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June 2010

Police responding to homicide on I-35 North

Austin police are investigating a fatal stabbing in North Austin that left one man dead Wednesday.

Police said they responded to a stabbing call about 2 p.m. in the 9200 block of North Interstate 35, which is a Budget Lodge hotel.

Austin police Sgt. Keith Bazzle said they found a man at the location, but he would not say if the man was found in one of the hotel’s rooms or in the parking lot, and cited an ongoing investigation.

He said the man was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was later pronounced dead.

Bazzle did not say how many times or where the man was stabbed, nor would he say if a murder weapon was found.

He did not give any more information about the murder.

He said that police do not have a suspect in custody and that any witnesses should call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

This is Austin’s 15th homicide of 2010.


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Burnet Co. man arrested for 3rd degree felony marijuana possession

FROM THE BURNET COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE:

On Tuesday, June 29, 2010 Officers from the Burnet County Sheriffs Office Special Operations Unit, K-9 Unit, Tx. DPS CID agents, Burnet Police Department and Lampasas Police Department arrested 52 year old Gregory Robert Daponte for Possession of Marijuana, more than 4 ounces but less than 5 pounds, a State Jail Felony.

The arrest followed a traffic stop on US 281 at Park Road 4 south of Burnet on Tuesday evening. Officers followed up the initial arrest with a Search Warrant on Daponte’s residence, located at 2500 Co. Road 250 in Burnet County. An additional 12 pounds of Marijuana and $1000 dollars in currency were seized from the residence. Additional charges for Possession of Marijuana, more than 5 pounds but less than 50 pounds, a Third Degree Felony, are also pending on Daponte.

While at the residence, officers also discovered an area behind the house which contained a pit that is commonly used in the commission of cock fights. The investigation continues.

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Police seek assistance in finding missing adult

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Austin Police Department Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Jeffrey L. Brooks, last seen Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 4:40 p.m. at 919 East 32nd Street.

Brooks is described as: Black Male 6’04” 150lbs Black hair, braided in corn rows Brown eyes

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Although foul play is not suspected, detectives are concerned for his well-being because of medical issues.

Individuals who may have information concerning Jeffrey Brooks’ whereabouts are asked to call 9-1-1. This case remains under investigation by the APD Missing Persons Unit.

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LaBare dancer arrested in homicide case

Austin Police said today Maurice Michael McKnight, 42, was arrested Tuesday in Bexar County in connection with a homicide at LaBare strip club earlier this month.

McKnight was booked and released Tuesday by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, an Austin police official said. Last week, police said he faced a $15,000 bail.

McKnight was charged last week with manslaughter, accused of hitting a man at the Austin night club on June 12, police said. The patron, 37-year-old Kelvin Monroe, died June 18 from brain hemorrhaging.

Austin police investigators said Monroe got into an argument with McKnight inside LaBare, a male strip club, located in the 6400 block of North Interstate 35. Soon after, officials said, McKnight, a dancer at the night club, slapped Monroe in the face.

Officers were called to the club about 4 a.m. Monroe was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he later died, officials said. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

If convicted, McKnight faces a sentence of two to 20 years in prison.

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APD: Body found near Congress Ave. bridge

UPDATE: The man who was found dead has been identified as Evan Junot, 27, an Austin Police official said.

His cause of death is still trying to be determined, police said.

EARLIER: Austin police are investigating the discovery of a man’s body this morning off the south end of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, a police official said Wednesday.

Police said they received a call at 4:58 a.m. to investigate a suspicious bicycle and personal belongings sitting on the sidewalk next to the southbound lane at the 90th block of South Congress Avenue, said Austin Cpl. Wuthipong “Tank” Tantaksinanukij.

Police officials were seen investigating the scene on the bridge and as well as the thick-brushy shoreline below it Wednesday morning.

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Tantaksinanukij said the body of a male who may have been about 20 years old was discovered in the shoreline area below where the bicycle was found.

No other details about the man or what may have caused his death were released. The man needed to be identified and his family notified, Tantaksinanukij said.

“It’s being investigated as a suspicious death,” Tantaksinanukij said.

The right-hand lane of southbound South Congress Avenue and the portion of Lady Bird Lake Trail below the bridge were closed for several hours this morning as officials investigated.

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Bicyclist killed in South Austin

UPDATE: Austin Police Department officials have identified a bicyclist killed Monday in a collision with a dump truck.

The deceased was identified as Charles Cala, 41.

EARLIER: A man riding a bicycle was struck and killed by a dump truck this morning near the intersection of Interstate 35 and Ben White Boulevard, police said.

Austin police said the truck had been at a stoplight and was facing north on the Interstate 35 frontage road when he turned east onto the Ben White Boulevard frontage road.

Police said the cyclist was traveling east on the Ben White frontage road and that the truck driver did not see the cyclist.

Authorities describe the victim as a white male in his 40s from Austin.

His identity has not been released, pending notification of his family.

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Temple police seek info on ‘hoax’ bomb

From the Temple Police Department:

On Monday, June 28th, at about 2:45 pm, Temple Police responded to the Motel 6, 1100 North General Bruce Drive, in reference to a suspicious item. The first Officer arrived and determined the item could be an explosive device. The motel’s approximate five guests and three employees were evacuated from the building, and police called in the area’s experts, U.S. Army EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) personnel from Ft. Hood.

One Engine from Temple Fire & Rescue was at the scene, and stood by until released at about 7:00 pm.

At about 4:15 pm, EOD personnel arrived, and also determined the size, nature, and visible elements of the device were consistent with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). North General Bruce Drive’s southbound lanes were then closed from about 5 to 7:00 pm, while the EOD personnel worked to render the device inoperable. Using two small explosions, the device was opened, and EOD finished their work at about 6:50 pm.

Just after 7:00 pm on Monday, Temple Police, and an ATF agent who arrived to assist in the investigation, determined that the suspected explosive device was, in fact, a hoax bomb. The device appeared to be a “pipe bomb” containing several visible elements experts look for when determining if an object could be explosive in nature.  However, once the device was opened, a close inspection revealed that the interior was empty.

The device is now in evidence. Temple Police continue to investigate the case, to determine who brought the device to the Motel, and why.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Temple Police Department at 254-298-5500.

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Cedric Benson arrested, charged for incident at downtown Austin bar

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Former University of Texas football player Cedric Benson was arrested and charged with assault with injury early today after an incident last month at Annie’s West at 706 West Sixth Street, where officials said he punched a bar employee in the face.

The 27-year-old current running back for the Cincinnati Bengals had been involved in an altercation at the establishment and was being escorted out when he punched an employee, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit said the May 30 incident began at 1:50 a.m. when a fight began between Benson and an unknown person inside the bar. Club staff separated them, at which time Benson shoved a manager “in an attempt to continue the fight he was previously engaged in,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Benson spit blood from his injured lip at a bar employee.

Workers then asked Benson several times to leave.

“Benson refused, and was escorted out of the bar,” the affidavit said.

Outside, the affidavit said employees tried to prevent him from going back in. At that point, he punched “with his right fist to the left side” of an employee’s face, causing the employee to stumble backwards.

Reached on his cell phone, Benson asked the American-Statesman to call him later today.

Benson has posted bail and has been released from the Travis County Jail, according to jail records and officials.

He faces up to a year in jail if convicted of the Class A misdemeanor.

Benson started four years at running back for the University of Texas, from 2001 to 2004, after leading Midland Lee High School to three state championships.

The Chicago Bears drafted him with the fourth selection of the 2005 NFL draft. He was released in 2008. He signed a one-year contract that season with the Cincinnati Bengals and signed a two-year, $7-million contract with the team in 2009.

In 2008, Benson was arrested for two alcohol-related incidents, but a Travis County grand jury declined to indict him and charges were dropped.

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Teen remains in critical condition after skateboard accident

The son of Austin developer Gary Bradley remained in critical condition Tuesday morning at University Medical Center Brackenridge after a skateboarding accident Sunday night, a relative and a hospital official said.

Bradley said Monday that his son, 17-year-old Houston Bradley, has severe head trauma from falling off a skateboard and hitting the back of his head in a parking garage.

Bradley said the teen spent most of Sunday night in surgery, and doctors had to remove part of his skull to allow the swelling to go down. He said it will be about three days before they know whether the surgery succeeded.

“He was supposed to go on a mission trip to Santo Domingo” on Tuesday, Gary Bradley said Monday. “I’ve been through a lot in my life, but nothing like this. He’s the only person I’ve ever loved unconditionally.”

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Man charged in EZ Loan robbery

Austin police have charged Rubin Gutierrez, 33, in connection with a robbery last week of an EZ Loan business in North Austin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Gutierrez and an unidentified woman approached an employee at EZ Loan’s location at 7539 North Lamar Boulevard shortly after opening at 9 a.m. Thursday, the affidavit said. Moments later, Gutierrez made his way around the counter with a gun pointed at an employee and took money from a nearby register and safe, the affidavit said. He forced the employee to lie down on the ground before the couple left, the document said.

A red Dodge Durango was captured on surveillance video leaving the scene of the robbery, police said, and it was later spotted by an officer pulling into an apartment complex on Rutland Drive. Gutierrez was seen leaving the SUV and was later arrested, the affidavit said.

Travis County Jail records show Gutierrez was booked Saturday on a first-degree felony charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and is being held on $125,000 bail.

Police said they did not have further information on the case, including whether or not the unidentified woman would be charged.

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Police ID deceased man found in NE Travis County

UPDATE: The deceased has been identified as 26-year-old Dimtri Solis Delagarza. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office is still working to determine the cause of death.

EARLIER: Officials are investigating what led to the death of a man whose body was discovered in a cul de sac of Samoa Court in Pflugerville around 6 a.m. this morning, Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Roger Wade said.

Wade said officials received a 911 call from a man leaving his house who saw the lifeless body in the street.

The man has not yet been identified. Wade said the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office is working to determine the man’s identity and cause of death. According to Wade, there were also no obvious signs of foul play but officials should know more by Monday.


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Woman on sign slows morning commute on Research Boulevard

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A two-mile stretch of Research Boulevard was shut down in both directions this morning as emergency personnel rescued a woman who was on a small walkway for an overhead exit sign near Ohlen Road, an Austin police official said.

Research Boulevard was shut down in both directions from Interstate 35 to the Ohlen Road exits because the sign hangs over both sides of the highway, said Austin Lt. Todd Gage.

Austin police received the call about 7:20 a.m. and had all nearby lanes below the sign shut down by 7:45 a.m., Gage said.

The woman was coaxed down about an hour later, officials said, and lanes were reopened.

There were no other immediate details released about the woman, and it was unclear how she was able to scale the sign or why.

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Two injured in knife fight

Two men were injured after an apparent knife fight in East Austin early this morning, police officials said.

Austin police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said that around 5 a.m., a man approached a house at the 1200 block of Chicon Street and asked for help, saying he had been stabbed. When police arrived, they located another stabbing victim, Aguinaga said.

Aguinaga said the two men, ages 50 and 55, were engaged in a fight with one another, which led to the stabbing. One was treated at the scene and another was taken to University Medical Center at Brackenridge for surgery, she said. Their names have not been released.

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Body recovered from Lake Travis; drowning victim identified

UPDATE 2 P.M.: Travis County Sheriff’s officials have identified the deceased man as 31-year-old Stuart Kerley of Spicewood.

According to witnesses Kerley was diving off the boom of a crane, which is about 50 feet from the top of the crane to the water. He went into the water, appeared to take a breath, went under and then did not resurface.

Kerley was taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office where he will be examined to determine the cause of death.

UPDATE 11:15 A.M.: A body was recovered from the lake around 9:30 a.m., Wade said. The body was found in 60-foot-deep water, he said. No other details were available.

EARLIER: STAR Flight rescue swimmers searched tonight for a swimmer who went into Lake Travis near Spicewood but never came up, according to Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade.

