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July 2011

Discarded cigarette blamed in fire that displaced 25

UPDATE:

This morning’s fire in a Northeast Austin apartment building has been ruled accidental. It was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette by a person smoking in bed, Austin fire Battalion Chief Palmer Buck said.

The fire, which caused $350,000 in damages, was easily preventable, Buck said: “Make sure your cigarette is out.”

EARLIER:

Erin Smith, who lives in an apartment across the parking lot, said she was putting clothes in her car to go do laundry when she heard glass breaking.

“I looked up and there were flames coming out of the third floor,” she said. “I felt the flames. That’s how close I was.”

She called 911. She said authorities told her to get people out of the building as well as the building attached.

She ran up three flights of stairs and banged on doors. Everyone got out, she said, and when officials came, they verified that.

The fire displaced 25 people, Austin fire Battalion Chief Palmer Buck said. Fire damage was estimated at $300,000 for the structure and $50,000 for contents, he said. The burned apartment building at 1071 Clayton Lane had 17 occupied apartments, according to Buck.

American Red Cross of Central Texas spokeswoman Sara Kennedy said they’ve spoken with about 20 displaced families. She said some of the families have friends or relatives to stay with, and apartment managers are helping those who don’t temporarily relocate in vacant apartments in other buildings of the complex.

The Red Cross is primarily providing food to residents, she said.

EARLIER:

A morning blaze at a Northeast Austin apartment building displaced about 40 people, according to an Austin fire official.

There were no injuries.

Fire officials said this morning that an estimate of the damages to the Trestles apartments, on Clayton Lane near Interstate 35 and U.S. 290, was not available. But one apartment in Building 16 was destroyed completely and six other apartments in the building suffered smoke and water damage while officials fought the fire, according to Austin fire Lt. Jim Baker.

The call came in about the fire at 8 a.m., Baker said. Before fire units arrived on scene, he said fire dispatchers saw smoke from cameras on I-35 that they monitor, which led them to upgrade the severity of the fire and get more firetrucks to the scene.

The first officials on the scene found the fire on the third floor of the apartment building, Baker said. With the help of Austin police, fire officials evacuated residents from Building 16, where there are 24 apartments.

Firefighters got the fire under control within 15 to 20 minutes, Baker said.

Baker said the building cannot be lived in until an electrician checks the wiring. The local chapter of the American Red Cross is helping displaced residents with temporary housing, he said.

Permalink | Categories: Fire

Jesse James’ ex-wife booked in the Hays County Jail

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Janine James, an ex-wife of Jesse James and a former adult film actress, turned herself in to the Hays County Constable in Dripping Springs on Wednesday, officials said.

She surrendered after learning that her bond on a pending harassment charge dating back to January had increased to $10,000. She had been arrested on multiple misdemeanor harassment warrants.

James, who also goes by the name Janine Lindemulder, is currently in the Hays County Jail.

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Defiant Abdo formally charged in bomb plot

In what is being described as a wild scene inside a Waco federal courtroom, AWOL soldier Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, yelled out the name of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan during his initial court hearing this morning.

Abdo was charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, according to a criminal complaint unsealed today. According to the office of U.S. Attorney John Murphy, officials found bomb making materials including gunpowder, two clocks, spools of auto wire, an electric drill, two pressure cookers and an article titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.”

According to the complaint, Abdo planned two build two bombs and detonate them inside a restaurant frequented by Fort Hood soldiers.

Abdo’s outburst was the latest indication that the 21-year-old Fort Campbell soldier was inspired by Hasan, who is facing 13 counts of premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting rampage at a Fort Hood medical processing center. According to a senior military official with knowledge of the investigation, Abdo told investigators that he was trying to keep Hasan’s cause “on the radar.”

During Friday’s hearing, Abdo also yelled a reference to a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang raped and killed by American troops in 2006, according to CNN. Abdo also reportedly made several comments in Arabic.

Abdo had recently won conscientious objector status based on his Muslim faith, but shortly before he was to be discharged, was charged with having child pornography on his government computer. Before his court-martial could begin, Abdo fled Fort Campbell, Ky., on July 4.

Abdo, who is from Garland, embraced Islam as a teenager, according to a biography on a Facebook page dedicated to his conscientious objector battle with the U.S. Army.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Abdo’s father was deported to Jordan in 2010 after serving a prison sentence for soliciting sex from a minor.

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Western Travis County fire fully contained, official says

A fire in Western Travis County that consumed 400 acres earlier this week is 100 percent contained, an official said this morning.

The fire, which began Wednesday afternoon, was 85 percent contained last night for the area surrounding the Belvedere subdivison off Hamilton Pool Road, said John Durham, an assistant chief for the Lake Travis Fire Rescue Department.

More than a dozen emergency service agencies responded to the fire, helping prevent it from reaching any of the homes.

Dozens of residents evacuated Wednesday returned to their homes yesterday morning.

Crews remained on scene this morning as part of the clean-up phase of the operation, Durham said.

Permalink | Categories: Fire

Missing man found in lake after late night search

FROM THE SAN MARCOS AREA RECOVERY TEAM PRESS RELEASE

Divers with the San Marcos Area Recovery Team (SMART) found the body of a missing man in Canyon Lake after a late night search.

A 9-1-1 call came into the Comal County Sheriff’s Department at 7:41pm reporting a missing swimmer at Potter’s Creek Park on the north side of Canyon Lake. A short time later SMART Divers were notified to respond.

Divers entered the water shortly before 10pm. The team searched for over an hour using search patterns before finding the body of 36 year old Guillermo Garcia Jr from Lubbock, Texas who was in the area visiting family in San Antonio. His body was recovered and turned over to the Comal County Sheriff’s Department and Texas Game Wardens at Potter’s Creek. Divers Matt Simkin and Homer Martinez found Mr. Garcia at 11:03pm in 10 feet of water.

Normally SMART would have called off the operation due to darkness, however SMART continued to search after darkness fell.

“We train our divers in zero visibility and this is an exact case scenario. During training operations we cover our diver’s masks with aluminum foil to simulate a zero visibility environment. In this case the darkness provided that environment and we decided to continue our search patterns due to the shallow depths and a low risk environment. The lake bottom was very flat and did not present unreasonable obstacles or hazards to divers.

Divers found Garcia’s body approximately 120 yards from where witness stated he had entered the water.

This is the sixth body SMART has recovered this year in area lakes and rivers.

SMART was assisted by the Game Wardens with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Canyon Lake EMS, Canyon Lake FD, and the Army Corp of Engineers.

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Police: Stolen meat from H-E-B stores sold to local businesses

Three local restaurants, including a longtime fixture in East Austin, were forced to temporarily close today after undercover officers posing as meat thieves sold them packages of meat, police said.

The restaurants - Willie’s Bar-B-Que on East Martin Luther King Blvd.,Sam’s Bar-B-Cue on East 12th Street and La Morenita, also on 12th Street- all had their health permits revoked by the city on Thursday, officials said.

Sam’s was a favorite of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, who reportedly had the restaurant’s barbecue flown to him while he was recording in New York. Sam’s opened 60 years ago.

Police said the undercover investigation, called Operation Meat Locker, began three months ago when HEB officials contacted authorities about a rise in meat thefts around Austin. About $5,000 of goods was stolen during the operation.

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Police seek suspect in family violence attack

Austin police are seeking information about the whereabouts of a man accused of beating and strangling the mother of his children.

According to an arrest affidavit, Domingo Castillo, 33, became involved in an argument with a woman with whom he has two children. Castillo then head-butted the woman, dragged her into another room, then punched her, the affidavit said. He then repeatedly held his hand over her nose and mouth, preventing her from breathing, the affidavit said. After doing this several times the woman managed to get away, the affidavit said.

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Castillo has been charged with second-degree felony assault with family violence. He is not in custody.

Anyone with information on Castillo’s whereabouts is asked to call the Family Violence Unit 974-8535 and/or Detective Zeniecki at 974-5309.

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Man to serve nine life sentences for assault of a child

A Guadalupe County jury has handed down nine consecutive life sentences to a man convicted of sexually assaulting a girl from when she was 5 years old until she was 12.

Clarence Wesley Curl, Jr., 57, was convicted Wednesday of nine counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 11 counts of sexual performance of a child.

Permalink | Categories: Sexual assault

Chemical spill contained in building, officials say

An Austin Fire Department HazMat team is at the site of a chemical spill inside a building in Northeast Austin.

Officials said two gallons of ethyl acetate was spilled in a building at 8609 Cross Park Drive, near Cameron Road. The spill of the chemical, which is commonly used in glues and nail polish removers, has been contained, officials said. No injuries have been reported.

Officials said the hazard from the chemical is primarily explosive vapors.

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Killeen Police Chief: AWOL soldier involved in “terror plot.”

Update 4:15: Greg Ebert, a clerk at Guns Galore, said Nasser Abdo arrived at the store in a taxi cab and bought six one-pound containers of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of 12-gauge shotgun shells and a spare magazine for a semi-automatic handgun.

“His questions suggested he really didn’t know what he was buying,” said Ebert, a former police officer.

After Abdo paid in cash and left, Ebert said he called Killeen police and gave them a description of Abdo, who did not need to provide identification for the items he bought.

Update 3:07: Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said at a press conference this afternoon that AWOL soldier Nasser Abdo was intending to target military personnel before he was arrested.

“I would classify it as a terror plot,” Baldwin said.

The police chief added that initial reports of multiple suspects were incorrect. “As far as we know he did act alone,” he said.

Federal authorities said they will likely charge an AWOL Army soldier today with having bomb-making components, including “a significant amount of gunpowder,” in his Killeen hotel room near Fort Hood.

Killeen police on Wednesday arrested Pvt. Nasser Jason Abdo after learning that he was wanted by the Army on a child pornography charge, FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said.

According to officials, Abdo told authorities he was planning an attack on Fort Hood.

Vasys said that through the Killeen police investigation, authorities found Abdo’s hotel room and materials that included the gunpowder and other items “that could be considered bomb-making components.”

Officials said employees at Guns Galore, a popular Killeen firearms shop, alerted police after Abdo made a purchase there. Guns Galore is the same store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the gun, ammunition and laser sights witnesses testified he used during the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting massacre at the post.

Abdo was arrested at America’s Best Value Inn on South Fort Hood Road, Killeen police said.

“We don’t know what his motivation was at this time,” Vasys said. “We are trying to learn all things about Mr. Abdo, about what his possible motivations and intentions were.”

Vasys added, “Any threat that was posed by this individual is now over.”

Last year while serving at Fort Campbell, Abdo told ABC News that “no Muslim should serve in the U.S. military” and said his faith had pushed him to file for conscientious objector status. His scheduled deployment to Afghanistan was deferred, an Army spokesperson told ABC News at the time.

George Wright, an Army spokesman, said Abdo was granted conscientious objector status shortly before he was charged with possession of child pornography in May. Abdo underwent an Article 32 pretrial evidentiary hearing in June and was recommended for a general court-martial. But before the trial began, Abdo went AWO, Wright said.

Wright said he was not aware of anything linking Abdo to a larger plot among soldiers against Army installations.

“I’m not seeing anything to that effect,” Wright said, stressing that he is not a spokesman for the ongoing FBI and Killeen Police Department investigation.

Abdo, whose hometown is Garland, entered the Army in March of 2009 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell when he went AWOL on July 4, Wright said.

Fort Hood officials said security measures remained the same at the post today.

Permalink | Categories: Fort Hood

Woman tackled by witness after allegedly robbing Starbucks downtown

A woman has been arrested and charged with robbery by assault after she stole money from a tip jar and attacked an employee at a Starbucks at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue on Tuesday, according to court documents.

An arrest affidavit for Amity Lee Noland, 27, said that on Tuesday afternoon, an employee saw Noland grab $43 in a tip jar and try to run out of the coffee shop. The employee grabbed Noland by the shirt, but Nolad spun around and hit the employee in the face with the tip jar, the affidavit said, cutting the employee’s eye and hand, the affidavit said.

Noland also grabbed the employee’s wallet, the affidavit said.

Noland ran out the door, but was tackled to the ground by a witness outside, the affidavit said. That witness held Noland until police arrived and arrested her.

Noland was in custody at the Travis County Jail today. Her bail is set at $22,300. She also is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, public intoxication and failure to identify herself to police, according to jail records.

Permalink | Categories: Police

Officials: Residents evacuated from subdivision during fire to be allowed to return at 9 a.m.

Update 8:45 a.m.: Residents evacuated from the Belvedere subdivision during a fire last night will be allowed to return at 9 a.m., an official said.

The fire in the western Travis County subdivision remains 80 percent contained, said John Durham, an assistant chief for the Lake Travis Fire Rescue. After a review, the Texas Forest Service has downgraded the number of acres consumed to 400 acres from the 600 acres reported earlier.

We don’t see any issues with the fire, especially with its current perimeter,” Durham said. “The perimeter is good. Crews didn’t see any red flags to prohibit the residents from coming back home.”

Crews with Lake Travis Fire Rescue, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office — which is providing security — and the Red Cross remained at the neighborhood overnight and this morning.

In all, 29 structures were threatened, but none consumed by fire, Durham said. He does expect that utility equipment such as power lines were damaged.

The Texas Forest Service is expected to conduct a flyover at 1 p.m. to reassess the impact and condition of the fire, he said.

Pedernales Electric Cooperative officials say they have no reports of interrupted electrical service in the area due to the fire.

Earlier: A fire that consumed 600 acres yesterday in Western Travis County remains 80 percent contained this morning, and crews are on scene putting out hot spots and preserving the perimeter, an official said.

Dozens of residents remain evacuated from the Belvedere subdivision, said John Durham, an assistant chief with Lake Travis Fire Rescue.

The weather will be key today, as morning winds could cause the fire to spread again, he said.

“The threat in terms of the fire is pretty much a non-issue at this point,” Durham said. “We hope it doesn’t become an issue later when the weather turns against our favor.”

Durham said residents should avoid the Hamilton Pool area if possible as fire crews move in and out of the area.

There were no new injuries reported overnight and no structures have been consumed in the fire. An estimated 80 to 100 residents have requested assistance through the Red Cross, which provided food and water at the neighborhood’s community center.

Last night, Durham said two firefighters were treated at the scene; one for a back injury and the other for a rolled ankle. One resident suffered a burn but declined to be taken to a hospital.

