Category: Local News Archive

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Plane Lands at Tyler Airport Without Front Landing Gear

TYLER — A small plane made an emergency landing Tuesday morning at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. Emergency responders were notified around 11:30 yesterday morning. The Tyler Fire Department responded with two aircraft rescue firefighting units, along with multiple engines from fire stations in the City.

Tyler fire officials say the pilot was the only occupant aboard the four-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza, which was carrying approximately 250 gallons of fuel at the time. Upon takeoff from Tyler Pounds Regional, the pilot recognized a potential issue with the plane. He was able to notify personnel at the air traffic control tower, who visually verified that the aircraft had an issue with the nose gear. Air traffic control quickly notified airport personnel, along with emergency responders stationed at the airport. Per protocol, additional units with the Tyler Fire Department responded to the scene.

Firefighters and airport personnel were on the scene prior to the emergency landing. The pilot was able to successfully land the aircraft without the nose gear. No injuries were reported. For safety purposes, Runway 22 was shut down throughout the incident.

Eltife Endorses TISD Bond

thumb_Kevin_EltifeTYLER — State Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler announced his endorsement of the Tyler ISD bond that would build a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center and three middle schools, and remodel two elementary schools, with no tax rate increase. That’s according to KETK. Along with his endorsement, Eltife officially joined Tyler Proud, an organization Eltife says is dedicated to bringing people together to improve Tyler ISD. “I am excited to be a member of Tyler Proud and appreciate the work the organization is doing to promote public education and help with passage of the May TISD bond proposal,” Eltife stated.

“We are thrilled to have Senator Eltife on our team,” Tyler Proud President Mark Randall said. “He is a dedicated public servant who works tirelessly for what is best for our community. We appreciate all that he does on our behalf in Austin, and we are especially proud that he stays involved on important local issues like this school bond.”

The bond issue will be decided in the election on May 11. Opponents are spearheaded by the “No More Excuses, Tyler ISD” group. That organization says Tyler ISD needs to focus on discipline and academics, not new facilities.

Man Arrested in Fatal Shooting

Cedric Bernard Carldwell2LONGVIEW — One person is in custody in connection with a weekend shooting death in Longview. Shot several times just before 5:00 Sunday afternoon was Huey Gray, 63. He was shot in the 800 block of Walnut Street. He later died at Good Shepherd Medical Center. Arrested in the case early Monday morning was Cedric Bernard Carldwell, 43, of Longview. He was arrested at a home a few block from the shooting. Carldwell was booked into the Gregg County Jail and his bond was set at $175,000.

Police: Former Texas Official Emailed Threat

21969049_BG1KAUFMAN (AP) — Authorities investigating the murders of a Texas prosecutor and his wife believe a former county official sent a threatening email to law enforcement officers one day after the killings. The Kaufman County sheriff released a probable cause affidavit Monday that shows authorities traced the threat to the personal computer of former Justice of the Peace Eric Lyle Williams. The prosecutor’s office handled a theft case against Williams that resulted in him losing his job.

Authorities say the email implied that if authorities didn’t respond to various demands, there’d be another attack.Williams is being held on $3 million bond on a charge of making a terroristic threat.A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity says at least 20 weapons found in Williams’ storage locker are being tested.

Fatal Palestine Wreck

PALESTINE — A two vehicle accident in Palestine has left one person dead. Dead at the scene was Tranessa Nicole Reed, 21, of Waco. According to a police department news release, her car left the road, traveled about 200 feet along the grass, returned to the road and crossed over the center stripe and collided with the trailer of the truck. The truck’s driver was not injured. The accident happened around 6:30 Sunday morning in the 4600 block of West Oak Street. The accident remains under investigation.

Palestine Suspect Captured

PALESTINE — A man who was the subject of a manhunt in Palestine has been arrested. Taken into custody was Jorge Mendoza, 30. He was found hiding in a clothes dryer in a home in the 700 block of Lamar Street. Police converged on the area late Monday afternoon. He surrendered to authorities just over five hours later.

Around 8:30 Saturday night, Palestine Police responded to a disturbance call in the 200 block of Crest Drive. Officers said they received a tip that a wanted man, Mendoza, was at the location and may be involved in the incident. Arriving officers noticed Mendoza jump from a vehicle in the driveway and run through the backyard into a wooded area.

Police searched the area and were not able to locate him. Authorities from Palestine Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, DPS Troopers and Officers from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice helped in the search for Mendoza. TDCJ officers used tracking dogs to assist in the search for Mendoza and a helicopter was also used in the search. Police believed that Mendoza may have been armed.

Mendoza was previously involved in another incident with police just over a month ago in Cherokee County. Mendoza is also wanted on several felony charges.

