AP News: June 16, 2017


Gov. Abbott uses veto to block 50 mostly low-profile bills

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed 50 mostly low-profile bills approved by the Legislature, nixing everything from mandating training on sexual abuse prevention for public school students to allowing small counties to accept some mail-in election ballots.

Announced Thursday, the vetoes’ impacts weren’t far-reaching.

Many dealt with obscure or local issues.

One surprise was Abbott blocking a Republican-backed proposal that youngsters be instructed on how to avoid sexual abuse. But Abbott said he did so only because a similar measure also approved by lawmakers accomplished much the same thing while allowing families to opt out of such instruction.

The legislative session ended May 29, but Abbott has convened a 30-day special session starting July 18 to tackle 20 issues — including a “bathroom bill” targeting transgender Texans and school vouchers.



Fort Hood officials declare missing soldier dead

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Fort Hood officials have declared a missing soldier dead two months after he and his vehicle were swept away by a flash flood.

A Fort Hood statement Thursday identified the missing soldier as Spc. Darius Cooper. The 40-year-old soldier from San Antonio has been missing since early the morning of April 11, when he was washed away by flooded Clear Creek. A diver who was participating in the search died April 16 after she was found in distress.

The National Weather Service reported at the time that up to 8 inches of rain had fallen in the area of the sprawling Central Texas post.

Cooper was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.



Border Patrol raids aid camp, arrests 4 men from Mexico

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol released a statement saying agents served a search warrant at a southern Arizona humanitarian aid camp and arrested four men suspected of being in the country illegally.

The federal agency says agents tracked the men walking north before the four entered the camp run by No Mas Muertes, an organization that provides care for migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border Patrol says agents reached out to camp representatives Thursday but the talks were unsuccessful.

No Mas Muertes released a statement Thursday saying a helicopter, 15 trucks and 30 armed agents arrested four people receiving medical care.

Border Patrol says the four men were Mexican citizens.

Camp officials say the heavy presence of law enforcement has deterred people from accessing critical humanitarian assistance during this deadly hot weather.



The Latest: Pawn shop tip was key to capture of Lyle Jeffs

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The owner of a small-town South Dakota pawn shop says Lyle Jeffs revealed who he was on Tuesday when he pawned two pairs of Leatherman pliers for $37 and provided identification.

River City Treasures and Pawn owner Kevin Haug says a store employee in the small town of Yankton notified him that Jeffs was wanted by the FBI after Jeffs had left the store.

Haug says Jeffs provided his last name as his first name, going by Jeffs Lyle Steed.

Haug then read about Jeffs on the internet and called Yankton police. He says he provided officers with store video and pawn paperwork.

Haug says Jeffs also visited the store last week and tried to sell a tool but the store did not buy it that time and Jeffs did not identify himself during the earlier visit.

He says Jeffs during his first visit was fidgeting, seemed nervous and “acting like a freak.”

Yankton County Chief Deputy Sheriff Michael Rothschadl says authorities looked for Jeffs in the area because of the tip from the pawn shop



Admin revokes blocked program to protect immigrant parents

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is formally revoking an Obama-era program intended to protect immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents from deportation.

The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program was announced by the Obama administration in 2014 but was blocked by a federal judge in Texas after 26 states challenged the program’s legality in federal court.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly formally revoked the policy memo that created the program, which mirrored an earlier effort to protect young immigrants in the country illegally from deportation, late Thursday. It was revoked five years to the day President Barack Obama announced the protection efforts for young immigrants.

Revoking the memo and ending the stalled program fulfills a key campaign promise from President Donald Trump, who pledged to “immediately” cancel both efforts.



Grapefruit-size hail reported during West Texas storms

ODESSA, Texas (AP) — Storms packing winds of more than 60 mph and hail as big as grapefruit left behind damage in West Texas but no reported injuries.

The National Weather Service says the chance for more severe weather continued late Thursday in the Midland and Odessa area, followed by a heat wave this weekend. Meteorologist David Hennig (HEN’-ig) in Midland says temperatures could top 100 degrees Friday and Saturday.

Hennig says 4-inch hail was recorded Wednesday night near Odessa as storms dumped about an inch of rain. Odessa police warned of possible street flooding. The forecaster says winds reached 69 mph near Midland.

Nobody was hurt.

An Odessa car dealership posted photos online of rows of new cars with busted windows. Hennig says one Odessa apartment complex had some windows broken by hail.


This story has been corrected to show the storms happened Wednesday night, not Thursday night.



10-month-old boy fatally shot in father’s arms in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston police say a 10-month-old boy has been shot and killed in his father’s arms.

Houston homicide Sgt. Mark Holbrook says the man was taking his son for a walk when he was approached by three men Wednesday afternoon and one of them pulled a pistol and began shooting. As the father ran, the child was hit. The boy’s name was Messiah Justice Marshall.

Police say the dad ran up to the driver of a car nearby and yelled for help. The driver spotted a deputy constable at a convenience store nearby who summoned an ambulance, but the child died.

Authorities say the father told them he didn’t know the attacker or the gunman’s two companions.



West Texas elected official gets 2 years for public lewdness

ABILENE, Texas (AP) — Authorities say a West Texas elected official accused of groping a female sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to public lewdness and must serve two years of probation.

Taylor County Commissioner William Bradley Birchum of Abilene pleaded guilty Thursday to the misdemeanor count. An official oppression charge was dropped against the ex-sheriff’s lieutenant as part of a plea deal.

Birchum, who was elected in 2016, was also fined $1,500, must do 100 hours of community service and is required to take sex harassment prevention and sensitivity classes.

Investigators say a deputy reported unwanted sexual advances by Birchum during a February fundraising event in Buffalo Gap, to benefit volunteer fire departments.

Texas Rangers investigated. Birchum was indicted in March.

Birchum didn’t immediately return a message for comment Thursday.



Retail gasoline prices in Texas, nationwide down this week

COPPELL, Texas (AP) — Retail gasoline prices in Texas and the rest of the country have declined this week.

AAA Texas on Thursday reported the statewide price at the pump slipped a nickel to average $2.14 per gallon. Nationwide retail gasoline prices are down 4 cents this week to reach an average $2.32 per gallon.

The association survey found Amarillo has the cheapest gasoline in Texas this week at an average $1.98 per gallon. Drivers in Dallas and Fort Worth face the highest gasoline prices statewide at an average $2.19 per gallon.

AAA experts attribute the price drops to an unexpected buildup of crude oil inventories, ongoing high gasoline production, an increase in gasoline stocks and a drop in gasoline demand.



Report: Texas police rarely faulted in hundreds of deaths

(Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A newspaper investigation has found that only three Texas law enforcement officers were indicted out of the 289 cases in the last decade in which a person has died while in the custody of officers.

Separately, the investigation by the Austin American-Statesman also found only three instances in which an officer was fired or suspended for their actions following an in-custody death.

Punishment rarely occurred even when officers were found to have violated use-of-force or other policies.

Families of those who died in police custody often turned to civil courts to address their complaints. Since 2005 more than $20 million has been awarded to families in settlements and judgments.

The newspaper’s findings were largely based on a Custodial Death Report maintained by the Texas attorney general’s office.