-old lawyer’s death. Loncar’s death came two days after the funeral for his 16-year-old daughter, who killed herself on Nov. 26. According to Grace Loncar’s obituary, she had battled depression. Brian Loncar was well-known in Texas for his television advertisements, in which he branded himself the “strong arm.” His firm has offices across the state, including one in Tyler.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler has reintroduced his bill H.R. 582, the Kari’s Law Act of 2017. The measure previously passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives but was held up in the Senate. Introduced first in 2015, Kari’s Law of 2017 will ensure that anyone who dials 9-1-1 can reach emergency personnel even if the phone typically requires that user to dial a prefix such as 9 or 7 to get an outside line. Kari Hunt Dunn (pictured) was killed by her estranged husband in 2013 inside a Marshall motel room. Their young daughter attempted to dial 911 to call for help, but she didn’t know she had to dial a 9 first. A Texas version of Kari’s Law went into effect last summer. … Read More
PALESTINE – Authorities have confirmed the body of Cody Lusk has been found at Circle R Lake near Palestine. KETK reports Lusk, 37, had been missing since Saturday. He was last seen leaving to go fishing. According to Anderson County Game Warden Mike Hanson, the victim was found in the water with the use of sonar equipment at around 1:20 p.m. Thursday. Hanson said it appears he drowned. The Palestine Fire Department dive team pulled Lusk’s body from the water after he was located. His body has been sent to Dallas for autopsy.
TYLER — Tyler Mayor Martin Heines says former football star Ricky Williams is very welcome in Tyler. That’s after an incident last week in which local police responded to a suspicious person call about a man crouching behind a fence. According to KETK, Williams claims he was profiled. He says he was taking a walk in a wooded area near his south Tyler hotel while in town for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award banquet. That’s when police approached and began to question him in what he considered an inappropriate way. Police Officer Don Martin says law enforcement personnel were just doing their job and treated him respectfully. Williams was allowed to go free following the encounter. Heines says since the incident, he and Williams have had “a very positive conversation” by phone. Heines says he even invited Williams to stay at his home next time he’s in Tyler.
LONGVIEW — Two East Texas law enforcement agencies were involved in a pursuit Thursday morning. According to KETK, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office says some time between 7:30 and 8:00, deputies received a call of a suspicious vehicle on FM 2011. A deputy patrolling the area located a van matching the description and pulled behind the vehicle. At this point, the driver of the van took off and a chase ensued. Deputies in Gregg County began assisting in the pursuit when the van entered their county in the Lakeport area. According to the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, they followed the van from Highway 322 to Highway 149 or Estes Parkway into the Longview area.… Read More
TYLER – TxDOT reports portions of FM 2087 in Longview, SH 294 near Slocum, and FM 1917 near Elkhart are open to traffic after experiencing water-related issues Wednesday. The closures came as TxDOT continued to monitor road conditions that developed as heavy rain fell in the area. Officials confirmed Thursday morning that conditions have returned to normal.
KILGORE — The Kilgore College Rangerettes will perform at the Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball tonight at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The ball, held on the eve of the inauguration of presidential candidate Donald Trump, is sponsored by the Texas State Society. The Rangerettes will perform their “Texas show” which consists of a kick, pom, skirt and jazz routine to popular Texas-themed music. Also, sophomore Swingsters will perform special numbers at the ball. The Rangerettes have performed at the last four inaugural balls for Pres. George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005 and for Pres. Barak Obama in 2009 and 2013.
LONGVIEW — A Kilgore man was sentenced Wednesday to 42 years in prison for the December 2014 shooting death of Franciosa Lakeef Jackson, 36, in Kilgore. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Marcus Demois Whitaker, 37, pleaded guilty Friday in the 124th District Court in Gregg County. A sentencing hearing took place Wednesday. Whitaker will be eligible for parole after having served half of his sentence.… Read More
MARSHALL — One of Marshall’s “Most Wanted” is now behind bars. Trekevien Jacquia Darnell Miller, 20, of Longview, was taken into custody by Longview Police on Monday. Miller, whom police term a known gang member, was wanted for a felony bond forfeiture warrant out of Gregg County and wanted for questioning for his reported involvement in engaging in organized criminal activity in Marshall. Miller is being held in the Gregg County Jail.
