Entries in Dallas (30)


Reward Raised to $70,000 In Execution-Style Slaying of Prosecutor

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(KAUFMAN, Texas) -- State and federal authorities have upped the reward for information leading to the killers of Texas prosecutor Mark Hasse to $70,000, but said Sunday they do not have a motive or suspects in Thursday's shooting outside the Kaufman County Courthouse.

Authorities confirmed they are combing through past cases handled by the assistant district attorney for a possible motive, but said they knew of no current cases that Hasse had been handling that involved the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, one of the nation's most violent prison gangs.

Hasse was shot Thursday just before 9 a.m. by one or two unknown assailants as he walked from his car to the courthouse in the small town of Kaufman southeast of Dallas.

The assailants, who may have been masked and dressed in black, fled the scene in a silver four-door sedan. The murder came the same morning that two members of the ABT pleaded guilty to racketeering in a Texas federal court.

On Thursday morning, the Dallas Morning News reported that "authorities with knowledge of the assistant DA's caseload [said] he had been heavily involved in the investigation of members of the Aryan Brotherhood."

The Kaufman County DA's office, where Hasse and a dozen other ADAs worked, was listed as one of 22 agencies on the task force that handled the racketeering case.

In a press conference Friday, Kaufman County Police Chief Chris Albaugh said that it "seems to be a coincidence" that the two events happened on the same morning and called a link between the guilty pleas and the shooting "speculation," but did not rule out the possibility that the shooting was related to one of Hasse's cases.

"We're not ruling out any involvement until we know," Albaugh said. "And we have no specific information that the Aryan Brotherhood is a factor here.

"We are reviewing Mr. Hasse's cases and following up on any leads within those cases that would give us a person of interest," he said.

Hasse, 57, had been a longtime felony prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office, according to the ABC's Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate WFAA-TV. He headed the organized crime unit in Dallas in the 1980s. He started work in Kaufman County three years ago.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dallas to Recognize Heroic Efforts of Homeless Former Crips Leader

This still from a surveillance video shows Charles Alexander assisting in subduing a man who attacked a Dallas Police officer. (KTVT)(DALLAS) -- The Dallas City Council will invite a homeless former gang leader to be honored at one of its meetings as a hero for protecting the life of a police officer.

Charles Alexander, who was a Crips gang member at one point in his life, stepped in during a drug-addled attack on an officer near Alexander's homeless shelter in Dallas, according to city councilman Dwaine Caraway.

In surveillance video of the attack, Dallas cop Billy Taylor is seen backing away from a man who, according to the councilman, was high on PCP and violent. Alexander crosses the street and steps between Taylor and the attacker, later pulling the man off the police officer and throwing the attacker to the ground.

"(He was) basically doing something heroic, in my opinion, in breaking up something that could have really gone bad," Caraway said Thursday.

Alexander told local news station KTXA that the attacker was going "ballistic" and he felt he had to step in.

The Dallas police department did not return calls seeking comment.

Caraway said that Alexander would be invited to an upcoming council meeting for a special ceremony and certificate to honor his good deed.

"I view it as someone that was in a gang who has gone on to saving lives. Hopefully we can take that and show other gangbangers that there are some good things you can do versus some of the other things," Caraway said.

Alexander could not be reached through the Bridge, the homeless shelter where he stays.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Man Hit by Car When 911 Calls Go Unanswered

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- After what he said were four attempts to reach a 911 operator after a car had hit his vehicle on a Texas road, Kelvin Crowe of Dallas gave up, got out of his car and was hit by a passing vehicle as he tried to flag down help.

“The first three calls, the line was busy,” Crowe told ABC Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate WFAA Wednesday.  On the fourth call, “the automated machine said, ‘All other operators are busy assisting other callers,” Crowe told the TV station.  "It said, ‘Hold for the next available operator.’ I held for maybe a minute. It made a funny sound, so we hung up.”

It all started late last Saturday night when Crowe’s tire blew out. Still in his car, he was making his way to the shoulder of the road when another vehicle hit his car from behind, according to the affiliate report.