Previous story: Fire in western Travis burns 600 acres, alarms subdivision residents


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Permalink | Categories: Fire

Update: 3 injured in 600-acre fire in western Travis County

12 a.m. update:

Officials say the fire is now 80 percent contained and that fire crews will remain on the scene overnight to deal with hot spots and flare ups.

No structures have been lost, officials said.

9 p.m. update:

The Texas Forest Service estimated that the fire in the Belvedere and Madrone Ranch subdivisions was 50 percent contained as of 8 p.m.

It has burned 600 acres, authorities said Wednesday night.

The fire initially threatened three structures, but by mid-evening only one remained in danger, said John Durham, an assistant chief with the Lake Travis Fire Rescue. No other subdivisions were in danger.

Durham said two firefighters were treated at the scene; one for a back injury and the other for a rolled ankle. One resident suffered a burn but declined to be taken to a hospital.

About 20 Belvedere residents were evacuated to the neighborhood’s community center, where the Red Cross provided food and water.

6 p.m. update:

A fire has in western Travis County is threatening two subdivisions, but officials are reporting progress in fighting the fire, which has not been contained.

One structure remains threatened, but none have been lost or damaged, officials said. Fifteen agencies are working the four-alarm fire in the Belvedere and Madrone Ranch subdivisions. The American Red Cross is assisting the evacuees.

4:30 p.m. update:

Emergency officials say the 911 system is being flooded with callers reporting smoke and the odor of smoke from the Belvedere subdivision fire. They ask that people only call 911 if they see a fire outside or have smoke inside a structure.

Earlier:

A three-alarm fire in western Travis County has injured two people and has damaged a home, officials say. The fire, which was first reported about 2 p.m., is burning seven to 10 acres near Magnolia Ridge Cove off Hamilton Pool Road west of Bee Cave.

One firefighter has suffered a back injury, EMS officials said, and a civilian with minor burns has refused treatment.

Two helicopters and nine agencies are working to contain the blaze, which officials say was caused by welding.

Nearby residents have been evacuated to the Belvedere Community Center on Rollins Drive, officials say.


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Permalink | Categories: Fire

Police: DNA found on victim doesn’t match, but jailed man remains suspect

Police officials announced today that DNA found on the clothing of one of two women attacked by a man while they were jogging does not match that of Charles Grandville Wilson, the suspect arrested in connection with those attacks.

However, police said, Wilson remains a suspect in the case. Wilson remains in custody at the Travis County Jail, charged attempted sexual assault.

Police Lt. Michael Eveleth said this afternoon at a press conference that police investigated two separate, unsuccessful attempted sexual assaults in South Austin on July 8. A composite sketch of the suspect was put out, and several residents and officers identified the man in the picture as Wilson, a homeless man, Eveleth said. Witnesses to both attacks identified Wilson in a photo lineup, he said.

Following an arrest on July 9 for blocking traffic, Wilson made comments to investigators of a sexual nature, and threatened a jail employee with rape and murder, Eveleth said.

However, investigators last week were advised that DNA found on one victim’s clothing contains a profile from a male who is not Wilson, Eveleth said. Police are awaiting a final report from the DNA lab.

“I can’t tell you that Charles Wilson didn’t commit these crimes,” Eveleth said. “We still have compelling evidence that points to him. Until we get a final DNA report, it would be irresponsible to put him back on the street.”

The clothing from the second victim contains DNA from three people, one of which may match an unidentified DNA profile found on the first victim, Eveleth said. Police are still awaiting a final report from the lab and are trying to answer many questions about the case.

“These girls were jogging in the same area,” Eveleth said. “Did these girls have any contact with each other when they were out running?”

Eveleth said he did not know what type of DNA was found exactly.

“When you sit on a bus bench, you’re going to put up a lot of (DNA) profiles,” Eveleth said.

Eveleth said the area has not seen similar attacks since Wilson’s arrest.

The police press conference this afternoon was called in response to a TV news report that police had arrested the wrong man.

This item has been updated to correct the spelling of Lt. Eveleth’s name and to add more detail from the press conference.

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One dead after building frame collapse in San Marcos

A construction worker was killed Wednesday when a metal building frame collapsed at Thermon Manufacturing Co. in San Marcos, city officials said.

A second worker was injured and transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin with serious but non life-threatening injuries. The identities of both men have not been released.

The cause of the collapse is unknown, officials said. The contractor for the manufacturing building under construction, Bailey Elliott Construction of Austin, will report the accident to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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Undercover operation yields stolen items

From the Austin Police Department:

Austin Police Department Burglary Unit Detectives conducted an undercover operation which ended on July 22, 2011. Search warrants were executed at 9503 Parkfield Drive #A and 9505 Parkfield Drive #A where numerous stolen items were recovered.   The following items were seized from 9503 Parkfield Drive #A:
· Approximately twenty five high end bicycles
· Numerous tools
· A small amount of marijuana
· Approximately $3040.00 cash

The following items were seized from 9505 Parkfield Drive #A:
· A covered trailer stolen in 2008· Numerous tools
· Computer Monitors
· Bicycles
· Air soft guns
· Approximately $2550.00 cash   Burglary detectives are actively working to identify all suspects they encountered during the undercover operation, and charges are anticipated.

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Police look for vehicle connected to South Congress shooting

Update 8:20 a.m.: The victim and suspect in a shooting last night on South Congress Avenue may have known each other, an Austin police official said Wednesday morning.

Police say the suspect vehicle has been described to be an older model black, two-door Honda Accord, the official said.

A man, who has not yet been identified, was shot in the head about 9 p.m. near the Austin Motel, police officials said. Police believe the victim was shot while riding as a passenger in a vehicle, police have said.

Austin police responding to another call across the street responded to the scene soon after, a police official said this morning.

The victim was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge last night in critical condition, police officials have said.

Earlier: One man was in critical condition Tuesday after police said he was shot in the head near the Austin Motel on South Congress Avenue around 9 p.m., according to police.

Austin Sgt. Robert Hawkins said police found a man frantically waving for help in the 1400 block of South Congress. Police believe the victim was shot inside the car near the Austin Motel and the driver pulled over about a block later to seek help, Hawkins said. The victim was riding in the passenger seat of the car, Hawkins said.

Because witness accounts were limited Tuesday night, no suspect had been identified or arrested, Hawkins said. He said they did not know the motive of the shooting.


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Permalink | Categories: Shooting

Sheriff’s detectives file murder charges in 2003 homicide

Travis County Sheriff’s Office detectives have filed murder charges against a man related to a 2003 homicide, officials said today.

Sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade said that on June 15, 2003, an abandoned vehicle with blood inside was found on FM 969 near Delta Post Drive. The vehicle, a 1989 Dodge Ramcharger, was registered to 55-year-old Armando Ramirez of Austin, Wade said.

Because of the amount of blood in the vehicle, Ramirez was believed to be severely injured or dead, Wade said. Searches were conducted, but Ramirez was never found, he said.

In August of 2003, detectives received a tip that Domingo Jaimes, now 46, killed Ramirez and dumped his body in the river. When detectives went to Jaimes’ residence, they were told that he had fled to Mexico, Wade said.

Earlier this month, detectives received a tip that Jaimes was back in town. On July 13, they arrested Jaimes at his home on an outstanding driving while intoxicated warrant, Wade said.

Despite his denials that he was not Domingo Jaimes, he was taken to the sheriff’s office and fingerprinted, Wade said. During interviews with detectives he confessed to killing Ramirez during a dispute over a minor collision and dumping his body in the Colorado River. He was then then taken to the Travis County Jail.

Yesterday, Jaimes was charged with murder, Wade said. Bail was set at $100,000, and authorities have also put an immigration detainer on him, according to jail records.

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Police searching for Monday night shooting suspect

Austin police are searching for a suspect in a non-fatal shooting that occurred last night, officials said.

Police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said around 9:30 p.m. last night at Third Street and Comal Street, a suspect fired shots at another man. That man received non-life threatening injuries and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he is recovering, Aguinaga said.

The suspect, described only as a white male, is not in custody, Aguinaga said.

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Man killed in overnight crash near Texas 130

One man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Pearce Lane near Texas 130 in eastern Travis County shortly before midnight, a Department of Public Safety official said today.

A preliminary investigation shows that a 1998 GMC pickup was turning left onto Ross Road when it was struck broadside by a 2004 Chevrolet pickup traveling in the same direction that crossed a double yellow line.

The driver of the GMC, whose identity has not been released, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead, the official said.

The Chevy driver, 28-year-old Abdon Lopez of Del Valle, was also taken to Brackenridge with minor injuries, the officials said.

Both men were wearing seatbelts, the official said, and charges have not been filed.


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Permalink | Categories: Fatal accidents

Temple police investigating weekend shooting

From the Temple Police Department:

Sunday, 7-24-11 at about 3:20 a.m., Temple Police responded to Scott and White Hospital, to meet a reported victim with a gunshot wound. Officers arrived and met an adult male victim, with a non-life-threatening injury to his leg.

The ensuing investigation revealed that victim had been standing outside an apartment at Jonathan Moore Homes, 711 West Calhoun Avenue, when he was approached by unknown suspects, possibly in a vehicle. These suspects then fired at least one shot at the victim, striking him in the leg. The victim was taken to the hospital by private vehicle, and the police were then called.

There were no other reported injuries.

The victim, and any possible witnesses, refused to cooperate further with the investigation. There is no known suspect description at this time, though it is believed the victim and suspects knew each other.

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

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3 arrested, charged with murder in Round Rock stabbing death

Round Rock police arrested three Georgetown men and charged them today with murder in the stabbing death of a man early Saturday morning.

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Derek Hawkins, 19, (left) Santos Vega, 18, (right) and Joshua Oldham, 18, (below) had planned to rob Thomas James Carruthers III “of drugs he was known to carry,” according to an arrest affidavit for one of the men.

Hawkins set up a meeting with Carruthers, 25, and when the men arrived at Las Brisas Apartments in Round Rock, Oldham held Carruthers while Vega stabbed him, the affidavit said.

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Carruthers was found at about 4 a.m. in a breezeway of the apartment complex, at 901 Hidden Valley Drive, with a single stab wound to the chest, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

All three are in the Williamson County Jail today, records show. Hawkins’ bail has been set at $500,000, Vega’s bail is $100,000, and bail has not been set for Oldham, records show.

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Man accused of assaulting girl, 12

Travis County deputies have arrested and charged a 33-year-old man with aggravated sexual assault of a child after they say they found him in a garage with a 12-year-old girl, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit says deputies were called out to a home in far eastern Travis County on Saturday afternoon when the girl’s mother saw them in the garage together. There they found Jeremy Armantrout with his zipper down and smoking a cigarette, said the affidavit. Armantrout told deputies that the girl had initiated contact, the affidavit said.

When officials questioned Armantrout about condoms found on a table inside the garage, the affidavit said, Armantrout told deputies that he used them to make bombs but would not say how.

Armantrout told deputies he and the girl “had a special relationship where they can talk to each other about their problems,” according to the affidavit.

Armantrout remains in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $150,000. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Permalink | Categories: Sexual assault

Man charged in armed robbery

Police charged an 18-year-old man with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony, after they believed he committed at least two robberies, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit said Jimmy Garcia-Herrera and at least two minors committed a string of robberies early Saturday in South Austin. Garcia-Herrera is in Travis County Jail on $50,000 bail.

One person who was robbed in Logan Mill Apartments told police that three men robbed him at gunpoint around 1 a.m., the affidavit said.

A second person who was robbed in University Village Apartments told police that three men robbed him at gunpoint around 1:50 a.m., taking his laptop, the affidavit said.

An officer who was responding to a call for the second robbery saw a car that matched the description of the car described by witnesses, the affidavit said. The officer began following the car, which eventually fled and crashed into a utility pole near North I-35 and River Street, the affidavit said. Garcia-Herrera and the juveniles were taken into custody after the crash.

Garcia-Herrera later told a police officer that he did not remember anything that happened earlier because he was “high on drugs,” the affidavit said.

Permalink | Categories: Robbery

Round Rock police investigating homicide

Updated at 4:53 p.m.: ROUND ROCK - Neighbors in the three-story building where a 25-year-old man was stabbed to death this morning said management called later to say it was not a random attack.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were still blood stains at the scene of the attack on the third-story breezeway trailing down the stairs to the first floor.

Police said Saturday morning that Thomas James Carruthers III was found dead with stabbing wounds in his upper torso.

Earlier: The Round Rock Police Department has issued the following news release:

Round Rock homicide detectives are investigating the city’s 2nd murder of 2011.

At about 4 a.m. Saturday July 23, police were called to the Las Brisas Apartments at 901 Hidden Valley after a resident reported having found Thomas James Carruthers III, 25, laying in the 2nd floor breezeway of building 5. Carruthers had apparently suffered a stab wound to his upper torso, believed to have been inflicted between 3am and 4am. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Carruthers was last known to be living in Georgetown but is believed to have recently moved in with family members at the north Round Rock apartment.

Though the investigation is in its initial stages, no suspects have been identified. Police ask anybody with information to contact Detective John Rowe at (512) 218-5500 or jrowe@round-rock.tx.us

Permalink | Categories: Homicide

Woman charged in shooting in Killeen

The Killeen Police Department has issued the following news release:

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UPDATE - July 23, 2011

This case was reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney’s Office and a complaint was issued charging 31 year old Tamica Lashawn Jackson with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm. Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke set her bond at $100,000; she will be transferred to the Bell County Jail later today.

The victim has been treated and released from Scott & White Memorial Hospital.


Killeen Police are investigating a shooting in the 600 block of Atkinson just before midnight on Thursday, July 21, 2011.

Officers responded to the 600 block of Atkinson at 11:19 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2011, in reference to a possible shooting. On arrival to the area a b/m, 39 years of age was found sitting in front of the apartment complex suffering from a gunshot wound to the face. Witness information indicated that a female suspect had possibly shot the victim and fled the scene.

Based on information developed at the scene a possible suspect was located a short time later in an apartment near the scene of the shooting. The suspect is currently being detained in the Killeen Jail pending further investigation and case screening by the District Attorney for criminal charges.

The victim was transported by EMS to Scott and White Hospital in Temple for treatment.

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Power outage in North Austin

Update: Workers have restored power to North Austin residents affected by an outage, said Ed Clark, a spokesman for Austin Energy. A circuit has tripped offline because a tree limb had fallen on a power line, said Clark. Power was restored at 7:12 p.m., Clark said.

