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March 23, 2013

Killeen man arrested after two-hour standoff

FROM THE KILLEEN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

A 23-year-old Killeen man was taken into custody Saturday after a two-hour standoff with Killeen Police on Leslie Circle.

Officers responded to a 911 call at 2:49 p.m. Saturday to 1100 Leslie Circle, in reference to a domestic disturbance. Upon their arrival, neighbors told the officers that a woman was screaming and trying to leave the residence when a man pulled her back inside. They also advised she appeared to be injured.

Upon the officers’ arrival, they attempted to make contact with the man but he refused to answer the door. The officers were advised that there was possibly a weapon involved in the disturbance; after several attempts to make contact with the man, the Killeen Police Department’s Tactical Response Unit was deployed. Once on scene, members of the TRU Crisis Negotiation Team spoke with the man on and off for approximately two hours. The negotiations were successful and the man complied with the officers’ orders; he was taken into custody at 5:10 p.m. without incident. The woman was treated by Killeen Fire Department paramedics and transported to Metroplex Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The name of the man has been with held pending the Bell County District Attorney’s Office reviewing the case.

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

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January 9, 2013

Minnesota sex assault suspect arrested in North Austin

FROM THE LONE STAR FUGITIVE TASK FORCE

Derrick Mascus, 23, of Minneapolis, Minn., was arrested by Lone Star Fugitive Task Force on Wednesday afternoon without incident in North Austin. Mascus recently arrived to the Austin area after Minneapolis authorities charged Mascus with 1st and 3rd Degree Sexual Assault.

According to Minneapolis officials, Mascus is alleged by criminal complaint in July 2012 to have engaged in sexual assault causing personal injury to the victim. The assault took place near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. The Minnesota-based fugitive task force determined through their local investigation that Mascus was in Austin.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force initiated surveillance at a location in North Austin and were able to quickly arrest Mascus without incident.

Mascus was remanded to the custody of the Travis County Sheriff pending his extradition to Hennepin County, Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas said, “The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force will continue to seek out and apprehend those that commit senseless crimes.”

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Louisiana felon arrested by task force in Round Rock

FROM THE LONE STAR FUGITIVE TASK FORCE

Scotty Antoine, 24, of New Iberia, Louisiana was arrested by Lone Star Fugitive Task Force this afternoon without incident in the 1200 block of Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. Antoine recently arrived to the Austin area shortly after the first of the year after New Iberia authorities charged Antoine with 1st Degree Robbery.

According to officials with the New Iberia, La., Parish Sheriff’s Office, Antoine robbed two individuals at gunpoint at a local public park in Iberia Parish, taking two weapons in the process. Authorities located a vehicle Antoine was seen leaving in and a subsequent search warrant yielded the alleged firearm Antoine used in the commission of the robbery. The two weapons previously stolen were not recovered. The Louisiana-based task force determined through local investigation that Antoine fled to the Austin area around shortly after the New Year.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force initiated surveillance on several associates Antoine was known to have in the Austin/Round Rock area. Task force officers were able to determine the make and model of a vehicle that Antoine was purported to be driving. The vehicle was located in Round Rock and officers conducted surveillance until they were able to confirm Antoine’s identity and effect his arrest.

No weapons were recovered at the residence, and Antoine was remanded to the custody of the Williamson County Detention Center pending his extradition to New Iberia Parrish, La.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas said, “The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force will continue to focus our investigative efforts at rooting out the worst of the worst offenders.”

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September 11, 2012

Police officer's firing upheld

An independent arbitrator today upheld the firing of an Austin Police Department officer terminated in January for dishonesty and insubordination.

Police Chief Art Acevedo fired officer Scott Garner in January after a July 2011 incident in which the officer was told to arrest a man accused of drunken driving but did not do so, according to a disciplinary memo. Garner appealed his firing to an arbitrator.

Acevedo said in a disciplinary memo that Garner had been ordered to arrest a man brought to a hospital by emergency workers after a traffic incident involving allegations of drunken driving or public intoxication. Garner disobeyed the order and drove the man home instead, the memo said.

During disciplinary proceedings this year, Garner “provided statements inconsistent with testimony and evidence,” the memo said. Acevedo concluded Garner was not truthful during the investigation or the hearing, the memo said. Police policy says that dishonesty mandates firing from the department, the memo said.

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September 7, 2012

Police say they didn't bruise Puddle of Mudd singer during arrest

Despite claims by Puddle of Mudd singer Wes Scantlin that police injured him while he was being arrested at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Tuesday, officials say the singer was arrested without incident.

Scantin told celebrity gossip website TMZ on Friday that Austin police “effed” him up in the arrest, leaving two bruises on his chest. According to the TMZ post, “Wes then showed us two big bruises on his chest, claiming the arresting officers were responsible for the injuries … ‘This is what they did to me.’”

Austin PD Lieutenant Joseph Chacon told the Statesman on Friday that Scantin did not resist arrest. Chacon said Scantin has not filed any complaints with the department.

“There was nothing,” Chacon said. “I’m not sure where he’s coming from with this report.”

The pilot of the JetBlue flight Scantin was on Tuesday requested an emergency landing to remove an unruly passenger creating a disturbance, according to reports. The plane was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles when it stopped in Austin and Scantin was arrested. He faces Class C misdemeanor charges for public intoxication, officials said.

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September 1, 2012

Climber injured in Pace Bend fall

A 20-year-old man was reported to be seriously injured this evening in a fall at Pace Bend Park in western Travis County, in the second such fall in three months, officials said.

The accident was reported about 8 p.m., and authorities at the scene reported the man was reported to have fallen about 50 feet. He was reported to have head, facial and leg injuries.

Authorities said the victim was brought out using a high-angle rescue involving a helicopter after the accident occurred.

No additional details were immediately available, and the victim was not immediately identified. He was reportedly taken via STARflight helicopter to University Medical Center Brackenridge around 9 p.m.

On June 23, George Wesley Perry, 42, of Pflugerville, died after falling from a cliff at the park.

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August 11, 2012

Bomb squad called to North Austin after man discovers suspicious device

An area near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and Parmer Lane in North Austin was closed off Saturday afternoon by the Austin Police Department after a man claimed that he might have purchased a potentially hazardous device.

The suspicious device was reported to police on Saturday, police said.

Police said a man called 911 after he had bought a type of device from a pawn shop, flea market or garage sale. The man later tried to sell the device but was told the device might be an explosive.

A bomb squad investigated the incident but police couldn’t say Saturday evening if the device had been destroyed or taken elsewhere for testing.

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June 8, 2012

Round Rock police find body inside car with suspicious note taped to outside

Update: Police have identified the man found in the car as 25-year-old Jarrod Banks, said Dee Carver, spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department. Banks driver’s license had a Lubbock address, Carver said. His cause of death was suicide, said Justice of the Peace Precinct One Dain Johnson.

Update 5:09 p.m.:

The man whose body Round Rock police found dead in the front seat of the car was not from Round Rock, said Dee Carver, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock police.

Update, 2:40 p.m.: Police have found the body of a young adult male inside the car, said Dee Carver, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.

She said that hazardous material officers found hydrochloric sulfide inside the car, as a note taped to the car had warned. The chemical is a poisonous gas that smells like rotten eggs, Carver said.

Police are not releasing the identity of the man until his relatives are notified, Carver said. The car had been in the parking lot of Rock Chiropractic since last night, she said. The cause of death has not been announced.

Update 12:12 p.m.: Round Rock police have found a body inside a car parked outside a chiropractic office on Old Settler’s Boulevard, said Dee Carver, a spokeswoman for the police department.

The car has a note taped on it that says “Do not open,” said Carver. The note also said there was a poisonous gas - hydrogen sulfide - inside the car, she said.

Police have not yet opened the car’s doors, Carver said at noon today. Investigators saw the body inside the car at 11 a.m., she said. Authorities received the call about the car at about 10:15 a.m., she said

Earlier: Round Rock police have shut down a portion of Old Settler’s Boulevard as they investigate a car with a note taped to it saying the car had a dangerous chemical inside, said Dee Carver, a spokeswoman for the department.

Carver said that Old Settler’s is closed from North Mays Street to Green Hill.

The car is in the 100 block of Old Settler’s outside of a chiropractic office, Carver said. She said she had no further details. She also said police did not know if there was anyone inside the car.


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June 4, 2012

Police association says 'thank you' to supporters after officer's death

The Austin Police Association has released a new TV ad saying “thank you” to the thousands of Central Texas residents who showed their support following the death of senior police officer Jaime Padron in April.

Padron was killed in the line of duty after confronting a shoplifting suspect at a North Austin Wal-Mart. During his funeral procession from Austin to his native San Angelo, thousands of people lined the route, holding signs and waving flags.

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March 21, 2012

APD reports first day of auto-pedestrian crackdown

In a report likely to gladden the hearts of pedestrians and bicyclists who felt unfairly targeted by a traffic safety initiative last year, the Austin Police Department today released results of the first day of a renewed crackdown on auto-pedestrian violations.

The score: Drivers got 36 tickets for failure to yield to pedestrians and 10 warnings. Pedestrians got two tickets for walking against the light.

Last October, a two-week initiative resulted in 948 citations to people on foot and on bikes, versus 173 to vehicle drivers.

Four to six motorcycle officers — some in plainclothes — will continue the enforcement effort for an indefinite period of time at selected intersections with a history of auto-pedestrian and auto-bicycle collisions, a police department spokeswoman said.

In 2011, there were 22 pedestrian-bicyclist fatalities on Austin streets, compared to 10 in 2010. This year, eight pedestrians have died in collisions with motor vehicles.

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March 1, 2012

Round Rock police officer accused of family violence and threats

A Round Rock police officer was charged today with criminal mischief after his wife complained to the department’s internal affairs department last week about family violence and threats from him, according to the Round Rock Police Department.

Police are still investigating, and there may be other charges against officer Roddy Adcock, said officer Dee Carver, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department. Officers arrested Adcock at 5 p.m. today, an hour and a half after the warrant was issued, a news release from the department said.

Adcock was taken to the Williamson County Jail with his bail set at $1,500. Carver said she had no information about the wife’s allegation or why Adcock was charged with criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Adcock has been a patrol officer with the Round Rock Police Department for 13 years, police said.

He has been relieved of duty with pay while the investigation is pending, police said.

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February 25, 2012

Cedar Park police ID officer who fatally shot robbery suspect

Update 11:15 a.m. Monday: Cedar Park police today identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of a man suspected of robbing a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant Friday as Joseph Christensen, who has been with the department since October of 2006, the department said in a statement.

Update, 4 p.m.: Police have identified the man suspected of robbing a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant Friday night that an officer shot and killed as Cedar Park resident Chad Runge, 20.

Earlier: A Cedar Park police officer shot and killed an armed man suspected of robbing a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant late Friday, the city’s police department reported this morning.

After responding to a report of an armed robbery in progress at the pizza restaurant, the officer confronted an armed man who matched the description of the robbery suspect about half a mile away, behind a Bush’s Chicken restaurant on West Whitestone Boulevard, police said. The officer fired, fatally wounding the man, who died at the scene.

Police are withholding the officer’s name until Monday. The identity of the suspect, described as a white man, will not be released until next of kin are notified, police said.

Bush’s Chicken was already closed when officers confronted the man, an employee said.

A Little Caesars employee who did not give his name before hanging up the phone said the restaurant had no comment on last night’s incident.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing, police said, and the officer involved has been reassigned to administrative duties in the meantime.

Per a policy requiring law enforcement agencies to contact the Williamson County District Attorney’s office when an officer uses deadly force, county investigator Randy Traylor and prosecutor Robert McCabe also responded to the scene last night, District Attorney John Bradley said today.

Bradley said he created the policy when he became district attorney so that an outside agency can assist in deadly force investigations, which range from an officer firing a gun without hitting anyone to fatal shots.

Traylor is trained in deadly forced investigations, Bradley said, and Texas Ranger Matt Lindemann was also summoned to conduct a criminal investigation.

Since Gov. Rick Perry initially appointed Bradley to the district attorney’s office in 2001, estimated that he’s presented about four deadly force cases to the county’s grand jury a year.

He said he didn’t know of any officers involved in a deadly force investigation that were indicted by the grand jury.

“I think our officers are well trained and largely have been found justified in their use of deadly force,” he said.

He said no conclusions have been reached about last night’s incident, which will likely land before a grand jury in about two months.

Permalink | Categories: Police, Robbery, Shooting

January 29, 2012

Authorities warn public away from downtown during power outage

Emergency officials say a power outage in the Sixth Street area is prompting them to warn the public to avoid going downtown for the remainder of the night.

Officials didn’t say what caused the outage but said Austin Energy is working on the problem.

Officials with the city-owned utility report that workers are repairing issues with three underground vaults and that power could be restored in up to four hours.

The outage appears to affect the area between Interstate 35 and Congress Avenue and between Fifth and 15th streets.

Austin Energy officials say crews must replace two transformers and a block-long section of underground power cable.

Crews have restored power to about 95 percent of customers affected by earlier outages in an area roughly bordered by 10th, Brazos, 12th St and Sabine streets, officials said.

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December 27, 2011

Temple officer release from hospital; driver hurt after altercation still in treatment

UPDATE: A Temple Police Officer injured during a traffic stop last week was released from the hospital on Saturday.

Sgt. Gary E. Smith, an 11-year veteran, had pulled a car over but became pinned when the driver attempted to flee, officials said. Smith shot the driver at least once, officials said.

The driver was identified as Terry Ray Cox, a 20-year-old Temple man. He remains in the hospital receiving treatment.

In a statement, department officials said:

The Temple Police Department appreciates all the thoughts and prayers expressed by citizens for the people involved in the incident. We also acknowledge the concerns expressed by some. We understand those concerns, which is why we have procedures in place for both internal and external reviews of any police action shooting involving a Temple Police Officer.
The officer remains on medical leave at this time. Once medical leave is complete, the officer will be placed on paid administrative leave during the shooting investigations. This leave is policy-driven, routine, and required per procedure in all police action shootings.
The internal review will include:
* review of evidence gathered and witness statements taken by Texas Rangers and Temple Investigators
* final analysis by the Shooting Review Board, which reviews any police action shootings that occur in Temple.
The external review will include:
* thorough investigation by Texas Rangers—their investigation remains active today
* upon completion of their investigation, the Rangers will present their findings to a Bell County Grand Jury.

EARLIER: A news release from the Temple Police Department:

Friday, December 23, 2011— Police Action Shooting on E. Central Avenue

This morning, at 11:17 am, a Temple Police Officer conducted a traffic stop on a Cadillac SUV for a traffic violation in the 200 block of East Central Avenue. Upon approaching the driver, the officer noted suspicious activity going on in the vehicle, in that the driver refused to identify himself. The officer called for a backup unit.

Just before 11:20 am, as the backup officer was arriving on scene, the first officer ordered the driver out of the vehicle. The driver refused, and instead was able to pin the officer’s arm to the car window or door while accelerating the vehicle quickly, with the officer caught in the door/window.

After about 50 yards of being dragged by the vehicle, the officer, in defense of his life, fired at least one shot from his handgun, striking the driver. The vehicle then swerved to the left, heading north into the 00 block of North 6th Street. The vehicle struck a building, then a utility trailer, where the officer came loose from the vehicle and fell to the concrete. The vehicle then continued on, coming to a stop when striking the side of a large pickup truck that was parked and unoccupied.

The first backup officer called for more assistance. Officers arrived and took on-scene first aid actions for the driver and officer until Temple Fire & Rescue and Scott & White EMS arrived. The driver was transported by ambulance to the hospital with life-threatening injuries from a gunshot wound. The officer was transported by ambulance to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from being dragged by the vehicle.

Two other adults and one toddler-age child were in the SUV at the time of the traffic stop. None of them were struck by a bullet, but all three were taken by ambulance to the hospital with complaints of injuries from the crash.

The Texas Rangers are leading in the shooting investigation. Temple Police Department’s General Investigations Unit is assisting. All investigators are still gathering evidence at the scene this hour. East Central Avenue, North 6th Street, and surrounding areas remain blocked off while the investigation continues.

The identities of the people involved cannot be released right now, as the on-going investigation would be compromised by that information. Their identities may be releasable at a later time, when circumstances permit.

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December 15, 2011

Georgetown police officers cleared in shooting

Update: The Georgetown Police Department has released new details about the officers cleared in the shooting of Anthony Ray Blackmon.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, who put out a news release about the shooting this morning, said he incorrectly reversed the names of Sgt. Dale Duncan and Sgt. Ron Price in the release.

Duncan fired the shot that killed Blackmon, not Price, Bradley said.

According to the Georgetown Police Department, Price removed Terry Pittman’s four children from her home when police were called there about a domestic disturbance.

Sgt. Bill Pascoe and Duncan forced a bedroom door open and saw Pittman and Blackmon tangled up together in a violent physical altercation, police said.

Blackmon immediately pulled away from Pittman and began firing at her at close range with a Glock .40-caliber handgun, police said. Pascoe immediately fired his gun at Blackmon from the doorway to try to stop the assault on Pittman, according to police.

Duncan, who had a Taser, discarded it, pulled his gun and entered the bedroom, police said. Duncan placed himself between Blackmon and Pittman in an attempt to save her, according to police.

Duncan also began firing at Blackmon — who was pointing his gun at Duncan — until Blackmon dropped his gun, according to police.

Pascoe and Price had also entered the bedroom and began to perform first aid on Pittman, though she died at the scene, police said. Duncan gained control of Blackmon’s gun and began to render first aid to him, according to police. Blackmon was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

A Williamson County grand jury decided this morning that Georgetown police officers Bill Pascoe and Ron Price were justified in using deadly force in a shooting that killed a man who had slain his ex-girlfriend.

Anthony Ray Blackmon, 52, of Manor, killed 38-year-old Terry Lynn Pittman as police were confronting him at her home in the 200 block of Tamara Drive in Georgetown on Oct. 31, according to the Williamson County district attorney’s office.

During the incident, a Georgetown police officer killed Blackmon, who was a former Travis County sheriff’s corrections officer, the district attorney’s office said.

Pascoe, Price and officer Dale Duncan initially arrived at the home after a 911 call on the night of Oct. 31 about a domestic disturbance, according to the district attorney’s office. Pascoe and Price went into the home and learned that Blackmon was assaulting Pittman in a bedroom, the district attorney’s office said.

Duncan moved four of Pittman’s children, including a 1-year-old girl whose father was Blackmon, out of the house, said the district attorney’s office. Pascoe and Price heard a violent struggle in the bedroom but the door was locked, so they asked Blackmon and Pittman to leave the bedroom, the district attorney’s office said.

When the officers got no response, they forced the door open and found Blackmon and Pittman inside with Pittman screaming for help, according to the district attorney’s office. Blackmon began firing a handgun at Pittman, the district attorney’s office said.

According to the district attorney’s office, Price fired a Taser and left the room, Pascoe fired his handgun at Blackmon, and Price came back into the bedroom and fired at Blackmon.

Blackmon was killed by the gunfire from Price,and Pittman was killed by the gunfire from Blackmon, according to the district attorney’s office.

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November 5, 2011

Austin police officer discharged weapon at early morning disturbance

An Austin police officer discharged his gun early this morning after trying to break up a fight. There were no injuries and no property appeared to be damaged, police said.

Officers were dispatched early Saturday morning to a “disturbance with a gun.” At the scene, on the 800 block of East Slaughter Lane, officers observed two men were fighting, one of which matched the description of the suspect they had been called on, Sgt. Jaime Jobes said.

“Witnesses on a balcony were telling officers that one of the guys had a gun,” Jobes said.

Officers ordered the two men to stop fighting, but “at least one didn’t comply and was Tased,” Jobes said.

However, the man was able to fend off the effects of the Taser and started reaching toward his midsection, so one of the officers discharged his firearm, Jobes said.

“He was reaching into his waistband, and I imagine he was probably flailing around,” Jobes said.

Both men were taken into custody and charges are pending. An investigation is ongoing, Jobes said.

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August 16, 2011

Robbery suspect fired upon by officers identified

Austin police officials have identified the suspect in Monday’s South Congress Avenue robbery as Logan Cook, 21. Cook has been charged with aggravated robbery, robbery and an unspecified misdemeanor charge.

Police officials said Monday that Cook pointed his gun at a clerk inside the gas station at 3530 S. Congress Ave. about 4:50 p.m. and demanded cash. As he was fleeing north on Congress, an officer saw the suspect running toward the nearby Bel-Air Motel.

When the officer saw Cook pull out a gun, he shot at him through the passenger window of his patrol car, officials said. Police Chief Art Acevedo said Monday that Cook was not hit.

Another officer witnessed the shooting, then pulled over on Lightsey Road near the motel and also fired at Cook while chasing after him, Acevedo said. Cook again was not hit and continued to flee, he said.

A few blocks away, Cook was shot with a Taser and arrested in the 3100 block of Fontana Drive about 5:30 p.m., according to Acevedo.

The officers involved were Eduardo Pena, who has just over two years of service, and Branden Kunkel, who has just over three years of service, police officials said.

This entry has corrected a name of one officer.

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July 28, 2011

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.

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July 12, 2011

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.

JEF.JPG

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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June 27, 2011

More glass falls at W

6:10 P.M. UPDATE:

Almost 1,000 glass panels on each balcony at the W Austin Hotel and Residences will be replaced after three of the panels crashed to the street below early this afternoon.

Today’s incident comes two weeks after two other glass panels fell into the hotel’s pool area, leaving four people with minor injuries.

No one was hurt this afternoon, but five cars parked near West Third and Lavaca streets were damaged. The panels fell from the 31st, 29th and 22nd floors, according to a hotel spokesman.

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Until work is completed, covered walkways will be erected adjacent to the 37-story building. Entry to the hotel and residential lobbies will be restricted until the walkways are in place, but access is still available through the parking garage.

All lanes of traffic are open once again at West Third and Lavaca streets, the spokesman said.

EARLIER:

Glass panels fell this afternoon from the W Austin Hotel and Residences, shattering on the street below.

Austin police are on the scene, and traffic is blocked in the area of West Third and Lavaca streets.

No one was injured, according to a hotel spokesman.

Two panels fell more than 20 stories on June 10, landing in the W’s pool area. Four people were injured in that incident.

The pool remains closed while crews inspect around 1,000 other panels, General Manager Drew McQuade said.

A spokeswoman for developer Stratus Properties said she had no details on either of the incidents.

The luxury hotel, which is also home to the new “Austin City Limits” studios and is in the Second Street retail and entertainment district, opened in December.

Check back here for details as they become available.

2:35 P.M. UPDATE:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the W Hotel in midtown Atlanta has experienced problems with glass shattering.

A woman died last month after falling from a 10th-floor window at that hotel. Her friend suffered serious injuries, according to the Journal-Constitution. The women were reportedly engaged in “horseplay” when they came into contact with the window.

Last year, a third-floor window broke after what’s described as “almost incidental contact.”

Management said earlier this month that the Atlanta and Austin incidents are unrelated.

“At the W Austin, a panel of glass broke on balcony railings on two unoccupied condo residences located above the hotel,” a W spokesman told the Journal-Constitution. “As such, these are two completely separate incidents, at two very different types of buildings and locations (balcony railing versus window). Teams of experts are currently investigating each event independently.”

Zach Ornitz photo / AMERICAN-STATESMAN


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June 26, 2011

Police investigating deceased person downtown

Police are investigating the death of a person in downtown Austin, officials said this morning.

A body was discovered in the area of Norwood Tower at Seventh Street and Colorado Street yesterday, police spokesman Wuthipong Tantaksinanukij said today. Officials had no immediate information about the victim or the circumstances of their death, Tantaksinanukij said.

Check back for more details.


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June 24, 2011

Burnet police searching for mother charged in the death of her 9-year-old daughter

Burnet Police have charged a woman with injury to a child in connection with the death earlier this month of her 9-year-old daughter, who had cerebral palsy, according to a court document.

Police were still searching for Georgina Chavez Garcia, 33, this afternoon, Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said.

She could face up to life in prison if convicted of the first-degree felony.

On June 13, Garcia’s daughter, whose name was not released, was non-responsive but had a faint pulse when she was taken to the Seton Highland Lakes Hospital emergency room in Burnet, an arrest affidavit said. She died at the hospital the same day, the document said.

The girl had been confined to a wheelchair due to her medical condition, the affidavit said. She could not speak or communicate and needed to be fed through a feeding tube surgically placed in her stomach, the affidavit said.

After an investigation by the police department and the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, officials concluded that Garcia had not been providing her daughter with prescribed medication to control epileptic seizures for at least two weeks, the affidavit said.

Police also concluded that Garcia’s daughter was not fed properly and suffered from acute malnutrition, the affidavit said.

She weighed 47 pounds at the time of her death and had lost 12 pounds since February, the affidavit said.

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June 16, 2011

Child abuse detectives charge aunt, grandfather

A man and woman have been arrested and charged with felonies for their roles in allegedly abusing children in their home.

