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June 2009

Small plane takes off from toll road

UPDATE: UPDATE: DPS officials say the plane that landed on the Texas 130 toll road this morning took off again at 4:15 p.m. and is no longer on the tollway.

EARLIER: Officials say a small plane has been moved to the shoulder of southbound Texas 130 toll and will be towed off of the highway.

The single-engine cessna plane landed on the toll road between U.S. 79 and Gattis School Road about 8:45 a.m. after it ran out of fuel.

Lisa Block, a spokeswoman with the Department of Public Safety, identified the pilot as 25-year-old Lindsey Moreland of Austin, who was not injured.

Block said officials arrived and refueled the plane, but it did not take off.

The plane took off from Austin-Bergstrom and was headed to Georgetown’s airport for routine maintenance, said John Hurt, a spokesman with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The plane is still in the grass on the side of 130, and the owner, who is from Temple, is planning to try to fly it off the roadway later this afternoon, Hurt said.

“That’s about as good a road to take off from as you can get,” Hurt said.

A caller sent this video of the plane to 94.7’s J.B. and Sandy morning show Web site.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Another charge for man accused of fatal hit-and-run

Austin police have added a manslaughter charge to a man who is accused of hitting a construction worker on Interstate 35 on June 24 and leaving the scene, according to an arrest affidavit. The worker died.

San Antonio police arrested David Delacerda, 30, on June 25 after he was released from the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Austin police said. He was originally charged with felony failure to stop and render aid, according to an arrest affidavit. Police later added the manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The wreck happened about 1:30 a.m. on southbound I-35 near Onion Creek Parkway, police said. Police said a dark-color sport utility vehicle ran through a marked construction zone and hit the worker, identified as Fontino Cortes-Cruz, 36.

Cortes-Cruz was part of a crew that was repaving the interstate, said Marcus Cooper, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He had been laying reflective tabs on the highway when he was hit, Cooper said.

Hays County sheriff’s deputies found a burned SUV outside of Kyle about 4 a.m., Austin police said, and shortly afterward, police received a call from South Austin Hospital that a man with burns on his body had checked into the hospital.

Delacareda is in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $600,000, court records show.

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Man charged with indecency with child

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A 61 year-old Austin man was arrested Thursday on charges of indecency with a child by contact after police say he touched two young boys inappropriately in a bathtub, according to an arrest affidavit.

Eugene William Shier, also known as Bill Shier, was identified by a 15 year-old boy who said the incident happened three years ago when he used to spend the night at Shier’s residence, the affidavit said.

Shier was previously convicted of sexual assault of a child in 1994, said detective Brett Bailey with the Austin Police Department, and was listed as a registered sex offender though he was still allowed to be around children.

Bailey said that Shier was known in the neighborhood for having “numerous fun things for kids to do,” including a swimming pool and video games.

Police are concerned that there may be more victims and are encouraging parents whose children may have come in contact with Shier to speak to their children about the issue, Bailey said.

Police ask anyone with information about other cases to call the child abuse hot line at 974-6880.

Shier is currently being held in the Travis County Jail on $10,000 bond, court records show.

Permalink | Categories: Child Abuse

Police seek car that hit cyclist downtown

Austin police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a person who was driving a car that hit a 27-year-old bicyclist at Lavaca and Fifth streets about 2:30 a.m. June 23, police said in a statement.

The cyclist was hit from behind by a car that fled the scene, the statement said. Witnesses told a friend of the cyclist that the suspect vehicle was a taxi cab, the document said.

The cyclist’s friend took him to an area hospital with serious injuries that are not considered life-threatening, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vehicular Homicide Detectives at 974-4761.

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Police seek help finding robbery suspects

Austin Police are investigating seven early-morning robberies of individuals that occurred in the last week in parking lots and driveways. A handgun was used in some of the robberies, said detective Billy Parks with the Austin Police Department.

The robberies seem to be related, Parks said, and police are seeking the public’s help in identifying two to five men who they say committed the crimes.

The robberies occurred at:

Most of the robberies occurred near apartment complexes and duplexes, so people who leave for work early in the morning should be extra vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings when walking to their cars, Parks said.

Police ask anyone with information about the robberies to call the robbery hot line at 974-5092 or CrimeStoppers at 472-8477.

Permalink | Categories: Police

“Yakety Yak” manager accused of buying stolen cell phones

The manager of a Brodie Lane wireless phone store has been charged with theft after police said he knowingly purchased stolen cell phones for cash during sting operations.

According to an arrest affidavit, on five occasions between March 16 and June 26, managers at the Yakety Yak Superstore at 8400 Brodie Lane purchased cell phones from undercover Austin Police Department detectives — in some cases, manager Robert Fagan, 40, was explicitly told the phones were stolen.

Fagan has been charged with theft, a state jail felony, his arrest affidavit said. Under Texas law, a person commits theft if they purchase property they know to be stolen, the affidavit said.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Fire Department investigates strange smell in downtown building

The Austin Fire Department is investigating reports of a strange smell in a building at 221 E. 11th St. downtown. About 20 people left the building, which houses the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, but officials did not force any evacuations, said Battalion Chief Dawn Clopton of the Austin Fire Department.

Crews have not been able to locate anything suspicious, Clopton said.

One person said they smelled natural gas, but Clopton said there is no natural gas in the building. Another person said it was an oily smell, she said. Three people were treated by EMS at the scene because they did not feel well, but no one has been taken to the hospital, Clopton said.

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Second person charged in Hays County counterfeit case

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Another Hays County resident has been charged with forgery in connection with an incident in which police say a woman used a counterfeit $100 bill at a fireworks stand in Buda, according to a statement from the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.

Stephen Barham, 27, has been charged with forgery, a felony, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, the statement said. Marijuana was found at his home when he was arrested Friday after an investigation, police said. He is in the Hays County Jail on $12,500 bail, the statement said.

Tanya Bostic, 25, was also arrested Friday after police said she used the fake bill, the statement said. She was originally charged with a state jail felony forgery but that charge has been upgraded to felony forgery, the statement said. Her bail has been increased to $10,000, it said.

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Leander police identify two fatal crash victims

Leander police today identified two people who were killed in one-vehicles crashes on Thursday and Saturday.

Glenn Ray Brooks, of San Antonio, was killed about 4:45 a.m. Thursday after losing control of his tractor-trailer and it rolled over on U.S. 183 near the 183A toll road, police said in a statement. An initial investigation shows that speed was a factor in the incident, the statement said. Nobody else was injured in the crash, police said.

On Saturday, Roxann Carlson, of Leander, was killed after a crash about 7 a.m. on FM 2243 between Apple Springs Drive and Ran Road, the statement said.

According to police, Carlson was driving a sport-utility vehicle east on 2243 when she lost control of the vehicle and it went off the road and rolled several times. Carlson was thrown from the SUV and died at the scene, police said. Nobody else was injured, police said.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal wreck

Police: Woman stole remains of neighbor’s husband

Cassandra Hom didn’t steal her neighbor Bonnie Cumiford’s husband, but she did take off with her husband’s ashes, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit said that Hom, 42, forced her way into Cumiford’s Austin home looking for a necklace Hom had previously given Cumiford. Cumiford told Hom she no longer had the necklace, which had belonged to Hom’s mother.

Hom took the urn that contained Cumiford’s husband’s ashes and then left the house, the affidavit said. Cumiford later found the urn broken and her husband’s ashes in a ditch near the women’s houses.

Police arrested Hom, who is charged with burglary of a habitation, a second degree felony. After she was arrested, police discovered outstanding warrant for Hom’s arrest in Oregon in 2002.

Hom is currently being held at the Travis county Jail, officials said. Bail is set at $20,000.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Single-engine plane makes emergency landing

A single-engine plane was damaged after making an emergency landing in a pasture near the Travis-Bastrop county line late this morning. No one was injured. Officials said the pilot refused medical treatment.

The plane, which officials said is a Cirrus SR22 that seats four people, landed against a barbed-wire fence, with one wheel broken off, both wings damaged and the left side window smashed. Barbed wire was wrapped in the propeller. The plane landed about 150 yards away from power lines.

The plane was headed for nearby Austin-Bergstrom International Airport when the pilot experienced engine trouble, said airport spokesman Jason Zielinski.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bastrop Fire Department and emergency workers from Bastrop and Travis counties were at the scene.

Chris Mellenbruch, who owns the land in Travis County where the plane landed, said the pilot “seemed a little shook up but OK.”

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Police targeting drunken, aggressive driving over holiday

Austin police are planning a crackdown on drunken and reckless drunken driving over the July 4 holiday.

Police will enact another “no refusal” weekend in which they will obtain the blood of drunken driving suspects who refused to give a breath test. The no-refusal policy will be enforced from 5 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

The department also will put an additional 15 officers on Austin’s streets to target drunken driving, Highway Enforcement Commander Donald Baker said. He cited the large role alcohol plays in fatal crashes nationwide on holidays as part of the reason for the timing of the July 4 campaign.

In 2008, police arrested 37 people charged with driving while intoxicated between 6 p.m. July 4 and 6 a.m. July 5. That’s more than twice the number of people police arrested during that time period in 2007, when police arrested 16 people for DWI charges.

Baker said an additional two officers will work with lake patrol to look for intoxicated boaters on the July 4 holiday.

The Police Department is also kicking off its Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks traffic enforcement campaign, to take place Wednesday through Sunday. The campaign will place 14 additional officers on the streets to focus on aggressive driving on Interstate 35, U.S. 290, MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), U.S. 183 and Texas 71.

In the department’s most recent such campaign, on June 8-14, police gave out 258 citations and stopped 89 motorcycles.

The department’s goal during that campaign was to end the week without any fatalities, Baker said. However, one fatal accident took place on U.S 290 during that time.

This year, 38 people have died in traffic fatalities in Austin, Baker said, compared with 28 people at this time last year.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office will also have additional deputies on the road targeting impaired drivers starting tomorrow through July 6, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. The department received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation that will help pay deputies overtime during the seven-day program.

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Teen killed on Texas 130 Sunday night identified

Officials have identified a teenager who was killed on the Texas 130 toll road near Pflugerville as Linel Edward James, 17.

Preliminary reports show that James was in the roadway just south of Cameron Road when he was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by a man from Mason, said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

James was pronounced dead at the scene, Mange said. It is unclear if any charges will be filed against the driver, who stopped after the crash, Mange said.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Pedestrian killed on toll road

A pedestrian was killed this evening at the Texas 130 toll road just south of Cameron Road near Pflugerville, Department of Public Safety officials said.

Around 7 p.m., a pedestrian was struck by an 18-wheeler, officials said. No other details were available.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal wreck

Two dead in Bastrop fire

Two people died in a house fire in Bastrop County Saturday, according to a Bastrop County dispatcher. Their identities have not been released.

Firefighters were called out to the 440 block of FM 969 around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, said Roger Alvarado with the Bluebonnet Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters battled a blaze at a fully engulfed house, Alvarado said, and temperatures that day exceeded 100 degrees.

Two people were killed in the blaze: Claude E. Harkins, 87, and his wife Mary Bess Harkins, 86, a family member told the Bastrop Advertiser.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office and Bastrop County sheriff’s office are investigating the cause of the fire.

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Suspect arrested in two San Marcos robberies

Police arrested Seguin resident Luis Rey Pena, 21, Saturday in connection with two recent San Marcos robberies after police received a tip, according to San Marcos police. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. Pena remains in the Hays County jail on a $200,000 bond.

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On Friday night, police say Pena is a suspect in a robbery that happened Friday night at a Little Ceasar’s Pizza restaurant and one at an Auto Zone store in May.

According to San Marcos police, a man fired a shotgun into the ceiling Friday night at a Little Ceasar’s Pizza restaurant on Texas 80, east of Interstate 35. On May 30, a man had fired a shotgun into the ceiling while robbing an Auto Zone store on South Guadalupe in San Marcos. In both cases, no one was injured, and the suspect left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Police say Pena is a suspect in a third robbery that happened on June 19 at Dyess Food Mart in Seguin, but no charges have been filed in this case.

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Austin man dies in accident in Llano County

An Austin man died Saturday afternoon when his Honda ran off the road in Llano County.

Kirk Elliot Holladay, 40, was heading east on RR 965 when his Honda ran off the roadway to the right as the road curved to the left, according to Department of Public Safety dispatcher Allen Muller. The vehicle hit a concrete culvert before rolling numerous times, he said.

Holladay was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:22 p.m.

UPDATE: Due to incorrect information given by the Texas Department of Public Safety, previous reports that Holladay was driving a motorcycle have been corrected. Holladay was driving a Honda hatchback, according to DPS.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Two Austin roads shut down overnight for accidents

Two major Austin roads were shut down early Sunday morning due to accidents. Neither accident was fatal.

According to Austin police, eastbound lanes of the Capital of Texas Highway at Research Boulevard were shut down for about two hours at 1 a.m. Sunday. At about 4 a.m., all northbound lanes of Bastrop Highway at Vargas were shut down after a vehicle crossed the median and rolled over. One person was injured in the accident with a broken back, according to Austin police.

Permalink | Categories: Injury accidents

Kyle woman arrested for buying fireworks with fake money

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A 25-year-old Kyle woman was arrested Friday night on charges that she used a counterfeit $100 bill at a fireworks stand in Buda, according to a spokesman with the Hays County Sheriffs Office.

Tanya Bostick, who lives at an RV Park in Kyle, was charged with forgery, a state jail felony. She was booked into the Hays County jail Saturday morning. Her bail has been set at $7,500.

Permalink | Categories: Comic capers

Leander police investigate fatal traffic accident

The Leander Police Department is investigating a fatal traffic accident that happened on Ranch Road 2243, near U.S. 183, just after 6 a.m. this morning.

A dispatcher with the police department confirmed that the accident was fatal but she said she could not release more information. The number of individuals or vehicles involved in the accident was also not released.

Check back with Statesman.com for more details.


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Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Truck towing mobile home snags wires, cuts electric power Friday in San Marcos

About 1,500 San Marcos residents lost power temporarily Friday afternoon when a truck towing a mobile home snagged electric lines, according to a statement from the city of San Marcos.

The outage happened about 2:50 p.m. Friday and was restored by the San Marcos Utility in about 30 minutes, the statement said.

The truck truck snagged the power lines at Post Road and Aquarena Springs Drive, the statement said.

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Man accused of hitting 2-year-old during fight

Police arrested an Austin man who they say struck a 2-year-old during a neighborhood fight Wednesday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Witnesses say Kendrick Harris, 21, was fighting with his girlfriend Yanali Alba, 18, and Ebony Smith, a woman who is two months pregnant with his child, the affidavit said, in the parking lot of an apartment building at 1500 Faro Drive in East Austin.

Tina Zamora, 23, became involved with the argument and left her 2-year-old son standing on the other side of the parking lot, according to the affidavit. The affidavit said that the boy crossed the parking lot and pushed Harris on the leg, and Harris then struck the boy on the side of the face.

Witnesses say police were called after Harris threw a rock through the back window of a vehicle, according to the affidavit. Alba, Zamora and Harris were all arrested on disorderly conduct charges, records show. Harris was additionally charged with injury to a child, the affidavit said.

Harris is in the Travis County Jail on $10,000 bail, according to court records.

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176 grams of cocaine found in home, police say

An Austin man was arrested Thursday after officers found about 176 grams of cocaine and about $12,000 while serving a search warrant, an arrest affidavit said.

Police arrested Brandon Allen, 24, on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver after discovering about the cocaine, plastic bags, digital scales and cash in his home in the 1100 block of Crown Ridge Path, off Rundberg Lane near Interstate 35, the affidavit said.

Police also charged Allen with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon after officers found a loaded semi-automatic pistol in the home, the affidavit said. The gun had been reported stolen in April, the document said.

Allen had previously been arrested for drug possession and sentenced to seven years in prison, according to court documents, but was released on parole in December 2008.

Allen is currently being held at the Travis County Jail with bail set at $110,000, officials say.

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Former Texas House speaker arrested for DWI by mounted police

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Former Texas House Speaker Gibson “Gib” Lewis, 72, was arrested last night on charges of drunken driving, Austin police said this morning.

Lewis was driving west on Fourth and Lavaca streets in the turn-only lane about 11 p.m. when a mounted officer saw him continue straight on Fourth Street instead of turning, an arrest affidavit says.

The officer then stopped Lewis and called for backup, the affidavit said. Lewis had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, Austin police said.

Lewis was elected five times to Speaker of the House and was active in the Texas Legislature for more than 20 years.

When reached by phone today, Lewis said, “There’s nothing to say but don’t drink and drive.”

Permalink | Categories: Police

Police release Nader’s 911 call about being threatened at golf course

Austin police today released the tape of former Westlake football player Matt Nader’s call to 911 saying that a 73-year-old man had pulled a loaded pistol on him and his friends after a round of golf Monday.

Edwin Dailey was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, after an Austin city marshal pulled him over in his white Ford Focus a few blocks from Lions Municipal golf course.

Austin police officials said Friday that Dailey has a concealed handgun permit.

According to an arrest affidavit, Dailey had confronted Nader and two friends on the course to complain about slow play, saying at one point that he would get his gun and “make them both equal.”

After the round, the men all were in the parking lot when Dailey pulled out a .25-caliber Browning handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets and pointed it at Nader, the affidavit said. The three men took cover behind cars, fearing for their lives, the affidavit said.

Dailey then concealed the gun and went back to the clubhouse while the men called 911, the affidavit said.

To read the full story, click here.

