Remains Found in Field that Could Belong to Christina Morris. The search for more evidence will continue this morning in a field in Anna. Kidnapping victim Christina Morris has been missing since 2014, and authorities found partial skeletal remains that could be hers. The medical examiner’s office will process the remains in order to make an identification.
Dallas DA Candidate Won’t Yet Concede Democratic Primary. Elizabeth Davis Frizell was losing to John Creuzot by only 516 votes yesterday morning. Creuzot seems to be the winner, but Frizell’s campaign has not yet commented on whether she will want a recount or concede the race. Whoever wins will run against incumbent Faith Johnson in November.
Mavs Suspend Employee for Allegedly Racist Comment in 2016. While the sexual misconduct allegations against Mark Cuban from 2011 are still being investigated, the Mavs had to suspend Roger Caneda, the general manager of Mavs Gaming, for tweeting a racist comment two years ago.
Chip and Joanna Gaines Having a Baby Boy. Chip tweeted yesterday that the couple is having a boy—the fifth child for the Fixer Upper stars.
Dirk and Rick Carlisle Comment on Mavs’ Sexual Harassment News. Following the story on improper workplace conduct in the Mavs’ organization, Dirk’s response was on point: “It’s tough. It’s very disappointing. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad it’s all coming out. I was disgusted when I read the article, obviously, as everybody was. I was shocked by some of the stuff. Just really really disappointed that in our franchise—my franchise—that stuff like that was going on. It’s just very sad.” Carlisle added that, “I also have a 13-year-old daughter and I want her to know that it’s both brave and safe to speak out.” Dirk said that Mark Cuban is hiring investigators to find answers. In addition to dealing with this scandal, he created another one for himself when he said the Mavs should lose on purpose to get a better lottery position. He was fined $600,000.
Police Detain Three Students Due to Guns and Threats. Three students from three Dallas-area schools are in custody for having guns or making threats. A student was detained yesterday for bringing a gun to Duncanville High School. A student from Carrollton’s Creekview High was detained Tuesday for making social media threats about a school shooting. Yesterday, a student brought a BB gun to Arlington’s Bowie High. When will it stop?
Dwaine Caraway Threatened Following NRA Comments. After Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway suggested that the NRA national convention in May go somewhere other than Dallas, he received threats and menacing messages. I truly don’t understand how people can still be against further gun control after all the school shootings that have happened.
Billy Graham Dies at Age 99. The evangelist, who had many ties to Texas and Dallas, died yesterday at his home in North Carolina.
John Battaglia To Be Executed Today. 62-year-old Battaglia, who murdered his daughters in 2001 at his Deep Ellum loft, had postponed execution twice for his attorneys to evaluate mental competency, but he was eventually deemed competent. He is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. this evening.
Grand Jury Clears Police in Killing of July 7 Gunman. The criminal investigation of the Dallas cops who killed the July 2016 gunman came to an end yesterday after 18 months. The cops were, unsurprisingly, cleared of wrongdoing.
SWAT Officer and Nurse Save Life During Church Ceremony. A man went into cardiac arrest during an awards ceremony at the Cathedral Guadalupe. Senior Cpl. Darian Loera and registered nurse Magali Reynoso acted quickly: Loera did chest compressions and Reynoso used a defibrillator. After Ron Heflin started breathing again, he was taken to a hospital.
Bike-Share Ultimatum Delivered. Add City Manager T.C. Broadnax to the list of people fed up with the unregulated onslaught of rental bikes tangled up on Dallas sidewalks, trails, and bodies of water. In a letter to the five bike-share companies now hawking their product here, Broadnax on Thursday warned that they have until Feb. 5 to get their act together, which involves moving bikes off of narrow sidewalks and away from sidewalk ramps and unpaved surfaces, among other requests. Otherwise, the city will begin collecting some of the 20,000 or so rental bikes in Dallas itself.
Here’s That Panhandling Lawsuit Against the City That Everyone Knew Was Coming. And it’s from no less than the “Will Rap For Weed” woman, Yvette Gbalazeh, the Deep Ellum cannabis enthusiast and street activist turned novelty gubernatorial candidate. Gbalazeh, arrested twice for solicitation in 2016, alleges that the city’s panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional, an assertion that the city attorney and police chief seem to agree with, which is why it is not presently being enforced. Her lawyer smells class action.
Local Connection to the Most Horrific Story of the New YearFound. The man and woman charged in California with torturing and imprisoning their 13 children for years allegedly started the abuse when they were living near Fort Worth.
County Commissioner Candidate Makes Questionable Offer. In a recorded phone call, J.J. Koch told Stephen Stanley, his opponent in the race for the northern Dallas County commissioner’s seat, that he would pay Stanley’s campaign debt if Stanley dropped out of the race. It is, at least, a very bad look for Koch, and at most, attempted bribery. Stanley sent a complaint to the state Attorney General’s office.
Timberlawn Shutting Down. The troubled East Dallas psychiatric hospital will close on Feb. 1 after a number of incidents called into question patients’ safety there.
It’s Not That Cold. We might even hit 60-something degrees Saturday, if you can believe it.
Former Hicks Estate Sells for $36.2 Million. A local developer—Mehrdad Moayedi, CEO of Centurion American Development Group—bought the 25-acre North Dallas property on Walnut Hill Lane. He plans to preserve the original house and build other luxury homes elsewhere on the land.
Suspected Bank Robber Arrested in East Dallas. The man was arrested yesterday near North Hall and Live Oak streets and is suspected of robbing four banks in the last two days. The robberies took place at Compass Bank on Oak Lawn, Compass Bank on Abrams, Chase Bank on Marsh, and Wells Fargo on Northwest Highway.
More Flu-Related Deaths in Dallas County. This could be one of the county’s worst flu seasons. A 73-year-old and an 80-year-old died from complications with the flu. “Right now it looks to be a real serious flu season, and so we need to make sure everyone practices steps for prevention. We’re seeing an increase in our flu cases, so that is a concern,” said Zachary Thompson, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department. Almost 400 people have been hospitalized for the flu since September in Dallas County. Stay healthy, people.