The call about the incident near the 27000 block of Catamaran Drive in Travis County came in about 8:20 p.m., Wade said. The swimmer had been in the water about 20 minutes, he said.

Aside from sheriff’s officials and STAR Flight, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin Police Department and other agencies responded to the scene.

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Detectives seek assistance in Cameron Road Area Robberies

Update: The Cameron Road robberies that began on June 19 occurred at the following addresses: 6900 Cameron Road, 1500 Reagan Hill Drive, 1512 Reagan Hill Drive, 1521 Reagan Hill Drive and 1071 Clayton Lane.

Earlier: The Austin Police Department has issued the following news release:

Austin Police Department Robbery detectives are investigating six to seven robberies that began on June 19, 2010 to present. The robberies occurred between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. The suspects are targeting victims in apartment complex parking lots or walking along streets. The suspects often display weapons.

The suspects are described as 1 to 3 Black or Hispanic males in their late teens to early 20’s. One suspect is described as having corn-row braids. Another suspect was seen riding a BMX-style bicycle.

This case remains under investigation by APD Robbery detectives. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Robbery tip line at (512) 974- 5092, Crime Stoppers at (512) 472-TIPS or text “Tip 103” + your message to CRIMES. You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to an arrest or charges being filed.

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Man hit by bus in stable condition

Austin police said a man is in stable condition tonight after being hit by a Capital Metro bus about 5 p.m.

Police spokeswoman, Veneza Aguinaga, said the man was in the cross walk of Eighth and Colorado Streets when he was struck by the bus.

He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with non-life threatening injuries. Aguinaga said it was unclear if the driver of the bus had been cited.

Police are still investigating the incident.

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Teen in critical condition after water rescue

A 15-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was rescued from Lake Travis about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Officials said the girl was flown to University Medical Center Brackenridge and that her 8-year-old sister was taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center.

The 8-year-old told officials they were out by a private boat dock when they experienced what felt like an electric shock. She was found in distress by the dock, near the 14000 block of Arrowhead Trail, and the 15-year-old girl was found unresponsive in the water and went into cardiac arrest while rescuers were performing CPR on her, officials said.

Warren Hassinger, a spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, said officials are investigating what could have caused an electrical shock.


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Police seek suspects in EZ Loan robbery

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Austin Police officers responded to a robbery at the EZ Loan located at 7539 North Lamar Boulevard. Two suspects entered the business and acted like customers. The male suspect displayed a weapon and demanded money. The suspects then left the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was injured.

The suspects were seen in a red colored Dodge Durango SUV and are described as:

Hispanic Male 20’s to Early 30’s 5’08-5’11, 250-300 Dark hair Brown Eyes Short goatee beard or unshaven

He was last seen wearing a light grey long sleeved button down shirt.

Hispanic Female Late 20’s to early 30’s 5’02” in height with a medium build Long, straight, dark hair She was wearing a white colored short sleeve shirt and black pants. She was also carrying a large purse.

This case remains under investigation by APD Robbery detectives. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Robbery tip line at (512) 974- 5092, Crime Stoppers at (512) 472-TIPS or text “Tip 103” + your message to CRIMES. You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to an arrest or charges being filed.

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Burnet County Courthouse briefly evacuated due to suspicious activity

FROM THE BURNET COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE:

On Thursday, June 24, 2010, the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 South Pierce Street, Burnet, Texas was evacuated for approximately two hours in response to a suspicious activity investigation.

At approximately 9:50am the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office was notified that an unidentified male was observed leaving two unattended suitcases in the vicinity of a bench located on the first floor of the courthouse. Upon locating the suitcases and consulting with the Austin Police Department Bomb Unit, it was determined that the best course of action was to evacuate the entire courthouse and the buildings located around the courthouse square until the contents of these items could be determined.

The area remained evacuated until the arrival of the Austin Police Department Bomb Unit.

As the investigation by the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Burnet Police Department progressed, the identity of the owner of the suitcases was determined. The male, identified as James A. Keogh w/m 56, was questioned and released after the bomb unit determined that the contents of the suitcases were not hazardous.

The courthouse and surrounding buildings were reopened at approximately 11:45 am.

No charges are expected to be filed in this incident.

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LaBare dancer charged with manslaughter after nightclub fist fight

UPDATED: Removed reference by Austin police officials to this incident being counted among the city’s homicides.

Maurice McKnight, 42, has been charged with manslaughter, accused of punching a man during a fist fight at an Austin night club, police officials announced today.

The man, 37-year-old Kelvin Monroe, died days later.

Austin police investigators said Monroe got into an argument with McKnight inside the LaBare, a male strip club, located in the 6400 block of North Interstate 35, on June 12. Soon after, officials said, McKnight, a dancer at the night club, hit Monroe with his fist.

Officers were called to the club about 4 a.m. Monroe was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he died Friday, officials said. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

Police charged McKnight with manslaughter, a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years imprisonment. Officials said McKnight is not in custody.

The case is still under investigation, officials said. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the incident to call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

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Hang-glider found dead in Llano County

An Austin man who had been hang gliding over Packsaddle Mountain in Kingsland was found dead last night, the Llano County Sheriff’s Office said.

The body of 26-year-old John Seward was recovered about 8 p.m. from the mountain near County Road 309, the sheriff’s office said.

The case is currently under investigation as an accidental death, pending an autopsy report, the sheriff’s office said.

Llano county officials did not immediately release further details, such as whether Seward was hang gliding alone.


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Fire crews put out two-building fire

From Lake Travis Fire and Rescue:

On June 23, 2010 at approximately 7 PM, fire crews were called to the 1700 Blk. of South Quinlan Park Rd for a reported structure fire. First arriving fire crews found two maintenance buildings on fire. Fire crews kept the fires from spreading to adjacent structures in the complex by positioning attack hose lines in place between the fire buildings and the uninvolved structures. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. There were no injuries reported. Total dollar loss was not available at time of this press release.

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Two soldiers killed in Fort Hood auto accident

Fort Hood officials have released the names of two soldiers who died June 19 at Fort Hood in an automobile accident.

Officials have not released details about the wreck and said it is under investigation.

Spc. Nickolaus Gregory Gossack, 23, of Silverton, Ore., joined the military in February 2008 as an infantryman and was assigned since August 2008 to Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood.

Pfc. Christopher Scott Herrick, 21, of Morganton, N.C., joined the military in December 2008 as an infantryman and was assigned since May 2010 to Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood.

Gossack deployed to Iraq from December 2008 to December 2009.

Gossack’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and Army Service Ribbon.

Herrick’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

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Body of missing man recovered in Lake Buchanan

Authorities have found the body of an Arlington man who drowned on Lake Buchanan Saturday afternoon.

Crews from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Burnet County sheriff’s office found the body of 56-year-old Keith Howell shortly before 2:30 p.m. today, LCRA spokeswoman Clara Tuma said.

Authorities have said that witnesses reported seeing Howell swim from a boat and go under water between Thunderbird Cove and Shaw Island.

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Man charged with selling marijuana on craigslist.org

Recent items listed for sale on craigslist.org: books, jewelry, cell phones — and marijuana.

Brett Lewis Lagrone posted an ad on the website and tried to sell marijuana, according to an arrest affidavit filed today.

An undercover narcotics officer took him up on the offer.

The ad’s title indiscretely read, “need that 420? - m4mw- 27 (183 and duval),” and the body of the ad read, “i got it, hit me up asap,” the affidavit said.

The officer responded to the ad on June 15, and within an hour, Lagrone gave away his identity when he replied via email, saying, “yes sir =)”, the affidavit said.

The 27-year-old was offering him “northern lights,” a type of indoor-grown marijuana that is pricier and more potent, the affidavit said.

Lagrone ran out of the drug before the officer could make face-to-face contact, but Lagrone promised he would contact the officer after he got more, the affidavit said.

Five days later, Lagrone texted the officer, telling him he had “silver cush,” which is another type of high-quality, indoor-grown marijuana, the affidavit said.

The two arranged a rendezvous on Monday at the Schlotzsky’s Deli located at 5105 Balcones Woods, affidavit.

After the transaction was complete, the officer sent out a prearranged arrest signal and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team arrested Lagrone, the affidavit said.

Lagrone was charged with delivery of marijuana with a bail of $8,000, the affidavit said.

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Man charged with indecent exposure at Jack in the Box

A mother-daughter lunch was interrupted Monday at Jack in the Box, 110 East William Cannon Drive, when a man exposed himself through the window, according to an arrest affidavit.

Carmen Garcia and her 14-year-old daughter were eating their lunch at a table near the kitchen entrance and the bathroom hallway when Jose Maximo Batz, 21, stood outside the window near their table and exposed himself, according to the document.

Garcia then called 911, the affidavit said. Batz entered the restaurant and looked at the two women as he went into the bathroom, the affidavit said.

Police arrived at the scene and arrested Batz as he exited the restroom, the affidavit said.

He was arrested and charged with indecent exposure, a class B misdemeanor, on $3,000 bail, the affidavit said. He was in the Travis County Jail Wednesday afternoon, according to jail records.

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Temple officer arrests two burglary suspects

FROM THE TEMPLE POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Tuesday, at about 9:15 am, a Temple Police Officer was checking on a vacant building at 612 Industrial Blvd., when he noticed two suspicious men leave in a pickup truck. He was able to catch up to the truck in his car, and stop them. Other Officers went to the building and discovered it had been burglarized.

Officers continued their investigation and found that the copper wiring and other items in the suspects’ truck had just been stolen from the building. Both men were arrested for Burglary of a Building, and taken to Bell County Jail.

The property was returned to the building owner.

The two suspects are identified as: Randy Rasberry, age 37, of Tomball, Texas Robert Hamilton, age 28, of Temple

Investigators will review this case later today with the Bell County District Attorney’s Office, and bond will be set thereafter.

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Dozens of credit card numbers stolen from Driskill guests

The credit card numbers of dozens of recent guests at the downtown Driskill Hotel were stolen after thieves hacked into the accounting network for the hotel’s management company, officials said.

Austin police said they are still trying to determine the exact number of local victims, but that up to 700 people who stayed at about three dozen properties managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts nationally may have been affected.

Austin police are investigating the local thefts; agents for the U.S. Secret Service are investigating who accessed the accounting system for the company, based in Englewood, Colo.

“We are looking at losses in the hundreds of thousands, so it is pretty serious,” said Austin police Sgt. Matt Greer, who supervises the department’s financial crimes unit. “Usually, the losses are with the bank.”

Greer said hotel officials discovered and halted the breach this month and that they think most of the thefts happened in the past couple of months. He said that in some instances, authorities think the credit card numbers were sold in batches online, allowing them to be used at other merchants and businesses.

Driskill vice president and managing director John Spomer said in a statement that the company has reviewed its credit card network and that “selective credit card data from some of our customers may have been illegally swept from our network by outside professionals and subsequently used by them.”

He said the company has put measures in place and that “to the extent that any customer data was stolen from our network, we believe that the potential for any future such activity related to this threat will now be stopped.”

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Roads to close for July 4 Austin fireworks display

From the City of Austin:   Motorists traveling near Lady Bird Lake in the downtown area should expect delays between 10 a.m. Sunday, July 4, 2010 and 12 midnight Monday, July 5, 2010 for the Fourth of July concert and fireworks at Auditorium Shores.   10 a.m. - Full road closures will begin at 10 a.m. on W. Riverside Drive between S. 1st Street and Lee Barton Drive.

Bouldin Avenue and Dawson Road will be restricted to local traffic only beginning at 10 a.m. between Barton Springs Road to Christopher Street.   3 p.m. - A road closure along West Cesar Chavez Street will begin at 3 p.m. between S. 1st Street and Mopac Boulevard. North and southbound MoPac will be detoured to 5th Street and Enfield/15th Street.   6 p.m. - South 1st Street will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. between Barton Springs Road and Cesar Chavez Street.   All streets will reopen no later than 12 midnight.