Crowe’s fiancee was injured in the crash, and he called 911, using her cell phone.  Calls were made at 11:48, 11:49, 11:54 and 11:58, according to WFAA, but never got through to the 911 call center.

Crowe exited his vehicle and tried to get help from the road.

But another car hit him, and he ended up in the hospital.  “I just heard the tire screeching and then, ‘Bam!’” Crowe said. “I just kept saying, ‘Lord, please don’t take me. I got kids depending on me. Don’t take me … don’t take me.'”


Crowe had broken his arm, bruised his leg badly, and his right eye needed stitches.

“Maybe if we’d have gotten a response, or if police would have answered, then I would have just stayed in the truck a little longer,” Crowe said. “That way I wouldn’t have walked back down there and it would have been avoided.”

But the city of Dallas said it’s not at fault.

“The city of Dallas conducted a review of the calls during the time period of this incident,” read a statement from city hall. “At this time, we cannot find any indication that the Dallas 911 call center received a call from Mr. Crowe’s cell number.”

“It went into the antenna, but it didn’t come to us,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told WFAA. “We’ve got proof it didn’t show up at 911. … The call got into T-Mobile’s antenna, and it didn’t get to us. It wasn’t sent appropriately. One of those things that just didn’t hit up.”

In a statement, the city of Dallas said the call center had received other calls at about the same time as Crowe’s, and that it was not at capacity.

A Dallas Police Department lieutenant who oversees the call center visited Crowe in the hospital Tuesday to get a firsthand account, a city spokesman told WFAA.

“Cell phones can be extremely valuable in emergency situations. However, cell phone users should always be aware of the limitations in cell phone technology in relationship with 911 systems,” read the city of Dallas’ statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Woman Found Dead in Home Two Days After Calling 911

WFAA/ABC News(DALLAS) -- The body of a Dallas woman was discovered in her home by her family two days after she called 911 for help while being attacked, allegedly by her ex-husband.  What appears to be a communications breakdown has prompted a police investigation.

The family of Deanna Cook became concerned when they hadn't heard from her and saw water coming out of her house on Sunday, Cook's sister, Karletha Gundy, told ABC News.

The sisters' mother called 911 and was told an officer could only be sent to the scene after she had called local hospitals and jails to see if her daughter was at another location, Gundy said.

Tired of waiting, Gundy, accompanied by her mother and her sister's two teenage daughters, kicked open the back door to the home.

"My mom walked in first, then my nieces, then myself.  We just followed each other through the house," she said.  "The water covered [our] ankles."

Once inside, the family found the home "torn apart" as they walked through, searching each room for Cook.

"Her bedroom door was kicked down.  We did not kick down that door.  Her room was torn apart.  Even the toilet seat was off," Gundy said.

Cook was found in her underwear, her lifeless body in the bathtub.  It was unclear how she died, her sister said.

The Dallas mother called for help last Friday after being attacked in her home, allegedly by ex-husband Delvecchio Patrick.

Gundy said she was told officers did a perimeter check and knocked on the door, but that no one answered -- all this, despite the 911 call that had captured Cook's screams.

On the 11-minute call, Cook calls her ex-husband out by name, while a man's voice can be heard saying he is going to kill her, sources told ABC News' Dallas affiliate.

The couple had a troubled relationship and Cook had a history of calling 911 against Patrick, Gundy said.  Patrick was arrested and is charged with murder.

The Dallas Police Department has not released the audio or a transcript of the call.  A spokesperson for the department confirmed there is an "active investigation" into the situation, but was unable to provide details.

The 911 operator who took Cook's call told the Dallas Morning News it was clear Cook was calling about a disturbance.

"I can say that it's obvious that there was an active disturbance taking place, the screaming and things like that, so I can't say that I knew what was going on, other than there was a disturbance," the operator said.  "Obviously my prayers go out to her family because that's just a terrible situation."

Gundy said she is upset with the way the situation has been handled.