Nacogdoches County Burglary Suspects Arrested

Nacogdoches County Sheriff DeptNACOGDOCHES — Nacogdoches County authorities have arrested three persons for what could be up to four burglaries. Arrestd Sunday evening were Jarrod Henson, 17, Roderick Pollock, 18, and Loretha Thompson, 20. They have been charged with two counts of burglary of a habitation and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Henson was also charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct after disrupting court proceedings for his arrest.

The trio is accused of burglaries at two homes on Farm Road 225 and County Road 717. Authorities are trying to determine if they are responsible for two more burglaries that occurred Sunday night. The three were arrested at a Nacogdoches apartment complex. Stolen propery from two of the burglaries has been recovered.

Local Reaction to Boston Marathon Blasts

BOSTON — There are over 27,000 runners who participated in this year’s Boston Marathon, and a number of them are East Texans. That includes Tyler attorney Wes Volberding. He told KTBB’s Bill Coates that he had finished the race and was just blocks away when he both heard and felt the explosions that rocked the location this afternoon. Volberding says, “My immediate reaction was concern and recognition that it may be an attack.” Volberding says he immediately began moving out of the area, along with 80-year-old Tylerite Harold Wilson, leaving the situation up to responders. He said others around him reacted in a similar fashion. Wilson had also completed the race, and had actually won in his age group, when the blasts went off.

Dr. John Camp of Tyler’s Azalea Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic had also finished and was on his way back to a Boston hotel when the explosion happened. Camp told Coates he’s always felt secure at the marathon, but the explosions were “one of those things that unfortunately happens in this day and age.”

Autopsy Performed on Fire Victim

housefireTYLER — Tyler police say an autopsy was being performed to determine the cause of death of the victim in a structure fire at 2415 Rivera. According to police, the preliminary findings show that the woman appeared to have died from smoke inhalation. Police say the investigation remains open, and there was no more information as of late Monday afternoon. The townhouse fire happened around 7:45 Friday evening at Villa Ridge, off Old Troup Highway. Investigators believe the fire originated in the bedroom, but are not certain of the cause. The victim’s name has not been released.

Nacogdoches County Felon Sentenced for Federal Firearms Violations

thumb_dept-justice-sealBEAUMONT – A 31-year-old Nacogdoches man has been sentenced to federal prison for firearms violations. Lincoln Jerome Watts pleaded guilty on November 19, 2012, to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison Monday in Beaumont by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

According to information presented in court, on November 13, 2011, law enforcement authorities responding to a report of a disturbance involving a weapon encountered Watts in the 100 block of Zula Street in Nacogdoches. Watts consented to a search and was arrested after an officer discovered a loaded pistol in Watts’ front pants pocket.

Further investigation revealed Watts was a convicted felon having been found guilty of aggravated robbery in Nacogdoches County; possession of a firearm while under indictment in the Eastern District of Texas; possession of a stolen firearm in the Eastern District of Texas; and burglary of a federal firearms licensee in the Eastern District of Texas, all in 2001. Federal law prohibits a convicted felon from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition. Watts was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 3, 2012.

Sheriff’s Office Responds to Person on Top of Tower

thumb_sheriff-smithcountyTYLER — Authorities report a person was spotted on top of a communications tower in Smith County, but finally came down more than two hours later. Smith County Sheriff’s Deputies and personnel responded to a call shortly after 11:45 Monday morning at a residence in the 11000 block of County Road 1121. They were told that a person who also lived at the location had climbed to the top of a communications tower on the property and that they were concerned about their well-being because of their emotional state.

Sheriff’s Office personnel talked with the person on the tower and were told that the individual worked in an industry that required climbing towers. Around 1:00pm, the person climbed down from the tower and was taken to a Tyler facility for a mental evaluation. No names are being released.

Source: Case Being Built in Kaufman County Slayings

21969049_BG1KAUFMAN (AP) – A law enforcement official says Texas authorities investigating the killings of a district attorney and his wife are building a case against a former justice of the peace prosecuted last year for theft. The official said Monday investigators are focused on 46-year-old Eric Lyle Williams, who’s jailed on a charge of making a terroristic threat. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation into the deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. The official says at least 20 weapons found in Williams’ storage locker are being tested by ballistics experts. The official also says a car similar to one seen in the McLellands’ neighborhood on the day they died also was found at the locker. Williams’ attorney didn’t immediately return a call.

One Dead, One Hurt in Gregg County Crash

thumb_DPS-carGREGG COUNTY — One person is killed and one seriously injured in Gregg County. Shortly after 12:30 Friday afternoon, on Farm Road 2087, a car driven by Charlotte Coleman, 29, of Kilgore, was traveling southbound. KETK reports the car was hit head-on in the center of the road by Susan Thompson, 40, also of Kilgore, who was driving north. Coleman was taken to a Longview hospital, where she later died. Thompson is listed as in serious condition, having both legs and arms broken. According to officials, Coleman was not wearing a seatbelt during the accident. Authorities are still investigating.

