AP News: June 15, 2017


Texas congressman’s staffer among those wounded in shooting

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A staffer for U.S. Rep. Roger Williams was among those shot and wounded when a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice, and Williams himself hurt his ankle — but the other three Republican Texas congressmen attending weren’t injured.

Williams, of Austin, identified the victim via Twitter as legislative correspondent Zack Barth.

He said Barth “is receiving medical attention but is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery.”

Also at practice were U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, Kevin Brady and Mike Conaway. Barton later said Williams hurt his ankle and is now using a walking boot.

A gunman identified as James T. Hodgkinson opened fire shortly after 7 a.m. and top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was among those injured.

Hodgkinson was fatally shot by police.



Lawmakers talk more security, packing a gun after shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — One congressman says he’s going to start carrying a gun in public. Others want beefed-up security at town hall meetings.

Wednesday’s shooting of a top Republican while he was practicing for a congressional baseball game has jolted lawmakers.

It also highlights their vulnerability when they are in public. Only the leaders of Congress get security details. Rank-and-file members do not.

That’s why Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York says he is going to start carrying a gun in public.

On Wednesday morning, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot as the Republican baseball team practiced for its annual game against congressional Democrats.

Two members of the Capitol Police were injured along with a congressional aide and a lobbyist. The assailant died after the incident.



Texas officer defends actions in videotaped December arrest

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A white Texas police officer says he regrets asking a mother why she didn’t teach her son not to litter during the December arrest of the black woman and her two teenage daughters.

Fort Worth police officer William Martin spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday in his appeal of a 10-day suspension for excessive force in the incident that was viewed millions of times after a cellphone video was posted on social media. Martin, who has already served the suspension, defended his physical actions, including use of force.

Police responded after a neighbor allegedly choked Craig’s young son after seeing him litter. Martin is seen wrestling Jacqueline Craig and one of her daughters to the ground before arresting them and another daughter. Charges against them were later dropped.



Homeless, but not voiceless, at Carnegie Hall

NEW YORK (AP) — They’re homeless, but a group of men and women from Texas has made it to Carnegie Hall.

The storied New York City concert hall is the venue Wednesday evening for a performance by the Dallas Street Choir, all singers recruited from urban streets and homeless shelters that have been performing since 2015.

About 20 members of the choir were to be joined by 17 residents of a Manhattan homeless shelter.

Concert proceeds benefit homeless services charities.

Dallas Street Choir conductor Jonathan Palant has also brought in some world-class musical luminaries for the performance. They include mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, soprano Harolyn Blackwell and composers Jake Heggie and Stephen Schwartz.

Carnegie Hall archivist Gino Francesconi says it is the first time the hall has featured a musical ensemble of homeless performers.



Charges added against mom of boy left in Mexican warehouse

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — West Texas police have added new charges against the mother of a 4-year-old boy found in February in an abandoned warehouse in Mexico.

Ruby Esmeralda Gonzalez already had been charged with child abandonment and endangerment. Now, police have added charges of intentional injury to a child and filing a false report against the 25-year-old El Paso woman.

Gonzalez initially reported her son had been kidnapped. Investigators now believe Gonzalez took the boy, identified as American, to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Feb. 22. They say she left him at an old warehouse and then she returned home. Mexican officials who found the boy say he speaks and understands English.

Online records don’t list an attorney for Gonzalez, whose bond amounts total $120,000.

The child remains in Mexican social services custody.



14-year-old Texas boy shot to death by twin aiming for snake

DAYTON, Texas (AP) — Authorities say a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot his twin brother to death when he fired at a snake in Southeast Texas.

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office says they don’t anticipate any charges being filed in the shooting Monday afternoon.

Sheriff’s officials said one twin died Tuesday night at a Houston hospital. The boys’ names have not been released.

Investigators say the twins fetched two .22-caliber rifles from their home near Dayton after spotting a snake in a water-filled ditch.

Deputy John Tucker says one of the teens bent over toward the snake just as his brother aimed and fired. Tucker says the victim was shot in the head.

Dayton is 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Houston.



Charges dropped against Miss Black Texas in Commerce arrest

COMMERCE, Texas (AP) — Charges have been dropped against Miss Black Texas 2016 a day after an East Texas police chief was cleared of wrongdoing in her arrest.

Prosecutors cited lack of evidence Tuesday in the May 20 arrest of Carmen Ponder for evading arrest.

The 23-year-old college student initially said Commerce police Chief Kerry Crews was a white driver who allegedly made racial and sexist comments after a traffic-related dispute.

Authorities later determined a store parking-lot confrontation, after Ponder passed a vehicle, involved another white man teaching his daughter to drive.

Commerce officials Monday said a review found no wrongdoing by Crews.

Officials say Crews was off-duty, in plainclothes and in the store when he learned of the dispute. Ponder was arrested after allegedly walking away as the chief asked her to remain.



Arkansas farmers sue over crop damage blamed on herbicide

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — A group of Arkansas farmers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the makers of the herbicide dicamba that they blame for damaging their crops.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Jonesboro, Arkansas, against Monsanto Co. and BASF Corp. In a statement, plaintiffs’ attorney Phillip Duncan says his clients seek unspecified damages for damage to crops, fruits and trees that weren’t dicamba-resistant.

He also said dicamba also damaged crops in other states throughout the 2016 growing season, including in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

A Monsanto spokeswoman said the company hadn’t seen the lawsuit and deferred comment. A message to BASF was not returned.



California aims to quash immigration detention growth

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — California is aiming to quash the growth of immigration detention in the state in a proposed budget measure to push back against the Trump administration’s plans to boost deportations.

The state’s $125 billion budget is set to be approved Thursday. A related measure would prevent local governments from signing contracts with federal authorities for immigration detention facilities or expanding existing contracts. It would also have the state attorney general review conditions at immigration detention facilities in California.

The budget was negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders.

The proposal is the latest in a series of moves by California lawmakers aimed at protecting immigrants in the country illegally from President Donald Trump’s efforts to ramp up immigration enforcement.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on pending legislation.



Ex-Texas educator says illegal steps taken to boost scores

(Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A former West Texas school official has testified that he conspired with other educators to rig test scores and take other illegal steps to meet federal accountability standards.

Former El Paso Associate Superintendent Damon Murphy said in court Tuesday that administrators also falsely inflated scores for 10th-graders, in part by placing students in the wrong grades.

Accountability standards at the time were based largely on 10th grade standardized test scores.

Murphy in January pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The El Paso Times reported Murphy testified as part of a federal trial that began this week for five former El Paso educators accused of fraudulently boosting test scores, attendance and graduation rates.

Former Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was previously sentenced to 3½ years in prison for his role in the scandal.