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Fourth body from plane crash identified

The fourth person who was killed Wednesday in a plane crash outside of Holbrook, Ariz., has been identified as 34-year-old Aaron James Gordon of Cedar Park, Cmdr. Bob Sutton of the Navajo County sheriff’s office said today.

A twin-engine Beechcraft plane owned and piloted by 45-year-old David Tuntland of Cedar Park crashed shortly after takeoff about 5 p.m. local time Wednesday. Tuntland was killed in the crash, along with 42-year-old Catherine A. Gordon of Cedar Park and 21-year-old Kyle Peters of Santa Rosa, Calif., Sutton said.

Peters’ parents live in Austin, but they did not wish to speak to a reporter.

Aaron Gordon was married to Catherine Gordon, Sutton said.

The plane was on its way to Lago Vista from Santa Rosa, Calif., but had stopped in Holbrook to refuel. The pilot said he was sick to his stomach and had to lie down while the plane was being refueled, according to a statement from the Navajo County sheriff’s office.

Sutton said Federal Aviation Administration investigators found more than 12 pounds of marijuana and a suitcase containing a large amount of cash among the wreckage. He said he thought the items were placed in the rear of the plane, which escaped much of the damage.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

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Car, armored bank car collide

An armored bank car and a Chevrolet Malibu were involved in a minor collision this morning along Bee Cave Road near Loop 360, authorities said.

Officials said no one was injured in the 10:15 a.m. incident, and traffic was not blocked.

Sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade said investigators are still trying to determine how the collision happened. No other details were immediately available.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Man charged in death of construction worker

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Austin police have charged a man who is accused of hitting a construction worker on Interstate 35 Wednesday then leaving the scene, according to an arrest affidavit.

David Delacerda, 30, was arrested Thursday by San Antonio police after he was released from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Austin police said.

The wreck happened about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 11400 block of southbound I-35, police said. Police said a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle ran through a clearly marked construction zone near Onion Creek Parkway and hit the worker, identified as Fontino Cortes-Cruz, 36.

The SUV headed south after the crash, and Austin police notified Hays County officials to be on the lookout for the vehicle, said Sgt. Richard Stresing with the Austin Police Department.

Hays County sheriff’s deputies found a burned dark-colored SUV outside of Kyle about 4 a.m., Stresing said.

Shortly after, police received a call from South Austin Hospital that a man with burns on his body had checked into the hospital, Stresing said.

Delacerda was transported to the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center and was released today, police said. He is charged with felony failure to stop and render aid which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison if he is convicted. He is in the Bexar County Jail with bail set at $100,000, police said.

Cortes-Cruz was part of a crew that was repaving the interstate, said Marcus Cooper, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He had been laying reflective tabs on the highway when he was hit, Cooper said.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Arizona sheriff: Crashed plane had pot, cash on board

More than 12 pounds of marijuana and a suitcase containing a large amount of cash were discovered among the wreckage of a plane headed to a Lago Vista airport that crashed in Arizona on Wednesday, law enforcement officials said.

A twin-engine Beechcraft plane owned and piloted by 45-year-old David Tuntland of Cedar Park crashed outside of Holbrook, Ariz. around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday.

Tuntland was killed in the crash, along with 42-year-old Catherine A. Gordon of Cedar Park, 21-year-old Kyle Peters of Santa Rosa, Calif., and another unidentified person from Cedar Park, said Cmdr. Bob Sutton of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.

Sutton said the marijuana was found by Federal Aviation Administration investigators along with a “substantial” amount of cash. He said he believed the items were placed in the rear of the plane, which escaped much of the damage.

Sutton said that Texas law enforcement officials had been monitoring the plane for illegal activities.

“We did have words from Texas state police that they had been watching it for a while,” Sutton said.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger could not confirm whether state law enforcement officials were monitoring the plane late Thursday night.

The name of the fourth crash victim is being withheld pending notification of family, Sutton said. No one else was injured in the crash.

The plane was on its way to Lago Vista from Santa Rosa, Calif., but had stopped in Holbrook to refuel. The pilot said he was sick to his stomach and had to lie down while the plane was being refueled, according to a statement from the Navajo County sheriff’s office.

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Child has life-threatening injuries after being struck by car

A child was struck by a vehicle at the 6800 block of Manor Road this afternoon, and is being treated for life-threatening injuries at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

The eight-year-old child was struck after running across the street and being hit by a car, police said.

The roadways at Ed Bluestein Boulevard and Manor Road were shut down earlier this evening, police said.

The child’s name and condition were unavailable Thursday evening.

Permalink | Categories: Injury accidents

Police looking for driver who crashed into apartment

Police are looking for a driver who crashed into a West Campus apartment early Wednesday. There were no injuries.

Witnesses saw several people get out of a car that crashed into an apartment at 2704 Rio Grande St., police Cpl. Scott Perry said today.

The people who got out of the car pushed it out of the apartment, down the street and then abandoned it a short distance later, Perry said.

Ashley Zapata, 21, said Thursday that it was her apartment the car crashed into at the Jefferson West apartment complex.

Zapata said she wasn’t home at the time but got a call about 1:50 a.m. Wednesday from a friend about what happened. The car drove part of the way through her bedroom destroying furniture, her iPhone, a computer and computer printer, she said.

Zapata said she doesn’t have renters insurance.

“We have been in contact with the attorney of the responsible party and are working with the authorities to aid their investigation in any way that we can,” according to a statement from the apartment management.

The statement said Zapata and her roommate have been provided with new apartments.

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Man charged in Monday crash on I-35

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Austin police have arrested a man who is accused of injuring his wife in a crash about 2:30 a.m. Monday on Interstate 35 near 46th Street, according to arrest affidavits.

Luis Alberto Orellana-Sanchez, 27, has been charged with intoxication assault and aggravated assault, the documents show. His wife, Sheyla Garcia-Mann, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in critical condition, police said. She had massive swelling of the brain and was placed in an induced coma, the affidavits said.

Officers say Orellana-Sanchez told them he was driving a black Mazda Protege north on the interstate when he tried to pass a tractor-trailer, the affidavits say. He hit the back of the trailer, lost control, and the car hit a concrete barrier wall, the documents say.

The tractor-trailer did not stop, the affidavits said. Nobody else was injured.

Orellana-Sanchez told officers that he and his wife had been drinking at a club downtown, the affidavits said.

He is in the Travis County Jail on $45,000 bail, court records show.

Permalink | Categories: Injury accidents

Operation targets ‘open-air drug market’

Thirty-five people — who had more than 1,200 arrests between them — have been issued with arrest warrants for delivery of a controlled substance following an Austin police undercover operation in East Austin, police said.

By Thursday afternoon, 14 of those people had been arrested and police were searching for the other 21, officials said. The 60-day operation targeted what police called an “open-air drug market” at 12th and Chicon streets.

“You have robberies and various other crimes that happen in that area as result of drug sales,” said police Sgt. Robert Jones.

The drug sold in that area was primarily crack, Jones said. The operation was spurred by resident complaints in the area.

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Police announce East Austin drug dealer arrests, warrants

35 people — who had over 1,200 prior arrests between them — have been issued arrest warrants for delivery of a controlled substance following an Austin police undercover operation in East Austin.

By Thursday afternoon, 14 people had been arrested and police were searching for another 21, officials said. The 60-day operation targeted what police called an “open-air drug market” at 12th and Chicon streets, officials said.

“You have robberies and various other crimes that happen in that area as result of drug sales,” said police Sgt. Robert Jones.

The drug sold in that area was primarily crack, Jones said. The operation was spurred by resident complaints in the area.

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Man arrested in fatal hit-and-run, police say

A 30-year-old man was arrested this morning in connection with a fatal hit-and-run crash yesterday morning that killed a construction worker on South Interstate 35, police said today.

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David Delacerda, at right, was arrested by San Antonio police after he was released from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Austin police said.

He had checked himself into South Austin Hospital on Wednesday morning with burns on his body, officials said. He was transported to the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center and was released today, police said. He is in the Bexar County Jail, police said.

The wreck happened about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 11400 block of southbound Interstate 35, police said.

Police said a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle ran through a clearly marked construction zone and hit the worker near Onion Creek Parkway. The driver fled the scene, and nobody else was injured, police said.

The worker has been identified as Fontino Cortes-Cruz, 36, police said.

The SUV went south after the crash, and Austin police notified Hays County officials to be on the lookout for the vehicle, said Sgt. Richard Stresing with the Austin Police Department.

Hays County sheriff’s deputies found a burned dark-colored SUV outside of Kyle about 4 a.m., Stresing said.

Shortly after, police received a call from South Austin Hospital that a man with burns on his body had checked into the hospital, Stresing said.

Cortes-Cruz was part of a crew that was repaving the interstate, said Marcus Cooper, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He had been laying reflective tabs on the highway when he was hit, Cooper said.

Permalink | Categories: Injury accidents

Plane that crashed in Arizona registered to Cedar Park man

A plane that crashed outside of Holbrook, Ariz., last night on its way to Lago Vista, killing four people on board, was registered to David Tuntland of Cedar Park, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The twin-engine Beechcraft was headed toward Lago Vista, but a preliminary investigation showed that the plane crashed shortly after takeoff about a quarter mile east of the Holbrook Airport about 6 p.m. Central Time, according to the FAA. The plane burst into flames on impact.

The passengers have not yet been identified.

Officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board plan to begin investigating the crash at 11 a.m. Central Time, and will then arrange to take the wreckage to a salvage yard in Phoenix to conduct a more thorough investigation, said FAA spokesman Roland Herwig.

A call to Tuntland’s house in Cedar Park has not been returned.

According to flightaware.com, a Web site that tracks commercial and private flights that have flight plans filed, the plane departed from the Lakeway air park about 10 a.m. Tuesday on its way to Holbrook, Ariz. The plane later flew to Santa Rosa, Calif.

For more information, click here.

Photo: Tammy Gray-Searles/The Tribune-News

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73-year-old accused of pointing gun at men after golf game

A 73-year-old man has been arrested after being accused of aiming a loaded handgun at several men after a golf game.

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Edwin Dailey, at right, who has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, got into a confrontation with three men at the ninth hole of the Lions Municipal Golf Course on Enfield Drive on Monday afternoon because he thought they were playing too slowly, an arrest affidavit said. The argument continued to the 13th hole when Dailey told the men he would get his gun and “make them both equal,” the affidavit said.

After finishing the game, Dailey and the others ended up in the parking lot where he provoked another argument with the men, the affidavit said. Dailey pointed an automatic handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets at one of the men and screamed, “If I feel threatened, I am morally obligated to destroy you,” according to the affidavit.

Dailey left the scene but was apprehended by an Austin city marshal, who found the handgun as well as another gun in Dailey’s Ford Focus, the affidavit said. He was not in custody Wednesday.

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Suspect in eight local robberies arrested, police say

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Austin police and members of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force have arrested a man who is a suspect in robberies of eight local businesses, including a Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union branch on Ben White Boulevard on June 12, police said today.

Tommy Fox, 40, turned himself in at the Austin Police Department headquarters on June 16 after he saw his picture on television and knew police were looking for him, said Sgt. Brian Miller.

Fox used the same mode of operation in each robbery, according to Miller, which included entering the businesses around 3 a.m. and asking for cigarettes behind the counter. The clerks turned around to retrieve the cigarettes, Miller said, and when they turned around, Fox showed them a knife and demanded money. Fox sometimes wore the same clothing for some robberies, Miller said.

Although Fox has not spoken with police, Miller said, the violent crimes task force has linked Fox to all eight robberies.

Fox will be tried through the federal system for the robberies, and is currently being held in the Travis County Jail on $100,000 bail, police said.

Fox has family in the Austin area and has been an off-and-on resident for several years, said Miller, but he is also wanted for a probation violation in Colorado. Police could not comment on the nature of Fox’s felony charges in Colorado.

He is suspected of the following robberies:

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Hays County officials: “John Doe” ID’d

UPDATE: The below man has been identified as David Prichard, 34, of Coleman. After local media published Prichard’s photo, the Hays County sheriff’s office received several calls, two of which led to identifying Prichard. Prichard remains in the Hays County jail.

EARLIER: Do you know this man?

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The Hays County Sheriff’s Office wants your help to figure out who he is.

The man, who is described as an approximately 40-year-old white male, is sitting in the Hays County jail after being arrested at 11 a.m. Monday by Texas State University Police on charges of public intoxication, officials say. According to sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Leroy Opiela, the man won’t tell police his name.

“John Doe” is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He has been charged with public intoxication and failure to identify himself, and his bond was set at $2,500, Opiela said.

The sheriff’s office ran his fingerprints through the Texas Department of Public Safety databases, Opiela said, but did not find a match. The man also has never had a photo taken for a Texas identification card, Opiela said. Searches of federal databases are under way, he said.

Anyone with information about this man’s identity should call the Hays County sheriff’s dispatch at (512) 393-7896.

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Construction worker killed by hit-and-run driver

Austin police are investigating a fatal accident that killed a construction worker on southbound Interstate 35 about 1:30 this morning.

Police said a dark-colored sport-utility vehicle ran through a clearly marked construction zone and hit the worker in the 11400 block of I-35, near Onion Creek Parkway. The driver fled the scene, and nobody else was injured, police said.

The worker has been identified as Fontino Cortes-Cruz, 36, police said.

The SUV went south after the crash, and Austin police notified Hays County officials to be on the lookout for the vehicle, said Sgt. Richard Stresing with the Austin Police Department.

Hays County sheriff’s deputies found a burned dark-colored SUV outside of Kyle about 4 a.m., Stresing said.

Shortly after, police received a call from South Austin Hospital that a man with burns on his body had checked into the hospital, Stresing said.

Police are interviewing him as a person of interest in the crash, Stresing said.

Cortes-Cruz was part of a crew that was repaving the interstate, said Marcus Cooper, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He had been laying reflective tabs on the highway when he was hit, Cooper said.


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Killeen police seek man who robbed store at gunpoint

Killeen police are looking for a man who robbed a Handy Pawn store on Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard on Monday, police said in a statement.

According to the statement, a man entered the store at 1405 E. Veteran’s Memorial Blvd. about 10 a.m. and demanded money from the clerk at gunpoint. The man then told the clerk to lie on the floor while he went around the counter, broke the glass showcase where handguns were being displayed and put several of the guns in his backpack, the statement said.

He left the store on foot, police said. Nobody was injured in the robbery, the statement said.

Anyone with information is asked to call (254) 501-8800, police said.


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Man drowns swimming at Kerrville park

Kerrville police said a 23-year-old man drowned early Tuesday morning while swimming in the Guadalupe River at Louise Hays Park, officer Paul Gonzales said in a statement.

Jorge Montalvo was fishing with friends from the Tranquility Island Bridge when he went into the water to swim about 1 a.m., the statement said. Montalvo’s friends said he was swimming toward the island when he became distressed and went under the water, it said. A friend jumped into the water but was unable to pull him from the surface, Gonzales said.

After a search, Montalvo’s body was pulled from the river, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said.


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Person injured after being struck by train

A person was injured last night when they were struck by a train in the 1100 block of West Riverside Drive, near Lamar Boulevard, about 10 p.m., officials said.

The person was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge with serious injuries that were not considered life-threatening, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services. It was unclear whether the victim was a man or woman, he said.


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Police: Narcotics bust in East Austin

Austin police this morning conducted a narcotics bust at the Walnut Creek Apartments, 6409 Springdale Road, the same complex where a 19-year-old man was fatally shot by police in May.

Police Cpl. Scott Perry said the department’s organized crime, SWAT and metro response teams arrived at the complex near Manor Road in East Austin about 7:30 a.m.

Perry said police served numerous search and arrest warrants for known narcotics in the area. He said the operation included surveillance and undercover investigating but he said he did not know when the investigation began.

The operation went smoothly without a confrontation between police and residents, he said, unlike the police-involved shooting that killed Nathaniel Sanders on May 11.

Sanders was shot in a car parked outside of the complex by officer Leonardo Quintana. Quintana shot Sanders, police said, after Sanders awoke and reached for a weapon. The car Sanders was in matched the description of a car involved with gunfire at an East Austin apartment complex, police said.

Within a couple of hours, residents and other onlookers outside the apartments had begun smashing patrol car windows and hurling bottles and other objects at officers and investigators.

Police Chief Art Acevedo later apologized at a community forum for the length of time — about five hours — that Sanders’ body remained at the scene.


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Police: Greenbelt suicide slows traffic

Austin police officials say an investigation into a suicide near the Barton Creek greenbelt is slowing down afternoon traffic on MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) in South Austin.

The suicide occurred around 4:30 p.m. on the greenbelt off the highway near Loop 360, officials said. Traffic in the area is currently backed up.

A wreck on Texas 71 near Brodie Lane also may be slowing down the afternoon ride home.

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Travis County inmate dies in jail, officials say

Travis County officials said today that an inmate was found dead in his cell at the Travis County Jail on Sunday.

Roger Wade, a spokesman with the Travis County Sheriff’s office, said Justin Lee Edwards, 29, was facing charges of indecency with a child and was brought to the jail on June 3.

An initial report from the medical examiner’s office indicates that the manner of death was suicide, Wade said.

Wade said there will be an investigation by the Major Crimes Unit and the Internal Affairs Unit of the Sheriff’s Office. This is the first death in the Travis County Jail in 2009, he said.

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Man accused of assaulting another man with pocket knife

An Austin man has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for pulling out a pocket knife after a man asked him for change, an arrest affidavit says.

