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Winter storm warning until 6 p.m.; drivers to face risks of ice, winds

Police seek public’s help to solve Northeast Austin homicide


Police seek help to solve homicide

Police are asking for the public’s help in solving a Saturday homicide in Northeast Austin.

Austin police on Monday identified the victim as Alexander Macias-Garcia, 20.

Macias-Garcia and another man were shot after the Ford Mustang they were traveling in crashed in the 200 block of Wells Branch Parkway, Austin police Lt. Justin Newsom said Monday. Police got the call at 3:16 a.m. Saturday.

Macias-Garcia died from his injuries, police said. The surviving passenger, who sustained non-life threatening injuries, was unable to give a good description of the vehicle the shooter was driving, Austin police Lt. Justin Newsom said Monday.

Macias-Garcia and his passenger were coming from Club Carnaval on East Riverside Drive, Newsom said. Police are asking anyone at the club who may have witnessed an argument at the club late Friday or early Saturday or who knew these men to call police.

“As of now, we have very little to go on,” Newsom said.

Call Austin police’s homicide tip line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477.

— American-Statesman staff


Man dies in MoPac crash

A man in his 30s died early Saturday after he crashed into a street light pole on MoPac Boulevard, Austin police said.

Zachary Schmidt, 33, died at the scene, police said. Police responded at 3:21 a.m.

Investigators believe Schmidt was driving an Acura Legend at a high rate of speed, police said. He was headed north on MoPac Boulevard and tried to exit onto the eastbound Texas 71 flyover when he crashed into the light pole.

Lab tests are pending to determine whether Schmidt was intoxicated at the time, police said.

This case is still being investigated. If you have any information about this crash, call police at 512-974-4424.

— Katie Hall, American-Statesman


4 firefighters suspended over collisions

The Austin Fire Department has suspended four firefighters over collisions involving fire department vehicles, according to documents released Monday.

The suspensions involve some higher-ranking firefighters, including one captain, and come as recent suspensions have led the Austin firefighters union to open an investigation into disciplinary procedures.

In less than a month, Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr has suspended nine firefighters for collisions involving fire vehicles. Each suspension has been only for a matter of hours.

For example, fire Capt. Tye Prange, received a four-hour suspension for his role in a May 7 incident in which a fire truck he was supervising struck tree limbs and damaged the vehicle, a disciplinary memo said.

Those suspensions have hurt morale, according to fire union president Bob Nicks.

— Philip Jankowski, American-Statesman


Medic suspended after DWI arrest

A medic with Austin-Travis County EMS has been suspended for 30 days following an arrest on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

Medic Charlie Rust agreed to the suspension, which was handed down on Thursday. Rust will miss 15 24-hour shifts over the next several weeks.

On July 8, deputies with the Williamson County sheriff’s office arrested Rust on a charge of driving while intoxicated. While detained, Rust submitted two breath samples that showed his blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, the memo said.

Rust later told internal investigators at EMS that he made a mistake by drinking and driving, the memo said.

Rust has been placed on a one-year probation at EMS and has been ordered to attend an alcohol abuse treatment program. His DWI case is still pending and a hearing is set for December.

— Philip Jankowski, American-Statesman


Suspicious package closes streets

A jar of pickled okra was the culprit.

Police received a report of a suspicious package that triggered the response of bomb squad units and prompted authorities to close 10th Street near Interstate 35 for about two hours.

Police determined that a suspicious package was nothing more than a bag containing a jar of the okra.

— Philip Jankowski, American-Statesman


DPS target illegal passing of buses

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will focus their efforts this week on ticketing drivers who illegally pass school buses.

Troopers will either ride on school buses or follow them as they make their rounds during National School Bus Safety Week, starting Monday through Oct. 21, to identify drivers who pass the vehicles while they are stopped and operating flashing lights or stop signs.

“Drivers who violate the law could face fines as much as $1,250,” DPS said in a statement.

Texas Highway Patrol troopers have issued 1,093 tickets for passing stopped school buses since the beginning of 2015 and investigated 45 crashes in which failure to stop for a bus was a factor, the agency said.

“Anytime a driver disregards a stopped school bus, they put children’s lives in danger, and DPS will not tolerate individuals who ignore the law, putting their own convenience before a child’s safety,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said.

— Mark D. Wilson, American-Statesman

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