UPSHUR COUNTY — The Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday identified the highway patrol officer involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting Jan. 3 in Upshur County. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, DPS spokeswoman Jean Dark identified Trooper John Smith as one of the law enforcement officials involved in the shooting of Dale Hightower Jr., 53, of Gilmer. Upshur County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ramon Ortiz also was involved in the shooting. Smith and Ortiz are on paid administrative leave while the Texas Rangers investigate the shooting. Smith joined the Department of Public Safety in 2009 and is assigned to the office in Gilmer. … Read More
ZAVALLA — Two people remain hospitalized following a house explosion Tuesday morning in Zavalla. According to KETK, volunteer fire-fighters in Zavalla were called to the scene of an explosion a little after 6:00 a.m. The two victims were in the care of their neighbors. One of the victims, Lyle West, was buried in the burning debris that once was his home. The other victim, Elaine West, was in a neighbor’s yard. Lyle West was flown to Galveston with serious injuries and Elaine West was transported to a Lufkin hospital for her injuries. Zavalla VFD could only speculate as to what caused the fire but they believe it was possibly caused by a propane gas leak. The explosion had people startled from all around even businesses located three to five miles away heard and felt the blast. In addition to debris being scattered everywhere most of the neighbor’s homes were damaged by either the flying debris or the shockwave.
TYLER — A Tyler man remains behind bars following his arrest for alleged indecency with a child. According KETK, Mark Allen Vanhouten, 53, was arrested by the Tyler police Tuesday on one count of indecency with a child by sexual contact. A warrant was issued by the 7th District Court of Judge Kerry Russell. Vanhouten was booked into the Smith County Jail Tuesday night with bond set at $150,000. Details concerning the case were not available.
TYLER — During a ceremony Wednesday at the Tyler Police Department, Chief Jimmy Toler promoted Lieutenant Billy Yates (pictured) to Assistant Chief and Sergeant Eddie Sheffield to Lieutenant. Assistant Chief Yates will be assigned as the Commander over the Investigation Division and Lieutenant Sheffield will be assigned to Training Division. Asst. Chief Yates has received numerous awards and commendations, including meritorious conduct, life saving award, certificate of achievement and certificate of merit. In 2001, he was also recognized as Rookie of the Year and Supervisor of the Year in 2012.… Read More
LONGVIEW — Classes at Longview ISD’s Foster Middle School remained canceled Wednesday after a water line ruptured, sending students home early Tuesday. According to KETK, the district contacted parents, and buses were made available to take students home. Longview ISD will release more information about the status of the repairs as it’s available.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – It’s been nearly three decades since a 31-year-old East Texas woman was found dead on the shoulder of New York State’s Adirondack Northway, and state police say the case remains open. Terri Kay Roark’s body was found in 1988 on the shoulder of Interstate 87 at the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, which spans the Mohawk River and links Albany and Saratoga counties. An autopsy found that she died of a skull fracture and the case was ruled a homicide. Troopers say the victim’s last known address was Mount Pleasant, Texas. An investigation revealed that she was last seen leaving a mental health facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma the week before her death. Investigators haven’t been able to identify any ties the victim may have had to the Northeast. Anyone with information is asked to call (518) 783-3211.