Parking is recommended in the downtown area, north of Lady Bird Lake, to avoid congestion in and around Lamar Boulevard, Barton Springs Road and Riverside Drive. In addition, The Bouldin Creek Neighborhood will have neighborhood parking restrictions in place for safety.

There are numerous public downtown parking garages north of Lady Bird Lake. To view a map of garage locations, visit: http://www.downtownaustin.com/img/maps/parking.jpg

Additional City of Austin garages are open including One Texas Center, Palmer Center Garage, and City Hall Garage.

ADA Parking will be by permit at the Palmer Events Center Garage on a first come, first served basis. Entrance is from the south via westbound Barton Springs Road.

For a complete list of street closures, visit: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/specialevents/downloads/4thofjuly_closures.pdf

For a map of street closures, visit: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/specialevents/downloads/4thofjuly_map.pdf  

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AFD: Fireworks on sale tomorrow, illegal in city limits

From the Austin Fire Department

Fireworks go on sale tomorrow, June 24 and with the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner, the Austin Fire Department (AFD) is issuing a reminder today to all citizens that fireworks are illegal within the Austin city limits. Each year, there are hundreds of brush, grass, and structure fires across the state started by fireworks, doing millions of dollars in damage and risking the lives of innocent bystanders. Nationally, there is an average of more 10,000 injuries per year from fireworks, with 40 percent of those being children ages 10-14.

It is illegal to possess fireworks within the City of Austin. It is illegal to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin and within 5,000 feet outside the city limits. The fine is $568.00; that may not seem like much but if your fireworks cause bodily harm and/or property damage, AFD can charge you with assault and/or arson, both felony crimes. The Austin Police Department will be responding to fireworks complaint calls made to the 311 system. Please remind citizens not to call 911 for fireworks complaints; they should call 311.   The U.S. Department of Transportation does not classify the following items listed as common fireworks, and their use is allowed within the City of Austin:

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Police: Registered sex offender stole laptops from company

A registered sex offender accused of stealing laptops from a local company and accessing child pornography has been arrested, court records show.

Peter Frank Gregorich, 48, has been charged with theft, a state jail felony. He is in the Travis County Jail on $10,000 bail, records show.

Two laptops were reported stolen May 10 from public-relations firm Porter Novelli after they were placed in front of a FedEx drop box to be delivered to Boston but never made it to their destination, an arrest affidavit said.

Detectives were able to track the computers to Gregorich using anti-theft software call “Lojack for Laptops” that has a function that can track keystrokes, the affidavit said. The user typed his birth date, e-mail address and phone number and used his Social Security number as a password for a wireless network, the affidavit said. Gregorich searched for child pornography while he was in possession of the laptops, it said.

Gregorich was previously convicted of indecency with a child by exposure in Montgomery County in 2002, records show.

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After flurry of drownings, hospital officials offer tips for parents to prevent drownings

Healthcare professionals want to remind Central Texans that summer is a high-risk time for child drownings.

Officials from Dell Children’s Medical Center held a press conference today at Patterson Park Pool to promote increased awareness of child drowning incidents and how they can be prevented.

Last weekend was especially deadly on Central Texas lakes and rivers. Keith Howell, 56, is believed to have drowned in Lake Buchanan Saturday afternoon; his body has not been found. Early Sunday morning, Scott Douglas Hughes, 31, and his 5-year-old son, Ethan, drowned in Lake Georgetown after their car went into the lake. Later that day, 18-year-old Jose De Jesus Renteria Contreras drowned in the Blanco River between Kyle and San Marcos while he was attempting to swim across it.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional deaths between the ages of one and 14, said Pat Crocker, medical director of the hospital’s Emergency Department.

“Learning about that after my son’s death was so frustrating,” said Jeff Holst, the founder of Colin’s Hope, a nonprofit organization created in memory of his son Colin, who drowned two years ago.

In the last two and a half years, Dell Children’s Medical Center has seen 86 near-drowning incidents and 13 drownings, Crocker said.

Six months into the year, the hospital has seen 15 near-drowning incidents and two drownings, Crocker said.

“The common thread is that they are predictable accidents,” Crocker said.

Holst offered four tips that parents should keep in mind during the summer months: maintaining adult supervision, putting barriers around pools, teaching children how to swim and knowing CPR.

“No one will watch your child as closely as you,” Holst said.

A child can drown in 20 to 30 seconds, which is why interruptions to supervision, like cell phones or reading a magazine, could be fatal, said Juliette Brown, injury prevention coordinator for the hospital.

With the 4th of July weekend approaching, it’s important to remember these preventative measures, Crocker said.

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Round Rock boil-water notice lifted

A boil-water notice for four neighborhoods in Round Rock has been lifted, according to a statement from the city.

The notice was issued for Stone Oak, Preserve at Stone Oak, Mayfield Ranch and Vista Oaks neighborhoods yesterday after a power failure at Round Rock’s treatment plant, the city said.

The outage caused distribution problems and resulted in loss of water pressure and loss of service in the northern part of Round Rock. Water samples tested from the area yesterday, however, showed no contamination, the city said.

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18-year-old drowns in Dudley Johnson Park in Hays County


MONDAY UPDATE

The victim from the drowning at Dudley Johnson Park on Sunday was identified Monday as Jose De Jesus Renteria Contreras of Buda. He was 18..


FROM SUNDAY

The body of an 18-year-old man was recovered from the Blanco River between Kyle and San Marcos just after 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the Hays County sheriff’s office.

The man, who presumably drowned, had attempted to swim from the east shore of the river to the west shore at Dudley Johnson Park at 4444 S. Old Stagecoach Road, also known as Five Mile Dam Park, about 4:45 p.m.. He was last seen going under near the west shore, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office, along with the Kyle Fire Department and San Marcos Area Recovery Team equipped with scuba gear, responded to the scene.

The victim’s name is not being released, pending notification of next of kin, officials said. An autopsy has been ordered.

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Man injured when truck crashed into home dies

A man who was injured June 12 when a truck crashed into the South Austin home where he was staying died Thursday, police said today.

Randy Jordan Williams, 43, was a resident of a home for people with disabilities near William Cannon Drive and Stage Coach Trail, police said. The driver of the pickup, Jose Luis Sanchez, has been charged with intoxication assault, failure to stop and render aid and evading, police said. Charges of intoxication manslaughter are now pending, police said.

Police say Sanchez was driving a pickup west on William Cannon about 9 p.m. when he struck a motorcyclist who was also traveling west. Sanchez then fled the scene, police said, but lost control, crashed into a fence and then into the home. The truck came to a rest on top of Williams, who was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with bleeding in his brain and two broken legs, police said.

Police arrested Sanchez in the backyard of a nearby home after a brief foot chase and a “violent struggle,” an affidavit said.

Police said that his breath smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy at the time of arrest; he also mumbled and slurred his speech, the affidavit said.

Sanchez was also taken to Brackenridge, where he voluntarily gave blood and was found to be intoxicated, the affidavit said.

Sanchez was not listed in jail records today.

The motorcycle driver suffered a broken leg in the crash, officials said.

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Man charged in bank robbery


MONDAY UPDATE

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Patrick Toomey, 29, was arrested Saturday and charged with the robbery of the IBC bank at 1100 Lakeline Boulevard on Wednesday. He was charged with robbery by threat, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He was arrested without incident by the Texas Violent Crimes Taskforce, which consists of the FBI, Round Rock police and Austin police.

The case remains under investigation by Austin police. Anyone with information on the incident should call 974-5092.


EARLIER

Austin police said are looking for a man who they say robbed a bank about 8 p.m. Wedensday night in North Austin.

Sgt. Keith Bazzle with the department said employees said the man walked into the IBC bank at 1100 Lakeline Boulevard and demanded cash. Bazzle said the man then fled on foot.

The man did not display a weapon and no injuries were reported, Bazzle said. The suspect is described as a white male in his 30s and his photo taken from surveillance at the bank can be found at right.

Any witnesses are asked to call the robbery hotline at 974-5092.

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Woman killed in Friday crash on MoPac identified

A woman who was killed Friday night in a single-vehicle crash on MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) has been identified as Norma Papazoni, 80, Austin police said in a statement.

Papazoni was a passenger in a four-door Mercury that was traveling south on the service road near Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) about 9:30 p.m. when the car veered off the roadway and hit a light pole, the release said. Papazoni was pronounced dead on the scene, it said. Police on Friday had reported that Papazoni was driving the vehicle.

Alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the crash, the release said. The driver, whose identity has not been released, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with serious injuries.

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Man accused of stealing car on test drive

John Albert Green made off with a used car during a test drive, according to an arrest warrant. Except, it says, he left behind one crucial possession: his driver’s license.

According to the document filed today, Green, 37, entered Action Motors on Lamar Boulevard on June 5 with an unidentified woman. The couple insisted that they be allowed to test drive a car alone. Salesman Joe Romano refused but did accompany them as the woman drove to nearby Texas Central Motors, also on Lamar, the affidavit said.

Once there, the couple told Romano that they no longer wanted to do business with him or Action Motors, the affidavit said. Romano drove his vehicle back to Action Motors and the couple approached Texas Central Motors salesman Mehrdad Mohebi and asked about a test drive. According to the warrant, Green told Mohebi that his girlfriend had recently inherited a large sum of money and was looking to buy a car.

While Mohebi was making a copy of Green’s driver’s license in the front office, he got a call from Romano, warning him that he thought Green was trying to steal a vehicle, the affidavit said. When Mohebi stepped back outside, he saw the woman driving off in a 1997 white Mercedes with Green in the front passenger seat, it said.

Mohebi, however, still had Green’s license and called police. Because the value of the property stolen is over $1, 500, Green has been charged with theft, a state jail felony. He has not been arrested.

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Boil water notice issued for Round Rock subdivisions

From the City of Round Rock:

The City of Round Rock issued a boil water notice for the Stone Oak, Preserve at Stone Oak and Mayfield Ranch subdivisions after a power failure at the City’s water treatment plant caused system distribution problems this morning.

Williamson County Municipal Utility District No. 9, which serves the Vista Oaks subdivision next to Mayfield Ranch and is a wholesale customer of the City of Round Rock, has also issued a boil water notice.

Affected customers who want to use tap water for consumption, cooking and ice-making should boil and cool the water prior to consumption. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

This notice is given as a precaution to ensure destruction of any harmful bacteria that may have become present when water pressure dropped below 20 psi.

Water samples have been taken from the affected areas. Test results will be available by 6 a.m. Tuesday, June 22.

A boil water notice is NOT notification that the City’s Water System is contaminated. When an event such as a water leak or pipeline break occurs and the water pressure drops below 20 psi, the City, as a precaution to ensure the public health, issues a boil water notice and collects bacteriological samples for analysis.

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Father, son die in Lake Georgetown

A father and son died after their car drove off a boat ramp into Lake Georgetown at Cedar Breaks Park about 11 p.m. Saturday, said Assistant Chief Kevin Stofle with the Georgetown Police Department.

Scott Douglas Hughes, 31, and his 5-year-old son, Ethan Hughes, from Georgetown, were pronounced dead at the scene at 1:50 a.m. Sunday.

Four witnesses at the boat ramp who were waiting to exit the lake said they saw Hughes’ black 2009 Chevrolet Impala drive off the ramp. The witnesses told police that Hughes’ vehicle neither sped up nor slowed down when approaching the water where the posted speed limit is 10 mph, Stofle said.

The witnesses tried to rescue the father and son, as did as responders from Georgetown police, the Williamson County sheriff’s office, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Lake Georgetown.

Stofle said at one point a dozen officers shed their gear and tried swimming down to the vehicle that sunk to a depth of 20 feet.

