Category: Local News Archive
SMITH COUNTY – A manhunt has been under way north of Tyler overnight for a Harrison County armed robbery suspect. Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith advises motorists against picking up hitchhikers near the intersection of Interstate 20 and Farm Road 2015. The suspect is said to be white male, 6’1″, weighing approximately 200 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen around 10:30 last night wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.
TYLER — East Texas Medical Center Tyler has fully transitioned to an in-network hospital in the Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization. That word came as BCBS filed Monday for an appeal of the November 12 injunction that granted in-network provider status to ETMC Tyler. ETMC Regional Healthcare System President/CEO Elmer Ellis says he believes the appellate court will uphold the injunction. A news release from ETMC says Blue Cross Blue Shield has fully complied with the court’s decision to make ETMC Tyler an in-network provider. Earlier this year, ETMC Tyler filed suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield, saying the hospital’s exclusion from the organization’s preferred provider networks has created serious and negative impacts on a large group of consumers. BCBS has not responded to a request for comment made earlier by KTBB.
SMITH COUNTY — The Texas Department of Public Safety confirms that there were six accidents reported Monday morning on I-20 westbound in Smith County. KETK reports the accidents were near exits 558 and 559 near Lavender Road. Further details are pending, but dispatch advised drivers to stay off this stretch of highway until the accidents were cleared.
FORT WORTH – A levee failure east of State Highway 34 in Kaufman County caused the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning for a portion of the Trinity River. The warning officially expired at 9 a.m. Monday, but areas south of Highway 34, including the western portion of Henderson County, should be on the lookout for flooding of low-lying areas. Also covered by the warning were Kaufman, Ellis and Navarro Counties. Drivers in those areas are still urged to use caution and avoid roadways covered by water.
TYLER — The University of Texas at Tyler Meadows Gallery will feature the Master of Fine Arts Thesis Fall 2015 Exhibition beginning Monday. “The Last Moments of Face and Flipper” features the work of UT Tyler MFA degree candidate Samuel Brown of Austin, who works in mixed media. A public reception and gallery talk will be held from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, at the gallery. The exhibition will conclude Friday, Dec. 11. You can visit http://www.uttyler.edu/ for more information.
LONGVIEW — One person is in custody following an armed robbery at a Longview store just after 11:00 Saturday morning. According to KETK, police say Brandon Cole, 30, entered the Walmart store on East Loop 281 between North 4th Street and U.S. 259. Witnesses say Cole pulled out a gun and began demanding money from a clerk at the Money Center inside the store. They report Cole was given cash and then ran off. Officers say they found him a short time later in the area of Harmon Drive and Eubanks Street. Police report that the money stolen and the gun used have been recovered.
LONGVIEW — A 4-year-old girl was taken to Longview’s Good Shepherd Medical Center in critical condition Friday after she was struck by a vehicle. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, DPS officials said the girl was hit about 7:45 p.m. Friday on Tryon Road in Gregg County, about 3 miles north of Loop 281. They said she had gotten out of a house in the area and entered the road when a driver traveling south on Tryon Road saw her and hit his brakes, but was unable to stop. The girl’s name was not released by troopers or the Gregg County sheriff’s office.
LIBERTY CITY — For the first time in more than seven months, the family of Paiglynn Raymond was reunited — just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving together. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, the 16-year-old’s father, Chris Raymond, said the family has to “build a bridge from seven months ago to now.” Raymond continued, “It will take time and continued prayers, but every step is worth it. A lot took place so fast the last couple of days that brought tears to my eyes, but to hear my daughter say, ‘I love you’ to me face-to-face was more than amazing.”
Vickie Raymond, Paiglynn’s grandmother, said earlier this week that a friend of the teen told her mother that someone claiming to be Paiglynn had started texting her from an untraceable number. Paiglynn’s mother, Michelle Raymond, and Save the Next Girl representative Kenny Jarels contacted the number, and the teen responded. “Of course, Michelle was very skeptical, so she asked a few questions that only Paiglynn would know the answers to,” she said. “Chris was texting her as well, and on Wednesday they talked over the phone.” The parents made arrangements to meet Thursday in Grayson County, about an hour north of Dallas, and Paiglynn was home in time for Thanksgiving supper.
