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  • Aircraft safe, after all (UPDATE)

    Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)

    From the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office

    On March 3, 2021, at approximately 2 PM, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a military plane flying low to the ground, with smoke coming from the engine.

    The citing was reported near the Tyler and Polk County line. First responders concentrated search efforts around and near FM 1943, West of Warren, to Highway 190 West of Woodville, into Polk County.

    The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers and Air units, Texas Game Wardens, Texas Forest Service, Warren Fire Department, Tyler County Emergency Management Office, Alabama Coushatta Fire Department and Air and Ground Medical units from Southeast Texas participated in the search.

    Approximately 2 hours later, responders received information that the aircraft had made a safe landing at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

    Weatherford said, “Thank you to all our Southeast Texas Federal, State, and local first responders. To protect and serve is truly a team effort.”

  • Body found in Rocky Creek

    Lights and sirensFILE PHOTO Law Enforcement lights

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    The body of a 59-year-old man was discovered floating in Rocky Creek two weeks ago.

    Gary Earl Nash, 59, was found dead after he apparently drowned weeks earlier. His body was discovered on Jan. 27, and he was last seen Jan. 12.

    On Jan. 27, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area of Bent Wood Bend Subdivision due to a body discovered floating in the creek area. Detectives were able to identify the victim as Nash, who resided in the area.

    After further investigation into the death detectives learned from the son of Nash along with other relatives that on Jan. 12, Nash returned home from a family funeral and talked about going bank fishing behind his home. Detectives discovered a spot a short distance from where the body was discovered that Nash had recently found which had a deep embankment that he had to build a make shift ladder to get to the water.

    Fishing equipment identified to belong to Mr. Nash was located at the scene. It is suspected by detectives that Nash may have fallen from the embankment causing serious injuries.

    Detectives suspect no foul play to be the cause of Mr. Nash’s death.

    Justice of the Peace Jamie Richardson was requested to the scene where an autopsy was ordered to be conducted at the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office. The death is still under investigation at this time.

  • Dangerous drug kills 1, sends 3 to hospital

    PCSO logoPCSO logo

    From the Polk County Sheriff's Office

    One person is dead and three more in the hospital after they consumed a dangerous drug earlier last week.

    On Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a location in the Ace area of Polk County concerning the death of a local individual and two others that were believed to have consumed methamphetamines. Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons suspects that due to the evidence located at the scene along with drug evidence all three individuals consumed the unknown drug laced with an unknown chemical.

    Later that day another individual was discovered in a different subdivision with the same symptoms stating that he also consumed drugs associated with the three individuals from earlier. This person was transported to a local hospital.

    At this time detectives are conducting investigation and awaiting information from the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office as well as hospitals the individuals were transported to for treatment.

    Lyons wants to make the public aware of drugs such as crystal meth and heroin being sold to individuals in Polk County that is suspected of being laced with an unknown chemical or possibly fentanyl. He asked that anyone with information as to the illegal use and sale of narcotics to contact and report to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867).

  • Former PCSO Deputy arrested

    AUSTIN TYLER MCCRACKENMUGSHOT Austin Tyler McCracken

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A former Polk County Sheriff’s Office narcotics detective is in trouble with the law.

    Austin Tyler McCracken, 27, was arrested on Monday after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The charge was misuse of official information.

    On April 12, PCSO received a complaint in reference to possible improper conduct involving former Detective McCracken following a traffic stop. The complaint stated McCracken had sent unsolicited private social media messages to the female subject shortly after the traffic stop.

    Feeling uncomfortable regarding the nature of the communications, the female subject reported the matter to law enforcement and an internal investigation was started by the PCSO. McCracken was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

    On April 14, McCracken was terminated from employment by Chief Deputy Rickie Childers. McCracken immediately appealed the termination to Sheriff Byron Lyons.

    Prior to his appeal hearing with the sheriff, however, McCracken resigned from the Sheriff’s Office while under investigation. The criminal aspect of the investigation was reported to the Texas Rangers for an independent investigation.

    On Monday, McCracken was arrested and charged with misuse of official information, which is a third-degree felony. McCracken was booked into the Polk County Jail and given a $5,000 bond by Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino.