According to an arrest affidavit, Derly Gracia, 54, was charged with injury to a child, and Angelina Alonzo, 49, has been charged with retaliation. Both are third-degree felonies.

Detectives began investigating their home in May after a referral from Child Protective Services, according to affidavits. A 4-year-old girl told investigators Gracia hit her and some of her siblings, who range from one to 12 years old, in the face and head with a hat causing bruises, the affidavit said. Gracia is the children’s grandfather and Alonzo is their great aunt.

The girl said she was struck because she and her younger sisters were jumping on a bed. A 5-year-old boy also told investigators Gracia would spank them if they talked to child protective services, the affidavit said. Gracia later admitted to investigators that he struck the children with the brim of the hat, the affidavit said.

During the same investigation, a 12-year-old girl told police in May that Alonzo would strike her with a belt, a shoe or her hand, the affidavit said. Investigators later learned the girl told her therapist in April that Alonzo had been beating them since they went to stay in her home, the affidavit said. The therapist made a report to CPS, but the case was dropped when the girl recanted her story, the affidavit said.

When investigators later talked to the girl in May, she said Alonzo choked, slapped and hit the girl for talking to CPS. She said she was forced to recant her story or be hurt again, the affidavit said. Alonzo denied striking the children or coaching them to change their stories, the affidavit said.

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Restaurant manager groped teen employee, police say

Police have charged a restaurant shift manager with indecency with a child, a second-degree felony, after they say he groped a 16-year-old female employee.

According to an arrest affidavit, a woman called police in late April to complain that her teenage daughter had been groped by 35-year-old Alfonso Hernandez-Vargas, her manager at a restaurant at 5000 West Slaughter Lane. The affidavit does not give the name of the restaurant.

When interviewed by police, the victim said Hernandez-Vargas called her into the men’s restroom to clean the sink, then came up behind her and began groping her, the affidavit said. He continued to do so for some time until the victim managed to get away, the affidavit said.

The victim’s mother called Hernandez-Vargas that night at the restaurant and told him not to touch her daughter again, the affidavit said. Hernandez-Vargas said he was “just playing,” the affidavit said. The mother then filed a police report.

When interviewed by investigators, Hernandez-Vargas admitted he groped the girl, and said he knew she was underage, the affidavit said.

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June 1, 2011

Juvenile charged in officer-involved shooting incident

UPDATE 6 P.M.: Police say the 16-year-old suspect has been charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, a first-degree felony, and evading arrest or detention in a motor vehicle, a state jail felony.

The teen has been released from the hospital and booked into Gardner Betts Juvenile Center, police said. His name has not been released because he is a juvenile.

EARLIER: An Austin police officer who was injured Monday night in an incident that led to the fatal shooting of a suspect is recovering from his injuries today, police officials said.

Officer Jeffrey Rodriguez suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon after being struck by a car containing two suspects Monday night, officials said. Rodriguez was treated and released from University Medical Center Brackenridge, and police officials said he is recovering from his injuries today.

Officials said the suspects also used their vehicle to pin Officer Nathan Wagner to a Jeep nearby; he was not injured.

About 11 p.m. Monday, Rodriguez and Wagner were patrolling the downtown area on bicycles looking for car burglars when they found two suspects walking around Seventh Street acting suspiciously. Those suspects ended up in a confrontation with police, officials said, when they rushed at the officers with their vehicle.

Wagner, as he was pinned, fired several shots, striking and killing Byron Carter Jr. and striking the arm of a 16-year-old driving the car, police said. The teen was later arrested.

Police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said today that the name of the teen suspect, his charges, and his condition have not been released because he is a juvenile.

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May 5, 2011

Pflugerville teens charged in sexual assault case

Four Pflugerville teens are facing charges in connection with a sexual assault of a Hendrickson High School ninth grader at a neighborhood pool last month, according to several arrest affidavits filed this week.

The ninth-grader, a female, told police she was restrained in a bathroom at the Falcon Pointe neighborhood pool by at least four male teens and sexually assaulted by two of them, the affidavits said.

Leonard Leon Scales and Tommie Lee Robins, Jr., both 18, are facing charges of felony sexual assault and felony unlawful restraint, the affidavits said. Two other teens, 17-year-old Curtis Dennis Franklin and 19-year-old Deionta Wayne James, face felony unlawful restraint charges, the affidavits said.

On April 18, Pflugerville police were called to the high school, at 2905 FM 685 near Interstate 35 and Texas 45, after the ninth-grader reported the assault to a student counselor, the affidavits said.

The teen told police she had met several teens at the pool at 19105 Falcon Pointe Boulevard, about a mile away from the high school, on Saturday, April 16, the affidavits said. At one point, several male teens attempted to sexually assault her while she was in the pool, and took off her top, the affidavits said.

Later, the female teen went into the shower area and was followed by several male teens, the affidavits said. There, two of the teens sexually assaulted her while at least two others restrained her, the affidavits said.

All of the teens were arrested Friday, said Pflugerville Assistant Police Chief Jim McLean. However, the teens were not shown currently jailed in Travis County, according to jail records.

Bail was set at $125,000 each for Scales and Robins, and $50,000 each for Franklin and James, the affidavits said.

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May 4, 2011

Quintana firing upheld

An arbitrator has upheld the firing of former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana, who fatally shot a man in a controversial shooting in May 2009 and was later kicked off the force amid a domestic violence allegation.

“We are pleased with the arbitrator’s decision,” Police Chief Art Acevedo said this afternoon. “We are thankful for his decision, and we need to just move forward as an organization. I wish officer Quintana the best in the future, but I think this is in the best interest of everyone involved.”

Quintana fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II in May 2009 after the two struggled for a gun Sanders had at his waist. Quintana was not disciplined for using excessive deadly force but was suspended for 15 days for not activating his patrol car camera.

Several months later, Acevedo fired Quintana after he was arrested and charged with drunken driving. An arbitrator overturned that firing.

Acevedo again fired Quintana soon after he was reinstated amid the domestic violence allegation.

Police union president Sgt. Wayne Vincent said, “We are disappointed, but that is the process, and we wish the best for Officer Quintana.”

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April 20, 2011

Former Connally teacher charged with retaliation

A former Connally High School teacher has been charged with felony retaliation after he told officials he planned to kill a supervisor, a principal and himself, according to an arrest affidavit.

Lieu Tran, 41, told police he had already picked out a gun and had planned out his attack, the affidavit said. Tran told officials he had recently been fired from Connally, which is in the Pflugerville school district, and he was having thoughts of returning to the school to shoot people before killing himself, the affidavit said.

Tran told a friend about his plan, and his friend took him to Seton Shoal Creek Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, the affidavit said. It said Tran told his plan to a nurse at the hospital, who then contacted police.

He was charged Tuesday with felony retaliation, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison; his bail was set at $20,000. Records show he was not in the Travis County Jail on Wednesday.

The Connally High website indicates Tran taught math.

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March 21, 2011

SWAT standoff in North Austin ends peacefully

UPDATE 10:25 a.m.:

The SWAT standoff in North Austin this morning has ended peacefully, Sgt. Keith Bazzle said.

Around 8:40 a.m., two men who had barricaded themselves inside an apartment in the 9300 block of Northgate Blvd. came out after speaking with police over the phone, Bazzle said. The men were taken to the police department for questioning.

Bazzle said he did not know why the men barricaded themselves inside the apartment.

EARLIER:

The Austin Police Department’s SWAT team is on the scene at a North Austin home, police said.

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About 5:40 a.m., police were called to a home in the 9300 block of Northgate Blvd., just north of West Rundberg Lane, after a report of a disturbance, Police Lt. Darrell Boydston said. When a man inside the home refused to cooperate with police, the SWAT team was called out, he said.

Further details were not immediately available.

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March 15, 2011

Police: Tagger rescued from lake after jumping off bridge to avoid officers

A man had to be rescued from Lady Bird Lake this morning after he was caught writing graffiti on a railroad bridge over the lake and jumped in to avoid capture, Austin Police Sgt. Chris Gwaldo said.

Just after 10:45 a.m., police received a call about someone trespassing on the railroad bridge near the 800 block of West Cesar Chavez, east of the Pfluger pedestrian bridge.

When the 23-year-old man saw that police were on both sides of the bridge, he threw his bongos and backpack off of the bridge before making the roughly 40 to 50 foot leap himself, Gwaldo said.

The man, whose name was not released, held onto one of the bridge’s concrete support pillars for about 20 minutes before he was rescued by emergency personnel, Gwaldo said. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with a sore back, Gwaldo said.

Gwaldo said the man faces several misdemeanor charges including evading arrest, criminal trespassing and graffiti.

Gwaldo said the man got his backpack and bongos back.

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March 14, 2011

Man arrested in connection with baby's death

A man who told police he suffocated an infant because he was frustrated with her crying has been arrested in connection her death, according to an arrest affidavit.

Johnny Gabriel Castro, 19, has been charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. He is in the Travis County Jail this morning on $100,000 bail.

On Feb. 28, Castro called emergency officials to a home in the 300 block of Delmar Avenue where 7-month-old Melanie Marie Victoria Garcia, his girlfriend’s daughter who he was caring for while she was at work, was not breathing or moving, the affidavit said.

Paramedics brought back the baby’s pulse, but she died a few days later at Dell Children’s Medical Center, the affidavit said. A medical examiner concluded after an autopsy that the baby died of suffocation and massive cerebral edema and determined her death a homicide, the affidavit said.

Castro later told police that he was frustrated with the baby because she would not stop crying after falling on the floor, the affidavit said. He told investigators that he shook her for 10 to 15 seconds and squeezed her to his body for seven to eight minutes until she stopped crying, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, Castro told police he believed that squeezing the baby caused her death.

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February 24, 2011

Testimony ends in Quintana appeal hearing

UPDATE: 3:02 p.m.

Testimony has ended in the appeal hearing of fired police officer Leonardo Quintana.

Arbitrator Thomas Cipolla will have 30 days after closing briefs have been filed in the case to make a decision on whether Quintana will be reinstated to the force.

NOON UPDATE:

Former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana, fired last year after a domestic assault allegation, this morning denied the charge that led to his firing.

Quintana spoke in the third day of an appeal hearing in which he is trying to get his job back. He said he and officer Lori Noriega, who made the allegation, had returned from a football game the night of Oct. 9, 2009, and they started watching television, talking and drinking. At one point, Quintana asked whether she was seeing anyone romantically and she became angry, he said.

He said she asked him to leave and he decided to go. Then, he said, she grabbed his jacket and other items and threw them outside.

Once outside, he tried to go back inside to get his keys, which he thought were on the couch, he said. She tried to stop him from coming in, but he went in anyway and left a second time after realizing his keys were in his jacket pocket, he said.

The two exchanged words and Quintana said he drove away, he said.

“My intention was to leave, to get out of there as fast as I could,” he said.

Noriega testified Tuesday that Quintana grabbed her by her arms and shoved her as he was trying to get back in the house. She fell backward and hit her head against a wall, breaking a portion of it, she said.

Doctors told her she’d suffered a concussion, she said.

Quintana said that he did not grab or shove her, and that he didn’t see her fall.

“As far as me reaching out and actually physically grabbing her and pushing her, it never happened,” he said. “There wasn’t a hole in the wall when I left there.”

After a lunch break that began at noon, Quintana will be questioned by an assistant attorney for the city.

EARLIER:

Former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana, fired last year after a domestic assault allegation, is expected to testify this morning in an appeal hearing where he’s trying to get his job back.

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The hearing before an arbitrator began Tuesday and has included testimony from police officer Lori Noriega, whose assault allegation led to the firing, along with other witnesses for the city. Quintana’s attorney Tom Stribling said he would begin calling witnesses for his client this morning.

This is the second time Quintana — who fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II outside an East Austin apartment complex in 2009 ­— has tried to get his job back. He was fired the first time after he was arrested in January 2010 and charged with driving while intoxicated, but an arbitrator in October reinstated him with a 15-day suspension.

Late last month, Quintana pleaded guilty in Williamson County to the drunken driving charge in a deal with prosecutors, and he is likely to be sentenced to a year of probation.

Less than a week after Quintana’s reinstatement, Acevedo fired him a second time after the assault allegation.

In November, Leander police charged Quintana with four misdemeanor crimes relating to the allegation.

A pretrial hearing on those charges is scheduled for March 7.

On Monday, Noriega said the couple had a complicated relationship that included years of verbal and physical abuse by Quintana since they became romantically involved in 2003.

The couple had broken up by October 2009, when Noriega said she asked Quintana to leave her home after he started asking questions about whether she was seeing someone else.

Eventually, he went outside but forced his way back in, she said.

While coming back in, Quintana pushed Noriega and she fell backward with her head breaking part of a wall, she testified.

Noriega called 911 but said she told police that it was only a verbal argument because she didn’t want Quintana to lose his job.

She said she eventually cooperated with internal affairs about the incident only after she was given a written order to cooperate with investigators or possibly be fired.

Stribling, has said Quintana is not guilty of the allegation.

Quintana fatally shot 18-year-old Sanders in May 2009 at an apartment complex parking lot after officials said the two struggled for a gun that Sanders had at his waist. The shooting touched off an angry protest among residents who gathered at the scene, some of whom hurled rocks and other debris at officers and patrol cars.

Acevedo said Quintana did not violate departmental policies in his use of deadly force but suspended him for 15 days for not activating his patrol car camera. A Travis County grand jury reviewed the shooting and did not indict Quintana.

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Officer not indicted in Big Lots shooting

A Travis County grand jury has declined today to indict an Austin police officer in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old last year outside a store during an attempted burglary.

Officer Derrick Bowman, who has been with the department since 2007, will not face criminal charges in the death of Devin Contreras.

The Oct. 1 shooting happened behind a Big Lots retail store on William Cannon Drive after police said Contreras raised a gun and Bowman fired several rounds.

In a statement today, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said that Bowman fired 14 times at Contreras and struck him four times.

Officers found a loaded pistol beneath Contreras’ body, and Lehmberg said that an investigation showed that the gun had been stolen during a string of storage unit burglaries hours before the shooting.

Lehmberg said that much of the incident, including the shooting, was captured on the patrol car camera of the unit Bowman was driving.

Police at first said on the day of the shooting that based on Bowman’s statements, Contreras fired two rounds and that Bowman saw a muzzle flash before he shot.

Police Chief Art Acevedo later said that the teen’s revolver showed that it had not been fired but that Contreras had brandished his gun.

Authorities have said that before the shooting, two officers spotted Contreras and another teen in front of the store and that Contreras ran toward the back.

Contreras then exited the back door, where the shooting happened.

Another teen who had been with Contreras, 19-year-old John Michael Rodriguez, was charged with burglary and theft of a firearm. Those cases are pending.

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February 23, 2011

Officer indicted on oppression charges resigns

A Travis County grand jury has indicted an Austin police officer on official oppression charges after officials said he subjected two women to searches “that he knew (were) unlawful.”

Officer Joshua James Peters faces up to a year in jail if convicted on the Class A misdemeanor charge.

A two-page indictment does not give specifics of the case.

Peters has resigned from the department, officials said.

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February 22, 2011

Testimony under way in Quintana appeal hearing

1:30 PM UPDATE:

Austin police officer Lori Noriega, whose assault allegation led to the firing of former police officer Leonard Quintana last year, said this morning that the incident happened in October 2009, after he forced his way back into her house when asked to leave.

Noriega, the first witness in a hearing in which Quintana is trying to get his job back, said she asked Quintana to leave after he started asking questions about whether she was seeing someone romantically. Eventually, he went outside but tried to force his way back in, she said.

While coming back in, she said she fell backward and hit her head on a wall. “I blacked out, I don’t know how long,” she said. “When I opened my eyes, he was standing over me.”

She called 911 and again asked him to get out of the house, she said. But Noriega said she told police that it was only a verbal argument because she didn’t want Quintana to lose his job.

She said she eventually cooperated with internal affairs about the incident only after she was given a written order to cooperate with investigators or possibly be fired.

EARLIER:

Former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana, fired last year amid assault allegations, will try to get his job back in an appeal hearing that begins this morning.

The hearing before an arbitrator could last multiple days and will include testimony from several witnesses for the city and the defense, city of Austin spokeswoman Samantha Park said.

Arbitrator Thomas Cipolla will have 30 days to make a decision after the hearing concludes.

This will be the second time Quintana — who fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II outside of an East Austin apartment complex in 2009 — has tried to get his job back. He was fired the first time after he was arrested in January 2010 and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Police Chief Art Acevedo fired Quintana four months after the arrest, but an arbitrator in October reinstated him with a 15-day suspension. Quintana’s lawyers successfully argued that Quintana was unfairly treated because other officers who had been charged with drunken driving were not fired.

Late last month, Quintana pleaded guilty in Williamson County to the drunken driving charge. If Williamson County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Suzanne Brooks accepts the plea bargain deal, Quintana will be sentenced to 12 months probation and a $400 fine at a hearing on March 7.

Less than a week after Quintana’s reinstatement, Acevedo fired him a second time following the assault allegation by an officer with whom Quintana had been romantically linked.

A disciplinary memo said the officer, Lori Noriega, hit her head on a wall during an October 2009 incident, breaking the drywall and requiring her to seek medical treatment.

Quintana’s attorney, Tom Stribling, has said Quintana denies assaulting Noriega.

Noriega is expected to testify in today’s portion of the hearing, Park said.

In November, Leander police charged Quintana with four misdemeanor crimes relating to the allegation. A pretrial hearing for those charges is scheduled for March 7.

Quintana fatally shot 18-year-old Sanders in May 2009 at an apartment complex parking lot after officials said the two struggled for a gun that Sanders had at his waist. The shooting touched off an angry protest among residents who gathered at the scene, some of whom hurled rocks and other debris at officers and patrol cars.

Acevedo said Quintana did not violate departmental policies in his use of deadly force but suspended him for 15 days for not activating his patrol car camera. A Travis County grand jury reviewed the shooting and did not indict Quintana.

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February 11, 2011

Police release sketch of sexual assault suspect

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Austin police today released a composite sketch of a man they believe sexually assaulted a woman in her home on Tuesday.

Police said the man entered the woman’s apartment, in the 8500 block of Dryfield Drive, after he knocked on her door and she answered around 2:30 p.m., police said. He then grabbed her by the throat and assaulted her, police said.

The victim said the man’s breath smelled like he’d been drinking beer, and he took cigarettes and a small blue camera with him before he left.

The victim told investigators she might have seen him near a bus stop at North Lamar and U.S. 183 about two weeks before the assault, Sgt. Keith Bazzle said. Bazzle said police are working with Capital Metro to see if there are any surveillance images available.

Police said the man is black, in his 20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He has a closely shaven or bald head, police said. He was wearing thin, gold wire-rimmed glasses that fit loosely and fell off easily, police said. Anyone with information is asked to the police department’s sex crimes unit at 974-4921.

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January 29, 2011

Ex-wife of Jesse James jailed on outstanding warrants

Janine Marie James, an ex-wife of Jesse James and a former adult film actress, was arrested this morning on multiple misdemeanor harassment warrants, according to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.

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James, who also goes by Janine Lindemulder, has a daughter, Sunny, with Jessie James, Sandra Bullock’s former husband.

Laurie Bain, a spokeswoman with the Hays County Sheriff’s office, said that no other information was immediately available about the charges related to the outstanding warrants. Officials said this afternoon that bail had not yet been set.

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January 28, 2011

Police identify man who died after scaffolding fall

Police have identified a man who died Thursday after falling from scaffolding at a South Austin apartment complex.

Elvin Ferrurfino, 35, fell more than 20 feet while caulking brick at the Retreat at North Bluff apartments, 6212 Crow Lane, near South Congress Avenue and East Williamson Cannon Drive, officials said.

A second person, whose name has not been released, also fell from the scaffolding and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge. An official said Thursday that he suffered injuries that were not life threatening.

No further details were available, police said.

A person who answered the phone at the apartment complex said no one was available to comment Thursday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the incident, a spokeswoman said today. But details of the incident will not be released until the investigation is concluded, she said.

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Men accused of shipping 39 pounds of marijuana

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Federal and local officials arrested two men today who are accused of shipping about 39 pounds of high-grade marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service, authorities said.

Robert Barraza, 27, (pictured left) and William Obando, 28, were both arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, a third degree felony. Both are being held in the Travis County Jail, though bail has not been set.

The men are accused of shipping the drugs, some of which was canned, to two different addresses in Austin.

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January 13, 2011

Search continues for missing airman after Blanco airman's suicide

Authorities in Missouri say they are searching for a missing airman who was traveling with a comrade who later killed himself following a standoff with police in Blanco County.

Johnson County Sheriff Charles M. Heiss said that the disappearance of Airman First Class Luis M. Vasquez, 18, is currently being investigated as a missing person case.

However, the Blanco County Sheriff’s Department said the man Vasquez was traveling with - Airman Kerby Barbe - was being investigated in the possible homicide of another airman, whom they did not name.

Kerby Barbe, 19, was involved in an armed standoff on Tuesday with law enforcement officials in Blanco County. The standoff ended when Barbe died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound according to the Blanco County Sheriff’s Department.

Heiss said today that Barbe and Vasquez failed to show up for work at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on Monday. Heiss said Barbe traveled to Texas in Vasquez’s vehicle, a blue Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

“The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office cannot rule out the possibility that Airman Vazquez may have fallen victim to foul play,” Heiss said in a statement. “Anyone who may have seen Airman Barbe and Airman Vazquez or the truck belonging to Vazquez in or around the area of Whiteman Air Force Base… is asked to contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at (660)-747-6469.”

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January 10, 2011

Elderly man found dead on Georgetown street, police say

Georgetown police are investigating the death of a man in his 70s whose body was found on a city street this morning, police Lt. Todd Terbush said.

A motorist noticed the man, whose name was not released, had collapsed and died in the 1300 block of James Street about 10 a.m., Terbush said. He said the man was walking his dog when he died.

Terbush did not know what caused the man’s death. The man’s body has been taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy, Terbush said.

Under state law, police investigate a death anytime someone dies outside of the care of a doctor, Terbush said.

No further information was immediately available.

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January 9, 2011

Suspected serial rapist arrested

EDNA — Authorities say a man suspected of being a serial rapist who targeted older women in Texas has been arrested after he was caught fleeing an elderly woman’s home.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety said 53-year-old Billy Joe Harris was taken into custody Saturday after police in the South Texas city of Edna responded to a medical emergency alert from an elderly woman.

DPS says police saw Harris running from the woman’s home and arrested him after a short pursuit. DPS says Harris is being held on a burglary charge. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Harris has an attorney.

Authorities have been looking for the so-called “Twilight Rapist” since 2009, when they believe there were as many as 12 rapes, attempted rapes or burglaries in rural towns in central and south Texas, including in Bell County and Luling. The victims’ ages ranged from 65 to 91.

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December 22, 2010

Georgetown officer on leave after excessive force complaint

A Georgetown police officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into an excessive use of force complaint, officials said today.

Georgetown Assistane Police Chief Roland Waits declined to provide details about the incident, which occurred on Monday. He said the allegations against Officer Shanna Shelly are being investigated by the department’s internal affairs division and that the Texas Rangers have been asked to investigate as well.

Marcy Urban, a local realtor, said today that Shelly kicked her son, Travis Michael Cox, 22, in the face and stepped on his neck after officers arrived at a party on Monday night. She said her son, who was not arrested, suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth during the incident.

Shelly could not be located for comment Wednesday evening.

In 2007, a Rockdale man, Mark Shelton, sued Georgetown, Shelly and fellow officer Rodney Eric Wise in federal civil court, claiming that he was beaten during a 2005 arrest. The case went before a jury, but during the trial Shelton dismissed his claims against Shelly, according to court documents.

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December 20, 2010

Killeen police officer indicted on Social Security fraud charges

FROM THE KILLEEN POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Update: A Federal Grand Jury issued an indictment on felony charges of Social Security Fraud on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, and the Texas Ranger working this case had a warrant issued for his arrest. On Monday, December 20, 2010, Tramel R. Bracey turned himself into the United States Marshal’s Office in Waco; he is currently free on a $25,000 bond.

Earlier: On Thursday, December 16, 2010, Killeen Police Officer Tramel R. Bracey was placed on indefinite suspension, after an internal investigation revealed that he violated various department rules and regulations that are required to be followed by all officers.

In June of 2010, the Killeen Police Department discovered that Officer Bracey may have engaged in criminal conduct. As a result of this information, the Killeen Police Department initiated an internal investigation into the allegations against Officer Bracey. The internal investigation determined that Officer Bracey had committed multiple violations of the Department’s Code of Conduct and Local Government Rules. The internal investigation also concluded that Officer Bracey had violated certain Texas Penal Code statutes.

The criminal case involved Officer Bracey was turned over to the Department of Public Safety - Texas Rangers for investigation and that investigation is still pending.

“The Killeen community places their trust in the Killeen Police Department and Officer Bracey’s actions violated that trust,” said Chief Baldwin

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December 6, 2010

Child dies from injuries, man charged

A 3-year-old girl died Friday morning of injuries police said she suffered at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, court documents stated.

