Texas Archives:

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A man opened fire Monday at his house near the campus of A&M University in eastern Texas after being served an eviction notice, killing a law enforcement officer and a bystander before being shot dead by police officers, officials said.

The incident began just after 12:10 p.m. local time when a Brazos County Constable was serving eviction papers at a residence on Fidelity Street near the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. Responding officers were also shot at by the homeowner, triggering a 30-minute firefight.

The University briefly issued a “Code Maroon”, warning students and residents to remain inside and stay away from the area.

The College Station Police Department said the firefight ended when the gunman, identified as 35-year-old Thomas Caffall, was shot by a College Station Officer. The gunman was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, as well as Brazos County Precinct 1 Constable Brian Bachmann and 43-year-old bystander Chris Northcliff.

Four other people were injured, including a 55-year-old woman who underwent surgery after the shooting and three College Station police officers. One of the injured College Station police officers was treated at the scene and refused transport to a hospital, police spokeswoman Officer Rhonda Seaton said.

“As a result of the initial investigation, detectives have determined that Constable Bachmann had gone to a residence located at 211 Fidelity to serve eviction papers. Multiple state and local agencies are assisting the College Station Police Department in the continued investigation regarding this incident,” Seaton said. “Updates will be provided as soon as they become available.”

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HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A Texas man convicted for the shooting death of a police drug informant in November 1992 was executed Tuesday evening, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments that he was mentally handicapped and therefore should not qualify for the death penalty.

Marvin Wilson, 54, was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m. local time at Huntsville Unit in Walker County. He was convicted and sentenced to death in April 1994 in the shooting death of 21-year-old police drug informant Jerry Robert Williams, who had been abducted by Wilson after a physical confrontation.

Tuesday’s execution by lethal injection took place several hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal in which Wilson’s attorneys argued that his execution would be unconstitutional under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 which banned the executions of mentally retarded people.

It is widely accepted that someone with an IQ score under 70 is mentally retarded, and a psychological test conducted in 2004 pegged Wilson’s IQ at 61. But prosecutors and officials argued that the test was carried out by an inexperienced intern and pointed out that several other tests showed his IQ to be above 70.

As he was laid down on the death-chamber gurney, Wilson told his three sisters and son that he loved them. “Son, get your life right with Christ,” he said. “Give mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her. Ya’ll do understand that I came here a sinner and leaving a saint. Take me home Jesus, take me home Lord, take me home Lord. [..] I see you Rich, don’t cry son, don’t cry baby. I love ya’ll, I’m ready.”

Wilson was the seventh person to be executed in Texas so far this year and the 25th in the United States. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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NUEVO LEON, MEXICO (BNO NEWS) — Mexican police have arrested a drug cartel member accused of murdering 49 people near the border with Texas earlier this year, officials said on Friday.

Jose Ricardo Barajas Lopez, a known member of the Los Zetas drug cartel, was arrested Tuesday in Santa Catarina, a city in Nuevo Leon state, according to LaJornada. The arrest was announced by officials on Friday.

Lopez is accused of murdering 49 people and dumping their bodies in Cadereyta on May 13th of this year. He had previously escaped from a prison in Apodaca with 36 others in February. Officials said he is linked to the murders by both physical evidence and a letter from the Los Zetas claiming responsibility.

Upon his arrest, police recovered from his possession a rifle, two stolen vehicles and several cell phones.

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HOUSTON, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — Dozens of shots rang out outside a strip club in the Texas city of Houston on early Wednesday morning, leaving three people dead and a popular local rapper injured, police said. No arrests were made as of Thursday.

The incident happened at around 3:30 a.m. local time when more than 20 shots were fired in the parking lot of a strip club in southwest Houston. Hundreds of people were in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, but it was not immediately clear if only one person was responsible or if there were multiple shooters.

Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties confirmed three people were killed, including a woman and two men, but their identities were not immediately released. There are no suspects, but investigators believe the incident could be connected to an unspecified domestic dispute on Father’s Day or an unspecified shooting in November 2011.

The female victim is believed to be an innocent bystander, although police did not disclose what led them to believe that.

Among the four people who were injured is popular local rapper Trae Tha Truth, whose real name is Frazier Thompson III, who was giving a concert at Diamonds Gentleman’s Club that evening. He was taken by paramedics to Ben Taub General Hospital after being shot in the shoulder, but his condition was not life-threatening.

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JACINTO CITY, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A Texas mother was killed on Wednesday evening when her 12-year-old daughter accidentally ran over her, local media reported on Thursday.