    Anyone having information regarding any other instances of possible improper conduct on the part of McCracken is encouraged to contact Texas Ranger Sgt. Ryan Clendenen at (936) 327-6836. Sheriff Lyons expressed that he expects his deputies to always adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and law enforcement ethics in their dealings with citizens.

  • Ham radio: hobbyists offer valuable service

    German amateur radio contest station 2017German amateur radio contest station 2017 Ptolusque, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    By Chris Edwards

    HOUSTON COUNTY – Sometimes a hobby is more than just a way to pass the time (and spend money.) In the case of amateur radio operators (ham radio) the hobby is one that is more of a valuable service that can be a lifeline in times of need.

    Houston County has its own group of “ham” operators, the Houston County Amateur Radio Club. The club is affiliated with the Amateur Radio Relay League, which was founded in 1914. Through that affiliation, the club can help anyone who is interested in becoming a member get licensed to operate ham radios, and even work on them. There are currently three levels of certification for ham operators: technician, general and extra.

    The first level is the entry point into ham radio, and as to how long it takes a person to acquire the certifications, well, it just depends, according to Van L. Sims. Sims, who has been involved with ham radio since the 1970s, and serves as the club’s treasurer, said the main purpose of the certification tests is to learn the ins and outs of the different bands, or the frequency allocations.

    A ham radio station can be set up anywhere, such as in field or in one’s home. Club vice president Larry Small said “When all else goes down, if we’ve got a 12-vote battery, and some wire, we can talk anywhere.”

    Amateur radio operators have a basic, working knowledge of radio technology and pass examinations to operate on radio frequencies known as the “amateur bands,” which are allocated by the Federal Communications Commission for use by ham operators.

    Ham operators have been essential in times of disaster and are often unsung heroes. Sims noted that 5,000 hams provided all of the communication in the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City. Hams also provided essential services after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana in 2005.

    The Houston County club derives its operating expenses from fundraisers, and they have five each year, although their 2020 fundraising activities were curtailed by COVID. The club’s current big project is to convert one of its four repeaters to solar power. Sims said of the project that in a time of emergency, if there is a massive power outage, the ham operators will still be able to get essential communications across with solar power.

    Sims is quick to point out how grateful the club is to the late David Lamb. Lamb, who served as the county’s emergency management coordinator, was able to obtain a great deal of equipment for the club, including its bus.

    The club is also planning on installing a ham station in the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Randy Hargrove is a ham operator and serves as the club’s president.

    The club, whose call sign is WA5EC, meets at 7 p.m. on every second Tuesday of each month at the old National Guard Armory (EOC Building) which is located at the corner of Edministon Drive and Christy Lane near the Davy Crockett Park in Crockett. Anyone who has an interest can join the club, and dues are $15 per member, annually. It has a field day planned for Saturday, June 26, beginning around noon, at the Davy Crockett Park.

  • Jailer abuse under investigation

    logoDPS file photo

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A Polk County jailer was put on leave last week after a complaint of excessive use of force was filed.

    On Feb. 22, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint where a jailer allegedly used excessive force on an inmate in the jail. PCSO administration notified theTexas Rangers and requested the Rangers’ assistance in conducting the investigation.

    The jailer was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

  • Jasper man indicted on child rape charges

    MUGSHOT Anibal VillasanaAnibal Mauricio Villasana Courtesy of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department

    WOODVILLE –  A Tyler County grand jury handed down an indictment to a Jasper man on child rape charges.

    Anibal Mauricio Villasana, a 61-year-old Jasper resident, was indicted by the jury on two counts of Indecency with a Child by Sexual Contact. Villasana’s indictment came after an investigation regarding incidents alleged to have occurred in Tyler County. The information was submitted by Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin and his staff following the investigation.

    Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said that the Texas Rangers worked on the case.

    Villasana, according to a news release, has worked for the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department for more than 20 years. He has worked in various capacities within that county’s jail, including as head of kitchen staff, head of maintenance and jailer.

    A statement made by Jasper County Chief Deputy Scotty Duncan to Jasper-based radio station KJAS affirmed that Villasana had been places on leave with pay, pending the case’s outcome.

    Villasana reportedly turned himself in to the Tyler County Justice Center on Tuesday morning, and was released after making arrangements to post his bail, which was pre-set at $100,000, or $50,000 per charge.