Richard Cordova, 36, was walking out of a CVS Pharmacy at 500 South Congress Ave. on Friday when Daniel Garrett, who was sitting outside, asked Cordova if he could spare any change, the affidavit says.

It says Cordova turned around and asked Garrett what he said, and Garrett asked him for some change, the affidavit says. Cordova then pulled a knife out of his pocket, according to the affidavit, and jabbed it toward Garrett a few times.

Garrett called police when Cordova left, police said. Cordova had thrown the pocket knife close to a nearby bus stop, where police found him and arrested him, the affidavit says.

Cordova is charged with felony aggravated assault and could receive a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison if he is convicted. He remained in the Travis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $10,000.

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Two men accused of robbing game room

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While Austin police were serving a search warrant at a game room in East Austin, officers quickly learned that the game room had been robbed just minutes before by two men who were already being detained, according to an arrest affidavit.

Witnesses told police that two men walked into the business at 3000 Montopolis Drive, walked around several of the games and then pulled a handgun on a female employee, the affidavit says.

The men are identified by police as 25-year-old Dennis Desdunes, top, and 32-year-old Terry Shaw. Shaw held the gun, which turned out to be a pellet gun, while Desdunes grabbed money from her apron, the affidavit says.

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The men tried to leave the business, but the doors were locked, the affidavit said. It says police came in minutes later.

Both men were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony. They both remained in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $35,000.

Austin police spokesman Cpl. Scott Perry said the game room, which is suspected of conducting illegal activities, is no longer open. No one has been arrested as result of the search warrant, and details of the game room’s activities have not been released due to the ongoing investigation, Perry said.

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Woman critically injured in wreck on Interstate 35

Austin police said this morning that a woman is in critical condition after the car she was a passenger in crashed into a wall of northbound Interstate 35 near 46th Street about 2:30 a.m. The man driving the car was taken into custody under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, police Sgt. Richard Stresing said.

The woman was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with critical injuries, Stresing said. It is unclear whether the driver received any injuries, he said.

Police are still on the scene investigating the crash. The roadway had been closed while crews investigated the crash.

Stresing said all of the skid marks on that part of the roadway made the scene difficult to process. In addition to the tire marks already on that stretch of road, there were other skid marks left as cars coming up after the crash swerved to avoid hitting the car, Stresing said.

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Man found in bottom of backyard pool

UPDATE: Austin-Travis County EMS workers say the man found on the bottom of a backyard swimming pool has regained his pulse and is being taken to South Austin Medical Center.

Details on the circumstances surrounding the incident were not released.

EARLIER: Emergency workers are at the scene of a near-drowning at a backyard pool in far southern Travis County.

According to Austin-Travis County EMS, a 56-year-old man was found at the bottom of the pool on Hermosa Drive. CPR was being performed on him.

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One died in Coryell County collision

A 68-year-old man died Saturday afternoon in Coryell County when the Honda sedan he was driving crossed into oncoming traffic on U.S. 84.

Burna Frank Battles, of Gatesville, was headed west on U.S. 84 about 12 miles east of Gatesville, located north of Fort Hood, according to Texas Department of Public Safety reports. Battles’ Honda veered off of the road, then he over-corrected and hit a Ford vehicle head-on in the eastbound lane, according to police reports.

Battles was pronounced dead at the scene. Two people in the Ford were taken to nearby hospitals with severe injuries, according to officials.


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Families of dead construction workers file lawsuits

The families of two men killed in the July 10 deaths of three workers at the 21 Rio apartment project filed separate civil lawsuits in Travis County Friday.

The suits claim that companies involved in the construction project failed to provide proper safety equipment or properly maintain the work platform the men were standing on when they fell. Raudel Ramirez Camacho, 27, of Mexico, and Wilson Joel Irias Cerritos, 30, and Jesus Angel Lopez Perez, 28, both of Honduras, died when they fell about 11 stories.

The lawsuits, filed by the families of Ramirez and Irias, name Andres Construction Services, LLC, Andres Holding Corp., Greater Metroplex Interiors, Inc. and Mast Climber Manufacturing Inc. The suits seek an unspecified amount of money.

Representatives of the companies could not be reached for comment late Friday. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the June 10 accident and has up to six months to complete its investigation.

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Controlled burn expected in Kyle tomorrow morning

The Kyle Fire Department will conduct a controlled burn at 9 a.m. Saturday in the field north of Wallace Middle School and between Old Stagecoach and Rebel roads, city spokesman Jerry Hendrix said. The burn should be over by noon, Hendrix said.

The burn will be in preparation for a July 4 fireworks show, Hendrix said. It will take place near the Hometown Kyle subdivision, he said.

The fire department is asking nearby residents: * Be aware that the Kyle Fire Department and Kyle Police Department will be on the scene and to only call 911 if you feel the fire is getting too close to your home.

The burn will be moved to Sunday if it cannot happen Saturday, Hendrix said.

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Police: man stole identity, used credit card to pay traffic fines

Austin police are searching for a man who is accused of using his former employer’s name and Social Security number to open a credit card account, which he used in part to pay his traffic fines last year, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police say Gary Wayne Murray, 37, of Austin, opened an account in his former employer’s name in August but used his own home address in Hutto for the billing address, according to an arrest affidavit. A few days later, he requested a second card issued with his name on it, the document said.

Murray charged more than $10,000, the document says. Three of the charges in September were made to the City of Austin for traffic violations, the document said. Murray was arrested as part of a citywide warrant roundup and used the card to pay off the traffic violations, Police Sgt. Justin Newsom said.

Murray is not in police custody and his bail is set at $10,000.

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Police investigating early morning fatal stabbing

Austin police are investigating a homicide that happened earlier this morning at an East Austin apartment complex, officials said.

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Cpl. Scott Perry said police responded to a disturbance call about 2:45 a.m. at Vista Lago Apartments at 2215 Town Lake Circle. He said the caller reported that two men were fighting.

Police arrived to find Jerry Duane Still, 32, had been fatally stabbed, police said. A second man, who police say is a person of interest in the investigation, was taken downtown to be interviewed, Sgt. Richard Stresing said. He has not been charged, Stresing said, and was released later that day.

Perry also said the two men knew each other, but their relationship was not yet known. Police are not saying what Still was stabbed with pending an investigation.

Numerous witnesses are being questioned, and it is unknown whether the men lived at the complex.

Details of the incident are not yet being released, Perry said, but more information is expected later today. He said the name of the victim should be released sometime today.

Check back for updates.

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19-year-old drowns in Lake Pflugerville, police say

UPDATE 9:20 p.m.: Divers have recovered the man’s body. He has been identified as Noe Camacho, 19 years of age from Austin.

This is the first drowning at Lake Pflugerville since it was opened.

Police said a 19-year-old man drowned this afternoon in Lake Pflugerville while swimming with friends.

Pflugerville Assistant Police Chief Jim McLean said the man disappeared under the water about 125 feet from shore in an area known as Pier #4. McLean said the water was 20 to 25 feet deep where the drowning occurred.

McLean said a group of teenagers were eating by the lake and had thrown cans into the lake. When they finished eating, McLean said, they went to retrieve the cans. While swimming, they cramped up, he said. The victim grabbed the back of another teen, who was also cramping up, and they both went under the water, the assistant chief said. The victim ended up letting go and drowned, he said.

Police received a 911 call at 1:55 p.m., McLean said. He said a dive team from the Travis County sheriff’s office was on the way to help recover the body. The victim’s name was not released pending notification of his family.

It was the first drowning in the 3-year-old lake, McLean said.

Trevor Nunnelee, a senior at Connally High School, said that when he arrived at the lake, he was told about the drowning, which had just happened, and that he dove into the lake to help. Nunnelee said it was hard to see because the water was so murky.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: A teenager who happened upon the scene of an apparent drowning at Lake Pflugerville said the missing teen sank into the water about 15 to 20 feet from a dock.

Trevor Nunnelee, a Connally High School senior, said that when arrived at the lake, his friend ran up to him asking for help. Nunnelee said that Hector Martinez told him that he and a friend had swam across the lake and that his friend had become tired on the way back.

UPDATE 1:36 p.m.: As of 2:25 p.m., the Pflugerville Water Rescue incident has been changed to “recovery” mode. The victim has been under water for more than 40 minutes.

EARLIER:Authorities are looking for an 18-year-old man who was last seen swimming in Lake Pflugerville this afternoon, officials say.

Callers reported the incident about 2 p.m., officials said. The man is missing in about 18 feet of water, they said.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, STARFlight, and the Pflugerville police and fire departments are helping in the search. Two Pflugerville police officers are in the water, officials said.

Check back for more updates.

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Paramedics respond to near-drowning at apartment pool

Paramedics with Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services pulled a “profoundly unconscious” 27-year-old woman from a pool at the Riata Trace Apartments in Northwest Austin this afternoon, EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said.

First-responders were called to the apartments in the 12300 block of Riata Trace Parkway at 4:42 p.m., Hassinger said. “She was initially unresponsive, but she was not in cardiac arrest,” he said.

She was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she was unconscious until she arrived at the hospital, Hassinger said. He said the patient was awake and alert upon arrival, but he did not know her condition as of 5:30 p.m.

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Woman accused in sex assaults extradited from Mexico, officials say

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Mariana Garcia, an Austin woman who along with her boyfriend is accused of videotaping the sexual assault of two children, was booked into Travis County Jail this afternoon after being extradited from Mexico, said Hector Gomez, deputy U.S. marshal.

She had been in custody in Mexico City since February, days after her boyfriend, Adrian Navarro, 29, was arrested Jan. 30 in Austin. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault and promotion of child pornography. Garcia is charged with aggravated sexual assault.

She was formally extradited by the Mexican government earlier this week, Gomez said, and was flown to Austin today. U.S. marshals booked her into the Travis County Jail, he said.

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An affidavit said that a detective went to Garcia’s apartment on Jan. 22 during a search for stolen property. The detective found a computer hard drive and paper photos deemed to be child pornography.

The affidavit said Navarro agreed to answer questions and said he got the pornography from a relative and had been meaning to throw it away.

On one hard drive, detectives found more than 500 pictures and more than 15 videos of child pornography, the affidavit said.

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Army truck rolls over on MoPac

A military truck rolled over about noon today on MoPac (Loop 1) at the intersection of Capital of Texas HIghway (Loop 360), police said.

There were no injuries. The truck rolled over into a ditch and is not blocking traffic, said Sgt. Richard Stresing of the Austin Police Department. The cause of the rollover has not yet been determined, he said. There were two people in the truck, he said.

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Marshals arrest fugitive at carnival

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U.S. Marshals arrested a man last month who is accused of more than three sexual assaults, all in different states, according to Hector Gomez, a spokesman with the U.S. Marshals.

Gomez said 44-year-old Clint Crisp was working at a small carnival in the parking lot of Lakeline Mall. He said Crisp is accused of child molestation and aggravated sexual robbery in Georgia; another sex-related offense in Myrtle Beach; a sexual assault and vehicle theft in Florida; and he was on probation in Florida.

The U.S. Marshals office in Athens, Ga. contacted the Austin office with information that Crisp was working for a carnival and could be traveling through Texas, Gomez said, and a quick search found that a carnival was in Austin. The marshals then went undercover and interviewed a man working a game booth that fit Crisp’s description, Gomez said.

Crisp was arrested on May 22 and taken to the Williamson County Jail, where he awaiting extradition to Georgia.

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Man accused of burglary, sexual assault

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Austin police have arrested a man who they say forced his way into her apartment after she had taken sleeping pills and then sexually assaulted her, according to an arrest affidavit.

Luther Adcock, 48, was at an apartment with two women near Interstate 35 and 51st Street on May 22, the affidavit says. The woman told police she had just taken her sleeping medications, the affidavit says.

The woman left the apartment to return home, in the same complex, and the affidavit says that Adcock followed her.

Adcock forced his way into her apartment and sexually assaulted her, the document says. It says Adcock left and the woman called police once she woke up.

Adcock faces first-degree felony charges of burglary of a residence with intent to commit sexual assault. He was arrested Wednesday and remained in the Travis County Jail Thursday with bail set at $30,000.

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Man accused of breaking another man’s jaw outside downtown bar

A man is in custody after police say he hit another man in the face during a downtown altercation early Monday morning, allegedly breaking the man’s jaw in four places.

Kenneth Wayne Perkins, 36, has been charged with aggravated assault. According to his arrest affidavit, Perkins got into an altercation with Joseph Solis at the Fuze nightclub at 5th and Neches streets around 1:45 a.m. The affidavit said Solis was intoxicated and tried to touch Perkins, so Perkins punched him in the face.

Perkins ran from the club and was chased down by officers. He remained in custody at the Travis County Jail Wednesday night where his bond was set at $25,000.

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Man accused of kicking 2-year-old in face

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An Austin man has been arrested and charged with injury to a child after police say he kicked his 2-year-old daughter in the face and bit her, according to an arrest affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Ricardo Luna, 23, was arguing with the girl’s mother in her apartment at 1601 Montopolis Drive about 5 a.m. May 17 when he bit the girl’s cheek. The woman told officers that Luna later kicked the girl in the face while she was sitting on the floor crying, the affidavit said.

Luna was arrested May 28 on charges of assault causing bodily injury to a family member in connection with injuries the mother received, said Will Pursley, a detective with the Austin Police Department. He was charged with injury to a child Tuesday, Pursley said. He also has been charged with making a terroristic threat, court records show. He is in the Travis County Jail on $200,000 bail, records show.

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Rockdale man sentenced to 10 years for child pornography

FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

John E. Murphy, Acting United States Attorney, announced that Frank Sanchez, Jr., of Rockdale, Texas, was sentenced this afternoon to ten years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.

In addition to the prison term, Chief United States District Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr., ordered that Sanchez pay a $1,000 fine and be placed under supervised release for eight years after completing his prison term. On April 30, 2009, Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

According to court records, over several weeks beginning in March 2008, Sanchez was involved in internet chat conversations with someone he believed was a 13-year-old girl, but in reality was an undercover law enforcement officer.

On October 14, 2008, authorities executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence and seized his personal computer and related media. A subsequent forensic examination revealed the presence of over 7,400 images and more than 80 videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

This case was investigated by the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s office. Assistant United States Attorney Greg Gloff prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.

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Austin construction worker killed in Louisiana accident, officials say

An Austin construction worker who was killed in a construction accident on a bridge near New Orleans has been identified this week as 26-year-old Martin Reyes Osuno.

Osuno died Friday after falling 75 to 80 feet to the ground from the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

A 33-year-old worker from Louisiana also died when the steel rebar cage the men were working on gave way, the sheriff’s office said.

Osuno’s last known address was Austin, but his relatives live in Mexico, according to the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office. The coroner’s office declined to release information about where the relatives lived in Mexico.

Crews have been working to expand the 74-year-old bridge, New Orleans’ Times-Picayune reported.

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Police: Use 911 only for emergency calls

In light of a call to 911 complaining about live music at Shady Grove on Thursday, we asked police whether people should use 911 or 311 to make such a complaint.

“We ask that people use 311 for non-emergency situations,” police spokeswoman Veneza Aguiñaga said.

However, “If a 311 call rises to a level that it … requires an officer’s response, it will be forwarded to 911 or police dispatch so that officers can respond appropriately,” she said.

She said that if people abuse 911, they could be investigated.

“We set up 311 so we don’t tie up 911,” she said.

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Body found near North Lamar not investigated as homicide, police say

Police are not investigating the death of a man behind a mattress store in the 8400 block of North Lamar Boulevard as a homicide, police spokeswoman Veneza Aguiñaga said.

She did not have any more information.

The man’s body was discovered after a 911 call was made from an area payphone around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The man’s name has not been released.

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21-year-old killed in fiery Llano County crash

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A 21-year-old Temple man was killed in a fiery car wreck Sunday night off Texas 71 in Llano County following a police chase, officials said.

Gregory Neil Jaffers died when his car left the roadway, rolled several times and caught fire, police said.

A Llano police officer attempted to pull over Jaffers’ gold 2002 Toyota Avalon about 10 p.m. after it was clocked going 101 mph on Texas 71 through town, Llano Police Chief James Schilling said.

A short chase pursued that ended when the officer lost sight of the Avalon past the city limits, Schilling said.

A Llano County sheriff’s deputy spotted the car on fire with Jaffers in it in a low area off the side of the road, Schilling said. Jaffers was the only person in the car, and there were no other injuries during the chase, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

Jaffers was wearing a seat belt, said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is handling the investigation.

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Charges filed against men involved in fatal crash

Austin police have filed charges against two men who were in a car that crashed in Northeast Austin last week as police say it fled the scene of a theft, killing the driver, according to an arrest affidavit.

On June 11, police responded to a call of tires being stolen off a car at a home on Gaelic Drive around 4:20 a.m. and saw a car that matched a suspect description leaving the scene, the affidavit said.

The affidavit says Walter Hernandez, 17, and Marco Vasquez-Rojas, 20, were passengers in the car, which was driven by Luis Fernando Ramirez, 28. Ramirez died after crashing into a tree at a high rate of speed on Harris Branch Parkway, police said. The tires that were reported missing were found in the car, the document says.

Rojas and Hernandez were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge. The two face felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and face up to two years in a state jail if they are convicted.

It was unclear Wednesday if the two had been arrested. Both have bail set at $5,000.

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Police: man lured from club by women, robbed at knifepoint

Austin police are searching for two women and three men who robbed a man at gunpoint, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police said Victoria Garcia, 23, and Angelica Ramirez, 28, were at Club Carnaval at 2237 E. Riverside Drive last month where they met the victim, who police did not name.