Paiglynn last was seen April 17 after being dropped off at school in Liberty City. Investigators with the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office said she left the campus, was picked up by a truck driver and was dropped off at a bus station near Dallas. A lead the family received in October about Paiglynn being admitted to a Tulsa hospital turned out to be false.
On June 1, a person matching her description was spotted near Leadville, Colorado, a town about 100 miles west of Denver. Colorado state police confirmed multiple sightings of the girl matching Paiglynn’s description between Leadville and Copper Mountain, prompting a statewide alert by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
EAST TEXAS — Multiple East Texas gas stations are found in violation of compliance guidelines. KETK reports station pumps in Tyler, Longview, Gladewater, and Jacksonville are out of order due to compliance issues. Those issues range from nozzles not being able to hold “zero” to some not registering properly.
TYLER — With the changing season, trees have begun shedding their leaves — and that means raking and filling numerous bags of yard waste. Tyler officials say the Solid Waste Department may not pick up all bags during customers’ regularly scheduled pick-up days. They say that’s to alleviate the safety concerns of having residential crews working late into the evening due to the increase in garbage collection, If a residence has excessive bags of leaves, an alternate truck may be used to complete the route on a different day.
For residents who would like to try an alternative to bagging leaves, compost bins are available through the Solid Waste Department and may be purchased for $60. Proceeds from sales help to fund Keep Tyler Beautiful projects. You can go to www.TylerSolidWaste.com to learn more about the Solid Waste Department, including how to get in touch.
TYLER — It’s an especially good time to think twice before running red lights in Tyler. The Tyler Police Department will be participating in a state grant-funded Red Light Enforcement program that runs through December. Police encourage drivers to slow down when approaching an intersection with a yellow light and not enter an intersection on a red light.
GREGG COUNTY — A Longview man who police said stole two vehicles and injured an elderly woman while stealing a third vehicle pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Wesley Smyth, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of aggravated assault in the June 2014 incident. According to KETK, Smyth crashed a vehicle he stole from Quality Auto Sales on U.S. 80 into a power pole before abandoning it. Smyth then went back to the same used car dealership and stole a second vehicle, this time driving to an area near H.G. Mosley Parkway and Cotton Street, where he damaged that vehicle. He then left that vehicle and began trying to steal a third vehicle by dragging an elderly woman out of her car. The victim sustained non life-threatening injuries. Smyth’s sentence was enhanced by two previous felony convictions.
MARSHALL — A Hallsville man who attempted to take a weapon from a police officer will spend 10 months in jail. According to the Longview News-Journal, Garland Ray Wiley Jr., 32, pleaded guilty to the felony. According to his indictment, Wiley took Hallsville officer Nelson Valle’s firearm on Jan. 16. Documents show officers Jeff Jones and Valle were dispatched that morning to the 400 block of McPherson Street in reference to a disorderly person. When officers stopped Wiley’s vehicle, Wiley appeared disoriented and acted in an aggressive manner. Officers said after Wiley threatened to harm them, they used a stun gun to take Wiley to the ground.
HOUSTON (AP) – A legendary college coach, who was born in Smith County, has died. Former University of Houston men’s basketball coach Guy V. Lewis, who was born in Arp, has died at the age of 93. The school said Thursday he died Thanksgiving morning. Lewis coached the Cougars for 30 years but was best known for leading the Phi Slama Jama teams in the 1980s. He guided Houston to back-to-back NCAA title games in 1983 and ’84 but never won the national championship, losing to underdog N.C. State in the 1983 final on Lorenzo Charles’ last-second shot. Lewis won 592 games and reached five Final Fours. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
KILGORE – A Kilgore coach is out on bond after being charged with having an improper relationship with a student. Arrested Wednesday was Brian Bird, 33. His residence is listed as Gladewater. Besides being the boys and girls golf coach and assistant boys basketball coach at Kilgore High School and is also a geography teacher. His bond was set at $50,000.