    The charges handed down to Villasana are a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 per charge, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.

  • Law enforcement asks for help to find Town Bluff man

    Missing Man 040121 copyCOURTESY PHOTO Thomas Thornton

    By Chris Edwards

    TOWN BLUFF – Law enforcement and family members are asking for the public’s help to locate Thomas Thornton, a 72-year-old Town Bluff resident who was reported missing last week.

    According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, Thornton’s family last saw him on Wednesday, March 24. Thornton’s sister, Norma Armstrong, said that Thornton is in the early stages of dementia and she fears for his wellbeing.

    Armstrong said that her brother makes frequent trips from his Town Bluff home to the Walmart in Jasper, and that he left to go to the store on Wednesday and did not return.

    Thornton has grey and black hair and typically wears a baseball hat bearing a veteran slogan, carpenter-style blue jeans and a T-shirt. He stands 5’7” tall and weighs 255 lbs. Thornton drives a dark grey 2017 Ford Edge with the Texas license plate number NJJ-8580. A Silver Alert was issued on Sunday evening for Thornton by the Texas Department of Public Safety with further details, including his eye color (blue) and the fact that he has a visible scar on his right arm.

    According to Weatherford, law enforcement was able to track Thornton to a gas station in Hemphill on March 26. Sabine County Sheriff’s deputies reviewed store video footage showing Thornton purchasing fuel and then travelling north on Highway 87.

    Deputies were last able to track his phone to a location in Shelby County, but were unable to locate him, and currently unable to track him due to power issues with the phone.

    Along with the dementia diagnosis, his family told deputies that Thornton is also dependent on medications.

    Anyone with information regarding Thornton’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at 409-283-2172.

  • One arrested in shooting incident

    042921 shootingMUGSHOT Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr.

    Special to the News-Times

    WILLIS — A Willis man was seriously injured after being shot three times in the stomach on Wednesday, and a suspect in in custody on a charge of aggravated assault.

    Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr. is being held in the San Jacinto County Jail on a $100,000.00 bond after being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

    According to SJCO reports, on April 21 at about 5 p.m., deputies were notified about a shooting in the 100 block of Foxfire Lane in Willis. The victim was shot three times in the midsection of his body.

    Law enforcement personnel immediately began lifesaving procedures, along with the Bear Creek Fire Department firefighters and EMS crews. The victim was then taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he went into surgery and was listed in stable condition.

    The report states that further investigation revealed the name of the suspect, who had fled back into the house at the original address and barricaded himself in.

    The suspect reportedly was heavily armed, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, its 30-man SWAT Team, a robot, Bomb Squad, and two drones were sent to the scene.

    Officers began a search of the area, which was about eight to 10 acres large with outbuildings and houses; however, the suspect had fled out the back door of the house, the report states. He was arrested Thursday without incident.

  • PCSO seeking public’s assistance in locating burglar

    SUSPECT 2 UNKCOURTESY PHOTO Security camera footage of suspect

    By PCE Staff

    A burglar spotted in the act on security camera has been arrested, while another suspect remains at large.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call Tuesday from a citizen who was alerted by his home security cameras. Two male subjects were inside a building on the victim’s property, located near Mangum Road.

    The complainant provided an accurate description of the offenders as deputies responded to the area. Deputies and detectives quickly arrived on scene, located signs of forced entry into the building and observed several items of value placed by the door.

    After conducting a search of the area, one of the suspects seen on the complainant's security camera was located and detained. He was immediately identified as Gary Eugene Penton, Jr. and found to be in possession of an item stolen from the complainant's property.

    Penton, 47, of Livingston, was arrested without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on the felony charge of burglary of a building.

    Detectives are attempting to identify the other suspect involved in the burglary. The Polk County Sheriff's Office has requested the public view the two surveillance video photos of the second suspect involved.

    If you recognize this suspect, or have information in this case or any other in Polk County, you are asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division may also be contacted directly to speak with a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks shooting suspect

    RamirezRalph Ramirez

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a suspect involved in a shooting early last week.

    Polk County Sheriff Bryon Lyons said his office received a 911 call on Feb. 15, at approximately 12:03 p.m. of a gunshot victim at a residence on Plum Pudding Rd. off FM 2798 in the Votaw area of Polk County. Deputies along with Americare EMS and South End First Responders arrived at the location and found Gregory Basham, 37, with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen area who was later transported to an out-of-county Hospital.