Investigators do not know why the father and son’s vehicle drove into the water.

“It’s too preliminary in the investigation to know that at this time,” Stofle said.

When a wrecker pulled the vehicle from the water, officers noticed that two of the vehicle’s windows were down, Stofle said.

Cedar Breaks Park, located on the south shore, is one of three parks in the area with a boat ramp. Lake Georgetown was busy this past weekend and is nearly full at about 792 feet, Stofle said.

“It’s a very popular spot, especially because it’s a holiday weekend with Father’s Day and the start of summer,” he said.

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Search continues for man missing on Lake Buchanan

Update Tuesday: Search teams continue to look for 56-year-old Keith Howell, who went missing in Lake Buchanan on Saturday, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department official said.

Earlier: Rescue officials on Saturday evening were looking for a 56-year-old man who may have drowned on Lake Buchanan Saturday afternoon.

Capt. Kevin Davis, a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife, said witnesses saw the man swim from a boat, get into some trouble and go under the water.

“Eyewitnesses on the scene indicate a drowning,” Davis said.

Davis said the possible drowning occurred shortly before 2 p.m. between Thunderbird Cove and Shaw Island.

Officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority and Burnet County Sheriff’s Department were joining in the search and recovery effort, Davis said.

Officials did not release the man’s name.

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Firefighters save dog from South Austin blaze

An afternoon fire tore through a South Austin home today, displacing one resident and causing $100,000 worth of damage, according to Austin Fire Department officials.

Fire officials said they were able to save a basset hound who was inside the home at 2102 Rabb Glen St. Officials ruled the fire accidental and said it was caused by an electrical malfunction in the air conditioning unit.

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Man injured when gas line ignites in West Austin

An AT&T employee was injured with what officials described as minor burns after he struck a gas line that ignited in West Austin, fire officials said.

The incident happened in the 4000 block of Belmont Park Drive near the intersection of Loop 360 and Westlake Drive.

Fire officials said crews are attempting to turn off the gas that flows through the line.

EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said the employee refused treatment for burns on his hands and arms.

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Man faces capital murder charges in 32-year-old cold case

New DNA evidence has led to capital murder charges in a 32-year-old Williamson County cold case.

Benny Tijerina Jr. was arrested on Thursday and bail was set at $1 million, after a Williamson County grand jury indicted him on two counts of capital murder and one count of murder, court records show.

He is accused of shooting Rita Salazar and Frank “Kevin” Key on Nov. 5, 1978, according to the indictment.

The indictment says Tijerina shot Salazar while committing or attempting to commit aggravated rape or kidnapping. It said he shot Key while committing or attempting to commit robbery or kidnapping.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said the case went unsolved until DNA from the crime scene was matched through the Combined Offender DNA Index System to Tijerina.

Tijerina did not have an attorney on file as of Friday afternoon.

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Man attempts to hold up gas station with caulk gun

Police have issued an arrest warrant for a man accused of injuring a gas station clerk while attempting to rob him — with a caulk gun.

The suspect fled the scene in the company of a transgender prostitute he’d picked up earlier in the evening, according to an affidavit issued by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit says the clerk, Johnnie Limuel, 68, told police that a man dressed in women’s clothing entered the Speedy Stop on East 51st Street around 4 a.m. June 7 and bought a pack of cigarettes and $5 worth of gas, the affidavit said.

Just after he walked out to a red pickup truck at a gas pump, another man — who police later identified as Jose Alejandro Romero, 17 — walked into the store with a caulk gun partially visible under a white t-shirt, the affidavit said.

The man pointed the caulk gun at Limuel and demanded money, the affidavit said.

Limuel told police he thought it was a joke when he saw the caulk gun, but the assailant continued to demand money, the affidavit said.

The man struck Limuel with the caulk gun after he could not open the cash drawer, the affidavit said, then Limuel struck back, hitting the man with a plastic trash can.

The assailant left the store without any money and sped off in the red pickup truck, the affidavit said.

The other man, later identified as Kenneth Williams, a transgender prostitute, told police that Romero had picked him up from the street before the attempted robbery, the affidavit said.

Williams spent the night driving around with Romero as he got money from several locations including his mobile home to buy and smoke crack, the affidavit said.

It was during this time that Williams suggested they stop at a gas station, because he wanted to buy cigarettes, the affidavit said.

Police confirmed Romero’s identity yesterday when they visited his mobile home where his mother also lives, the affidavit said.

Police have not arrested Romero, who has been charged with aggravated robbery, the affidavit said.

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Temple police issue silver alert

Update: Silver alert has been cancelled. A Texas DPS Trooper found Mrs. Tolliver in good health, in Hill County, Texas at about 8 am this morning.


From the Temple Police Department:

Temple Police are preparing at this hour to issue a silver alert for a missing adult female who is a Dementia patient.

Elsie Tolliver, age 84, was last seen leaving Scott and White Hospital at about 11 am, when she got into a 2002 red Ford Explorer with Texas license plate # RKB9DV. Her car was last seen traveling northbound on S. 31st Street at that time. She has not returned to her home in Killeen, Texas, nor have any of her relatives or friends heard from her.

She is a white female about 5-5, 123 lbs. She was last seen wearing a light colored blouse and blue shorts, and is pictured at right.

Anyone with information as to her whereabouts is urgently asked to contact the Temple Police Department at (254)298-5500.

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Man succumbs to motorcycle injuries

Austin police said today that a 38-year-old man died from injuries he sustained in a collision Tuesday in South Austin.

Police said Paul Hernandez was riding his motorcycle in the 5500 block of Emerald Forest Drive about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. Police said he was behind a southbound silver Honda that slowed down to turn left onto a side street.

Hernandez failed to slow quickly enough, police said, and was thrown from the motorcycle when it hit the Honda.

Hernandez was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with serious injuries, and he died Thursday, according to police.

The driver of the Honda was not injured nor are any charges pending in the case, police said. They also said a blood test by the medical examiner’s office showed that Hernandez had a blood alcohol level of .24, more than twice the legal limit.

Austin vehicular homicide are asking any witnesses to call 974-8164 as the case remains under investigation.

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Three indicted on capital murder charges in April shooting death

A Williamson County grand jury today indicted three people with capital murder for a fatal shooting two months ago, court records show.

Bobby Ray Burks Jr., Veronica Evonne Ortiz and Isabel Michelle Gonzales could face the death penalty if convicted. All three were previously charged with aggravated robbery related to the April 18 shooting.

They are being held in the Williamson County jail with bail set at $1 million each.

Police say the women lured two men they’d met at an Austin club to a rural part of Williamson County, near FM 1660 and FM 973.

Burks, who was working in partnership with the two women, approached the men — Raul Vizveth-Torres and Jorge Castaneda - in their vehicle and robbed them, police said. Burks shot Vizveth-Torres, who later died at a hospital in Austin, police said.

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3,000 without power this morning in Hutto

UPDATE: The power is back on in Hutto, a police official said.

The officer said the cause of the outage is still unknown. The blackout lasted about two hours from 4:45 a.m. to 7:00 a.m this morning.

From Williamson County:

There is a power outage this morning in Hutto. The outage affects approximately 3,000 homes and businesses south of US 79 and west of Exchange Boulevard in Hutto.

Commuters should be aware that law enforcement personnel are directing traffic on US 79 where traffic signal lights are not working. TXU is aware of the problem and is working to have the issue resolved this morning.

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Another charge filed against pickup driver

Update: Jose Luis Sanchez, the driver of a pickup who was charged with striking a motorcycle and crashing into a home for people with disabilities, was found to be intoxicated at the time of the collision Monday, according to an affidavit filed by the Austin Police Department.

Police said that his breath smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy at the time of arrest; he also mumbled and slurred his speech, the affidavit said.

Sanchez was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he voluntarily gave blood, the affidavit said.

Police then concluded the cause of the crash was his intoxication, the affidavit said. Sanchez was charged with intoxication assault.

Earlier: A man was arrested Saturday striking a motorcyclist with his pickup truck, then crashing into a residence and seriously injuring a disabled resident before fleeing the scene, according to an arrest affidavit filed by the Austin Police Department.

Jose Luis Sanchez, 19, struck the motorcyclist, who suffered a broken leg, at the intersection of West William Cannon Drive and Stage Coach Trail around 9 p.m., the affidavit said.

Sanchez then crashed into a residence for disabled people, and “The truck drove completely into the residence where it became stuck,” the affidavit said.

The truck struck a man in a wheelchair who was inside the house, the affidavit said, and the impact caused bleeding in the man’s brain and broke both of his legs. He was taken to the hospital and placed in the Intensive Care Unit, the affidavit said.

Police arrested Sanchez for failure to stop and render aid after he was found in the backyard of a nearby home and arrested after a brief foot chase and “a violent struggle,” the affidavit said.

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Bicyclist struck, killed on Cameron Road

A bicyclist was killed Tuesday night in Northeast Austin when he failed to yield the right of way and was hit by a minivan, police said today.

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Charlie Pink Jr., 62, at right, was riding his bike south in the 8800 block of Cameron Road at 9:35 p.m. when he attempted to turn left onto a side street and was struck by a northbound Dodge Caravan. Pink was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Caravan was not injured, police said.

Alcohol and speed did not appear to be factors in the crash, police said, and Pink was wearing a helmet. It appears that none of the lights on the bike were operational, officials said, adding that no charges are expected to be filed.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call detectives at 974-4724.

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Bicyclist struck, killed by minivan

From the Austin Police Department:

On Tuesday, June 15, 2010, at 9:35 p.m., Austin Police Officers responded to a crash in the 8800 block of Cameron Road.

A preliminary investigation shows that a gray Dodge Caravan was traveling northbound in the 8800 block of Cameron Rd. A bicycle, ridden by Charlie Pink, was traveling southbound in the 8800 block of Cameron Rd. Pink attempted to turn left onto a side street, failed to yield the right of way and was struck by the Dodge. Pink was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the Dodge was not injured.

It does not appear that alcohol or speed was a factor in this crash. Pink was wearing a helmet. It is believed that none of the lights on the bicycle were operational.

No charges are anticipated in this case.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call APD Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives at (512) 974-4724. This case remains under investigation.
This is the 21st fatality of 2010. At this time in 2009 there were 36 fatalities in Austin.

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Austin man sentenced to 55 years for robbery

From a Hays County announcement:

An Austin man was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the commission of an aggravated robbery on October 11, 2008. Ronald Glenn Boston Jr., 29, was sentenced by a Hays County jury for the offense in which Boston and and Jacob Hemphill, 23, robbed an 83-year-old convenience store clerk in the 1500 block of Aquarena Springs Drive in San Marcos.

Boston (pictured) and Hemphill entered the store, held the clerk at bay with a handgun, and removed approximately $200 from the cash register.

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A store surveillance video captured images of the vehicle the two used when they fled the scene. A subsequent investigation tied that vehicle into two other aggravated robberies committed in Austin. Boston and Hemphill were arrested by the Austin Police Department at which time Boston was observed placing a rifle in the trunk of the car used in the robberies.

Judge Bill Henry ordered that the 55 year sentence run consecutively with a 10 year sentence Boston is serving out of Travis County. Boston, who had six prior felony convictions, must serve one-half of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

Hemphill was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in December 2009, said Fred Weber, a Hays County assistant district attorney.

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Two teens charged in ice cream theft

Two 19-year-olds went to extreme lengths to get an ice cream fix Sunday.

Dravion Kemp (left) and Ernest Smith (right) have been charged with robbing Jesus Garcia as he parked his portable ice cream cooler at 10401 N. Lamar Blvd.

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According to the affidavit for their arrest, Kemp and Smith approached Garcia to purchase ice cream but ran off without paying. The affidavit said that when Garcia chased them, they turned and punched him in the head. While he was down, one of the suspects went into Garcia’s pockets and took two cell phones, the affidavit said.