Sergio Godinez-Islas, 28, was taking care of Eliana Razo on Oct. 27 at her home, the documents said. At some point, the child stopped breathing, police said.

Police were called to Dell Children’s Medical Center later that morning and Islas told them he threw the girl onto a futon, police officials said.

An arrest affidavit said Eliana had bruising on her arms, trunk, buttocks and legs. An autopsy report ruled her death a homicide.

Islas was charged with injury to a child on Oct. 28 and his bond was set at $200,000. He remains in the Travis County Jail; officials have placed a hold on his bail while they verify his immigration status.

Police said the case is still under investigation and have asked that any witnesses call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

This is Austin’s 36th homicide of 2010. At this time last year, there were 20.

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November 14, 2010

Man charged with stealing pedicab

Austin police have charged a 30-year-old man with theft after they said he stole a pedicab downtown this morning, according to an arrest affidavit.

The pedicab’s driver, Andrew Lyon, saw Thomas Moran stealing a pedicab about 2:45 a.m. on San Jacinto Blvd., the affidavit said. It says Lyon and several other pedicab drivers chased Moran down several streets. Lyon told officers that the pedicab was his and is worth about $6,000.

Moran drove the pedicab the wrong way down Trinity Street before Lyon and the other pedicab drivers caught him, the affidavit says. Moran was held down until officers arrived.

Moran remained in the Travis County Jail this evening with bail set at $4,000.

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November 8, 2010

Officer injured in wreck in South Austin

UPDATE: Police said the officer who was injured was treated and released from the hospital.

An Austin police officer was taken to the hospital this evening after a collision that happened as he headed to a call about a reported suicidal person.

The incident happened about 7:15 p.m. near Brodie and Slaughter lanes in South Austin. The officer, whose name was not immediately available, appeared to have minor injuries, officials said. No one else was injured.

No other information was immediately available.


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November 7, 2010

APD investigating overnight shooting

Update 12:59 P.M.: Austin police today are searching for a suspect who shot and critically injured a woman in East Austin early this morning.

Police spokesman Wuthipong Tantaksinanukij said that about 1 a.m., police arrived at 2037 Airport Blvd. in response to a shooting.

They found a woman, whose name has not been released, in her late 30s suffering from a gunshot wound. She is in critical condition at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Tantaksinanukij said that police are looking for a male suspect but had no specific details about his description. No one is currently in custody.

Police officials said the address of the incident is that of a business but could not immediately say what type of business currently is housed there.


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November 1, 2010

Third arrest in killing of Travis Co. man

The Llano County sheriff’s office announced today the arrest of a third suspect in the killing of 29-year-old Mark Shurish, whose skeletal remains were unearthed at a Mason County ranch last month.

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The Austin Police Department’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit on Thursday arrested 29-year-old Justin Silvernale (pictured right) in North Austin. Silvernale was charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, to-wit: human corpse, and taken to the Llano County Jail on Friday. His bail is set at $100,000.

Llano deputies previously arrested and charged 54-year-old Mary Louise Grote with tampering with physical evidence, a second-degree felony, in the case.

Grote is the owner of Fuzzy’s Bar and a former employer of 33-year-old Thomas Creech, the main suspect in Shurish’s killing.

The months-long investigation into Shurish’s disappearance crossed county and state lines and involved officers with the Texas Rangers, the Mason County sheriff’s office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Burnet County sheriff’s office, among others.

On June 16, a family member reported Shurish missing. He had last been seen 10 days earlier leaving Fuzzy’s Bar, at Texas 29 and RM 1431 in Llano County, with Creech, officials said.

Investigators found what they believe to be the crime scene in Shurish’s death — a mobile home at 9185 RM 1431, where Creech lived part-time — in September, officials said.

Further investigation led officers to search the Grote Ranch, owned by Mary Louise Grote’s family, in Mason County, said Llano County sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Neff said. Shurish’s remains were uncovered there Oct. 7.

Shurish and Creech were users and dealers of methamphetamine, Neff has said previously. “Whether that was the motive, we don’t know,” he said.

Creech was arrested in Madison County, Mo., on Oct. 19. He is charged with murder and is being held at the Llano County Jail without bail.

Grote was arrested at her home in the Pardners Trailer Park, Buchanan Dam, Llano County, on Oct. 25. Her bail was set at $25,000.

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Pictured left to right: Grote, Creech, Shurish

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Police investigating homicide at Riverside and Pleasant Valley

MONDAY, NOV. 1 UPDATE:

A man is in custody this morning following the stabbing death of another man late Sunday evening in Southeast Austin, an Austin police official said Monday.

At about 10:11 last night, officers were dispatched to a disturbance between two men at the intersection of South Pleasant Valley Road and Riverside Drive, senior police officer Dennis Farris said.

When officers arrived about two minutes later, they found a man who had been stabbed, Farris said.

The victim, a white male, 50 years of age, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead at 10:38 p.m., Farris said.

At the scene, witnesses gave police a description of the suspect and the direction in which he fled, Farris said. Within minutes, officers apprehended the suspect, Farris said.

No other details were immediately available. More information about the suspect and victim are expected to be released later today, Farris said.

EARLIER:

Austin Police Department officials said detectives are at the scene of a homicide at East Riverside Drive and Pleasant Valley Road.

Further details were not immediately available.


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October 25, 2010

Suspect in Travis Co. man's murder back in Texas after flight to Missouri

According to an announcement by the Llano Co. Sheriff’s Office:

On June 16, a relative reported Mark Shurish as missing to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

It was reported that Shurish was last seen on June 6 at Fuzzy’s Bar at the intersection of Texas 29 and RR 1431 in Llano County. Llano County investigators began interviewing potential witnesses and acquaintances and developed information that Shurish (pictured right) may have been murdered.

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In September, investigators and the Texas Rangers identified a possible crime scene at a residence in Llano County. The Department of Public Safety Crime Scene Team recovered evidence that suggested a violent act had occurred.

As the investigation progressed, additional information was developed that the victim’s body had been disposed of on a Mason County ranch.

On Oct. 7, Llano County sheriff’s investigators, Texas Rangers, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas State University Department of Anthropology Team processed a specific location on that ranch and recovered skeletal remains.

The remains were taken to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and the victim was identified as Mark Shurish.

On Oct. 15, probable cause was presented to Llano County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 3, Era Marion, who issued an arrest warrant for first degree murder for Thomas Creech.

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Creech and Shurish were acquaintances.

Creech (pictured right) was arrested in Madison County, Mo., on Oct. 19. Llano County investigators booked Creech into the Llano County Jail last Thursday. Creech is being held without bond.

Charges against other individuals are pending.

Also assisting in the investigation were DPS Narcotics and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.

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October 8, 2010

Police say man injured 4-month-old daughter

Austin police have charged a man with injury to a child after they say he caused numerous fractures to the legs and ribs of his 4-month-old daughter in June, according to an arrest affidavit.

Akeem Johnson, 18, was charged with the state jail felony, but he was not in the Travis County Jail this evening.

According to an arrest affidavit, the baby’s mother, Shameakia Givens, told investigators that Johnson on June 2 squeezed the baby’s stomach and chest area with his hands in order to relieve her of constipation. He then also tried to force a bowel movement by pushing the baby’s knees into her chest, the affidavit said.

Givens told police that Johnson tried to relieve the infant of constipation again on June 8 by pushing her knees into her chest, the affidavit said. She told police that she believed Johnson’s actions caused the infant’s injuries, the affidavit said.

Police said Johnson denied knowing how the infant was injured, but told investigators that “he would take the blame and responsibility,” the affidavit said.

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September 28, 2010

UT classes cancelled for the day

According to an emergency alert from the University of Texas:

September 28, 2010 at 10:22 am
The university is closed.
A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Law enforcement are searching for a second suspect. If you are off campus, STAY AWAY. If you are on campus, lock doors, do not leave your building. All organized classes for today, September 28, are canceled.

Officials said that if you are already on campus, stay put until the UT Police Department gives the all clear because of the possibility of a second shooter.

UT officials are posted updated emergency information on the university’s emergency alert website, http://www.utexas.edu/emergency.

UT President Bill Powers said a toll-free number has been established for people wanting information about the incident: (866) 657-9400.

Related story: Gunman dead on UT campus; police search for possible second suspect

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September 27, 2010

San Marcos man arrested on child porn charges

From an announcement by the Texas Office of the Attorney General:

SAN MARCOS — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested David Alfred Lexen, 36, on charges of child pornography possession and promotion. After his arrest, Lexen was booked into the Hays County Jail.

Lexen’s arrest stemmed from a referral by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which notified the Cyber Crimes Unit that Lexen’s e-mail account contained images that were believed to be child pornography. The Cyber Crimes Unit investigators conducted a search of Lexen’s San Marcos residence, where they found numerous images that appeared to be illicit and depicted young children. Lexen (pictured) stored the images in his e-mail accounts’ folders. Investigators also suspect Lexen sent and received additional child pornography images via various e-mail accounts.

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Child pornography promotion is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Child pornography possession is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation. The Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole, have combined to arrest more than 2,000 sex offenders.

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September 24, 2010

Crane topples, critically injuring worker

UPDATED to include a statement released by Westminster Manor.

Austin Police Department officials said a 36-year-old man was taken to the University Medical Center Brackenridge today with life threatening injuries after a crane fell over on at a construction site.

The incident occurred on the 4700 block of Jackson Avenue at 11:19 a.m. where work was underway in the expansion of Westminster Manor, a retirement community, by White Construction Company.

Senior police officer Veneza Aguinaga said the investigation into the incident is ongoing. No citations have been issued.

White Construction officials would not immediately comment on the incident but said a statement would be issued later today.

Austin fire crews also responded to the call, because the crane leaked fuel.

Aguinaga did not know whether the man was on the crane when it fell. Police officials would not release his name.

Homicide detectives are investigating, Aguinaga said, and the construction site will be closed until the investigation is complete.

Brian Robbins, Westminster Manor’s executive director, issued the following statement:

An individual was injured today in a construction-related accident at 4300 Bull Creek Avenue in Austin, north of the current Westminster Manor building at the site of construction of a new multi-story addition being managed by White Construction Company. The identity and the condition of the injured worker have not yet been released, but he is believed to have been an employee of a construction subcontractor. OSHA and the Austin Police Department are currently exploring the cause of the accident. Our independent living and healthcare center is open and operating under normal conditions and no Westminster Manor residents or personnel were injured in the accident. No other information as to the details of the accident is available at this time. The recent event is unfortunate and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the injured individual.

The 43-year-old not-for-profit community is currently home to approximately 370 residents.

The $100 million expansion underway will add new independent-living apartments, beds for residents requiring skilled nursing care, assisted living facilities and new amenities.

The expansion will almost double Westminster’s size to 645,623 square feet. Westminster is at 4100 Jackson Ave., near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) south of 45th Street. A new five-story residential building will be constructed north of the existing tower. The centerpiece of the expansion will be the Commons at Westminster Manor, which will include a new auditorium, cafe and a fitness center with a pool.

EARLIER: A worker was critically injured this morning when a crane toppled at a construction site, officials said.

The incident happened near the Westminster Manor retirement community in Central Austin near Bull Creek Road.

It was not clear if the injured man was the crane’s operator or another construction worker.

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September 17, 2010

Round Rock police investigate bank robbery

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Round Rock police are searching for a man they say robbed a Chase Bank branch on Thursday.

Police said the man entered a Chase Bank branch, at 2711 La Frontera Blvd., about 3 p.m. and handed a teller a note demanding cash, police said. The man left with an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

The man is described as white, in his mid 20s or 30s, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 175 pounds, police said. He left in a grey, mid-size sedan, police said.

The robbery is the third in the city this year.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Shawn Scott at 218-6674 or e-mail him at sscott@round-rock.tx.us

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Hays County deputies seek copper thieves

Officers with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division are seeking information about thefts of copper and aluminum from construction sites in the Dripping Springs area.

Sheriff spokesman Leroy Opiela said the thefts of aluminum and copper are occurring at 29401 Ranch Road 12, across from the Dripping Springs Elementary School, in a construction yard where spools of wire are stored while work is done on relocation of power lines.

Cameras at the job sites have captured images of two individuals wanted in connections with the thefts.

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Opiela said officers have been unable to identify the men and need the public’s help.

On Sept. 14, the thieves were actually interrupted and they left the scene on foot, abandoning a beige 1996 Saturn, Opiela said. However, he said, all identifying information on the vehicle was fraudulent.

Opiela said those with information about the thefts should contact the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division at 512-393-7814, or contact Hays County Crimestoppers at 800-324-8477 or log on to the Hays County Crime Stoppers website, at www.callcrimestoppers.com, and submit a tip.

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September 3, 2010

Quintana says drinking increased after fatal shooting

A self-described moderate drinker, former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana said today that his alcohol consumption doubled after he fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II last year.

But he said that he stopped drinking after a drunken driving arrest in January, has been in rehabilitation and does not plan to ever drink again.

The shooting of Sanders is “something I’ll have to live with the rest of my life,” said Quintana, who testified at a hearing in which he is seeking reinstatement. “That is something I don’t think anybody, a police officer or not, wants to do in a lifetime.”

Quintana also described a “grueling” deposition in a federal civil lawsuit filed by the Sanders family —- the day before he was arrested by Leander police after crashing his Cadillac Escalade in Williamson County.

Police Chief Art Acevedo fired Quintana in May. His attorney has said that police officials singled Quintana out for a harsher penalty — most officers retain their jobs after a first drunken driving offense — and that he should be returned to the force.

However, city lawyers have said that police officials also considered a pattern of judgment lapses, including his posting of a controversial photo on Facebook.

Officials have said that Quintana fatally shot Sanders in May 2009 after the two struggled for a gun.

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September 2, 2010

Man charged with murder in Temple caught in New Orleans

A man charged with murder in Temple in connection to an August shooting death has been arrested and is in custody, police said.

Anthony Wayne O’Neal, 40, was charged with murder last month but eluded authorities until he was arrested this morning by FBI agents in New Orleans, Temple police said.

He’ll be returned to Bell County in the next few days, police said.

On Aug. 22, police say O’Neal shot and killed Paul Michael Caldera, 24, at an apartment complex in Temple after an argument.

Police said O’Neal then stole Caldera’s car and drove to Lorena, where they say he also burglarized a home and committed a sexual assault.

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September 1, 2010

Police: Georgetown man was drunk when he drove into lake with son

Georgetown police this afternoon said that a Georgetown man who drove into Lake Georgetown with his 5-year-old son had a blood-alcohol content level of .21, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Police also said the June deaths of Scott Hughes and his 5-year-old son Ethan, who both drowned in the lake, have been ruled accidental.

“Investigators have concluded the drownings were accidental due to several factors involved in the late night crash, which include Scott Hughes’ level of intoxication, the fact that he was talking on his cell phone while driving, and the other vehicle that was on the boat ramp with it’s headlights facing Scott’s vehicle, which may have given Scott the illusion he was on a roadway,” Lt. Gary Terbush said in a media release.

On June 19, Hughes, 31, and his son were on a camping trip at Cedar Breaks Park, 500 Cedar Breaks Road, when they decided to cut the trip short and go home, police said. Hughes then drove his 2009 Chevrolet Impala down a boat ramp and into the lake. Despite the efforts of onlookers to save them, Hughes and Ethan drowned, police said.

Witnesses told police they saw Hughes’ car go down the ramp about 11 p.m. and that the car neither sped up nor slowed down when approaching the water, police said.

Police said two of the vehicle’s windows were open when the car became submerged and that people from a truck on the ramp and nearby boats attempted to rescue Hughes and his son.

The car came to rest in about 20 feet of water, police said. Hughes’ body was found inside the car. Ethan’s body was found outside.

Hughes had been previously arrested on March 27 and charged with driving while intoxicated after a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy pulled him over for a defective tail light, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit said Hughes’s speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and he was wobbling as he stood.

Hughes was released the same day after posting $1,000 bail. His case was pending at the time of his death.

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August 30, 2010

Car crashes into ravine, no injuries

Public safety officials said they are still trying to extract a car that is stuck in a ravine in Northwest Travis County.

Roger Wade, a spokesman with the sheriff’s department, said a woman was driving through the intersection at RM 2222 and RM 620 about 1 p.m. when she blacked out. He said the car went airborne through the intersection, hit a another car, and then went down into a ravine off Bullick Hollow Drive.

The woman and her husband were taken to a hospital for observation, but did not have any life-threatening injuries, Wade said. No one was injured in the other vehicle, he said.

Officials did not release the name of the driver and said the incident remains under investigation.


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August 27, 2010

Cedar Park police searching for trio they say robbed man who solicited a prostitute online

Cedar Park police are searching for three people they say robbed a man who’d solicited a prostitute on Craigslist, according to a media release.

About 12:10 a.m. today, police were called to a report of an aggravated robbery at an apartment complex at 2201 South Lakeline Blvd., the release said.

Police said a 25-year old man told investigators that he solicited a prostitute online, and he was robbed of $480 at knife point when she showed up accompanied by two other men, the release said.

Police said the suspects left in a four-door Honda Civic with tinted windows, according to the release.

No detailed description of the suspects was available. Anyone with information is asked to call Cedar Park police at 260-4794.

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August 20, 2010

Another suspect in Manchaca Road robbery arrested

NOTE: Entry has been updated to correct the age of the robbery victim.

Police have arrested a second man in connection with a robbery of a bicyclist last week near Manchaca Road. One teenager was shot in the incident, according to an arrest affidavit.

Yesterday, Paul Justin Rios, 17, was arrested following a traffic stop in Southeast Austin, the affidavit said. Rios was charged with seven crimes, including tampering with or fabricating physical evidence after a search discovered marijuana in the vehicle he was riding in, the affidavit said.

Rios was in the Travis County Jail this afternoon. Among the seven charges, is a charge of attempted capital murder. His bail was set at $319,000, jail records show.

The robbery occurred last Sunday at 10:48 p.m. as 19-year-old Frances Dulles was riding his bicycle on Manchaca Road near Slaughter Lane. Dulles was approached by three men. The men pushed Dulles down an embankment and took his wallet, police officials said. They found his ATM card and held a semiautomatic pistol to his head and demanded his PIN, police said.

Dulles was shot as he ran away, police said. He did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

The robbery mirrored another one earlier last week, police said.

Another suspect, James Ray Perkins III, also 17, was charged with two counts of felony robbery and attempted capital murder earlier this week, police said. Perkins was arrested Monday. His bail is $165,000, according to jail records.

The men face up to life in prison if convicted.

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August 19, 2010

Austin officer indicted on indecent exposure charge

A Travis County grand jury today indicted an Austin police officer who authorities say exposed himself during a lap dance at a South Austin club.

According to the indictment, Albert Aguinaga was visiting Expose Gentlemen’s Club on July 15 and was “reckless about whether another person was present who would be offended and alarmed by such acts.”

Aguinaga is charged with indecent exposure, a Class B misdemeanors for which he faces up to 180 days in jail.

Grand jurors declined to indict Aguinaga on charges of public lewdness and sexual assault.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement that Aguinaga has been placed on administrative leave without pay.

“Anytime an officer violates the law, it is disappointing to all the men and women of the Austin Police Department and contrary to the ethical standards subscribed by members of the department,” Acevedo said.

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August 18, 2010

Cedar Park officer dies after motorcycle wreck

A Cedar Park police officer died Wednesday evening after he crashed his motorcycle during a training exercise, police said.

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About 3:30 p.m., officer Leonard Reed, 41, was traveling on Arrow Point Drive near RM 1431 when he crashed, Capt. Jeff Hayes said.

Hayes said he did not have details of the wreck, including what caused it. Hayes said the Texas Department of Public Safety would be investigating the crash.

He said a motorcycle officer traveling with Reed performed CPR before emergency officials arrived. Reed was taken to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, Hayes said.

Hayes said Reed suffered severe internal injuries, from which he died about 7 p.m. Reed is survived by his wife and two sons.

Reed had been a police officer in Cedar Park for four years and had recently transferred to the traffic enforcement division, Hayes said. He was the department’s officer of the year in 2008, Hayes said.

Hayes said Reed had been in training on a motorcycle for about two weeks and was training for his next police motorcycle officer certification when the incident happened. A memorial fund has been set up at Frost Bank at 10915 Pecan Park Boulevard in Austin for his family.

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August 9, 2010

Crowd outside jail decries arrests of protesters

At 8:45 p.m. tonight, about 20 people waving American flags and carrying candles marched to the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, 509 W. 11th St., to show their support for Chanda Seymour and John Bush, the 26-year-old director of Texans for Accountable Government, an Austin-based group that focuses on privacy issues.

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Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN - Anti-war activist Chanda Seymour is handcuffed and arrested by UT police during President Obama’s speech on the UT campus on today. Seymour was asking why she had to stay in the protest area.

Seymour and Bush were among four protesters, who officials said were taken into custody after they strayed outside the designated “free-speech zone” set aside for protesters near UT’s Gregory Gym. The four were charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.

Those who gathered at the jail tonight said they think it’s a violation of the First Amendment to arrest protesters who speak their mind outside of so-called free speech zones.

“This sort of tyrrany is not unique to Austin, but because of the Internet, all eyes are on our government tonight,” said Catherine Bleish, who was among those who marched to the jail.

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City issues citations in balcony collapse

The city’s code compliance department is planning to issue more citations in the ongoing investigation of a balcony collapse in Southeast Austin earlier this month, said division manager Melissa Martinez.

Victor Wong’s second-floor deck, built without permits, collapsed before dawn Sunday, hurling two dozen of his guests to the concrete below. At least 26 people were injured after Wong’s 400-square-foot deck crashed to the ground, prompting what officials have called the largest hospital trauma response since Hurricane Rita in 2005. Wong was among them.

(For previous coverage on the balcony collapse investigation, click here.)

Officials issued two citations to Wong last week. The citations are for electrical and for building code violations related to the construction of the balcony, Martinez said. All the citations fall into the category of doing work on the townhome without securing the appropriate permits from the city, she said.

Officials also plan to issue the same citations to Calvin Wong, Victor’s brother and the owner of the condominium, Martinez said. Officials are waiting to hear from his legal counsel, she said.

Investigators are also looking into whether Victor Wong, 43, was operating a business out of his home and whether he violated building codes with work inside the condo, Martinez said.

Party-goers have said they were charged $5 each to enter the party and said alcohol was available.

Investigators have not yet identified the contractor responsible for building the balcony, Martinez said.

Victor and Calvin Wong have declined to comment, but Victor Wong (pictured) issued the following statement today:

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Hello everyone,
It is with the most sincere regret that I write this statement. The tragedy that we are all aware of now has affected many people, some of whom are great friends of mine, and it fills my heart with pain each time I think about it.
First let me extend my thoughts and prayers to those who have been injured, I wish for your speedy and complete recovery.
The event was in part to have been a celebration of two birthdays of my friends. My only goal was to bring joy to my friends and guests.
However, the collapse of the deck brought the evening to an abrupt end, one that no one expected.
All I can do is to work harder than ever to right what was wronged from this event and continue to bring joy to others as best as I can.
I thank everyone for their concerns and well-wishes, but please do not forget all who were injured, as they deserve much more attention than I do.
With most humble respect,
Victor Wong

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Officials release name of Williamson County deputy involved in fatal shooting

Officials have released the name of the Williamson County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a 30-year-old Williamson County man Friday night after he approached deputies with a rifle in his hand, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Foster said.

Foster said Deputy Scott Mount was one of the three sheriff’s deputies who initially showed up a home in the 200 block of Harbor Cove, northwest of Georgetown, after a boy living in the home called 911.

Mount was the only deputy who fired his weapon, Foster said. He said Mount has been with the department for a year and a half and has no disciplinary record.

Foster would not say how many times Mount fired his weapon.

Ryan Blake Justice died at the scene, Foster said.

Deputies responded to the home about 10 p.m. after the boy called 911 multiple times to report a physical fight between his mother and father, Foster said.

Deputies arrived to find Justice outside the home holding a rifle, Foster said.

Foster said Justice advanced toward the deputies and Mount shot him.

Mount has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure, Foster said.

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July 28, 2010

Four charged in raids of two Burnet County meth labs

According to an announcement from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office:

Acting on a Crime Stoppers Tip, officers from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit, Marble Falls Police Department Narcotics, Texas Department of Public Safety CID, and Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force arrested 4 individuals and seized 2 Methamphetamine Labs in Burnet County on 7-26-2010.

Arrested and charged with Possession or Transport of Certain Chemicals With Intent to Manufacture Controlled Substances, a 2nd Degree Felony were, Pamela A. Lopez, age 42 of 127 Oaks road in Bertram, Mark E. Pierce, age 42 of 1001 Lewis Street in Burnet, and Barbara A. McGill, age 47 of 1001 Lewis Street in Burnet.

Following the initial arrests, officers searched the home of Lopez in Bertram and discovered a Methamphetamine lab that contained more than 400 grams of liquid Methamphetamine, and assorted chemicals, precursors, and laboratory apparatus.