"They have not told us anything about that call.  They're trying to find a way to cover their tails.  Some kind of disciplinary action should be done," she said.  "I don't care how many times she has called and you get there and everything is fine.  This lady is screaming for her life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dallas Launches Aerial Attack to Fight West Nile Virus

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(DALLAS) -- For the first time in decades, Dallas has launched an aerial attack against the West Nile virus, sending two small planes to douse the city with mosquito-killing pesticides.

The planes sprayed pesticides across 49,000 acres of Dallas County Thursday night in North Texas' latest war on the mosquito population.  Officials are in a race against the clock, fighting the worst nationwide outbreak of the West Nile virus, which has already killed 10 people in Dallas and sickened more than 200.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 693 cases and at least 26 deaths nationwide in 43 states, with Texas being the epicenter.  It's the first time in more than 40 years that Dallas County has used an aerial insecticide program.  Mayor Mike Rawlings had hoped it did not have to come to this.

"It's a difficult issue because there's a lot of sentiment people don't want this, and there's a fear of the unknown, but in some ways, it's very simple," Rawlings said.  "When you are dealing with someone's life, that should come first and foremost."

The decision to spray pesticides from above was unpopular with many residents who worry about the potential effect on people, animals and the environment.  Crews have been spraying on the ground for weeks, but the death toll kept rising.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said an aerial assault on the mosquito population was the right call.

"But this is not a decision that I could base on public opinion," he said.  "This is a decision that we had to make on science."

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The EPA says the chemical mist is only harmful to people or pets if it's swallowed, but some doctors disagree, saying people with asthma or respiratory problems are at risk.

"I tell them [patients], if they can and they're really sensitive, to leave town," Dr. Alfred Johnson of Dallas said.

The pesticide is toxic to bees and fish, which is why some homeowners scrambled to cover their backyards, gardens and ponds.

Dr. Richard Besser told ABC's Good Morning America Thursday that last year's mild winter is the reason for the drastic outbreak.

"You count on that cold to kill mosquitoes and that didn't happen," he said.  "So, mosquitoes this year are really abundant."

Besser estimates that at least 12,000 people have already been sickened by the West Nile virus in 2012.  People who are 50 and older have been hardest hit by the virus after they're infected, Besser said.

Eighty percent of the people who contract the West Nile virus have no symptoms and their body eventually gets rid of it, according to the CDC.  The remaining 20 percent experience flu-like symptoms.

One in 150 people will develop more severe forms of the disease and experience neurological symptoms and brain swelling, Besser said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mother Pleads Guilty After Gluing Daughter’s Hands to Wall

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mother pleaded guilty to first degree injury to a child after reportedly gluing her 2-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall and beating her.

Dallas police said Elizabeth Escalona beat her daughter into a coma after frustration with potty training problems.

“I have no comment and only God can judge me. That’s all I gotta say,” Escalona said Thursday outside court.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said that the daughter arrived at the hospital in critical condition, sustaining bruising and blunt force trauma. However, she has made a fast recovery and has no lasting medical issues.

All of Escalona’s children were immediately taken into state custody after the incident took place in September 2011, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  The children are currently still in Child Protective Services’ legal custody, but have been placed with a relative.

According to CPS, Escalona had been previously investigated for allegations of abuse and neglect of her older children.

On Sept. 10, Escalona, facing possible life in prison, but also eligible for deferred adjudication, will be sentenced by state District Judge Larry Mitchell, The Dallas Morning News reported. If Escalona receives deferred adjudication, she will not have a criminal conviction.

Both Escalona’s defense attorney and the Dallas District Attorney’s Office declined to comment because the case is still pending.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Socialite Busted on Child Porn Charges

Medioimages/Photodisc/ThinkStock(DALLAS) -- A wealthy Dallas socialite faces child pornography charges after agents allegedly found graphic videos and photos on her computer.

Authorities raided the University Park mansion of Erika Perdue, 41, in April, ABC News affiliate WFAA in Dallas reported.

Perdue allegedly admitted to FBI agents that she had distributed child pornography since 1999, according to court documents.

A cache of disturbing media, including some that showed adults having sex with toddlers, was found on the Dallas woman’s computer, according to court documents.

The FBI became aware of Perdue’s alleged collection of child pornography in January when they were able to download several images and videos through a file sharing program. Authorities were able to track her identity and address.