Kemp and Smith then ran back to the ice cream cooler and stole a few more ice cream bars before running to the Arrowhead Apartment complex across the street, the affidavit said.

An Austin police officer arrested the pair in the breezeway of the Arrowhead Apartments; several ice cream wrappers were found on the ground near them, the affidavit said. Garcia’s cell phones were recovered from Kemp and Smith, the affidavit said.

Both men were charged with robbery by assault — a second degree felony. Smith’s bail is set at $25,000; Kemp’s bail is $18,000.

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Officials: Pipe repair caused apartment fire yesterday

Update Tuesday: The cause of the fire at an East Austin apartment complex yesterday was a faulty pipe repair, the Austin Fire Department said today.

Plumbers were using heat in the normal process of preventing leaks, and residual heat from the repair started the fire, officials said.

Officials said this is not a common cause of fires.

Earlier: Two apartments were damaged, and an East Austin apartment complex was evacuated while fire fighters fought a blaze about 5: 30 p.m. Monday.

A firefighter and one person were taken to a hospital with heat-related injuries, officials said.

Officials said the fire at 2425 Elmont Drive caused all of the apartments at the Garden Oaks Apartments to lose power. Everyone was evacuated and two units were damaged, fire officials said.

The American Red Cross, apartment management and the Austin Fire Department are helping some of the occupants relocate. The department said there was about $300,000 in damage.


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Plane lands in field near Liberty Hill

Department of Public Safety and Williamson County officials have responded to a small airplane that landed in a field east of Liberty Hill, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Foster said.

Foster said no injuries were reported.

He said the plane landed just after 4 p.m. in a field near the intersection of Texas 29 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Three people were on board, according to DPS. Their identities were not available.

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Soldier from Smithville died in Afghanistan

Sgt. Mario Rodriguez Jr., 24, of Smithville was killed in combat in Afghanistan Friday.

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Rodriguez, who was based at Ft. Hood, is the third servicemember from Smithville to be killed in Afghanistan within the past year.

Although details are still unclear, the military has told the Rodriguez family that Mario was on a mission when he was hit by gunfire.

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Cedar Park deaths apparent murder-suicide

Cedar Park police today said that the deaths of 20-year-old Amanda Simmons and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Christopher Bowling, were likely the result of a murder-suicide.

Police found the couple’s bodies about 6:30 p.m. on Friday night in a Cedar Park apartment, at 900 Discovery Blvd., that they shared, officials said.

Officers forced their way into the apartment after being asked by Simmons’ father to check on the couple’s whereabouts, officials said.

Preliminary autopsy results released today from the Travis County medical examiner’s office showed that Simmons and Bowling both died of gunshot wounds, Cedar Park Police Chief Henry Fluck said.

He said the preliminary report determined the couple’s manner of death was a murder-suicide.

Fluck said the case remains under investigation. However, he said investigators suspect Bowling shot Simmons.

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Police: Man found dead in home was growing mushrooms

UPDATE: Officials have identified the man as Thomas Elliot Thacker, 60. Officials say his death is not being considered suspicious.

EARLIER: A man found dead in his Bouldin Creek home Monday was conducting a grow operation for hallucinogenic mushrooms, though he did have a lab, the Austin Police Department said today.

Officials said that the chemicals the man was using were not explosive but the that hazardous materials team was called out because those chemicals could be hazardous if inhaled.

The grow operation caused no danger to anybody else, officials said.

The cause of death is still being investigated, but officials said it is not considered suspicious.

Police have not released the man’s identity.

EARLIER:Austin police said a man was found dead in his Bouldin Creek home Monday night, next to an illegal lab inside the residence.

Sgt. Jamie Jobes said the call came in about 4 p.m. after the woman had found her husband dead in the 1200 block of South Third Street.

Jobes said officers arrived to find the man unresponsive and also found a clandestine lab during a routine search of the home.

The man, who Jobes said was in his late 50’s, did not appear to have trauma to his body and Austin homicide’s unit does not believe his death was suspicious.

He did not identify the man due to pending notification of family members.

Jobes said the officers who found the lab called the hazardous materials team and officials are still investigating the substances found in the home to determine what the man was making.


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Motorcycle passenger dead after driver flees scene

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Police arrested a man for failure to stop and render aid after he crashed his motorcycle injuring his passenger early Sunday morning, according to a statement released today by the Austin Police Department.

Daniel Rios Ortega, 28, was traveling north on Cameron Road with Barbara Ann Garza, 36, when he struck the median and lost control of the motorcycle, the statement said.

Both were ejected from the motorcycle and neither was wearing a helmet, the statement said.

Ortega ran off and left Garza at the scene critically injured; she was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge and later pronounced dead, the statement said.

Police located Ortega soon after at a nearby hotel and was treated for injuries before he was arrested, the statement said.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call vehicular homicide detectives at 974-8543.

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Motorcyclist killed in wreck in Travis County

A motorcyclist was killed in a one-vehicle crash in Western Travis County early this morning, according to an official from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

David Torres, 44, of El Paso, was headed east on Comanche Trail when he lost control and drove into the median near Monte Castillo Parkway, the official said.

The impact ejected Torres from his seat; he was not wearing a helmet, the official said.

There were no other people involved in the crash, the official said.

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Police: Vince Young cited for assault in Dallas

Video from ESPN.com

DALLAS — Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young received a misdemeanor assault citation after getting into a fight at a Dallas strip club and leaving before authorities arrived early Sunday, police said.

Surveillance video footage released by police showed the former University of Texas star and several people talking in a small room before Young attacked someone in the room. Others tried to break up the fight.

Young wasn’t at Club Onyx when police responded to a call about the fight, said Dallas police Lt. Andy Harvey.

Harvey said an investigation led to Young receiving a Class C assault citation, punishable by a fine up to $500.

Titans spokesman Robbie Bohren said the team was aware of the incident and had contacted Young. He said the team was still gathering information. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a tweet that the league “will look into it.”

Titans coach Jeff Fisher was holding his annual charity softball game Sunday night in Nashville. Young was not on the early list of players committed to appear in the game.

The Titans resume on-field sessions Monday.

Young, the No. 3 pick overall in 2006, got his starting job back last fall when Tennessee started 0-6 and owner Bud Adams put him back in the lineup. He helped the Titans win eight of their final 10 and heads into his fifth NFL season with a 26-13 record as a starter.

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Motorcycle passenger dies after falling off bike

A woman died Sunday morning after Austin police said she fell off the back of a motorcycle at the intersection of Cameron Road and Cross Park Drive in Northeast Austin.

The woman, who was not identified by police pending family notification, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she later died, police said.

Daniel Ortega, 28, was driving the bike and fled the scene, but was later found by police, officials said. He was detained, police said, but jail records show he has not been charged.

It was not yet clear Sunday if the woman was wearing a helmet.


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Man charged in road rage incident

Police have arrested and charged a man who they say became angry at a group of motorcyclists and pointed a gun at them while at a stop light in Southwest Austin on Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit said a group of motorcyclists had been passing traffic on the left shoulder of a highway, and 55-year-old Chuck Tinney pulled up very close to them in a Ford Explorer in the 6400 block of U.S. 290.

Witnesses told police they saw a few of the motorcyclists and Tinney yelling at each other through several light cycles at U.S. 290 and William Cannon Drive, the affidavit said. It also said at one point, Tinney opened the door of his vehicle and pointed a large revolver at the group. He drove off when the light turned green, it said.

Several people saw what happened and called police. One of the motorcyclists was an off-duty Dallas police officer, the affidavit said. When Tinney was pulled over further down 290, a .357 magnum was found on the passenger’s seat.

Tinney was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He was released from the Travis County Jail after posting $10,000 bail.

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No new details on Cedar Park killing

Cedar Park police released no major additional details Saturday as they investigate the shooting death of a couple in their Cedar Park apartment.

The autopsies, which the police say will be key in determining what happened in the apartment, have not been finished by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, police Capt. Mike Harmon said.

Twenty-year-old Amanda Simmons and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Christopher Bowling, were found Friday night in their apartment in the Arboleda apartment complex at 900 Discovery Blvd., according to police. Officers forced their way into the apartment and found the bodies after being asked by Simmons’ father to check on their whereabouts.

Harmon said the couple’s young daughter, apparently a baby or toddler, was not in the apartment at the time of the shooting. She was with a relative, Harmon said, adding that police don’t consider that a sign of a strained relationship between the parents because their daughter regularly stayed with the relative.


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Couple found shot to death in Cedar Park

A 20-year-old woman and 22-year-old man were found shot to death Friday night in the Cedar Park apartment they shared, said Cedar Park police Capt. Mike Harmon.

About 6:30 p.m., police were called to do a welfare check at an apartment complex at 900 Discovery Blvd., Harmon said. He said officers forced their way into the apartment and found the bodies of Amanda Simmons and her boyfriend, Christopher Bowling.

Harmon said investigators were at the scene late Friday interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence to determine what happened. There were no suspects Friday night, he said.

“We don’t know exactly when it occurred,” Harmon said.

Simmons’s father called police to do the welfare check, Harmon said, after he hadn’t heard from his daughter in a couple hours, which was unusual.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office will perform autopsies as early as tomorrow, Harmon said.

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Two charged with murder of missing Kendalia man

Two men have been arrested in connection with the disappearance and murder of 20-year-old Trey Allen Noah, of Kendalia, southwest of Austin, according to the Gillespie County Sheriff’s Office.

Noah was reported missing in Kendall County in December and was found in Gillespie in April, a sheriff’s office news release said.

Shelby Cole Moore, 19, of Kendalia, and Brandon Louis Harber, 19, of Blanco, were charged with Noah’s murder, according to the sheriff’s office. They are being held in lieu of bond.

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Roadway open after fatal motorcycle crash

UPDATE: The Austin Police Department has identified the man killed this morning in a motorcycle wreck in North Austin as Lester Quisenberry, 56.

Officers responded to a motorcycle crash in the 400 block East Koenig Lane at 2:18 a.m. A preliminary investigation shows that Quisenberry was traveling west on U.S. 290 East approaching Koenig Lane when he lost control and struck the concrete median, police said.

Quisenberry was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in serious condition. He later died.

Police said it appears alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash. The case remains under investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call APD Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives at 974-8164.

This is the 18th fatality of 2010. At this time in 2009 there were 31 fatalities in Austin.

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EARLIER: Austin police said all lanes of Koenig Lane are reopened after a fatal motorcycle crash triggered closures close to the intersection of Interstate 35 early this morning, a police official said.

The collision occurred at the 400 block of East Koenig Lane close to 2 a.m. this morning, the official said.

The motorcyclist, a male, was traveling westbound on Koenig when he lost control and hit a median, the official said.

The motorcyclist suffered head trauma, suffering injuries to his forehead, and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he was pronounced dead, the police official said.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

DPS director appoints interim emergency chief

From an announcement by the Texas Department of Public Safety:

San Antonio District Fire Chief W. Nim Kidd has been named as the interim chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management starting July 1, 2010. Chief Kidd replaces Jack Colley, who suffered a fatal heart attack last month.

Kidd’s appointment was made by Steven C. McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, with the concurrence of Governor Rick Perry and Allan Polunsky, chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission.

“Jack Colley was a national icon in emergency management, a man whose invaluable service saved countless lives in Texas and established a legacy of competence that will be felt for years to come,” Director McCraw said. “As we enter the 2010 Hurricane Season, we are fortunate to welcome Chief Kidd, an experienced leader in handling disasters in our state, whose skills and dedication will keep Texas a national leader in emergency preparedness and management.”