Further investigation led the officers to the home of Steve L. Trahan, age 43, of 1401 Co. Rd. 269 in Bertram. A search of that residence revealed another Methamphetamine lab with more than 400 grams of liquid Methamphetamine, chemicals and precursors.

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Pictured, left to right: Lopez, Pierce, McGill, Trahan.

Trahan was arrested and charged with Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance, more than 400 grams, a 1st Degree Felony, Possession of a Controlled Substance, more than 400 grams, a 1st Degree Felony, and Possession or Transport of Certain Chemicals With Intent to Manufacture Controlled Substances, a 2nd Degree Felony.

All 4 individuals were transported to the Burnet County Jail to await arraignment on the charges.

The investigation is continuing, and the Sheriff’s office encourages citizens to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement or Crime Stoppers.

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July 23, 2010

Case dropped against couple who left girl alone

A Travis County grand jury in January declined to indict Michelle Eilleen Delvecchio and Jonathan Gouldman, who faced up to two years in a state jail on charges of abandoning a child.

In May 2009, a maintenance worker entered a North Austin apartment to shut off the water heater and discovered a 4-year-old girl alone in the home, according to court documents. Investigators said the two had left the girl alone for hours at a time for months, according to an arrest affidavit.

Delvecchio said she and her boyfriend left the girl alone while Delvecchio was at work because she could not afford child care, the affidavit said. The girl had been left alone at least three days a week, starting at7:30 a.m., when Delvecchio went to work, until her boyfriend returned from college classes, the affidavit said.

Click here for previous coverage.

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July 19, 2010

Austin police investigating city's 18th homicide

Austin police were investigating the city’s 18th homicide which left one man dead Monday night.

Sgt. Jaime Jobes said Austin police were dispatched to the 2600 block of Hoeke Lane about 7 p.m. Monday. He said the call came in as an “unknown nature” and police arrived to find one man unconscious. The man was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he later died.

Jobes said no suspect was in custody Monday night and he would not say how the victim was killed, citing an ongoing investigation. He said one other person from the area was brought to a hospital in a private car, and police said the two could be connected.

Jobes did not have any more information on the homicide. At this time last year, Austin had 10 homicides.

Any witnesses are asked to call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.


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July 15, 2010

Investigation into Zilker's missing koi continues

Austin Police Department investigators, acting on a warrant, searched a home in Del Valle this morning, looking for signs of koi fish that were stolen last month from the Zilker Botanical Garden.

Two weeks ago, the koi — Japanese carp known for their distinctive colors and patterning — were reported missing from the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden , which covers 3 acres of the Zilker garden’s 30-acre expanse.

The 13 stolen fish were 2 to 3 feet long and weighed 15 to 20 pounds each. Some koi, which are not edible, can fetch up to $500, depending on their size and patterning. Victor Ovalle , a spokesman for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said the city’s stolen fish are valued at $150 to $200 each.

Austin investigators said they didn’t find the koi in today’s search.

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Sgt. Catherine Johnson would not name the person investigators suspect to be involved in the thefts but said the person would remain “a person of interest.”

Zilker garden staff members noticed that the fish were missing over the course of about five days. Garden officials filed a police report on June 28.

Since the incident, garden officials have installed security cameras.

For previous coverage, click here.

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July 13, 2010

Dispute over woman led to fatal double shooting, police say

NOTE: Entry updated to correct the spelling of Tomas Hernandez Alfaro’s name.

An ongoing dispute over a woman ended in a shootout Sunday morning that left two men dead, police said today.

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Tomas Hernandez Alfaro, 33, and Daniel Mercado Garcia, 25, fatally shot each other in a parking lot on North Lamar Boulevard north of U.S. 183, police commander Julie O’Brien said today.

Police received multiple calls at about 3 a.m. about a disturbance with a gun in the parking lot, O’Brien said. Officers arrived to find Hernandez Alfaro dead in his vehicle, O’Brien said. Mercado Garcia was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead about 6:30 a.m., she said.

Investigators believe Mercado Garcia approached Hernandez Alfaro (pictured right) in the parking lot and began firing a gun, O’Brien said. Hernandez Alfaro, who was in his car, returned fire, O’Brien said. He struck a fixed object as he tried to drive away, she said.

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Three weeks ago, the men got into a fight in the parking lot of Club Rodeo, nearby at 7601 N. Lamar Blvd., O’Brien said. At 3:15 a.m. on June 27, Hernandez Alfaro fired a shot into the air as he threatened Mercado Garcia in the same parking lot where Sunday’s shooting took place, O’Brien said.

Police were preparing aggravated assault charges against Hernandez Alfaro in connection with the incident, but he was not returning their calls, she said.

Police have not recovered the gun used by Mercado Garcia (pictured below, right) on Sunday, O’Brien said, and are asking that whoever has the weapon to turn it over.

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O’Brien said police are also looking for occupants of a 1990s model black Ford Mustang convertible that was at the scene Sunday.

“Individuals in that car may have important information for us,” O’Brien said.

Police are asking anybody who witnessed Sunday’s shooting and who have not spoken to police to come forward.

People can contact police at 477-3588, Crimestoppers 472-8477 or text “tip 103” and a message to 274637.

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July 12, 2010

S. Carolina fugitive caught in Austin

A fugitive who was wanted by authorities in connection with an attempted murder in South Carolina was arrested by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force in South Austin Monday, officials said.

Nasadeam Stewart, 19, was arrested in the 8200 block of Hood Circle about 6 p.m. Officials with the task force — which is made up of several Central Texas law enforcement agencies — said Stewart and two other men have been charged in connection with a June shooting. He has been charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm into a dwelling.

News reports from the area said a 21-year-old was injured in the drive-by shooting. Stweart had been on the run from authorities since June 26.

Keith Antonio Williams, 21, who is also charged in the shooting is still at large and Kennard Thomas, 19, has turned himself into authorities. Officers are investigating to determine whether Williams was ever in the Austin area.

Stewart is in the Travis County Jail pending extradition to South Carolina.

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July 1, 2010

Man charged, arrested in Budget Lodge murder

Austin Police have charged Carlos A. Mares, 44, with murder following the stabbing death of another man at an Austin motel that has been plagued with criminal activity in the past, an arrest affidavit filed today said.

On Wednesday, the front desk clerk for the Budget Lodge motel called police at 1:53 p.m. to alert them of a guest in one of their rooms who reported he had been stabbed several times, the affidavit said.

When police arrived, they saw Otto Wiley, 57, had several stab wounds to the upper portion of his body, the affidavit said. Wiley was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where he was pronounced dead, the affidavit said.

Police believed Wiley died as a result of the multiple stab wounds, the affidavit said.

A resident at the motel told police Wiley had been at a nearby Chevron gas station with another man earlier Wednesday morning, the affidavit said. A detective who viewed video surveillance from the gasoline station at 9318 N. Interstate 35 confirmed Wiley was there with Mares, the affidavit said.

Police interviewed Mares’ relatives, who said Mares had called his son last night shortly before 6 p.m. and told him he had stabbed someone, the affidavit said. The son, Carlos “Abel” Mares Jr. told police his father said he stabbed someone after a disagreement.

“His father told him that he was hiding and was scared because he had gotten into a fight with a dude after they had been drinking,” the affidavit said. “Carlos Sr. stated that he had picked up a knife and stabbed the man on the chest.”

Austin police officials said Mares is in custody. He faces $150,000 bail on the first-degree murder charge, the affidavit said.

In response to high criminal activity at the motel, city and Travis County officials filed a federal lawsuit against Budget Lodge and its owner, Larry Hall, in 2008 under state nuisance abatement laws. In the suit, officials said there were 103 police reports on drug activity, prostitution, aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and other crimes at the motel from Jan. 1, 2007, to Oct. 1, 2008 at the Budget Lodge where Wiley was killed.

Under an agreement signed by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks last year, the motel must, among other provisions, agree to:

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June 24, 2010

LaBare dancer charged with manslaughter after nightclub fist fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hang-glider found dead in Llano County

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

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

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

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


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June 18, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 17, 2010

Three indicted on capital murder charges in April shooting death

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

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

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

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

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

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June 15, 2010

Two teens charged in ice cream theft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 14, 2010

Police: Man found dead in home was growing mushrooms

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

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

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

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

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

Police have not released the man’s identity.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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June 10, 2010

Police officer injured in wreck

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

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

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

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

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June 4, 2010

Williamson County judicial candidate charged with public intoxication

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

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

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

She was released from the Williamson County jail earlier today.

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

She faces Republican Doug Arnold in the November general election.

Calls to Rowe’s law office were not returned.

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May 31, 2010

Two dead in shooting at Travis Co. cabaret

Two people are dead and two others are being questioned after an early morning shooting at what investigators describe as a “sexually oriented business” in eastern Travis County.

Sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade said deputies were called to the Pink Monkey Cabaret off U.S. 290 near Giles Road at 3:17 a.m. after receiving a report of a disturbance.

When they arrived, they found two men who had been shot in the parking lot. One man died at the scene. The other was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge and died around 8 a.m. today, Wade said.

Witnesses told investigators that the shooting happened after a disturbance that escalated from a fist-fight.

“It was very, very chaotic,” Wade said. “At this point we are still trying to figure everything out.”

Wade said deputies received information about a suspicious vehicle and found a car with occupants who might know something about the shooting a short time later in the 9500 block of Springdale Road.

Two people were being questioned this morning, but no charges have been filed, officials said. Detectives are talking to witnesses this morning, Wade said.

The shooting victims have not been identified pending notification of relatives.

Wade said the business offers full frontal nudity and has never previously been the scene of a homicide. It has been the location of multiple reports of thefts, assaults and robberies, he said.

Patrons are required to bring their own alcohol because the club is not allowed to serve it since it offers full frontal nudity, Wade said. He said the business was open at the time of the shooting.


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May 14, 2010

Police arrest man suspected of robbing bank on the Drag

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Austin police have arrested a man they say robbed a Central Austin bank earlier this month, court records show.

Brian Anthony Whitford, 32, has been charged with robbery by threat, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was being held in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $50,000.

Police say Whitford walked into a Chase Bank at 1904 Guadalupe St. on May 6 and presented a note demanding money, an arrest affidavit said. He left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Police said Whitford is a suspect in at least two other bank robberies.

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Man accused of taking part in group sexual assault

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Austin police have arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman with a group of men last year, court records show.

Rigoberto Acosta Navarro, 25, has been charged with sexual assault, a second degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was being held with at the Travis County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $50,000.

According to an arrest affidavit, on Feb. 14, 2009, a woman had a few drinks at Antonio’s restaurant at 7522 N. Interstate 35 and began to feel “fuzzy” after stepping outside.

She told police she doesn’t remember what happened after that, but woke up being sexually assaulted in an apartment that night, the affidavit said. The document said about six men were in the room during the assault. She told officers several men raped her, it said.

After the men left, the woman left the apartment, at 7200 Duval St., found her car and drove away, the document said. An Austin police officer found her in a nearby church parking lot, it said. She took the officer to the empty apartment and was later taken to a hospital for an exam, it said.

In November, Navarro was arrested on an unrelated charge and agreed to DNA testing in the sexual assault case, the affidavit said. His DNA matched that found on the woman, the affidavit said.

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May 12, 2010

Leander attorney accused of shooting at Census worker

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Williamson County sheriff’s officials have charged a Leander attorney with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after they say she fired five shots at a U.S. Census Bureau worker on Saturday, court records show.

Carolyn M. Barnes, 53, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony. She was being held in the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $50,000.

According to the affidavit, the Census Bureau employee told officials that Barnes pointed a handgun at her when she showed up at Barnes’s home, in the 400 block of Indian Trail in Leander, to collect information.

As the woman tried to get away, Barnes fired the weapon, the document says. It is unclear if she was injured.

Records show Barnes has not hired an attorney. The voice mailbox at her home and law office said they were full.

Barnes was previously arrested Jan. 8 in Austin after officials said she struck a Travis County deputy at the Sweatt Travis County Courthouse.

She was charged with assaulting a public servant, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years behind bars. Those charges are still pending, court records show.

According to an arrest affidavit, when Barnes entered the courthouse at 1000 Guadalupe St. and went through a security screening, deputies found a small knife.

They asked her to return the knife to her car, but she refused, the affidavit said. The document said she struck the officer after she took out her cell phone and the deputy asked her to take the call outside.

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May 7, 2010

Suspect in Second Street sexual assault arrested

Austin police have arrested a man they say sexually assaulted a woman after following her from a downtown club.

Ronaldo Velasquez, 24, has been charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, court records show. He is being held in the Travis County Jail on $50,000 bail, records show.

About 2:25 a.m. on April 25, the woman had left a nightclub on Sixth Street and was walking to her car on West Second Street when she noticed Velasquez following her, according to an arrest affidavit. Velasquez grabbed her from behind as she reached Second Street, pulled her into a nearby field and assaulted her, the document said.

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Officials investigate officer-involved shooting in Pflugerville

Update: This item has been corrected to say the man was taken to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.

UPDATE: Pflugerville police have provided some details about an shooting incident — during which it appears police fired at one or two suspects — this afternoon near Pflugerville High School.

Pflugerville Asst. Chief Jim McLean said police stopped two men about 12:13 p.m. in the 18800 block of Regis Drive. He said the vehicle fled and police followed the men through several neighborhoods.

The pursuit ended a few minutes later about a mile north of Pflugerville High, 1301 Pecan Street West, with police firing at least one shot and one of the men being taken to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.

McLean would not provide details of the man’s injury.

He said the vehicle was stolen.

Pflugerville police Chief Charles Hooker said the Pflugerville school district decided to lock down the school as a precaution.

McLean said the Department of Public Safety has taken over the investigation.


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EARLIER: Pflugerville schools were on a “reverse evacuation”, meaning no one could leave or enter for about thirty minutes this afternoon, following a police pursuit of a shooting suspect in the area north of Pflugerville High School, school district officials said.

Officials with the Pflugerville police department were not immediately available to confirm whether the evacuation was related to a reported shooting in the area.

School district officials said the situation has now been resolved but an investigation is still ongoing in the Swenson Farms neighborhood and Alexian Apartment area.

Students who live in that area may have to go home a different way, district officials said. School resource officers will be in the investigation area that is part of the route many students take to get home from school, ensuring a safe walking route home for students. If parents wish to pick up their students, they may do so at the regular dismissal time - 2:50 p.m. for elementary schools, 3:35 p.m. for middle schools and 4:15 p.m. for high schools.

In addition, students who regularly ride the bus will still do so, and students in the Alexian Apartments will have to show proof of residency to gain access, district officials said.

“They’ve found the people they were looking for,” district spokeswoman Amanda Brim said.

Details about the reported shooting were not immediately available.

The Pflugerville school district issued the following statement:

The situation that caused a precautionary reverse evacuation of several Pflugerville ISD facilities has been contained and campuses are now operating normally. All PISD campuses remained safe and secure throughout the reverse evacuations.

Police are still investigating the incident and the area around the Swenson Farms neighborhood and the Alexian Apartment are within the investigation perimeter.

For that reason, students at Pflugerville High School, Provan Opportunity Center, Pflugerville Middle School, Brookhollow Elementary and Park Crest Middle School are being notified if they walk or drive to the Swenson Farms vicinity or on Pfennig and Black Locust that they will not be allowed to travel through that area. The district is working with Petermann Transportation to reroute buses in that area.

Anyone who lives in the Alexian Apartments will be allowed entry from the Pecan Street Side only, and must show proof of residency to gain access to that area.

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May 6, 2010

Four caught in San Marcos alcohol sting

From an announcement by the City of San Marcos:

Employees at four businesses in San Marcos could face criminal charges and the businesses administrative penalties for selling alcohol to minors after San Marcos Police conducted a “minor sting” operation to check compliance by local merchants with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.

Charges are pending against employees of a big box store, two bars and a convenience store for violations of state law. The cases are being reviewed before warrants will be sought.

On April 29, San Marcos police officers working with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission checked 14 establishments for compliance with laws prohibiting alcohol sales to people under age 21.

Officer Jesse Saavedra, a member of the Support Services Unit assigned to the downtown district led the operation for SMPD. He was responsible for the planning, organization, and execution of the sting. Officer Saavedra worked with local TABC agents to ensure the sting was conducted by their standards.

The operation was designed to provide the merchants an opportunity to verify their compliance or non-compliance when denying or making alcoholic beverage sales to under age clients.

“Several undercover San Marcos police officers were used to observe designated 18-year-olds while they went into area bars, restaurants and convenience stores to buy alcohol,” said Commander Penny Dunn. “They used valid Texas IDs clearly indicating they were not of age to purchase alcoholic beverages.”

The teenagers were sold alcoholic beverages at four locations in San Marcos. Criminal charges are pending on the employees who sold the alcoholic beverages to the minors and administrative proceedings are pending on the licensed owner of the businesses.

Sale of alcoholic beverages to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement up to a year in jail, or both. Penalties for businesses are determined by TABC, although the businesses have the right to request an administrative hearing.

The San Marcos Police announced the sting operation in advance on April 19.

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May 5, 2010

Marble Falls police investigating death

Marble Falls police are investigating the discovery of a body Tuesday afternoon, a police official said Wednesday.

Police discovered the body of a man inside of a parked van at the 1500 block of Broadway Street, said Capt. F.T. Goodwin. The cause of death wasn’t immediately clear, he said.

“We don’t know if it was foul play or natural causes,” said Goodwin, who is in the criminal investigation division for the Marble Falls Police Department.

It appeared the individual had died days, or even weeks, earlier, Goodwin said. Police discovered the body inside the van after receiving an anonymous call about it, Goodwin said.

Police have not officially identified who the individual is, and could not release other details, such as the man’s age, Goodwin said. He said results on a preliminary cause of death and an investigation into the death is ongoing.

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April 22, 2010

Man charged with sexually assaulting a woman outside Lakeline Mall

Austin police have arrested a man they say tried to sexually assault a 19-year-old woman then masturbated in front of her outside Lakeline Mall late last month, according to an arrest affidavit.

Raymond Earl Jackson, 24, has been charged with attempted sexual assault, a third degree felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison. He was being held in the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $175,000.

On March 29, police say Jackson drove up to the woman as she left the mall, told her she was pretty and had nice legs and asked whether he could take photos of them, according to the affidavit. She declined and kept walking, the document says.

When she reached her vehicle, Jackson pulled up behind her, blocked her in and got out of his car, the document says.

“While he was talking to her, she noticed that Jackson had pulled out his camera phone and was taking pictures of her legs,” according to the affidavit.

Then he attacked her and she told him to stop. He stopped the assault as a couple walking in the parking lot looked at them, the affidavit says.

While he was distracted, the woman got into her car, but he prevented the door from closing with his leg, the affidavit says.

He continued to assault her, according to the affidavit, as she slapped his hands away. He then masturbated and left, the affidavit said.

On Wednesday, police arrested Jackson at the mall after they received other reports that he was approaching women and asking them whether he could take pictures of them, according to the affidavit.

He later told police that he had attacked the woman on March 29, the affidavit said.

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April 21, 2010

Round Rock police renew search for gun

Round Rock police did not find the gun they were searching for last night — the gun they said Kenneth Wade Davis used to shoot his ex-girlfriend and a police officer last week.

Police had used helicopters and infrared technology to try to find the gun Tuesday night in areas of Lake Creek Park where city workers had cleared some brush. They declined to say where they might be searching today.

“We are diving into every possibility,” said Eric Poteet, a Round Rock police spokesman.

The search had been called off Monday, but a police officer came up with the idea to get employees from public works to cut the brush in certain parts of Lake Creek Park to make it easier to find the gun if it was buried, Poteet said.

The police will fly over the area tonight using helicopters and infrared technology to see if they can find the burial spot, Poteet said. Infrared technology pinpoints animals and objects that emit heat, which would might include a gun in the ground warmed by the sunshine today, Poteet said.

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Larry Kolvoord/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Round Rock police Monday searched in Lake Creek Park for a weapon that they believe shooting suspect Kenneth Wade Davis may have left in the park.

Several city employees attacked a few areas in the park this morning with weed-cutters and lawnmowers, he said.

“It was impossible to mow down the entire two mile square area,” he said.

Davis, who remains in critical condition at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center with two self-inflicted gunshot wounds, is accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend, Bobbi Rigsby, and a Round Rock officer Friday.

Rigsby, who was shot once, remains in stable condition in the same Round Rock hospital.

The Round Rock police officer, whose name police declined to release, was not injured. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest, officials said.

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Davis (pictured) fled after the shooting. He was found Saturday under some trees in a wooded area of Lake Creek Park.

Conscious when he was found, Davis would not tell police where the gun was, Poteet said. Davis is no longer able to communicate because of the severity of his wounds, Poteet said. He shot himself once under the chin and once in the chest, police said.

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April 19, 2010

Former corrections officer charged in Briarcliff shooting

According to an arrest affidavit filed today, a Travis County corrections officer Sunday shot his friend three times — once straight through the heart — following an argument the two men had.

Chad Lum, 34, has been charged with first degree murder in the death of 46-year-old Michael Rendon Sr. Lum, who had worked for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, was fired today, sheriff’s spokesman Roge Wade said.

The two men were drinking alcohol and hanging out at Lum’s home at 500 Alva Drive, while their three children had a sleepover, the affidavit says. Rendon’s 23-year-old son, Mark Rendon, told investigators that the two men had also been snorting cocaine, the affidavit said.

Deputies were called out to 500 Alva Drive in Briarcliff about 9 a.m. Sunday after a woman called 911 and said that her husband had shot a man. Deputies found Rendon shot to death in Lum’s kitchen Wade said. The affidavit said Rendon was shot three times — in his shoulder, neck and chest.

Wade said deputies do not have a motive and do not know what the argument was about. Lum has refused to cooperate with investigators, Wade said.

The affidavit says the men fought in Lum’s bedroom and bathroom before moving into the living room and kitchen where Rendon was shot.

Investigators found evidence of cocaine in the house, as well as what officials said was the weapon used to shoot Rendon — a .40 caliber Glock Model 22.

Lum remained in the Travis County Jail on Monday with bail set at $500,000. He faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.

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April 16, 2010

Police identify Thursday homicide victim

NOTE: Corrects the suspected shooter’s name and age.

UPDATE:

Police have identified the victim of Thursday’s shooting as Leanora Brown, 25.

EARLIER:

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A suspect in the shooting death of a woman in Southeast Austin Thursday afternoon was found dead Thursday night in South Texas, authorities said. They were awaiting positive identification of the man late Thursday.

Austin police said Jose Sanchez Perez (pictured), 29, was the suspect in the slaying of a woman in the parking lot of the Villas of Cordoba apartment complex, 5901 E. Stassney Lane.

The shooting, at 4:32 p.m. Thursday, followed an altercation between the two, police said. Police said they believed the two knew each other, but would not disclose their relationship. As of this morning, police have not disclosed the identity of the woman, nor any other details of the incident.

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April 15, 2010

Three charged in melee with New Braunfels police

Two men and a woman were arrested in New Braunfels Wednesday evening, accused of fighting with police officers following a car wreck.

About 7 p.m. Wednesday, officers arrived in the 1100 block of Winston Avenue in reference to a hit-and-run wreck, police officials said. A 64-year-old man ran out of the vehicle and into a nearby house, which was the address where the vehicle was registered, police said.

The man then resisted arrest by assaulting an officer, police said.

A 29-year-old man at the same house interfered, using a wooden spatula he was cooking barbecue with, police said. Both men were Tasered by officers.

A third officer was then assaulted by a 34-year-old woman who struck officers with a wooden chair while they struggled to arrest the two men, police said.

The 64-year-old man was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, evading arrest and detention, assault on a public servant and resisting arrest.

The 29-year-old was charged with interfering with public duties and resisting arrest.

The woman was charged with resisting arrest, interfering with public duties and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

New Braunfels police did not immediately release any of the suspects’ names or say whether the three were still in custody.

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April 14, 2010

Police on scene of a suspicious death near Stassney Lane

Austin homicide detectives are investigating what they say is a suspicious death at the Stassney Woods Apartments.

Senior police officer Veneza Aguinaga said police received a check welfare call about 3 p.m. Wednesday after a worker found a male victim dead in the apartment at 1800 E. Stassney Lane. Aguinaga would not say what type of worker it was, but that the worker was scheduled to be in the apartment at that time.

Aguinaga would not say what made the death suspicious, how old the man was or how the man died. She said homicide detectives are investigating the death.

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Officials asking for help in kindergartner's death

Officials investigating the death of Julian Soliz over the weekend are asking for help from anybody who saw the 5-year-old in the days before his death.

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“We want anybody who had seen Julian in the past two weeks to let us know what he appeared like, what his demeanor was and who he was with,” said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Soliz’s body was found Saturday morning in a grassy patch about two miles from the North Austin apartment where Julian’s father said he lived with his girlfriend. Leonard “Ivan” Soliz said Nichole Turner was caring for the boy at the time.

Deputies have named no suspects in the case, and they have not released information on how the boy died.