TYLER — The League of Women Voters of Tyler/Smith County kicks off its 2017 Great Decisions Lecture Series. It’s a project of the Foreign Policy Association, sponsored locally by the League of Women Voters, AAUW Tyler, and Tyler Public Library. The program provides background information and policy options for what organizers term the eight most critical issues facing America each year and serves as the focal text for discussion groups across the country. The lecture series begins Wednesday and continues through March 8. The lectures are held at the Tyler Public Library’s Taylor Auditorium. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; lectures begin at noon. … Read More
DALLAS – The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday announced the city of Tyler agreed to significantly upgrade its sanitary sewer system to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The city will also undertake extensive operational improvements to its sanitary sewer system and pay a total of $563,000 in civil penalties. DOJ, on behalf of the EPA, and the State of Texas, on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, jointly filed a complaint against the city of Tyler alleging that, since 2005, the city has allowed and continues to allow untreated sewage to overflow from the city’s sanitary sewer system in violation of the CWA and the Texas Water Code.… Read More
ANDERSON COUNTY — The search for a man reported missing on Lake Palestine continues. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Palestine Fire Department Tuesday moved into the third day of searching for 37-year-old Cody Lusk, last seen Saturday night. According to KETK, he was reported missing Sunday morning. Additional equipment is being used to help in the search, including a side scan radar unit with mapping capability which is used to help define underwater structures.
MARSHALL — The Marshall Police Chief Jesus “Eddie” Campa was selected as one of the 2017 recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Humanitarian Award. According to the Dr. MLK Junior Awards Committee, the prestigious honor is indicative of one who has demonstrated leadership skills and made a difference in the community. The award is given to those who personify the highest standards of service and character. Chief Campa accepted the award given by the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Awards Committee during a ceremony on Sunday, January 15 at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall.… Read More
TYLER — Tyler Police are looking for the driver responsible for a hit and run accident on Gentry Parkway Monday night. Officers responded to the 3200 block of West Gentry Parkway in reference to a welfare concern. Officers arrived and found the man, identified as Albert Daron, 82, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. There was vehicle debris in the road where Daron was found, indicating that he had been hit by a vehicle while he was crossing the road on foot. The vehicle that struck him did not remain on scene and Daron was unable to tell officers what happened. Daron was transported to East Texas Medical Center by ambulance. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Anyone with information about the suspects involved in this crime is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department, at 903-531-1000.
LONGVIEW — Some Longview residents have a chance to get to know their city council member a little better. District 4 Councilwoman Kristen Ishihara has called a Town Meeting for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday at Mobberly Baptist Church on East Loop 281. The meeting will be held in the Bridge Building, Room D120. City officials say the event is intended as an informal opportunity to interact with Ishihara. Unlike council meetings, the meeting will not be recorded for rebroadcast on CityView Municipal Television.
ATHENS — An Athens business is asking for the public’s help locating its stolen food truck. According to KETK, Chick’s BBQ says its trailer was stolen over the weekend from downtown Athens off South Palestine Street. In a post on Chick’s Facebook page, the company says it was full of vital business equipment. “Our girls are heartbroken over this – please share with everyone you can and tag all of your friends, to help our small business,” the company stated. It is believed the trailer was taken between noon Saturday and noon Monday.
TYLER – Here’s a look at work planned in TxDOT’s Tyler District during the Week of Jan. 16. These schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.
Longview motorists should consider alternate routes as a new construction project gets underway Monday on Loop 281. The Loop 281 at FM 1845/Pine Tree Road widening project limits are from US 80 to Shofner Drive. The project will have a major impact on traffic causing travel delays as roadways are reduced to one lane in all directions. The contractor is Longview Bridge and Road. Additional information is available in the Gregg County section of this story. … Read More
EAST TEXAS — East Texans observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. The Tyler Together Race Relations Forum presented the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Interfaith Community Program. This year’s theme was “The Time is Always Ripe to do What’s Right.” The downtown event featured a short program, a march, and an interfaith service. The keynote speaker, popular chef Kevin Belton, said honoring Dr. King means getting to know people who are different from you. Belton told KTBB, “I just want everybody to take the time to get to know their neighbor — know something about someone else… that speaks a different language or from a different culture — learn something about them.” He said another good idea is to share a meal with family and friends. … Read More
TYLER — A Tyler family’s house has gone up in flames, and they’ve lost a pet. According to KETK, neighbors say the only people living inside the residence on Woodland Hills Drive were a couple in their fifties. They had several pets in the home, and one dog died. But the couple was able to get out safely. 3 neighbors say the sound of an explosion woke them up around 2 Saturday morning. That’s when they saw it was a fire and called 911. … Read More