Ramirez told the victim that Garcia wanted to have sex with him and they all left the club together around midnight on May 23 and went to a residence on Weathers Lane, the affidavit said. Garcia took the victim into a room, where three masked men carrying guns and knives entered, according to the affidavit.

One of the men put a knife to the victim’s neck, asked for money, and tied his feet and hands together. The men took the victim’s wallet, car keys and and telephone and fled in his car, the affidavit says.

Garcia came into the room and cut him free, according to the affidavit.

Garcia and Ramirez have been charged with felony aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, which carries a maximum of life in prison if convicted. Police said the women are not in custody and bail has been set at $20,000.

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Police investigating body found behind mattress store

Austin police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found behind a mattress store at the 8400 block of North Lamar Boulevard.

The man’s body was discovered after a 911 call was made from an area payphone around 7:30 p.m.

Officials said the man, whose name was not released. may have been a homeless person who fell from a retaining wall near the store.

More details to come.

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Man sought after argument in river

Police are searching for a man who was involved in an argument Tuesday night with a woman while they were standing in the Colorado River near the Montopolis Bridge in Southeast Austin. The woman was not injured, police said.

Police initially received a call at 6:04 p.m. that a man was choking a woman and dunking her head under water, said Lt. Wayne Demoss. When an officer arrived, he saw a woman in waist-deep water who was agitated and who began yelling at him, said police Cmdr. John Hutto.

The current began to take the woman downstream, and officer David Easley became concerned for her safety, Hutto said. Easley pulled a life vest from his patrol car, Hutto said, and put it on the woman. The officer floated downstream with the woman for about 300 yards before he found a safe place to pull her out of the water.

A police helicopter also followed them downstream, and the Austin Fire Department had two boats readied for a rescue.

The man, 31-year-old Saul Mendoza, has not been found, officials said.

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Day care director says parent hit teacher

Austin police said they are investigating a report of a physical assault by a parent on a teacher at a Southeast Austin day care center Monday.

Patricia Smith, director of the Little Dudes Learning Centers, said a parent attacked a teacher at the center on 4905 Maufrais Lane about 5:30 p.m.

Smith said the father walked into the day care and hit a pre-K teacher once over the head before calling him derogatory names. She said the teacher ran toward another classroom and the father chased him, in front of other children and parents.

The police were called, Smith said, but no arrest was made.

Police spokesman Richard Stresing said the man was not arrested because the assault did not occur in front of an officer, and those involved gave conflicting stories about what happened.

The case is being investigated by detectives, Stresing said, who will issue an arrest warrant if they determine an assault has taken place.

“This was very disturbing and I need to find someone who can help take care of my teachers because we have experienced a very traumatic situation. I don’t want to lose my staff,” Smith said.” I fee like this has been minimalized by police.”

She said the teacher who was struck had been at the center for two years, and had no prior complaints about him.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the center had been investigated for minor inspection violations within the past two years. Van Deusen said the office received a report Monday from the center that a child had told his father that one of the teachers had hit him.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Colorado man sought in pharmacy robbery

Austin police are looking for a man who they say robbed a CVS Pharmacy at 3569 Far West Blvd. about 3:15 a.m. Thursday, according to an affidavit.

The man entered the store and threatened the cashier with a knife and asked the cashier for money, the document said. The cashier gave him money from the cash register and then the man left the store, the document says.

Police say they reviewed security footage of that pharmacy robbery, as well as another robbery in Austin the next day, and saw that it was the same suspect.

Tommy Fox, 40, a Colorado resident, had previously been arrested on felony charges and had violated the terms of his parole, the document says. When Fox’s parole officer saw the images, he identified the person involved in both robberies as Fox.

Fox has not been arrested, officials say, but he has been charged with aggravated robbery. Bail has been set at $100,000.

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Accused car robber nabbed

Austin police have arrested and charged a man who they say took place in a car robbery that happened in April 2009 in an Austin apartment complex, according to an arrest affidavit.

At about 2:05 a.m. April 17, a man stopped to get gas at the Tigermart Gas Station at the corner of Ed Bluestein Boulevard and Loyola Lane and was approached by a man and a woman who asked him for a ride.

The man drove them to an apartment complex, located at the 1700 block of Patton Lane. When they arrived, the passengers began to beat the man and stole the car, according to the affidavit.

An ambulance took the man to Brackenridge Hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained in the alleged attack.

The vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, was involved in a collision eight hours after the robbery.

The document says witnesses saw the driver of the car leave the scene and run into a nearby gas station. Austin police apprehended the driver of the stolen vehicle, William Bell, 19, the document says.

Bell has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and is being held at the Travis County Jail, officials say. Bail is set at $75,000.

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Williamson County deputies investigating suspicious death

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the suspicious death of a man found near Ronald Reagan Boulevard about half a mile from Texas 29, sheriff’s office spokesman John Foster said.

The man has not been identified, Foster said. Construction workers called 911 at 9:22 this morning after finding the body next to a red pickup in the corner of a field, Foster said. Investigators think the truck belonged to the man.

His body was badly decomposed, Foster said. An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death, he said.

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East Austin house fire quickly knocked down, official says

Austin fire crews have knocked down a fire in the 500 block of East 14 1/2 Street near Airport Boulevard that was first called in about 11:20 a.m., an official said.

The fire started in a shed on the property and spread to the house, the official said.

There were no reports of injuries, the official said.

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Man accused of fourth DWI, police say

A New Braunfels man was arrested Sunday in connection with what police say is his fourth charge of driving while intoxicated, according to an arrest affidavit.

Austin police say a witness alerted them to a gold pickup driving unsafely on North Interstate 35, swerving between lanes and cutting off traffic, according to the affidavit. Officers saw the truck nearly hit a car and a motorcycle, the affidavit said.

The pickup was pulled over, and Edward Amaro, 43, was arrested after police say he failed a field sobriety test, according to the affidavit.

He remained in the Travis County Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $12,000.

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Truck crashes into East Austin church, police say

Austin police say a vehicle swerved into another vehicle and crashed into Mount Olive Baptist Church at 1800 E. 11th St. in East Austin about 6 p.m. Monday, leaving a small hole in the side of the church.

Rev. William Blackwell, a youth minister with the church, said the pickup truck drove into his office and damaged bookcases and a new popcorn popper. He said that another car ran into a sign and moved it about a foot.

One of the drivers fled the scene on foot and has not been arrested, police said. The driver of the truck was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with unknown injuries. There were no arrests, police said.

Gwen Craddock, a clerk at the church, said that the church is awaiting a police report so they can file an insurance claim. No damage estimates were immediately available.

The hole has been patched with plywood this morning. Blackwell estimated that the hole is about 2 feet by 3 feet wide.


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Police helicopter looking for oak wilt near 2222, Loop 360

A police helicopter circling above the area around Loop 360 and FM 2222 is not searching for fugitives but for oak wilt, said Sgt. Richard Stresing with the Austin Police Department.

The helicopter has a biologist on board to survey the Balcones Canyonland Preserve to determine if past treatments for the tree fungus have been effective and to possibly spot new areas of contamination.

This is the second day of the operation that is expected to last another day, Stresing said.

Oak wilt is a tree fungus that can kill oaks within months and is often diagnosed by discolored leaves, according to the Texas Forest Service. Treatment involves digging deep trenches to prevent the spread of the fungus as well as expensive fungicide injections, the forest service said.

The federal government requires the city to monitor the spread of oak wilt in the preserve, said Kevin Buchman, a spokesman with the Austin Water Utility. Using helicopters is a more efficient way to study the preserve, which covers about 13,000 acres, he said.

“They can see from a helicopter in three days what it would take weeks or even months to see on the ground,” Buchman said.

Using police helicopters rather than contracting with a company saves the city about $15,000, Buchman said.

The city used a police helicopter two years ago to study oak wilt at the preserve, Buchman said.

“We want the public to know the helicopter is being used, but if we need it to fight crime, we can break away,” Stresing said.

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Police: Helicopter looking for oak wilt near 2222, Loop 360

If you’ve seen a Austin Police Department helicopter flying above the area around Loop 360 and FM 2222, it’s not up there looking for bad guys, it’s looking for oak wilt.

The city has a biologist on board who is looking for signs of the tree disease in that area, said Sgt. Richard Stresing with the Austin Police Department. This is the second day of the operation that is expected to last another day, Stresing said.

Stresing said he believes the city is using the police helicopter to save money, rather than contracting out for use of a helicopter.

“We want the public to know the helicopter is being used, but if we need it to fight crime, we can break away,” Stresing said.

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Two people rescued in boating accident

After searching for nearly an hour, county officials found a man and a woman whose boat had crashed on Lake Travis about 2:10 a.m.

Several witnesses called just before midnight to report a 22-foot boat that crashed into an island that was created by low water on the lake.

Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services responded to the water rescue near Emerald Point Marina off Hiline Road. Officials said the small island was across from Carlos and Charlie’s restaurant.

An adult man who had back and ankle pain was transported by ambulance to University Medical Center Brackenridge, and a woman refused treatment, officials said.

It is unclear whether either was wearing a life jacket, said Krista Umscheid-Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the Lower Colorado River Authority, which is leading the investigation.

Other agencies that assisted in the rescue were Hudson Bend Fire Department, Austin Police Department Air One and the LCRA.

Lake Travis is 23 feet below its average elevation for June, said Bob Rose, a meteorologist with the LCRA. The lake is currently at 648.3 feet above sea level, Rose said.

Umscheid-Ramirez said boaters should use caution on the lake, especially at night.

“People need to go slower,” she said. “The water may not allow them to get through, and they could damage their boat, run aground or crash into something.”


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Temple police, FBI searching landfill in missing person case

Temple police are searching the city landfill with the aid of FBI agents in relation to a missing persons case, officials said this afternoon.

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Sgt. Brad Hunt of the Temple Police Department said a search is being conducted at the landfill to look for evidence in the disappearance of 55-year-old Daniel Patrick Sullivan, Jr., 55. Sullivan, at right, disappeared under what police call “suspicious circumstances” in April.

Hunt said the FBI is there to provide technical assistance with the search of the landfill. The search was suspended for the day at 4 p.m., Hunt said. More details about the case will be released tomorrow morning, Hunt said.

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Two arrested in Cedar Park bank robbery

Police have arrested two people who they say took part in a bank robbery this morning in Cedar Park, authorities said.

About 11:20 a.m., a man walked into a Capital One Bank branch at 11720 RM 620 near El Salido Parkway, displayed a gun and demanded cash, Cedar Park police Capt. Mike Harmon said. The man left on foot with an undisclosed amount of money, Harmon said. Nobody was injured, Harmon said.

Harmon said a witness saw the man get into a Ford Taurus. Austin police stopped the vehicle a short time later and arrested Oscar Ramirez, 23, and Teresa Alba, 33, who police say was driving.

Both have been charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and are being held at the Cedar Park Police Department, Harmon said.

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Permalink | Categories: Bank robbery

Deputies: men robbed topless dancer

Travis County Deputies have arrested and charged an Elgin man for robbing a topless dancer on Saturday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies say 23-year-old Omar Lopez and his friend were in XTC Gentlemen’s Club off of Andtree Boulevard. The affidavit says the dancer asked for $20 for a dance she had given Lopez, but he refused. Lopez’s friend, only identified in the affidavit as “Jose,” distracted the woman while Lopez reached into her purse and took out money, according to the affidavit.

The woman yelled at them to put the money back, but Jose ran toward her, knocked her over and then put his hand around her throat and squeezed, the affidavit says. It says Jose ran out of the emergency exit, but Lopez stayed inside the bar.

The woman told deputies that the men took about $60.

Lopez is charged with felony robbery by assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if he is convicted. He was released from the Travis County jail with bail set at $20,000.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Victim shot in Temple ‘Wonder Wash’

Temple police are looking for man who shot a victim in the leg Sunday night at the “Wonder Wash.”

Police were called to the scene and arrived to find an adult victim with a gunshot wound to the leg. The victim said a man entered the business at 2702 W. Avenue M with a bandana over his face, demanded the victim’s car keys and then fired the gun. The suspect fled the scene on foot after being unable to obtain anything from the victim, police said.

The victim was taken to Scott and White hospital for treatment.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the incident to call Temple police at 254-298-5500.

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Cedar Park police investigating bank robbery

Cedar Park police are investigating a bank robbery at El Salido Parkway and RM 620.

Check back for more details.


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Man accused of beating four women

An Austin man has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault for what police are saying was a fight between him and four women, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police said they received a domestic violence call around 9 p.m. Friday in the 1700 block of Teri Road in South Austin. The affidavits said police arrived to find 24-year-old Humberto Gomez-Solorzano fighting with four women in the parking lot of the Woodway Square Apartments.

Gomez-Solorzano ran and police chased him until he reached a fence, and turned to face police, the affidavit says. Gomez-Solorzano refused to cooperate with police demands to get on the ground, it says, and he was Tasered.

Witnesses told police that Gomez-Solorzano hit the women with a pipe, which police found near where they saw the group fighting. All four women were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

The affidavit did not say why the fight began.

Gomez-Solorzano was no longer in the Travis County Jail on Monday. His bail was set at $20,000.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Police ID woman killed in Friday motorcycle wreck

Police on Sunday identified a woman who was killed in a motorcycle crash about 9:30 Friday evening as Melinda W. Hackett, 41.

Hackett was killed when the motorcycle she was a passenger on hit the back of a pickup in the 9200 block of U.S. 290 East, just east of Springdale Road, Austin Police Lt. Cedric Hudson said.

Hackett died at the scene, Hudson said. The male driver was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said Sunday. Neither were wearing helmets, police said.

There were no other injuries, Hudson said.

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Temple police seek missing elderly man

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Temple Police are searching for 70-year-old Lonnie Capps today, who was last seen Sunday night near his home in Temple, officials said.

Capps has Alzheimer’s and was at his home in the 1200 block of Hillcrest Road around 8 p.m. last night, police said.

Capps is described as a white male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 125-130 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a white western-style short sleeve shirt, and a faded black cap with a longhorn decal on the front.

Please call Temple police at (254)298-5500 with any information about Capps’ whereabouts.

Permalink | Categories: Missing Persons

UPDATE: 2 killed in Leander morning accident

Two people were killed when their motorcycle swerved out of control near Leander motorcycle accident around 8:10 a.m. Saturday, according to Department of Public Safety officials.

Eric Kaufman, 23, of Cypress, and Rosse Torres, 23, of Cypress, were killed when Kaufman, who was driving, failed to slow down in a sharp curve on the 11700 block of Lime Creek Road. The motorcyle went into a side skid and then rolled. Both Kaufman and Torres were wearing helmets.


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Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Motorcycle rider killed in crash on U.S. 290

A woman was killed about 9:30 this evening when the motorcycle she was riding hit the back of a pickup in the 9200 block of U.S. 290 East, just east of Springdale Road, Austin Police Lt. Cedric Hudson said.

The motorcycle was headed west when it swerved to avoid a vehicle and hit the back of a pickup, Hudson said.

The woman, who was on the back of the motorcycle, died at the scene, Hudson said. The male driver was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with a possible head injury, Hudson said. His condition is unclear, Hudson said.

There were no other injuries, Hudson said.

The people were in Austin attending the Republic of Texas Biker Rally, Hudson said.

All westbound traffic in the area has been shut down, he said.

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Three men accused of stealing motorcycles

Austin police are looking for a man who they say stole four motorcycles in March with two other men, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police say David Nutt, 18, and Cody Hudson, 21, stole the bikes between March 3 and March 21, the affidavit said. James Burden III, 21, was present when the motorcycles were stolen but did not actively help steal them because of a broken hip, the document said.

The men worked together to steal motorcycles, police say, and took them to a rented storage unit in Austin, according to the document. The value of the four stolen motorcycles combined is more than $25,000, the affidavit said.

The four motorcycles were a 2006 silver Honda CBR600R, a 2007 red and black Yamaha R6, a 2005 tan Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and a 2006 black Honda CBR600R, the document said.

Nutt has been charged with theft, a third-degree felony, the affidavit said. He has not been arrested, court records show, and bail is set at $40,000.

Burden and Hudson are in the Travis County Jail on theft charges, records show.

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Police ID man killed in Thursday crash

A man who was killed in a crash in the 10700 block of Harris Branch Parkway on Thursday morning has been identified as Luis Fernando Hernandez, 28, police said in a statement.

Two other men in the car suffered minor injuries when the car slammed into a tree on Harris Branch Parkway near U.S. 290, police said. They were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, police said, and they have not been charged.

Police say the three men were leaving the scene of a theft in progress. Police were called out to Gaelic Drive following a report of men stealing car rims. When an officer arrived, he saw a silver Chevrolet Malibu leaving the scene at a high rate of speed without its lights on.

There was no pursuit, police said, but the suspects’ vehicle hit a tree, police said.

None of the men was wearing a seatbelt, police said. Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four tires with rims were found in the Malibu and returned to the owner on Gaelic Drive, police said in a statement.

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Home-burglary suspect arrested after chase

Officers chasing after two home burglary suspects in a car through South Austin arrested one of the men after a crash near the intersection of the southbound Interstate 35 frontage Road and Woodland Avenue, police say. The other man fled on foot and has not been found, said Austin Police Department spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga.

Officers were called to a home in the 900 block of East Live Oak Street about noon on reports that three men were breaking into the home, Aguinaga said.