Nine Displaced in Longview Fire

thumb_fire-dept-longviewLONGVIEW — A fire in Longview displaced nine and resulted in two being taken to a local hospital. KETK reports that shortly after 10:45 Sunday evening, fire crews responded to building #13 of the Belaire Manor Apartments on reports of an apartment fire. Officials discovered a large fire coming from the windows of the upstairs apartment #84. According to neighbors, the occupant of the unit exited from the upstairs window which caused injury and resulted in the person being taken to a local hospital. A second person was taken to the hospital for a medical condition that could have been caused or worsened as a result of the fire. Officials say the fire was brought under control very quickly saving the adjoining units of the building. Water damage was kept to a minimum due to the salvage operations of the fire crews. Two other units received some smoke damage.

The cause of the fire has been narrowed down to the area of the window air conditioning unit which was on in the living room. The Red Cross responded to the scene and assisted the 9 residents who were displaced as a result of the fire and the electricity being disconnected.

Two Fires in Smith County; One Destroys Home

thumb_firefightersSMITH COUNTY — Smith County firefighters answered the call for help on a couple of house fires, including one that destroyed the residence. KETK reports that happened along County Road 485. There was no immediate word on what sparked the blaze. Firefighters believe some sort of electrical problem caused an earlier fire along Lariat Circle. There was no immediate report on extent of damage. No one was home at either residence. Both fires were Saturday afternoon.

Law Enforcement Agencies Discuss Gang Activity

thumb_police-longview-shieldLONGVIEW — Longview police say 30 gangs operate in and around the city and are responsible for a wide variety of crimes, including murder. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report a recent statewide assessment found a variety of gangs are funneling illegal drugs through East Texas on their way to destinations in the north. The Department of Public Safety estimates there are more than 100,000 gang members in the state representing 2,500 gangs.

Tyler ISD Principal Submits Resignation

jtprincipal102TYLER — The Tyler ISD has agreed to accept the request of Michael Timms to resign from his current position as principal of John Tyler High School effective June 30. KETK reports Timms had been named principal of John Tyler in May of 2012, but was placed on administrative leave in March. Joe Coburn is serving as the interim principal and will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the campus. In a statement, TISD officials said, “Our focus is to provide a positive educational experience for the students at John Tyler High School. We appreciate the patience and support of staff, students and parents as we move forward.”

Pilot Burned in East Texas Ultralight Plane Crash

BURKE (AP) – An East Texas pilot has survived the fiery crash of his ultralight plane after the low-flying aircraft clipped some power lines. The Texas Department of Public Safety says the crash happened Sunday night near Burke, about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Angelina County Constable Tom Selman identified the pilot as Jerry Roy Morehouse, 59, of Huntington. Officials say Morehouse suffered minor burns when the plane hit the transmission line, split apart and fell to the ground. Witnesses helped pull the pilot from the wreckage. Emergency personnel treated Morehouse for burns to his right arm.

Early Morning Shooting Under Investigation

TYLER — Tyler Police continue their investigation into an early morning shooting. Officers were dispatched around 3:00 Monday morning to 3100 Highway 31 East in reference to a man that had been shot in the abdomen. An 18-year-old Hispanic male told authorities that he had been walking home from a gas station when a white car with black wheels pulled up next to him and shot him one time, then sped off. The victim was able to walk home and call 911. He was transported to a local hospital with what is believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

Periodic Lane Closures on Portion of Hollybrook Drive

longview-cityofLONGVIEW — West and East Bound Lanes of Hollybrook Drive will be having periodic lane closures from Eastman Drive (U.S. Highway 259) east to Loop 281 starting Monday, April 15, from 7:00am to 5:30pm and lasting around 30 days. The lane closures will be by flagman and both East and West Bound Lanes will have periodic delays. The periodic lane closures are for A.E.P. SWEPCO power pole relocation along Hollybrook Drive.

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT signTYLER — Here’s a quick look at other work planned in the Tyler District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

KILGORE — Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to conclude resurfacing operations on Farm Road 1252 between State Highway 135 and State Highway 42, then on Wednesday are scheduled to move to U.S. Highway 259-Kilgore Relief Route to make pavement repairs near Synergy Park. The work at Synergy Park will require a daytime closure of the bypass between US 259 north of Kilgore and Farm Road 349. A marked detour will be in place while work is in progress, sending southbound traffic past the US 259 bypass entrance and then left at the SH 31/FM 349 intersection, and then onto the bypass at FM 349. Northbound traffic will exit at FM 349, turn toward Kilgore, then north toward Longview at SH 31/US 259 intersection. The work, which is scheduled to take three days to complete, in preparation for a second project to add a turn lane at Synergy Park, which is scheduled to let to contact in August.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base pavement repairs in various locations in both directions on Interstate Highway 20 between U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 14. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform surface-sealing operations on Interstate Highway 20 in various locations between Farm Road 1255 east of Canton and the Smith County Line. Elsewhere, contract crews are still at work making base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 773 between IH 20 and Ben Wheeler, and construction crews are at work on Farm Road 17 between IH 20 near Canton and State Highway 110 in Grand Saline, and on Farm Road 2339 between Farm Road 1861 and Farm Road 773. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

