Travis County lifts burn ban

From the Travis County fire marshal’s office:

The Travis County Judge and Travis County Fire Marshal are lifting the burn ban that was originally set on Tuesday. Conditions have improved and rain is forecast for this weekend, which will lower the potential risk of wildfire. We encourage you to take this time to mitigate dead vegetation in and around your property to prepare for future wildfire risk and provide adequate defensible space.patch-travis_county_emergency_services

Before conducting an outdoor burn please view Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s guidelines for outdoor burning (https://www.tceq.texas.gov/publications/rg/rg-049.html) and notify your local fire department.

If you are going to burn this weekend please make sure to:

  • Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise
  • Cease burning the same day no later than one hour before sunset
  • Monitor wind speeds to ensure that smoke will dissipate and embers do not become a hazard.

Our office will revisit the Burn Ban at Commissioner’s Court next Tuesday. If you have any questions regarding the status of the Burn Ban please check our website for more information at https://www.traviscountytx.gov/fire-marshal.

Travis County sheriff’s office seeking volunteers to help crime victims

From the Travis County sheriff’s office:

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit is seeking volunteers to provide immediate assistance to victims of various criminal and crisis circumstances including, but not limited to: Family Violence, Sexual Assaults, Child/Elder Abuse, Aggravated Assaults, Robberies/Burglaries, Suicides, Structure Fires, Death Notifications, Natural/Accidental Deaths and Major Traffic Accidents.

Volunteers must complete a comprehensive training program that is scheduled for March 13 – April 1, 2017. (Mondays 6 – 9pm, Thursdays 6 – 9pm, Saturdays 9am – 5pm) Volunteers will also be accompanied on a series of calls before being cleared to take calls independently.

TCSO is seeking persons of excellent moral standing with the sensitivity and self-awareness necessary to provide effective assistance to those in crisis. Volunteers need to be 21 or older, with a reliable, insured vehicle, a working cell phone and a schedule that allows for (4) four-hour shifts of on-call duty per month.

To volunteer, visit https://www.tcsheriff.org/victim-services/volunteers.

Travis County sheriff’s office seeks help identifying burglary suspects

From the Travis County sheriff’s office:

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help identifying persons suspected of burglarizing various businesses. The photos attached are from a burglary that took place Christmas Day at Life Storage, 2440 W. Whitestone, in Cedar Park. The suspects are a white male and female with two black dogs wearing orange service dog style vests. They’re seen in the video footage driving a small blue SUV, possibly a Kia.

Seven burglaries were reported earlier in 2016 involving the same suspect vehicle.

TCSO asks that anyone with information about the suspects or details of the burglaries call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477.

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Travis County Jail inmate dies after being hospitalized last week

From the Travis County sheriff’s office:

On December 28, 2016 an inmate notified Corrections Officers of her need to see Jail Medical Staff. The medical professional who examined her determined that she required transport to the hospital. She was immediately transported to the Emergency Room at UMC Brackenridge where she later underwent a medical procedure. On December 29, 2016 while recovering in ICU, the inmate died. Attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at 8:34 am. The inmate is identified as: JACQUELINE KEY, age 55, Transient

Key had been arrested by the Austin Police Department on November 11, 2016 and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance and a City Ordinance Violation.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Internal Affairs Unit are conducting an investigation as is standard practice in these cases. The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office is also conducting an investigation into cause of death. That determination is pending toxicology results. Detectives do not have any evidence to suggest foul play at this point in the investigation.

Turn in unused medications to local police, federal agents on Saturday

From the Austin Police Department:
The Drug Enforcement Agency reprises one of its most popular community programs this weekend: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On Saturday, Oct. 22, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the public can dispose of their unused, unwanted prescription medications at one of 4,700 collection sites nationwide, operated by 3,800 local law enforcement agencies and other community partners. The service is free of charge, no questions asked.

POLITICS OF PAIN SERIES FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2010, file photo, a pharmacy technician poses for a picture with hydrocodone and acetaminophen tablets, also known as Vicodin, at the Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla. Federal health regulators will bolster warning labels on the most widely used prescription painkillers, part of a multi-pronged federal effort to reverse an epidemic of abuse and death tied to drugs like Vicodin and Percocet, the FDA announced Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File

America is experiencing an epidemic of addiction, overdose and death due to abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opioid painkillers. More than 6 million Americans age 12 and over — 2.4 percent of the population — abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last month, more than abuse cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine combined. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. The majority of prescription drug abusers report that they obtain their drugs from friends and family, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Last April, during its 11th Take Back Day, the DEA and over 4,200 of its national, tribal and community law enforcement partners collected 893,498 pounds (about 447 tons) of unwanted prescription drugs at almost 5,400 collection sites. Since the program began six years ago, about 6.4 million pounds (about 3,200 tons) of drugs have been collected. That’s more than a quarter pound of pills for each of the 25 million children aged 12 to 17 in America, pills that won’t result in abuse or overdose.