Chief Kidd is currently San Antonio’s Homeland Security Director, managing the Homeland Security Grant Program, and is chair of the Urban Area Security Initiative Working Group. Kidd has also served as the city’s Emergency Manager since 2004, managing the city’s preparedness, response and recovery efforts for all local disasters, including more than a dozen substantial disasters impacting the community.

Kidd has worked with the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) since 1993, holding the rank of firefighter, fire apparatus operator, lieutenant, captain, and District Fire Chief. He has led the SAFD Technical Rescue Team and the Hazardous Material Response Team.

Additionally, Kidd has served as a member of Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team since 1997, responding to state and national disasters including the World Trade Center attack in September 2001. Chief Kidd holds the Certified Emergency Manager designation from the International Association of Emergency Managers and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Emergency Management Association of Texas. Chief Kidd currently serves on the Governor’s Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Advisory Council-Disaster Committee, and the Governor’s Texas Preparedness Advisory Council for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

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Trailer fire extinguished

A small fire under a mobile home was quickly extinguished after units from Austin area fire departments responded to a call in far South Austin this morning, an Austin Fire Department spokesman said Friday.

The fire started close to 8 a.m. this morning at a residential address at the 11000 block of Slaughter Creek Drive, which is close to Manchaca Road and Slaughter Lane, the spokesman said.

The fire was extinguished close to 8:15 a.m. this morning, the spokesman said.

No injuries were reported, the spokesman said.

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Vehicle hits Capital Metro bus

A vehicle hit a Capital Metro bus from behind Friday morning in North Austin, an Austin police official said Friday.

The collision occurred at the 10300 block of Burnet Road near Braker Lane at about 7:08 a.m. this morning, the official said.

The driver of the vehicle suffered serious injuries and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, the official said. No one on the bus was treated for any injuries, the official said.

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Stolen purse contained man’s ashes

UPDATE: Cook-Walden Capital Parks Funeral Home is now offering a $500 reward for the return of Charles Postell’s ashes.

Charlene Postell won’t be able to bury her father’s ashes next to her mother’s in Pflugerville on Friday because a box carrying the ashes was stolen out of her car this afternoon.

Postell was with her niece and nephew in the Schlotzsky’s Deli on South Lamar for about an hour. Her niece had arrived in Austin with the ashes about 11 a.m. and the three were having lunch before Charlene was to drive them to a hotel in Pflugerville, close to where 89-year-old Charles Postell’s ashes were to be buried at 8 a.m. Friday.

A service was held in Massachusetts when Charles Postell died March 4. He was a master sergeant when he retired from the military after 30 years of service and after serving in World War II, the Vietnam war and the Korean war.

Her niece’s Coach brand purse lay beneath the passenger’s seat with a return ticket to Massachusetts, the teen’s identification and bank card, and the small cardboard box containing her father’s ashes inside, Postell said.

Charlene said her nephew went out to the car first and came back into the deli to tell them what had happened. They waited about an hour for police to respond, and in that time Charlene called local media to get a message out.

“We need everything back in the purse, but we are most concerned for the ashes,” Charlene Postell said. “We’d take it back, no questions asked, but without the ashes, I can’t bury my father.”

Austin police are investigating the incident, but Charlene hopes someone will come forward before then.

“There is just nothing we can do,” she said. “We need to get them back.”

She said the ashes can be returned to Cook-Walden Capital Parks Funeral Home and Cemetery in Pflugerville.

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Teen charged in dog’s stabbing

Police arrested an Austin teen for cruelty to an animal after stabbing his grandmother’s dog in the neck with a steak knife Sunday, according to an arrest affidavit. He also was charged with driving while intoxicated, it said.

Ted Villegas, Jr., 19, threatened to shoot his grandmother and her dog outside their Southeast Austin house and then put his hand under the dog’s neck and stabbed the dog, the affidavit filed Wednesday said.

The dog, a black Labrador named “Gordo,” was taken to an animal hospital and remained there overnight for observation but will recover, the affidavit said.

Villegas drove away in a gold 1992 Oldsmobile after he stabbed the dog, the affidavit said. When police found him a few blocks away, his vehicle smelled of marijuana, the affidavit said.

Police found that Villegas was driving while intoxicated and arrested him, the affidavit said. Villegas threatened police and refused to give a blood sample, it said.

Villegas was arrested and taken into custody with a bail set more than $12,000, the affidavit said.

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Police launch motorcycle safety campaign

Austin police have launched a motorcycle safety campaign beginning Friday to coincide with the 16th annual Republic of Texas biker rally this weekend.

The rally attracts thousands of visitors to the Central Texas region, many of whom will be on motorcycles, said Austin Police Cpl. Bob Miljenovich.

As part of the “Cop on a Bike” campaign, a plain-clothed officer will be riding on a civilian motorcycle and using a radio to call out traffic violations to an unmarked police unit shadowing the officer, Miljenovich said. The unmarked vehicle will make traffic stops, he said.

Police will be looking out for violations that may involve motorcycle riders and other roadway vehicles such as failure to yield the right of way, Miljenovich said.

“The cop on a bike is specifically looking for driver inattention related to the motorcycle rider,” Miljenovich said.

In the past, police have launched similar initiatives involving other types of vehicles, such as commercial vehicles and buses, Miljenovich said.

The initiative will run from today into Saturday, police said.

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APD seeks help in solicitation of a minor case

Austin police said they are looking for a man who grabbed a 13-year-old girl in East Austin and tried to solicit her.

Det. William Pursley said an unknown man drove up to the girl who was walking home from her last day of school June 2 at the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Oltorf Street.

The girl, who was walking south on Pleasant Valley, tried to run away but the man turned around and followed her.

The man, who spoke with a heavy Spanish accent, pulled in front of her and blocked her, forcing her to walk by him, Pursley said.

“At one point he pulled up onto the curb, and offered the girl money for what would be aggravated sexual assault of a child,” Pursley said.

When the girl refused and walked away, the man opened the car door and grabbed her, Pursley said. The girl was able to break free and run to nearby motel and call for help, he said.

Pursley said this was believed to be an isolated incident and said police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect.

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  The suspect is described as:

• Hispanic Male

• 30 years old

• Green eyes with spots underneath his eyes

• Slicked back brown hair, not very dark

• Sideburns

• Light skin

• Medium build

Police said he is driving a white extended cab pickup truck with a $15,500 for sale on the right side of the back window written in shoe polish.

He faces charges of criminal solicitation of a minor. Police are asking any witnesses to call the child abuse hot line at 974-6860.

 

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Police officer injured in wreck

An Austin police officer was injured in a collision with another vehicle this morning, officials said.

The officer’s patrol car collided with a a Chevy four-door vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 290 and Decker Lane about 8:30 a.m., the official said.

The officer and one person in the Chevy were taken to the hospital after suffering minor injuries. It is unclear if that person was the driver or passenger in the Chevy, which carried two people.

“It is unknown at this time who is at fault,” said Austin Police Cpl. Scott Perry.

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Fire destroys Barr Mansion ballroom

Austin area fire officials said a fire this morning has destroyed the detached ballroom at Barr Mansion, a popular destination for weddings and other large events. No injuries were reported.

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The fire, at Barr Mansion at 10463 Sprinkle Road, was a total loss for the two-part building that contained the ballroom and a support room, causing an estimated loss of more than $500,000, according to an Austin area fire official.

The fire did not affect the main building at the site, the 106-year-old mansion, the fire official said.

For now, fire officials say the preliminary cause of the fire may have been a lightning strike connected to overnight storms, said Chief Flo Soliz for Emergency Service District No. 4.

“In an hour to an hour and a half (investigators) will be able to come in and do a more thorough investigation,” Soliz said. “Right now, it’s more of a gut feeling because of all the lightning strikes in the area.”

The fire broke out at about 4 a.m. this morning, said Soliz, whose Emergency Service District No. 4. tackled this morning’s fire along with units from Emergency Service District No. 12 and the Travis County Fire Marshal’s office.

The roof of the building did come down as a result of the fire, Soliz said.

The fire was tough news for staff at Barr Mansion on Wednesday, who were scrambling to touch base with couples with upcoming weddings during what is a very busy season for the facility. One staffer said the roof of the ballroom was comprised of 18th-century wood that had been shipped and flown in from Turkey. The 45-foot ceiling is what gave the ballroom its dramatic feel.

The staffer said that planned weddings would go on. This weekend the Barr Mansion had three weddings scheduled at the 7-acre property.

“The show must go on, and it will go on,” said Mario Trevino, head groundskeeper, who has been at the Barr Mansion for 17 years.

The ballroom was constructed about 11 years ago, Trevino said. The Barr Mansion began hosting events about 20 years ago. Trevino said they were initially planning to use tents on site to house upcoming wedding events until the ballroom facility could be rebuilt. Fortunately, the mansion was untouched, Trevino said.

The Barr Mansion hosts about 80 wedding each year, Trevino said. Summer is the mansion’s busiest season for weddings, he said.

There were no injuries as a result of the fire, but units are still on scene to ensure embers do not lead to more fires on the scene, Soliz said. Overall, two fire engine trucks, a ladder company and two battalion chiefs responded to the fire, Soliz said.

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Man resists reckless driving arrest, citizens try to help

An Austin man has been charged with reckless driving and evading and resisting arrest after crashing into a tree on a median north of Wells Branch Parkway, according to an affidavit issued Monday.

Witnesses say Wright Marcimion, 19, sped out of the Regions Bank parking lot at about 60-70 mph and crashed his black 1991 Cadillac after failing to yield to another driver, the affidavit said.

When police arrived at the scene, several people were holding Marcimion down, but he broke free and ran away as police approached, the affidavit said.

When police caught up to him, Marcimion refused to explain what happened and struggled to break free from the officer trying to handcuff him, the affidavit said.

Marcimion was arrested and booked into Travis County Jail and cleared of injuries by medical staff at University Medical Center Brackenridge, the affidavit said.

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Fire at Statesman extinguished

Austin Fire Department personnel have put out a vehicle fire in the loading dock area of the Austin American-Statesman this afternoon.

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Robert Quigley
AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Ronny Mangold, of Blanco, said he was doing his contract job changing oil for American-Statesman delivery vehicles when he heard something pop on his own delivery vehicle parked nearby.

Mangold said soon after that pop, his delivery truck caught on fire.

The fire was put out shortly there after. There were no injuries.

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Children who lived with boy found dead will remain in state custody

A Travis County judge today ordered two children who lived in the same home as a 5-year old boy found dead in April to remain in state custody.

State District Judge Darlene Byrne ordered that an infant child and a 5-year-old girl remain with their foster parents.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of Julian Salazar Soliz, the 5-year-old boy found dead in front of a North Austin home, but have not named any suspects since the boy was found dead more than eight weeks ago.

Nichole Turner, the caretaker who police said reported Julian missing in April, still cannot have visitation with the oldest child, according to court testimony. The girl is showing some worrisome concerns in her behavior lately, advocates said Monday.

Turner, however, won an additional hour of weekly, supervised visitation with her infant child, according to court testimony. She can now see the infant child for two hours a week, according to court testimony.

Turner’s relatives, her parents and an aunt, can also visit the oldest child but cannot discuss facts related to the criminal case, according to court testimony.

Leonard “Ivan” Soliz, the father of Julian and Turner’s infant child, sat in on Monday’s hearing in his jail uniform and said he would like to begin visitation if he is released, according to court testimony. Soliz was jailed several weeks ago in a probation revocation for an unrelated assault case.

The judge will eventually decide a permanent home for the two children.

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Fire officials investigate smoke at UT dorm

UPDATE 7:10 A.M.: Austin fire officials say the nearby intersection at 21st Street and Speedway are now reopened and free of Austin Fire Department vehicles.

EARLIER: A University of Texas dormitory was evacuated early this morning after Austin Fire officials received a call about smoke coming out of a freezer unit there, an fire official said Monday.