About 1,700 Austin Energy customers in North Austin are without power this afternoon after a circuit tripped offline, utility spokesman Ed Clark said.

Officials are still trying to determine why the circuit tripped offline, Clark said. The outage, which is affecting an area around Justin Lane between Burnet Road and North Lamar Boulevard, was reported about 6:45 p.m., he said.

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Teen who drowned in Lady Bird lake identified

A 19-year-old man who drowned in Lady Bird Lake on Thursday has been identified as Andrew Black, police said. Black was in the water with a 14-year-old near the MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) bridge when officials received a rescue call at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Both teenagers were rescued and CPR was performed, said Warren Hassinger, a spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services. Both of them were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where Black later died, Hassinger said.

The other teenager was in stable condition Thursday, Hassinger said. No further information about the 14-year-old’s condition was available today.

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Teen dies after being pulled from Lady Bird Lake

Emergency officials said this afternoon that a 19-year-old died after being rescued from Lady Bird Lake near the MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) bridge.

The teen was with a 14-year-old, but it is still unclear what they were doing before officials received a rescue call about 4:30 p.m., said Warren Hassinger, a spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

Hassinger said both teens were rescued, CPR was performed, and both were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge. The 19-year-old later died; the other teen is stable, Hassinger said.

Permalink | Categories: water

18-wheeler catches fire on I-35, snarls traffic

Update 5:35 p.m.: All lanes of Interstate 35 have reopened.

Earlier: An 18-wheeler caught fire on southbound Interstate 35 and is tying up traffic near William Cannon Drive.

The truck’s engine caught fire around 4:30 p.m. forcing the closure of the right lane of southbound lanes while emergency crews respond. Police said no injuries were reported.

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35 arrested in La Familia crackdown in Central Texas

Authorities arrested 25 suspected members of the violent Mexican crime cartel La Familia on Wednesday, capping a 20-month-long series of investigations across the country dubbed Project Delirium. Another 10 people have been arrested in the past several months, officials said.

Nationally, 1,985 people were arrested, and officials seized $62 million in cash, more than a ton of methamphetamine and more than two tons of cocaine, the Drug Enforcement Administration said. It was the second nationwide attack targeting La Familia, said Greg Thrash, who heads the DEA’s Austin office.

The DEA worked with 20 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and hundreds of agents to make Wednesday’s arrests in Central Texas, Thrash said. Nine other suspects remain at large. Authorities seized about $150,000 in cash, several pounds of methamphetamine and several pounds of cocaine Wednesday, Thrash said.

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Officials investigating arson at Kingsland church

FROM THE LLANO COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:

The Llano County Sheriff’s Office, ATF, and the State Fire Marshall’s Office are investigating an obvious arson at the First Baptist Church of Kingsland, 3435 W RR 1431, that occurred over the weekend.

It appears that a person or persons entered the portion of the church where Sunday school activities occur and set fire to a construction paper display that covered an entire wall near the back door. The fire burned itself out before it spread to other areas of the building. The damage was discovered at 6:30am Saturday 7/16/12 by a church volunteer.

There is a $2000.00 reward offered for the arrest of the offender(s) by the Hill Country Crime Stoppers Program 830-613-0467 and the State Fire Marshall’s Office 1-877-434-7345.

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Man accused of robbing salon left duffel bag with own name in it, police say

Police arrested a man yesterday who they say robbed and tied up a woman at a South Congress Avenue hair salon, but was identified by officers after he left behind a duffel bag full of his belongings, according to court documents filed today.

Joseph Mabry Summerlin, 36, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. According to his arrest affidavit, Summerlin entered a hair salon on South Congress just south of Woodward Street and displayed a large knife about 10:30 a.m. He then tied an employee to a chair with a cord and stole her car, the affidavit said.

But Summerlin left behind a black duffel bag when he entered the salon that contained items that helped police identify him, the affidavit said. He was later identified in a photo lineup, the affidavit said.

Summerlin is in Travis County Jail on $150,000 bail, according to jail records.

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Man had 48 marijuana plants in home, police say

Police say a man who has been charged with state jail felony possession of marijuana had 48 plants in his South Austin home, according to court documents filed today.

On June 22, officers executed a search warrant on a home at the 7900 block of Evaline Drive, where they believed 37-year-old Daniel Alan Sliger was cultivating marijuana plants. Inside, they found an “elaborate indoor marijuana growing operation,” Sliger’s arrest affidavit said. They found 48 marijuana plants and a lease agreement listing Sliger as the renter of the home, the affidavit said.

Jail records indicate Sliger is not in custody today. In 2007, he was the subject of a search warrant on another residence where 92 marijuana plants were seized, the affidavit said.

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Slaying suspect returned from North Dakota

Joe Derek Carr, a suspect in the death of his 22-year-old girlfriend, was extradited back to Central Texas on Wednesday after officials said he tried to flee into Canada.

Carr, 27, has been charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Veronica Navarro, whose body was discovered July 6 in Lake Travis, wrapped in a camping tent and weighted down by a paint can.

Carr arrived at the Travis County Jail shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade said Wednesday night that he expects more charges to be filed against Carr.

On July 9, Carr was stopped trying to cross the Canadian border, according to Travis County sheriff’s office and North Dakota officials. Canadian customs officials noticed the former Pedernales firefighter was acting oddly and turned him around to meet with U.S. customs officers, said an official with the Pembina County sheriff’s office in North Dakota. The U.S. officials learned he was wanted for questioning in Navarro’s death, the official said, and Carr was jailed with bail set at $100,000.

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Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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UPDATED: Seventh Lake Travis drowning victim identified

UPDATE 4:45 P.M.: The seventh drowning victim in Lake Travis this year was identified Wednesday as Nathaniel McCoy, 35, according to officials at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Around 3:30 p.m. Monday, a man was reported missing after he jumped off a moving boat in Devil’s Hollow on Lake Travis. Witnesses told investigators that after the man was seen jumping in the water, he resurfaced for a few seconds and then went under.

As the other passengers called for the pilot to stop the boat, several people jumped in the water in an effort to find him and others called 911, officials said.

Members of the Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Team searched for McCoy’s body on Tuesday but called off their search due to inclement weather that afternoon. Around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, a body was discovered in Devil’s Hollow by a boater.

The Travis County Medical Examiner identified the body as McCoy’s on Wednesday, officials said. Autopsy results are pending but sheriff’s investigators have preliminarily ruled his death an accidental drowning.

EARLIER: Officials said they recovered a body from Lake Travis near Devil’s Hollow Tuesday around 9:30 p.m.

A boater has been missing since Monday night when officials said a man jumped from a house boat near Devil’s Hollow. It is not yet known if the body found was that of the missing boater.

The body will be sent to the Travis County medical examiner for identification.

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Hasan to go to trial in spring 2012 without lead attorney

FORT HOOD — A military judge this afternoon set a spring 2012 trial date for accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, who will head into the court-martial without his lead attorney John Galligan.

In a surprise announcement, Hasan told military judge Col. Gregory Gross that he has released Galligan, who has been the public face of Hasan’s defense since shortly after the Nov. 5, 2009 shootings.

Hasan will be represented by three military attorneys appointed by the Army, two of whom were part of his defense during a November pre-trial evidentiary hearing.

Hasan faces a potential death sentence on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the shootings at a Fort Hood medical processing center. The victims included several members of the combat stress unit Hasan was scheduled to deploy with to Afghanistan.

The court-martial will begin on March 5 and is expected to last about 45 days.

The Army psychiatrist, who was paralyzed from the chest down by Fort Hood police after the shooting, wore his camouflage fatigues and an olive-colored knit cap to an arraignment hearing today. Military attorneys were required to wear their dress uniforms, but Gross allowed Hasan to opt out of the stricter dress for “medical reasons.”

Hasan deferred his plea, but under military law a service member cannot plead guilty in a capital case where the death penalty is possible.

Gross told Hasan that a guilty verdict would require votes from at least two-thirds of the 12-officer jury. But a death sentence would need to be unanimous.

Hasan answered a series of yes or no questions from Gross, including whether his release of Galligan from his defense team was voluntary. In a soft voice, Hasan replied, “Yes.”

Galligan had spearheaded a dogged defense that has peppered prosecutors and Army officials with requests for classified documents and reports. Galligan has also been the public face of Hasan’s defense, granting countless interviews to local and national media.

Galligan today called his departure a “leave of absence,” but said he would not detail the cause. In a statement in which he compared himself to President John Adams, who he said was similarly vilified for defending British soldiers in the “Boston Massacre,” Galligan said he remained ready to rejoin the defense team. “Major Hasan fully understands that I stand ready and anxious to resume an active role,” he wrote.

During Wednesday’s arraignment inside a Fort Hood courtroom, Hasan spoke more than he did during the three-week pre-trial hearing last year, in which nearly 60 witnesses testified against him.

Hasan, who appeared thinner than he did last year, pushed his wheelchair out of the courtroom. The Army psychiatrist is being held in the Bell County Jail, where he continues to draw his monthly major-level pay of more than $6,000, standard procedure for military prisoners awaiting court-martial.

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Two charged in bleacher thefts at high schools, affidavit says

A man and a teenager stole aluminum bleachers from Central Texas high schools this summer and tried to sell them to a North Austin recycling center, according to police and arrest affidavits issued Wednesday.

Jeanette Nicole DeLaRosa, 18, and Elve Culliver, 42, have both been charged with felonies in connection with the thefts from Connally and McNeil high schools, police said in arrest affidavits issued Wednesday.

Now, the police department for the Pflugerville school district, which is investigating the case along with two other agencies, is asking area schools and other groups who suspect a recent theft of such equipment to contact them.

“We do anticipate more charges,” said police chief William Edwards for the Pflugerville school district. “These individuals are responsible for at least two high schools. We think they’ve done more. We recovered more than what was (reported) lost.”

The department, along with Austin police and the Williamson County sheriff’s office continue to investigate the case, Edwards said.

Ten to 15-foot bleachers were taken from Connally’s softball field in around 5 a.m. June 26th and another set were taken from McNeil on July 12 or 13, according to Edwards and the affidavits.

On June 28, DeLaRosa, Culliver and third man sold the bleachers from Connally, valued at $2,400, to a recycling center for $152, the document said. When the trio returned July 13, center employees, who had learned of the previous theft, refused to buy bleachers, police said in the affidavits.

Surveillance footage from Connally and witnesses at the recycling center connected DeLaRosa, Culliver and a pickup used to move the bleachers, the affidavits said.

DeLaRosa has been booked and released through Travis County jail and faces a $5,000 bail, an Austin police official said. Culliver was charged in McNeil theft, the affidavit said. He was booked Tuesday and remained in Travis County jail on $35,000 bail Wednesday, records show.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether the third man faces charges.

The Pflugerville school district police department can be reached at (512) 670-5551.

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Man charged in South Austin bank robbery

A man was taken into custody Tuesday night in connection with the June robbery of the BBVA Compass bank in South Austin, according to an arrest affidavit.

Sean Daniel Wallace, 30, has been charged with second-degree felony robbery at the bank located at 1912 West Stassney Lane and was booked Tuesday night, according to the affidavit and jail records. He remained jailed today and is being held on $25,000 bail for the robbery charge, jail records show.

Wallace, wearing a bandana around his head, handed a teller a note at the bank demanding cash and left with an undisclosed amount of money on June 24, the affidavit said.

On July 8, a woman who identified herself as Wallace’s former girlfriend said she saw images of the robbery released by police, the affidavit said. Two more people contacted police and also connected Wallace to the images released of the robbery, the affidavit said.

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Police seek radioactive camera stolen in burglary

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, the Austin Police Department received a 311 call reference a burglary of vehicle that occurred at 4701 South IH 35. A police report was generated through 311 and a call for service was generated for a Property Crimes Unit to be dispatched for fingerprints.

During the preliminary investigation it was learned that one of the items stolen was a device containing radioactive material. The device that was stolen is used to detect leaks in pipes and is reported to contain Iridium 192, a radioactive material. If released the material could be highly dangerous and contaminate the surroundings of those who come in contact with it.

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At this time there is no information to indicate the suspects intentionally targeted the vehicle for the sole purpose of obtaining radioactive material.

If you come in contact or are exposed to this item call 911 immediately. Anyone with information about this item is asked to contact Detective David Martin at (512) 974-4959.

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Police investigating teen’s in-custody death

Austin police are investigating the death of a teen who died following an arrest over the weekend, officials said today.

Police Commander Julie O’Brien said that around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, a 17-year-old alternately claiming to be a security guard and a police officer called 911 and said his handcuffs had been lost. Police arrived at his location at a fast-food restaurant in the 9500 block of North Lamar Boulevard and contacted the teen, identified as Surleslie Eugene Hall, O’Brien said.

Hall was wearing a black shirt with the word “Police” on it, O’Brien said. Witnesses at the restaurant told police that Hall had identified himself to them as a police officer, O’Brien said. The officers took Hall into custody, which O’Brien said was uneventful.

“It was an unremarkable arrest,” O’Brien said. “There was no struggle involved. No force was applied.”

When the officers got Hall to the Travis County Jail, he began to have a “medical crisis,” O’Brien said. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, O’Brien said. The cause of Hall’s death is unknown pending an autopsy by the Travis County medical examiner’s office.

As is the case for all in-custody deaths, the incident is being investigated by the Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, O’Brien said. She asked anyone with information about Hall’s condition that morning to call detectives at (512) 974-6840.

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Woman ID’s alleged robber in Statesman ad, on Facebook

A man is in custody on a robbery by assault charge after police say his victim identified him through a Crime Stoppers ad in the American-Statesman and on his Facebook page.

Police arrested 33-year-old Renny Harvard last week and charged him with robbery by assault, a second-degree felony. According to Harvard’s arrest affidavit, a woman who worked at a nonprofit low income housing organization at the 800 block of East Eighth Street reported that Harvard came into her office in May and asked for some water by writing a note, indicating to her that he was deaf. Harvard then grabbed a stack of money on the woman’s desk and her car keys, leading to a struggle, the affidavit said.

Harvard grabbed the keys to the woman’s Jeep and left the office while the woman continued to fight him, the affidavit said. He entered the vehicle and drove off with her hanging onto the door before she fell off, the affidavit said.

When the woman spoke with robbery detectives, she could not identify Harvard from a photo lineup, the affidavit said. But she saw him in an ad in the Statesman by Crime Stoppers, and located his Facebook page, the affidavit said. She notified investigators, who on July 15 identified fingerprints on the note as belonging to Harvard.