    Polk County Detectives arrived at the location and identified the shooter as Ralph Ramirez, 44, of Liberty County. An altercation was reported to have occurred between Basham and Ramirez at which time Ramirez retrieved a 22 rifle from inside the residence and shot Basham.

    The firearm was recovered at the scene. Ramirez left the location prior to law enforcement’s arrival.

    Sheriff’s Office Detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for Ramirez for the offense of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon issued by JP 4 Jamie Richardson.

    If you know the whereabouts of Ralph Ramirez, Sheriff Lyons asks that you contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867).

  • Police pursue, apprehend nude car thief

    Tyler County Sheriff OfficeLOGO Tyler County Sheriff Office

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – A Jefferson County woman is in the custody of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office following a police pursuit that began in Dam B and ended in Woodville.

    According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, on Monday, at approximately 7:25 a.m., a 911 call came in, reporting a nude woman standing on the side of the road. Deputies with TCSO and EMS headed toward the location, FM 92 North at county road 3715, as the caller had reported. The caller, who was a female passerby, told dispatch that she had stopped to check on the naked female subject, and in the process, a log truck driver had also stopped.

    While the deputies were heading to the location, the subject jumped into the driver seat of the vehicle and drove away with the caller’s two grandchildren in the backseat. The woman had reportedly offered the woman, who complained of thirst, a bottle of water, and when she went to open her trunk is when she took off with the car and children.

    Weatherford said that two minutes later, the deputies received word that the suspect dropped the children off at the Dam B Jiffy Mart at the intersection of FM 92 and US Highway 190. Weatherford said the two children were returned safely to their grandmother.

    The deputies were soon able to locate the stolen vehicle westbound on 190, and traveling at speeds of up to 95 mph.

    TCSO deputies and officers with the Woodville Police Department pursued the vehicle throughout the city of Woodville, and the pursuit ended on Wheat Street, right before 8 a.m.

    The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Lacie Cole, of Orange, and was taken into custody.

    During the pursuit, one eyewitness said the suspect was seen in the Walmart parking lot, where she backed into a patrol unit. Reportedly, she also traveled into opposite lanes of traffic during the chase.

    Cole was later evaluated at Tyler County Hospital, and according to Weatherford, the case is under investigation.

  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrests 9 in drug sting (GALLERY)

    LOU ANN HUDSONMUGSHOT LOU ANN HUDSON

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Nine people are in custody after a successful drug sting conducted by the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office.

    On March 10, detectives with the PCSO narcotics unit assisted the criminal investigation division with an ongoing investigation re-garding an overdose, in which one person was found to be deceased and three others admitted into hospitals. The drug was believed to be cocaine laced with an un-known chemical.

    During the investigation, it became known to detectives that the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a very dangerous and deadly drug. The investigation led to information that the drug was possibly obtained from an unknown address off of E. Capps Road in Polk County from a person known as “Mom-ma Lou.”

    Detectives began investigating the E. Capps Road area, making contact with numerous residents to inquire about “Momma Lou” and her whereabouts. Narcotics detectives located Lou Ann Hudson, also known as, “Momma Lou,” just off of E. Capps Road.

    Narcotics Detectives also found many others to be at the residence and on the property, and were identi-fied as Justin Sanders, Sibbie Hoffer, Billy Lafour, Steven Shelby, Stacy Allen, Clinton Moore, Joshua Jones and Desiree Allen. While speak-ing with Momma Lou at the residence probable cause was obtained to apply for a search warrant, which was granted for the residence and property.

    Detectives conducted the search and found all above listed individuals to be in possession of what Narcotics Detectives knew to be Methamphetamine. Ad-ditionally items were found and seized from the resi-dence that are known to be used in the distribution of illegal narcotics.

    Hudson was placed under arrest and charged with Pos-session of Controlled Sub-stance. Sanders, Hoffer, La-four, Shelby, Allen, Moore, Jones and Allen were also all placed under arrest and charged with Possession of Controlled Substance.

    All the above listed de-fendants were taken to the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office Jail and booked in on their charges.