Mayor Rawlings Announces New Goals for Dallas. During his State of the City address yesterday, he said he has to a goal to, well, come up with new goals. He wants to implement a major strategic plan, Goals for Dallas 2030, to cultivate strategies for things like infrastructure, technology, housing, and education. Rawlings said it’s finally the right time to tackle the big picture. “Hopefully, it’s not my plan. It’s the city of Dallas’ plan, because if it’s the mayor’s plan, it will be thrown in the dustbin,” he said.
More Theaters Cut Ties With Lee Trull. After the DTC fired Trull, their director of new play development, for inappropriate behavior, other theaters he’s worked with are following suit. Stage West canceled Trull’s plans to direct a regional premiere in March. Kitchen Dog Theater cut ties with him. Playwright Kate Hamill and composer Shawn Magill ceased work on the musical adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea they were developing with DTC and Trull. Second Thought Theatre retracted the offer for Trull to direct Hillary and Clinton in January. I have a feeling the list will keep growing.
Sherin Mathews’ Parents Can’t Contact Surviving Daughter. A Dallas judge blocked them from contacting their surviving 3-year-old. Child Protective Services doesn’t have to help them work to regain custody. Both Wesley and Sini Mathews still face criminal charges regarding Sherin’s case. A civil trial sometime in early 2018 will determine whether they will regain their parental rights. Their surviving daughter has been temporarily placed with relatives.
SMU Hunt Leadership Scholars Program Receives $15 Million. The Nancy Ann Hunt Foundation gave SMU the money to help support Hunt scholars. There are 20 scholars selected every year, and they receive annual financial aid that comes close to a full ride. The scholarship has aided 372 students to date.
Four New Parks May Be Headed to Downtown. After the bond package was approved, Dallas philanthropist Robert Decherd wants to move ahead with the construction of four new downtown parks—Pacific Plaza, Harwood Park, Carpenter Park, and a West End park. He wants them all to be completed within a few years.
Dallas Police Increasing Foot Patrols to Deter Crime. Chief U. Renee Hall’s new crime reduction initiative will send more officers to high-crime areas to talk to residents, carry out warrants, and prevent criminal activity. Overall crime in Dallas is lower than it has been, but business robberies and aggravated assaults have risen lately. The south-central and northwest parts of Dallas are the most affected areas.
Body Found Outside Old East Dallas Home. A killer is at large after the body of 24-year-old Julio Navarete-Leal was found yesterday in the driveway of a home in Old East Dallas. Police say no suspects are in custody and they have yet to determine a motive.
AT&T Outage Reported in Dallas. Last night, AT&T users reported an outage here and in other cities after they realized they couldn’t make or receive calls. AT&T suggested restarting your phone, which might have to be done multiple times. They said “that should resolve the issue,” even though they still don’t know what the issue is.
Execution Date Set for John Battaglia. The man who shot his two daughters in his Deep Ellum loft in 2001 as their mother listened on the phone will be executed February 1 in Huntsville. Battaglia was first scheduled for execution in March of last year but was granted a stay to appeal his sentence. The date was then moved to December 2016, but he was granted another stay to evaluate his competency, which was eventually confirmed.
Houston Astros Win First World Series Ever. They secured a 5-1 victory in game seven over the Dodgers in Los Angeles last night. Former Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish didn’t look so good pitching for L.A. He lasted less than two innings and allowed all five runs. The other Dodgers pitching ace, Highland Park’s Clayton Kershaw, threw four scoreless innings, but it wasn’t enough for a comeback. Congrats, Houston!
Garland Task Force Created to Battle Gang Activity. Recently, Garland has seen an increase in gang activity, whether fights or criminal mischief. To focus on it, Garland police have formed a task force, which could lead to a permanent police gang unit. Overall crime in Garland, however, is down compared to last year.
Record-Breaking Heat Today. The high will be 91 or 92, depending on your source. Temps have never gotten up to 90 degrees in November in D-FW since records started more than a century ago. I really thought Dallas summer was behind us at this point. Sigh.
Body Confirmed as Missing 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. Police confirmed yesterday that the body they found in a culvert is that of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. Wesley Mathews’ new story is that Sherin eventually drank her milk in their garage but began to choke, and her breathing slowed. Her father didn’t feel a pulse and believed her to be dead. He confessed to police that he removed her body from the house. Why he didn’t wake his nurse wife, Sini Mathews, is confounding. Autopsy results are pending and will determine Sherin’s cause of death. Wesley Mathews faces up to life in prison.
Dallas Rep Eric Johnson Wants Confederate Plaque Gone. Johnson has been making his case for a long time about removing the plaque with a nod to the Confederacy outside his office at the Texas Capitol. But on Friday, he’ll bring his case to Gov. Greg Abbott. Earlier this week, Johnson filed a formal request with the state to take it down.
4,000 Dallas Jobs Up for Grabs Tomorrow. With the impending holiday rush, about a dozen Dallas-area companies need to hire a lot of people for $15 to $25 per hour. The “You’re Hired! Job Fest” is happening tomorrow afternoon at the Sheraton downtown. Some of these seasonal positions—at companies like UPS, FedEx Ground, and Ashley Furniture—could lead to full-time gigs.
Trump in Dallas Today. He’s here to get $4 million for the GOP and his re-election fund. He’ll be at the Belo Mansion downtown, a few blocks away from the D Mag office. Yay.
Once again, if you haven’t been following along at home, Folio: is a trade magazine about magazines. Every year Folio: hands out awards for the best editorial (Eddie Awards) and design (Ozzie Awards) work done across the country, both digital and in print. Yesterday, in the “city and regional” category, we won three.
We won an Ozzie for best use of digital photography for our May cover, about the Tobolowsky murder. The image was created by C.J. Burton, and the cover was designed by our own Kevin Goodbar, who also came up with the concept.