Harvard remains in custody on multiple felony charges, including three counts of burglary of a habitation, one count of burglary of a vehicle, two counts of theft between $20,000 and $100,000, and possession of a controlled substance.

Harvard played football, basketball and ran track for the Texas School for the Deaf in the mid-1990s.

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SWAT call in Northeast Austin ends peacefully

Update: A SWAT call in Northeast Austin has ended with a 32-year-old man in custody, a police official said.

Police were called to the Salado at Walnut Creek apartments at 2104 E. Anderson Lane shortly after 1 a.m., the official said. Police were responding to a call there after a women arrived at the hospital from the apartments with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, the official said.

The suspect, Robert Stringer, was barricaded inside an apartment with a 13-month-old child, the official said.

Stringer surrendered to police shortly after 6 a.m., the official said, and the child was taken from the apartment and is fine.

Stringer will face an aggravated assault charge, the official said.

Earlier: Austin police are attempting to negotiate with a barricaded subject in Northeast Austin early this morning, a police official said.

SWAT personnel are on the scene near the intersection of Centre Plaza and Exchange Drive, which is located near the U.S. 290 and Cross Park Drive area, the police official said.

SWAT was called to the scene before 5 a.m.


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SWAT standoff ends without incident

UPDATE: Police say the SWAT situation has ended without further incident.

EARLIER: Police are attempting to negotiate with a man who has barricaded himself inside an apartment in Northwest Austin.

A call came in about a suspicious vehicle in the 900 block of Reinli Street. Officers attempted to arrest a 19-year-old man, who had a gun, police said. The man got out of the car and escaped with the weapon. Police said he ran into a nearby unit in the Highland Cove apartment complex.

Negotiators and SWAT are on the scene.

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Crews search for missing man on Lake Travis

Emergency crews are searching for a man who jumped from a houseboat into about 30 feet of water on Lake Travis.

Officials said the man has not been seen since his jump near Devil’s Hollow.

An initial search was not successful, officials said, and the search has gone from rescue to recovery mode.


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Suspect in woman’s death waives extradition from N. Dakota

The boyfriend of an Austin woman founded wrapped in a camping tent in Lake Travis earlier this month has waived extradition to return to Texas to face charges in the case, officials said Monday.

Joe Derek Carr, 27, will be moved within days from the North Dakota jail where he has been held to Travis County to face a charge in connection with his girlfriend’s death, officials have said.

“We’re just waiting for authorities now to return him back to Texas,” said Jeff Osvold, chief deputy at the Pembina County sheriff’s office.

The body of Carr’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Veronica Navarro, was found July 6 wrapped in a tent and weighed down with a paint can near Pace Bend Park, officials have said. Investigators searched the home where Navarro and Carr lived, and found several items, including paint cans and camping gear, matching evidence at the scene of Navarro’s death, according to the arrest affidavit issued in the case.

Now, Travis County sheriff’s investigators are asking anyone who has had contact with Carr, including women who knew the former firefighter for the Pedernales Fire Department, to contact their office. A woman who was once married to Carr filed a protective order against him last year and was the subject of a 2009 assault charge in Williamson County, according to court records.

Carr has been held in a Pembina County Jail since he attempted to enter Canada on July 9, Osvold said. He was charged that day with tampering with evidence in Navarro’s death and has been held on $100,000 bail, officials have said. He is a suspect in Navarro’s death, Travis County sheriff’s officials have said.

Last week, Carr had a court appearance in a Pembina County courthouse, where he waived extradition to Texas, Osvold said.

He was detained as he attempted to cross the Pembina port of entry when Canadian customs officials noticed he was acting oddly, Osvold said. Carr’s vehicle was packed with many of his possessions, Osvold said.

“His story just didn’t add up, … it wasn’t checking out,” Osvold said. “It was enough to suspect he was attempting to flee” from something.

With no warrant in place for Carr, Canadian officials turned him around to meet with U.S. customs, where he was questioned further and his vehicle was searched, Osvold said. U.S. customs officials came across information that he was connected to the investigation into Navarro’s death and the tampering with evidence warrant was issued, Osvold said.

Subsequently, the Pembina County sheriff’s office took possession of Carr and booked him on the tampering charge, Osvold said.

“He has been very cooperative, very polite,” Osvold said.

Travis County sheriff’s officials are asking anyone with information about the case to call 854-9710 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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Gang member arrested in SWAT drug bust, police say

A man police say is a documented drug dealer and “Crips” gang member was arrested after a SWAT team raided his home on Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Victor Machado, 28, was arrested and charged with manufacturing or delivering a controlled substance, a first-degree felony. His arrest affidavit said that on Friday, the SWAT team executed a search warrant on a home at the 2200 block of East Eighth Street. Crack, 96 grams of cocaine, along with a scale and baking soda used to make crack, were found inside the home, the affidavit said.

In addition, police found marijuana, about $5,000 in cash, and a handgun inside, the affidavit said. Machado told police the drugs and handgun were his, the affidavit said. He told police he sells drugs, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Machado is a documented member of the Murderside Crips gang and president of the “Texas Finest Car Club” in Austin. The affidavit said that club has been involved in several violent shootings with the “Slabs Car Club.” Machado is being held on $100,000 bail, according to court records.

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One person injured as car crashes into West Campus building

A vehicle struck a building in the 2800 block of Guadalupe Street in West Campus early this morning, an Austin police official said.

The crash occurred shortly before 4 a.m., and sent one person to the hospital, the official said.

The scene was cleared by 7 a.m., the official said.

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Missing man found safely

Update: The man w who was reported missing was found safe and at home.

Emergency officials said they are searching for a man who fell off a party barge on Lake Travis near Devil’s Hollow.

Travis County sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade said a two-story party barge was on the lake when a call came in about 1:45 p.m. today that someone was missing. People who were on the boat said the 24-year-old man was last seen on the second story of the barge near Devil’s Hollow.

Wade said a helicopter and several boats will continue to search the lake for the man. No other information was immediately available.


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Fire in Southeast Austin displaces family of seven

An accidental fire that broke out this afternoon has displaced a family of seven, including three small children, according to the Austin Fire Department.

Officials said the family was not home at the time but neighbors noticed the fire and called 911. The home, located at 6206 Orleans Drive, has about $70,000 worth of damage, said Battalion Chief Thayer Smith.

The cause of the fire was accidental and was related to the water heater, Smith said. He said the residents are being assisted by the Red Cross.


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Police: Missing woman, abductor spotted in New Braunfnels

Police say a Minnesota woman who is believed to have been kidnapped by her estranged husband last week may have been spotted in New Braunfels on Saturday.

Officials in Virginia, Minn., said Roberta Lynn Caskey was walking with her 9-year-old son and a friend Thursday evening when authorities say she was forced into a vehicle by her estranged husband, The Associated Press reported.

New Braunfels Sgt. Tim Brinkkoeter said Sunday that 40-year-old Timothy Glen Caskey was at KB Auto Sales & Service the day before with a woman believed to be 44-year-old Roberta Lynn Caskey, and he asked to test-drive a truck.

Brinkkoeter said the two went out in a 1998 Chevy pickup, and when they failed to return, he said, the police were called. A pickup that matched the getaway car in Minnesota was left at the car lot, along with Timothy Caskey’s driver’s license, Brinkkoeter said.

He said Timothy Caskey is considered to be a person with violent tendencies. Anyone with information should call 911, Brinkkoeter said.

Updated at 8 p.m. to correct that kidnapping happened last week.

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Cedric Benson jailed, lawyer says former Longhorn scuffled with ex-roommate

Earlier today, former Longhorns football star Cedric Benson was held at the Travis County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, according to online jail records. By this afternoon, the records indicated that Benson was no longer in jail.

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Benson, 28, a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals the past three years, was arrested by Austin police and booked in the jail early this morning, the records showed. An Austin police spokeswoman said today that she did not have further information about the arrest.

Benson’s lawyer Sam Bassett released the following statement to the American-Statesman:

“Mr. Benson has been charged with misdemeanor assault arising out of a conflict with a former male roommate. The two had difficulties resulting from Mr. Benson asking the former male roommate to leave his home a few days prior to this incident. The conflict became physical early this morning and we intend to fully investigate.”

Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said: “We don’t feel it’s appropriate to say anything in a case like this until there’s a legal resolution to it.”

Benson’s Travis County assault trial recently was postponed until August. In that case, Benson is accused of punching a West Sixth Street bar employee last year.

Benson, a product of Midland Lee High School, played for the Longhorns from 2001-04, finishing as the second-leading rusher in school history. His 5,540 rushing yards rank second only to Ricky Williams’ 6,279.

After rushing for 1,834 yards as a senior, Benson won the Doak Walker Award that is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate running back.

He was taken with the fourth overall pick of the 2005 National Football League draft by the Chicago Bears. With season-shortened injuries in 2005 and 2007, Benson never panned out with Chicago. Brennan said Benson was released by the Bears in June of 2008 and signed by Cincinnati after a tryout in late September of that year. He’s led the Bengals in rushing in each of his three seasons, gaining 747 yards in 2008, 1,251 yards in 2009 and 1,111 yards in 2010.

Benson enters the 2011 season as an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign with any team. Negotiations between players and clubs have been on hold since the labor unrest that led to the current lockout. The players and owners reportedly are near agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, which could come this week.

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San Marcos team recovers body of man reported missing

Update from from the San Marcos Area Recovery Team:

A San Antonio man missing since Saturday night at Regional Park in Castroville was recovered Sunday morning by divers with the San Marcos Area Recovery Team.

Ernesto Tijerina, 40, from San Antonio, was reported missing by family members around 8pm last night after he entered the water in a area of the park where swimming is prohibited.

Local police and rescue personnel searched for Tijerina until 4am before the search was called off and resumed at first light on Sunday.  SMART received the call for assistance at 8:30 Sunday morning and found Tijerina’s body at 10:55am in approximately 6 feet of water.

According to local authorities investigating, Tijerina had been drinking alcoholic beverages before entering the water. Divers reported the underwater visibility in the Medina River was approximately 1 foot in the area of the recovery. Family members remained at the scene until Tijerina was recovered. The Castroville police department is investigating. 

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Man charged in San Marcos wreck, victims identified

Updated Saturday at 5:20 p.m.: Police charged the driver of a pickup involved in a four-car wreck Friday night, officials said Saturday.

Luis Besa, 42, is in custody at Hays County Jail and is being charged with one count of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault, both felonies. He is being held on $150,000 bail.

Police have also released the names of two victims: Alejandro Perez, 58, of Maxwell was killed Friday, city officials said. Alfredo Aquino, 62, of Lockhart, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin with life-threatening injuries where he is still hospitalized and in “good” condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

A statement said a Cadillac that Aquino was driving and Perez was riding in was rear-ended by Besa’s Chevy pickup, pushed into oncoming traffic, broadsided by a GMC pickup and then hit by a Hummer. The car caught on fire and was later put out by a passerby.

People in the GMC and Hummer were treated at Central Texas Medical Center and have since been released.

Friday: One person was killed and three others injured, one seriously, in a four-vehicle crash about 6 p.m. Friday on Texas 123 and FM 621 near San Marcos, a city spokeswoman said.

An initial investigation shows that a Chevy pickup was traveling south on 123 when it struck the rear of a Cadillac sedan waiting to turn into a grocery store parking lot, spokeswoman Melissa Millecam said. The Cadillac was pushed into oncoming traffic, where it was broadsided by a GMC pickup and struck by a Hummer, she said.

The Cadillac’s front-seat passenger, whose identity has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin with possible life-threatening injuries, she said.

Two other people were taken via ambulance to Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos, she said. Their conditions were not immediately clear Friday night.

Permalink | Categories: Fatal wreck

Woman slightly injured in 2-alarm South Austin fire

A two-story home in South Austin was completely gutted in a two-alarm fire Friday night, fire officials said.

Fire crews were called to the home on Silcantu Drive near David Moore Drive south of Slaughter Lane about 7 p.m. to find it engulfed in flames, fire Capt. Peter Teliha said.

The homeowner escaped with minor injuries and was treated at the scene, Teliha said. The woman was alone at the time, and there were no other injuries reported.

The fire was under control by 7:25 p.m., Teliha said.

The fire was ruled accidental, officials said, after the woman had used a barbecue pit on a wooden deck in the home’s backyard.

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LCRA report on boat ramp closures

From the Lower Colorado River Authority:

As of this afternoon, there is one public boat ramp open on Lake Travis and one public boat ramp open on Lake Buchanan. Mansfield Dam Park is open on Lake Travis and White Bluff Park is open on Lake Buchanan. All public boat ramps on the other Highland Lakes remain open.

Please note that LCRA does not close all boat ramps. The entity in charge of the facility decides when and whether to close a ramp. You can find out which entity is in charge of a particular ramp by checking here: http://www.lcra.org/parks/boatrampinfo.html. It’s also important to know these are public boat ramps. Marinas remain open.

As of today, Lake Travis is 51 percent full. It is at 643.8 feet above mean sea level, about 25 feet below its July average.

Lake Buchanan is 56 percent full. It is just above 1000 feet above mean sea level, about 13.5 feet below its July average.

Historical information on lake levels is posted here: http://www.lcra.org/water/conditions/historical.html

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Williamson County sheriff’s office investigating suspicious deaths

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Update 3:29 p.m.: The Williamson County sheriff’s office has released the names of the couple whose bodies were found this morning at their home just outside of Georgetown.

A relative found the bodies of Steve Gutowski, 87, and his wife Verona Gutowski, 88, about 8 a.m. this morning in the backyard of their home, Sgt. John Foster said.

The deaths are considered suspicious, but investigators found no evidence of foul play, Foster said. He said detectives are investigating a number of possibilities for the couple’s death, including heat, natural causes or an accident.

An autopsy will be performed by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, Foster said.

Earlier: The Williamson County sheriff’s office is investigating the morning discovery of a deceased man and woman at a residence near the Georgetown area, officials said.

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The couple was found in the backyard of their home at the 4300 block of University Avenue, which is located near Texas 130, shortly after 8 a.m., said sheriff’s spokesman John Foster.

The man and woman, who were described to be an elderly couple in their 80s, showed no visible signs of trauma, Foster said. There were also no signs of foul play at the home, he said.

Foster said the couple was discovered by a relative who called 911.

The sheriff’s office is calling the deaths suspicious until further information shows why the couple was found both dead at the same time, he said. Investigators remained at the scene this morning, he said.

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Man charged with beating bus driver also charged in pastor’s attack

Authorities Thursday filed additional charges against a man accused of assaulting a Capital Metro bus driver last month.

Days before the bus driver’s assault, Rickey Desean Walls (pictured) robbed and assaulted a 69-year-old pastor of a North Austin Lutheran church, according to an arrest affidavit. Walls is also charged in a third assault and robbery committed at a South Austin park, following the attack on the pastor.

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Walls, 31, was charged Thursday with aggravated robbery. Police said in the affidavit that on June 7 Walls attacked the Rev. Karl Gronberg at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 200 W. Anderson Lane, as the pastor was picking up trash outside.

Gronberg told police he saw a man walking through the grassy area around the property. Gronberg tried to speak to the man, later identified as Walls, but Walls attacked him, repeatedly punched him in the head and knocked him to the ground, the affidavit said.

Walls then ran away with Gronberg’s wallet, the affidavit said. Gronberg called 911 and paramedics treated him for lacerations on his head and knees. Police lifted fingerprints off Gronberg’s vehicle and turned them in as evidence.

Walls has also been charged with aggravated robbery by assault in connection with an attack on a Capital Metro bus driver on June 10. Sgt. Brian Miller said at the time that surveillance video shows that Walls repeatedly punched the driver and later went through his pockets. No one else was on the bus at the time.

Then on June 12, police received a call about a robbery in Gillis Park in South Austin. A suspect matching the description of the man involved in the two previous robberies attacked a man at the park’s basketball courts. Officers arrived at the park and took Walls into custody, the affidavit said.

Gronberg picked Walls out of a photo lineup, the affidavit said, and the fingerprints taken during the investigation into that attacked were linked to Walls as well.

Gronberg could not immediately be reached today for comment.

Walls remains in custody at the Travis County Jail. He is charged with robbery and two counts of aggravated robbery.

In March 2010, Walls was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault with injury after police said he attacked several people downtown, including an off-duty Dallas police officer.

Under a plea bargain with prosecutors, Walls pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in June 2010 and was sentenced to 10 months in the Travis County Jail, according to court records.

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16 Austin-based Mexican Mafia members, associates arrested

From the Austin Police Department:

16 AUSTIN-BASED TEXAS MEXICAN MAFIA MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATES ARRESTED FOR DRUG CHARGES

Austin, TX - Today 16 members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia were arrested on federal drug charges in Austin Texas. Agencies that participated in the arrest include the FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw and US Attorney Office, John E. Murphy

Those arrested this morning include

Michael Morin, 44 Ruben Flores, 44 David Jeffery Torres, 37 David Samarripa, 32 Michael Martinez, 36 Edward Zuniga, 34 David Romo, 59 Domingo Mendieta, 41 Juan Manuel Pierce, 58 Nickolas Estrada, 45 Crystal Elizabeth Morin, 31 Ernesto Lopez, 60

Daniel Camacho Gonzales, 45 Luis Gerardo Salazar, 24 Jose Eduardo Placencia, 39 Arnulfo Perez-Torres, 51

Patrick James Cruz, 27, and Eloy Davila, 53, were also indicted and were already in custody.

A federal grand jury indictment returned on July 5, 2011, and unsealed today, charges that since April 2009, the defendants have conspired to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than one kilogram of heroin.

Fourteen (14) search warrants were executed this morning, which resulted in the seizure of guns, cash, and suspected drugs to include heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana, and methamphetamine. The arrests and search warrants were executed at numerous locations in Austin, Seguin, and Pflugerville. Upon conviction, the defendants face between ten years and life in federal prison.

In addition to the law enforcement agencies listed above, this investigation was conducted by the Williamson County, Travis County, Hays County, and Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Offices, the Round Rock, Pflugerville, Seguin, San Marcos Police Departments, and the Hays County District Attorney’s Office.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The arrested persons listed will have an initial appearance hearing before a United States Magistrate Judge later today, after which they will be turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service for further processing.

Correction: Texas Department of Public Safety’s Steven McCraw name was misspelled.

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Musician in several altercations before death, detectives say

Austin police detectives released more information today about the death of Charles “Chadd” Thomas II, the rockabilly musician killed earlier this week in what has been deemed a homicide.

Detective Chris Smyth said investigators think that Thomas was involved in three separate, unrelated altercations between 5 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday. The first was a “disturbance involving a car” at either the 3600 block of South Lamar or the 3000 block of South Lamar, where he suffered injuries as a result. Smyth said Thomas was possibly struck by a car in some way.

A short time later Thomas attended a party in the 200 block of East Alpine Road, off South Congress Avenue, Smyth said. Detectives believe Thomas was involved in an altercation at that party and was assaulted there, Smyth said.

Thomas was then driven to the 2600 block of South Congress Avenue, where he was possibly assaulted again, Smyth said. His body was found there at 7:45 a.m. Monday.

“What we’re specifically needing on this is any witnesses to these events that occurred,” Smyth said. “We have talked to some of the people involved, but we need help in identifying the remainder of the people, specifically who was involved in the fight at the party.”

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the homicide tip line at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

Updated, 4:40 p.m.: Adds police phone numbers.

Earlier: Musician, homicide victim described as dedicated to daughter, rockabilly genre

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Austin police charge man in four armed robberies

Austin police charged a man with four robberies in North and East Austin after the man was charged in June with another robbery.

Police arrested Deon Ross, 26, on June 23 on suspicion of robbing an Extended Stay hotel in Round Rock, at which point Ross confessed to four more, according to arrest affidavits.

Thursday, police charged Ross with four counts of aggravated robbery. He previously was charged with a felony and a misdemeanor. He is being held in Travis County Jail on $227,500 bail.

Ross told police that he and another man robbed Wells Mini Mart in East Austin using a BB gun on March 29, an arrest affidavit said.

Then, on May 16, Ross and a woman robbed a Super 8 in North Austin, an affidavit said. Ross also confessed to robbing a Texaco Food Mart in East Austin with another man on June 14, an affidavit said.

Ross said he and another man robbed an EZ Loan on June 17 in East Austin, an arrest affidavit said.

In the June 23 robbery, witnesses told police Ross was alone, according to affidavits.

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Woman identified in Killeen homicide

FROM THE KILLEEN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Killeen Police are investigating the death of a female in the 1000 block of Parmer just before midnight on Monday, July 11, 2011.

Officers responded to the 1000 block of Parmer at 11:46pm on Monday, July 11, 2011, in reference to a possible shooting victim in a house at 20th and Parmer. The caller advised they heard gun shots in the area approximately one hour before and saw the animals from this residence outside. When the caller went to the residence they saw the front door open and a female on the ground inside.

The officers located a deceased female inside the residence; Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin pronounced her deceased at 12:25am and ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

Update - 07-13-11

The victim in this death has been identified at 36 year old Candance Lee Boley of Killeen.

Autopsy results are still pending.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about this death to call Crime Stoppers at 526-TIPS (8477) or go online at www.killeencrimestoppers.com or text the word KILLEEN to 274637 (CRIMES). All information is confidential and completely anonymous.

This case continues to be investigated and information will be released as it becomes available.

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Man who was struck, killed while changing tire identified

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, at 11:01 a.m., Austin Police Officers responded to an auto-pedestrian collision in the 100 block of East Slaughter Lane.

A preliminary investigation shows that a white 1996 white Toyota sedan was stalled in the center east bound lane in the 100 block E. Slaughter Lane. Bobby Kyle was standing at the rear of the vehicle preparing to change a flat tire when he was struck by a 1999 dark blue Chevy Tahoe. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Alcohol or speed is not believed to be factors in this crash. This case remains under investigation by APD Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call APD Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives at (512) 974-5520. This is the 34th fatality of 2011. At this time in 2010, there were 26 traffic fatalities.

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Man charged following downtown building shutdown had other weapons in vehicle, affidavit says

Update: A man who was charged following the Tuesday morning evacuation of a downtown building had several other weapons in his vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit released today.

Rickey Don Lankford, 33, is facing a prohibited weapon felony charge for a homemade firearms silencer found his in his vehicle, officials have said. He also told a trooper he had a hunting bow, a handgun and knives in his vehicle, the affidavit said. A marijuana plant was also found in the trunk, the affidavit said. Lankford remained jailed Wednesday afternoon in Travis County on a $10,000 bail, according to jail records.

A trooper on patrol Tuesday morning around 1 a.m. noticed several items inside the vehicle, including a long blade and arrows, the affidavit said. Lankford approached soon after, and said it was his vehicle, the affidavit said.

During questioning, Lankford became pale and began sweating, falling backwards and hitting his head on a concrete divider, the affidavit said. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge and released later into police custody, the affidavit said. He was booked into Travis County jail later that morning.

July 12: The William P. Clements building at 15th and Lavaca streets downtown was shut down overnight as officials investigated a suspicious vehicle in an adjacent parking lot, officials said today.

Rickey Don Lankford, 33, has been charged with a prohibited weapons felony charge in connection with the incident, according to the official and jail records. He is in the Travis County Jail this morning, records show.

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A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on patrol noticed the suspicious vehicle on the top floor of an adjoining parking garage to the Clements building about 1 a.m., DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said. The trooper spotted a homemade firearms silencer in the vehicle, Vinger said.

Lankford came back to the vehicle shortly after and gave officials consent to search his vehicle, Vinger said. Additional personnel, including the Austin police bomb squad, were called to help search the vehicle for “incendiary devices,” Vinger said.

Lankford was listed as a resident of Gatesville, a community west of Waco, and had no apparent connection to the Clements building, Vinger said.

By 9 a.m., officials said they uncovered no other suspicious items in the vehicle, and employees were cleared to return.

The building houses state workers, among other offices.

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Rodolfo Gonzalez AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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Man facing child injury charge fled to Mexico, affidavit says

A man who is facing an injury to a child felony charge in a case involving his infant daughter is believed to have fled to Mexico, according to an arrest affidavit released today.

German Ortiz Sanchez, 38, is facing the first-degree charge after his two-month-old daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury in their North Austin apartment last month, according to an arrest affidavit.

He was due to meet with investigators following the June 24th incident, but his wife told police he had fled to Mexico, the affidavit said.

Ortiz Sanchez and his wife had been arguing in their home before the incident, and his wife told police there had been a history of domestic violence, the affidavit said. Adelaida Escobar asked her husband to watch the infant during a shower, and when she returned, she found the child lying on the living room sofa with her back arched and very stiff, the affidavit said.

A doctor at Dell Children’s Medical Center told police the infant appeared to have suffered abusive head trauma, the affidavit said.

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Man charged after pedestrian struck by vehicle following altercation

A man has been charged with aggravated assault after his BMW struck a pedestrian following an altercation in the downtown area, according to an arrest affidavit.

Ezequiel Medina Carreto, 24, is facing the second-degree felony after he was identified as the driver of the vehicle that struck a male pedestrian during the May 28th incident near 5th Street and West Avenue, the affidavit said.

The victim was walking back to his residence at the 800 block of West Fifth Street around 2 a.m. when he “accidentally bumped into a group of unknown pedestrians,” the affidavit said. The group of pedestrians, including Medina Carreto, began assaulting the victim until a nearby security officer broke up the fight, the affidavit said.

The group of pedestrians then got into the BMW, which swerved towards the victim and struck him in the legs, the affidavit said. Medina Carreto was identified as the driver and faces a $15,000 bail, the affidavit said.

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Police seek help in finding missing Austin man

FROM THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Austin Police Department Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Desmond Daniel, last seen Monday, July 11, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. in the 2600 block of Loyola Lane.

Daniel is described as: Black male, 76 years of age, 5’09” 175 lbs, Brown eyes, Gray hair

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He was last seen wearing a blue and gray short-sleeved shirt and blue jean pants. Foul play is not suspected. He was last seen driving a white 1999 Chevy van bearing Texas License Plate (415 XXS).

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

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Woman charged in connection with June bank robbery in South Austin

A woman has been charged in connection with a South Austin bank robbery last month in which two individuals were seen entering the bank in disguise, according to an arrest affidavit.

Amber Scarffol, 37, was charged with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony, in connection with the June 17 robbery of the American Bank of Commerce at 2201 West Ben White Boulevard, the affidavit said.

Scarffol confessed to police she was driving the getaway car that took the two male suspects from the scene of the robbery, the affidavit said. One suspect was wearing large sunglasses and a wig, and a second suspect was wearing face paint, the affidavit said.

The second suspect, 38-year-old Donald Harris, is expected to face related charges after confessing to his role in the robbery, an Austin police official said. Harris was arrested and booked into a Kansas jail July 1 on an unrelated charge and is awaiting the new robbery charge, the official said.

After the arrest “he confessed to this bank robbery indicating that he was the person who painted himself with makeup to make it appear as if he was was black,” the affidavit said.

Scarffol was not shown booked in Travis County jail Wednesday morning, but faces a $100,000 bail, according to the affidavit.

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Man taken into custody after SWAT callout identified, charged

Update: The man who barricaded himself in a far South Austin home and drew an hours-long SWAT standoff this morning has been identified as 30-year-old Joshua Schoen, a police official said.

Schoen has been charged with a parole violation in connection with a previous forgery case, the official said. He was booked into Travis County jail shortly after 10 a.m., jail records show.

Earlier: A man who barricaded himself in a home in far South Austin has been taken into custody, and Austin SWAT team members are clearing the scene, a police official said.

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Police responded to a check-welfare call shortly after 2 a.m. in the Saddlewood Estates subdivision near Old Manchaca Road and Slaughter Lane when they came upon the subject, a man in his 30s, an official said.

The man ran inside a home at the 10500 block of Garbacz, and SWAT team personnel were called, the official said.

Police said the man, who had a parole violation for a forgery charge, was possibly armed.

Residents near the home had been evacuated, a police official said, and will be allowed to return.

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Police investigating South Congress homicide

Update: Police said Charles Thomas II was killed by blunt force trauma. They have ruled his death the city’s 13th homicide of 2011.

Officials have identified the body of a man found Monday near the sidewalk on South Congress Avenue south of Oltorf Street as 38-year-old Charles Thomas II.

Austin police Sgt. Keith Bazzle had few immediate details, but he said officers were called to the scene about 7:45.

The case remains under investigation, Bazzle said Monday.

The Houston Press said that Thomas was a musician who played in Austin rockabilly band Chadd Thomas and the Crazy Kings.

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Austin lawyer charged with possession of child pornography

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit arrested Austin resident and lawyer John Ribble Moore, 52, Friday for possession of child pornography.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children referred the case to the Cyber Crimes Unit after receiving a CyberTip, which indicated that images of child pornography were illegally uploaded to the Internet. After investigating the illegal images, the Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at Moore’s residence, where they discovered child pornography on a desktop computer.

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Under Texas law, child pornography possession is a third-degree felony. If convicted, Moore faces two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. After Moore’s arrest, a magistrate set his bond at $15,000. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office will handle the prosecution of Moore’s case.

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Fugitive in child indecency trial caught

SAN MARCOS — The U.S. Marshals fugitive task force, working jointly with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, has caught John Everett Fitch, a 43-year-old fugitive found guilty of indecency with a child after he fled trial, Hays County sheriff officials said in an announcement today.

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Fitch (pictured) did not show up for trial on June 15, Cathy Compton, a Hays County assistant criminal district attorney, said last month. Fitch came to court June 14, when the investigating detective took the stand to testify against him, Compton said. The case continued June 15 without Fitch, and the jury came back with a guilty verdict the next day, she said.

He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in that trial and is not eligible for probation because he has a prior felony conviction, she said.

He now faces charges of failure to appear under a warrant issued by the 22nd District Court, officials said today.

The sheriff’s office told Compton last month that a person using Fitch’s name, driver’s license number and birth date had crossed the border into Mexico from Laredo.


Note: Entry edited to correct the date Fitch failed to appear in court.

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Man charged in South Austin attempted sexual assaults

A man who police say tried to sexually assault two women in South Austin in separate attacks early Friday morning was arrested Saturday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Charles Granville Wilson, 33, has been charged with attempted sexual assault, the document said. He is in the Travis County Jail on $200,000 bail.

According to the affidavit, a woman was jogging on South Congress Avenue near Milton Street about 5:35 a.m. when she was attacked by a man later identified as Wilson. She told police that Wilson punched her, dragged her to an alley and continued to attack her until a witness chased Wilson, the affidavit said.

A second woman was jogging about 6:40 a.m. near the intersection of South First Street and Barton Springs Road, about a mile north of the first attack, when she was also attacked from behind, the affidavit said. The man, later identified as Wilson, ran off after pushing her to the ground.

Austin police made up a composite sketch of the attacker, who witnesses and a police officer who regularly patrols the area recognized as Wilson, a transient.

On Friday police said they were looking for a man involved in three assaults in South Austin.

The third attack was not detailed in the arrest affidavit. Police officials said today that more details about the case are forthcoming.

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Woman recovered from lake was killed, suspect arrested, officials say

A woman whose body was recovered from Lake Travis last week is that of a 22-year-old woman who was a homicide victim, Travis County sheriff’s officials said today.

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A body was found floating Wednesday in Lake Travis near the east shoreline of Pace Bend Park, sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade said. The body was found wrapped in a tent and weighted down, he said. The following day, investigators identified the woman as Veronica Navarro of Spicewood. They ruled her death a homicide, Wade said.

Detectives executed a search warrant on the home Navarro shared with her boyfriend, Joe Carr, and found paint cans similar to the ones attached to Navarro’s body, the affidavit said. They also found part of a tent and trash bag also believed to be used in the crime, it said.

They then received word from Canadian law enforcement officials that Carr, 27, was attempting to enter Canada, Wade said.

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U.S. Customs officials detained Carr until a warrant for tampering with evidence was issued, Wade said. Carr was then taken to the Pembina County sheriff’s office in North Dakota where he is being held on bail of $100,000.

Carr works as a fire engine driver at the Pedernales Fire Department and was on duty for 48 straight hours from July 4 to July 5, according to Mark Warren who is the department’s assistant chief.

Warren said Carr was off Wednesday and failed to show up for his next shift Sunday.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about this case to contact the sheriff’s office at 854-9710 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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Off-duty DPS trooper charged with DWI in Hutto not drunk, police say

Update: The off-duty Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper charged with driving while intoxicated in Hutto had not been drinking, according to an affidavit.

Trooper Shannon Gray was taking a muscle relaxant for back pain when she fell asleep at the drive-through window at a McDonald’s restaurant in Hutto, the affidavit said. Under state law a driver can be charged with driving while intoxicated if the person loses mental or physical facilities because of alcohol or drugs, according to the affidavit.

A witness saw Gray swerving in a Toyota Tundra on the road and driving into a grassy ditch before she turned into the McDonald’s in the 600 block of Texas 79, the affidavit said.

The witness notified police at 10:15 p.m. that Gray’s vehicle had been stopped by the menu in the drive-through at the restaurant for several minutes, delaying cars that pulled up behind her, according to the affidavit.

When a police officer tried to talk to Gray in her vehicle, she kept opening and closing her eyes and could not answer questions, including what her phone number was or what section of the DPS she worked in, the affidavit said. She was slurring her speech and stuttering, according to the affidavit. There was no smell of alcohol coming from the car, the affidavit said.

Paramedics called to the scene said Gray had not had a seizure and that her blood pressure was normal, the affidavit said. Gray told police that she was not diabetic but that she had taken a muscle relaxant to fall asleep, according to the affidavit.

She said she was prescribed the drug for back pain, the affidavit said.

She said she had taken the muscle relaxant while she was driving but it usually did not affect her driving abilities, according to the affidavit. She declined to provide a sample of her blood, and no sample was taken at the Williamson County Jail because “no alcohol intoxication was suspected,” the affidavit said.

Gray will be suspended, said Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Gray has been a DPS trooper since 1995 and worked in the state Capitol complex downtown, he said. No information was immediately available from DPS about any previous charges or disciplinary action against Gray.

Earlier:

Hutto police said Monday that they charged an off-duty Department of Public Safety trooper with driving while intoxicated Sunday night.

Trooper Shannon Gray was arrested between between 9:30 and 10 p.m. off Texas 79 in Hutto, said Lt. Dwayne Jones of the Hutto Police Department.

Jones declined to release further information. The Williamson County attorney’s office said the arrest affidavit on Gray will be released this afternoon. DPS did not immediately return calls for comment Monday morning.

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Temple police seek suspect in bank robbery

FROM THE TEMPLE POLICE DEPARTMENT:

At about 10:00 am today, Temple Police responded to a robbery in progress at “Texell Federal Credit Union,” 3314 South 31st Street. Officers arrived within a few minutes to learn that the lone suspect had just fled on foot to the south. Officers also learned that no one was hurt, and no shots had been fired.

Temple Police, along with units from the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Texas DPS, searched the surrounding neighborhood for several hours, but have thus far been unable to locate the suspect.

The initial investigation indicates the man entered the bank just before 10:00 am, and displayed a handgun to the teller. He demanded, and received, an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing out the front door. Temple Police investigators, along with the FBI, gathered evidence at the scene, and their investigation continues.

The suspect is described as a white male in his late 20’s to early 30’s, between 5’9” and 6 feet tall, with a medium to muscular build. He was last seen wearing: a dark blue or black ball cap with white lettering on front; black sunglasses; light red, blue, and white plaid long sleeve shirt; blue jeans; and, carrying a dark color backpack or duffel bag over his shoulder. A photo of the suspect, taken by bank security cameras, is attached.

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The suspect is considered armed and dangerous, and should not be approached. Anyone with information about his current whereabouts should call 911. Anyone with information about his location or activities before or after the 10:00 am robbery is asked to contact the Temple Police Department at 254-298-5500.

Residents living to the south and west of Texell (Forest Trail, Marlandwood, and Canyon Creek areas) are asked to check their yards and curbside trash cans for possible clothing or items related to the robbery. Anyone locating anything suspicious is asked to leave it in place and call the above main phone number.

Permalink | Categories: Bank robbery

Man killed while crossing I-35 identified

A man who was killed while trying to cross Interstate 35 in North Austin on Saturday has been identified as Robert Lee Cameron Jr.,43, police said today.

A preliminary investigation shows that Cameron was trying to cross the highway north of 51st Street about 11 p.m. when he was struck by a Nissan Maxima in the southbound lanes, police said.

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

Alcohol or speed is not believed to be factors in this crash, and no charges are anticipated, police said.

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Pool reopens at W Austin Hotel

The pool at the W Austin Hotel has reopened.

Hotel management closed the pool area June 10 after four people were injured by falling glass.

The incident was the first of three during June when glass panels fell from balconies on the 37-story building’s upper floors.

After the third incident, the hotel closed for nearly two weeks while workers removed almost 1,000 of the panels. They’ve been replaced — temporarily — with wood while investigators work to find a cause.

The hotel reopened Saturday.

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Northwest Austin bank robbed

A man robbed a Northwest Austin bank this morning, police officials said.

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The man entered the Ironstone Bank at 11149 Research Blvd. near Balcones Woods Drive about 9 a.m., displayed a weapon and demanded cash, an official said.

He left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash in an unknown direction, the official said. Police believe he left on foot.

There were no injuries reported.

Police said the suspect is a white or Hispanic man in his late 20s or early 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and with a heavy build. He was last seen wearing sunglasses, a black wig, dark pants, a dark shirt and white shoes.

Anyone with information regarding the robbery is asked to call the Austin police robbery tip line at 974-5092.

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Body found on South Congress Avenue, police say

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The body of a man in his 40s was found near the sidewalk on South Congress Avenue south of Oltorf Street this morning, officials say.

Austin police Sgt. Keith Bazzle had few immediate details, but he said officers were called to the scene about 7:45.

The case remains under investigation, Bazzle said.

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W Hotel reports it has city’s OK to reopen

Officials with the W Austin Hotel and Residences report they received city approval this afternoon to reopen the 37-story building.

Closed for nearly two weeks, the W’s guest rooms, bars and restaurant should come back online Saturday.

The posh high-rise hotel, just seven months old, shut down nearly two weeks ago after glass panels fell from the building’s upper-level balconies three times in less than a month.

Crews removed the last of those tempered glass panels last week, temporarily replacing them with wood while engineers search for a cause.

Developer Stratus Properties told the American-Statesman Thursday that it intends to install balcony railings made of a safer, laminated glass and framed in stainless steel as soon as the investigation wraps up.

The ACL Live venue, located on the building’s ground floor, reopened to the public Thursday, hosting the Davis Cup drawing ceremony.

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Wife of slain musician will not face charges in death of intruder

A Travis County grand jury has declined to indict Rhonda Maddox in the death of a man who broke into her southwestern Travis County home last year, said Travis County sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade.

In December 2010, John Joseph Debrecht suffered a gunshot wound and head injury during a struggle at the home of musician Bill Maddox, who was also shot and died at the scene, authorities said. Debrecht died later at University Medical Center Brackenridge, officials said.

Deputies were called to Maddox’s home in the 9200 block of Rock Way Drive on the morning of Dec. 27 after Debrecht, who lived nearby, used a rock to break the front glass door and enter the house, Wade said.

After Debrecht was inside, Bill Maddox told his wife, Rhonda, to call 911, Wade said.

The two men began to struggle and Bill Maddox told Rhonda to shoot Debrecht, Wade said. Debrecht was shot in the shoulder, but he got up and during a struggle was able to get the gun away from Rhonda Maddox, Wade said.

Debrecht shot Bill Maddox in the abdomen before the two fell down a flight of stairs, Wade said. During the fall, Debrecht suffered a head injury, Wade said.

Rhonda Maddox was no-billed last month, Wade said.

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Man assaults three women in S. Austin

Police are searching for a man who attacked three women Friday morning in separate locations in South Austin.

About 5:34 a.m., police were called after a man went up to a woman who was walking in the 1600 block of South Congress Ave. and punched her several times, Austin Police Cpl. Anthony Hipolito said. When a witness tried to help, the man ran away, Hipolito said.

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The woman was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, Hipolito said. He did not have details about her injuries.

At 6:41 a.m., at South First Street and Barton Springs Road, about a mile from the first assault, a jogger called 911 to report that she was grabbed from behind by a man who ran away when she turned around.

Then, at 7:18 a.m., a second jogger called emergency officials after a man grabbed her from behind while she was running on the pedestrian bridge at Interstate 35 and Lady Bird Lake, a couple of miles from the second assault, Hipolito said.

“She was able to push off and the guy took off running,” Hipolito said.

The two joggers were not injured, Hipolito said.

All three women provided police with the same description of their attacker, he said.

Police have not determined a motive for the assaults, Hipolito said. The man faces three charges of assault, all misdemeanors.

Hipolito said such assaults are rare, and that he could not think of a time when three women were assaulted by the same person in such a short period of time.

Still, he cautioned that people to stay alert.

“We encourage everybody to be aware of your surroundings,” Hipolito said. “If you can run in groups, run in groups.”

Police released a composite sketch of the suspect, who is described as a black man in his 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 180 pounds, with short hair and a goatee.

Anyone with information on the assaults is asked to call the sex crimes unit at 974-5230.

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Austin Water to close lanes on Cesar Chavez and Brazos streets over weekend

Austin Water has issued the following news release:

(Austin)—Austin Water will be closing portions of two streets this weekend to perform inspections of a wastewater line. This is in preparation to refurbish a 42-inch diameter wastewater pipe located at Cesar Chavez Street and San Antonio Street extending to the bank of Lady Bird Lake near Trinity Street.

The wastewater pipe will be refurbished by inserting a liner into the existing pipe. During the process, wastewater will be diverted through a temporary pipe. By using this trenchless method instead of removing and replacing the pipe, Austin Water will save approximately one year in construction time, over one million dollars in cost and reduce the inconvenience to motorists. Austin Water customers within the work zone will not be affected.

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Woman found dead in fire identified

Update: A woman who was found dead in a Northeast Travis County fire has been identified as 24-year-old Elizabeth Escobar, a Travis County sheriff’s official said.

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Travis County sheriff’s officials are now identifying the case as a homicide investigation, said sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade.

Anyone with information about the case is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 472-8477 or the sheriff’s office at 854-9710.

July 6: A woman’s body was found last night as crews battled a fire in a field off Springdale Road south of Cameron Road in northeast Travis County, a sheriff’s office spokesman said.

Manor fire crews were called to the blaze about 10 p.m. in a field several feet from the road that is often used as an illegal trash dumping site, said Lt. Joe Stock of Emergency Services District 12.

As crews were investigating whether flammable liquids, brush or trash were burning, and whether the ground was stable, the woman’s body was discovered, Stock said. Crews immediately stopped fighting the blaze and waited for sheriff’s office investigators, he said. Humid weather kept the fire from spreading, he added.

Crews remained on the scene for six hours as investigators combed the area, Stock said.

Officials this morning did not have immediate details on the woman’s identity or cause of death.

The sheriff’s office, fire marshal’s office and medical examiner’s office are examining.

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2 men killed in Killeen collision identified

FROM THE KILLEEN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Update: The driver of the white Chevy Tahoe has been identified as 50 year old Humberto Enriquez of Killeen.

The driver of the green Toyota 4Runner has been identified as 31 year old CW2 National Guardsman Howard J. Cook of San Antonio, the 36 year old female passenger of Converse, also in the National Guard, was treated for non life threatening injuries and released.

This crash continues to be investigated and information will be released as it becomes available.

Earlier: Officers responded to the 14,000 block of S. Hwy 195 at 1:31pm, Thursday, after receiving a 911 call about an crash with injuries. Upon their arrival they located a white Chevy Tahoe in the median and a green Toyota 4Runner on the west side of the southbound roadway. Witnesses told officers that the Chevy Tahoe, occupied by one male driver, was traveling northbound in the inside southbound lane when the vehicle collided with the Toyota 4Runner, occupied by a male driver and a female passenger.

The collision caused the Tahoe to overturn several times and landing in the median causing the grass in the median to catch fire; the driver was pinned inside the vehicle. The 4Runner overturned coming to a rest on the west side of the roadway and ejecting the driver. Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke pronounced the 31 year old driver of the 4Runner deceased at the scene of the crash at 2:10pm. He also pronounced the 50 year old driver of the Tahoe deceased at the crash at 2:15pm. The 36 year old female passenger was airlifted to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in serious condition.

The names of the deceased have been withheld pending notification of their next of kin.

This crash continues to be investigated and information will be released as it becomes available.

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SWAT team called out to North Austin residence

UPDATED: Police said the SWAT call out ended without incident.

A SWAT team has responded to a barricaded person inside a home in the 9400 block of Parkfield Drive near Rundberg Lane.

Police said one person is inside a duplex building and that no evacuations are under way.

No other information is available.


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Body found in Lake Travis identified

Officials identified a body that was found in Lake Travis on Wednesday as 44-year-old Dexter Patton.

Patton was reported missing Tuesday by a friend who he was boating with on July 4, Travis County officials said. The friend said he last saw Patton on the boat with a large group of people and became worried when Patton did not show up for work.

Officials said a boater near Starnes Island found Patton’s body and a preliminary investigation shows he died of accidental drowning. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office and the sheriff’s office are still investigating the death.

Another body found Wednesday in Lake Travis near Pace Bend Park has not been identified.

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Crews battling blaze near Johnson City

Officials with Blanco County said about five fire departments are fighting a blaze just north of Johnson City.

Jerod Breakiron, emergency management coordinator for the county, called the fire “substantial.” He said there have been reports that the fire is 100 acres but that has not been confirmed.

He said no homes are threatened and there have been no injuries.


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Suspect led Austin police on chase into Georgetown

3:15 p.m. update:

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said a woman was taken to a hospital and will be charged after leading police on a chase in a stolen car from North Austin to Georgetown.

The woman, whose name was not released, told a hostage negotiator during the chase that she was armed and would not be taken alive, Acevedo said. There were reports of shots being fired during the chase, but Acevedo and a Georgetown police official said their officers did not fire.

The chase ended, Acevedo said, when the woman drove off Interstate 35 in Georgetown but became cornered in a wooded area near I-35 and RR 2243. She turned the car around and drove toward a Georgetown police officer, said Georgetown Assistant Police Chief Roland Waits. He said a Georgetown officer fired into her car.

Acevedo said the woman suffered a superficial scratch to her hand, but it was not clear if that was caused by a bullet or something else.

Earlier:

A suspect led Austin police on a vehicle chase that started in North Austin ended more than 20 miles away in Georgetown, an Austin police official said.

The pursuit began shortly before 1 p.m. when an Austin police officer tried to pull over a blue Saturn on Anderson Lane near Georgian Drive, the official said.

The Saturn initially began to stop, but then fled, leading police on a pursuit that ended near the San Gabriel Village Boulevard and Interstate 35 area, the official said. There were reports of shots being fired during the pursuit, the official said.

Police had few other immediate details, including whether anyone was injured, details on the suspect and what triggered the attempted traffic stop.

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W Hotel downtown could reopen Saturday

Officials with the W Austin confirmed this morning that the posh downtown hotel could, pending city approvals, reopen as soon as this Saturday, nearly two weeks after it temporarily closed its doors.

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Guests were evacuated and relocated to other area hotels June 28 after glass panels fell from the building’s balconies for the third time in less than a month.

Contractors have removed all 1,000 panels and are working to find out why eight of them shattered, dropping into the hotel’s pool area and raining down on adjacent streets. Wood is being used to seal off the balconies until new glass can be installed.

The W announced last week that employees would continue to be paid during the closure, with many of them taking part in various training exercises.

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Third body recovered from Lake Travis in 24 hours

Three bodies have been recovered from Lake Travis within the past 24 hours, sheriff’s officials said.

Shortly before 6 p.m. today, the body of a male was found near Starnes Island, however officials said they did not have any further information on his identity.


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Another body was found about 11:30 a.m. today near Pace Bend Park, but officials said they could not determine the gender or age. The death is being investigated as suspicious, officials said.

The body of Marcus Henderson, a missing boater since Sunday, was recovered late Tuesday and identified today, officials said.

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Body found in Devil’s Hollow

UPDATE: : Officials said they have identified the 26-year-old man found in Devils Hollow as Marcus Henderson.

Earlier: Divers continued to search Monday for a 26-year-old man who was last seen on a boat at Devil’s Hollow on Lake Travis about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Roger Wade, spokesman for the Travis County sheriff’s office, said divers searched from 6 a.m. to about 7 p.m.

Crews will continue to search for the man today from the surface. Diving efforts will not continue, Wade said.

The man’s name was not released.

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Sheriff’s office investigating suspicious death

The death of a person found dead in Lake Travis this morning is being investigated as suspicious, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Roger Wade, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said the office received a call about 11:30 a.m. Several men working on a boat dock spotted the body floating in the water, he said.

“The body is in such a condition that detectives cannot determine what age or (gender) it is,” Wade said. “It will have to be sent to the medical examiner’s office.”


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Temple police seek shooting suspect

FROM THE TEMPLE POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Last night, at about 7:55 pm, Temple Police responded to a residence in the 700 block of North 4th Street, to a report of shots fired. Officers arrived to find several people on the front porch of the house. One person, an adult male, had been shot in the back. He was taken to Scott and White Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers learned that the group of people had been on the front porch of the house when a pickup truck pulled up to the front of the house. A suspect who knew the victim, and was upset with him, then produced a handgun and fired multiple shots toward the victim and his group, striking the victim in the back. No one else was injured.

The suspect then fled in the truck, and was not located last night.

The victim is identified as Allen McKinzy, a 30-year-old Temple man.

Investigators responded to the scene, and stayed for several hours to gather facts and evidence as to whom fired the shots, and why. The investigation continues.

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Hasan to face court-martial, possible death penalty

Fort Hood’s commanding general today ordered a general court-martial for the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 massacre, a move that could lead to a potential death penalty.

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Maj. Nidal Hasan (pictured) will face 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. The order, which is comparable to an indictment in the civilian court system, comes seven months after a pretrial hearing in which nearly 60 victims and witnesses testified that Hasan opened fire inside a busy readiness processing center at the sprawling post that was filled with soldiers about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fort Hood officials said Wednesday that a military judge has not yet been named, nor has Hasan’s arraignment been scheduled.

Hasan, who was paralyzed from the chest down when he was shot by a Fort Hood police officer, has been held in the Bell County Jail. According to testimony in last year’s Article 32 hearing, Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” before firing. Several witnesses said Hasan shot at soldiers lying on the floor or crawling away and avoided shooting civilians. The single civilian killed in the rampage, Cameron resident Michael Cahill, had attempted to throw a chair at Hasan before he was shot, soldiers testified.

After the Article 32 pretrial hearing, a military judge and the commander of Hasan’s unit both recommended Hasan face a death penalty court-martial,

Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell ordered the court-martial despite pleas from Hasan’s defense attorneys not to seek the death penalty,

Lead defense attorney John Galligan has called such a trial costly and time consuming. Military law prevents Hasan from pleading guilty in a capital court-martial.

Hasan had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan with a small mental health unit, which suffered several casualties in the shooting.

A report by two U.S. senators has blamed federal agents and officials for not connecting the dots on suspicious behavior by Hasan in the months before the shooting and nine Army officers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center were disciplined for overlooking problems with Hasan, which reportedly included giving a class presentation linking the war on terror to a war on Islam.

Before the shootings, law enforcement officials also knew about communications between Hasan and suspected Al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaqi, according to the report.

If sentenced to death, Hasan would join six soldiers sitting on the Army’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

But military death penalty cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Several have been overturned on appeal, and an execution requires a presidential approval. No service member has been executed since 1961.

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Man aimed gun at police after chase, affidavit says

A man led law enforcement officials on a high-speed chase Monday afternoon and pointed a gun at officers and himself before being arrested, police said an arrest affidavit released today.

Bryan Greenwood, 50, has been charged with multiple felonies, including evading arrest, aggravated assault on a public servant and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

He is in the Travis County Jail on more than $110,000 bail, records show.

According to the affidavit, Bee Cave officers began chasing a red Ford Explorer about 3:30 p.m. Monday that had been driving recklessly east on Texas 71 and that failed to stop when officers turned on their lights and sirens.

During the pursuit, a Travis County sheriff’s deputy blew out the Explorer’s front tires with spike strips, and the vehicle came to a stop just west of William Cannon Drive on U.S. 290, the document said.

Greenwood then got out of the Explorer and pointed a gun at officers, the affidavit said. During a struggle, Greenwood again aimed the gun at officers and at himself before being disarmed and subdued, it said.

An open container of beer was found in the driver’s seat, and Greenwood’s speech was slurred, police said. He has three prior convictions for drunken driving, according to the document.

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Man charged in assault on taxi driver

A man has been charged after police say he assaulted a taxi driver, who suffers from a disability, during a drive along Interstate 35 last month, according to an arrest affidavit.

Dustin Christopher Rowden, 26, has been charged with injury to a disabled individual, a third-degree felony, after the June 10 altercation, the affidavit says. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The driver, Akbar Amin-Akbari, 64, walks with a cane due to a serious leg condition, the affidavit said.

Amin-Akbari said he was driving south on I-35 about 1 a.m. when Rowden yelled at him, pulled his hair and punched him several times during the 65 mph ride near the downtown area, the affidavit said.

Rowden also used a racial slur referring to the driver, who was from the Middle East, the affidavit said.

Rowden tried to take control of the steering wheel, but eventually the driver was able to exit at Oltorf Street and stop at a nearby gas station, the affidavit says. There, the assault continued and witnesses helped pull Rowden off the driver, the affidavit says.

Rowden was visibly intoxicated and charged with public intoxication after officers arrived at the scene, the affidavit said. He was booked on the new felony charge this morning. and his bail was set at $5,000, jail records show.

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Motorcyclist dies from injuries received in June crash

UPDATE: Austin police officials said the man was in town from Florida for the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.

A motorcyclist who was critically injured in a crash June 9 died Sunday as a result of his injuries, Austin police said today.

A preliminary investigation shows that Michael Tutterow, 54, was riding a black Yamaha south on Manchaca Road near Slaughter Lane about 2 p.m. when he slammed on his brakes to avoid a car, police said. The motorcycle fell on its side and flipped when a peg got stuck, police said. Tutterow was thrown from the motorcycle and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he died, police said.

Because it was a single-vehicle crash, no charges will be filed, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call Austin police at 974-4724.

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Bus driver fell asleep before San Marcos crash, officials say

The driver of a bus that crashed on Interstate 35 in San Marcos early Friday morning had fallen asleep at the wheel, according to an initial investigation released by San Marcos police today.

Jesus Basio-Ramirez, the Dallas-based driver for Mares Bus Lines, left the highway’s northbound lanes shortly after 4 a.m. Friday, hit a sign and overcorrected, causing the bus to roll onto its side, officials said.

Nineteen people were sent to hospitals in Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio with cuts, broken bones and head trauma, officials said Friday. A 4-year-old girl’s leg was amputated above the knee at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

The bus was headed to Dallas from Laredo and had made a stop in New Braunfels moments before the crash, officials have said.

A final investigative report will be turned over to the Hays County District Attorney’s Office.

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Power restored to more than 2,500 Southwest Austin homes

UPDATE: Power was restored to the homes about 9:15 p.m. Officials said the cause was a squirrel that had gotten into a piece of equipment.

Austin Energy officials said around 2,614 homes lost power in Southwest Austin about 8 p.m.

The cause for the outage and the estimated restoration time have not been determined. Officials said the areas without power are roughly near Texas 71, Joe Tanner Lane, Road Runner Lane, MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and West William Cannon Drive.

Check for Austin Energy outages on their web site.

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Traffic flowing again on West Third Street

Traffic is flowing again on a portion of West Third Street that was temporarily closed last week.

All lanes of West Third Street between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets, adjacent to the W Austin Hotel and Residences, were open Tuesday night.

A single lane on Guadalupe Street remains blocked between West Second and West Third streets.

Sidewalks surrounding the high-rise are still closed, as well.

Almost 1,000 glass panels — found on each of the 37-story building’s balconies — were removed last week after glass fell 20-plus stories three times in less than a month.

The W Austin Hotel remains closed. A spokesman Tuesday could not provide details on when it would reopen.

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Police seek help in locating hit-and-run suspect

A suspect in a May hit-and-run case has been identified as 22-year-old Emily Gail Garner, pictured at right, and police say they are still searching for her.

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Police said they responded to a crash on May 28 about 10 p.m. at the intersection of San Felipe Boulevard and McNeil Drive. A woman who was walking across McNeil was struck by an unidentified car, and was taken to Round Rock Hospital with serious injuries.

The driver, who police identified as Garner, fled the scene and is facing failure to stop and render aid charges in Williamson County.

Anyone with information regarding this incident and/or Garner’s whereabouts is asked to call vehicular homicide unit Detective Michael McCarter at 974-8266.

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Police release details in fatal wreck

Update: Police said a man killed on Texas 71 Friday night was 60 years old but they have not made a positive identification nor has family been notified of his death.