Julian Soliz has been a kindergartner at Wells Branch Elementary School since February. Officials with the Round Rock school district said that he was not in school the Thursday and Friday before his death. Previously, he was a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten student at Perez Elementary School in Southeast Austin, Austin school district officials said.

The boy was discovered missing about 5:30 a.m. Saturday, family members said. But officials were not notified that he was missing until 7 that morning. He was found a few hours later on the front yard of a home in the Wells Branch area.

Maria Pensinger, a kindergarten teacher at Perez in Southeast Austin, where Julain had previously attended kindergarten, said he will be greatly missed.

“Little Julian was a very loving and gifted student,” Pensinger said. “I remember one day when he looked at me and said, ‘Teacher do you know that I’m the best person in the whole world?’

“Julian loved to dance and sing and would show off his spins to anyone who would take a minute to watch,” she said. “He was a very happy child … always smiling.”

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April 9, 2010

Police: 8-year-old brought gun to Marble Falls campus

Marble Falls Police Department officials say they have referred a Colt Elementary School student who brought a gun to campus today to Child Protective Services and mental health professionals.

No shots were fired, and no one was injured, police said.

Officials didn’t name the student because of the student’s age and because the student wasn’t charged. Officials said that under state law, children younger than 10 are barred from arrest or prosecution for any offense.

The student showed the gun to a group of students outside the school, Superintendent Ryder Warren said in a statement. Those students immediately reported the gun to teachers, who then took possession of the weapon and escorted the student to the principal’s office, he said.

Police department officials did not say how or where the student got the gun. Officials said the incident remains under investigation.

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March 25, 2010

Williamson County man accused of torturing, killing dog

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Williamson County Sheriff’s officials have accused an Austin man of torturing and killing a friend’s dog earlier this week partly by binding the Pekingese with three types of rope and dragging it, according to an arrest affidavit.

Barry Lee Sandler, 60, has been charged with cruelty to a nonlivestock animal — torture, a felony punishable by up to two years in a state jail. He was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest, according to court records.

Sandler was arrested Sunday and was released the next day after posting $20,000 in bail for all three charges, court records show.

According to the affidavit, constable’s office deputy Denise Lozano was rollerblading near Sandler’s home, in the 12000 block of Shasta Lane just east of U.S. 183 in North Austin, when she saw him dragging the dog. She later told officials that he kept dragging the dog after the Pekingese had gone limp.

“Barry, you have killed that dog!” she said, according to the affidavit. “You know that’s wrong.” “I know,” Sandler replied, the affidavit said.

An examination of the dog at an animal hospital later revealed that the dog had likely been kicked, causing “major internal lacerations to the dog’s liver,” the affidavit said.

Williamson County Sheriff’s Detective Robert Kee said in the affidavit that Sandler told him he, “tied the ropes around the dog after the dog allegedly bit him.”

Kee also said Sandler told him he’d dragged the dog by the ropes, sometimes while running, for 30 minutes to an hour and that he’d sat or stepped on the dog at least four times within the previous four days.

Sandler also told Kee that he’d jerked the rope “with enough force that could have broken the dog’s neck,” the affidavit said.

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March 15, 2010

Woman who threatened to jump from garage is safe

UPDATE: Police report that they have the woman in custody. They have not released her name.

Austin police said there is a woman on a parking garage at Eighth and Lavaca streets who is threatening to jump.

Police said negotiators are on the way to the scene and are warning people that roads may be closed in that area.

No further details were immediately available.

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March 9, 2010

Cedar Park police charge three with aggravated robbery

According to an announcement from the Cedar Park Police Department:

The Cedar Park Police Department today has charged three suspects with aggravated robbery in connection with an incident that occurred Thursday morning.

Cedar Park police officers responded to a report that the Buffalo Wild Wings at 4710 183A (the toll road) had been robbed. Employees told officers that two men entered the store, one armed with two handguns and the other armed with a shotgun, and demanded cash. Both suspects wore dark-colored bandanas over their faces and dark clothing.

Nobody was injured during the incident.

After an investigation, officers connected the two suspects who were arrested and charged with the aggravated robbery of the Shell Gas Station at 2901 Brushy Creek Road that happened March 2 to the Buffalo Wings robbery. A third person also was linked to the crime.

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Robert Anthony Ponce (pictured left), 19, from Cedar Park, Matthew Manuel Topete (pictured right), 19, from Round Rock were charged with first degree felony aggravated robbery and are both in the Williamson County Jail with bail set at $150,000 each.

Michael Robinson (pictured below), 20, from Cedar Park was charged with first degree felony aggravated robbery and third degree felony retaliation and is currently in the Williamson County Jail with bail set at $150,000.

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March 8, 2010

Cedar Park police arrest two accused of robbery

Cedar Park police have arrested two men they say robbed a gas station at gunpoint on Brushy Creek Road last week, according to a new release.

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Robert Anthony Ponce and Matthew Manuel Topete, both 19, have been charged with aggravated robbery, a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison.

Police say the men walked into a Shell Gas Station, at 2901 Brushy Creek Road just east of West Parmer Lane, about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday and demanded cash, police said. Both men wore masks on their faces, one of them was carrying a handgun and the other was carrying a shotgun, police said. They left with an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

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No one was injured during the robbery, police said.

Ponce (pictured left), of Cedar Park, and Topete, of Round Rock, are being held at the Williamson County Jail on $35,000 bail each.

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March 3, 2010

Cedar Park police searching for robbery suspects

Cedar Park police are searching for two men who they say robbed a Shell gas station early Tuesday morning, Capt. Mike Harmon said in a media release.

About 3:40 a.m., the two men, one of them armed with a handgun, entered the store at 2901 Brushy Creek Road and demanded cash, Harmon said. The men left with an undisclosed amount of money, he said.

No detailed description of the men was available.

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

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February 24, 2010

Georgetown High worker accused of improper relationship with student

Williamson County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested an assistant debate coach at Georgetown High School who is accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a student, according to court records.

Cody Randall Gray, 20, was arrested Tuesday and charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Gray (pictured) was released from the Williamson County Jail after posting $25,000 bail the same day.

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Gray is accused of sending multiple sexually explicit text messages to a student about Nov. 11, according to an arrest affidavit. At the time, Gray worked as a consultant with the debate team, but was not a full-time employee, Superintendent Abbe Boring said.

“He worked on a very limited, contracted services arrangement,” she said. “Basically, he worked exclusively with a debate team in preparing for a tournament.”

Boring said he had worked with the debate team on and off since May. She said the school district voided his contract when the accusations surfaced in November.

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February 23, 2010

Georgetown names new police chief

FROM THE CITY OF GEORGETOWN:

Wayne Nero, assistant police chief in DeSoto, will soon become Georgetown’s new police chief. The city council confirmed Nero as police chief at their regular meeting this evening.

Nero has been the assistant chief in DeSoto since 2007. He has been a police officer since 1994 for DeSoto, a city with 48,500 residents southwest of Dallas. As assistant chief, Nero led an effort to create a multi-jurisdictional tactical team involving seven agencies. He also has worked on initiatives for regional collaboration on a jail, communications center, firearms range, and training agreements.

Nero’s previous responsibilities in DeSoto include serving as the lieutenant in charge of special operations and training where he commanded the crisis response team and bike patrol unit. He also served as the department’s lead instructor for firearms. Nero secured several grants for the department and developed a digital directed patrol program as a patrol lieutenant. He commanded the department’s tactical team and worked as a criminal investigator as a sergeant.

Before becoming a police officer, Nero served in the Marines from 1989 to 1993 where he led a special team responsible for Presidential security at Camp David in Maryland.

Nero is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and is a certified master peace officer. He has received numerous commendations and awards in his career including a lifesaving award in 1995 and the Navy Achievement Medal in 1993.

Nero has a master’s degree in homeland security leadership from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.

City Manager Paul Brandenburg, who picked Nero as the sole finalist for the police chief position, says, “We did not just want to settle to get anyone. We have found a candidate who is a perfect fit for the department, organization, and community. Wayne Nero has the management skills and leadership to take the department to the next level as our community continues to grow.”

Nero expects to start in his new position in April. He will take over for Brent Schacherl, who has served as interim police chief since May.

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February 20, 2010

Plane attack victim's family speaks about their loss

Authorities have positively identified an Internal Revenue Service employee killed when a plane flew into his office building Thursday, family members said today.

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Larry McDonald said officials from the Travis County Medical Examiners office called the family of Vernon Hunter, 68, just before noon. Hunter (pictured right) worked for the IRS for more than 20 years and is believe to have been on the first floor of the Echelon I building in Northwest Austin when a man flew his single engine plane into the building.

FBI officials said they suspect the man was Andrew Joseph Stack III (pictured below right).

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Today, 43-year-old Ken Hunter, one of Vernon Hunter’s six children, said the family had been expecting the worst after Hunter went missing following the crash.

Ken Hunter recalled his father as devout Christian who was an usher at Austin’s Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church.

He had talked of soon retiring and possibly returning to school to earn a degree that would help him assist children with learning disabilities. One of Vernon Hunter’s grandchildren has a learning disability.

“He was so involved in her life. He wanted to make sure he could help everybody,” Ken Hunter said.

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February 14, 2010

Police: Men fired shots in South Austin wireless store

UPDATE: On Sunday, Austin police released photographs of the suspects, see below.

EARLIER: Police said Saturday that an initial report of the robbery at an H.E.B. grocery store in South Austin were later found to be incorrect. The shots were fired at a Cricket Wireless store at 3004 South Congress Avenue, police spokesman Scott Perry said.

Austin police are searching for two men who fired a gun during a robbery inside an H.E.B. grocery store in South Austin this evening.

About 5:30 p.m., the two men, one of them wielding what might have been a shotgun in a bag, walked into the grocery store at South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street and robbed a cell phone kiosk inside, police Lt. Neil Neyens said.

One of the men fired two shots into the air during the robbery, but no one was injured, Neyens said. They left with undisclosed amount of money.

Neyens did not have a detailed description of the two men.

Anyone with information is asked to call police department’s robbery hotline 974-5092.




Images courtesy of APD.

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February 12, 2010

San Marcos police searching for couple involved in stabbing

San Marcos police are searching for a man and a woman involved in an incident in which one woman was stabbed and two people were run over early this morning, a police official said.

About 2:15 a.m., a group of people were walking across the street on East Hopkins Street near Thorpe Lane when an eastbound truck traveling at a high speed nearly hit them, Cmdr. Robert Klett said. After some in the group yelled at the truck, it stopped and the driver and a female passenger got out, Klett said.

During an altercation that followed, the man stabbed a 41-year-old woman in the right shoulder with a knife and ran over a 22-year-old woman and 27-year-old man when leaving the scene, Klett said.

The three injured people drove to San Marcos Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening, Klett said. After arriving at the hospital, the 27-year-old man was taken to University Medical Center at Brackenridge, where he was treated for a broken pelvis.

Klett did not have a detailed description of the man or woman. He said they were in a newer model grey pickup, possibly a Ford.

Klett said it is possible that the male suspect was stabbed as well.

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Officer charged with taking cell phone photos of women in dressing room

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Authorities have charged a St. Edward’s University police officer with improper photography after they said he was taking pictures of women with his cell phone under stalls at an Austin department store.

Bail for Brandon Jason Gilroy, 23, has been set at $50,000.

According to an arrest affidavit, police were called to a Macy’s store in Barton Creek Square Mall on Tuesday after the store’s loss prevention manager saw Gilroy taking pictures of women in a dressing room without their consent.

The loss prevention manager told police that they had seen Gilroy enter the women’s junior fitting room on previous occasions, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, Gilroy told investigators that he had removed his shoes and used it to angle the camera under the stall.

“Gilroy stated that he did this to satisfy his curiosity about how to accomplish recording a female in a state of undress,” the affidavit said.

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February 8, 2010

Man sentenced for 2008 Leander wreck

From the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office:

James Allen Harris, 32, pleaded not guilty before a jury to two counts of aggravated assault. Late Friday evening on February 5, 2010, the jury convicted Harris of both charges and sentenced him to 75 years in prison for each charge.

On February 2, 2008, Harris, a Hutto resident, was driving on 183 in Leander and crashed his truck into a truck occupied by the Segovias, a Cedar Park family. Ernestina Segovia, 26, had her hand severed by the force of the collision. Segovia’s hand was later re-attached during surgery, but she continues to suffer from the injury. Her father, Jose Segovia, 57, suffered a broken leg and hip.

Witnesses told Leander police that Harris was driving erratically on 183, at times driving on the shoulder and into oncoming lanes of traffic. Harris had crossed over 183, driving northbound into southbound lanes when he hit the Segovia truck.

Police took Harris to a local hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and provided a sample of his blood. Lab results showed that Harris had Valium and muscle relaxers in his system but no alcohol. There was no evidence presented that Harris had prescriptions for the medications.

At the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Harris had been previously convicted of six felony crimes, including robbery, burglary of a habitation, burglary of a building, drug possession and escape. Harris also had multiple misdemeanor convictions, including eight for burglarizing cars.

At the time of the February 2008 aggravated assault offenses, Harris was on parole for a Travis County robbery. The victim of that robbery testified to the jury that Harris had approached her in a bank parking lot with a box cutter and robbed her of nearly $10,000.

Judge Ken Anderson imposed the sentences immediately and also accepted the jury’s finding that the motor vehicle driven by Harris was a deadly weapon. Although the two 75-­‐year sentences will run concurrently, the deadly weapon finding means that Harris will not be eligible for parole for at least 30 years.

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February 5, 2010

Bastrop County officials search for slain man's body

The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office is searching for the body of a man officials believe was slain at his Paige residence at 325 County Line Road on Dec. 15.

Two men were arrested and charged with the murder of Michael Van Dyke, 23 earlier this week.

Dustin Dickman, 24, and Dennis Leetch, 26, are in custody at Bastrop County Jail with $500,000 bond each, said Sgt. Ric Cole, with the Bastrop County Criminal Investigations Unit.

Dickman, Van Dyke’s roommate, told police about the killing after rumors of foul play surfaced, Cole said. Further investigation brought detectives to Leetch who also told police about the death, Cole said.

Detectives have recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon, a piece of wood, Cole said. Officials believe Van Dyke was killed by blunt force trauma after an argument over missing property occurred between the roommates.

Investigators recovered of some of Van Dyke’s property at ranches in Hays County after a search warrant was issued.

Van Dyke was reported missing Dec. 27 by his mother, Belinda Van Dyke.

During the interview with investigators, Belinda Van Dyke said her son made special arrangements to come home for Christmas and spend time with his family, Cole said.

No additional arrests are in the works, but the search for more key information continues, Cole said. Area ponds have been searched by search and rescue dive teams.

Cole said he expects more information to be available soon, but the investigation will “go for a while” as processing evidence continues.

Cole said Van Dyke’s family has cooperated fully throughout the investigation.

“For what they’re going through they’re holding up very well,” he said.

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January 22, 2010

Hays County officials searching for missing kayaker

Hays County Sheriff’s officials are asking for the public’s assistance in finding a kayaker that hasn’t been seen since Thursday evening, Deputy Mike Thielen said.

Ian Townsend, 34, was kayaking on the Blanco River in the Wimberley area with a friend when he decided to take a rest on the bank of the river, Thielen said. His friend told authorities that he went down river and Townsend was missing when he returned to pick him up, Thielen said.

Townsend is about 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds. He is partially bald with brown, thinning hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hays County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 393-7896.

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Man arrested, charged with capital murder in Jan. 6 shooting

UPDATE: Austin police said today that they have made an arrest in the Jan. 6 shooting death of 19-year-old Justin Jamal Mendez in East Austin. Officials say they have arrested David King, 19, in the slaying, which was the first homicide in Austin in 2010.

King has been charged with capital murder and is in the Travis County Jail on $1 million bail.

During an investigation, witnesses gave detectives information leading to King, who was arrested at a North Austin hotel last night, police detective Chris Smyth said.

FROM JAN. 6:

Police are investigating the shooting death of 19-year-old Justin Jamal Mendez early this morning in East Austin.

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Officers received a 911 call about 12:45 a.m. from a friend of Mendez, who reported that they were in a car and Mendez was bleeding, Austin police Cpl. Scott Perry said.

Perry said that when officers arrived to the 4600 block of Bandera Road near the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Springdale Road, they found Mendez had been shot. He died at the scene.

Perry said that another person at the scene took himself to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, but the nature of those injuries was not immediately clear.

“Obviously, there was some sort of altercation, but we don’t know what type of altercation or even where it occurred,” Perry said.

Homicide detectives are investigating what happened. Perry asked that anyone with information call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

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January 19, 2010

Man charged with DWI after attempting to enter police garage

An Austin man remains in jail today after police officials said he accidentally tried to drive into the Austin Police Department’s parking garage Thursday, according to an arrest affidavit.

The garage is not public, and police said 24-year-old Kelly Lovato, pictured at right, was stopped after pulling up to the garage’s exit gates, the affidavit said.

Lovato told an officer at the gate that he was on the way to visit a friend at the hospital but his passengers told him to turn into the police station garage, the affidavit said. The officer said Lovato was very nervous and had dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes, which are signs of intoxication, according to the affidavit. It said Lovato admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking about three draft beers.

Lovato refused field sobriety tests, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. According to court records, he was also charged with possession of marijuana, two ounces or less.

He was in the Travis County jail this afternoon with bond set at $42,000.

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January 15, 2010

Austinite added to DPS most wanted list

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A man whose last known address was in Austin has been added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s list of top 10 most wanted fugitives, officials said in a statement.

Aaron Edward Binion, 40, is wanted for violating his parole on an assault on a public servant charge, officials said. His last address was listed as in the 5600 block of Maple Leaf Drive in Northeast Austin, according to the DPS’s Web site.

Officials said Binion assaulted a jailer at the Travis County Jail in 2008 after he was told he would have to wait in line to make a collect call. He was released in October to a halfway house in Del Valle and disappeared, officials said.

He is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs about 220 pounds, according to Web site. He has scars on his left and right forearms, abdomen, left shoulder, face left eyebrow and forehead.

He also has tattoos on his left arm, upper right arm and back. No description of the tattoos was provided.

Anyone with information on where to find Binion is asked to call the Texas Crime Stoppers tip line at (800) 252-8477.

Binion is the second person connected to Austin on the list. Robert Barrera, 27, who has been on the list since October of 2008, is wanted on charges of burglary of a habitation, obstructing police and escaping, DPS officials said.

To view the entire top 10 list, click here.

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January 11, 2010

SWAT standoff at Barton Creek home

Travis County deputies and SWAT are negotiating with an armed man who has barricaded himself inside a home on Warbler Way in the Barton Creek Neighborhood of western Travis County, officials said.

(The following photo, taken by Barton Creek resident Matt Curtin, is of a SWAT vehicle driving to the scene of the standoff.)

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Sheriff office spokesman Roger Wade said shortly after deputies arrived after 4 p.m., shots were fired inside the home. Wade said it appears no one was injured.

Wade said a crisis intervention team is trying to talk the man into coming out of the home. Wade said he did not know if the man lived there or was visiting but said no one else was inside the home with him.

Residents in the neighborhood said via Twitter that they heard six shots come from the home and said that more than 20 law enforcement vehicles have surrounded the house.


View Larger Map

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Police: Altercation lead to 19-year-old Wimberley man's death

According to a press release:

San Marcos Police Department officials are investigating the circumstances of an early Saturday morning altercation that claimed the life of a 19-year-old Wimberley man.

At 2:56 a.m. Saturday, officers arrived at the Central Texas Medical Center, where two friends had taken Christopher Blab of Wimberley with a head injury. He was taken by helicopter to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin.

Blab died about 6 p.m. Sunday.

San Marcos detectives are investigating the death, which they said is tied to an incident at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of N. Interstate 35 in San Marcos. According to police, Blab was injured during an altercation in which he fell and struck his head.

Following their investigation, detectives will turn the case over to the Hays County District Attorney’s office for review.

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Killeen police investigating death of Belton man

According to a news release:

Killeen Police Department officials are investigating the death of a 29-year-old Belton man who was found on Sunday just before 9 p.m.

Officers responded to the 6100 block of Stillwood Drive at 8:45 p.m. after receiving a 911 call about a male who was not moving in the wooded area behind the residence. Upon arrival, they met with the caller and with members of the Harker Heights Police and Fire departments.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the man left a club in Harker Heights on foot about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. The family had not heard from him since that time. Family members began searching and found him in this wooded area. The resident heard voices behind the house, and when he saw why they were there, he called 911.

Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke pronounced Isidro Hernandez-Cordero deceased at 9:20 p.m. and ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

The cause of death is undetermined at this time; detectives are awaiting the results of the autopsy.

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

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January 8, 2010

Austin Police release New Year's Eve no refusal numbers

Austin police arrested 24 people and charged them driving while intoxicated on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as part of the department’s “No Refusal” initiative, according to statistics released today.

The arrests were made between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and about 46 percent of those arrested had a blood alcohol concentration level that was twice the legal limit of .08, according to a police department news release.

Of the 24, five people refused to give a sample of their breath or blood. Their blood was drawn after a judge signed a search warrant.

One person consented to a blood draw, the release said.

Of those arrested, the highest blood alcohol concentration level measured through breath was .214 and and lowest was .088, according to the release. The person with the highest level measured through a blood draw was .21 and the lowest was .12.

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January 7, 2010

Man charged in fatal taco stand shooting

Austin police have charged a man in the December shooting death of a South Austin taco stand worker after his fingerprints were found on a bottle at the scene, according to an arrest warrant.

Jose Rodriguez, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder and his bail has been set at $1 million. He is not yet in custody.

According to the warrant, Irma Lopez-Benitez, the wife of the victim, told investigators that a Hispanic man ordered food and was given a glass bottle of orange soda. Moments later, she said, she heard shots being fired into the trailer on South Congress Avenue near Stassney Lane and saw her husband, Mario Carbajal-Plata, fall to the ground.

Another witness said they saw a man at the window of the taco stand with something he thought was a staple gun in his hand. He then saw a man place the object in his hand up to the window and heard gunshots, the affidavit said.

Officials at the scene recovered a bottle, drew fingerprints from it and had them analyzed at the police crime lab, the affidavit said. The results matched those of Rodriguez, and his height and weight matched that of descriptions witnesses provided.

Police officials at the time said that a man wearing a dark jacket and dark baseball hat walked up to the taco trailer, near Professional Automotive Services, and placed a food order. When Plata and a woman in the trailer started to prepare the food, the gunman shot and killed Plata and fled, officers said.

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January 6, 2010

Death at UT 'not suspicious,' police say

University of Texas police are saying the death of a woman, who was in her early 20s and was found by a cleaning crew Wednesday morning, is not suspicious.

UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom said the department first investigated the death at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at 1900 University Avenue as suspicious, but upon further investigation he said there was no foul play in the woman’s death.

Dahlstrom said the woman was found about 3 p.m. and a notice was sent out to UT students as a precaution.

He did not identify the woman due to pending family notification. He declined to comment on how the woman died.

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December 29, 2009

Police plan 'no refusal' New Year's Eve

Austin police plan to have the blood of drunken driving suspects who refuse breath tests drawn during the New Year’s Eve holiday, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials said officers would seek search warrants for the blood of suspects who refuse breath tests after 9 p.m. Thursday and before 5 a.m. Friday.

According to police, about 25 percent of last year’s traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

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December 28, 2009

Austin police investigating officer-involved fatal shooting

Updated to reflect correct spelling of name of neighbor, Jeremy Read.

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An Austin police officer and Travis County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a man at a house in far South Austin early today after officials said he pointed a gun at them while they investigated a report of domestic violence.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said authorities received a 911 call shortly before 3 a.m. from a woman inside a home in the 11800 block of Johnny Weismuller Lane. The woman reported that she was locked in a bathroom and feared her boyfriend, who also was inside the house, officials said.

Acevedo said a Travis County sheriff’s deputy who was in the area arrived at the scene about five minutes later. Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Art Cardenas said the deputy awaited the arrival of Austin police officers before approaching the home.

Acevedo said authorities made contact with the woman, who told them her boyfriend had been distraught throughout the day and that a rifle was inside the home.

He said authorities made several attempts to get the man to exit the home, and that he came out at about 3:18 a.m. and pointed the gun at the officers in a “threatening manner.”

Acevedo said the officers feared for their safety and opened fire.

Officers at the scene performed CPR on the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, Acevedo said.

Police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said that the officers’ dashboard cameras were activated, in accordance with department policy, but captured only audio of the shooting because the vehicles were parked on the street, facing away from the house where the shooting took place.

Acevedo said he has met with family members of the man this morning and explained what happened. The man’s identity was not immediately available.

Police are expected to provide more details of the incident at a 1:30 p.m. press conference at Austin police headquarters.

Jeremy Read, who lives two doors down from the house where the shooting took place, said the couple who lived there had quarreled loudly a handful of times, “but they didn’t draw much attention to themselves.” Read said he’d seen children there from time to time.