When they arrived, officers arrested one suspect at the home, Aguinaga said, and he gave them a description of the car the other suspects were driving: a black 2008 Ford four-door with dealer plates.

Officers spotted the car on Congress Avenue, and a chase ensued after officers noticed a TV in the back of the car, Aguinaga said.

Officers followed the car north on Congress, east on Riverside Drive and south on the I-35 access road, she said. The car, which has been determined as stolen, crashed into two cars during the chase, Aguinaga said. The second crash disabled the suspects’ car at the intersection of Woodland, she said.

As the suspects were running away, an officer swerved to avoid one of them and hit a tree, Aguinaga said. There were no injuries in any of the crashes, she said.

The third suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his mid- to late teens, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 140 pounds. He was wearing a black shirt, but police did not have a description of his pants, Aguinaga said.

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Police investigate South Austin bank robbery

Austin police are investigating a bank robbery that occurred this morning at the Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union at 205 W. Ben White Blvd., police said.

A man entered the bank, gave the teller a note demanding money and left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, said Austin Police Department spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga.

He did not display a weapon, and nobody was injured, Aguinaga said.

The suspect is described as a white man, about 6 feet tall, in his 40s, with a thin build, thin face and large ears, Aguinaga said. He was last seen walking eastbound on Ben White Boulevard, she said.

This is the 10th bank robbery this year, Aguinaga said.

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Police charge a Austin man with sexual assault of runaway

An 18-year-old Austin man is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old runaway from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to an arrest affidavit.

The Grand Prairie Police Department began investigating the girl’s disappearance after she did not return home after school in late April. The affidavit states that police found Manuel Alverez Flores’s name and phone number in the girl’s personal belongings. Police made contact with Flores, who said he did not know where the girl was.

Two days later, on May 1, according to the affidavit, police found Flores and the girl at a North Austin apartment. Police arrested Flores and charged him with harboring a runaway. He was taken to the Travis County Jail. During an interview, he admitted taking the girl from Grand Prairie to Austin and to having sexual relations, the affidavit stated.

The girl told investigators she ran away with Flores sometime in April and that Flores had had sexual intercourse with her.

Flores has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony. Bail has been set at $50,000, records show. Flores has not been arrested.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Police identify victims of scaffolding accident

Austin police this morning identified the three workers who died Wednesday when a scaffolding attached to a high-rise apartment building in West Campus collapsed.

The workers were identified as Wilson Joel Irias Cerritos, 30, from Honduras; Raudel Ramirez Camacho, 27, from Mexico; and Jesus Angel Lopez Perez, 28, from Honduras.

The three men and one other construction worker were working on a scaffold outside the building at 21st and Rio Grande streets when part of it collapsed for unknown reasons about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Harry Evans, a battalion chief with the Austin Fire Department.

Two of the men fell 11 to 13 stories to the ground and were pronounced dead soon after. The third man fell a shorter distance onto the roof of a seven-story parking garage, Evans said, and died a few hours later at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

The fourth worker did not fall; he received minor injuries and was not hospitalized, Evans said.

The reason for the collapse was unclear, Evans said. The maker of the scaffold did not return calls for comment Thursday.

Construction on the building near the University of Texas has been scaled back while the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Austin Police Department investigate the deaths, the project’s developer said.

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This morning, construction workers were back in the building and power tools could be heard from the street.

Gary Perkins, 21 Rio’s developer, said workers are were doing interior work on a minimal scale, and he’s hoping the investigation will be finished today. He said today that OSHA and the police are not letting them move any of the material involved in the collapse except a mast that fell to the ground.

He called the collapse an “unfortunate accident” and expressed condolences to the families of the workers who were killed.

“It’s so upsetting because we’re getting so close to opening the building. Everything has been clicking,” he said. “This unfortunate accident takes our breath away.”

The project’s Web site says the 21-story tower was expected to be open this month.

Perkins did not have an exact number of how many people work at the site but said up to 200 people have worked there some days.

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21 Rio project put on hold during investigation, developer says

Construction on a high-rise apartment building near the University of Texas has been put on hold indefinitely while the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Austin Police Department investigate the deaths of three men yesterday in a scaffolding collapse, the project’s developer said.

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Gary Perkins, 21 Rio’s developer, called the collapse an “unfortunate accident” and expressed condolences to the families of the workers who were killed.

“It’s so upsetting because we’re getting so close to opening the building. Everything has been clicking,” he said. “This unfortunate accident takes our breath away.”

The project’s Web site says the 21-story tower was expected to be open this month.

Perkins did not have an exact number of how many people work at the site but said up to 200 people have worked there some days.

Austin police have not released the workers’ names because their families have not been notified, officials said. The maker of the scaffold did not return calls for comment Thursday.

Four construction workers were working on a scaffold outside the building at 21st and Rio Grande streets when part of it collapsed for unknown reasons about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Harry Evans , a battalion chief with the Austin Fire Department.

Two men in their late 20s fell 11 to 13 stories to the ground, Evans said. They were pronounced dead soon after. A third man, who was about 40 years old, fell a few stories onto the roof of a seven-story parking garage, Evans said. The man died a few hours later at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

A fourth man who was on the scaffolding but did not fall received minor injuries and was not hospitalized, Evans said.

The reason for the collapse was unclear, Evans said.

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District attorney’s office to review Tasering of 72-year-old

The Travis County district’s attorney’s office will review an incident in which a deputy constable used a Taser on a 72-year-old woman during a May traffic stop.

“I have talked with Constable McCain and he is completing his investigation and will present it to our office,” Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said, referring to Precinct 3 Constable Richard McCain. “We will review it, as we do other matters involving use of force, for possible presentation to the grand jury.”

Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze used a Taser on Kathryn Winkfein after she resisted arrest when he pulled her over for speeding on Texas 71 in western Travis County on May 11, according to an incident report.

Lehmberg said she expects McCain’s report in the next few days.

Sgt. Maj. Gary Griffin of the constable’s office has said that Bieze did the right thing in dealing with a subject who refused to be arrested and put them both in harm’s way.

Griffin said he is confident Lehmberg’s office will come to the same conclusion that the constable’s office has regarding the incident.

“She was affecting a lawful arrest and was physically noncompliant,” Griffin said of Winkfein. “I don’t see an offense.”

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Downtown road closures to begin Friday morning

Street closures will begin Friday for the Republic of Texas Biker Rally, which will run through noon Sunday at the Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Lane.

Parts of Congress Avenue and side streets downtown will be closed beginning at 9 a.m. Friday for a parade. All roads will reopen by 3 a.m. Sunday.

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Republic of Texas Biker Rally

WHEN: Rally runs through noon Sunday.

WHERE: Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Lane.

COST: Four-day passes cost $60 and can be purchased at the Expo Center.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Find more rally coverage at austin360.com.

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Three American flights into Bergstrom canceled; others delayed

UPDATE 4 p.m.: Three American Airlines flights from Dallas-Forth Worth to Austin Bergstrom International Airport have been canceled, the airport’s Web site shows. No flights leaving Austin have been canceled, the Web site shows. Several flights in and out of Bergstrom have been delayed.

EARLIER: Several American Airlines flights leaving Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth have been canceled because of bad weather in Dallas, an airport spokeswoman said.

Several American arrivals have been canceled from D-FW, the spokeswoman said. Some American flights in and out of the airport have been delayed as well, the airport’s Web site shows.

Other flights on Southwest and Continental in and out of Bergstrom have also been delayed, the Web site shows.

It is unclear how many passengers have been affected, spokesman Jason Zielinski said.

Departures and arrivals are scheduled to be on time later this afternoon, but Zielinski said there is a chance flights will continue to be delayed or canceled.

“We don’t know what the delays and cancellations this morning will cause later today,” he said.

He said people should check flight information before coming to the airport.

Witnesses say the gates and food court areas this morning are crowded as people wait for flights.

About 490 people were looking for a place to sleep last night when four American Airlines flights were canceled because of the North Texas storms, Zielinski said.

American Airlines provided 100 passengers with hotel rooms, the only rooms available, Zielinski said. About 150 others spent the night at the airport, and the rest made their own arrangements, he said.

Most of those people have been put on flights this morning, Zielinski said.

“They become a priority,” Zielinski said.

Katie Rich, an Albuquerque resident who was traveling from Baltimore back to Albuquerque with her mother and husband, was among those who slept at the airport.

“We landed at 9:30 p.m., spent two hours on the Tarmac, then they finally got us into the terminal,” Rich said. Her flight was supposed to layover at D-FW, but the flight was rerouted to Austin.

The airport provided 66 cots and the Red Cross of Central Texas provided 175, Zielinski said.

“We ended up sleeping on the floor in line because the chairs have arms, and you can’t lay down on them,” said Gloria Bolek, Rich’s mother.

After waking up at 4 a.m. and unsuccessfully trying to get rerouted to another flight, Rich and her family found three cots near the baggage claims, and were able to get some rest off the floor.

They are scheduled to leave Austin with another airline later this afternoon and should arrive in Albuquerque by 9 p.m., 24 hours after they were originally scheduled to land.

“No one can blame anyone for the weather,” Rich said. “It’s not the end of the world.”

Photos by Juana Summers, Austin American-Statesman

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Fatal accident closes south lanes of Harris Branch Parkway

One man is dead and two others have been taken to the hospital with minor injures after a crash in 10700 block of Harris Branch Drive this morning, according to the Austin Police Department.

Police say the three men were leaving the scene of a theft in progress. Police were called out to Gaelic Drive following a report of men stealing car rims. When an officer arrived, he saw a silver Chevrolet Malibu leaving the scene at a high rate of speed without its lights on.

There was no pursuit, police said, but the suspects’ vehicle slammed into a tree on Harris Branch Parkway, killing the driver and injuring the two passengers.

None of the men was wearing a seatbelt, police said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are still investigating.

Four tires with rims were found in the Malibu and returned to the owner on Gaelic Drive, police said in a statement.

Check back for updates.

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Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Pilot walks away from Fredericksburg crash

A pilot suffered minor injuries after crashing a plane into a Fredericksburg golf course on Tuesday.

Department of Public Safety officials said the pilot was attempting to land a small aircraft at the Gillespie County Airport when it lost power. The pilot attempted to glide the plane in, but missed the runway by 500 feet, officials said.

The plane crashed into a fence near the Lady Bird Johnson Golf Course, officials said. The pilot sustained minor injuries.

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Woman struck by TxDOT truck while lying near road

A woman was struck by a Texas Department of Transportation truck Tuesday morning while awaiting an ambulance, Travis County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Around 11 a.m., passersby found a woman lying near FM 1100 in eastern Travis County with unspecified medical issues, sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade said. They called 911, and while awaiting an ambulance, flagged down a TXDOT truck, Wade said. The truck pulled over and inadvertently struck the woman while she was lying beside the road, Wade said.

The woman was taken to University Medical Center at Brackenridge with non-life threatening injuries, Wade said.

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Bishop: investigation couldn’t verify killer’s claim that he had romantic relationship with priest

An Austin Diocese investigation could not confirm allegations that slain priest Jesse Euresti and his convicted killer had a romantic relationship, Bishop Gregory Aymond said Wednesday.

Manuel Martin Torres Saldana claimed he and Euresti had a sexual relationship and that he stabbed the 69-year-old priest to death after a late night quarrel. Torres Saldana lived in Euresti’s Nuevo Laredo home, to which Euresti planned to retire this summer. Euresti’s family members have adamantly denied that the men had a romantic relationship and said that Torres Saldana served as a caretaker when Euresti was in Austin, where he was the pastor of the Cristo Rey Catholic Church.

In April, Aymond promised an investigation, saying it was important for community members and parishioners to know the truth.

“I am unable to verify the truth of Torres Saldana’s statement,” Aymond said in a statement Wednesday. “Therefore, it is appropriate that we remember in gratitude Father Euresti’s 44 years of priestly ministry.”

A private investigator spent almost a month looking into Torres Saldaña’s claims, said diocese spokesman Christian Gonzalez. Diocese officials did not release the investigation report and declined further comment.

Family members said they welcomed the investigation’s conclusion. “We already knew it wasn’t true so there was no news to us,” said Euresti’s sister, Rachel Rios. “But of course we wanted it to be known. We need to let him rest in peace.”

Euresti went missing after driving to his Nuevo Laredo home on March 31. A friend found blood stains throughout his garage and police mounted a search for Euresti and Torres Saldaña. The trail ran cold until Torres Saldana contacted Euresti’s family members asking for money in exchange for telling them where he had dumped Euresti’s body.

Torres Saldana was arrested when he went to an electronics store in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to pick up a money wire from the family. Police say he planned to slip across the border into Guatemala.

Several neighbors in Euresti’s downtown Nuevo Laredo neighborhood said they did not suspect a romantic relationship between the men, but that Euresti never told them that he was a priest and the pair presented themeselves as uncle and nephew.

Less than a month after he was arrested, Torres Saldana was sentenced to 37-and-a-half years in prison. Although Torres Saldana could have gotten 50 years in prison, the judge who sentenced him said that he was given the maximum punishment allowable under Mexican law because he had pleaded guilty and asked for a summary judgement.

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TABC agent charged with sexual assault

An agent for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is on administrative leave without pay after he was arrested and charged Tuesday with two counts of sexual assault and one count of official oppression, officials said Wednesday.

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Joe Chavez, Jr., 40, at right, was arrested by Texas Rangers after a criminal investigation was completed by the Rangers and the Bastrop County sheriff’s office, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

The charges against Chavez stem from sexual misconduct allegations against him from a sting operation in May, the sheriff’s office said.

In the release, TABC administrator Alan Steen said, “We are cooperating with the sheriff’s office and the Texas Rangers as they conduct the criminal investigation.”

Chavez had been with the commission since January 2004 and was an agent who enforced licensing and investigated underage drinkers, the sheriff’s office said. He had no previous disciplinary actions or complaints filed against him, it said.

In the release, TABC officials added that minor sting operations have been suspended due to a pending statewide review of agency policies and procedures.

Chavez was in the the Bastrop County Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $225,000. He faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

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Three dead after falling off condo construction site

Three people are dead after scaffolding collapsed on the 11th floor of a condo building under construction at Rio Grande and 21st streets near the UT campus, officials say.

Four men were on scaffolding that partially collapsed about 2:30 p.m. at 21 Rio, a planned 16-story condo building called the 21 Rio Apartments, said Harry Evans, a battalion chief with the Austin Fire Department. Two men in their late 20s died after falling 11 to 13 stories, Evans said.

A third man died at University Medical Center Brackenridge, EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger.

A fourth man received minor injuries and was not taken to a hospital, Evans said. It is unknown why the scaffolding collapsed.

Traffic in the area has been blocked off.


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Sheriff Hamilton “in awe” after seeing constable’s taser video

After being inundated with phone calls about a video showing a 72-year-old woman being tasered — apparently generated by media outlets mistakenly thinking that one of his deputies made the traffic stop that preceded the incident — Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton released this statement today:

Sheriff’s Response to Constables Office Use Of Force Incident

Due to the numerous calls received because of media reports saying to call my office I have decided to release this statement.

On May 11, 2009 the Travis County Constables Office arrested Kathryn Winkfein and charged her with Resisting Arrest. During the incident the deputy constable used his electronic control device, commonly known as a Tazer. The incident was recorded on the officers in car video camera and has since become a favorite video for media to incite responses to their programs.

As Sheriff of Travis County, I want to make two things perfectly clear. First, the deputy constable does not work for my agency. The Constables Office is a separate office with the Constable elected to office by an individual precinct. Second, I do not personally agree with the actions of the deputy constable as they are shown in the video. When I look at the video I am in awe of what happened.

Respectfully, Sheriff Greg Hamilton

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Trust fund established for children of man killed in Texas 71 wreck

A trust fund has been established for the two surviving children of Russell Rutland, who was killed Saturday with his daughter and one of his sons on Texas 71 near Spicewood.

The trust fund is at the Security State Bank in Marble Falls. Donations can be made out to the Russell Kyle Rutland Children’s Trust and mailed to the bank at P.O. Box 769, Marble Falls, 78654. Donations can also be dropped off at the bank at 608 U.S. 281 in Marble Falls.

Rutland, 37, his 4-year-old daughter Madison and 9-year-old son Hunter died when a Dodge pickup truck crossed the center line and hit the car they were traveling in on Texas 71 about half a mile west of Spicewood.

They are survived by Russell Rutland’s wife, Brandi Rutland as well as their two children, 10-year-old Zachary and 5-year-old Cole.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the collision. Toxicology results on the driver, John Horn, 29, of Kingsland, are pending. Horn is being held in the Burnet County Jail on unrelated charges including failing to appear, obstruction or retaliation and driving with an invalid license.

An arrest warrant issued in May that charged Horn with obstruction mentioned that “his long-term drug use has altered his judgement and personality.”

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Austin woman killed in motorcycle collision

A 54-year-old Austin woman died Sunday from injuries she received in a motorcycle crash on Texas 71, officials said today.

Corliss Franklin was on a motorcycle driven by her husband, Ralph Franklin, 55, at 10:20 a.m. on Texas 71 two miles east of Preserve Way when the motorcycle struck the rear of a 2007 BMW that was also traveling west, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Both were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, officials said, where Corliss Franklin died at 2 p.m. that afternoon, officials said.

The trooper who is investigating the collision could not be reached Wednesday.

In a phone interview from the hospital, Ralph Franklin said that the only thing he remembered was that a car appeared suddenly in front of him.