The DEA Austin office, along with the local law enforcement and community coalitions will set up collection sites at the following locations:

Austin

  • Austin High School – 1715 West Cesar Chavez, Austin
  • Barton Creek Square Mall (parking lot) – 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin
  • Household Hazardous Waste Facility – 2514 Center Dr, Austin
  • Planetshakers Austin Church – 1101 Reinli, Austin
  • Travis County Constable – Precinct 2 – 10409 Burnet Road, Austin
  • Travis County Constable – Precinct 5 – 1003 Guadalupe Street, Austin

Other Central Texas locations

  • Buda Police Department – 100 Houston Street, Buda
  • Burnet County Courthouse – 220 South Pierce Street, Burnet
  • Cedar Park Police Department – 911 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park
  • Elgin Police Department – 202 Depot Street, Elgin
  • Jonestown Police Department – 18304 North Park Dr, Jonestown
  • Lakeway Police Department – 104 Cross Creek, Lakeway
  • Lampasas Police Department – 301 East 4th Street, Lampasas
  • Leander Police Department – 705 Leander Drive, Leander
  • Legacy Hills Park Pavillion – 200 Del Webb Blvd., Georgetown
  • Liberty Hill Police Department – 2801 Ranch Road 1869, Liberty Hill
  • Manor Police Department – 402 West Parsons Street, Manor
  • Marble Falls Police Department – 209 Main Street, Marble Falls
  • Round Rock Police Department – 2701 North Mays, Round Rock
  • Smithville City Hall – 317 Main Street, Smithville
  • Taylor City Hall – 400 Porter, Taylor
  • Tractor Supply Company – 441 Texas 71, Bastrop
  • Williamson County Sheriff’s Office – 508 South Rock Street, Georgetown

 

Collection sites across the nation can be found by going to http://www.dea.gov. This site is continuously updated with new take-back locations.

Jury indicts Onyeri, 2 others in conspiracy to kill Judge Kocurek

Chimene Onyeri, 28, is a suspect in the shooting that injured State District Judge Julie Kocurek.
Chimene Onyeri, 28, is a suspect in the shooting that injured State District Judge Julie Kocurek.

A federal grand jury has indicted three members of what authorities describe as a conspiracy that plotted fraud and racketeering schemes and attempted to carry out the murder of State District Judge Julie Kocurek.

The indictment names Chimene Onyeri, who was named as a person of interest soon after Kocurek was shot in the driveway of her West Austin home, and 26-year-old Marcellus Antoine Burgin of Cypress, and 24-year-old Rasul Kareem Scott of Marrero, La.

According to federal authorities, the 11-count indictment charges the trio with one count of conspiracy to participate in
an enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and one count of aggravated identity theft. Onyeri is also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud; an additional count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and six additional counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment comes nearly 10 months after Kocurek was attacked after returning home from a high school football game. Authorities have said an assailant opened fire as the driver of her car stopped in the family’s driveway to remove a bag of trash that investigators think had been intentionally placed to obstruct Kocurek’s path.

RELATED: Kocurek returns to bench after recovering from November shooting

Kocurek was wounded and spent about two months in the hospital before returning to the bench in February, saying she felt as though “I’ve been reborn.”

District Judge Julie Kocurek, here making her first public appearance, was welcomed back to the bench Monday morning February 29, 2016 by Judges Leon Grizzard, center, and Larry Meyers, right, after spending weeks recovering from an assassination attempt in November of last year. She said she felt reborn and though she is still undergoing physical therapy for her wounds will spend only half days on the bench for now. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
District Judge Julie Kocurek returned to the bench Feb. 29 after spending weeks recovering from an assassination attempt in November 2015. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In a later interview, she described her injuries, saying that she reflexively raised her arm to shield herself during the shooting, and she confirmed that she has lost a finger on her left hand.

“I feel very lucky that is all I lost,” she said.

Kocurek is currently presiding over the high profile murder trial of Mark Norwood, who is accused in the 1988 murder of Debra Baker in North Austin.

Before the shooting, Onyeri was wanted in Travis County after he was accused of violating a probation sentence tied to a 2012 larceny charge and likely was going to be sent to prison. The matter was before Kocurek’s court, giving what investigators say is a possible motive for him to harm her.