    **PLEASE BE ADVISED**

    The PCSO is seeing a dangerous trend of drug dealers and cartels cutting various drugs with fentanyl which is leading to death and/or serious hospitalizations. The public needs to be aware of the danger of using any controlled substance, as PCSO is seeing an emerging pattern of cases where fentanyl is unexpectedly being added to cocaine/methamphetamine and other drug combinations.

    BILLY LEE LAFOUR
    BILLY LEE LAFOUR
    CLINTON WARREN MOORE
    CLINTON WARREN MOORE
    DESIREE MICHELLE ALLEN
    DESIREE MICHELLE ALLEN
    JOSHUA DATHAN JONES
    JOSHUA DATHAN JONES
    JUSTIN TAYLOR SANDERS
    JUSTIN TAYLOR SANDERS
    LOU ANN HUDSON
    LOU ANN HUDSON
    SIBBIE CAROL HOFFER
    SIBBIE CAROL HOFFER
    STACY MARIE ALLEN
    STACY MARIE ALLEN
    STEVEN ADAM SHELBY
    STEVEN ADAM SHELBY
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  • Report on plane ‘a true mistake’

    U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft fly in formation during Cope North 21 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021. Cope North is an annual multinational exercise designed to increase capabilities and improve interoperability among partner nations, and this year’s exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, large force employment and combat air forces training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft fly in formation during Cope North 21 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021. Cope North is an annual multinational exercise designed to increase capabilities and improve interoperability among partner nations, and this year’s exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, large force employment and combat air forces training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY – A report from a concerned resident about an aircraft in distress led to a large-scale search effort that ultimately ended with good news.

    At approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a military plane flying low to the ground, with smoke coming from an engine, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. The report came from a resident living on FM 1450, who reported what appeared to be a plane in distress, as well as smoke coming off of the ground. The sighting was reported near the county lines of Tyler and Polk.

    According to Weatherford, the first responders concentrated their search efforts around and near FM 1943 west of Warren, to US 190 west of Woodville, into Polk County. Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe said there were two AMBUS units staged in the two counties: one in Warren and one in Midway on 190.

    The search lasted for two hours, after the responders received information that the aircraft had made a safe landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish, La. Jobe said the report that launched the massive search was “a true mistake,” that the person who made the report saw the smoke on the ground, which was likely from a controlled burn that was taking place on the A-C reservation, and with the smoke coming from the plane, along with the fact that it was flying low, put the elements together and feared the worst.

    Jobe added there were probably a total of 12 or 15 ambulances involved, as well as three fire departments. “We had a whole lot of medical care response in about an hour,” Jobe said.

    Polk County OEM Coordinator Courtney Comstock and Alabama-Coushatta Tribal OEM Coordinator Willo Sylestine were also part of the efforts, Jobe said.

    Along with TCSO, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Game Wardens and Forestry Service also participated.

    Jobe said that although the search was the product of “a legitimate error” from a concerned resident in the area, emergency personnel will likely treat the experience as a training exercise.

    There will be an after-action review on Wednesday, Jobe said, which will be done cumulatively with the Emergency Management offices that were involved.

  • San Jacinto County law enforcement think fast in July stop

    San Jac SheriffsCOURTESY PHOTO San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers (center) presented Life Saving Awards to Pct. 3 constable Sam Houston (far left), deputies Stephen Countz (second from left) and Jonathan Cortez (second from right), and Pct. 2 constable Ray Atchley for their bravery in a fiery rescue on July 23.

    From Staff Reports

    A quartet of San Jacinto County law enforcement officers were recently honored for their heroism and bravery during a traffic stop in July.

    San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers gave Life Saving awards to a pair of his deputies and two of the county’s constables for their fast action in saving the life of a suspect who was on the run from several law enforcement agencies. San Jac Sheriff’s deputies Jonathan Cortez and Stephen Countz, Pct. 2 constable Ray Atchley and Pct. 3 constable Sam Houston all received the life-awards.

    The suspect, who’s name was not released, had a known gang affiliation and was in pursuit of several agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Walker County Sheriff’s Office before he came into San Jacinto County while driving east on State Highway 150. The suspect was driving a stolen pickup truck and was suspected of human trafficking.