Both of the Franklins were wearing helmets, he said. Franklin said he has a cracked pelvis and is getting surgery on an injured tendon in his hand.

He and his wife had eaten breakfast at Trudy’s restaurant in Austin and were headed home to their house near Lakeway when the wreck happened, he said.

Corliss Franklin was born in Austin and attended Reagan High School, Ralph Franklin said. She was a paralegal for a lawyer in Austin, he said. They have two daughters, Carrie Stark of Johnson City and Christi Pellerin of Spring Branch, he said.

Funeral services are pending.

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Austin man accused of sexually assaulting girl

An 18-year-old Austin man is accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl during the summer last year, according to an affidavit.

According to the document, the girl, who is now 7, reported the incident to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in April of this year. The girl told officers that Jose Juan Garcia touched her underneath her clothes while she was at Garcia’s North Austin apartment.

During an interview in May, Garcia admitted to officers that he had touched the girl while she was at his home playing video games, the affidavit stated.

Garcia has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony. Bail has been set at $20,000, records show. He has not been arrested, police said.

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Police: Men fired shots into San Marcos bar

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Two San Marcos men were arrested early Sunday morning and charged with deadly conduct after police say they fired several rounds from a shotgun into a downtown bar, police said in a statement.

Cyrus Jonathan Romero, 21, top, and Frank James Henggeler Jr., 21, were arrested after a short pursuit, the statement said. Nobody was injured in the shooting, police said.

According to police, officers heard numerous gunshots coming from an area around 200 block of West San Antonio Street about 12:45 a.m., the statement said.

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Witnesses told officers that men in a red sport-utility vehicle had been seen firing a shotgun into the Gold Crown Billiards Bar at 205 West San Antonio, the statement said. One round entered the front window of the bar before lodging in a back wall, the statement said.

The vehicle was spotted, the statement said, and Romero and Henggeler were arrested after a short chase.

During an investigation, witnesses told officers they had located a shotgun that had been tossed from the SUV during the chase, the statement said.

Henggeler and Romero have been charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, and possession of marijuana under 2 ounces, a Class B misdemeanor, the statement said. Henggeler was also charged with evading arrest in a motor vehicle, a State Jail Felony. Romero is being held in the Hays County Law Enforcement Center on $42,000 bail, and Henggeler is being held on $47,000 bail, the document said.

Police believe the shooting stemmed from an earlier altercation in the bar between the suspects and other people, the statement said. Police are seeking information about the altercation and the other people, the statement said.

Anyone with information is asked to call San Marcos police at (512) 753-2300.

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TABC agent charged with sexual assault, official oppression

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FROM THE TEXAS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE COMMISSION

On June 9, 2009, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) Agent Joe Chavez, Jr. was placed under arrest by Texas Rangers and charged with two counts of sexual assault, as well as one count of official oppression. He was booked into the Bastrop County Jail at approximately 7:30 p.m. and is currently being held on a $225,000 bond.

Chavez had been the subject of a criminal investigation being conducted jointly by the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers. The investigation and subsequent arrest resulted from allegations of sexual misconduct by the agent following a minor sting operation in May 2009.

TABC Administrator Alan Steen said, “We are cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers as they conduct the criminal investigation.”

Chavez has been placed on leave without pay. Additionally, the agency has suspended minor sting operations statewide pending a review of agency policies and procedures. “I want to ensure that TABC has the proper controls in place to protect the safety of the participants, the retailers and the general public,” added Alan Steen.

Chavez, 40 years old, has no history of disciplinary actions or complaints filed against him since being hired by TABC in January 2004. He was assigned to the Bastrop Outpost starting in August 2006. As with all TABC agents, Chavez is a TCLEOSE-certified peace officer, and an extensive background check was conducted prior to being hired by TABC.

Sexual assault is a 2nd degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a possible fine up to $10,000. Official oppression is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

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Web cam catches images of home burglars

Although nobody was home when two men broke into an East Austin home Tuesday, the homeowner has a pretty good idea what the suspects look like, thanks to a Web camera that was running at the time.

Computer engineer Greg McGuire got a call from his security company about 10 a.m. Tuesday that an alarm at the home in the 3300 block of French Place had gone off while he and his wife, Emily, were at work, Emily McGuire said.

When Greg McGuire pulled up the live images from the camera, he noticed two strange men in the house, Emily McGuire said. Police were then called and responded in minutes, she said.

The young men, one of them wearing a T-shirt with two skulls on it and plaid shorts, fled after taking about a thousand dollars’ worth of electronics. The homeowners are hoping somebody will recognize the suspects on the pictures.

“Our hope is that something comes out of this,” Emily McGuire said.

The wireless standalone Web cam has been running continuously since it was installed a few weeks ago, she said. The couple had set it up partially to see what their two English setters did during the day.

“I don’t think the guys even saw it,” Emily McGuire said.

In the pictures, one man is seen entering the home through a window and then lets the other man in through the front door. When both men come in, one of the couple’s dogs, Douglas, appears to go after them.

“Douglas is actually very sweet and friendly,” Emily McGuire said.

The couple’s other dog, Sophie, stayed in her crate, she said.

Emily McGuire thinks the combination of the dog and the alarm drove the men away.

And although the burglary has shaken her, she said she still feels safe in the neighborhood.

“I love the neighborhood and know a lot of the neighbors,” Emily McGuire said. “I know these kinds of things happen.”

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See more photos from the Web cam here.

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Attorney Montford charged with public intoxication

Prominent Austin lawyer Mindy Montford, who made an unsuccessful bid last year for Travis County district attorney, was arrested and charged with public intoxication in downtown Austin early Saturday.

Austin police arrested Montford, 38, at 2:15 a.m. Saturday in the 600 block of San Jacinto Street, said Roger Wade, spokesman for the Travis County sheriff’s office. She was released at 7:40 a.m.

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Attorney Pat McNelis, who is law partners with Montford, at right, and is representing her, said Montford had been with friends from high school to hear a band at a downtown club. As they were leaving, McNelis said, the driver of a car in which Montford was a passenger struck a pipe in an alley and was pulled over moments later.

McNelis said Montford got out of the car at that time to “advise her friend of his rights.”

He said an officer ordered Montford back into the car, where she sat for about 20 minutes. He said the officer then came back to the car and arrested her, as well as another passenger, on public intoxication charges. He said no further investigation was done before the arrests.

“Mindy complied with the officers when they instructed her back to the car,” McNelis said. He said his client “absolutely denies” the charge.

McNelis said the driver of the car also was arrested on a drunken driving charge, but that a judge refused to sign a warrant arresting him because of lack of probable cause.

Montford last year sought the job of district attorney after working as a prosecutor since 1999 but was soundly defeated by Rosemary Lehmberg. During her campaign, she was endorsed by the Austin Police Association.

Montford has since started a private law practice, specializing in defense and family law.

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Motorcycle rider dies from injuries received in crash

A man who was involved in a motorcycle crash on June 3 died today from injuries he received in the crash, Austin police said in a statement.

Mitchell Frantz, 46, was riding a Harley-Davidson east on U.S. 290 near William Cannon Drive about 8:30 p.m. when he struck debris in the road and lost control of the bike, the statement said.

He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he died.

There were no other passengers on the motorcycle, and no other injuries, the statement said.

It is the 35th traffic fatality of the year, police said.

The incident remains under investigation, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call 974-4761.

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Man killed in Temple shooting identified

Update, June 9: The victim in this shooting has been identified as Jorge Antonio Garcia Gamero, a Mexican national who had been living in Temple, Sgt. Brad Hunt said. His name was originally thought to be Alejandro Maldonado, Hunt said. An investigation into the shooting continues, Hunt said, including why Gamero used an alias.

Earlier, June 2: A Temple man died Tuesday from gunshot wounds he received Monday in the 5000 block of Charter Oak Drive, Sgt. Brad Hunt said in a statement.

Police were called to the area about 11 p.m. in reference to a crash and shots fired, an earlier statement said. When officers arrived, they found a black Honda sedan about 50 yards off the road, in trees near a private driveway, the statement said. Alejandro Maldonado, 36, was inside the vehicle with gunshots to his head, Hunt said.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that numerous shots from a handgun were fired from the roadway, at Mr. Maldonado’s vehicle,” the statement said. “He was struck several times, and his vehicle rolled forward down the driveway, and into the tree line where it came to rest. The motive for this assault is not known at this time.”

Maldonado was taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital, where he died about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Hunt said.

Officers were unable to locate the vehicle or any suspects, Hunt said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Temple police at (254) 298-5500.


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Deputies investigating bank robbery on Wells Branch Parkway

Deputies with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a robbery this morning at a Regions Bank on Wells Branch Parkway near Interstate 35, spokesman Roger Wade said in a statement.

According to the statement, a woman entered the bank and asked the teller for money. There were no weapons displayed and there were no injuries, the statement said. She left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, the statement said.

The suspect is described as a white female in her 20s with brown hair and blue eyes; 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 145 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black cap, black T-shirt, blue jeans, black tennis shoes and carrying a green “recycle” grocery bag.

The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force is assisting with the investigation, the statement said.

The sheriff’s office released these photos of the suspect today.

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Men accused of running over clerk during robbery

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Two men have been arrested and charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in connection with a robbery at a South Austin Walgreens, according to arrest affidavits.

Police say Charles Edwards, 36, above, and John Webb, 43, below, were in a car that ran over a clerk in the parking lot of the store at 9801 Manchaca Road on May 30, the affidavit say.

According to police, Edwards left the store without paying for items and got into a red BMW driven by Webb, the documents say. A clerk, Damien Brandon, followed Edwards out of the store and was trying to read the license plate when police say the BMW accelerated toward him, the affidavits say.

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The BMW hit Brandon, the affidavits say, and he hit the windshield, went over the roof, onto the trunk and then to the ground. Brandon suffered a dislocated right shoulder and a broken pelvis, the affidavits say.

Brandon was able to give police a partial license plate number, and police were able to use that to identify the BMW, the affidavits say.

According to police, Edwards and Webb were arrested June 1 after a police pursuit unrelated to the Walgreens robbery, the affidavits say. On Wednesday, Brandon picked Edwards out of a photo lineup, police say, and Edwards later that day confessed to the robbery and assault, the affidavits show.

Edwards is being held at the Travis County Jail on $30,000 bail, court records show. Webb is also in the jail on several charges in addition to aggravated robbery, including evading arrest with a vehicle and felonies from another county, court records show. His bail is set at $50,500, records show.

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Kerr County grand jury says officer-involved fatal shooting justified

A Kerr County grand jury on Monday found that a fatal shooting by a Kerrville police officer in February was justified to prevent harm to the officer, the Kerrville Police Department said in a statement.

About 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, officers were sent to the Kerrville Plaza Apartments, 1000 Paschal St., to find a man who had been involved in a crash earlier that morning, an earlier statement said.

Officers found Armando Aguero Ayala Jr. armed with a knife, the release said. Fearing for his life, an officer shot Ayala, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the document said.

The two officers were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Their names have not been released.

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Driver in fatal weekend wreck arrested on outstanding warrants, officials say

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A 29-year-old man who was involved in a fatal crash on Texas 71 near Spicewood on Saturday has been arrested on outstanding warrants, officials said.

Police say John Horn, of Kingsland, was driving a Dodge pickup west on Texas 71 when he crossed the double yellow line about 9 a.m. and struck a Nissan Altima head-on.

Russell Rutland, 37, was killed in the crash, along with his daughter, Madison Rutland, 4, and son, Hunter Rutland, 9.

Two other children, Zachary Rutland, 10, and Cole Rutland, 5, were transported to Dell Children’s Medical Center. Their conditions were not released.

Horn was taken to Seton Highland Lakes Hospital. He is now being held in the Burnet County Jail on previous charges of failing to appear, obstruction or retaliation and driving with an invalid license, Donna Fritsch with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office said. His bail has been set at $30,500, records show.

Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the accident, but did not respond to calls about any charges pending for Horn related to this accident.

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Women accused of scamming elderly women

Austin police are looking for two women who they say scammed several elderly women out of thousands of dollars, arrest affidavits show.

Amber Allison, 24, and Acquretta Hill, 23, have been charged with theft in one case in which a woman was scammed out of $4,000 in January, according to police. Police detective Kathy Hector said the women may be involved in two other cases in Austin and several others in Texas and around the country. They have not been arrested, police said.

According to police, the women used a scam in which Allison approached a 73-year-old woman in an H-E-B parking lot on Brodie Lane in South Austin and told her that an uncle who recently died had left her millions of dollars but that she needed to find two people trustworthy enough to hold the money because her visa was set to expire.

Police said Hill played the role of another bystander and worked with Allison to gain the victim’s trust, including withdrawing money from Hill’s bank. They then drove the victim to her bank, where she withdrew $6,000 that Allison and Hill left with, police said.

Allison and Hill have been charged with theft, a third-degree felony, the affidavits show.

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Man charged with sixth DWI, police say

A Round Rock man was arrested and charged in Pflugerville for what police say is his sixth driving while intoxicated charge, according to an arrest affidavit.

In the document, Pflugerville police say they responded to a collision on Friday in the 16300 block of Edgemere Drive, where one of the drivers had the left the scene in a black sport-utility vehicle. Witnesses told police the direction the car was going, and police were flagged down by another witness where the SUV had hit a tree along Grand Avenue Parkway in Pflugerville, according to the affidavit.

The witness also told police the SUV had pulled into a gas station, and police said a man was still in the truck, breathing heavily, according to the document. The man was identified as 58-year-old Lee Flores, who had five previous DWI arrests, the affidavit says.

Flores told police his daughter was driving the truck, though he couldn’t say where she went after they arrived at the gas station, according to the document. Flores declined to go the hospital, but EMS crews treated him on the scene for several lacerations from the airbag that had deployed, the affidavit said.

Flores was arrested and charged with felony driving while intoxicated, records show. He faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted. He remained in the Travis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $8,000, records show.


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Man accused of aggravated assault downtown

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An Austin man has been accused of beating another man with a rock and knocking him unconscious, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit says a man and his girlfriend were standing outside a food vendor’s stand on Seventh Street early Friday morning when they were approached by 34-year-old Russell Brown, who is listed as a transient on the document.

Brown began cursing at both individuals, the affidavit says, and when they attempted to walk away, he beat the man with a rock he was holding, according to police.

Brown hit the man on his head at least three times before the man lost consciousness, the affidavit says. It says the man was taken to the hospital and Brown was arrested.

Brown has been charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If he is convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He remained in the Travis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $25,000.

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Man dies in accident on 290

Gilberto Huerta, 23, of Conroe died early Sunday morning of injuries from a car accident that happened at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Police are looking for the driver of the other vehicle, a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado truck, who fled on foot after the accident, according to Austin police Sergeant Richard Stresing.

The driver of the Silverado was traveling the wrong way on the eastbound lanes of U.S. 290 in east Austin near Berkman Drive when it collided head-on with a 2004 Chevrolet Impala, Stresing said.

Huerta, who was driving the Impala, died later at University Medical Center-Brackenridge. Two passengers were also taken to the hospital, where Stresing said they are listed as stable with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Stresing said the driver of the Chevrolet, once found, will be charged at the least with failure to stop and render aid, a felony.


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Father, two children die in Texas 71 crash

A father and two children were killed Saturday after a crash on Texas 71 near Spicewood, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Authorities said Russell Rutland, 37, was driving a 2005 Nissan Altima east on the highway when a 2007 Dodge pick-up truck heading west crossed a double-yellow line and struck the Nissan.

Rutland was killed in the crash with his daughter, Madison Rutland, 4, and son, Hunter Rutland, 9. Two other children, Zachary Rutland, 10, and Cole Rutland, 5, were transported to Dell Children’s Medical Center. Their conditions were not released.

The driver of the Dodge was taken to Seton Highland Lakes Hospital. Neither his condition nor his name were available.

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DPS identifies man injured in helicopter crash

Officials have identified a man injured in a Hays County helicopter crash as 66-year-old Jimmie E. Barnhill.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials said Saturday that Barnhill, of Wharton, was in serious condition at the University Medical Center at Brackenridge after the helicopter he was using to crop-dust near Yarrington and Harris Hill roads in Hays county crashed around 1:45 p.m. Friday.

Barnhill was the only person in the helicopter at the time of crash, officials said.

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Officials: 87 dogs taken from dirty Bastrop County home

Bastrop County animal control and sheriff’s officials yesterday seized 87 schnauzers that had been living in a home strewn with animal feces and smelling of dog urine, officials said today.

“They’re in pretty good shape except they’re dirty and stinky,” animal control Director Betty Wade said. “They’re basically in good health.”

Deputies and animal control officers arrived at a home along Texas 95 to execute a warrant of seizure that was issued by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Bill Weddle, Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering said.

When they did so, the property owner, Iva Jan McGill was arrested for an outstanding warrant from Hays County for theft by check, Pickering said.

There are no plans to euthanize the dogs, Wade said, but the Bastrop County Animal Shelter is full, with no less than 100 dogs and cats, two birds and one pig.

Two shelter staff members and a dozen volunteers helped to clean and bathe the schnauzers, Wade said. There will be a hearing on the case before Judge Weddle, she said.

Wade put out a plea to the public for help:

The shelter needs canned dog food, foster homes, clean bedding and money, she said. The shelter’s number is (512) 581-4080.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Officials: Three people arrested in Burnet County after plane discovers marijuana plants

Three people were arrested Thursday after investigators from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office found 34 marijuana plants growing in their backyard, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Kip Allen Ware Sr., 43, Faith Ann Ware, 48, and Kip Allen Ware Jr., 21, were all charged with possession of marijuana, according to the sheriff’s office. Kip Ware Sr. and Faith Ware were released from Burnet County Jail today on $5,000 bail each. It is unclear if Kip Ware Jr. has been released.