We won an Eddie for best series of articles. They were written by our own Matt Goodman about the Duntsch trial. You can find his reports and the cover story he wrote here.
And, finally, we won an Eddie for best news coverage, for a series of reports on Dallas City Council meetings written by Barrett Brown. You can find those here. In typical Barrett fashion, he was not humbled by the win. One of the publications he beat was something produced by the New York City Police Department. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook yesterday:
Ten years ago, upon moving to Brooklyn, I was grabbed off the street along with a couple of Puerto Ricans I was hanging out with, thrown up against a wall, called a “liar” for claiming I wasn’t buying drugs from them, searched, and then released with a warning that they were going to rob me. That was my first, though by no means last, experience with the NYPD. Today I was up against the New York Police Department’s NYPD News for “Best Local and Regional Coverage” award from Folio. I just beat them. Fuck you, pigs, and fuck your little pretend newspaper. Also, the drugs were in my sock.
Garland Firearms Dealer Recalls Vegas Shooter. Paul Peddle, owner of B & S Guns in Garland, sold guns to Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock in 2010 and 2011. Peddle also remembers Paddock visiting the shop last year with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley. Peddle said Paddock didn’t buy anything this most recent time but inquired about modifying a gun to make it easier to pull the trigger. Apparently Paddock hadn’t purchased long guns from him that could’ve been used in the shooting.
Body Found in Fort Worth Could Be Tied to Arlington Slaying. Fort Worth police found a body inside a vacant home after receiving a tip from Arlington police. The body may be connected to a double killing last month in Arlington when a severed head was found near AT&T Stadium. Two suspects had been arrested in the Arlington case. A medical examiner will determine the Fort Worth deceased person’s identity and cause of death.
Man Drowned in Lake Ray Hubbard. DPD identified the victim as 51-year-old Prince Slaughter, whom they pulled from the lake near John Paul Jones Park. He drowned while attempting to swim to his boat that had drifted away from the shore. A witness was able to pull him to shore, but by that time it was already too late.
Task Force Wants Robert E. Lee Statue in Museum. The mayor’s Task Force on Confederate Monuments said yesterday that the Lee statue should be moved to a museum from storage. It could be given as a gift or a long-term loan. The Cultural Affairs Commission and City Council will have to figure out the details.
Jury to Start Deliberations in Jason Lowe Murder Trial. Today a jury will begin to discuss the fate of 28-year-old Jason Lowe, the Richardson man charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Jessie Bardwell. He testified yesterday that he had sexted with a few other women while Jessie lay dead in his SUV for a week. He also said she died after falling in the shower. If convicted, Jason will face up to life in prison. His story sounds, at best, shaky.
Theaster Gates Wins Nasher Prize. The 44-year-old was awarded the third annual Nasher Prize for sculpture last night. His work couldn’t be more relevant.
Megashelter for Harvey Evacuees to Close. The downtown megashelter for Harvey evacuees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will close today. The remaining 200 evacuees there will move to a shelter at Oak Cliff’s Tommie M. Allen Recreation Center, the final Harvey shelter open in Dallas.
Dallas County Votes, Keeps Tax Rates the Same. Commissioners voted yesterday to keep tax rates the same for county government and Parkland Memorial Hospital, even though property values have been increasing. Their reasoning for not cutting county tax rates was to fund raises for employees and fill in a budget hole of $13 million.
Hearing Today for Temporary Restraining Order Stopping Removal of Robert E. Lee Statue. Yesterday, the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Oak Lawn was halted by a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater due to a complaint from attorney Kirk Lyons. The hearing is set for today at 1:30 p.m.
Dallas Bankers Accused of Defrauding Bank out of $1.2 Million. Three former officials with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas are accused of faking business travel to get $1.2 million worth of lavish trips paid for by the bank. Terence C. Smith (former president and chief executive officer), Nancy B. Parker (former chief information officer), and Michael J. Sims (former chief financial officer) have been charged in federal court. Over five years, they used bank money for things like luxury hotel rooms, pricey liquor and vineyard tours, and concerts.
Angela Paxton Launches Texas Senate Campaign. The wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking the District 8 seat that her husband used to hold. She’ll run against Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Phillip Huffines in the GOP Senate primary in March.
Jaguars from Texas Zoo, Damaged by Harvey, Arrive at Dallas Zoo.Two jaguars from Victoria’s Texas Zoo are finding shelter at the Dallas Zoo in the wake of Harvey floods. “We’re now focused on ensuring their stay is as comfortable as possible until we know more about the state of their home,” the Dallas Zoo said via Facebook.
Frisco Men Face Up to Life in Prison for Hate Crimes. Nigel Garrett and Cameron Ajiduah pleaded guilty to using the dating app Grindr to target and assault gay men in a series of home invasions earlier this year. They could get up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. “The Justice Department will not tolerate hate crimes against any individual based on sexual orientation. Hate crimes are violent crimes but also attack the fundamental principles of the United States,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said.
Capital Murder Conviction Reversed, Court Says Evidence Withheld. Dallas man Jerome Deamus was convicted of capital murder for allegedly killing two brothers at a nightclub in 2013. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 without parole. Now, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas discovered that a prosecutor didn’t turn over two eyewitness statements to the defense and withheld other evidence that would undermine an eyewitness. The judge found the evidence to be insufficient for capital murder, so Deamus will have a new trial in Dallas County.
Felon at Large Following Aggravated Assaults in Southern Dallas. Dylan Cordelro Jackson is wanted on six felony counts, including aggravated assault and family violence. The 28-year-old was convicted aggravated assault in 2007 and got seven years in prison. He also shot at a car in 2016. After Jackson posted bond in January, he tracked down his ex-girlfriend and threatened her with a gun. Police consider him armed and dangerous and welcome any information on his whereabouts.