Read, who lives in the Olympic Heights subdivision, near the intersection of Manchaca Road and Slaughter Lane, said he and his wife had returned early Monday morning from a vacation in Florida and were unpacking the car shortly before the shooting. Reid said that he and his wife went inside their home when the sheriff’s deputy arrived but kept the door cracked. The woman sounded upset, he said.

Officers shouted “get down” several times before the shots were fired, Read said. Then, he closed the door and hurried upstairs.

“I was in shock,” Read said. “This is a really quiet and safe neighborhood.”

Olympic Heights has been built in sections over about the last five years. The shooting happened near the entrance off Frate Barker Road, in a new section with well-kept two-story houses and close-cropped lawns. For most of the morning, police cruisers blocked the entrance while the block in which the shooting occurred was cordoned off by yellow police tape.

Austin police, sheriff’s officials and the Texas Rangers — at the request of the sheriff’s office — will investigate the shooting, Acevedo said.

“We are investigating the full portion of our involvement,” Cardenas said.

Officials for both agencies declined to identify the officers, but said they will be placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure.

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Man arrested after North Austin fatal shooting

Austin Police Department officials said they have arrested a suspect in the shooting of a man found dead Sunday in his apartment in the 8800 block of North Plaza.

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Louis Gonzalez (pictured right) has been charged with murder, and bail has been set at $100,000. He is currently in the Travis County Jail.

Police officials did not name the victim, saying his next of kin has not been notified.

Investigators said officers responded to reports of a shooting just before 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pebble Creek Apartments and found a man in an apartment with gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Austin Travis County EMS.

Gonzalez and a third man had an argument over a woman that they had both dated at some point, Sgt. Joseph Chacon said. Officials did not name the man involved in the dispute — which they said was the motive in the shooting — but said the man was not in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

Gonzalez came to the apartment Sunday and knocked on the door. Police said Gonzalez fired at least one gunshot into the apartment when someone opened the door.

Gonzalez, 23, was located and taken into custody today without incident, police said.

According to court records, Gonzalez has a previous charge of misdemeanor assualt/family violence pending. Court records show no prior felonies on his record.

Officials said the investigation into the incident — Austin’s 22nd homicide of 2009 — continues, and anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Unit at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477 (TIPS).

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Bail set for man arrested in Temple shooting death

Bail for a Temple man who police say shot and killed a man and severely injured a woman on Friday has been set at $1 million, Temple Police Sgt. Brad Hunt said.

Jeffrey Lynn Treacher, 55, has been charged with murder, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison, according to a jail official.

Police say Treacher forced his way into a residence in the 4900 block of Midway Drive on Friday and shot Mark Allen Gibbs, 43, of Austin, and 42-year-old Kim Allen Treacher, who is Jeffrey Treacher’s estranged wife. Hunt said Jeffrey Treacher was waiting for authorities on the front porch of the house when he was arrested.

Kim Treacher was taken to Scott & White Hospital in serious condition with gunshot wounds to her torso, Hunt said. Hunt said this afternoon that her condition had improved.

He said Jeffrey Treacher could face additional felony charges relating to the shootings.

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December 18, 2009

Argument led to stabbings, police say

UPDATE:

Austin police Cpl. Scott Perry said this afternoon that the incident this morning in which two people were stabbed was the result of a fight and was not a carjacking.

Everyone involved in the assault has been located, Perry said, and there have been no arrests. The assault followed a verbal argument, he said.

The victims suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, he said.

EARLIER: Austin police this morning were looking into the circumstances of a car jacking in South Austin in which two men were stabbed.

The victims who were cut while they were ordered out of their Chevrolet Cavalier about 5 a.m. on Dove Springs Road near Stassney and Palo Blanco lanes, according to police.

Police said the injuries were not life threatening, but the name of the hospital where they were treated was not immediately available.

We will provide further information about the incident and the suspects when it becomes available.

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Man accused of threatening to shoot city workers

A man who got repairs on his street halted by threatening to shoot workers with his shotgun has been charged with making a terroristic threat.

Austin Police charged Vernon J. Gomez, 66, with a third degree felony for making angry and profane calls on Dec. 7 threatening to shoot crews with the Street and Bridge Division of the city’s Public Works Department, according to an affidavit filed today.

A supervisor ordered street repairs being done in the area of the suspect’s home in the 4600 block of Cliffstone Cove suspended until Austin Police investigated the threats and the matter was resolved, the affidavit said.

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December 16, 2009

Pedi-cab hit and run help needed

Austin Police detectives are seeking witnesses and information about driver who fled after hitting a pedi-cab in the early morning of Nov. 15 in the 500 block of W. 5th St.

The operator of the pedi-cab and two passengers suffered injuries that were not life threatening, but required they be hospitalized at University Medical Center at Brackenridge.

The pedi-cab was eastbound on W. 5th St. when it was struck from behind by a white, early 1990s model Ford Bronco, according to police. The three victims were thrown from the pedi-cab as the driver of the Bronco fled south on Guadalupe Street, police said.

Anyone with information that would aid in the investigation into the collision may call the Vehicular Homicide Unit at 974-5520.

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December 15, 2009

Police officer charged with illegal prescription drug buys

A veteran of the Round Rock Police Department is on administrative leave after being arrested and charged with obtaining prescription medication through fraud.

Donald D’Amour, who has been with the Round Rock police for four years, surrendered to Travis County authorities Monday night after a Travis County judge issued warrants for his arrest, according to Round Rock police spokesman Eric Poteet.

Pflugerville police charged D’Amour with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a third-degree felony, according to arrest warrants filed today

Round Rock Police Chief Bryan Williams placed D’Amour, 32, on administrative leave on Nov. 23 after the Pflugerville Police Department notified him that D’Amour was being investigated for fraudulently placing and picking up two prescriptions for hydrocodone, a powerful and addictive pain killer, according the arrest warrants.

A pharmacist at an H-E-B pharmacy notified Pflugerville police when she became suspicious of a call to fill a prescription on Nov. 20, the arrest warrants said. The suspect allegedly asked for hydrocodone through a doctor at a pain care facility where the suspect was not a patient, the warrants said.

Pflugerville Police recovered videos shot at separate H-E-B pharmacies in Pflugerville on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 showing the suspect picking up the narcotic with fraudulent prescriptions, the warrants said.

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December 14, 2009

Kyle police investigate shooting

A man and his mother were being treated today at University Medical Center Brackenridge after Kyle police officials said the man on Saturday shot his mother and then shot himself.

Officials did not name or ages of the victim or her son. No charges had been filed Monday afternoon.

Police responded to a 911 call about 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the 500 block of Zebra Lane and found the man on the first floor of the home with a gunshot wound tohis head. The woman was on the stairs with gunshot wounds to her legs.

The woman and her son had argued, officials said. The man walked out of the home armed with a 9mm pistol, then turned and fired back into the house, striking his mother, officials said.

The man then went back into the home, where he shot himself in the head, officials said.

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December 13, 2009

APD calls off manhunt for suspect in fatal shooting

Austin Police Department officials said they will continue to investigate a homicide that happened today in the 5500 block of South Congress Avenue but for now have called off the manhunt for the suspected shooter.

With the sun setting, police officials said they are calling off the helicopter and canine searches that have been underway since a man was shot and killed at a South Austin taco trailer about 3 p.m. today.

Officer Dennis Farris said that a man wearing a dark jacket and a dark baseball hat walked up to the taco trailer, near Professional Automotive at 5427 S. Congress Ave., placed a food order, and when the man and woman inside the trailer started to prepare the food, the suspect shot and killed the man and fled the scene.

Police would not release the name of the 43-year-old victim.

Nothing was taken from the trailer. Farris said the motive for the shooting is unclear.

The suspected shooter is in his mid-20s, Farris said, and about 5-feet 7-inches tall. Farris said the suspect fled on foot going east. As of 5:15 p.m., he was not in custody.

City and county health department officials reported in August that Austin has 1,043 licensed mobile vendors. Farris said the shooting is the 21st homicide in Austin this year.

Check back here for details as they become available.


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December 4, 2009

Man accused of tampering with physical evidence in September death

A Round Rock man has been charged with tampering with physical evidence relating to the September death of Jessica Kalaher, Cedar Park police said.

Crispin Harmel, 29, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the third degree felony. He was arrested today and was being transferred to the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $100,000, police said.

Kalaher’s body was found in her car Sept. 7 in a shopping center parking lot on Walton Way in Cedar Park, police said. Family members had reported her missing earlier that day, police said.

Police later said investigators believed foul play was involved and her death was being investigated as suspicious.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said the Travis County Medical Examiner has not yet reached a conclusion in the cause or manner of Kalaher’s death.

It was unclear Friday evening exactly what evidence Harmel was accused of tampering with.

Cedar Park Police Capt. Jeff Hayes today would not discuss further details relating to the case.

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December 2, 2009

Barton Creek hijacking suspects arrested in Round Rock

Officials said that two men who carjacked a vehicle at the Barton Creek Square mall this afternoon have been arrested. No one was injured.

Helena Wright, a spokeswoman with the Police Department, said a vehicle was taken from at least one person in the parking lot of Dillard’s at the mall about 2:30 p.m.

The suspects were stopped and arrested in Round Rock about 4 p.m., police said.

Wright said it was not known if the suspects displayed a weapon during the hijacking.

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November 30, 2009

Police: Student took loaded gun to Cedar Park High School

A 15-year-old student took a loaded handgun to Cedar Park High School on Monday, police said.

The student, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was arrested and charged with having a weapon in a prohibited place, a third degree felony.

The student did not threaten anyone with the gun, according to Leander ISD spokesman Dick Ellis. A letter from school principal Barbara Spelman was sent home with students alerting parents of the incident. Read the letter here.

A school resource officer took the boy into custody about 11:30 a.m. He was being held this afternoon at the Williamson County Juvenile Justice Center in Georgetown, according to a news release.

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Man charged with impersonating an officer

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An armed man who tried to enter an East Austin apartment Saturday night by identifying himself and his dog as sworn officers was charged with impersonating a public servant, according to an affidavit filed today.

An police officer arrested Chad Heck, 28, just after 7:30 p.m. outside the apartment in the 4900 block of E. Oltorf Street. The occupants of the apartment called 911 after a man asked permission to enter the apartment.

The man who answered the door told police the suspect identified himself as a government official and an off-duty officer. He asked to be allowed to investigate what he later told police was a woman’s scream in the apartment complex, the affidavit said.

The investigating officer handcuffed the suspect after noticing the handle of what later turned out to be a pellet gun tucked into the front of the suspect’s pants, the affidavit said.

When the officer asked the suspect if he was a sworn officer he said no, but added that he was an inactive Navy SEAL. The dog with the suspect was a mixed breed that did not appear to the officer to be the kind trained for police work.

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November 24, 2009

Customer fends off would-be robber

A customer wrestled a shotgun away from a man who was trying to rob a Dripping Springs store earlier this evening, according to The Hays County Sheriff’s Office. The gun went off, but no one was injured and the suspect quickly fled, the sheriff’s office said.

The incident happened about 6 p.m. at the DS Grocery at 601 U.S. 290, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

The man came into the convenience/grocery store and was wearing a white mask over his face, which officials said looked like a pillow case. He was holding a shotgun and demanded money from the clerk, the statement said.

A customer in the store grabbed the shotgun when the clerk handed the suspect the money, and the two wrestled for it before the gun went off, striking the ceiling.

The suspect dropped the gun — and the money — when he fled the store. He jumped into a dark colored Honda that another person was driving and they fled east on 290.

No injuries were reported.

Deputies are describing the suspect as an approximately 24-year-old male, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, and was wearing blue jeans and a grey UT sweatshirt.

Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to please contact the Hays County Sheriff’s Office at 393-7896.

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Killeen police investigate Sunday murder of Ft. Hood soldier

UPDATE: Fort Hood officials have issued a statement with more information on the soldier who was stabbed to death Sunday:

Spc. David L. Middlebrooks, 20, of Marianna, Fla., was pronounced dead at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center by Justice of the Peace Garland K. Potvin.

Middlebrooks joined the military in July 2007 as an infantryman and was assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since November 2007.

Middlebrooks deployed in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from June 2008 through June 2009.

Middlebrooks’ decorations and awards include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

EARLIER:

According to a statement by the Killeen Police Department:

Killeen Police are investigating the death of a 20 year old Fort Hood soldier that occurred on Sunday, November 22, 2009, just before 5:00am.

Officer responded to the 100 block of Prather Drive after receiving a 911 call stating that someone had been stabbed. Upon the officers arrival they found the male victim in the front yard on the ground with a stab wound to the chest area; he was transported to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. Witnesses told the officers that the suspect had left the scene. The preliminary investigation revealed that the residents at 111 Prather Drive were hosting a party when the victim was involved in a disturbance with another male. Witnesses advised the male stabbed the victim and fled the area. The suspect was located and detained by the Fort Hood Military Police and later turned over to the Killeen Police Department; he was transported to the Killeen City Jail.

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The victim, David Lester Middlebrooks, was pronounced deceased by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin at 6:50am; an autopsy was ordered to be performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

This case was reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney’s Office and a complaint was returned charging Donnie Kenneth Stevens Jr. (pictured), a Fort Hood soldier, with Murder. Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin set his bond at $1,000,000; he will be transferred to the Bell County Jail later today.

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

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November 23, 2009

APD reports shots fired near Austin High School

Police with the Austin school district said tonight that a 17-year-old Austin High School student turned himself in hours after shots rang out near the campus at 1715 W. Cesar Chavez St. and the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

Police said no one was injured in the shooting. The suspect’s name has not been released because he has not yet been charged with a crime, officials said.

Two teens — both believed to be Austin High students — got into argument over girls about 5 p.m. on Stephen F. Austin Boulevard, said Austin school district Lt. Eric Mendez. One teen got into a car with two or three other people and attempted to drive away after the other displayed a weapon, which is believed to be a .22 caliber rifle, Mendez said.

The 17-year-old grabbed the rifle from the trunk of his car and fired at least four shots at the fleeing vehicle, Mendez said. At least four bullets hit the car; one bullet blew out a window, he said.

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Officials said detectives are still investigating the incident and did not provide further details.


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Killeen City Hall burglar sought

Killeen police said a man broke into City Hall, 101 N. College St., in the hours before custodians opened the building.

Custodians reported that they arrived at 4:15 a.m. to find the front door forced open and the building burglarized, police officials said in a statement.

Police did not release details of what was taken.

The suspect caught on surveillance footage is a black man wearing a black beanie cap. Later footage shows he appears to be partially bald. He is about six-feet to six-feet, two-inches tall and weighs 160 to 180 pounds. He was wearing a blue plaid shirt or jacket, a white tee shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes with dark laces.

Anyone with information about the burglary should call police at 254-501-8800 or contact Crime Stoppers at 254-526-8477 or www.killeencrimestoppers.com.

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Taylor man accused of killing woman at his estranged wife's apartment

Taylor police have charged 43-year-old Juan Estrada with murder in connection with the Saturday shooting death of a 40-year-old woman.

Police today identified the victim as Rachel Ramirez. Police accused Estrada, a Taylor resident, with shooting Ramirez at the apartment of his estranged wife, Denise Sanchez.

Taylor police officers found Ramirez’s body after they were called about a suspicious person trying to force his way into an apartment at 1:21 a.m. Saturday on Old Thorndale Road, according to an arrest affidavit.

Estrada told police that Sanchez had come over to his residence at 7 p.m. Friday and had sex with him, the affidavit said. They had discussed getting back together and then Sanchez left saying she needed to pick up her daughter, according to the affidavit.

Estrada said he later went looking for his wife at her apartment, the affidavit said. Estrada told police that while standing outside his wife’s apartment, he heard her talking to a man and then heard her going into a back room with the man, the warrant said.

Sanchez was one of several people at the apartment, the affidavit said.

Estrada said he broke through the front door with his shotgun, according to the affidavit. Once he was inside the apartment, he went to the room where his wife was with the other man, the warrant said.

According to the affidavit, Ramirez was standing outside of the door holding it closed. She told Estrada that his wife was not home, the affidavit said.

It was unclear from the affidavit when Ramirez was shot. Police officials could not immediately be reached for clarification.

Estrada said he then went through the bedroom and found a naked man in the corner of a bathroom, the warrant said. The man was in a fetal position begging for his life, Estrada told police.

Estrada told police that the man then attacked him, according to the affidavit. Estrada was later treated at a hospital for injuries sustained in the fight, police said.

Sanchez told police that she was in her bedroom with another person when she heard popping noises, the affidavit said. Sanchez also told police that Estrada forced his way into her bathroom and began fighting with another man who was with her, the warrant said.

The affidavit states that Sanchez told police that she heard Estrada yelling, “What are y’all doing here? Y’all don’t belong here.”

Taylor police said today that Estrada was being held at the Williamson County Jail without bail.

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Man arrested in home invasion robbery

Williamson County sheriff’s officials have arrested a man in connection with a home invasion robbery earlier this month.

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Cedrick Dayron Foley, 22, has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Foley (pictured at right) was being held at the Williamson County Jail this afternoon with bail set at $80,000.

Sheriff’s officials said that on Nov. 6, Foley and two other people, a man and a woman, entered a unit in the La Monterone Apartments, 7711 O’Conner Drive, West of RM 620, with a handgun. A witness later identified Foley, and he was arrested on Nov. 17, according to a statement released today.

The home invasion happened at the same apartment complex as a second home invasion robbery on last week, the release said.

In that robbery, officials say two men on Wednesday knocked on the door of an apartment, pointed a gun at the resident and took several items, including a plasma television.

John Maxwell Green, 20, was later arrested in connection with that robbery and is being held in the Williamson County Jail with bail set at $75,000.

Williamson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Foster said deputies are investigating whether the two robberies were related.

He said officials are still searching for the three other suspects in the robberies.

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November 20, 2009

Man arrested in home invasion robbery

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Williamson County sheriff’s officials have arrested a man they say burst into a home and robbed a man at gunpoint on Wednesday afternoon.

John Maxwell Green, 20, has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. He was being held at the Williamson County Jail today with bail set at $75,000.

About 1:45 p.m., officials say Green knocked on the door of an apartment in the 7700 block of O’Connor Drive, West of RM 620, according to an arrest affidavit. When the resident opened the door, Green pointed a gun at him while a second man entered the apartment and helped carry out a 42 inch plasma screen television, a Play Station 3, and a cellular phone, the affidavit said.

The resident called police when the men left and a sheriff’s office crime scene specialist later matched a fingerprint found on a banister in the home to Green, the affidavit said.

The whereabouts of the second man suspected of participating in the robbery was unclear in the affidavit.


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November 19, 2009

Missing 16-year-old found dead

Three teens have been charged in the death of a Killeen 16-year-old whose body was found earlier today.

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James Johnson III, pictured above right, had been missing for more than a week. He was last seen Nov. 11 at his home at the 3600 block of Palm Tree Drive in Killeen, police said. His mother told police that he was sleeping when she left the house, but when she returned at 8:30 p.m., he was not home.

His parents were unable to reach him on his cell phone, and Killeen police began investigating the case on Monday, officials said.

Johnson’s body was found in Bell County, just north of Temple on FM 1237 at 2:15 a.m.

Investigators said they followed leads that lead them to arrest a 16-year-old boy and Paul Andrew Cantu of Waco and Victor Villarreal Jr. of Fort Hood. Cantu and Villareal, who are both 17, are in the Bell County Jail. Their bail is set at $1 million each.

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The 16-year-old, whose name was not released because of his age, was taken to the Bell County Juvenile Detention Center.

Police did not release details of the crime or what caused Johnson’s death.

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November 16, 2009

Former Elgin police officer sentenced to three years for child porn

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A Bastrop County jury sentenced a former Elgin police officer to three years in prison today for possession of child pornography.

Orval Roger Miller, 48, was indicted in September 2007 on three felony counts of possession of child pornography, the attorney general’s office said in a statement. Miller was convicted Friday and received a three-year sentence today for one count and 10 years probation on the other two charges.

Miller was arrested in 2007 after child pornography was discovered on a thumb drive he left in a computer at the Elgin Police Department, the statement said. Miller had also stored stored his resume and personal documents on the drive.

Miller had worked as a community college police officer in Austin before working in Elgin, the statement said.

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November 14, 2009

Killeen teen charged with carrying weapon in school

From the Killeen Police Department:

A Killeen Police Officer arrested a 17-year-old male student for Unlawful Carrying Weapons at The Honors Academy Charter School located at 1001 E. Veteran’s Memorial Blvd Suite 301I, today, November 13, 2009 just after 10:30am.

A teacher with The Honors Academy Charter School made contact with a Killeen Police Officer who was working off duty in the area after she was notified that a student in the charter school had a gun in his book bag. The student and his book bag were identified by the teacher to the officer. The officer then removed the student and his book bag from the classroom and isolated him from any other students. The principal and the officer spoke with the student and the officer located a gun and a knife inside the student’s book bag; the student was taken into custody and transported to the Killeen City Jail.

UPDATE: November 14, 2009

This case was reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney’s Office and a complaint was returned charging Robert John Zenhye with Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon Prohibited Place. He was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke who set his bond at $100,000; Zenhye is currently in the Bell County Jail.

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November 10, 2009

Man jumps off Congress Bridge; now being evaluated

A man who jumped off Congress Bridge about 4:45 p.m. today is being evaluated by emergency personnel, said Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services spokesman Warren Hassinger.

Hassinger said EMS got many calls from people who witnessed the man jump off of the bridge near Cesar Chavez Boulevard. The man jumped more than 10 feet into the lake and was rescued by EMS.

Hassinger said the man was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with minor injuries.

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November 9, 2009

Father accused of endangering 1-year-old son during police chase

An 18-year-old Austin man has been accused with taking his 1-year-old son along, unprotected, in the front seat of his car during a five-mile flight from police, an affidavit released today said.

Detrion Lamont Thompson has been charged with child endangerment, a felony. Thompson has been in the Travis County Jail for robbery since his arrest Oct. 26 after the chase in North Austin, the affidavit said.

Austin police began their pursuit of Thompson after spotting a car matching the description of one used by a suspect in recent assaults and robberies of several people, according to the affidavit.

The pursuit began in heavy rain on the east frontage road in the 5600 block of North I-35 and ended in an apartment parking lot in the 1000 block of East Rundberg Lane., the affidavit said.

The arresting officers found the boy sitting in the front passenger seat without a seat belt on, the affidavit said.

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November 3, 2009

Suspect in shooting death extradited from Kentucky

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Marvin Imani Thruston, who turned himself in to Kentucky authorities after being charged in connection with the shooting death of Michael Carmicle in Austin, has been transferred to the Travis County Jail

Thruston, 29, is being held on $350,000 bail on a single felony count of first degree murder in the death of Carmicle on Sept. 26 in the 12300 block of Willow Wild Drive.

Austin Police say Thruston used a military-style rifle to shoot Carmicle execution style and then fled in a black GMC Denali. Thruston turned himself in to police in Kentucky on Oct. 6 and was booked into Travis County Jail on Oct. 26.

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Kansas murder suspect held in Austin

A 22-year-old Ogden, Kan., man is being held in the Travis County Jail on $2.5 million bail in connection with the death of an 18-year-old woman and her 15-month-old son about 45 miles west of Topeka.

Luis Antonio Aguirre has been on a hold out of Riley County, Kan., since his arrest by Austin Police officers Friday, according to paperwork filed with the Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 in Travis County.

Aguirre had been wanted since Oct. 25 in connection with the slayings of Tanya Maldonado, 18, and her 15-month-old son, Juan Luis Maldonado, according to a warrant filed in Riley County district court. The mother and son were killed sometime between Sept. 19 and Oct. 25.

A hunter found the bodies of the woman and the child Oct. 25 in shallow graves in a field northwest of Ogden.

Kansas authorities intend to extradite Aguirre to face murder charges in Riley County, according to the warrant.

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San Marcos PD seeks public's help in solving assault

According to an announcement from Hays County Crime Stoppers:

On Monday, October 19th, 2009 at approximately 12:46am, a male was assaulted in the 1600 block of Post Road in San Marcos by an unknown offender wielding a baseball bat. The victim encountered the suspect in front of one of the four-plex buildings on the East side of Post Road, across the street from the Mosscliff Apartment Complex. For no known reason to the victim, he was assaulted by the suspect. A fight ensued with the victim trying to defend himself. The victim was able to ward off his attacker. The suspect fled the area on foot; his direction of travel is unknown.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male wearing a dark colored hoodie and jeans. San Marcos Police Investigators were able to recover shoes, a Hockey mask and a baseball bat at the scene of the assault that might have belonged to the suspect. Other than that, there are no viable leads and the San Marcos Police Department is asking for your help to solve this violent assault.

If you have any information that could help the San Marcos Police Department solve this Felony crime, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-324-TIPS (8477). If your information leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspect(s), you will be eligible for a CASH reward of up to $1,000. All calls are totally confidential and all callers will remain anonymous. You do not have to give your name and you will not have to testify in court.

Hays County Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 CASH for information that helps Law Enforcement agencies solve Felony Crimes.