NACOGDOCHES — A Mount Enterprise man is behind bars after an ongoing crime spree in several different counties. According to KETK, Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges says Bobby Stein, 58, was identified as a suspect in the case on Tuesday morning. Bridges says that happened after officers from Shelby County and Nacogdoches County were able to use information from two different videos. Investigators say they found Stein late Tuesday hiding in a remote part of Rusk County. Nacogdoches County deputies were able to locate stolen property at a Rusk County deer camp. Investigators were also able to determine more stolen property had been taken to Angelina County. Those items, which had been sold, were recovered on Wednesday. Stein was arrested and charged with seven counts of theft. He was booked into the Nacogdoches County Jail.
More than $30,000 of stolen property was recovered. Bridges said the property also included items from Dallas County. The Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office has recovered the following property:
Six flatbed bumper pull trailers
One cargo Trailer
One Horse trailer
Five all-terrain vehicles (ATV)
One tractor with implements
Deputies are still investigating the theft of two flatbed trailers and a zero turn mower stolen in Nacogdoches County. It is believed the suspect took these items and sold them in the Lufkin Area within the last two weeks. Stein is believed to have committed numerous thefts of four wheelers and trailers over the course of the last month in several different counties. Bridges said any recently purchased items from Stein have a high probability of being stolen propety. If you purchased property from Stein, you’re urged to contact your local law enforcement agency. The case is still under investigation and more charges are expected to be filed.
LONGVIEW — A Longview woman who sustained injuries during a house fire in October has died. That word came Wednesday from her family, according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. The Longview Fire Department sats a home near Idylwood Drive and 12th Street caught fire October 19. Officials at the scene said Phylis Bridges suffered burns and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. An 18-year-old man reportedly helped save the woman and called for help. Another man and a 3-year-old were also inside the house at the time of the fire. Assistant Fire Chief Curtis Shaw says Bridges was placed in the intensive care unit. The other adult and child were treated for smoke inhalation. Shaw said a firefighter suffered minor burns and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Bridges’s death is the only known fire-related death Longview has had this year, said Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary. Though the cause of the fire remains undetermined, Zackary said all residents should double-check their fire alarms to ensure they are properly installed and have fresh batteries. “A few seconds more could have been the difference in her surviving that fire,” he said. “She did get out, but by then she had already sustained severe burn injuries.”
HENDERSON — A Rusk County murder suspect on the run since Monday night has been caught in Shelby County. According to KETK, authorities said Demetrius Terrell Bennett was captured Wednesday by Shelby County constables and has been taken to the Shelby County Jail. Bennett, 19, is accused of killing Eugene Bryant, 53. Bennett will be charged with murder. At 10:17 p.m. on Monday, deputies responded to reports of shots fired and a person wounded on County Road 3281. When officials arrived at the scene, Bryant was found dead from apparent gunshot wounds. Witnesses reported seeing the gunman leave the scene in a car headed south. The vehicle was found abandoned near Rusk County Road 3285.
PALESTINE — A gag order has been issued in the murder of six people at an Anderson County campsite. According to KETK, 87th District Judge Deborah Evans issued the order Tuesday in the case of 33-year-old William Mitchell Hudson. Records show the order was made to preserve the defendant’s right to a fair trial by ensuring no jurors hold prejudice from pretrial publicity. All attorneys, attorney staffs, and law enforcement officers involved in the case are prohibited from discussing the case with media. Hudson faces six capital murder charges. He is accused of killing Carl Johnson, 77; Hannah Johnson, 40; Kade Johnson, 6; Thomas Kamp, 46; Nathan Kamp, 23; and Austin Kamp, 21. The suspect allegedly murdered the families November 15 at a location on CR 2217.
TYLER — The Smith County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed an arrest is expected in an October fire at the home of Johnny Manziel’s grandfather. According to KETK, Lt. Gary Middleton says a burglary did occur the night of the fire, which is being investigated as possible arson. The homeowner is not a suspect in the investigation. The two-story Lake Tyler house was destroyed in the early morning hours of October 7. When firefighter arrived shortly after 1:30 p.m., the home had already begun to collapse. The fire was deemed suspicious not long after the home had burned down. According to the Smith County Appraisal District, the property was valued at $408,438.