There isn’t anything about Venice Parker’s grave that would tip you off to the impact her death had on Dallas, particularly among black activists, attorneys, and judges. She’s buried about a hundred or so yards into the Oak Cliff Cemetery, the city’s oldest, now a time-warp of a place just east of Interstate 35, off 8th Street. Parker’s grave is marked by a simple, single rectangular stone, the last of four plots in a row. It notes her name, birth, and death: April 7, 1922 – September 30, 1953.
There were about 20 of us gathered around that grave yesterday morning: Dallas County Medical Examiner Dr. Jeffrey Barnard and his team, representatives from the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, a funeral director from Fort Worth, cemetery trustees, and journalists from D Magazine. We were there to exhume her body, to look for physical evidence that could exonerate Tommy Lee Walker, the man who’d been sent to the electric chair for her rape and murder.
Mary Mapes made the argument for Walker’s innocence in a May 2016 story for D, reporting that, for one thing, Walker’s child was born the night of the murder. He was at the hospital. That is just one of many reasons to believe that Wade sent an innocent man to his death.
In this episode of EarBurner, Mary tells the story of Parker’s murder and makes the case for Walker’s innocence, walking us through the eight-year reporting process that led us to Parker’s grave. We’ll have more for you on Monday, with video and photos and a report from Mary. Today, enjoy a special edition of EarBurner, with Mapes chatting with Tim and Zac at the Old Monk, reflecting on the project that she and her husband, Mark Wrolstad, have dedicated years to investigating, to find the truth for the Walker and the Parker families. Show notes after the jump.
2. The Oak Cliff Cemetery, where Venice is buried, is the oldest public cemetery in Dallas. It’s quite fascinating: You’ll find graves that date back to 1844. Sam Houston’s son is buried here. You’ll find Dallas legacies like Stemmons and Sprague here. It’s worth a trip into East Oak Cliff.
4. Dr. Jeffrey Barnard has been the county’s medical examiner for more than 25 years. Here is a nice Q&A The Dallas Morning News did with him from 2011. Note the discussion about retaining evidence for use in exonerations.
Craig Miller became the DISD police chief more than six years ago, after 30 years with the Dallas Police Department. I worked with him when he was still with DPD and I was still with the City Attorney’s Office. When I received a call from a DISD teacher concerned about safety measures in her secondary school following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, I checked in with him to find out how the DISD Police Department is responding. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
I don’t know much about the DISD Police Department. How does it work? We’re the second largest school district police department in Texas. If you had 1,100 police chiefs in Texas, roughly 180 of those are going to be school district police departments. In the state of Texas, 90 percent of all police agencies have less than 30 people on the department. We’re up around 200 people in our department. If you put things in perspective, not just compared to school police departments, we’re in the top 5 percent of the largest police agencies in the state.
Who does your department report to? I think, for me, one of the things that’s important to the school district is that our police department actually works for the superintendent of schools. When you’re an SRO [School Resource Officer] for a municipal police department, you’re actually still working for your police department. If you’re in Richardson, Plano, Garland, Mesquite—they have SROs that work in schools, but those SROs are still assigned as employees to their police departments. Me and the guys that work for me are actually employees of Dallas ISD. I think for that reason, we have a responsibility to work with the campuses and the administrators because we’re all on the same team.
How do individual schools develop safety plans? I think when things like Florida happen, I think all of us feel the sorrow for the people experiencing the problem. Then we realize how important it is that we have a plan and we know what we’re going to do in the event something should happen. The emergency management function for the school district falls under the police department. We’re responsible for the safety plans that the campuses get, the Campus Emergency Operations Plan or CEOP. We work with them in the fall. In doing that, there’s a part that deals with active shooters, and the expectation is that every school in the district, in the first two weeks of school, will do an active shooter lockdown situation. We kind of start the school year off with that because we have a lot of principals that change here. Each new school year brings about new challenges for each of the campuses. Emergency management folks work with them on their plans.
Are the drills only done once a year? In the fall, the state of Texas requires that you do one type of drill. Dallas ISD does two drills. One is a lockdown drill, and then another type of drill. That doesn’t include a fire drills, which they do all the time. Then in the springtime we do, once again, two more drills. Those include the weather, shelter in place drills for the storms that come through Texas. I feel like we’re prepared that way. I just think anytime something like this happens, it’s a shock. There’s always outrage. How could this happen? I think it’s just a reminder to us of how important our function is here.
What do you think that DISD is getting right in terms of student safety? I think physical security is really important. I think two years from now, there’ll be a question when the civil lawsuits come out in the case in Florida about how did this person get onto the campus and get into the school to pull their alarm and then get back out? With many doors on our schools, I think it’s really important that we harden our facilities. Since most of our resources are placed at the secondary campuses, the middle schools and the high schools, I think it’s really important that we provide the elementary schools with things to make their lives easier. That really came about after Sandy Hook happened, and we were given $2 million. With that $2 million we were able to do some real enhancements in physical security. When you go up to the school, you’re greeted by a buzzer that has a camera. You talk to the buzzer. Then we made sure the portables all have the doors that have the peephole in them where a teacher can actually be 7 feet away from the door and see who’s knocking on their door. Previously, they didn’t know who was knocking.
Card access is something that we’ve really rolled out following Sandy Hook, and then we have crazy cool, intricate camera systems in our secondary schools and middle schools and high schools. We didn’t, at that time, have so much camera coverage in any of the elementary schools. Today, we have camera systems in all the schools in the district. I really think that’s something DISD is really getting right.
I heard from one DISD teacher who said she was concerned that her school has a secure front door, but there were a number of side access doors that were never locked. On several occasions, she had discovered former students and other individuals roaming the halls without authorization. She felt that her administrators weren’t taking the issue seriously. If teachers are seeing a failure in security on campus, how is that best handled? I think that the mantra going across the country right now is “See something, say something.” I personally take it another level and I say, “See something, say something, do something.” If you’re a teacher and you are aware that other teachers are leaving doors open, or there’s access points where an intruder could come in and violate your safety, it’s your responsibility to report that to your campus administrator and have them work with our emergency management folks. If you are at a school that’s a secondary school and you have a police officer or security on that campus, you can actually reach out to the police officer who’s on campus and say, “Hey, I’m noticing this, what do you think?” I think a lot of the times, if you really get into that “do something” part of the phrase—don’t sit there if you know there’s a problem. We can’t fix it unless you let us know.