Fire emergency personnel were paged to the scene sometime around 6:30 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about smoke coming out of a walk-in freezer in the basement of Jester Dormitory at 203 East 21st Street, said Austin Fire Department spokesman Andre De La Reza.

De La Reza said a worker opened the walk-in freezer this morning and shut it after seeing smoke coming out of it. De La Reza said it may be a freon leak.

As a precaution, workers and residents there were evacuated as fire officials investigated, De La Reza said. However, fire officials say they would be let in shortly, De La Reza said.

Not as many students as usual are staying at Jester this time of year with the Spring semester complete. However, some students still stay there at this time of year for summer or visiting programs, De La Reza said.

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Williamson County judicial candidate charged with public intoxication

Allyson Rowe, Democratic candidate for Williamson County Court at Law #3, was arrested early this morning and charged with public intoxication, police said.

About 1:22 a.m., Rowe, a Round Rock attorney, was at the sports bar Third Base, at 3107 South Interstate 35, when she called 911 to report an assault, Round Rock Assistant Police Chief Tim Ryle said.

When officers arrived, Ryle said, a manager told them there was no assault and that Rowe was intoxicated. Then officers arrested her and charged her with the misdemeanor, Ryle said.

She was released from the Williamson County jail earlier today.

According to her Web site, Rowe has practiced criminal defense and family law since 2001.

She faces Republican Doug Arnold in the November general election.

Calls to Rowe’s law office were not returned.

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Stolen car leads to possible human smuggling operation

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An Austin man has been charged with theft after a GPS tracking device led police to a stolen vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit issued Thursday.

The owner of the vehicle told police that he had activated his GPS on his 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, which led him to an address in Dell Valle, the affidavit said.

Police then responded to the scene and investigated the discovery of two other stolen vehicles found off a dirt road parked next to a trailer, the affidavit said.

The vehicles’ back seats had been removed, and police discovered backseats and center consoles that had been removed from other vehicles, which are indicative of a human smuggling operation that has been active for some time, the affidavit said.

Jose Dolores Arroyo, 63, came out of the trailer and said he lived there and allowed a man to work on vehicles there but did not know how to contact him, the affidavit said.

Arroyo, pictured at right in a Travis County Sheriff’s Office photo, was arrested and released on $10,000 bail, said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

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Cedar Park police searching for robbery suspect

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Cedar Park police are asking for the public’s help in locating a suspect in a convenience store robbery late last month.

On May 26, a man armed with a handgun walked into a Valero Gas Station at 901 West Whitestone Blvd. and demanded cash, police said. As he was leaving, he also robbed a woman of her purse, police said.

No detailed description of the suspect was available. He was wearing black clothing, with a blue bandana covering his face during the robbery, surveillance video shows.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Cedar Park Police Department at 512-528-8067.

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Round Rock police identify woman who died in Wednesday wreck

Round Rock police have identified a woman who died in a three-vehicle collision Wednesday morning.

About 11:15 a.m., Rosalee Ann Cruser, 57, was driving east on University Boulevard, near the intersection with A.W. Grimes Boulevard, when she drove through a red light and collided with a southbound pickup, according to a media release.

The impact spun the truck into third vehicle.

Cruser died at the scene, police said. Police said a passenger in her vehicle was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The 66-year-old driver of the truck was treated for minor injuries, police said. The 16-year-old driver of the third vehicle not injured.

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Men stole weapons from deputy, police say

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Three men have been charged with theft after several weapons and other police equipment were stolen from a Travis County sheriff’s office vehicle early Wednesday morning, according to arrest affidavits.

Two Glock model handguns with attached lights, a Taser with cartridges, a police duty belt, a police radio, two sets of handcuffs and a canister of pepper spray were among the items stolen from the car, the affidavit said. Most of the equipment has since been recovered, said sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade.

Nicolas Stackable, 26, David Allen Zurovetz, 24, and Leonel Lopez Jr., 18, have been charged with theft of a firearm, a state jail felony, the affidavits said. Lopez also was charged with criminal trespass, the affidavit said.

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About 4 a.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office car, a 2007 Dodge Magnum, was broken into through a rear window while parked at a private residence in Southwest Austin, the affidavit said.

The vehicle was assigned to senior deputy Kent Miller, who is assigned to the sheriff’s fugitive and SWAT division, the affidavit said.

At 4:45 a.m., asheriff’s deputy initiated a traffic stop on a 2002 Toyota close to the Oak Hill area at the intersection of El Rey Boulevard and Espanola Trail, the affidavit said. The deputy saw two men flee from the passenger side of the vehicle, the affidavit said.

The driver, Stackable, remained in the vehicle and was detained, the affidavit said.

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Deputies searching the nearby area found Lopez hiding in the backyard of a nearby home on El Ray, the affidavit said.

A wallet belonging to Zurovetz also was found in front of a nearby home, the affidavit said. A Glock handgun was found in the front yard of another nearby home at the 8900 block of El Rey, while another Glock handgun was on a corner close to where the traffic stop took place, the affidavit said.

A search warrant was then executed at Zurovetz’s home, the affidavit said. Zurovetz was home, the affidavit said.

The Taser was located under a pillow of a bed where Zurovetz was laying, the affidavit said. Also, a missing light from one of the handguns and a Glock magazine with bullets were recovered at the home, the affidavit said.

Zurovetz later directed police to a trash can about a quarter mile away where they recovered gun belts with police radio, holders and accessories, the affidavit said.

All three men have been arrested and booked in Travis County Jail, Wade said. Stackable has been released on bail, Wade said.

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Hutto police say fake grenade left at house with racist note

Hutto police are investigating who left an inactive grenade with a racist note on the front porch of a house Wednesday.

“We are investigating this as a hate crime and the FBI is involved,” said Hutto Police Chief Harold Thomas.

The residents of the house on Oman Drive walked out their front door to get something out of the car and noticed the grenade about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Thomas said.

When police arrived they were not sure if the grenade was active because it was standing straight up and they couldn’t see the bottom of it to see if the powder had been removed, Thomas said.

The police called the Austin Bomb Squad who determined a few minutes after their arrival that the grenade was inactive, Thomas said.

The note on the bottom of the grenade had a racist message, he said. The occupants of the home, who could not be reached this morning, are African-American, Thomas said.

He said they had not reported any disturbances with neighbors or other problems which could be linked to the grenade.

Police found out that children in the neighborhood were playing with two inactive grenades the night before the grenade was found and had left them out in a yard, he said. The children were in school when the grenade was found on the porch, he said.

The suspect could face a hoax bomb charge, which is a class A misdemeanor, Thomas said. Since the incident is being investigated as a hate crime, a judge or jury could upgrade the misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Hutto Police at 512-846-2200.

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Storms cause damage throughout Austin

A strong weather system that swung through the Central Texas kept emergency and utility personnel busy overnight, causing power outages to thousands of Austin customers, fires to homes and apartments and dozens of calls to fire personnel.

Austin Energy said today the storm caused outages for about 4,500 customers starting at about 7:30 p.m., as strong winds and lightning strikes caused damages to power lines and other utility equipment.

The Austin Fire Department said today they responded to more than 100 calls for service between 7:30 and 8:30 last night during the peak of a strong storm system that moved through the area.

Eight of the calls were for structures that were struck by lightning, officials said today. Four home and apartment fires saw significant damage, officials said.

The apartment fire in North Austin caused by a lightning strike has displaced five families, fire officials said.

In the case of a North Austin apartment fire, lightning struck an attic at the Chez Moi apartments at about 8 p.m. in the 12000 block of Metric Boulevard, officials said. Although the families were displaced, the fire was quickly put out, and there were no injuries, officials said.

The power outages also left thousands without power thoughout the region, putting about 17 Austin Energy crews to work starting at 7:30 p.m., said Ed Clark, spokesman for the utility.

By midnight, all but 200 remaining customers had power again, he said. By 5:30 a.m. this morning, any power-related outages were resolved, he said.

Overall, Clark said Austin Energy crews responded to about 70 locations throughout the Austin area.

“Our guys worked through the night,” Clark said. “It was pretty much scattered around the entire service area.”

The damage was caused by a mix of the strong winds and lightning strikes, Clark said.

Clark said Austin Energy crews are on standby in case rain chances for today, which are 30 percent, lead to more severe storms.

Still, last night’s storm system won’t derail hot temps still headed our way in the coming days, including this year’s first 100-degree high slated for Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

And the region likely won’t see more active storms anytime soon, said National Weather Service forecaster Amanda Fanning.

“You guys have a slight chance for rain, but nothing like yesterday,” Fanning said. “The atmosphere stabilizes after something like that. It doesn’t look conducive enough to reproduce” a storm like last night.

Today’s rain chances are 30 percent, the service said. The region is looking at a high of 91 today, the service said.

If the region does reach 100 this weekend, it will be about a week earlier than it did last year and two weeks before the official June 21st start of summer. Last year, the Austin area hit 100 degrees for the first time on June 13, Fanning said.

“Looks like on Saturday, you guys are going to hit 100,” she said.

Last night, the area saw wind gusts reach up to 31 miles per hour at Camp Mabry and 47 miles per hour at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Throughout the region, rain totals ranged from about half an inch at Camp Mabry to one inch at Austin-Bergstrom, Fanning said.

However, some pockets of Central Texas saw higher totals. Preliminary rain totals show Northern Travis County reached 1.8 inches.

The storm was the result of merging weather systems, Fanning said.

“What happened is these storms that were starting to pop up around San Angelo and Fort Worth all of the sudden began to merge,” she said. “It formed a line that moved through South Central Texas and even through the coast. The reason we saw a lot of peak winds is that line began to bow. That’s really indicative of strong winds.”

Fanning said while peak winds were “impressive” in Austin, they were even more intense south of the region. Peak wind gusts reached 64 miles per hour in the San Antonio area, the service said.

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One person killed in two-car wreck in Round Rock

A 56-year-old woman died in a two-vehicle wreck this morning at the intersection of A.W. Grimes Boulevard and University Boulevard in Round Rock.

The intersection is expected to remain closed until 1 p.m. today.

The name of the person who died has not been released pending notification of relatives.

Witnesses said the 56-year-old woman was driving a Mazda Protege traveling east on University Boulevard ran a red light and was struck by a Dodge pickup traveling south on A.W. Grimes Boulevard, said Will Hampton, a spokesman for the city of Round Rock.

The woman was killed and a passenger in the vehicle was taken to Seton Williamson Medical Center, Hampton said.

The driver of the pickup was being treated at the scene by Williamson County EMS.

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High school brawl at Barton Springs closes pool for an hour

Barton Springs Pool closed for about an hour this afternoon when five fights between high school students broke out, a city official said.

Victor Ovalle, a spokesman for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said there were about 1,000 people at the pool when the students began fighting for unknown reasons.

He said police responded and closed the pool because of safety concerns about 3:15 p.m. No injuries have been reported and no arrests were made, Ovalle said.

“We don’t yet know exactly how many students were involved in the fights, but we know the five fights happened at the same time between students from different schools,” Ovalle said. “Some schools let out today and it’s hot, so there are a lot of people still here.”

Ovalle said the students involved in the fights were asked by police to leave for the day and people were let back in the park about 4:45 p.m.

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Police charge man in hit-and-run

An Austin man is facing failure to stop and render aid charges, a third-degree felony, after he hit a 6-year-old child riding a bicycle in East Austin on Monday and left the scene, according to an arrest affidavit issued today.

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About 5:30 p.m. Monday, Charles Fredrick Hamrick, 35, at right, was driving his grey BMW near Adalee and Vernon avenues when he struck the bike, knocking the child to the ground, the affidavit said. His vehicle then jumped a curb and hit a mailbox, the affidavit said.

Hamrick then left the scene, the affidavit said.

The child was treated at the scene by emergency personnel and suffered minor injuries, cuts and scrapes, the affidavit said.