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October 31, 2009

Travis County deputies make arrest in homicide

UPDATE: Detectives have located and taken, 34-year-old Orbelin Benitez, into custody. He has been charged with murder, the punishment for which is 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to a $10,000. This is the fifth homicide investigated by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in 2009.

EARLIER: Travis County sheriff’s deputies are looking for a man they believe may have shot another man and left him for dead on his family’s front porch.

Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, said that deputies were called to the 6700 block of Starcrest Lane in Northeast Austin near U.S. 290 and Springdale Road at 3:44 a.m. this morning.

A family member found a man dead on the front porch of the family’s home, Wade said. Officials pronounced the man deceased at 4:08 a.m. Officials said the man may have been shot, but are waiting for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the man’s identity and cause of death.

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Sheriff’s deputies are looking for 34-year-old Orbelin Benitez, who they are describing as a person of interest in connection with the fifth homicide investigation sheriff’s deputies have investigated this year. Benitez is 5’ 4” tall, about 120 pounds and was last seen wearing a red shirt and white pants.

Anyone with information about Mr. Benitez’s whereabouts is asked to call Detective Alan Howard at (512) 854-4976 or Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS (472-8477).

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October 29, 2009

Two men charged in apartment robbery

Two men used a long gun to rob two other men inside their apartment in the 1100 block of Pleasant Valley Drive on Oct. 23, according to an arrest affidavit, and the men were arrested after a deputy happened to pull them over several hours after the robbery.

The affidavit says the two men knocked on the door of the apartment around 2 a.m. and a man answered. The two men asked for the roommate of the man who answered the door, it said. The suspects stepped into the apartment when the victim went to see if his roommate was home, the affidavit said, then ordered both roommates at gunpoint to get on the floor.

Before fleeing, the suspects stole the men’s wallets, cameras, mobile phone, a watch, and four laptop computers, the affidavit says.

A few hours later near Manor, a sheriff’s deputy stopped a car for a traffic violation, the affidavit said. The deputy found the stolen items in the car and arrested Dominique Bryant and Ladarius Herring, the affidavit said.

Byant, 18, whose according to the documents lives in the 13600 block of Glen Mark Drive in Austin, remained in the Travis County Jail on Thursday with bail set at $40,000.

Herring, 18, whose address was listed in the 3000 block of East 16th Street in Austin, was released on a $60,000 bond. Both are charged with felony aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison if they are convicted.

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Police seek help finding road rage shooting suspect

Austin police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a road rage suspect, who police say fired two shots and injured a man in a car about 11:20 p.m. while driving south in the 4000 block of North Interstate 35 on Oct. 8.

Police say details are fuzzy, but that the suspect, who was driving a white Dodge Ram extended-cab pickup with dark tinted windows, cut off the victim near Airport Boulevard.

Police said the suspect then started pumping his brakes, and the victim switched lanes to get around him. The suspect then slowed until the victim caught up, and the man driving fired two shots at the car, striking a male who was driving.

The male was taken to a nearby hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.

Police described the suspect as a white male in his 20s with short blond hair and a goatee.

Any witnesses are asked to call the Central West Detective Unit at 974-5320 or 911.


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Daycare provider accused of burning child with hot water

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Williamson County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a daycare provider accused of putting a 3-year-old boy’s hands under scalding hot water, causing second- and third-degree burns, according to an arrest affidavit.

Scott Hudson, 35, was arrested Wednesday and charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison. He was being held in the Williamson County Jail today with bail set at $80,000.

On Tuesday, deputies learned that the boy was being treated at Dell Children’s Hospital for second- and third-degree burns throughout his left and right hands, the affidavit said.

The next day, officials said in the affidavit, Hudson told investigators that he put the child’s hands in hot water from the bathroom sink faucet at a home in the 8400 block of Jackal Drive. Deputies said the water was more than 140 degrees, according to the document.

It was unclear on Thursday whether Hudson provided investigators a reason for placing the child’s hands in the hot water.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesman Chris Van Deusen said Hudson does not have a permit to operate a daycare. He said an application for a permit to care for up to three children was submitted a few weeks ago but had not yet been approved.

Van Duesen and Williamson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Foster said they didn’t know whether Hudson was caring for any other children at the home at the time of the incident.

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Police: Woman found passed out in idling car, with child

A 22-year-old woman passed out behind the wheel of a running car with her 2-year-old sitting in the back seat, police said, has been charged with felony driving while intoxicated.

Rebecca Graham was held in the Travis County Jail today after being taken into custody early Wednesday, according to an arrest affidavit filed today.

An Austin police officer noticed smoke coming from the front of a Pontiac idling in the 2400 block of Cromwell Circle. When the officer knocked on the window, Graham awakened briefly and went back to sleep, the affidavit said.

The officer managed to rouse the woman and removed the child from the car, according to the document.

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October 28, 2009

Police charge woman in connection with debit card thefts

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Police have charged a 29-year-old woman in connection with a series of cases during which men had their credit and debit cards stolen by women they met while drinking on Sixth Street.

Crystal Cooley was arrested Oct. 5 in Georgia on an unrelated case, Austin police officials announced today. She has been charged with debit card abuse in connection to about a dozen incidents that were reported in downtown Austin since 2008 in which men said they met the women at closing time at bars and later woke up to find missing credit and ATM cards.

Victims have lost thousands of dollars, investigators said earlier this year. Police suspected three or four women in their 20s and 30s from out of state were involved in the theft ring.

“That’s why this makes this investigation so difficult probably because we have no record of them in Texas through DPS or photos,” Austin police Det. Brenda Bauzon said at the time.

Bauzon said today that one of the suspects used a Georgia driver’s license on April 25 to check into a Northwest Austin hotel room where one of the victims woke up.

Bauzon then looked for similar cases of debit card abuse in Georgia and found a warrant in Fulton County for Cooley, including a mug shot. Bauzon was able to match that photo with surveillance video from earlier investigations into the theft ring.

Bauzon said she has not yet determined Cooley’s ties to Austin but said police have reason to believe Cooley and the women also went through Dallas and stole from several more men.

Austin police have no leads on the other women involved. Bauzon said between four and six women were part of the ring, but she believes Cooley was the ring leader.

Detectives said the women drove a blue mini van, a white Chevrolet Suburban, a silver Chrysler 300 and white four-door Chevrolet sedan.

Investigators said one woman would shadow victims while they withdraw money from an ATM in the Sixth Street area to get their PIN, Bauzon said. Another would follow the men to a bar around closing time and offer to buy him a drink.

It wasn’t clear to police whether the drinks were drugged or whether the men were simply drunk when they agreed to go home with the woman, Bauzon said.

In the April 25 incident, a 28-year-old man went to an ATM on Congress Avenue before he went drinking at the Moose Knuckle bar, Bauzon said.

The man said he was approached by a woman but he was not sure how she lured him away, Bauzon said.

The man woke up in a Northwest Austin hotel room to find his wallet on the floor with his debit card missing, she said. He checked with his bank and discovered several unauthorized withdrawals, police said.

Video surveillance from a WalMart in Northwest Austin that showed one of the women using the man’s debit card, Bauzon said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 974-5290 or Crimestoppers at 472-8477.

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October 27, 2009

Deputies investigating murder-suicide

Travis County Sheriff’s deputies said today that man and a woman were found shot to death in a murder-suicide Monday evening in the 10000 block of McAngus Road in southern Travis County near the Austin-Bergstrom Airport.

Somebody found 30-year-old Victor Colombo and 29-year-old Rita Marie Granados dead inside the trailer where Granados lived about 5:21 p.m. Monday and called 911, said Roger Wade, a spokesman with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

An investigation and medical examiner’s reports show that Colombo shot Granados and then shot himself, Wade said. Colombo was an estranged ex-boyfriend of Granados’, he said.

Just a few weeks ago, Wade said, deputies had been called out to the residence on a criminal trespassing call when Colombo was trying to get into Granados’ trailer. He was released on a warning after Granados and deputies told him never to come back, Wade said.


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Police ask for public's help in homicide investigation

Austin police are asking for the public’s help in the homicide investigation of a 29-year-old man who was found Saturday night behind an H-E-B store on East Riverside Drive.

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Police say Javier Miguel Vasquez-Deanda (pictured) was found about 9:30 p.m. with obvious trauma to his body. At a press conference today, Sgt. Joseph Chacon did not provide details into his death except to say he was not shot. There was no indication from the condition of his body or his clothes that he had been robbed, Chacon said.

Chacon said Vasquez-Deanda was from Mexico and was homeless in Austin. Vasquez-Deanda’s family could not tell police how long he had been in the United States, Chacon said.

The few people who knew Vasquez-Deanda have told police that he had been hanging out at day-labor sites, Chacon said. Although there is a construction site near the H-E-B, Chacon said there’s no indication Vasquez-Deanda had done any labor or had been paid there.

Chacon said the passersby who spotted Vasquez-Deanda in the alley and who called 911 had never seen him. Police are looking for other people who may have associated with Vasquez-Deanda.

Police have reviewed surveillance video from the scene, but it has provided few clues, Chacon said.

Anyone with information on what happened is asked call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

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October 26, 2009

Police release sketch of suspect in sexual assault

The Austin Police Department has release a sketch of the man suspected of attacking a woman as she walked along Walnut Creek near Metric Boulevard in North Austin.

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According to an announcement from the Austin Police Department:

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:45 p.m. a female was walking in the 12000 block of Metric Boulevard. She was on a walkway near Walnut Creek when she was attacked and sexually assaulted by a Hispanic male suspect. The suspect is described as:

The suspect was wearing a bright yellow, sleeveless t-shirt and dark, baggy basketball shorts.

Austin Police detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the person who matches this description. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Sex Crimes Unit at 974-5095.

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South Austin homicide victim identified

Austin Police Department officials have identified a man found dead Saturday night behind an H-E-B store on East Riverside Drive as 29-year-old Javier Miguel Vasquez-Deanda.

Austin police today said the investigation into the death, which they suspect is a homicide, continues.

Vasquez-Deanda is from another country, though police are not certain which country, police Cpl. Scott Perry said.

Vasquez-Deanda’s body was found in the alley about 9:30 p.m., police spokesman Sgt. James Mason said Saturday. He had trauma that indicated that he had been murdered, Mason said, but police do not want to reveal what type of trauma killed the man.

“It’s a big mystery to us … what exactly happened,” he told reporters near the store on Saturday.

Mason said Saturday that detectives are hope surveillance videos might shed some light on how Vasquez-Deanda died.

Anyone with information on what happened is asked call the homicide tip line at 477-3588.

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Police searching for man who robbed a Dollar General Store

Austin police are searching for a man who they say used a handgun to rob a General Store in North Austin this morning.

Cpl. Scott Perry said the man, who was wearing clear goggles and a painter’s mask over his nose and mouth threatened a manager at the store, in the 8600 of Spicewood Springs Road near US 183, with a gun about 8:30 a.m. Police would not disclose how much money the suspect left with.

The suspect was wearing a jacket, blue jeans, black shoes and was carrying a maroon umbrella.

Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to call the robbery hotline at 974-5092 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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Police: Would-be burglar stabbed himself during break-in

According to an announcement from the Killeen Police Department:

About 2:30 a.m. last Tuesday, officers responded to 303 E. Veteran’s Memorial Blvd. after receiving a call from a man who said he had been stabbed and was bleeding.

Officers were speaking with Stanley Leavis Lovett of Killeen and noticed a trail of blood that lead to the Big Bang Custom Paint and Body shop at 303 W. Veteran’s Memorial Blvd. There, officers found that the front glass had been broken, and it appeared that Lovett had cut himself breaking the glass.

Paramedics determined that the Lovett’s leg wound was life threatening and had him airlifted to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in critical condition. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit after undergoing surgery for his wound.

Through the investigation it was determined that Lovett, 41, was responsible for breaking the glass at the Big Bang Custom Paint and Body and taking items from the business.

This case was reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney’s Office and a complaint was issued charging Lovett with Burglary of a Building. Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin issued a warrant for his arrest.

Lovett was released from Scott & White Memorial Hospital Thursday. He was subsequently arrested by the Harker Heights Police Department on Friday. Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin set his bond at $30,000 and he was transferred to the Bell County Jail.

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

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Dumped lumber blocks I-35 lanes in Williamson County

UPDATE: A traffic officer with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that traffic is moving again on I-35 just north of Jarrell in Williamson County.

Details of the accident are still awaiting release by a public information officer in Williamson County.

Texas Department of Transportation crews have been dispatched to clear lumber and construction materials dumped in an 18-wheeler accident this morning on I-35 just north of Jarrell in northern Williamson County.

A Department of Public Safety communications specialist said the accident was reported at 8:35 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-35. The 18-wheeler dumped a full load of building materials including lumber onto the interstate, forcing traffic in the immediate area to be rerouted along the frontage road, the specialist said.

An Emergency Medical Services truck was also dispatched, but there were no injuries, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. One northbound lane was open by 10:40 a.m.

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October 22, 2009

Austin was shipping hub in Mexican cartel's drug operations, authorities say

For well over a year, Austin served as a shipping hub of a violent Mexican crime cartel that fanned out millions of dollars worth of cocaine and other illicit drugs to Florida, North Carolina, Iowa and the nation’s capital in overnight parcels, federal investigators said this afternoon.

The disclosure came as federal and state authorities unveiled details of the largest crackdown so far against a drug cartel — this one targeted the La Familia gang headquartered in southwestern Mexico — that has resulted in more than 1,186 arrests in 35 cities in 19 states during a 44-month investigation.

Of the arrests, four were in Austin and Pflugerville — where state and federal officials said Jose Israel Maldonado, a Mexican living in Austin, was in charge of the distribution network. Maldonado remained at large Thursday on federal conspiracy and drug trafficking charges and was believed to be in Mexico, investigators said.

Four associates — identified as Maldonado’s brother, Erick, identified by federal officials as the local operations manager, and three “workers,” Diane Tinajero Bernabe, Isidiro Gonzalez and Javier Benitez Torres, were jailed on pending federal charges.

Federal officials and Austin Police said they were arrested in a coordinated series of raids on Wednesday at seven sites in Pflugerville and Austin that netted six kilos of cocaine, more than $400,000 in cash and a pistol. Nine police agencies were involved in the local busts, officials said.

In Dallas, at least 66 suspects were rounded up. In one case, federal authorities alleged in a criminal complaint that operatives of La Familia shipped hundreds of firearms from the United States to Mexico during the past year — presumably to help arm itself in an increasing war with rival cartels and with Mexican government forces.

In New York, associates of La Familia acquired military-grade weapons, including assault weapons and ammunition to be smuggled back into Mexico, according to details in an unsealed indictment.

“This organization, the newest of the Mexican cartels, is directly responsible for a vast majority of the methamphetamine pouring into our country across our southwest border, and has had a hand in fueling the cycle of violence that is wracking Mexico today,” Michele Leonhart, acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said at a Washington press conference.

Leonhart and other federal, state and local officials predicted the crackdown will disrupt the illicit operations of La Familia, a crime gang headquartered in the Mexican state of Michoacan that reportedly was formed in 2006 after splitting from another drug-trafficking group, the Zetas.

Code-named Project Coronado, the massive bust targeted illicit drug and crime operations of the cartel that has been linked to drug trafficking, bribery, contract killings, human smuggling, extortion, murders, torture and arms trafficking, according to several U.S. investigators who are familiar with the group.

According to federal officials, a New York grand jury has indicted alleged cartel leader and founder Servando Gomez-Martinez. In July, after a dozen Mexican law enforcement officers were found murdered, Gomez-Martinez publicly announced his membership in La Familia and said the cartel was locked in a battle with Mexican police, according to press reports.

The cartel is known in Mexico as one of the most bloody and violent, blamed for a spree of reprisal beheadings and execution-style slayings even as they have run newspaper ads proclaiming that they are cleaning up the state of Michoacan.

Using drug profits “to fuel their agenda that encompasses a Robin Hood-type mentality — steal from the rich and give to the poor — they believe they are doing God’s work, and pass out bibles and money to the poor,” one DEA report states.

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Have you seen this 6-foot lizard? It's on the loose in Northeast Austin

If you happen to live in Northeast Austin, specifically near Rogge Lane and Manor Road, keep your eyes out for a 6-foot lizard.

The owner of Rosti, a black-throat monitor lizard, said he lost the reptile on Saturday and has not seen it since, police said. The reptile lives in the 3300 block of Wellington Drive and was last seen going into the creek near Manor Road and Rogge Lane.

The lizard is not aggressive, police say, but it should not be handled or trapped. Instead, police say to call Animal Control at 311.

“At this time, there has been no reptile to human contact,” police said in a release today.

Here is a picture of the lost lizard:

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Black throat monitors are natives of Tanzania in Africa.

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Woman accused of attacking 16-year-old on way to school

An Austin woman has been arrested and charged with assaulting and injuring a 16-year-old girl as the girl walked to school on Wednesday, according to an arrest affidavit.

The girl saw 38-year-old Jennifer Bowen crying near the 1900 block of MLK Boulevard and stopped to ask if Bowen needed help, the affidavit says. It says Bowen asked the girl for five dollars, but when the girl said she didn’t have the money, Bowen scratched her and pulled out chunks of her hair.

According to police records, the girl was able to get away from Bowen and run to her school on Chicon Street. Police arrested Bowen a short time later and charged her with misdemeanor assault with injury. She remained in the Travis County Jail on Thursday with bail set at $5,000.

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October 20, 2009

Help sought in finding attempted sexual assault suspect

The Austin Police Department is seeking help in identifying a man who may have been injured in an attempted sexual assault of a woman early Sunday in the 2200 block of Willow Creek Drive.

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Investigators describe the suspect as a Hispanic male, 16 to 19 years old, 5-feet, 3-inches or 5-feet, 4-inches tall with a medium build. The suspect had a goatee, short black hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a black t-shirt with white letters and black baggy shorts at the time of the attack, police officials said.

Police officials said the suspect came through a bedroom window shortly after 4 a.m. and tried to assault the woman. During a struggle with the man, the woman managed to call 911. The suspect then fled, breaking the window on the way out. Investigators said he may have injured himself on the broken glass.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident is asked to call the Sex Crimes Unit at 974-5095.


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October 19, 2009

Manor High School locks down after fights

Manor High School remains on lockdown after Travis County Sheriff’s Department deputies took 10 students into custody for fighting this morning in the school halls.

Five boys, 16 and younger, were taken to Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center in Austin, said sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade. The other five, 17 and older, were taken to the Travis County jail, Wade said.

Deputies used pepper spray to break up at least one of the fights, Wade said. At least three of the boys taken into custody and a teacher who was trying to break up one of the fights were treated by emergency medical technicians for burning eyes, Wade said.

In a separate statement, district administrators reported that seven students were arrested and removed from campus and 12 students were treated for exposure to pepper spray.

Wade said deputies aren’t sure what sparked the fights, although they believe the fights were not related. School officials put the school on lockdown shortly after the first call for sheriff’s department assistance at 9:40 a.m.

In the statement, Assistant Superintendent Cathy Jones said a preliminary investigation indicates “that this was a result of an off campus incident that occurred on Friday night. School officials ask that parents communicate with their children to ensure that off campus incidences do not spill over and cause a disruption to the school day.”

Furthermore, Jones said, “At this time, the situation is under control, students are safely in their classes, and (Manor High) parents have been notified through our automated phone messaging system. Additional law enforcement authorities are on campus, in addition to the two school resource officers and five campus administrators that are already on staff. The district nurse is also on campus to provide medical attention for the students.”

Earlier this month, a Manor High student was arrested after a sheriff’s deputy found a .38-caliber revolver concealed in his shorts during a search.

Damion Milligan, 17, was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, a felony, an arrest affidavit states. The deputy, acting as a resource officer for the school, also confiscated several bullets found in a bandana in Milligan’s back pocket, the affidavit said.

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October 16, 2009

Four arrested in Burnet County drug bust

Officials in Burnet County have arrested four people who have been accused of manufacturing methamphetamine at a home in Cotton Wood Shores, according to a statement from the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrests came Thursday after officials with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, the Marble Falls Police Department and the Cottonwood Shores Police Department conducted a narcotics search warrant a home at 839 Westwood Drive, the statement said.

Officers seized an unspecified amount of methamphetamine, scales and packaging material, the release said. Officials also said four children were inside the home at the time the warrant was executed.

The following people were arrested and charged with manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to deliver methamphetamine, over 4 grams but less than 200 grams, a first degree felony punishable with up to life in prison: Anna Marie Armadillo, 33; Patty Lou Doss, 49; Laurence Scott Gonzalez, 27; and Leslie Vaughn Ortiz, 20.

Bail for the charge was set at $50,000 for each person, a jail official said.

Doss was also charged with four counts of child endangerment, a state jail felony, according to the statement. Bail was set at $5,000 for each count.

The children at the home were placed with a family member, it said.

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Activist accused of writing graffiti at ACC south campus

A 21-year-old woman who told campus police she was upset that some of the animal rights posters she put up at Austin Community College’s south campus had been torn down was charged with graffiti Wednesday after police say she wrote angry messages on several of the school’s bulletin boards.

Ursula Canales was charged with a single felony count for writing “ACC is a bunch of of (expletive) inhumane people,” and “Care about the animals you live with,” in large letters in permanent marker on a second-floor bulletin board, according to the arrest affidavit. Police say she wrote “Care about the animals you live with” on a third-floor bulletin board, the affidavit said.

On Wednesday night a night supervisor for the school, located at 1820 W. Stassney Lane, alerted a campus police officer to a woman who was going from bulletin board to bulletin board tearing off and ripping up paper postings, the affidavit said.

When the officer approached the woman ran from him, but stopped in the school’s west parking lot, the document said. Canales told the officer she was angry because she had put up posters for the organization People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals the day before, only to find the next day that they had been taken down, according to the affidavit.

She was booked into the Travis County Jail on Wednesday on $1,500 bail, but was not in the jail Friday.

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Child porn on flash drive; ACC student arrested

A 23-year-old Austin Community college student was charged with felony possession of child pornography after a campus police officer discovered the material on a misplaced flash drive, according to an arrest affidavit.

Kanok Li of Austin was arrested by the campus officer Oct. 8 after returning to the Eastview Campus to retrieve the flash drive, which had been turned in to campus police, according to the affidavit filed Thursday.

The affidavit said the officer said he plugged the flash drive into a computer to try to identify the owner. The flash drive memory included images of a female child, believed to be less than 10 years old, engaging in oral sex and masturbation.

About an hour after the officer viewed the pornographic images, Li came to the police desk and asked about the flash drive. Li allegedly told the officer he had gotten the images from a website, downloaded it to his desktop computer and saved it on his flash drive.

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October 15, 2009

Teacher charged with having improper relationship with student

A Fredericksburg High School coach was arrested today and is being held on $100,000 bond in the Gillespie County jail, accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

According to an arrest affidavit, high school physics teacher Michael G. Stevens, who is also head track coach and the ninth-grade football coach, “intentionally and knowingly (had) sexual intercourse on more than one occasion with a female student.” He was charged with improper relationship between and educator and a student.

Fredericksburg police Chief Paul Oestreich said a campus police officer was notified of the alleged relationship on Tuesday by other students.

Stevens, 42, was suspended by the district Wednesday pending an investigation, said Fredericksburg Superintendent Marc Williamson. “We are cooperating with the Fredericksburg police department, and they are leading the investigation,” Williamson said. “Details of the investigation would need to come from them.”

Stevens has been a science teacher with the district since 1995 and previously worked in the Sharyland and Hidalgo school districts, Williamson said. In 2007, Stevens was placed on paid leave for three days in a personnel issue unrelated to students, Williamson said, and has had no other disciplinary actions against him.

“He was exonerated in that particular instance, but it wasn’t related to students,” Williamson said.

A search of public records turned up no prior criminal convictions.

The district has not sent home a letter to parents or students about the incident.

“At this point, we’re not in a position to release any kind of information, because we don’t want to disrupt the ongoing police investigation,” Williamson said.

Stevens’ wife is the principal at Fredericksburg Middle School.

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Man bitten by snake after police chase

A man was arrested following a frenetic car chase with Travis County deputies that began in North Austin and ended in San Marcos with the man being bitten by a snake, officials said.

Lee Standberry, 40, of Round Rock was charged with a felony count of evading arrest in connection with a pursuit Oct. 9, according to the arrest affidavit.

Sheriff’s deputies spotted a car speeding in the 14100 block of Thermal Drive and began a pursuit with lights and a siren on, according to the affidavit. The suspect ran a red light at Wells Branch Parkway and headed south on Interstate 35. The driver weaved erratically in and out of traffic at speeds of up to 115 mph with law enforcement officers following him, the affidavit said.

In the 2700 block of I-35 in San Marcos, an officer awaiting the fleeing suspect deployed devices called stingers in the road, flattening the front right tire. The suspect drove the car into the grass at the side of the highway and ran into a wooded area where he was bitten by a snake, the affidavit said.

Deputies took the suspect for snakebite treatment and then into custody, according to the affidavit.

According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, Standberry has been arrested two dozen times and has convictions for a variety of offenses including drug, burglary, assault and theft charges.