Part of the problem with the shooting in Parkland appears to be the fact that the local police department, and even the FBI, had received prior complaints about the shooter, but that information was not followed up on or communicated to the school. Do you feel that you have a good line of communication with DPD and federal authorities? I tell you what I feel comfortable with, Kathy, is the fact that with 158,000 kids—and I have no idea if 100,000 of them are on social media or what the number is—it’s impossible for us to monitor every kid’s social media site. I think that gets back once again to that “See something, say something, do something.” When it’s brought to our attention that a student has made a threat, similar to what happened in Florida, I do believe that we do a very good job of vetting those complaints, those concerns. It’s an ongoing thing, where one parent will have heard from another parent who heard it from a parent that a child said they were going to do this. It’s incumbent upon us to be able to review those things. You and I, being from the city, have a great relationship with DPD. And the ability to reach out to the North Central Texas Fusion Center, gives us an asset being here in a large city, that a lot of places may not have. If we think there’s a threat, if we determine that there’s a level of credibility and it indeed rises to that level, we have the ability to reach out to the Fusion Center, which is an incredible intelligence source and can help us out. I feel real comfortable that when threats are brought to our attention, that we act on those threats and do everything we can to vet them and to ensure whether or not they’re legitimate.
The teacher I talked with was also concerned that metal detectors weren’t being used appropriately at her school, and that while students walked through them, their bags weren’t being searched. Do you think they are an effective tool? I think that metal detectors are something that there’s a lot of debate about. The Houston ISD’s larger than us, and they don’t use metal detectors. They use wands. I think that’s one of the things, moving forward, is doing random spot checks with wands, might be more effective. Our district’s stand is still to use metal detectors in the secondary schools and that’s what we do. Are they successful or not? I know that we don’t get weapons as they come through metal detectors. I know that we had a situation a couple years ago, a student did come through a metal detector and inadvertently shot himself in the leg. That tells me right there that they can get on the campuses. That’s the way it is. I think that it’s just incumbent upon us to stay vigilant, and when a kid says they think there’s another student with a gun, or when anything comes to our attention that we think there might be a gun, that we investigate each of those. I think that’s the beauty of us.
What’s your approach to potentially violent students? I can tell you something that the DISD is doing, I think, that’s really out of the box. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “restorative justice“? In our situation, a lot of times, a student, possibly like the one in Florida, might have been intercepted after having 36 calls to the police. Having his own history, he might have been interjected here into a restorative justice type of program. In doing that, he would have been surrounded in this circle, and had a chance to really vent and say the things that were going on, or the concerns, or thoughts that he had. In our scenario, a Dallas ISD police officer would have been a part of that restorative team. I think that’s trying to foster kids to come forward and tell campus officers. If you’re aware of something, let your campus officer know. I don’t know if they were doing this in Florida, and I don’t pretend to, but I know that in our district we’re moving forward with that restorative justice program.
How has DISD historically handled it when kids have brought weapons into schools? Our goal as police officers in schools is not to criminalize children. I always want to work with a kid. If it’s just a failed threat, and they don’t actually have a weapon, that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t arrest them, but I think it’s our intent to try and find out what the problem is. A couple years ago, we had the clown threats and we had a lot of stuff going on. We had kids that weren’t in school and people were concerned, and we handled that in the appropriate way. I do think that we investigate those crimes that we feel are appropriate to be investigated. And if they need to be criminalized in our school district police department, I’ve got the exact same arrest capabilities I have right now as a DISD police officer as I did when I was a Dallas police officer—no more, no less. Being school employees, our goal is to try and work with these kids and not give them a criminal record, but if someone does something that warrants being interjected into the criminal system, we’ll certainly do that.
I read a Dallas Morning Newsinterview with you, I think it was several years ago, where you were talking about the training that the officers go through for school shootings. You mentioned that, down the road, you wanted to see teachers receive active shooting training, but at the time I think it wasn’t an option or wasn’t a priority. Is that something that’s happening now? Well, I don’t think it’s not a priority. I just think that we’ve still not really evolved to where we have teachers engaged in that. I think a part of that problem is the fact that schoolteachers are what I refer to as 187-day employees. They’re off in the summer, and they’re off on the breaks. When the teachers are off in the summer and off on the breaks is when our police officers really have an opportunity to train them. We’ve not been able to marry up those two to where we can get teachers involved in our active shooter training. They get introduced to active shooters and what to do through the Campus Emergency Operation Plans.
When school shootings like the one in Parkland happen, does it prompt any sort of internal analysis? Unfortunately, in our world, to be honest with you, Kathy, major events are what prompts major change. Look what happened after Columbine. Police officers learned, as a result of Columbine, that we really don’t have the opportunity to wait for backup in some instances. Even with lesser resources, we’re going to have to handle that. Then you look at what happened in Virginia Tech, and the Clery Act that was basically introduced about that time, and how it’s enhanced today where you can notify 50,000 students at the University of Texas that there’s a problem. Then Sandy Hook prompted the changes that we made to physical security. One of the very first things we did that didn’t cost very much money at all was to put that peepholes in the doors of 1,500 portables. It’s as big as a silver dollar on the inside, and it looks like a peephole on the outside. And then we put the cameras in all of the elementary schools. We started card access, and we put what I call the buzzer intercom systems, some people refer to it as the 8-ball system, at the front of the school where you push the button and then you talk and you’re on a camera. We did all of those. Look at what’s taken place with Dallas PD following the shooting there—the officers getting millions of dollars to get Kevlar helmets, to get Kevlar vests. Sensational events prompt sensational things.