    The pursuit started in Montgomery County on IH-45 before traveling east on SH 150 through New Waverly and crossing into San Jacinto County. Once the pursuit reached San Jacinto County, the chase went on for 4-5 miles before the suspect lost control of the vehicle, which overturned and hit a tree before bursting into flames.

    Atchley and Cortez were first on the scene before Countz and Houston arrived, and the four officers devised a plan to get the suspect out of harm’s way and put the fire out of the vehicle. Countz held the suspect at gunpoint as he had a loaded weapon and Atchley, Cortez and Houston tried to open a door to the truck.

    As flames grew while waiting on nearby volunteer fire departments to arrive, Atchley jumped in his truck and turned it around Houston and Cortez, with great risk to their own personal safety, began to tie a tow strap to the door of the suspect’s truck as Atchley jerked the window section of the door away from the post so they could remove the suspect from the interior of the flaming inferno while Countz held cover for officer safety. All of this was performed in a matter of a few seconds as the fire then engulfed the interior of the truck.

    The suspect was taken to Conroe Regional Hospital for treatment before Homeland Security took him into custody.

  • TCSO investigating Sunday morning homicide

    CrimeScene

    By Chris Edwards

    SPURGER – Authorities are investigating a homicide that occurred early Sunday morning near Spurger.

    According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies responded to a residence located on FM 1013, west of Spurger at 1:45 a.m., in reference to an individual being shot.
    Weatherford said that once the deputies were on the scene, they observed several individuals standing over the victim, a male, who appeared to have been shot multiple times in the chest and stomach area. The man, whose identity is not being released at this time by Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, pending his family’s notifications, was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Jim Moore. An autopsy will be conducted within the week in Beaumont.

    Weatherford said that prior to the victim being pronounced deceased, CPR was being administered to the victim, and the deputies assisted with medical attention until EMS arrived.

    TCSO deputies, along with Department of Public Safety state troopers were able to secure the scene and locate several shell casings near the victim’s body.

    Weatherford said that the residence was the scene of a party, where more than 100 individuals were gathered, yet “very little cooperation is being given by individuals that may have witnessed the shooting itself, or that are withholding information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) responsible for this homicide.”

    The murder was especially shocking to Kendall Coleman, owner of Coleman’s Family Mortuary and a community leader in Woodville. The victim’s body was taken to Coleman’s mortuary, and he made a public video on Facebook on Sunday morning. He said he had been hanging out at the party the night before, and when he received the call to come recover the victim’s body, it shocked him. He called the crime a “senseless act.”

    “Somebody saw something, somebody knows something. I’m pleading to you (to come forward) …it happened right here, in Tyler County,” Coleman said, and added that whoever committed the crime needs to be held accountable. “Do the right thing, turn yourself in,” Coleman said in the video, addressing whoever is responsible.

    Coleman said although he did not know the victim, it seemed especially tragic when he learned the man was a father and said that he especially feels sorrow for his family.

    Weatherford said that the circumstances around the murder are giving investigators a hard time identifying who the actor(s) may be.

    Anyone with information is asked to call the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at 409-283-2172, or Crime Stoppers at 936-639-TIPS. Tipsters calling into the Crime Stoppers hotline with information that leads to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward.

  • Todd hangs it up after 35-year career

                                   Retiring San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dan Todd (left) receives a plaque of appreciation from Sheriff Greg Capers during a retirement ceremony for Todd on Oct. 2 in Coldspring. Todd retired after a 35-year career.

    By Jason Chlapek

    SAN JACINTO COUNTY— When Dan Todd left the Houston Police Department after 30 years in 2015, he didn’t expect to get back in law enforcement.He had the opportunity a few months later to join the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department. After five years with the department, Todd is riding out into the sunset — again.

    Todd’s 35-year career came to an end on Oct. 2. A reception for the Point Blank resident took place that day at Paradise Grille in Coldspring.

    “When I came up here and built a house thinking I was going to retire, but after six months, I missed it and went to work for Sheriff (Greg) Capers,” Todd said. “I believed ineverything they were doing.”Todd held the title of Chief Deputy at the SJCSO. Capers talked about his retiring Chief Deputy as well.“Dan was a real good officer,” Capers said. “He has the highest integrity and I trusted him. That’s the reason why he was my chief. I wouldn’t appoint anyone to be my chief if I didn’t fully trust them. I’ll miss his humor. He’s a cut-up and he brought a lot of laughter, fun and joy to the office.”Todd talked about his career as well. He did “a little bit of everything” during his 30 years with HPD and five with SJCSO.