The man was crossing the road in the 1800 block of East Texas 71 when a 2002 Volvo struck the man about 9:37 p.m. police said. Several more vehicles hit the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Any witnesses are asked to call vehicular homicide detectives at 974-4724. This is the 31st fatality of 2011. At this time in 2010, there were 26 traffic fatalities.

Friday: Police have reopened the eastbound lanes of Texas 71 as of about 1:15 a.m.

The lanes were closed after a man was killed while trying to cross the highway about 9:40 p.m.

No further details about the accident were available.

EARLIER: A man was struck and killed while trying to cross Texas 71 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Friday night, Austin police said.

Austin police Lt. Michael Larner had few immediate details about the crash, but said the man was trying to cross the highway near Thornberry Road about 9:40 p.m.

The driver who hit the man stopped, police said.

The eastbound lanes of Texas 71 have been closed, and traffic is being diverted in the area, Larner said. .

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Police investigating North Austin bank robbery

Police are searching for a woman who robbed a Bank of America in North Austin today.

The woman walked into the bank at 6403 Airport Blvd. shortly after noon, threatened a bank teller and demanded money, said police spokeswoman Veneza Aguiñaga. She said the woman ran away from the bank with cash, but Aguiñaga did not give an amount.

The suspect was last seen wearing blue jean shorts and a white shirt, Aguiñaga said.

This is Austin’s 16th bank robbery of 2011. At this time last year, there were 14 bank robberies, police said.

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Man accused of impersonating police with gun, badge and ticket books

Police in Sunset Valley arrested a man Friday who they say was impersonating a law enforcement officer.

According to an arrest affidavit, 31-year-old Crag Redhawk was arrested and charged with two counts of tampering with a government record after police found him to be carrying ticket books from area police and sheriff’s departments. The affidavit said Austin police are working more than 20 counts of impersonating a police officer on Redhawk as well.

The affidavit said that on Friday afternoon, Sunset Valley police stopped Redhawk in a Crown Victoria sedan with Home Depot-bought stickers on the side that said “Choctaw Police.” Redhawk claimed to be a member of the Choctaw Tribal Police Department, but that agency told the officers they had no record of Redhawk working for them. In addition, the car belonged to the Williamson County sheriff’s office and had a fake inspection sticker.

Redhawk was found to be carrying an antique handgun, a badge and a handcuff case, the affidavit said. He also had several law enforcement traffic ticket books, the affidavit said.

Redhawk was arrested and taken to the Travis County Jail, where he remains in custody. His bail has been set at $100,000 on each charge.

This version updates with corrected information about the source of the ticket books Redhawk is accused of possessing.

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One killed, five injured in Elgin crash Friday

A daycare operator was killed and five others were injured in a single-vehicle crash Friday afternoon in Elgin, a Department of Public Safety official said Tuesday.

Jacqueline Anne Bradley, 60, of Elgin, died after the crash, which occurred about 2 p.m. Friday when the 2004 Ford Expedition she was riding in left the roadway on Texas 95 near Jordan Lane, the official said.

Bradley, the owner of Elgin Day Care, was riding with her 32-year-old daughter, Jacqueline McKane, and McKane’s boyfriend, Ronald Bernard Howard, who was driving, the DPS official and a director for the daycare said. Also in the SUV were McKane’s two boys, ages 8 and 14, and Howard’s 7-year-old daughter, they said.

The children were taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin with cuts and broken bones, the DPS official said. The 14-year-old, who was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, suffered a serious head injury, the official said.

McKane and Howard were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with head injuries, the official said.

Only Howard and Bradley were listed in the DPS report as wearing seatbelts, the official said.

A preliminary investigation shows that the driver left the northbound lanes for unknown reasons and overcorrected, causing the vehicle to roll over, the official said.

Elgin Day Care lists Bradley’s home on Wedgwood Lane, where the daycare first began operating, as its business address, but has since moved to a U.S. 290 address, director Clarissa Wells said.

“Everyone is really upset, and for the most part, in shock,” said Wells, who added that the daycare has been “bombarded” with calls asking about the families.

Note: This entry has been corrected to reflect the daycare’s most current location is on U.S. 290

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Teen killed in New Braunfels crash identified

An 18-year-old killed in a rollover crash early Sunday morning has been identified as Nolan Vargas of New Braunfels, police said today.

New Braunfels police officials said that about 5:45 a.m., a vehicle traveling south on Texas 46 South veered across the northbound lanes and entered a concrete drainage culvert. The vehicle struck an embankment and landed on its roof, police said. The car slid on the roof until coming to rest in the grassy shoulder in the 2500 block of the highway, police said.

Vargas was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Two 21-year-old men from Seguin were airlifted to University Hospital in San Antonio, where one man was in stable condition and the other was in fair condition Sunday, officials said.

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APD arrests 73 on DWI charges as part of no-refusal holiday weekend operation

Fourteen people were arrested on DWI charges Monday as part of the Austin Police Department’s no-refusal operations, bringing the number of arrests over the holiday weekend to 73, police said today.

Nineteen people were arrested on DWI charges Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 27 on Friday, police said.

Of the 14 arrests Monday night, eight people required blood draws, and the others provided breath tests, Sgt. Keith Bazzle said.

The no-refusal initiative lasted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. July 1 through 4. Under the initiative, officers can obtain blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law, Austin police officials have said.

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Soldiers killed in Sunday car crash identified

Two soldiers who were killed in a car crash early Sunday morning in Killeen have been identified as Nathan Clyde Dixon III, 25, and Van Davis, 24, police said today.

Officials said that about 6:20 a.m. Sunday, police arrived at the 200 block of North Fort Hood Street to find a wrecked vehicle in a parking lot.

Witnesses told police that a 2007 Chevrolet Impala SS, occupied by three men, was traveling north on Fort Hood Street at a high speed when it crossed railroad tracks, went airborne and skidded into the parking lot, officials said. The vehicle then struck a large sign pole and broke into three pieces, ejecting Dixon and Davis.

Dixon was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said, and Davis later died at Darnall Army Medical Center. The driver of the car, whose identity has not been released, was airlifted to Scott & White Hospital-Temple in critical condition, officials said. He remains in critical condition at Scott & White today, Killeen police spokeswoman Carroll Smith said.

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Three firefighters injured in Lake Travis fire

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Three Lake Travis firefighters were injured in an overnight fire at a restaurant on Hudson Bend Road, an Austin Fire Department official said.

The fire started in the attic area of the Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant at 4919 Hudson Bend Road shortly before 3 a.m., the official said.

The Lake Travis Fire Rescue department, assisted by the Austin Fire Department, responded to the fire, the official said.

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Two firefighters were injured in a partial collapse of the restaurant’s ceiling and were taken to a Round Rock-area hospital, the official said. A third firefighter suffered a hand injury and was treated at the scene, the official said.

The fire was contained to the restaurant’s attic, the official said.

The cause to the fire was not immediately known, but the Travis County Fire Marshal remains at the scene investigating that cause, the official said.

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Plane that crashed in Matagorda Bay belongs to Austinite

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An airplane that crashed Sunday in Matagorda Bay belonged to Austinite Lyle Koen, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said two people were aboard the single-engine Lancair, but he could not confirm their identities.

According to his website, Koen, a medical doctor, performs “flight physicals,” which are physical examinations to determine whether a pilot meets minimum safety standards in terms of physical and mental condition as determined by the FAA.

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Devil’s Hollow remains closed as crews search for missing man

Devil’s Hollow on Lake Travis remains closed as emergency crews continue to look for a 26-year-old man who was last seen on a boat there just before 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Six divers, two at a time, are looking for his body, said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s pretty much zero visibility, so they have to feel their way around,” he said.

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APD arrests 19 for DWI on Sunday as part of no-refusal operation

The Austin Police Department reports that it made 19 driving while intoxicated arrests as part of its no-refusal operations on Sunday.

According to the APD, the DWI initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law. A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year. About half of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

APD is joining approximately 200 law enforcement agencies in a statewide DWI “No Refusal” Initiative. The initiative is being conducted July 1-4, 2011, and will last from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. each night.

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Rescue teams in ‘recovery mode’ for missing man at Devil’s Hollow

Emergency crews say they’re working to recover a man who was last seen on a boat at Devil’s Hollow on Lake Travis this afternoon.

Austin-Travis County EMS officials said about 6 p.m., a caller reported the man, who name and age have not been released, missing from a boat. Multiple rescue crews began looking for the man but found nothing.

“Based on the time elapsed since the reported victim was last seen, the Devil’s Hollow incident has changed to recovery mode,” officials said, meaning rescuers are now focusing their efforts on recovering the body of a deceased person.

More details to come.

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One killed in early morning crash in New Braunfels

From the New Braunfels Police Department:

On July 3, 2011 at approximately 0549 hrs, officers with the New Braunfels Police Department as well as the New Braunfels Fire and EMS were dispatched to the 2500 block of Highway 46 South in reference to a motor vehicle roll-over crash with two persons trapped in the vehicle.

Upon arrival a twenty-one (21) year old male from Seguin was located outside of the vehicle. The male stated that he was previously the rear passenger and crawled out of the back of the vehicle after the accident. The driver, an eighteen (18) year old male from New Braunfels, as well as the front passenger, a twenty-one (21) year old male from Seguin, were still trapped inside of the vehicle which was resting on its roof.

The New Braunfels Fire Department was able to extricate the two remaining occupants. Both males from Seguin were taken to University Hospital by Air Life. The rear passenger is currently listed in stable condition, and the front passenger is listed in fair condition. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Lieutenant Purvis, with the New Braunfels Police Department Traffic Division, was called to the scene to assist. Initial investigation indicates that the vehicle was traveling southbound on Highway 46 South, veered across the northbound lanes and entered a concrete drainage culvert. The vehicle continued to travel in the culvert and struck an embankment which caused the vehicle to go airborne. The vehicle landed on the roof, and slid on the roof until coming to rest in the grassy shoulder of the 2500 block of Highway 46 S.

This incident remains under investigation.

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Two soldiers die, one critically injured in wreck

Killeen police officials say two soldiers died and a third was critically injured in an early morning accident today.

Officials said that around 6:20 a.m. this morning, police arrived at the 200 block of North Fort Hood Street to find a wrecked vehicle in a parking lot. Witnesses told police that a black 2007 Chevrolet Impala SS, occupied by three men, was traveling north on Fort Hood Street at a high rate of speed when it crossed railroad tracks, went airborne, and skidded into the parking lot, officials said. The vehicle then struck a large sign pole, breaking the car into three sections and ejecting two of the passengers.

A 25-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. Another man, a 24-year-old, later died at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The driver of the car was airlifted to Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple in critical condition, officials said.

Police identified the men in the wreck as soldiers, but their names have not been released pending notification of their families, officials said.

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W: Glass should be gone from all balconies by day’s end

All 1,000 glass panels at the W Austin Hotel and Residences should be down by day’s end, according to developer Stratus Properties.

Wood paneling is being used to temporarily enclose the balconies until engineers learn what caused eight of them to shatter last month.

The W Austin Hotel, 200 Lavaca St., remains closed.

“As this very challenging week draws to a close, we greatly appreciate the invaluable cooperation from the city, support from downtown business owners and the patience and understanding from the citizens of Austin,” Stratus CEO Beau Armstrong said in a statement Friday afternoon. “We have experienced an outpouring of support from all corners of the community and will never forget it.”

Traffic is back to normal on most of the streets adjacent to the hotel, although West Third Street remains closed between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets.

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Streets near the W reopen

3:35 P.M. UPDATE:

All lanes of traffic are once again open on Lavaca and South First streets.

A single lane remains closed on Guadalupe Street, adjacent to the W Hotel and Residences.

West Third Street between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets is closed until further notice.

EARLIER:

City officials say many of the lanes that have been closed on streets adjacent to the W Hotel and Residences should reopen later today.

Portions of Guadalupe, Lavaca, South First and West Third have been closed since late Tuesday, when glass panels fell from the building’s balconies for the third time in less than a month.

West Third Street between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets will remain closed, according to the city, but Guadalupe, Lavaca and South First streets should all be back to normal.

Major backups have been reported in the area since lanes were closed, especially mornings and afternoons.

Work continues to remove the high-rise’s 1,000 glass panels, with a W spokesman saying more than 600 of them had been taken down by late Thursday.

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Early morning bus crash in San Marcos leaves 21 injured

A passenger bus crashed on Interstate 35 in San Marcos early this morning, injuring all 21 people on board, including a 4-year-old girl whose leg was amputated at an Austin hospital and a woman who remains on life support, officials said.

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The bus was traveling north near the Posey Road exit about 4:15 a.m. when it left the roadway for unknown reasons, officials said. The driver then overcorrected, which caused the bus to roll and land on its side, officials said. No other vehicles were involved.

The bus, owned by Dallas-based Mares Bus Lines Inc., was traveling to Dallas from Mexico and had just made a regularly scheduled stop in New Braunfels, officials said.

Injuries ranged from head trauma and broken bones to cuts and bruises, officials said. Eight people were taken to Austin-area medical centers, while the rest were taken to hospitals in San Marcos and San Antonio.

The 4-year-old girl, whose identity has not been released, had her leg amputated above the knee at Dell Children’s Medical Center, officials said.

“I’m pleased, with 21 people on the bus, we did not see more serious injuries, at least here in Austin,” said Dr. Chris Ziebell, medical director of the emergency department at University Medical Center Brackenridge, which treated six patients. The 4-year-old’s mother, who suffered cuts and bruises, was taken to Dell Children’s to remain with her child, Ziebell said.

A woman who suffered neck and head injuries was placed in a medically induced coma and is on life support at Brackenridge, said Amy Blume, the hospital’s emergency department charge nurse.

A man who suffered multiple fractures is in stable condition, and another woman is under observation after suffering a serious cut, Blume said. All were expected to survive, hospital officials said. Three other patients were discharged before 11:30 a.m., officials said.

Austin hospital officials did not know if the driver was among their patients.

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Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos received most of the injured, officials said. Two men and one woman were transferred to the University Hospital in San Antonio, said Leni Kirkman, a hospital spokeswoman. They were in stable condition but “pretty banged up,” Kirkman said.

The San Marcos Police Department is leading an investigation, Chief Howard Williams said. The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies responded to the scene, Williams said.

The northbound lanes of Interstate 35 in the area were closed for more than four hours as law enforcement investigated the scene and crews moved the damaged bus to a towing business in San Marcos.

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Permalink | Categories: Collision