Gunman Kills Richardson Cop and Another Victim. The Richardson officer, whose name has not yet been released, was responding to a disturbance call at an apartment last night when he was fatally shot. The gunman also killed another person before he surrendered and was taken into custody. This was the first on-duty officer death in Texas this year.
Twice-Convicted Felons May Be Able to Serve on Dallas Boards. A City Council proposal discussed yesterday suggests that two-time felons wouldn’t necessarily be disqualified from sitting on Dallas boards and commissions anymore. This came after the removal of Marlon Rollins from the Park Board for undiscovered felony convictions. Most council members were in support of the proposal. Matt Goodman wrote about the topic last week for Frontburner.
Amazon Starts Grocery Service with Whole Foods Today. Amazon Prime Now is rolling it out in Dallas, Austin, and two other cities today. It’s free for Prime Now members for guaranteed two-hour delivery, and Whole Foods employees pick the items. The one downside: wine is not included in the delivery options.
Flu Deaths Up to 106 in Dallas-Fort Worth. 60 of those are in Dallas County, more than three times the number of flu deaths last season. Stay healthy, friends.
Lakewood Package Thief Faces Felony Charge. Kelli Russell, the woman recently suspected of stealing packages off porches in East Dallas, will face a felony theft charge. She turned herself in to police yesterday. The value of the packages she stole came to about $5,000, and Highland Park police think she also stole packages there. A grand jury will decide if she’ll be indicted.
City Council Approves Money to Be Spent for Streets and Parks. $155.7 million in 2017 bond money was approved to go toward Dallas streets, parks, and recreational facilities this fiscal year. This is part of the five-year $1.05 billion bond package the council plans to execute. Here’s hoping some of those nasty potholes on Ross will disappear.
Bishop Lynch Will Have Online School Due to Flu. Today and tomorrow, the high school will give classes online because of a flu outbreak. More than 10 percent of students were out sick yesterday. Other area schools have had to cancel regular classes as well to disinfect their campuses.
Former Dallas Police Official Hired by Tarrant County DA. Tammie Hughes, a recently retired Dallas police assistant chief, will be in charge of the investigative division for the Tarrant County district attorney. She had been with the DPD for 33 years, and she’ll now oversee 40-plus investigators who help prosecutors leading up to trials.
Dallas City Hall Isn’t Worried about ICE Chief’s Threats. Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he wants to prosecute sanctuary city elected leaders that do not cooperate with him. But Mayor Mike Rawlings isn’t worried. “It’s total hogwash. No one is going to be arrested, especially here in Dallas. We’re not a sanctuary city. We cooperate with ICE. This is basically rattling a saber to make good sound bites.”
Frisco Man Gets 15 Years for Assaulting Man Because He Was Gay. 21-year-old Nigel Garrett was one of the four men who used the app Grindr to target and rob gay men early last year. Yesterday he was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. The other three men are awaiting sentencing.
Natural Gas Odor Noted in Highland Park. An officer patrolling the 3600 block of Mockingbird Lane reported smelling natural gas yesterday afternoon, and Atmos Energy crews have been investigating. Earlier this week, a gas explosion destroyed a home in Irving after a natural gas odor had been noticed. The family escaped uninjured, but the house was deemed a total loss.
Dallas Police Targets Home or Business Owners Who Tolerate Crime. Yesterday, the City Council passed a “nuisance abatement” ordinance, which lets Chief U. Renee Hall pinpoint properties that tolerate crime and focus on the owners. City officials can now put up a sign on these properties and mark them as “habitual criminal activity” sites. Anyone who removes the signs without approval will be committing an offense, but owners who fix up the property can get the sign taken down.
Developers Want to Save Part of the Old Dallas ISD’s Headquarters. Leon Capital Group is spending more than $9 million on DISD’s former Ross Avenue headquarters. It plans to build an apartment complex on the block at Ross and Washington with 380 rental units and a six-level parking garage. The space includes the existing central building of the DISD headquarters.
Dallas Firefighter May Be Charged with Intoxication Manslaughter. An off-duty firefighter, who was suspected of driving drunk in Cedar Hill yesterday, crashed into an 18-year-old woman and her unborn baby, who were killed in the crash. He rear-ended the woman, Alyssa Pimentel, who was ejected by the impact. The firefighter, Horace Shaw III, was booked into the Dallas County Jail and faces a count of intoxication manslaughter.
Hazing Gets TCU Fraternity Suspended. The Epsilon Beta chapter of Delta Tau Delta was suspended due to allegations of hazing. Details of the hazing are unclear, as is whether a police investigation is underway. “This chapter, including its leadership, willfully violated not only the fraternity’s risk management policy but also our stated values. Hazing is an aberration to those values,” said Jim Russell, executive vice president of the fraternity’s national chapter.
Sherin Mathews’ Doctor Had Told CPS of Abuse. A Dallas doctor who examined the 3-year-old in March found several bone fractures. She reported this to CPS because she was concerned that Sherin’s parents might have been abusing her. The doctor’s testimony was heard yesterday at a court hearing to determine if the parents will be able to reunite with their other child, who’s also a 3-year-old girl. They’re still in jail and face criminal charges related to Sherin’s death. It’s even more tragic if this could all have been prevented.
English is No Longer the Official Language of Farmers Branch. City council members voted to repeal an ordinance that made the city’s official language English. The ordinance had also prohibited the use of other languages for city documents, meetings, and the like. “We hope this new chapter in our community’s history will help further promote an inclusive environment, not only among our residents, but anyone looking to live, work, or play in Farmers Branch,” said Ana Reyes, the council’s first Hispanic member.
T. Boone Pickens Wants to Sell You His Ranch for $250 Million. The 89-year-old Dallas businessman and oil tycoon is selling his 65,000-acre Mesa Vista Ranch for a mere $250 million. It’s got man-made lakes, tennis and golf courses, a movie theater—oh, and a two-story pub. Time to get the checkbook out.