RUSK COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 782 between Farm Road 1716 in Oak Hill and State Highway 149 near the Gregg County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

WOOD COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform resurfacing operations in various locations on Farm Road 1801 east of Mineola and on Loop 564 in Mineola. A second crew is scheduled to make pavement and edge repairs in various locations on Farm Road 779 northwest of Mineola. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue resurfacing operations on Farm Road 773 at its intersection with State Highway 31 in Murchison. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform pavement-texturing operations on U.S. Highway 175 in and around Frankston, and on Farm Road 855 between Cuney and Mount Selman. A second crew is scheduled to continue making base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 1911 between U.S. Highway 69 north of Wells and the end of state maintenance. Also this week in Cherokee County, construction crews are scheduled to continue work to add shoulders to State Highway 110 between U.S. Highway 79 in New Summerfield and U.S. Highway 84 in Rusk, and on State Highway 294 between Alto and the Anderson County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs in various locations on Farm Road 837 between State Highway 19 and Farm Road 315, and Farm Road 320 between Farm Road 645 to U.S. Highway 79. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

Former Kilgore College Football Coach Dies

Jim Miller2KILGORE (AP) — Championship-winning former Kilgore College football coach Jim Miller has died. He was 81. Miller’s son, Wade Miller, told The Associated Press that his father died in his sleep Saturday morning at home in Kilgore. He says his father had spent the day before fishing, one of his loves along with football. Jimmy Rieves, athletic director the two-year community college, told the Longview News-Journal that Miller “built a great tradition.” Miller, who had the longest tenure as football coach in the college’s history, joined the staff an assistant coach in 1967. He was named head coach in 1976 and retired in 1992 with a record of 97-66-2. The newspaper reports that he won a national championship and seven conference titles at the school. Services will be Tuesday in Kilgore.

East Texas Authorities Searching for Wanted Fugitive

PALESTINE — Authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating a wanted fugitive. According to KETK, around 8:30 Saturday night, Palestine Police responded to a disturbance call in the 200 block of Crest Drive. Officers said the received a tip that a wanted man, Jeorge Mendoza, was at the location and may be involved in the incident. Arriving officers noticed Mendoza jump from a vehicle in the driveway and run through the backyard into a wooded area.

Police searched the area and were not able to locate Medoza. Authorities from Palestine Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, DPS Troopers and Officers from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice helped in the search for Mendoza. TDCJ officers used tracking dogs to assist in the search for Mendoza and a helicopter was also used in the search. Police believe that Mendoza may be armed.

Mendoza was previously involved in another incident with police just over a month ago in Cherokee County. Mendoza is also wanted on several felony charges and should be considered armed and dangerous. He is known to frequent the Westwood area of Palestine.

Mendoza is a 30-year-old Hispanic male, 5’05” tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with any information should call the Palestine Police Department at 903-729-2254 or CRIME STOPPERS at 903-729-(TIPS) 8477.

Inmate Sentenced to Life after Brutal Attack

PALESTINE — After 30 minutes of deliberations, an Anderson County jury handed down a life sentence to a Coffield Unit inmate Thursday for his involvement in the October 2009 assault of a corrections officer. According to the Palestine Herald, Benny Palomo, 31, was the second of three inmates to be convicted in the case.

On Oct. 19, 2009, inmate Raymond Sotelo, 26, had refused the order of corrections officer Eric Christiansen and the officer told him to returned to his cell. The inmate said “make me,” prompting Christiansen to cuff Sotelo. As he was doing so, Sotelo turned around and punched Christiansen in the face. Palomo immediately jumped in and the two took the officer to the ground. A third defendant also joined in, kicking the officer in the face and head repeatedly. During the incident, Christiansen received a black eye, bloody nose, abrasions to the side of the head and forehead and a slight concussion. The three fled and an extraction team came and took the inmates.

Sotelo was tried March 26 and 27 and was sentenced to the maximum 20 years. The trial for the third inmate involved in the case has been scheduled for June.

Officials Continue to Investigate Fatal Fire

housefireTYLER — One woman is dead following a townhouse fire in Tyler Friday night. It happened around 7:45 at Villa Ridge on Rivera, off of Old Troup Highway. Investigators believe the fire originated in the bedroom, but are not certain of the cause. The victim’s body has been sent for autopsy. Her name has not been released.

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