Police found a license plate to Hamrick’s vehicle that was left behind at the scene of the collision, and were able to track down the driver to a Northwest Austin address, the affidavit said.

In an interview with police, Hamrick admitted he hit the child and left the scene, the affidavit said.

Jail records show Hamrick booked at the Travis County Jail with bail set at $60,000.

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One man killed in Hays County crash

UPDATE: A DPS official said the wreck has been cleared and FM 967 has been re-opened for traffic.

EARLIER: A single-vehicle wreck left one man dead and shut down FM 967 in Hays County early this morning, said a police official.

The crash happened a mile south of FM 1826 at 6:54 a.m. when the vehicle lost control on a corner, left the roadway and struck a utility pole, said a Hays County Sheriff’s official. It appears speed was a factor in the wreck, the official said.

The driver, described by the Hays County Sheriff’s office as a young man, was pronounced dead on the scene. A passerby discovered the crash about 7 a.m.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials could not immediately say when the road will open again. They are continuing to work to clear the scene, a DPS official said.

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Police investigate abduction of 5-year-old girl

A 5-year old girl was abducted Tuesday night as she was walking with her 11-year old sister near Popham Elementary School in Del Valle, according to an official with the Travis County sheriff’s office.

Deputies searched the area and followed some leads before finding her alone with no visible injuries in South Austin about 10:45 p.m., said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. She was then returned to her family, he said.

Police are still on the look out for a suspect in the case, one is not in custody yet, Wade said. The 11-year old gave police the suspect’s description, Wade said.

He is described as a light-skinned man, heavy set, and about 6 feet tall. He had no hair and was last seen wearing a green shirt and a gold necklace. He left the area in a white, four-door car with dark tinted windows.

Detectives are asking that anyone with information on the case to call Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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Two men dead after I 35 truck fire

UPDATE: New Braunfels police say all lanes of nearby northbound Interstate 35 and the frontage road lanes are all reopened.

UPDATE: New Braunfels police say that some lanes of Interstate 35 are now open, however, some lanes remain closed along with the northbound frontage road.

EARLIER: New Braunfels police say they are close to reopening portions of Interstate 35 that were closed early Wednesday after an 18-wheeler caught on fire.

Two men found inside the vehicle were dead, police said.

Shortly after midnight, the 18-wheeler and its attached trailer were involved in a single-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes near the Schertz-New Braunfels city limits, New Braunfels police said in a statement. The truck ran off the highway and came to a stop on the northbound frontage road, where it caught fire, police said.

Two men were found dead in the truck, police said, and the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 and the frontage road were closed for several hours as crews investigated the scene.

Shortly after 7 a.m., a New Braunfels police official said that the frontage road remains closed but that some lanes of northbound Interstate 35 will reopen soon.

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Man charged in city’s 13th bank robbery

Austin police have arrested and charged a man with the robbery of a Compass Bank on South Congress Avenue this weekend.

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Police said Tommy Johnson, 28, at right, walked in and demanded money from a teller Saturday. He left with an undisclosed amount of money.

On Monday, officials with the Central Texas Violent Crimes Task Force arrested Johnson and charged him with felony robbery by threat, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison if convicted.

Police said it was Austin’s 13th bank robbery of 2010.

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Man missing after canoeing in Bastrop County

A man who was canoeing on the Colorado River has been missing since Sunday, officials said.

Bastrop Game Warden Fred Ensinger said he only knows the missing man’s first name is “Glen” and that he is about 57. Ensinger said Glen and a woman were on the Colorado River near FM 969 in their own canoes, when the pair reached a potentially dangerous part of the river.

He said the woman was rescued without injuries by water motorists, but Glen was not. Glen’s canoe and some personal belongings have been found, Ensinger said.


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Round Rock student accused of hitting school employee with plastic bottle

Police have accused a Round Rock High School student of hitting a school administrative assistant in the eye with a plastic bottle.

Jeremy McKnight, 18, was charged Friday with assault, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

The incident happened at 10:25 a.m. May 21 during a disturbance in the Round Rock High School student center, according to an arrest warrant.

Students pulled a prank after first period that day when they emerged from classes and threw plastic beverage bottles at each other, said JoyLynn Occhuizzi, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock School District.

The prank was not condoned by the school, she said. During the prank a bottle of Gatorade hit a female administrative assistant in the right eye, the warrant said.

The incident gave her a black eye and prolonged blurred vision, the warrant said.

Police reviewed videotape of the incident from a surveillance camera and saw McKnight throw a bottle and then run out of the student center, according to the warrant.

A teacher at the High School and a friend of McKnight’s both said they saw McKnight with the bottle of Gatorade before the employee was hit, the warrant said.

McKnight told police he threw a water bottle in the direction of the victim but did not hit her, according to the warrant.

McKnight was arrested and released Friday with bond set at $1,000, according to court records

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Former Taylor substitute teacher sentenced for sexual assualt

FROM THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:

Taylor Substitute Teacher Sentenced for Sexual Assault

Gabriel Luis Sanchez (dob 11/8/85) pleaded guilty to sexual assault and improper relationship between educator and student. The crimes are second degree felony offense, punishable by 2-20 year in prison.

Judge Ken Anderson convicted Sanchez and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for both offenses. The sentences will run concurrently. Sanchez will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least seven and one half years in prison.

On December 8, 2009, Sanchez used his position as a substitute teacher to check a 15-year old female student out of class at Taylor High School. He then took her to an empty portable classroom, sexually assaulted her and returned her to class. The child reported the assault to the assistant principal, who then contacted the Taylor Police Department. When confronted, Sanchez admitted sexually assaulting the student.

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One dead, five injured in Mustang Ridge collision

A three-vehicle collision along U.S. 183 in the city of Mustang Ridge has left one person dead and five injured this morning, according to police officials.

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Sgt. J.K. Bennett with Mustang Ridge police said the accident occurred before 6 a.m. Tuesday at the 12800 to 12900 block of U.S. 183, which is south of the Texas 45 Southeast tollway.

Bennett said 37-year-old Petra Arnold was driving a 2001 Dodge pickup truck north on 183 and it appears that the truck went into the southbound lanes of the highway, striking another truck head-on. Arnold died at the scene. Bennett said a Chevy Malibu rear-ended the truck that was also headed south.

The collision was blocking all lanes of U.S. 183 in the area of the collision, said a Caldwell County Sheriff’s official.

Five other people suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries, and were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge by STAR Flight helicopter, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services and Caldwell County Emergency Medical Services personnel, according to Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

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Man charged in Burnet shootings

A Burnet County man has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after officials say he fired a 12-gauge shotgun at three family members in their home Monday.

Ishmael Rodriguez, 33, has been charged three felony counts and is in the Burnet County Jail on $450,000 bail, Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said.

Shortly after midnight Monday, Rodriguez arrived at the home of a family member on South Rhomberg Street, Nelson said. Police said Rodriguez had a verbal altercation with other family members earlier in the evening, which culminated in the shooting. Rodriguez chased the family members into the home and fired at least three shots through an open kitchen window, Nelson said.

“He told the family that they would be dead by morning,” Nelson said.

Denise Longoria, her son Hector Molina, 21, and a 7-year-old girl whose name has not been released were airlifted to Austin-area hospitals, Nelson said. Longoria and Molina have been released, Nelson said. The girl, a second-grader at Shady Grove Elementary in Burnet, took pellets and fragments to her chest, stomach, chest and arm and is still in intensive care, he said.

“She’s the worst one of all three,” Nelson said of the girl’s injuries.

Nelson said staff at Shady Grove Elementary were saddened by the news. They called her an “outstanding student,” he said. Nelson said that he would often see her leaving school and that “She always waves and she’s always smiling.”

Rodriguez was arrested about 2 a.m. Monday without incident, police said.

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Suspect in Pink Monkey shootings charged with capital murder

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Travis County Sheriff’s officials have charged a man with capital murder in connection with the fatal shooting of two men Monday morning outside a northeastern Travis County strip club.

Jorge Luis Gutierrez, 28, (pictured) is in the Travis County Jail on $1 million bail, officials said.

Deputies were called to the Pink Monkey Cabaret off U.S. 290 near Giles Lane at 3:17 a.m. after receiving a report of a disturbance, Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade has said.

When deputies arrived, they found Jose Hernandez, 24, and Arturo Rodriguez Jr., 26 with gunshot wounds in the parking lot, Wade said. Hernandez died at the scene, and Rodriguez was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, where he died about 8 a.m., Wade said.

Witnesses told deputies that the suspects fled the scene in a white Ford F-250 pickup, Wade said today. Deputies stopped the truck on Springdale Road and detained the occupants, Wade said. They also recovered a handgun believed to have been used in the shooting, he said.

Detectives believe that the incident started as a fist fight, Wade said. Gutierrez went to a truck and retrieved a pistol and returned to shoot Hernandez and Rodriguez, Wade said.

The investigation into this case is ongoing, he said.

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Hearing for Fort Hood shooting suspect delayed

Update 9:55: The pre-trial hearing of Maj. Nidal Hasan has been delayed until Oct. 4 after the investigating officer overseeing the Army’s Article 32 investigation ruled that there were “reasonable grounds” for the delay.

Defense attorneys argued that they needed the delay because they haven’t received several documents including an FBI ballistics report and a government investigation into the Nov. 5 shooting. They also argued that they needed time to sift through thousands of pages of evidence released in recent days.

Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in connection to the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood. A court martial would not come until after an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to grand jury proceeding in civilian court.

John Galligan, Hasan’s attorney, applauded the delay. He also suggested that Hasan would not be able to get a fair trial at Fort Hood. He would not say where he thinks a better venue would be.

Galligan also repeated his belief that prosecutors are pursuing a death penalty case, although prosecutors say no such decision has been made.

Galligan blasted the high security at Tuesday’s hearing, which included bomb sniffing dogs and identification checks. Galligan said Hasan, who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair, had his legs shackled and arms restrained before entering the courtroom.

“Sometimes I think it can be overkill in terms of the security employed,” he told reporters after Tuesday’s quick 70-minute hearing.

Galligan said Hasan continues to face medical risks, and has had two incidents of blood in his urine since being transferred from Brooke Army Medical Center to Bell County in April.

“He still has difficulty dragging himself from his wheelchair into a bed,” Galligan said. “He’s in need not of a guard, but of a nurse.”

Hasan, who Galligan said has suffered from chills and core body temperature concerns at the Bell County Jail, wrapped himself in a blanket during the hearing.

Hasan wheeled himself inside the courtroom and spoke in a steady, clear voice when asked by investigating officer James L. Pohl if he understood his rights.

Earlier: FORT HOOD — Army Maj. Nidal Hasan will make his first courtroom appearance at Fort Hood’s Lawrence J. Williams Judicial Center this morning as the opening session of his pre-trial hearing gets under way.

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Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder in connection with the Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood. His attorney John Galligan has said he will ask that Hasan’s Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury hearing in civilian court, be delayed until October.

Leading the prosecution team is veteran military attorney Col. Michael Mulligan, who in 2005 oversaw the conviction of Sgt. Hasan Akbar, who was sentenced to death for a grenade attack on fellow soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait.

Prosecutors have not announced if they will seek the death penalty against Hasan, who also faces 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the worst mass shooting on a U.S. military post.

If convicted, Hasan could be sentenced to death only if the military jurors determine there is an aggravating factor, according to military law. Last month, prosecutors sent a notice to Galligan listing one aggravating factor in the case: that more than one person was killed in the same incident.

Neither Maj. Nidal Hasan nor any witnesses were expected to speak during today’s hearing, at which military prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to discuss case preparations and other basic matters.

Additional material from The Associated Press

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Photo: Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman

Nidal Hasan’s defense attorney John Galligan, right, walks out of the magistrate court with another unidentified member of the defense team.

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