Zeke Elliott Has Another Hearing Today. There will be yet another court hearing—the fifth one—to determine if he will keep playing or if he’ll finally have to serve his six-game suspension. It’ll be at 1 p.m. and could bring an end to his legal uncertainty.
City Council Approves 107-Year-Old Oak Cliff Home to Become Restaurant. The house was built in 1910 by the former chief justice of Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals who became mayor of Dallas in 1936. It will be preserved and updated, and renovations will begin in the next 60 days by developer Jim Lake.
Good Works Under 40 Winner Named Today. Five Dallas civic leaders younger than 40 are finalists for the award. The winner will receive a $10,000 donation to a nonprofit of his or her choice, and the other finalists will receive $3,500 for their nonprofits. The finalists are Stephanie Giddens, president of Vickery Trading Company; Lana Harder, pediatric neuropsychologist and CASA volunteer; Dominic Lacy, Deaf Action Center’s first deaf board president; Robert Taylor, director of The Educator Collective; and Elizabeth Viney, an attorney who works pro-bono with Advocates for Community Transformation.
Student Brings Gun to DISD Elementary School. This happened on Tuesday at Highland Meadows Elementary, but adults didn’t know about it until yesterday. Another student who’d seen the gun told a parent, and the student who brought it owned up to it. There’s an ongoing investigation.
Director Anna Zetchus Smith today released a 75-minute documentary about Barrett Brown. Its full title is Accidental Warrior: the Life and Time of Barrett Brown. An opening sequence lays out the doc’s goal this way:
In early 2011 Aaron Barr, then the CEO of private internet security company HBGary Federal, claimed to have uncovered the “top leadership of Anonymous” in the hopes of receiving prestige and bigger contracts.
Members of Anonymous mocked him by hacking the company, which, among other things, resulted in the release of 70,000 internal emails, emails that revealed how these types of companies, unwatched, interact with government to build the surveillance state.
It would take an entire film to explain all of those details, and this is not that film. This film is about what happened to the journalist who did try to explain it.
It’s an interesting flick, featuring, without voiceover narration, interviews with Nikki Loehr, Barrett’s onetime girlfriend; Caleb Pritchard, a childhood friend; John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower; Marlo Cadeddu, one of Barrett’s lawyers; Kevin Gallagher, who helped raise money for Barrett’s legal defense fund; Gregg Housh, an early Anonymous participant; and me. Anna interviewed me in the D Magazine office the day Barrett was sentenced. If I’d known she was going to use that much of our discussion, I would have insisted on hair and makeup.
Zeke Elliott Granted Temporary Restraining Order to Play Sunday. The Cowboys’ controversial running back will rejoin practice today at The Star and will play Sunday against San Francisco. A U.S. district judge, filling in for the assigned judge who was on vacation, ordered a temporary restraining order against Elliott’s six-game ban last night. It’s good through October 30 unless another hearing is held first. The assigned judge will make a more permanent decision when she gets back.
The Search for Sherin Mathews Continues in a Field Near Richland College. Police moved the search for 3-year-old Sherin Mathews to a field near Richland College yesterday. It’s less than 2 miles from the Mathews’ home in Richardson where her father put her outside in an alley at 3 a.m. as a punishment. Police said they found “objects of interest” but haven’t elaborated yet.
DISD Superintendent Wants to Close Two Schools and Convert Two to Charters. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the goal in doing this would be to avoid punishment from the state for the schools’ poor performances. He didn’t say which schools he had in mind, but he’ll present his plan to trustees on November 2. If no action is taken, the school board and superintendent could be replaced. “If I take a chance and they don’t make it, something is going to happen in August. We’re not running from the accountability. We have something great we want to replace it with,” Hinojosa said.
Getting Caught with Weed in Dallas Doesn’t Mean You’ll go to Jail Now. Yesterday, Dallas County commissioners passed a “cite and release” program to free up cops to focus on violent crimes. Dallas police can now give a court summons to people found with less than 4 ounces of marijuana. It will go into effect December 1.
Boy Scouts Will Now Let Girls Join. Yesterday Irving-based Boy Scouts of America announced plans to let girls join the Cub Scouts next year and to allow older girls to use the same curriculum as Boy Scouts. Females could become Eagle Scouts as soon as 2019. Of course, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas isn’t super thrilled. Jennifer Bartkowski said Girl Scouts gives girls role models to look up to. And Girl Scouts of the USA has criticized the announcement. But some girls like Makayla Lunday from McKinney are excited about the chance to join Boy Scouts.
DPD and DART Crack Down on K2. This year, there have been 151 arrests at the West End DART station regarding synthetic drugs like K2. In an effort to slow this rate, Dallas Police and DART will meet with Dallas County Community College District law enforcement and the Downtown Safety Patrol every month to try to make rail stations safer. Police Chief U. Renee Hall said DPD officers and DART will talk directly to each other to have “real-time communication relative to incidents going on.” They’ll have access to shared radio communication. She also wants more officers at stations.
Jerry Jones Meets with Cowboys on National Anthem. They met yesterday after practice, and Jones doubled down on his stance that players should stand for the anthem. Players including Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant didn’t comment on the meeting, but Prescott said they “ironed out” things during that time. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick said there are more questions in addition to answers now. Stay tuned.
City Council Settles Lake Fork Water Dispute. Yesterday the City Council unanimously approved a settlement with the Sabine River Authority regarding water the city gets from the Lake Fork reservoir, about 80 miles east. The city’s cost for the water had been increased, and so had customers’ water rates. The new rates for the city will be halved from the current $27 million per year, but the Council will have to decide on new customer rates. Mayor Rawlings called this a “major win” for North Texas.
DISD Will Vote on Jump-Starting Renaming Schools Honoring Confederates. The Dallas ISD board of trustees will vote tonight about when to begin the process of renaming four elementary schools that are named after Confederate generals. A resolution created by board president Dan Micciche proposes waiving current policy and making an accelerated timeline for the name changes. If accepted, the board would hear recommended changes in November and vote on their enactment in December.
