Walmart shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The man accused of killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more in a shooting that targeted Mexicans in the border city of El Paso, Texas, has been charged with federal hate crimes.
Patrick Crusius, 21, has been charged with 90 counts under federal hate crime and firearms laws for his role in the Aug. 3 shooting that authorities said was aimed at scaring Hispanics into leaving the United States, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Federal prosecutors announced the charges against Crusius of Allen, Texas, at a Thursday news conference in El Paso. The Department of Justice will consult with the defense and victims' families before deciding if they will pursue a death penalty. Ultimately, the decision is up to Attorney General William Barr.
The DOJ will prosecute on a parallel track with state officials. Crusius faces the death penalty on a state capital murder charge to which he pleaded not guilty last year.
Letters sent to attorneys over former 'Jesus' sign in Hawkins
HAWKINS — Letters related to the still-unresolved saga involving the “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign taken down last summer have been sent to municipal and state attorneys.
Meanwhile, several of the town’s residents continue to protest the removal of the sign by the city, which subsequently built a street where the sign once stood.
The street — named Ash Street — is 30 feet wide and 75 feet long, or one-fourth the length of a football field.
Tyler attorney Alvin Flynn, who has represented Hawkins for 38 years, said the legal filings and efforts made by supporters of the Jesus Christ Open Altar Church LLC have been a strain on the city for the past five years.
“I personally don’t think that there’s anything criminal that any city official … has done anything that is of a criminal nature,” Flynn said Thursday. “Now, if it’s out there, I’m not aware of it.”
Gregg County deputies arrest Lindale woman in murder of Tyler man, aggravated kidnapping
Gregg County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 30-year-old Lindale woman who is accused of taking part in a home robbery in which one of her accomplices was fatally shot and later dumped by a road, according to a report.
Hannah Leigh McCartney was being held Thursday on $500,000 in bonds in Gregg County Jail on a warrant from the 124th District Court for murder and a warrant from Smith County for aggravated kidnapping, jail records show.
Frontier Airlines to end flight services at Tyler airport
About seven months after starting service, Frontier Airlines says it will suspend operations at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
Frontier Airlines of Denver said it would end operations at the Tyler airport in April because of a lack of sufficient demand to support its service, according to a statement from the airline.
“We greatly appreciate the partnership and support we have received from the airport and community and will continue to evaluate the potential for future opportunities,” Frontier said in the statement.
In July, Frontier started offering three flights a week from the Tyler airport to Denver International Airport. The airline came to Tyler after the 2018 reconstruction and rehabilitation of a runway.
Texas executes Dallas man for shooting in which his wife, 2 children and 2 other relatives were killed
Texas executed Abel Ochoa on Thursday for fatally shooting his family members in their living room.
In 2002, Ochoa walked out of his Dallas bedroom, high on crack, and shot his 7-year-old and 9-month-old daughters, wife, father-in-law and two sisters-in-law, court records state. The only survivor was one of his wife’s sisters, who ran to a neighbor’s house after being shot.
Police arrested a cooperative Ochoa soon afterward, and he confessed to shooting his relatives. He told police he “couldn’t handle the stress anymore,” according to court rulings. Nine months later, a Dallas County jury convicted him and sentenced him to death for the murders of his wife and oldest daughter. At 47, Ochoa had been on death row for nearly 17 years.
Company tied to deadly Houston blast files for bankruptcy
HOUSTON (AP) — A company filed for bankruptcy Thursday in the wake of a massive explosion at one of its warehouses in Houston that killed two workers, injured 20 more and damaged hundreds of buildings.
Watson Grinding and Manufacturing said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Houston federal court because of what it expects to be “a long-term interruption of business operations” due to the Jan. 24 blast.
Chapter 11 allows the metal fabricating and manufacturing company to reorganize as opposed to liquidating its assets and shutting down permanently.
“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy and we are convinced that the best way to ensure our organization can play a positive role in the long-term recovery of the area is by remaining a viable business,” John Watson, CEO of Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, said in a statement. “We are a family business and through this reorganization, we intend to save the company and protect and restore the jobs for our dedicated and hardworking team.”
The company said it had to lay off about 80 workers this week.
ACLU sues ICE over search warrants in Dallas-area raid
HOUSTON (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sued the federal government over a raid near Dallas where immigration enforcement officials arrested hundreds of workers.
The lawsuit was a response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s refusal to release the search warrants associated with the April raid in Allen, which is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.
ICE detained 280 workers at CVE Technology Group, which refurbishes and repairs electronics. At the time, ICE said the employees were working in the U.S. illegally.
ICE denied ACLU’s open records request for the search warrants used in the raid, which was one of many high-profile busts of businesses around the country as part of an immigration crackdown under President Donald Trump. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Houston, alleges ICE violated the Freedom of Information Act.
Texas Southern University president ousted for violations
HOUSTON (AP) — Texas Southern University officials on Wednesday ousted the president of one of the nation's largest historically black universities for failing to report fraud allegations in the admissions process and directing a former official to violate university policy.
The university’s board of regents deliberated for five hours before firing Austin Lane because he didn’t report alleged fraud the former dean of law school admissions participated in while enrolling two students, according to the termination notice.
Lane didn’t report a former assistant dean who participated in alleged fraud by allowing a student to be enrolled into a program without submitting an application, the letter says. The board is also accusing Lane of failing to report that same former official over offering another student fraudulent admission and scholarship in exchange for $14,000 in cash.
"A consequence of your actions, and in particular the dishonesty, misrepresentation, material omission, and intentional concealment aspects of your conduct, is injury to the trust placed in you by the Board to manage and lead the university on a day to day basis," the letter addressed to Lane says.
Lane, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, has denied the allegations and said the board is mismanaging.
Texas court holds hearing on fight over baby's life support
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — An appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a Texas mother who does not want a hospital to end life-sustaining treatment for her 1-year-old daughter.
Texas' Second Court Court of Appeals in Fort Worth is considering the case after a lower court said Cook Children's Medical Center could remove Tinslee Lewis from life support. The appeals court has said the child will remain on life support until it makes a final ruling in the case.
Doctors at the Fort Worth hospital have said Tinslee is in pain and will never recover. Her 20-year-old mother, Trinity Lewis, has said she doesn't think Tinslee, who turned 1 Saturday, is suffering.
Lewis' attorney, Joe Nixon, told the three appellate judges that Lewis has the right to decide whether her daughter lives or dies.
Amy Warr, an attorney for Cook Children's, said that doctors have a right to decline care for a patient if that care “causes suffering without medical benefit.”
Doctor's at Cook Children's had planned to remove Tinslee from life support on Nov. 10 after invoking the state's “10-day rule,” which can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors who say life-sustaining treatment should be stopped. The law stipulates that if the hospital's ethics committee agrees with doctors, treatment can be withdrawn after 10 days if a new provider can’t be found to take the patient.
The hospital and groups working on behalf of Lewis have reached out to other facilities but so far none have agreed to take her.