Acting on a tip from a Burnet County resident, investigators flew a Texas Department of Public Safety plane over a house at 1110 County Road 321 in Bertram and saw the plants, the statement said.

Investigators also found more marijuana inside the house, scales, marijuana residue and paraphernalia, the sheriff’s office said.

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Woman accused of injuring 93-year-old man

A 41-year-old woman accused of breaking into a 93-year-old man’s East Austin house and injuring him Tuesday called police herself, according to an arrest warrant.

Evonne Cutshall was charged with injury to an elderly person and burglary of a habitation, according to an arrest warrant. She was being held Friday at the Del Valle Correctional Facility.

A police officer called to a house in the 2600 block of Willow Street saw through the door that Cutshall was going through cabinets and the 93-year-old man was pulling at her arms apparently trying to get her to stop, the warrant said.

The man told the officer that Cutshall had come to his house uninvited and was banging on the front door of his house, the warrant said. When he opened the door, she pushed him in the chest and walked inside, the warrant said.

The man said Cutshall also grabbed him in the crotch and said “I am going to get me some of that,” according to the warrant.

The man said he tried to call police but that Cutshall pulled the cord out of the phone, the warrant said. He also said he tried to remove Cutshall but could not physically do it, according to the warrant.

Cutshall told the officer that he was trying to help the man because he was being harassed by other people, the warrant said.

She also said that she was the one who had called police on her cell phone, the warrant said

The man had a 1.5 inch cut on his arm that he said happened when he tried to get Cutshall out of the house, the warrant said.

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Spiros nightclub closed for business, officials say

Spiros nightclub, where eight people were shot and injured last week, has voluntarily surrendered their permits and closed for business today.

“They are out of business as of today,” said Jimmy Zuehlke, a lieutenant with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. “They just thought it would be in their best interest to just close down the business.”

Zuehlke said workers are “clearing out the building” this weekend.

Owners could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Austin officer temporarily suspended for sleeping on duty, memo says

An Austin police officer has been suspended for three days after falling asleep while on duty, according to a disciplinary memo released today.

According to the memo, signed Thursday by Chief Art Acevedo, officer Jason Day fell asleep while writing a report about 3 a.m. March 16.

“By falling asleep on duty, Officer Day failed to remain alert and observant, and failed to devote his time and attention to the business of the Department,” the memo said.

Day’s suspension will begin June 18, the memo said. He can still appeal the suspension.

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One injured in helicopter crash in Hays County, officials say

One man was injured about 1:45 this afternoon when a crop-dusting helicopter crashed over a field near Yarrington and Harris Hill roads in Hays County, officials say.

There was only one person in the helicopter, a spokesman with the Hays County Sheriff’s Department said. He was taken to University Medical Center at Brackenridge, the spokesman said.

The helicopter landed hard after clipping a power line, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The DPS is handling the investigation, he said.

This is the second incident involving a crop-dusting helicopter in Hays County in a week.

A helicopter became engulfed in flames Saturday while refueling in a field located off Texas 21, the DPS said Saturday.

Tony Soderstrom, 43, of Wimberley was transported to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio with severe burns on his chest, arms, neck and face, DPS officials have said.

His condition could not be confirmed Friday.


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Attorney general: Fugitive sex offender arrested after 17 years in Del Valle

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FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Fugitive Unit have located and arrested a fugitive sex offender that has been wanted by authorities for more than 17 years.

Fugitive Unit investigators arrested Horace Lee Loggins, 67, in Del Valle for violating the terms of his probation and failing to register as a sex offender.

In 1991, Loggins was convicted of indecency with a child by sexual contact in Travis County. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for Loggins’ arrest in 1999 after he failed to register as a sex offender.

A probation revocation warrant for Loggins’ arrest was originally issued in 1992. His arrest Thursday reflects the conclusion of a 17-year effort to locate and apprehend Loggins. He is currently in custody at the Travis County Jail.

“For 17 years, this convicted sex offender failed to register with authorities, illegally violating the terms of his probation,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The subject’s arrest reflects the state’s ongoing effort to aggressively crack down on fugitive sex offenders who attempt to hide from authorities. We will continue working to protect Texas families by locating and arresting fugitive sex offenders who violate the law.”

The Fugitive Unit located and arrested the unregistered sex offender as part of Operation Missing Predator, the Attorney General’s ongoing statewide initiative to locate and arrest fugitives who fail to update or maintain their sex offender registration.

Attorney General Abbott’s Fugitive Unit works with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies to pinpoint and arrest fugitives with a history of sex crimes against children. These fugitives include those who have violated parole, probation or sex offender registration requirements. Since operations began in August 2003, the unit has arrested more than 1,000 fugitives.

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City and County officials name new EMS director

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City and county officials today named Dr. Paul Hinchey as the new medical director for the Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Systems.

City Manager Marc Ott and Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe announced the hiring of Hinchey, who was the deputy medical director of Wake County EMS in Raleigh, N.C.

Hinchey fills the director’s vacancy created when Dr. Edward Racht left the position in November 2008.

Hinchey has also served as medical director of WakeMed Mobile Critical Care Air and Ground Services, WakeMed Emergency Services Institute Special Operations and WakeMed Health Hospitals. He was medical director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Hinchey is board certified in emergency medicine and received a doctor of medicine degree and an MBA from the State University of New York-Buffalo in 2002.

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Searchers pull body of 16-year-old from Lake Georgetown

Search crews pulled the body of a Georgetown High student from Georgetown Lake Thursday night. He was presumed to have drowned.

Juan Carlos Fernandes, 16, had been swimming with a group of friends Thursday afternoon, but then swam alone to retrieve something in the water, according to Georgetown Police Assistant Chief Kevin Stofle.

His friends watched as he went into distress and then disappeared under the water, Stofle said.

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Woman charged in connection with scalding her 6-year-old son

A Travis County woman has been accused of scalding her 6-year-old son, leaving him with second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body.

Angular Adams was charged today with injury to a child. She has not been arrested, said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Her bail has been set at $750,000.

She and her husband told investigators that they didn’t know what happened to the child. But, according to the arrest warrant, a younger brother said that when the 6-year-old “was screaming in the bath Mommy was there.”

The younger brother, interviewed at the Center for Child Protection, said his mother had peeled some of the burned skin off his brother’s feet.

“She peeled it, and he screamed, screamed, screamed really bad,” the brother said, according to the warrant.

Adams took the 6-year-old to Dell Children’s Hospital on May 22 and told the staff that his feet “were bubbly,” according to an arrest warrant.

It wasn’t until the child was examined that the severity of his injuries was apparent, the warrant said. The burns covered the child’s genitals, buttocks, legs, ankles and feet, the warrant said.

The boy was released and is in good condition, Wade said. The boy was placed in a foster home by Child Protective Services, Wade said.

Adams told a deputy that she didn’t know what happened to her son. She said she discovered that his legs were “bubbly” and his feet were red when she woke him up that morning, according to the warrant.

She told the deputy that she had bathed the boy the night before and that afterward he had played with his younger brother before going to bed at 9:30 p.m., the warrant said.

The younger son, when interviewed by authorities, said his father was not home when the boy was burned in the bath and that it happened at night, the warrant said.

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Possible drowning on Lake Georgetown

UPDATE: As of about 6:15 p.m., crews were still at the lake searching for the missing teen.

Georgetown Fire Department Chief Robert Fite said that dive crews are searching Lake Georgetown for a 15-year-old boy who may have drowned in the lake earlier this afternoon.

Check back for more details.

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North Austin bank evacuated, but no explosives found, police say

A Chase Bank at 12222 Research Blvd. was evacuated about 10:45 this morning after an employee found a note outside saying that explosives were in the building, Austin police Sgt. Richard Stresing said.

He said that officers have not found an explosive and that the bomb squad was not going to the scene.

An investigation into the threats is continuing, Stresing said.


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Man accused of threatening police through 911 faces more charges

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A man who police say called 911 several times threatening to kill officers faces additional charges of making a false report, according to an arrest affidavit.

Ellis Ingram IV, 27, was arrested May 14 and charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, an affidavit said. He was charged Wednesday with making a false report, a state jail felony, according the arrest affidavit.

The charges could equal more than 10 years in prison. He is in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $50,000, court records show.

Police have said Ingram made the calls in retaliation for the shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders, 18, by an Austin police officer at the Walnut Creek Apartments at 6409 Springdale Road on May 11.

Ingram called 911 seven times from two cell phones in the days following the shooting, according to police, saying, “We gonna kill a cop every time we seem ‘em,” and reporting bombs downtown. The affidavit also says Ingram told 911 dispatchers that a police officer had been shot.

“You gonna have a whole bunch of officers down,” he told dispatchers, according to the warrant.

He also reported that there was a bomb on Sixth Street, that he was going to “jump officers” and that an officer had been shot in the alley between Walnut Creek Apartments and Spring Creek Apartments, according to the warrant.

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Additional charges filed against man accused of sex assault at hotel

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Additional felony charges have been filed against a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel May 27, an arrest affidavit said.

A woman told police that she posted an advertisement on Craigslist for “sensual rubdowns” and that 30-year-old Jason Wayne Sutton met her at the Airport Marriott South on Interstate 35, the affidavit said.

When she arrived at the room, Sutton showed her a badge and told her he was a police officer and that she was under arrest, according to the document. He placed her in handcuffs, sat her on a chair and assaulted her, the affidavit said.

Sutton, shown at right in 2005, was charged Tuesday with sexual assault in connection with the incident. On Wednesday he was also charged with impersonating a public servant, records show. He remained in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $400,000, court records show.

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Mother accused of feeding child feces released from jail again

UPDATE: Emily McDonald has been released from custody a second time, Judge Julie Kocurek said.

Kocurek has allowed McDonald to be re-released on her original bond. She had been taken into custody earlier today when Kocurek revoked the bond issued by Judge Charlie Baird on Tuesday.

Kocurek said that in the Travis County court system, there is a window of time when a case is not assigned to a particular court. During that time, Baird issued the $100,000 personal bond and McDonald was released, Kocurek said. Due to a computer glitch, Kocurek said she thought Baird signed the bond while it was assigned to her court. She then revoked the bond, she said.

“I would not have signed the personal bond in this case because of the nature of the charges,” Kocurek said.

But because it is the court’s policy to honor bonds when they are signed, McDonald was released on the bond, Kocurek said.

Baird and Kocurek said the conditions of McDonald’s release include close supervision by the court, an order that she must wear an electronic monitoring device, and a police protective order that prevents her from seeing her three children.

EARLIER: A mother charged with injury to a child after authorities said she repeatedly fed the child human feces was released on a personal recognizance bond by state District Judge Charlie Baird but has been rearrested this afternoon after a different judge reset her bail.

Authorities said Emily Beth McDonald was rearrested at 2 p.m. today and is back in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $100,000.

An Austin municipal judge had originally set McDonald’s bail at $100,000. However, Baird released her on a personal recognizance bond about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A prosecutor with Travis County District Attorney’s office said this afternoon that State District Judge Julie Kocurek, who has been assigned to the case, raised the bail from a personal recognizance bond after she decided that it was “not appropriate.”

“We were not consulted on the release on personal bond, and the judge in the new court acted on her own motion,” Assistant Travis County District Attorney LaRu Woody said.

Baird and Kocurek could not immediately be reached for comment.

To read the full story, click here.

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Nobody injured in Travis County SWAT standoff

Nobody was injured in a SWAT standoff that lasted about seven hours at a home near Lakeway, said Roger Wade, a spokesman with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Travis County SWAT was called to the home in the 15200 block of Sunbird Lane about 8 p.m. Tuesday night after a man called 911 had rifles in his home and was threatening to kill himself, Wade said.

The standoff ended at about 3 this morning when the man was taken into custody, Wade said. Wade said he could not identify the man or where he was being held.

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Temple man dies after being shot in car

A Temple man died Tuesday from gunshot wounds he received Monday in the 5000 block of Charter Oak Drive, Sgt. Brad Hunt said in a statement.

Police were called to the area about 11 p.m. in reference to a crash and shots fired, an earlier statement said. When officers arrived, they found a black Honda sedan about 50 yards off the road, in trees near a private driveway, the statement said. Alejandro Maldonado, 36, was inside the vehicle with gunshots to his head, Hunt said.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that numerous shots from a handgun were fired from the roadway, at Mr. Maldonado’s vehicle,” the statement said. “He was struck several times, and his vehicle rolled forward down the driveway, and into the tree line where it came to rest. The motive for this assault is not known at this time.”

Maldonado was taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital, where he died about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Hunt said.

Officers were unable to locate the vehicle or any suspects, Hunt said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Temple police at (254) 298-5500.


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Dog dies in South Austin apartment fire

Nobody was injured but a dog was killed in an apartment fire this afternoon at the Meadowbrook Apartments at 2300 Wirtz Ave., near South Lamar Boulevard and West Oltorf Street, officials said.

Firefighters received a call about 1 p.m. and quickly extinguished the blaze, Battalion Chief Harry Evans said. One unit received fire damage, and two units next door received smoke and water damage, Evans said. The dog lived in one of the units damaged by smoke, he said.

Vera Montecillo, who lives apartment where the fire started, said her 16-year-old son accidentally dropped a cigarette, which sparked the blaze. Her son and 22-year-old daughter were the only people in the two-story apartment at the time, she said.

“When I got home, there was nothing, it was just black,” she said.


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APD Gang Unit, FBI, TDCJ end two-year federal drug trafficking investigation

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

On Wednesday, June 3, 2009 the Austin Violent Gang/Organized Crime Task Force, Safe Streets, will host a news conference at 2 p.m. at APD Headquarters to discuss the end of an investigation into a wide reaching cocaine conspiracy. Safe Streets is comprised of the Austin Police Department’s Gang Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of the Inspector General. This was one of the most successful Safe Street Task Force investigations in the nation for the year 2008.

The investigation began in 2006 due to an increase in gang and drug activity in various Austin neighborhoods. The activity included increases in assaults, property crimes, weapons trafficking, home invasion robberies and other violence commonly connected to drug trafficking. The activity was due in large part to an increase in the availability of large quantities of cocaine for street level distribution.

The main cocaine suppliers in the Austin area were Duane Hosea, Jr., Warrior Fennell, Sky McClure, and Timothy Jackson.

The Austin suppliers were getting cocaine from a Honduran cocaine distribution organization operating in the Austin area. The Honduran group, headed by Victor Enrique Amador Rodriguez, was directly linked to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations. During one of the seizures, the APD Gang Unit seized 22 kilos of cocaine, and over $500,000.00 in US currency, the largest seizure of cocaine at one time in APD History.

On May 29, 2009 the last of 28 defendants were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas ending the two year federal investigation.

Along with the APD Gang Unit, FBI and TDCJ the following agencies assisted in the investigation: The Texas Department of Public Safety, Pflugerville Police Department, Round Rock Police Department, Copperas Cove Police Department, Cameron Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Hutto Police Department, Taylor Police Department and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

The following subjects pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the Western District United States Court:

Duane Hosea - 27 years

Michael Hosea - 10 years

Ronald Sloan - 10 years

Marlon Battles - 5 years and 3 months

Jose Aviles - 16 years

Tony Brown - 12 years and 7 months

Patrick Porter - 15 years

Sherrod Whitley - 10 years

George Walker - 6 years and 6 months

Karry Collins - 6 years and 8 months

Marcus Dupree - 5 years 10 months

Robert Taylor - 3 years and 6 months

Kenneth Peoples - 7 years and 6 months

Jarod Mason - 5 years

Crisoforo Llanas - 7 years and 6 months

Jose Llanas - 9 years

Sky McClore - 14 years

Warrior Fennell - 14 years

Timothy Jackson - 16 years and 8 months

Jessie Clinton - 13 years and 4 months

Bobby Cleveland - 6 years and 8 months

Victor Amador - 16 years

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Mother charged with feeding 3-year-old feces

Update: In 2007, McDonald submitted this Q&A to the Statesman for a series about the difficulties of being a parent of premature children.


Austin police have charged a woman with injury to a child after they said she repeatedly fed her 3-year-old daughter human waste, causing her potentially life-threatening infections.

An arrest affidavit said that a surveillance video at Dell Children’s Medical Center captured Emily Beth McDonald, 23, on Sunday placing feces in her daughter’s feeding tube. The child had been hospitalized so doctors could treat “serious infections” caused by organisms consistent with those found in feces.

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The affidavit said that hospital staff decided, based on that information, to place a camera in the child’s room and that it recorded McDonald taking “fecal matter from a spoiled diaper” and placing it on the cap of a tube that has a direct link to the child’s bloodstream.

According to the affidavit, police interviewed McDonald, who confessed to wiping the end of the tube with feces.

“McDonald advised that she knew her actions would cause her daughter to stay sick,” the affidavit said. “McDonald also explained that rubbing feces on her daughter’s line could cause her to become septic and that it could kill her.”

In a statement, John Hellerstedt, the Vice President of Medical Affairs for Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, said: “Because of these security and privacy issues, we cannot comment on any of the details of this case. The Seton Family of Hospitals has many security and safety procedures in place to protect our patients. If we suspect possible injury to one of our patients, we take legal and necessary steps to protect their health and safety.”