Former Dallas Cop to Pay $6.3 Million Related to In-Custody Death. Ernesto Fierro had already gotten in trouble multiple times when he worked for the DPD in the 1990s and 2000s. In 2013, when he was a cop in East Texas, he pulled 70-year-old William Livezey over while off duty, and the man died of a heart attack when he was being arrested. Livezey’s family had brought charges against Fierro for an illegal traffic stop and excessive force. Now Fierro, who was convicted of aggravated assault, has been ordered to pay the family $6.3 million.
Fort Worth Teacher Caught Soliciting Minor. North Crowley High School science teacher Jarrod Cook was arrested in an online predator sting after he replied to a “Sunday Funday?” post. Investigators posed as 13- to 15-year-old girls and boys. Cook, along with six other suspects arrested, met at a location for sexual contact with a person they thought was a teenage girl. He and the others are in custody.
DPD Headquarters to Get Security Overhaul. Yesterday the City Council approved $2 million to tighten security in the front lobby of DPD headquarters, as well as new protective gear for officers.
City Hall Decides Not to Ban Travel and Business with North Carolina. The City Council rejected a resolution that would’ve banned dealings with North Carolina’s businesses over LGBT laws that had required transgender people to use the bathroom according to their birth gender. Some council members were concerned such a resolution would affect business with Bank of America.
NFL Files Motion to Attempt to Get Zeke Off the Field. In an effort to enforce its six-game suspension of Cowboys running back Zeke Elliott, the NFL last night filed a motion for an emergency stay of the injunction that’s letting Zeke continue to play. The league asked U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant (also the judge who issued the injunction) to issue a ruling by the end of today. If necessary, the NFL will go to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals tomorrow morning.
Mexican Drug Cartel Allegedly Back in Dallas. Yesterday, charges were announced against eight members of the violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel regarding a methamphetamine trafficking plot supposedly operating in Dallas and DeSoto. They were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The defendants used Dallas-area homes as meth labs throughout the past year.
Dallas Symphony Donating Concert Proceeds to Harvey Relief. Single-ticket sales from the symphony’s performances today and Sunday will go into a relief fund that’ll help people in Houston affected by the hurricane.
It’s North Texas Giving Day.Today‘s the day to support local nonprofits. Last year, a record-breaking $37 million was raised. This year’s giving is underway and ends at midnight.
Cops come in all shapes and sizes. And with the Dallas Police Department experiencing a major staffing shortage, it’s possible that one might assume the city’s finest have had to dive deeper into the recruitment pool. But sometimes it’s OK to ask to see a badge.
The Dallas Police Department’s Financial Investigations Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a person suspected of Impersonating a Public Servant.
On August 11, 2017, a male victim was in the 300 block of St. Augustine Drive when an unknown Latin female approached him stating she was a police officer and needed to see his identification. The suspect threatens the victim with an arrest if he didn’t give the suspect money. The victim pulled out his wallet and the suspect took the wallet and fled the location in a white SUV. This incident is documented on case number 183072-2017.
Attached to the bulletin, three photos of the alleged public servant impersonator, including this one.
This woman, according to the Dallas Police Department, is not a cop.
Anyone with information that could identify the woman in the photo is asked to contact Detective Ed Lujan at 214-671-3548 or [email protected]
$1.05 Billion Bond Package Up to Dallas Voters. In November, voters will decide on the bond package, which includes street repairs and parks. Yesterday, the City Council added money for a Klyde Warren Park expansion, Medical District street improvements, and a downtown water gardens project.
Doctor Who Maimed Patients Sentenced to 35 years for Home Health Scheme. Jacques Roy, who had a history of maiming patients and improper prescription, was yesterday sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for different health care fraud counts (by none other than U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay, Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay’s dad).
City Council Approves Public-Private Partnership for Trinity Park. As Peter wrote yesterday, the council approved the creation of a local government corporation, tasked with building the Trinity park. Mayor Rawlings thinks this will be the most efficient way to get the park done.
SMU Says 9/11 Memorial Will Return to Traditional Spot. Yesterday, SMU officials reached an agreement with student leaders to undo the policy that would have moved the 9/11 flags memorial to a less prominent spot on campus. The nearly 3,000 American flags will now appear in the traditional spot of the Dallas Hall lawn to remember the 9/11 terror attacks.
Dallas Stars First Franchise to Publicly Oppose Bathroom Bill. The hockey team is the first pro sports franchise to do so publicly. “The Dallas Stars stands strongly opposed to any legislation perceived as discriminatory, including proposed bathroom legislation. Dallas welcomes all, and we welcome all,” President Jim Lites said. He’s the first team president to reject the bill on behalf of a whole team roster.
Mayor Rawlings Proposes Partnership to Get Trinity River Park Built. Next week, the city council will be briefed on a strategy to form a group that will be tasked with getting the Trinity River park done. It would be a public-private partnership and would take park planning away from City Hall.
Neiman Marcus Plans to Cut 225 Jobs. Neiman’s said yesterday that it needs to reorganize to reflect shifting customer shopping habits and will cut 225 jobs, with less than 20 in Dallas. This is following job cuts the past few years as well. The retailer, dealing with $5 billion in leveraged buyout debt, is also taking stock of its Last Call outlet.
Woman Alleges Daughter’s Assault in Lawsuit Against Jewish Community Center. In a lawsuit against the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, a woman says her 14-year-old daughter was repeatedly raped by a fitness center employee. Allegedly the assaults began in 2014 after the teen was being stalked by the employee, who was her trainer at the gym. 24-year-old Randy Lee Adrian is a suspect in the assaults.
Chip and Joanna Open a Second Rental Home. The Waco Fixer Upper power couple announced the opening of another vacation rental house: The Hillcrest Estate in Waco. It was built in 1903 and sleeps 12. My guess is this one will be sold out for years, too, so good luck booking it.