TYLER — The Salvation Army is gearing up for its traditional Thanksgiving meal. According to a news release, the agency plans to serve “many who would otherwise be hungry and alone.” It’s all set today for 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Center of Hope Dining Room at North Broadway Avenue and Bow Street.
TYLER — Tyler police are getting into the spirit of the holiday season with a special thank-you. According to a news release, on October 24, motorcycle officer Ryan Gummer went home to Lafayette, Louisiana, to visit his mother in the hospital. While visiting her he became ill and was admitted into the hospital for eight days due to pancreatitis. Due to the poor health of his parents, Ryan was alone and without the help of his brothers and sisters in blue from Tyler. Fellow motorcycle officer Bill Steinmiller realized that Ryan was not going to be able drive back to Tyler on his own when he was released from the hospital on November 2. Steinmiller contacted Randa Conner with Tyler Jet Center and explained the circumstances surrounding his co-worker.
Randa immediately started calling her contacts to fly Steinmiller down to Lafayette. On November 5, Randa called Steinmiller and advised that she had a pilot and a plane to take him to Lafayette that afternoon. He went to the Tyler Jet Center that afternoon and met pilot Herb Sharp. Sharp said that Charles Jaggers owned the airplane and that he’d donated the plane to Herb to fly Steinmiller down to pick up his fellow officer, and Tyler Jet was going to pay the fuel cost for the airplane.
The Lafayette Sheriff’s Office also met Steinmiller at the airport and escorted him to Gummer’s parents’ home. The original plan was to fly Gummer home, with Steinmiller driving his vehicle back. Gummer was not able to fly, so they returned to Tyler by vehicle, with Steinmiller at the wheel. Gummer’s parents expressed their gratitude for everyone’s generosity in helping Ryan get through a very difficult time.
On Friday November 20, Gummer, Steinmiller, and other officers went to the Tyler Jet Center and presented tokens of the police department’s appreciation to Conner, Sharp, and Jaggers. According to the news release, “This is the true meaning of ‘We Got Your Back’ for one of our own.”
(Pictured, left to right: Officer Bill Steinmiller, Randa Conner, Officer Ryan Gummer, Herb Sharp.)
TYLER — The FBI is the latest agency to begin an investigation of the Smith County Commissioners Court. The Texas Attorney General’s Office had earlier announced it was looking into the commissioners’ executive session where the commissioners approved purchasing traffic cameras for some school zones. KETK reports commissioners Cary Nix and Terry Phillips confirm the FBI is looking into the matter. Both could not discuss the matter on advice of the county’s attorney.
Smith County commissioners first announced the plan back in April. County Judge Joel Baker said, “Smith County is focused on public safety and limited enforcement to ensure the safety of the community’s school children,” Baker said at that time. “I believe it is a more efficient way to enforce laws that are already in place.” The program was suppose to include five cameras rotating in county school zones. The cameras were then delayed in early May following an uproar from the public.
Judge Baker went on to say, “As county judge I should have done a better job of public outreach and education regarding this program. As the presiding officer of the commissioners court, I take full responsibility for not leading a more robust public discussion on this topic prior to entering into the program. I am sorry for this error in the process. Therefore, I have asked the School Safety program vendor, ATS, to pause and delay the start of the program to allow us to do a better job with communication and outreach. ATS has also agreed to survey school zones around the county and to provide data regarding speeding in those locations. It’s now important that we restart the public conversation with facts.”
A few days after Baker made those comments, Grassroots America – We The People, a Smith County watchdog group, filed a formal complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
BEREA, OHIO (AP/STAFF) – The Browns have benched quarterback Johnny Manziel because of his off-field behavior. Coach Mike Pettine said former Jacksonville Indian Josh McCown will start Monday night’s game against Baltimore in place of Manziel, the Tyler native, who was recently given the starting job but has now been demoted to third string. Manziel’s benching comes in the wake of a video surfacing of him partying last weekend in Texas. He had promised not to bring any embarrassment to the team during its bye week, but Pettine said he was both disappointed and frustrated by Manziel’s actions. Pettine said owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager Ray Farmer support his decision. In a statement, Pettine said “everyone in this organization wants what is best for Johnny just like we do for every player in our locker room. I’m especially disappointed in his actions and behavior because he has been working very hard.” Manziel spent 70 days during the offseason in a rehab facility specializing in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.