The incident occurred on Wednesday evening at around 7 p.m. local time in Jacinto City, Texas, which is part of the Houston metropolitan area in Harris County.

According to Jacinto City Police chief Joe Ayala, the unnamed mother visited a house for sale with her children and, after parking her Chevrolet Suburban at the driveway, she told her 12-year-old daughter to get into the driver’s seat and pull in a little closer, the Houston Chronicle reported.

However, after instructing her daughter to brake, the 12-year-old accidentally stepped on the gas instead and ran over her mother. The woman dropped to the pavement and was ran over by one of the vehicle’s rear wheels and she died at the scene of the accident.

Authorities opened an investigation into the accident, but charges are not expected.

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WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — Kurt Mix, a former engineer for British multinational oil and gas company BP plc, was arrested in the United States on Tuesday on charges of intentionally destroying evidence linked to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, U.S. prosecutors said.

Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, has been charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Mix allegedly deleted records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.

“The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history,” Holder stated.

According to court documents, Mix, a drilling and completions project engineer for BP, worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well and was involved in various efforts to stop the leak following the blowout, including Top Kill, the failed BP effort to pump heavy mud into the blown out wellhead to try to stop the oil flow.

BP sent numerous notices to Mix requiring him to retain all information concerning Macondo, including his text messages, but according to the DOJ, he allegedly deleted a text string containing more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor. “The deleted texts, some of which were recovered forensically, included sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing,” prosecutors said.

In addition, among other allegations in court documents, Mix also deleted a text message he had sent on the evening of May 26, 2010 – at the end of the first day of Top Kill – in which he stated that there was an excessive flowrate of over 15,000 barrels per day. Furthermore, Mix and other engineers had concluded internally that Top Kill was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day. 

However, prosecutors said that at the time, BP’s public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 barrels per day.

Another string of more than 100 text messages was also deleted. The messages involved Mix and a BP contractor with whom he had worked on various issues concerning how much oil was flowing from the Macondo well after the blowout. The messages were deleted despite having received numerous legal hold notices requiring him to preserve such data and had been communicating with a criminal defense lawyer in connection with the investigation.

If convicted, Mix faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 as to each count.‪

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions while finishing the Macondo well. The catastrophe killed 11 men on board and resulted in the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. 

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HOUSTON, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A Texas woman gave birth to six babies at a hospital in Houston on Monday morning, the hospital and the parents announced on Tuesday. The sextuplets are in a stable condition, although the couple previously reported health concerns.

Lauren Perkins gave birth to three boys and three girls at 10:26 a.m. local time on Monday at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “All babies are currently in the Texas Children’s Pavilion neonatal intensive care unit,” the hospital said in a statement. “Both mom and babies are stable.”

The six babies weighed only between 1lb 10oz (0.73 kilograms) and (1.33 kilograms) when they were born on Monday morning after 30 weeks and 1 day gestation. “The sextuplets were conceived using intra-uterine insemination with ovulatory stimulating drugs,” the hospital said.

On their website last week, Dave Perkins wrote Lauren had been hospitalized immediately after an appointment. “My blood pressure is all over the place and I’m being super monitored for everything,” Lauren wrote later on Friday. “Got to meet with a neonatologist and everyone’s getting ready for the big day. Baby C and D are having trouble, but especially Baby C. She’s not showing growth and limited movement, breathing, and brain activity.”

Last month, Lauren wrote they had agreed to name their babies Allison Kate, Leah Michelle, Caroline Grace, Andrew Noah, Benjamin Luke, and Levi Thomas. Texas Children’s Hospital said the family plans to hold a press conference and release photos of the babies once they had time to recover.

Sextuplets, meaning six babies, are extremely rare and babies often die shortly after birth. The last known example happened in May 2010 in England when 31-year-old Vicky Lamb gave birth to four girls and two boys at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. One of the boys died days later.

But the most extreme example of multiple births are nonuplets, two sets of nine babies who were born in Australia in 1971 and in Malaysia in 1999. None of the 18 babies survived.

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LASHKAR GAH, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. Marine from Texas was killed on late Sunday evening when a roadside bomb exploded in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Monday. It raises the number of coalition troops killed so far this year to 123.

The U.S. Department of Defense said 30-year-old Staff Sergeant Joseph H. Fankhauser, of Mason, Texas, was killed on Sunday while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, which is located in Afghanistan’s south. He was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton in California.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Fankhauser died as a result of an improvised explosive device (IED) attack but gave no other details. “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities,” a brief statement from ISAF said.