    “In HPD, I was with the SWAT containment team, instructor at the academy, undercovernarcotics, I was everywhere. I moved all over,” Todd said. “At the sheriff’s office, I ran calls, I took complaints, I worked in the jail, in the streets, undercover — I did everything.”Todd enjoyed the multiple hats he wore during his career. He said it comes with the territory.“That’s what you’ve got to do when you come into a police job,” Todd said. “You’ve got to be almost like an actor. You’ve got to adjust and go with it and do it the best you can.”Todd had a viewpoint on citizens during his career. He plans on hanging on to that viewpoint in retirement.“There’s only two kinds of people — good and bad,” Todd said. “That’s the way I looked at it my whole career. I don’t care what color you are, just whether you’re good or bad.”

    Capers made a few promotions to fill Todd’s spot. Tim Kean moves from lieutenant of the detective division to chief deputy, Larry Pohlmeyer moves from sergeant of the detective division to lieutenant, and Charles Dougherty goes back to patrol.As for Todd, he has plans for his retirement. He’ll do a variety of activities.“I’m going to travel a little bit,” Todd said. “I want to travel to see my daughter in North Carolina and I have a bucket list of places I want to travel to. I’m going to mix it up. I also like running cows and I’ll do a little fishing. Last time I fished every day for six months and I got tired of fishing. I didn’t think you could get tired of fishing, but if you do it all the time, you do.”But, like last time, he might decide to go back.

  • Tyler County deputies make arrests in Spurger area

    Richard Lyles Scott Sanford 2MUGSHOT Richard Lyles and Scott Sanford

    By Chris Edwards

    SPURGER – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford reported that his office has been busy lately in the southeastern end of the county.

    Last week, TCSO made two arrests in two separate incidents, which resulted in multiple charges, including narcotics possession and stolen property.

    Last Monday, when deputies with TCSO were patrolling in the Spurger area in the late afternoon, they stopped a Ford Expedition on a traffic violation along County Road 4426. According to Weatherford, when deputies made contact with the driver, identified as Richard Lyles, a 40-year-old Kountze resident, they learned his driver’s license had been expired since 2012.

    When they searched his vehicle, they discovered a Remington 552 rifle and were notified that Lyles was a convicted felon, which, under statute, makes it illegal for him to possess a firearm. Also discovered in the search was a small, clear plastic baggie containing a crystalline substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamines.

    The deputies took Lyles into custody, and transported him to the Tyler County Justice Center, where he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm; possession of controlled substance and no driver’s license. He later bonded out with his bonds set at $10,000 by Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe. Before Lyles left the jail, a Woodville woman was arrested when she arrived to pick him up.

    According to Weatherford, deputies saw Keiosha Rowinsky, a 29-year-old Woodville woman, drive into the Justice Center parking lot. They knew from previous encounters that she did not have a valid driver’s license and made contact with her. She admitted to the deputies she did not have a valid license and was placed under arrest.

    Deputies located two loaded syringes in her jacket pocket and purse, both of which field-tested postiive for methamphetamines.

    Several other items of drug paraphernalia were found inside her vehicle, Weatherford said, and she was charged with possession of a controlled substance and driving while license invalid. She later bonded out of jail on $5,000 bonds set by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

    The second incident Weatherford reported about in Spurger happened the next day, when deputies were patrolling in the early morning hours along County Road 4420. When the deputies on patrol approached CR 4426, they discovered two sets of small lights shining throughout a clear-cut section of the woods, according to Weatherford.

    The deputies then made contact with two individuals, whom they identified as Scott Sanford, age 39, of Silsbee and Rusty Mathis, of Spurger.

    Sanford was holding a Remington pump-action 30-06 rifle, and both men had small spotlights. “While checking the information on the rife, deputies learned that the rifle had been reported stolen in a late 2020 burglary that occurred in Colmesneil,” Weatherford said in a press release.

    Sanford was taken into custody and charged with theft of a firearm. At press time, he remains in jail with a $5,000 bond set by Jobe. Weatherford said he could face additional charges.