TYLER — A federal magistrate has rejected a motion from Shanna Peek Tidwell and Jeremy Chad Tidwell to release about $63,000 seized by the government so they could pay state and federal taxes. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report the two are former owners of the Glass Dragon stores that allegedly sold synthetic cannabinoids in East Texas. The Tidwells, along with brother Brian Tidwell, are charged with multiple drug, fraud and money laundering violations. They were arrested last December in a raid that involved forces from numerous local law enforcement agencies and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. U.S. Magistrate John Love of Tyler ruled that the Tidwells did not cite any authority “supporting the release of these funds at this stage of the proceedings.”
In an opinion on the issue, Love said,”Defendants must make some showing that the money or accounts seized were actually that which was collected and held in trust for the payment of sales and payroll taxes. Second, Defendants should make a showing that they did not undertake any acts which would have violated their trust obligations — i.e. that their actions are consistent with those of a person acting as a trustee for the state or federal government.” Love’s opinion went on to say that the Tidwells did not show that the funds seized by the government included any money they had set aside to pay state and federal taxes.
TYLER — Three people have been arrested in Smith County in a case involving drugs, a weapon, and child support. Sheriff Larry Smith says a deputy was dispatched around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday to CR 2152 in southeast Smith County in reference to a suspicious vehicle call. The caller said a pickup was seen driving slowly through the area and was possibly spotlighting deer. The deputy conducted a traffic stop after finding a vehicle matching the description. The driver was identified as Willie Earl Calley, 34; the two passengers are named as Rebeca Cook, 26, and Patrick Trent Kemp, 23. All are Smith County residents.
Calley was placed into custody after it was learned he had an outstanding warrant for child support. After another deputy arrived to assist, the deputies reportedly found a loaded .38 caliber revolver on the floorboard that allegedly belonged to Calley. Deputies also discovered Calley was a convicted felon, so he’s also charged with felon in possession of a Firearm. Smith says the law officers additionally discovered 3 grams of methamphetamine in the truck, and all three suspects were arrested for that. Once at the jail it was reportedly discovered during the book-in process that Cook and Kemp were in possession of a controlled substance. Both are charged with possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility.
TYLER — Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says a burglar has been jailed after being caught in the act — and found with some stolen credit cards. Smith reports a deputy and his K-9 partner answered a call around 9:30 Tuesday morning to a residence on CR 463 in northern Smith County regarding a suspicious vehicle complaint. The dog found a man hiding under items in the garage. Smith says 35-year-old Jason Bowers of Lindale immediately surrendered and was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released for minor injuries resulting from contact with the dog. Bowers was reportedly found with several credit cards which were reported stolen in Henderson County. Bowers is currently charged with burglary of a building. Smith County deputies are said to be in contact with Henderson County investigators regarding possible additional charges.
LONGVIEW — Longview police officers are stepping up their social media presence in an effort to engage more with their community. KETK reports officers are posting more pictures and video content in order to connect. In the past five weeks, the Longview police Facebook page has increased its followers by the thousands. Longview Police Public Information Officer Kristie Brian says, “Social media is one of the main ways that people communicate now. So for us to be able to reach a bigger audience, I mean we could do a wanted poster, but you don’t really reach a lot of people. With social media, you reach a lot at one time.” Since engaging with the community on Facebook, the Longview Police Department has identified suspects and solved crimes a lot faster.
DALLAS (AP) – Experts say an invasive plant that can clog boat motors and block sunlight from reaching lakes has turned up in another East Texas waterway. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department confirms giant salvinia at Lake Fork Reservoir, 60 miles east of Dallas. Spokesman Larry Hodge said Tuesday that crews are removing the fast-growing plants from the Chaney Branch. Several boat ramps are closed. A floating boom warns boaters to stay clear. Hodge says chemicals are being used to kill the floating fern that’s native to Brazil and reproduces by budding. Giant salvinia, which can be transported by boats and trailers, was found earlier on Caddo Lake, Toledo Bend Reservoir and Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Some Louisiana lakes have giant salvinia, which can form dense mats on water and also hamper fishing.