Earlier on Monday, ISAF also confirmed the deaths of two other coalition service members as a result of an IED attack in eastern Afghanistan. The nationalities of the service members involved were not immediately disclosed by ISAF, but both are believed to have been U.S. service members.

Sunday’s deaths raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 123, most of them American and British service members, according to official figures. Four American service members were killed on late Thursday evening when their helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, possibly due to bad weather.

A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country’s south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops later this year, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A Texas man was executed on late Wednesday for using a flashlight to fatally beat a 10-month-old boy whom he was babysitting in Dallas in April 2001, officials said. He is the twelfth person to be executed in the United States so far this year.

Jesse Joe Hernandez, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. local time at Huntsville Unit in Walker County. The execution by lethal injection took place about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal in which Hernandez’s attorneys argued that the victim would have survived if he had not been taken from life support.

The incident happened in April 2001 when the 11-month-old boy, Karlos Borja, and his 4-year-old sister were left in the care of Hernandez, who was living along with his wife of six years in the same house in Dallas as the two children and their 22-year-old mother who worked as a waitress.

Hernandez and his wife, who had moved in to the house several days earlier, were supposed to watch the children when their mother was at work. When the crime took place on April 11, Hernandez’s wife had left the house to run some errands and was later told by Jesse that the children were sleeping.

Hours later, when the young mother returned from her work, the 4-year-old girl complained her head was hurting as a result of injuries to her face and head and was taken to a hospital by her mother. While the girl was being taken to the hospital, Hernadez’s wife discovered Karlos’ injuries and called paramedics to the house.

Karlos, who had a skull fracture and bruises to his head, thigh and abdomen, died a week after the attack when he was taken off life support. His sister survived the beating with swelling and bruises on her forehead, eyes and behind her ears.

After the boy’s death, his mother lost legal custody of her daughter because prosecutors said she made a mistake by entrusting the care of her children to Hernandez, who had previously been sentenced to three years in prison for one count of indecency with a child and possession of a controlled substance, cocaine.

During the trial, prosecutors described Hernandez, who was linked to the fatal beating through traces of his DNA mixed with the boy’s blood on a pillowcase and a jumper, as a “baby-killing, child-molesting, woman-beating ex-con.” The jury took approximately 90 minutes to decide to sentence him to death in late 2002.

Hernandez had initially denied any role in the brutal attack, but he later admitted that he walked into the children’s room with a flashlight and beat them for ‘crying too much for nothing.’ He said he ‘exploded’ in anger when the children continued to cry, after which he started hitting them.

Hernandez was the fourth person executed in Texas so far this year and the twelfth in the United States. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — American Airlines on Wednesday announced that it will be cutting approximately 13,000 employees as part of their new five-year business plan, just months after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the airline company, which is owned by AMR Corporation, the business plan targets an annual financial improvement of more than $3 billion by 2017, including $2 billion in cost savings and $1 billion in revenue enhancements.

“American Airlines is moving forward decisively,” said Tom Horton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMR Corp., adding that the plan provides the framework for a new American Airlines.

“Just as other airlines have done and will continue to do, we must invest restructuring-related cost savings in ongoing innovation and customer service improvements that drive revenue. The airlines that have failed to adapt to these changes are no longer in business. Change will be difficult, particularly as we will be ending this process with fewer people, but it is a necessity. American is ready to compete and win,” Horton added.

In addition, the company said it intends to engage in appropriate negotiations with its economic stakeholders and union representatives and seek the necessary Bankruptcy Court approvals.

Previous initiatives, including changes to its route structure, network, capacity and fleet, will allow American Airlines to carry out additional savings over the next six years by restructuring debt and leases, grounding older planes, improving supplier contracts, and undertaking other initiatives, the company said.

Among the plan’s most important modifications is employee cost reduction by 20 percent, resulting in average annual employee-related savings of $1.25 billion from 2012 through 2017.

“These are painful decisions,” Horton added, “but they are essential to American’s future. We will emerge from our restructuring process as a leaner organization with fewer people, but we will also preserve tens of thousands of jobs that would have been lost if we had not embarked on this path – and that’s a goal worth fighting for.”

AMR, which also owns American Eagle, had previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 29, 2011. “This was a difficult decision, but it is the necessary and right path for us to take – and take now – to become a more efficient, financially stronger, and competitive airline,” Horton said at the time.

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