Bail for McDonald has been set at $100,000. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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Gas leak reported off Frate Barker Road in South Austin

Crews are working to locate and repair an underground gas leak in the area around James Bausch and Jim Ryun lanes in South Austin, officials said.

A person was reported sickened by the leak, officials reported earlier, but they could not provide details. There were no evacuations, officials said. Austin school district officials said no nearby campuses were affected.

The roads are partially blocked by repair equipment, officials said.


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Slain LBJ teen attempted to fight off attacker, police say

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A 17-year-old LBJ High student who police say was raped and stabbed to death by a 30-year-old man early Sunday morning tried to fight him off during the attack, police said this morning.

Areli Carbajal Escobar, 30, has been charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Bianca Maldonado, who was found dead in her home at the Huntington Meadows apartments in East Austin, an arrest affidavit said.

The affidavit said Escobar lives in the same complex as Maldonado, though they did not know each other, police said. Maldonado lived with her mother, her teenage sister and Maldonado’s 1-year-old son, police have said. The apartments surrounding Maldonado’s were vacant, said the apartment manager, who did not want to be identified.

According to the affidavit, Maldonado’s mother and sister found Maldonado’s body after they returned to the apartment about 7 a.m. from delivering newspapers.

Maldonado had multiple stab wounds to her body and there were large amounts of blood in the living room, on Maldonado and around the crime scene, according to the affidavit. It also says there were signs of an obvious struggle and sexual assault.

During the investigation, police say they received a tip from Escobar’s girlfriend about his possible involvement, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, Escobar invited his girlfriend to his apartment Sunday night but left after she had gone to sleep.

She then called Escobar’s cell phone several times but he did not pick up, the affidavit said. On the fourth call, about 4:15 a.m., she heard a woman screaming, moans and muffled noises for about 10 minutes, it said.

“She thought she was listening to a sexual assault,” police Sgt. Joseph Chacon said this morning.

About an hour later, she called Escobar’s sister and told her she heard him having sexual intercourse with another woman, the affidavit said.

At about 5:30, the sister sent Escobar’s girlfriend a text message saying he had gone to his mother’s house with bloody clothing and saying he couldn’t come home because someone might be looking for him, the document said.

At 5:45, Escobar’s girlfriend sent a text message to her son saying, “OMG, I think Areli raped someone,” the affidavit said.

During text messages later that day, Escobar’s sister told his girlfriend that his mother had washed his clothes twice and could not remove large amount of blood on his clothes, the affidavit said. The sister also texted that Escobar had told her boyfriend that the blood was a girl’s and not his, the affidavit said.

Police went to Escobar’s home on Tuesday and said he had a 2-inch laceration on his hand, and scratches on his face and elbow, the affidavit said. Police said the injuries were consistent with a fight.

“Bianca Maldonado, I think there is no other way to put it, she put up a fight for her life,” police Lt. Mark Spangler said at a press conference this morning. Maldonado’s son was injured when police say Maldonado tried to fight off Escobar, police said. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition, police said, and has been released.

Escobar was arrested Tuesday, court records show. He is in the Travis County Jail without bail, records show.

Escobar was convicted of driving while intoxication in 2007 and spent 30 days in jail, court records show. He received deferred adjudication in 1999 for burglary of a vehicle, court records show.

Escobar’s sister, Lydia, said that her brother had been living with her at the apartment while he was separated from his wife.

“This is kind of a surprise. This is not my brother,” Lydia Escobar said as she emptied trash outside the apartment today. “I don’t know what to think. I feel for that girl. I don’t think he did that.”

She said that when he came home Sunday morning, he was in pain and his back was hurting. She said she didn’t believe that the injuries he had received could’ve been inflicted by one woman.

Lydia Escobar said her brother received a general equivalency diploma after attending Reagan High. She said he had been working but was not clear on his job, saying it had to do with supplies at computer companies.

To read the arrest warrant (pdf), please click here.

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Head-on collision kills one, injures three

One man was killed and three people were injured in a head-on collision Tuesday night off of Texas 71 in Travis County, the Texas Department of Public safety reported today.

The collision occurred about 9 p.m. in the 9400 block of Texas 71 near Old Bee Caves Road. A dispatcher with DPS said a 2000 Mitsubishi, driven by Steve Mester of Austin, was in the eastbound turning lane. A 1989 Chevy two-door car, driven by an unidentified Hispanic male who was traveling westbound, struck Mester’s car.

The unidentified man, whose next of kin has not been notified, was pronounced dead at the scene, and officials say he was not wearing his seat belt. Steve Mester, Lisa Mester and Claire Mabru, who were in the Mitsubishi, were taken to University Center at Brackenridge with serious injuries but are in stable condition.


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Lake Travis fire displaces family of four

Lake Travis police said today that a lightning strike from a thunderstorm about 2 a.m. caused a fire in the attic of a home in the 1700 block of Trail of the Woods. Four people were able to escape before fire crews arrived, and no one was injured, officials said.

Firefighters arrived to find the two-story home with visible smoke and flames coming from the attic, officials said.

The fire was extinguished quickly, according to the Lake Travis fire department, and they believe it was contained to the attic.

Damage estimates are not yet available.


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SWAT Team at house in Lakeway

A SWAT Team has been dispatched to a home in Lakeway, according to Travis County Sheriff’s Department officials.

A man with a rifle is inside a home at the 15200 block of Sunbird Lane and threatening to harm himself, officials said. Residents in the area have been asked to stay inside their homes.

Check back for more details.

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At least one killed on State Highway 71

At least one person is dead tonight after a head-on collision on State Highway 71.

Department of Public Safety officials said two vehicles collided with each other at the 9400 block of State Highway 71 around 9:20 p.m. this evening. One person was ejected and another was pinned inside a vehicle, officials said. At least one person died from the wreck.

The names and ages of victims, and the vehicles involved, have not been released.

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Fire destroys house in Cedar Park

An unoccupied house caught on fire tonight in Cedar Park.

The house, in the 300 block of Sumac Lane near U.S. 183, caught fire around 6:15 p.m., Cedar Park emergency officials said. It burned for about an hour and a half before the flames were extinguished.

The house was fully engulfed in flames and is considered a total loss, officials said. No one was injured.

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Williamson County teen reported missing

Police in Williamson County are searching for a 14-year-old girl who has been missing since Sunday.

Shyla Marie Ortiz was last seen near her home on Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Det. John Foster of the WIlliamson County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. She was last seen wearing a Blue Gap brand short sleeve t-shirt, black pajama bottoms with a Minnie Mouse emblem on them, Foster said.

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It is unknown if Ortiz has encountered some type of a trouble or if she left on her own, Foster said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Williamson County Crime Stoppers at (800) 253-7867.

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Sex assault suspect arrested, court records show

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Austin police say a woman who had a posting on Craig’s List advertising “sensual rubdowns” was sexually assaulted May 27 at the Airport Marriott South on Interstate 35, an arrest affidavit said.

Jason Wayne Sutton, 30, shown at right in 2005, has been charged with sexual assault in connection with the incident, the affidavit said. He is being held in the Travis County Jail on $200,000 bail, court records show.

According to the affidavit, the woman agreed to meet Sutton at the hotel. When she arrived, Sutton showed her a badge and told her he was a police officer and that she was under arrest, according to the document. He placed her in handcuffs, sat her on a chair and assaulted her, the affidavit said.

Afterward, she left the hotel, but later returned and told management what happened, the document said.

Video surveillance footage showed the suspect checking in, and the woman identified Sutton in a photo lineup, the affidavit said.

Sutton has been convicted on several charges since 2001, including for driving while intoxicated and misdemeanor assault, court records show.

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Temple police seek suspects in shooting

Temple police are looking for information in a shooting last night in the 5000 block of Charter Oak Drive, Sgt. Brad Hunt said in a statement.

Police were called to the area about 11 p.m. in reference to a crash and shots fired, the statement said. When officers arrived, they found a black Honda sedan about 50 yards off the road, in trees near a private driveway, the statement said. Alejandro Maldonado, 36, of Temple, was inside the vehicle with gunshots to his head, Hunt said.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that numerous shots from a handgun were fired from the roadway, at Mr. Maldonado’s vehicle,” the statement said. “He was struck several times, and his vehicle rolled forward down the driveway, and into the tree line where it came to rest. The motive for this assault is not known at this time.”

Maldonado was taken to Scott & White Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries, Hunt said.

Officers were unable to locate the vehicle or any suspects, Hunt said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Temple police at (254) 298-5500.


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Third arrest made in connection with Spiro’s shooting

Austin police late Friday arrested a third man in connection with a shooting and stabbing that happened earlier at Spiro’s night club in downtown Austin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Wendon Earl Candrick, also known as “Gator”, is accused of stabbing a music promoter about 2 a.m. Friday, according to the affidavit.

Ramone “Sicc” Stewart said Friday that a fight began when the LG Allstarz, a rap group from La Grange, asked him to cut short the performance of another group on stage at the time so they could perform. Stewart said he refused and was stabbed during an altercation that followed. Candrick’s group was ejected from the club.

According to court documents, Candrick, an Austin resident, and two other members of the group, brothers Brandon and LaBaaron Hutchinson of La Grange, came back to the club just minutes after they were kicked out. The Hutchinsons had handguns and opened fire into a crowd of people outside of Spiros, injuring eight.

The affidavit states that all three men were identified by witnesses as Crip gang members. It also says Candrick is a documented Crip gang member who is on probation after being convicted of three drug charges and one assault charge.

Thanks to a tip, police said, they arrested Candrick outside of his North Austin home on Friday without incident. During his arrest, police found in his possession several pills of the drug ecstacy. In his car, police found about nine ounces of marijuana and .45-caliber ammunition. A search of Candrick’s home turned up a shotgun, more marijuana, ecstacy and a small amount of crack cocaine.

Candrick has not been charged with stabbing the music promoter. Police charged him with possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, both felonies that could carry a life sentence if Candrick is convicted.

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Sheriff’s office IDs man shot during SWAT standoff

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office this morning identified a 34-year-old man who was critically injured Monday in a standoff with the Travis County SWAT team as Douglas Willard, said Roger Wade, a spokesman with the sheriff’s office.

Deputies were called to the 4000 block of River Road in far southeast Travis County about 11 Sunday night to investigate a family disturbance, Wade said. Willard lives in a home behind his parents’ home on the property, Wade said, and the parents told dispatchers they were afraid for their son.

When deputies arrived, Willard came out of the house with two guns, Wade said. The officers backed off and called in the SWAT unit, he said. Before the SWAT unit arrived, a woman entered the home, Wade said.

Willard came out of the home about 2:45 a.m. with a shotgun, Wade said. When he lifted the weapon, Willard was shot one time in the torso, Wade said.

He was taken by STARflight to University Medical Center at Brackenridge, where he remains in critical condition, Wade said. There were no other injuries, he said.

The deputy who shot Willard was identified as Scott Schroeder, who has been with the sheriff’s department for 18 years and with the SWAT unit for more than five years, Wade said. He has been assigned to administrative duties during the investigation, Wade said.

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Authorities release more information about Monday’s SWAT standoff

FROM THE TRAVIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE:

On May 31, 2009, at 11:11pm, Deputies were called to 4004 River Road, in Southeast Travis County, in reference to a Family Disturbance. Upon arrival the deputies were told that the suspect was agitated and he may hurt himself or someone else. Responding deputies saw the man come out of his house carrying two long guns and called Travis County Sheriffs SWAT to the scene. SWAT Deputies took control of the house and had Sheriff’s Negotiators try to make contact with the suspect and put Austin/Travis County EMS on standby in the area. At about 2:45am, the man came out of the house carrying a shotgun. He walked up close to an armored SWAT vehicle and was told to put his weapon down. The man then raised the shotgun towards the deputies, despite their pleas for him to put the weapon down. He was shot one time in the torso before he could shoot the deputies.

EMS was called up to the house and the man was transported, by StarFlight, to University Medical Center at Brackenridge where he is listed in critical condition. He has been identified as, Douglas Willard, Date of Birth 1-21-1975.

No charges have been filed against Mr. Willard at this time.

During the incident Mr. Willard’s female friend was in the residence. She was not injured.

The Deputy who is involved in the shooting is identified as, Senior Deputy Scott Schroeder.

Scott has been with the Sheriff’s Office for over 18 years and with the SWAT Unit for over 5 years. He has been assigned to administrative duties while the investigation proceeds.

As with all deputy involved shootings there will be investigations by the Internal Affairs Unit and the Major Crimes Unit. The Texas Rangers will also oversee the investigation.

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Police chief apologizes to Sanders family

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tonight apologized to the family of Nathaniel Sanders II, whose body remained at the scene of a May 11 police shooting for several hours, partly inflaming an already distraught community.

Acevedo, who was at the scene shortly after the shooting, said he takes “full responsibility” for the delay in removing the body. He said police investigators told officials from the Travis County medical examiner’s office early that morning that they were not yet ready for them to remove Sanders’ body.

“It was not meant as a disrespect,” Acevedo said. “I want you to know that. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to you and your family. That was way too much time.”

Officials have estimated that Sanders’ body was at the scene of the East Austin shooting for nearly five hours.

Acevedo made the comments at a community meeting in which residents are asking questions of Acevedo, City Manager Marc Ott and other city officials about the shooting. Several of Sanders’ family members attended the event at the Delco Community Center in Northeast Austin.

Sanders was fatally shot by officer Leonardo Quintana after Quintana began investigating whether the Mercedes-Benz station wagon in which Sanders was riding was linked to reports of gunfire. Police have said that Quintana fired at Sanders after Sanders reached for a weapon.

Quintana also shot Sir Lawrence Smith, who was a passenger in the car, wounding him.

Steven Brown, 25, who has lived in East Austin all of his life and is the father of five sons ranging in age from 4 to 9, said he attended the meeting because he is concerned about their future.

“Eventually, they will be out roaming the street, and I just want to put an end to this before that,” Brown said.

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Police seek man who robbed West Austin bank with assault rifle

Austin police are looking for a man who robbed a Wells Fargo bank at 3105 Windsor Road in West Austin about 2 p.m., officials said.

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A masked man entered the bank carrying an assault rifle, Sgt. Richard Stresing said. He did not point the weapon at the clerk but demanded money, Stresing said. He left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, Stresing said, and did not fire a shot.

Police are searching the area with a helicopter and K9 units, Stresing said.

The suspect is described as white with blue eyes, about 5-feet-10-inches tall, police said. He was wearing a blue button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and jeans, police said.

This is the ninth bank robbery of the year, Stresing said.

To see surveillance photos of other unsolved bank robberies in Austin, click here.


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Teenager’s death in East Austin ruled homicide

UPDATE: Police have ruled the death of Bianca Maldonado as a homicide. This is Austin’s sixth homicide of the year.

Police have identified a 17-year-old who was found dead Sunday at the Huntington Meadows apartments in East Austin as Bianca Maldonado, a student at LBJ High School.

Just before 7 a.m. Sunday, Austin police responded to a call from Maldonado’s mother, who found her daughter dead in the apartment they shared, according to Austin police Sgt. James Mason.

Police found traumatic injuries to her body, according to Sgt. Joseph Chacon, who said Maldonado was not shot. He said there was no forced entry to her apartment, but there were other signs of a disturbance.

Maldonado lived with her mom, her teenage sister and Maldonado’s 1-year-old boy, Chacon said. The boy was also injured, and he was taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition, he said.

Police did not release details on any possible witnesses. There are several people of interest, Chacon said, but no suspects at this time.

Neighbors in the complex across the street from the Travis County Exposition Center said it’s a quiet place to live.

Police want people who have any information to call the Austin Police Department at (512) 477-3588.

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Temple police seek man who robbed Walgreens

Temple police are looking for a man who robbed a Walgreens about midnight Sunday, Sgt. Brad Hunt said in a statement.

A man entered the store at 3614 S. 31st St. and jumped over the counter to grab several cartons of cigarettes, the statement said. The woman tried to stop him and a brief struggle ensued, causing minor injuries to her arm and torso, the statement said.

The woman was treated and released at Scott & White Memorial Hospital, the statement said.

The suspect is described as a black male, about 40 years old, about 5-feet-10-inches tall and 140 to 170 pounds, clean shaven, with short curly black hair, the statement said.


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No victims in still-water rescue in West Austin, official says

Officials are responding to a still-water rescue at 1500 South Quinlan Park Road in West Austin.

Callers have reported a vehicle floating about 500 feet offshore, officials said.

Assistant Chief Robert Abbott with Lake Travis Fire and Rescue said that the vehicle appeared to be abandoned and that it appears there was nobody inside.


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Man shot during SWAT standoff in Travis County

A man was shot and critically injured early this morning in a standoff with the Travis County SWAT team, said Roger Wade, a spokesman with the sheriff’s office.

Deputies were called to the 4000 block of River Road in far southeast Travis County about 11 Sunday night to investigate a family disturbance, Wade said. A man lives in a home behind his parents’ home on the property, Wade said, and the parents told dispatchers they were afraid for their son. Wade could not identify the man but said he was in his 30s.

When deputies arrived, the man came out of the house with two guns, Wade said. The officers backed off and called in the SWAT unit, he said. Before the SWAT unit arrived, a woman entered the home, Wade said.

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The man came out of the home about 2:45 a.m. with a shotgun, Wade said. When the man lifted the weapon, he was shot one time, Wade said.

He was taken by STARflight to University Medical Center at Brackenridge in critical condition, Wade said. There were no other injuries, he said.

Investigators are still on the scene, Wade said.

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