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October 14, 2009

Police say woman found off Guadalupe was homicide victim

Austin police are seeking the public’s assistance in finding more about the death of 49-year-old Renee Maria Lindsey, who was found in an alley about 12 p.m. Tuesday.

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Sgt. Joseph Chacon with the Austin police homicide unit, said Lindsey, pictured at right, was from Austin and had a home near the place a passer-by found her body in the 6800 block of Guadalupe. Chacon said her body was there about 12 to 24 hours.

On Tuesday, police said there were no obvious signs of trauma to the body. But today Chacon said her body showed “pretty severe signs of trauma.” Chacon said the body was covered because of the rain, and the trauma was spotted after the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office responded.

“Lindsey is a true victim in this case and we do believe the incident is isolated,” Chacon said. “I don’t know if we need to be alarmed but we do need the public’s assistance in finding more information.”

Chacon said anyone who might have seen Lindsey between Saturday and Tuesday should call homicide investigators at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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Man accused of firing gun in officer's face

A 28-year-old man is in the Travis County Jail today after officials say he fired a handgun at point-blank range in the face of an Austin police officer responding to an emergency call in Northeast Austin.

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Christopher Rodriguez, at right, was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, a first-degree felony, according to the arrest affidavit filed today.

The officer came to Rodriguez’ second-floor apartment in the 12100 block of N. Interstate 35 answering a 911 hang-up called placed at 12:33 a.m. Tuesday, the affidavit said. The officer knocked and through a window saw the suspect coming to the door, the affidavit said.

The officer identified himself from outside the door as an Austin police officer. When the suspect opened the door, he pointed a chrome pistol at the officer’s face and pulled the trigger, the affidavit said.

When the suspect’s gun didn’t fire, the officer stepped back, drew his service handgun and raised it to fire. The suspect dropped his handgun and repeatedly yelled that the gun wasn’t real, the affidavit said.

After arresting Rodriguez, the officer examined the handgun, which was a replica of a revolver with a metal plate built into it to keep the hammer from striking the bullets in the cylinder, according to the affidavit.

Rodriguez is being held on $40,000 bail, court records show.

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October 13, 2009

Austin police arrest alleged iPhone robber

Austin Police Monday afternoon arrested a 20-year-old man wanted in connection with a Craigslist phone robbery scam.

An anonymous caller to a police tip line told officers they could find Jordan Huffman at a northwest Austin location, Det. Philip Hogue said today. Officers arrested Huffman without incident, Hogue said.

Huffman has been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Investigators believe Huffman may be tied to as many as four robberies of iPhones that began with a contact made through the classified advertising website.

Hogue said police have recovered some of the property taken in the robberies, including an iPhone taken in the robbery for which Huffman has been charged.

Police say Huffman may have been working with another person who has not been identified or charged.

According to the arrest affidavit, Huffman on Oct. 4 contacted a man selling his iPhone and arranged to buy it in a shopping area parking lot on Canyon Ridge Drive, near Parmer Lane and Interstate 35.

The affidavit said Huffman stalled the seller, offered him less money and when the seller said no, Huffman displayed a handgun tucked in the waistband of his pants and took the phone.

Similar iPhone robberies have been reported over the past month in Austin and Pflugerville, Hogue said.

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October 8, 2009

DPS seizes hundreds of pot plants in two homes

The Texas Department of Public Safety led a raid on two Austin houses last Friday and seized more than 600 marijuana plants, the department said in a news release today.

The release says: As part of an investigation by the DPS Criminal Investigations Division (CID) into a drug trafficking organization, CID agents and other law enforcement agencies raided two Austin homes and seized 643 marijuana plants worth about $2.9 million last Friday. The two locations were 6812 Cromarty Lane and 9600 Mountain Quail Road.

More than 40 pounds of harvested marijuana was also seized in the hydroponic grow operations. DPS has seen an increase in these sophisticated indoor operations that produce a higher grade of marijuana, with a stronger THC content. No arrests were made and the investigation continues.

If anyone has information on suspected marijuana cultivation, they are urged to call a DPS toll free hotline, 1-800-868-6274.


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Student with gun at Manor High School arrested

A Manor High School student today is in the Travis County Jail after a sheriff’s deputy found a .38-caliber revolver concealed in his shorts during a search Wednesday at the high school, according to an arrest affidavit.

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Damion Milligan, 17, was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, a felony, the affidavit, filed Thursday afternoon, states. The deputy, acting as a resource officer for the school, also confiscated several bullets found in a bandana in Milligan’s back pocket, the affidavit said.

The deputy confronted Milligan after a school staff member spotted him on a video surveillance tape while looking into a report that marijuana had been smoked in a boy’s rest room, the affidavit said.

Milligan denied smoking marijuana and agreed to a search, the affidavit states. Milligan told the officer it was the first time he had brought the handgun to school, according to the affidavit.

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October 7, 2009

Man accused of holding immigrant for ransom

A man was charged with smuggling a juvenile from Mexico into the United States with the intent to hold him for ransom Tuesday, Austin police said in an arrest affidavit.

Juan Pablo Gil Velez, 30, was arrested after police linked him to an incident Saturday evening, the affidavit said. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping, a first degree felony, the affidavit said.

On Saturday, Edgar Savio told Austin police that his relatives had an arrangement with a smuggling organization to bring his cousin into the United States from Honduras for $1,500, according to the affidavit.

The family of the smuggled cousin did not have enough to pay the smugglers, and the smugglers told the family they would kill him if the family did not come up with the money, the document said.

On Saturday evening, Savio and two of his friends went to a Target parking lot on Interstate 35 with $600 in cash, and the smugglers refused to release the victim until the entire fee was paid, the affidavit said.

Savio told police that while he was speaking to the smugglers, he could see his cousin in the back seat, and one of his friends tried to open the door to grab him, the affidavit said. The back door was locked and the suspects drove away with the victim still in the vehicle. according to the affidavit.

The three men followed the suspects’ vehicle and were pulled over by a police officer for an unrelated traffic violation, the document said. Savio then called 911, the document said.

After the incident, the smugglers called a family member of the victim to tell him they were going to beat him if they didn’t get their money and threatened to shoot Savio and his friends if they ever saw them again, according to the affidavit.

Velez was later identified as the driver of the vehicle by Savio and the victim, who escaped from his captors, the document said.

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October 6, 2009

Police: woman dies from injuries sustained in accident

Police said Tuesday that 46-year-old Natividad Diaz-Morales died as a result of injuries she sustained in a car collision on Oct. 2.

Police said Diaz-Morales was in the passenger seat of a Toyota Sienna traveling north on MoPac (Loop1) near RR 2222.

A preliminary investigation shows that the vehicle lost control for unknown reasons, police said, and struck a utility pole. Diaz-Morales was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge where she died on Monday.

Police are asking anyone with information about this incident to call the vehicular homicide unit at 512-974-8164. This is the city’s 48th traffic fatality of 2009.

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Man dies after being struck by car last week

A 65-year-old man died Tuesday, more than a week after he was struck by a car while attempting to cross MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), police said today.

Police said they are still investigating why Chris Berry walked onto the highway on Sept. 28 about 9:40 a.m. He was struck by a brown Hyundai SUV traveling south on MoPac in the 11800 block.

Berry was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he remained with serious injuries.

Police said speed and alcohol are not factors and that no charges are expected to be filed against the driver of the SUV.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the fatality to call the vehicular homicide unit at 974-8212.

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October 5, 2009

Austin woman charged with punching officer at ACL

An Austin police officer was punched in the face after checking on a woman who had fallen down at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit says 18-year-old Kaylea Whittlesey had fallen to the ground and an Austin police officer shone a flashlight on her to see if she had any injuries. After asking Whittlesey if she was alright, Whittlesey asked the officer who he was, despite him being in full uniform, the affidavit says.

Whittlesey then got up and attempted to run into a beer tent, and the officer tried to stop her. When the officer placed his hand on her shoulder, according to the affidavit, Whittlesey turned and punched him in the face.

Whittlesey was arrested and charged with felony assault on a peace officer. She has been released after posting bond of $6,500.

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Police: Slaying suspect turns himself in to Kentucky authorities

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Austin police today said that Marvin Thruston, who is a suspect in a the September shooting death of 22-year-old Michael Carmicle in North Austin, has turned himself in to authorities on Saturday in Owensboro, Ky., and is awaiting extradition.

Carmicle was shot about 9:20 p.m. on Sept. 29 while he was talking to two people — one in person and one on his cell phone — in the 12300 block of Willow Wild Drive, near Parmer Lane and Interstate 35 in North Austin.

Police said a black GMC with Thruston in it pulled over, and a man got out and shot Carmicle with a military-type assault rifle. There were three other people in the car, police said.

Carmicle, who did not live in the neighborhood, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he later died.

Sgt. Chris Castlen with the Owensboro police department said Thruston contacted one of the department’s detectives and wanted to turn himself in.

Police said they also are seeking three people of interest:

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Anyone with information about the shooting, Austin’s 17th homicide this year, is asked to call the Police Department’s homicide tip line at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.

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October 1, 2009

Lockdown lifted at Westlake High

Travis County sheriff’s deputies at 10:56 a.m. lifted a lockdown at Westlake High School prompted by a report of a person in a car with a gun in the school’s parking lot.

Deputies reopened the high school doors after a campus-wide search failed to locate a gold-colored car spotted about 9:40 a.m. by a Westlake student, sheriff’s office spokesman Roger Wade said.

The student reported seeing a man with a gun in the gold car in a parking lot near the school’s Performing Arts Center. School administrators locked the doors and called for sheriff’s deputies, although when security returned to the spot where the car was seen it was gone, Wade said.

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September 29, 2009

Daycare owner arrest after being accused of lifting 2-year-old by her hair

Round Rock police have arrested a Round Rock home daycare owner who they say pulled a chunk of hair off of a 2-year-old girl’s head while caring for her.

Guadalupe Martinez, 59, has been charged with injury to a child, a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail. She was being held in the Williamson County Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $50,000.

The child’s 4-year-old sister later told their mother that Martinez lifted the child off the ground by her hair and pulled out a handful of her hair. The incident took place on March 26 after the girl got up during nap time at the home daycare in the 900 block of Wayne Drive, according to an arrest affidavit.

The child’s mother immediately called police.

It’s not clear from the affidavit why Martinez was arrested six months after the alleged incident.

Martinez’s home is registered as a “listed family home” with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which means she could care for up to three children.

Family protective services spokesman Chris Van Deusen said that the department ordered Martinez to stop operating in April after an investigation into the allegation for which she was arrested. The department verified later in April that she closed.

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Official: Lakeway police chief on administrative leave

Lakeway Police Chief Gordon Bowers was placed on administrative leave last week, although city officials would not to say why.

City Manager Steve Jones refused to elaborate Tuesday, saying the incident was a “pending personnel issue.” He would not say who placed Bowers on leave or who the city appointed as acting chief.

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September 28, 2009

Four men sought in fatal shooting

Austin police say they’re looking for four men they say are suspects in a Saturday night shooting that left a man dead on Willow Wild Drive in North Austin.

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, at 9:20 pm, Austin Police Officers responded to a shots fired call in the 12300 block of Willow Wild Dr. Upon arrival they found that Michael L. Carmicle, 22, was shot around 9: 20 p.m. Saturday in the 12300 block of Willow Wild and later died at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Here are the descriptions of the suspects, according to Austin police:

Suspect #1 “Marvin” or “Marvell” Black male 24-28 years old 6’3” 160-170 lbs. Low fade haircut and groomed goatee Blue button down shirt and khaki pants

Suspect #2 Black male 25-27 years old 5’-5” 210-230 lbs. Low fade haircut and neatly trimmed full beard Black Jordan t-shirt, black and red Jordan shorts and black Jordan shoes

Suspect #3 “Steveo” Black male 25-27 years old 5’5”-5’7” 180 lbs. Low fade haircut and neatly trimmed beard Cursive writing tattoo on the back of both hands and Oriental letters on the neck White tank top, black Jordan shorts and white Jordan sneakers

Suspect #4 “Huggs” Black male 25-27 years old 5’10”-5’11” 200 lbs. Neatly trimmed goatee Black t-shirt, red Jordan shorts and white Air Force One shoes

The suspects left the scene in a 2003-06 black GMC Denali with tinted windows.

This case remains under investigation by homicide detectives, and anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide tip line at 477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477(TIPS).

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Man struck on MoPac

Austin police are trying to determine why a man walked into traffic this morning on MoPac and was struck by an SUV.

The man, whose identity and age were not immediately available, was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with serious injuries, Police Cpl. Scott Perry said.

Police reopened all southbound MoPac traffic lanes about 11:20 a.m. Traffic was slowed to one lane shortly after the man was struck at 9:39 a.m. just south of Duval Road. Police crews closed all three lanes from 10:04 a.m. to 11:07 a.m., Perry said.

An investigation is ongoing, Perry said, but the driver of the SUV was not ticketed. It appeared from the preliminary investigation that the man put himself in harm’s way, Perry said.

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Police: Girl told accused kidnapper: 'It's time for me to go home'

A 9-year-old girl who was abducted on her way to school Thursday morning was let go after she told the man accused of kidnapping her, “It’s time for me to go home,” police said at a news conference today.

Police say Charles Eugene Butcher, 42, put a knife to the girl’s throat shortly after the kidnapping along Brodie Lane in South Austin and told her that he would cut her if she didn’t stop screaming. He then drove her to his nearby apartment, forced her into a closet, bound her hands and held her for several hours, police said.

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He was arrested Friday on several traffic violations and is being held in Travis County Jail on charges of aggravated kidnapping and failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, records show. His bail has been set at $600,000.

Austin police said Monday that they had received two previous reports that Butcher was peeping through neighbors’ windows in a South Austin apartment complex. Public records show that a resident reported a man looking through her windows in August, but police Lt. Mark Spangler said the suspect’s actions may not have constituted a crime. He said that while Butcher may have been looking through windows, it was unclear whether he was doing it for sexual gratification — which is required for criminal charges under state law.

Spangler also described more of Butcher’s criminal past, which includes the sexual assault of a child in Korea while Butcher was in the military in 1991.

Butcher also was convicted in Ohio for abduction with a weapon in 1995, Spangler said. Based on a translation of Ohio state law, the offense in Texas would have been solicitation of a minor, he said.

Butcher was required to register for life as a sex offender in any state where he lived after the 1991 offense, Spangler said. Butcher moved to Austin in January 2008, Spangler said, but Ohio authorities believed he had relocated to North Carolina. Family members reported to Ohio authorities that they thought Butcher had moved to Texas, Spangler said. Ohio authorities sent information about Butcher to Texas law enforcement agencies in January 2008, he said.

The girl provided a description of Butcher’s red or maroon pickup that an investigator remembered from Butcher’s file sent by Ohio authorities, Spangler said.

Spangler praised the girl’s bravery and ability to document key details that they said led to Butcher’s arrest.

“We would’ve loved to have been able to explore (Butcher’s) mind to be able to figure out what his motivation was in this,” Spangler said. “Was it a question as to whether he was just unable to complete his motive or was it an issue where just the abduction of the child was enough for him at this point. Without being able to talk to him in detail we won’t know the answer to that.”

Spangler said Butcher has declined to talk to investigators in detail.

The girl attends Cowan Elementary, on Kentish Drive near Davis Lane.

Principal April Glenn sent parents a letter Sunday advising them about the kidnapping. The school’s counseling staff and Austin police officers were on hand Monday to answer questions about stranger dangers and ways to stay safe in the future.

Glenn also is talking with school staff about ways to monitor the comings and goings of students who are known to be unsupervised before or after school.

The district moved the girl’s bus stop to a more populated and safer area, district officials said.

The principal of nearby Kocurek Elementary, at 9800 Curlew Drive, also sent a letter home to parents Monday letting them know about the incident.

Previous story: Sex offender arrested, accused of abducting 9-year-old girl on way to school

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September 27, 2009

Man killed in overnight shooting

A 22-year-old man was shot to death last night in North Austin.

Police said that around 9:20 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a 911 call of a shooting at the 12300 block of Willow Wild Drive near Parmer Lane and Interstate 35. When they arrived, they found Michael L. Carmicle had been shot. He later died at University Medical Center at Brackenridge.

A suspect had left the scene in a dark colored SUV, possibly a GMC Denali, police said. Anyone with info is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 472-TIPS.

Police said it was the 17th homicide of the year in Austin.

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September 26, 2009

Man charged in kidnapping of 9-year-old girl

Austin police on Friday arrested a man they accuse of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl and holding her in his South Austin apartment for several hours.

Charles Eugene Butcher, 42, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements.

According to police, Butcher grabbed the girl as she was walking along Brodie Lane to a bus stop Thursday morning, forced her into his vehicle and threatened her with a knife. Butcher released the girl about 4:40 p.m. Thursday near the area of the abduction, police said. She was found by patrol officers responding to a 911 call about a missing girl at 4:20, according to police. The girl was able to give police a description of her abductor and his vehicle, officials said.

According to police, the sex offender unit gave investigators information on a possible suspect matching the physical description of the man and possessing a vehicle similar to what the girl described. Butcher was located Friday morning and arrested on unrelated charges before being charged in Thursday’s incident.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Police Department’s child abuse unit at 974-6880.

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September 25, 2009

Help sought in solving San Marcos robbery

San Marcos police have asked for help solving a robbery Aug. 24 at the Shell Food Mart at 934 N. Interstate 35.

A black male, 5’8” tall, wearing all black clothing, entered the convenience store at 10:50 p.m., threatened the clerk and took an undisclosed amount of money and cigarettes. The man ran off, according to police. Photos from the crime are below.

If you have information that could help the San Marcos Police Department, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-324-TIPS (8477). If your information leads to the arrest and indictment of the suspect, you will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 in cash.

Calls are confidential and callers remain anonymous. You do not have to give your name. You will not have to testify in court.

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September 24, 2009

Pair charged with stealing from lingerie shop

Two 19-year-old women who were turned away from a Killeen lingerie store have been charged with breaking into the store and stealing sleepwear.

Heather House, of Killeen, who was charged with burglary, was released on $50,000 bail. Kayleigh Davis, of Killeen was held Thursday afternoon in the Killeen City Jail, awaiting transfer to the Bell County Jail.

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A passerby flagged down a Killeen Police Department squad car shortly after midnight Wednesday and told officers she saw someone breaking into Xpressions Lingerie, 501 W. Elms Road, said Carroll Smith, a spokesman for the police department.

The officers found the front glass door of the store broken out. An employee of the business told officers two young women had come to the door around midnight and were told the store was closed. The employee watched as the women got into a light- colored vehicle in the store parking lot.

A short time after the burglary was reported, officers stopped two women in a light- colored vehicle on a nearby Killeen Street. According to Smith, officers found lingerie in the back seat.

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Woman charged with stealing from a corpse

A 22-year-old woman who told police she was collecting a debt for pornography has been charged with theft from a corpse.

Austin police charged Linda Dynell Rushing with taking money from the wallet of Samuel Stewart, whose body was found July 27 in his apartment at 1825 Burton Drive in East Austin, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Travis County District Court.

The affidavit states that Rushing told a police detective she also took coins and pornographic movies from Stewart’s apartment. She said she was reclaiming pornography she had sold to Stewart for $20 but for which she had not been paid.

The Travis County medical examiner determined that Stewart died of natural causes. A neighbor found Stewart’s body a day after Rushing found him unconscious and covered in vomit on the porch of his apartment building, the affidavit said.

Rushing told investigators she had known Stewart for about three months and had stayed at the apartment on several occasions, the document said. When Rushing found Stewart, it said, she managed with the help of neighbors to rouse him and get him inside his apartment. The neighbor found Stewart’s body in the same place he had been left, the affidavit said. Police say the money was taken sometime between Stewart being moved to his apartment and the discovery of his body by the neighbor.

A police detective found Stewart’s wallet and some of its contents on the floor of a closet in the apartment. The affidavit does not disclose how much money was taken.

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September 23, 2009

Austin police seek bank robber

Austin police are searching for a man who they say robbed a Chase Bank at 6406 North Interstate 35 today about 5:30 p.m.

Police said the man left with an undisclosed amount of cash and described him as a white male in his 30s, about 6 feet tall and about 280 pounds. He also has a beard, police said.

Police said he was last seen in a black baseball cap, sunglasses and a blue long-sleeved shirt with a white shirt underneath.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Austin robbery tip line at 974-5092 or CrimeStoppers at 472-8477.

This is the city’s 13th bank robbery of 2009.

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Police seek help in identifying burglary suspect

Austin Police are seeking help in identifying a man who they say could have been involved with several burglaries in a South Austin neighborhood.

Austin police Det. John Hardage said more than a dozen burglaries have been committed in the Emerald Forest neighborhood, and there may be more than one suspect.

He said many of the homes are being broken into on the side that faces the greenbelt and everything from a 30-inch television to small electronics have been stolen from the homes. Some homes, Hardage said, have been burglarized more than once.

The burglars will knock on a door to see if anyone is home, he said, then they will walk around to the back of the house, remove the screen and break a window or door to gain entrance to the home.

He said homeowners could take precautionary steps like getting a house alarm or video surveillance.

Any witnesses are asked to call Austin police at 472-TIPS.

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September 22, 2009

Handcuffed escapee arrested in Llano County

A 50-year-old man who escaped from Llano County Sheriff’s deputies after a narcotics raid was arrested Tuesday morning after a newspaper carrier found him in a trash bin, his wrists still handcuffed behind his back, apparently trying to stay out of the rain.

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Russell Selman of Kingsland was being treated Tuesday morning at Llano Memorial Hospital for injuries sustained in his escape, Llano County Chief Deputy John Neff said.

Neff said the newspaper carrier saw the suspect at 3:22 a.m. in the bin at the intersection of Highway 1431 and County Road 302 in Llano County. The carrier called 911 and the suspect attempted to run when he spotted Llano County Sheriff’s squad cars, Neff said.

Selman ran into the woods west of his Kingsland home Monday after a security lock on the back seat of a sheriff’s squad car failed. Deputies had arrested Selman after executing a narcotics search warrant at 12:30 p.m. that day and seizing what Neff said was a substantial amount of methamphetamine.

Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Lower Colorado River Authority wardens and a Burnet County sheriff K9 teams joined Llano County deputies in a search for Selman that lasted into the night Monday, Neff said.

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September 21, 2009

Llano officials searching for escapee

Llano County Sheriff deputies are searching for a man who they say escaped from custody Sunday afternoon.

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Officials say they were executing a narcotics search warrant at the home of Russell Eugene Selman, 50, in the 5300 block of Pair Street in Kingsland about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Officers seized “a substantial amount of suspected methamphetamine,” officials said.

Selman was arrested and placed in the back of a patrol car, but he escaped because the security lock on the door malfunctioned, sheriff officials said. Selman ran into a wooded area near his home, officials said.

Officers from the Llano sheriff’s office, Texas Highway Patrol, Burnet County Sheriff Office K9 units, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Lower Colorado River Authority searched the area for several hours.

Officials said Selman has a extensive criminal background that dates back to the 1970s and includes several drug offenses.

Anyone with information about Selman is asked to call 911 or the Llano County Sheriff’s Office at 325-247-5767.

Officials described Selman as a white man with green eyes and gray hair and beard. Officials said he is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and 150 pounds. Selman was last seen wearing dirty blue jeans and a dark shirt.

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Austin man charged with carjacking in Friday wreck

A 20-year-old Austin man is in the Travis County Jail today charged with multiple felony counts after a carjacking in which he injured three people, one of them an amputee in a wheelchair, during a pursuit by police, court documents say.

Corey Jacob Spears, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, two for failing to render aid and evading arrest, as well as the theft of an automobile at gunpoint, according to an affidavit filed Monday in Travis County District Court.

Rickey Lee Townsend, who suffered a broken pelvis and femur when his wheelchair was destroyed after it was struck during the pursuit, was in critical condition Monday at University Medical Center Brackenridge, according to the hospital.

Darrell Saegert, whose truck was flipped in a collision with the stolen car, and his daughter, Kamryn Saegert, a passenger in the truck, were treated for bruises at Dell Children’s Hospital and released.

Austin police, responding to a report that a Buick had been stolen at gunpoint, spotted the car shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday northbound in the 3800 block of Interstate 35 north, the affidavit says. Officers began a pursuit with lights and sirens after seeing the driver run through at least two stop signs on the frontage road, it says.

In the 3800 block of the southbound I-35 service road, the driver pulled the car off the road and headed toward a bus stop where Townsend and several other people were waiting. The car smashed into the wheelchair, throwing Townsend to the sidewalk, the affidavit said.

With squad cars following, the car headed north on Harmon Avenue, ran a stop sign at the intersection of E. 38 1/2 St. and struck Saegert’s Chevy Suburban, flipping it onto its roof, the document says.

After jumping a retaining wall and smashing through trees, the car stopped in a yard in the 100 block of E. 38th St. The driver of the stolen car fled on foot, the document says. It says the suspect was twice struck by a Taser shot but continued to flee across the northbound and southbound lanes of I-35 before officers subdued him.

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