Onyeri’s attorney has said that he has been framed by an ex-girlfriend, and that Onyeri had no motivation to harm a judge and realizes that doing so wouldn’t have prevented him from being sent to prison.

RELATED: Murder case to be dropped against suspect in Kocurek case

Onyeri has been held in the Travis County Jail since May; He had been held in the Harris County Jail on an unrelated murder charge that prosecutors dropped this spring.

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo said soon after the shooting that police were looking into whether multiple people participated in the crime.

The indictments are the result of a joint investigation involving federal authorities, Austin police and the Travis County district attorney’s office.

RELATED: Judges fear for safety more often than reported, study finds

Timeline:

  • Nov. 6, 2015: State District Julie Kocurek is attacked by a gunman in the driveway of her home.
  • Nov. 10: Austin police identify Chimene Hamilton Onyeri, a Houston resident with a pending criminal matter in Kocurek’s court, as a person-of-interest in the shooting.
  • Nov. 11: Authorities confirm that they had received a previous threat about a possible attack on an unnamed judge.
  • Nov. 23: Chief Art Acevedo confirms police investigating possible accomplices.
  • Jan. 7, 2016: Kocurek returns to courthouse to discuss handling of threat.
  • Feb. 29: Kocurek returns to courtroom for the first time.
  • May 18: Prosecutors drop unrelated murder charge against Onyeri in Houston, and he is moved to Austin.

 

Fourth victim identified in Del Valle quadruple homicide

The Travis County sheriff’s office has identified the final victim in last week’s quadruple homicide in Del Valle as David Scott Braswell, 53, of Bastrop.

RELATED: Investigators think fire that led to death of 4 was arson

The Travis County medical examiner’s office has also passively identified the three other victims in the homicides, which were discovered after a fire in the 8300 block of Linden Road on Thursday. Those victims had been named, but their identities have now been confirmed.

They are Matthew Aaron Barber, 26; Jacob Derr, 25; and Brian Lee Satterfield. Barber lived at the Del Valle home. Derr and Satterfield both have ties to Bastrop.

RELATED: Fire in Del Valle being investigated as homicide

Investigators also now believe that the sale of illegal drugs at Barber’s Del Valle residence was a key factor in the killings of the four men.

Watch: Austin firefighters rescue cat who locked himself inside car

Austin firefighters on Monday became heroes to the owners of Jake the cat after the clever feline managed to lock himself inside their car.

So, how did this happen? Is Jake some sort of cat genius? Is Jake a long lost relative of Toonces the driving cat?

Thankfully, Austin Fire Department was there with the answers to these hard questions via a Facebook post.

First of all, Jake is apparently pretty cool. Second, the cat hopped in the car while its owners unloaded groceries. Finally, somewhere in the course of these events, Jake hit the car’s lock button and the cat’s owners closed the doors without knowing their feline was inside.

For now, Jake’s lineage remains a mystery.

APD seeking the public’s assistance in identifying September robbery suspects

From the Austin Police Department:

For immediate release

April 21, 2016
Contact: Public Information Office, (512) 974-5017

On Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 at 2:21 p.m., Austin Police officers responded to a Robbery call at the Double M Grocery located at 7700 FM 969.

The suspects are described as:

Suspect #1 – Hispanic male, 5’4”-5’7”, 16-20 years of age, medium build, wearing a white muscle shirt and black basketball-style shorts with tattoos on his shoulders
Suspect #2 – Hispanic male, 5’4”-5’7”, 16-20 years of age, medium build, wearing dark/possibly blue ball cap with sunglasses on the cap, dark blue t-shirt and camoflauge pants
The suspect vehicle is a silver 4-door compact car.

APD Robbery is seeking the public’s assistance in locating and identifying the suspects in this case (case #15-2601975). If you have information, please contact the APD Robbery Tip Line at (512) 974-5092.

Those with information may also call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS (512-472-8477) or text to “Tip 103” + your message to C R I M E S.

 

Travis County sheriff’s detectives looking for robbery suspects

From the Travis County sheriff’s department:

Shortly after 8pm, on April 6, 2016, Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the intersection of Golden Sunrise
Lane and Sweet Leaf Lane to assist Austin-Travis County EMS with a person who received non-life
threatening injuries during an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

According to statements from the scene, the suspects robbed the victim at gunpoint in the 2000 Block of
Golden Sunrise Lane and fled the scene after shooting the victim. The victim then went to the intersection
and called 911. The victim was then transported to the hospital where he was treated and released for his
wound.

The suspects are described as 3 black males, 18 to 21 years of age. At least two of the suspects were
armed with handguns. The suspects fled the scene in a White Kia Soul.

Anyone with information about this incident or the suspects is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line
at 512-854-8488 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS (8477).