Experts say it is extremely rare for a woman to be busted on child pornography charges.

“You very rarely find women who are attracted to this kind of material. I’ve never encountered one yet,” David G. Heffler, a psychologist who counsels sex offenders, told the Buffalo News in 2010.

Perdue’s trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 10.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


15-Hour Standoff in Dallas Ends with Suspect Falling Off Crane

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A 15-hour standoff between police and a suspected armed robber in Dallas came to an end early Tuesday morning when the man, who was stationed in the cab of a construction crane, fell to his death.

The man is believed to have committed an armed robbery in downtown Dallas early Monday morning before climbing the tower on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Tactical officers tried to talk the man down.  Deputy Dallas Police Chief Randy Blankenbaker said SWAT team members were very close to reaching him.

"As the officers were attempting entry, they found that the entry deck to the crane had been covered with grease by the suspect," Blankenbaker said.

But as authorities came within feet of the suspect, he climbed outside the cab, dangled for a few seconds and fell 150 feet to his death.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornadoes Tear Through Dallas, Leave Path of Destruction

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Powerful tornadoes carved a path of destruction through the north Texas area on Tuesday, tossing tractor-trailers into the road and tangling power lines among remnants of homes and personal possessions.

Brandy Kemps took a video of the dark funnel cloud from work, but when her co-worker got a little too bold taking pictures outside, Kemps' voice betrayed the terror of an oncoming tornado.

"Come on get your butt back over here," she shouted from the entryway of the building where she works.  "Marlena get in here!  Come on, it's coming over here!"

Kemps told ABC News she had never seen "anything like this."

"Debris was flying right in front of me in the air -- shingles, dirt, tree limbs.  The tornado funnel was coming right at us, then went directly behind the apartment building I was in and then made a right toward 45 North," she said.

As the twisters continued on their rampage, more than 28,000 customers were left without power in the area.

Robert Cluck, the mayor of Arlington, declared a state of emergency to last for up to seven days, citing "widespread and severe damage."  The city also set up a disaster center.

Eight Texas counties faced severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service.  The counties included Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall, Delta, Hopkins, Hunt, Bosque and McLennan counties.

A tornado ripped through the operating facility for Schneider National, a trucking company, and tossed massive trucks high into the air and spun them around before smashing them to the ground.  Flattened and crumpled trailers littered the area in the aftermath of the twister.

At the Texas Rangers stadium, a heavy tarp covering the baseball field for Tuesday night's exhibition game was whipped around by the force of the storm in a video captured by the team's catcher, Mike Napoli.

In Kaufman County, Crosby Elementary School sustained significant damage from the storm, along with 20 homes.  One was completely demolished, Brian Brooks, Forney City Manager said.

Despite all the structural damage, no major injuries have been reported.

At Dallas Fort Worth Airport, over 400 flight departures were cancelled, and 40 flights headed for Dallas were diverted during the peak of the storm, airport spokesman David Magaña said in a statement.  Passengers were sheltered prior to the storm, with care taken to keep them safely away from windows.

Aircraft at Dallas did not fare as well; as many as 110 aircraft suffered some degree of damage from hail during the storm, according to the statement.

Storm damage elsewhere in the area was stunning; footage from ABC News affiliate WFAA showed rooftops flying off homes.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tornadoes Touch Down In Dallas-Fort Worth Area; Damage Reported

ABC News(DALLAS) -- At least two tornadoes touched down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday, carving a path of destruction before moving through northern Texas.

There was no immediate word of injuries.

At one point, live aerials from the scene showed what appeared to be a truck trailer being lifted off the ground and tossed some distance. Footage from ABC News affiliate WFAA showed rooftops flying off homes.

A tornado warning was issued early Tuesday afternoon for Dallas, Ellis, Johnson and Tarrant counties and remains in effect.

Lieutenant Tim Jones of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office told ABC News Radio that the twisters came with little warning.

“We had a tornado touch down in a rural area of our county,” he said. “Couple of homes have been hit. … Severe damage to those homes; severe damage to quite a few buildings.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio