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‘Sanctuary’ reprisals from Abbott take hardball politics a step further

When Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez stopped detaining jail inmates for federal immigration checks, Gov. Greg Abbott quickly tried to change her mind with a tried and true incentive: Money. The choice was clear. Continue housing inmates while immigration agents investigate their status, and the county could keep getting $1.5 million in state grants being used for family violence education, the...
FAA missed chance to ground balloon pilot before deadly Lockhart crash

FAA missed chance to ground balloon pilot before deadly Lockhart crash

Alfred “Skip” Nichols, the chief pilot and owner of the Heart of Texas Balloon Rides, shouldn’t have been flying on the morning of July 30, 2016, when he crashed and died along with 15 passengers. Two years earlier, the Federal Aviation Administration had learned of his lengthy criminal record of alcohol-related driving offenses. Nichols had violated FAA rules by not voluntarily...
Why so many Texas teachers accused of improprieties are never charged

Why so many Texas teachers accused of improprieties are never charged

Hundreds of Texas primary and secondary teachers lost or surrendered their teaching licenses since 2010 after being investigated for improper relationships with a student. More than half were never criminally charged. In all of those cases, information about the alleged misconduct isn’t easily accessible from the Texas Education Agency and in many instances is kept secret by school districts...
An hour from Austin, Trump’s first two weeks are cause for celebration

An hour from Austin, Trump’s first two weeks are cause for celebration

From Day 1, Donald Trump’s presidency has roiled Austin. But on a gorgeous February day barely an hour northwest of the Texas capital in bucolic Burnet County, habitués of the Blue Bonnet Cafe were savoring the first two weeks of the Trump presidency like a slice of the timeless eatery’s best-selling coconut cream pie. “Love him,” said Dan Ross, who lives in Cottonwood...
12-year-old plants seeds of change for Austin’s hungry

12-year-old plants seeds of change for Austin’s hungry

It was supposed to be an educational conversation among first-graders about Christmas traditions around the world. But one little girl was crying. “She broke out in tears and said, ‘Santa’s never come to us, he hates us because we’re poor,’” Ian McKenna recalls his sister, Addison, telling him one day after school at Oak Hill Elementary in late 2012. Ian had to...
As South Congress redevelops, will the funky survive?

As South Congress redevelops, will the funky survive?

Dramatic changes are coming to South Congress Avenue, setting up a transformation that some Austinites say threatens the funky fabric of one of the city’s best-known destinations. A wave of upscale shops, restaurants, offices and boutique hotels is headed to the area — displacing some of the homegrown businesses that many patrons and merchants say have given South Congress the eclectic...
Austin crime lab bucked DNA standard for years, yet got passing grades

Austin crime lab bucked DNA standard for years, yet got passing grades

In 2010, an influential national organization of scientists devoted to ensuring that forensic labs employ only the latest and best methods of analyzing DNA evidence published a new set of guidelines. In essence, the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods concluded that analysts should use the quality of genetic samples, rather than the quantity of evidence gathered at a crime scene, to decide...
Lawyers raised doubts about Austin DNA lab work as early as 2009

Lawyers raised doubts about Austin DNA lab work as early as 2009

Long before the Austin Police Department’s DNA crime lab was shuttered, prosecutors and defense lawyers were second-guessing its work. In 2009, prosecutors raised red flags about DNA results in a rape case, later dismissed the charges against the suspect and eventually hired two private labs to double check the department’s results before refiling them. In 2015, a rape suspect&rsquo...
At end of Restore Rundberg grant period: crime down, future uncertain

At end of Restore Rundberg grant period: crime down, future uncertain

A few years ago, Barbara Williams said, she carried a pistol and a knife with her everywhere she went. She called police after hearing the cries of a little girl assaulted outside her window. She watched her neighbors openly dealing drugs out of the front doors of their North Austin apartments. She said she put a sign on her own door: “This is not the drug house.” Now things have changed...
Your guide to Austin-area festivals in 2017

Your guide to Austin-area festivals in 2017

From puns to Polish movies, Austin’s got it all when it comes to festivals. Whether you’re looking for something free, outdoor, indoor, musical, athletic or something else entirely, we’ve got you covered with our list of 2017 events. Are we missing one? Email cgonzales@statesman.com and we’ll add it to our list. JANUARY » See a map of January’s events here. Print...
Texas schools and districts get their letter grades from state

Texas schools and districts get their letter grades from state

School districts across the state got lackluster grades under the state’s newest accountability system that debuts Friday. Various Central Texas districts received unacceptable marks of D’s and F’s in certain categories, including Austin, Leander, Hays, Georgetown, Bastrop, Manor, Elgin, San Marcos, Hutto and Dripping Springs, according to a report sent to the Legislature last week...
Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2017

Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2017

The first of the year is a good time to look ahead at what’s to come. A chance to rev up our appetites, to imagine the possibilities. Unopened restaurants are full of potential. No plate has been poorly executed and no server has spilled a drink in your lap. While there will be many under-the-radar restaurants that open in 2017 and thrill us with their unique charms, I’ve highlighted here...
Firm studying I-35 toll lanes faces lawsuit over faulty projections

Firm studying I-35 toll lanes faces lawsuit over faulty projections

The company hired by the Texas Department of Transportation to study the viability of toll lanes on Interstate 35 is battling allegations that it used inflated traffic projections for toll road assets in other states, court documents show. TxDOT awarded the $6.8 million contract to Macquarie Capital in 2014, two years after a lawsuit alleged the firm paid kickbacks — in the form of undisclosed...
Betrayed and abused: How Texas failed to protect boys from Dr. Charles Fischer

Betrayed and abused: How Texas failed to protect boys from Dr. Charles Fischer

The thin young man sat on the witness stand, fending off sharp questions by the defense lawyer and trying to explain how he was sexually abused when he was 16. Who took off your clothes? attorney Chris Gunter asked. I did, the witness said. But you told another investigator he took your clothes off. No, I did. The sparring continued and after a few minutes, the witness lost it. “It doesn&rsquo...
Silent majority: Hispanics deeply underrepresented in local politics

Silent majority: Hispanics deeply underrepresented in local politics

Isabel García has learned to fear “la playa” — the beach. Most years, the sunken field in front of her house is a riot of long grasses and cattails swaying in the Texas Panhandle wind. But heavy rains can turn that area into a lake that floods the former migrant labor camp of San Jose, home to hundreds of low-income Hispanic residents just outside the city limits of the county...
Lawrence Wright: Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

Lawrence Wright: Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

As we who live here are painfully aware, Texas can seem absolutely baffling to outsiders. In his latest book, “God Save Texas,” Lawrence Wright takes the myth and truth of the Lone Star State head-on in a series of essays that, the more one reads them, feel like a Texas 101 primer, the sort of thing to hand your relatives back east to explain How We in Texas Live Now.  Here are eight...
Texas Forever: ‘Friday Night Lights’ comes to Amazon Prime

Texas Forever: ‘Friday Night Lights’ comes to Amazon Prime

It was a grim day a few months back when “Friday Night Lights” --  the brilliant look at football in small town Texas that launched the careers of, for example Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons, made Eric and Tammy Taylor #marriagegoals icons and generally established itself as the best show not enough people watched at the time  -- left Netflix. Now it is back on Amazon Prime...
‘It’s All True,’ aka the Fugazi between-song-banter opera, plays May 18-20 at Stateside, you ice cream-eating (beep)

‘It’s All True,’ aka the Fugazi between-song-banter opera, plays May 18-20 at Stateside, you ice cream-eating (beep)

"It’s All True," an "opera-in-suspension based on the complete live archives of iconic underground band Fugazi,” by the Brooklyn-based performance group Object Collection, is coming to Stateside at the Paramount May 18 to 20. It’s a littler hard to describe so let’s go to the press release: "Grounded upon the DC post-hardcore outfit’s 1987-2002 Live...
Brothers and sisters! Tickets on sale April 6 for MC50 at Mohawk!

Brothers and sisters! Tickets on sale April 6 for MC50 at Mohawk!

To celebrate the MC5’s still-astonishing debut album, “Kick Out the Jams,” MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer is hitting the road with a bunch of ringers for the MC50 tour, which comes to the Mohawk Sept. 28. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 6. Kramer and co. will play Kick Out the Jams in its entirety, as well as an encore set of MC5 material that will change each night. While Kramer...
The ATX Bookstore Crawl is coming April 28

The ATX Bookstore Crawl is coming April 28

The second annual Austin Bookstore crawl takes place April 28. After all, it’s the season of brick-and-mortar-retail celebration. Record Store Day takes place April 21; Free Comic Book Day on May 5. Participating ATX Bookstore crawl include: HalfPrice Books (All 7 Locations) Here is the deal, according to the website: “Visit three or more of the participating bookstores on April 28...
Muslim-run El Bari clinic in San Antonio treats the uninsured, regardless of faith

Muslim-run El Bari clinic in San Antonio treats the uninsured, regardless of faith

While Austin has a number of sliding scale clinics that treat the uninsured and under-insured, there is nothing in this town like El Bari in San Antonio. As reported April 2 in the San Antonio Express-News, El Bari, which has been open for four years, is San Antonio’s only clinic dispensing medical care gratis to anyone without insurance.   The all-volunteer staff is made up of practicing...
Check out the trailer for ‘Why We’re Here: 15 Years of Rooster Teeth’

Check out the trailer for ‘Why We’re Here: 15 Years of Rooster Teeth’

  For 15 years, the multimedia company Rooster Teeth has quietly, then not so quietly, become of the most significant creative forces in Austin. Here is its story. “Why We’re Here: 15 Years of Rooster Teeth” provides exceptional access inside Rooster Teeth, the studio behind “Red vs. Blue,” “RWBY” and “Achievement Hunter.” Founded in a spare...
‘I’m Dying Up Here,’ Ted Leo, more join final Moontower Comedy line-up

‘I’m Dying Up Here,’ Ted Leo, more join final Moontower Comedy line-up

The Moontower Comedy festival has finalized its line-up. The highlights? Moontower will screen the season 2 premiere episode of Showtime's stand-up comedy drama ‘I'm Dying Up Here’ on April 20th at the Alamo Ritz.  The new talent joining the lineup includes musician/raconteur Ted Leo, Amanda Seales of HBO's “Insecure,” Dulce Sloan of “The Daily Show,” Luke...
Is the name of Canadian soft serve company Sweet Jesus offensive?

Is the name of Canadian soft serve company Sweet Jesus offensive?

The Bible doesn’t say much about ice cream. It’s kind of light on dessert commentary in general. It has a bit to say about taking the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7) but wowee, the range of translations on that one will drive you batty.  Compare, for example, the King James (“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”) to the New International Version...
‘Jaws’ and camp and ‘The Sandlot:’ Check out Rolling Roadshow 2018

‘Jaws’ and camp and ‘The Sandlot:’ Check out Rolling Roadshow 2018

Jaws on the Water!” “The Sandlot!” A stunt ranch! Let’s check out the events in the Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow series. An outdoor screening of “The Sandlot” at Austin's one and only sandlot venue, The Long Time. The Drafthouse is celebrating the coming-of-age baseball film with an Amateur Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby contest, food trucks featuring classic...
‘Cobra Kai’ trailer remembers an important thing about ‘The Karate Kid’

‘Cobra Kai’ trailer remembers an important thing about ‘The Karate Kid’

So YouTube Red released the final trailer yesterday for the long-discussed 10-part “Karate Kid” sequel “Cobra Kai.” Here is the trailer: So, a couple of things: * This looks like a decent titration of the original’s action and heart with a dollop of self-aware humor.  * If you watched movies at all in the 1980s, it was kind of impossible to avoid William Zabka...
It’s spring! Time for 10 totally chill Austin outdoor reading spots

It’s spring! Time for 10 totally chill Austin outdoor reading spots

Spring is here, and the time is right for reading outdoors. (Per the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man,” summer is the traditional time for rising in the streets, but, hey you do you.) Here are 10 great spots to read outdoors before it becomes too hot.  1. The top floor of the new Austin Public Library. 710 W. Cesar Chavez St.  The new central branch of the APL includes...
The script for ‘Triplets,’ the ‘Twins’ sequel someone apparently demanded, is in, Schwarzenegger says at SXSW

The script for ‘Triplets,’ the ‘Twins’ sequel someone apparently demanded, is in, Schwarzenegger says at SXSW

Former world-class bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps best known for Conan, the Predator movies and being governor of California, told SXSW conference attendees that the script for “Triplets,” the sequel to “Twins,” is in. It was written by Josh Gad and Ryan Dixon and will reunite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito while adding noted comedian Eddie Murphy....
South by Southwest Film turns 25: Let’s look back at some key moments

South by Southwest Film turns 25: Let’s look back at some key moments

Look, South By Southwest isn’t Sundance. It’s not Cannes. It’s not Toronto. For 25 years, it’s been its own thing, a stellar venue for young and developing filmmakers to come and, as one once put it to me, “launch your weirdness.” Here are some highlights of weirdness being launched or celebrated or developed at SXSW over the years. 1. 1994 -- The first fest. You...
Nick Offerman to host SXSW comedy show to benefit LGBTQ equality

Nick Offerman to host SXSW comedy show to benefit LGBTQ equality

Nick “Ron Swanson” Offerman hosts “Audible Impact,” a special night of music and comedy featuring  Jim Gaffigan, Adam Pally, Nick Thune, Liza Treyger and musical guests to be named later. The show will benefit The Ally Coalition, a group dedicated to LGBTQ equality. The jam takes place 7:30 March 13 at ACL Live. Priority will be given to Interactive, Film, Music...
HBO is bringing ‘Westworld’ to SXSW -- is Austin where the robot revolt will start? 

HBO is bringing ‘Westworld’ to SXSW -- is Austin where the robot revolt will start? 

HBO is bringing a bit of their smash hit show “Westworld” to South by Southwest. The cable Goliath is building a town from the ground up for an immersive experience exclusively for SXSW badgeholders.  Open from March 9-11 only, the “Westworld”-themed park will feature reproduced versions of iconic locations and elements from the hit HBO series, including the Coronado hotel...
Austin 'Black Panther' fans put on their Wakanda best this weekend

Austin 'Black Panther' fans put on their Wakanda best this weekend

It has come to pass as many (eventually) thought it would: experts are predicting “Black Panther” will deliver a $235 million-plus debut over the four-day weekend, making for the third highest four-day gross in history.  As Box Office Mojo noted, it is only the fifth movie to debut with over $200 million over its opening weekend. Just for a little bit of perspective, know...
Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ to close SXSW

Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ to close SXSW

The North American premiere of Wes Anderson’s highly-anticipated and somewhat controversial stop-motion animated film“Isle of Dogs” will close the 2018 South By Southwest Film Festival, it was announced Wednesday.  Starring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances...
Armie Hammer and Paul Thomas Anderson coming to Austin for Film Hall of Fame honors

Armie Hammer and Paul Thomas Anderson coming to Austin for Film Hall of Fame honors

Screenwriter and director Paul Thomas Anderson will accept the inaugural Jonathan Demme Award, and Variety executive editor Steven Gaydos will present Armie Hammer with Variety’s “One to Acclaim” award at this year’s Texas Film Awards. The March 8 gala will be held at the Austin Film Society Cinema.  Jonathan Demme, a longtime Austin Film Society Advisory Board member...
‘Queen Sugar,’ ‘Drunk History’ and David Simon headline ATX TV fest

‘Queen Sugar,’ ‘Drunk History’ and David Simon headline ATX TV fest

The seventh annual ATX Television Festival released programming and panels for the fest, which takes place June 7 -10. Let’s take a look, shall we? * Look for a conversation with Blown Deadline producing partners David Simon and Nina K. Noble, celebrating 20 years of HBO series together, including “The Wire,” “The Deuce,” “Treme,” “Generation Kill,&rdquo...
Spike Lee, Lena Dunham, ‘Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson all coming to SXSW

Spike Lee, Lena Dunham, ‘Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson all coming to SXSW

Spike, Rian, Lena and Wright!  Look for Oscar- winning director, writer, producer and Knicks lifer Spike Lee, actress, writer, controversy magnet and director Lena Dunham, actor, writer and country music fan Ethan Hawke, “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi” and “Brick” director Rian Johnson; and Westworld cast members Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden ...
NEW DATE: Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks Feb. 6 at the Long Center

NEW DATE: Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks Feb. 6 at the Long Center

The Long Center for the Performing Arts announced Monday a new date for celebrity physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose original gig was postponed on Jan. 16 due to inclement weather. Tyson will return to Dell Hall Feb. 6. All current tickets are valid for the new date. If you previously purchased a ticket to see Tyson, it will be honored at the new date and time. There is no need to exchange your...
Get ready for some yelling: Kevin Hart to play Frank Erwin Center Nov. 2

Get ready for some yelling: Kevin Hart to play Frank Erwin Center Nov. 2

Incredibly successful stand-up comedian and "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" star Kevin Hart is playing the Frank Erwin Center” Nov. 2. The gig is part of his massive "The Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour", which goes for more than 100 dates. Tickets go on sale 11 a.m. Jan. 31 Central at TexasBoxOffice.com or by calling 512-477-6060 or 1-800-982-BEVO.
Long way from Dillon: How Taylor Kitsch became ‘Waco’ cult leader

Long way from Dillon: How Taylor Kitsch became ‘Waco’ cult leader

In the character of troubled high school fullback Tim Riggins on “Friday Night Lights,” a Canadian actor named Taylor Kitsch managed to embody one of the most beloved fictional Texans of 21st century television.  Now, in the miniseries “Waco,” airing Wednesdays on the new Paramount Network, Kitsch takes a swing at one of the most infamous Texans in recent memory...
Big Tex to be featured on Travel Channel show ‘Giant America’

Big Tex to be featured on Travel Channel show ‘Giant America’

Big Tex, the appropriately outsized mascot of the Texas State Fair, is making an appearance of the Travel Channel show “Giant America” on Jan. 15. On “Giant America,” comedian Tom Green (and wow, when was the last time you thought about ol’ Tom?)  will look at “massive structures," according to a press release. Look for the former Mr. Drew Barrymore to...
Classic Texas Monthly stories now available on audio

Classic Texas Monthly stories now available on audio

Now you can listen to classic stories from Texas Monthly while you are stuck on 35. Or walking the Hike and Bike trail. Or raking leaves. Penguin Random House Audio has partnered with Texas Monthly and offered more than 20 features from the magazine’s archive on audio for the first time. Stories range from true crime narratives to dramatic profiles. Each story, narrated by a native Texan...
A New Englander tried Whataburger. You will not believe what happened next. (OK, maybe you will.)

A New Englander tried Whataburger. You will not believe what happened next. (OK, maybe you will.)

If there is one constant in this Texas life, it is that Texans love Whataburger. I have met nuns that are less devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mother than Austinites are to the honey butter chicken biscuit. So over at Business Insider, someone named Hollis Johnson decided to get down with Whataburger. As he puts it, “Whataburger had long similarly been an enigma to me — nearly every Texan...
Austin band Cherubs’ ‘Heroin Man,’ an ATX classic, is back in print on LP...but move fast.

Austin band Cherubs’ ‘Heroin Man,’ an ATX classic, is back in print on LP...but move fast.

Cherubs’ 1994 album “Heroin Man” (originally on Trance Syndicate) is a stone-cold classic of Austin noise rock. Original LPs fetch around $142 on discogs.com. Heck, LP reissues with fancy handmate art goes for around $150.  (That said, original CDs can be found for $20 to $45 or so and CD reissues can be found for $5.) Anyway, the fine people at Amphetamine Reptile Records...
Are the best looking cellists alive coming to Austin?

Are the best looking cellists alive coming to Austin?

So there are these two guys who play cello. They are called... wait for it 2CELLOS. 2Cellos is a Croatian cellist duo, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser. Dudes have been signed to Sony Masterworks since 2011 and cranked out four albums of instrumental arrangements of well-known pop songs, classical and film music. They have been on TV all over the place and they are coming to the Frank...
In celebration of deer season, here’s that time in 2016 that 26 snakes ended up in a deer blind

In celebration of deer season, here’s that time in 2016 that 26 snakes ended up in a deer blind

Good morning! We are about ten days or so into deer hunting season for Travis County (you can check up on dates here), so it seems like a the perfect time to remind hunters near and far of that time last year 26 rattlesnakes showed up in a deer blind. Last March, a Panhandle-based hunter named Rusty Hopper found a whole mess of snakes when he... well, let’s let him tell it: “Picked my...
Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

     You know it, I know it, your neighbors know it: Austin is lousy with folks who just will not throw away their stuff. Austin’s garages, its sheds and its crawl spaces are filled with plenty of objects from the good old days, be those the 90s rock/tech boom, the 80s oil boom and bust, the cosmic cowboy 1970s, the ‘60s and earlier. (See also our fair city’s pawn...
A handful of hep Hammer horror movies for Halloween

A handful of hep Hammer horror movies for Halloween

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the British film studio Hammer Films made some of the best horror pictures in the Western world. With over the top scripts, lush gothic colors and beautiful women, Hammer horror influenced everygenre from sci-fi (George Lucas would not have cast Peter Cushing as the Grand Moff Tarkin without the latter’s run in dozens of Hammer flicks) to fashion (a whole lot of...
On the Texas coast, a hurricane recovery haunted by the past

On the Texas coast, a hurricane recovery haunted by the past

Between the beaches of Port Aransas and the vacation rentals of Port O’Connor, the Texas coast is filled with small towns that suffered massive damage in Hurricane Harvey. For some, the hurricane will forever alter the course of their future: Already in Bayside (pop. 333, and falling), at least eight families, close to 10 percent of the population, have decided to abandon the city. Small towns...
It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!

It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!

Today is Sept. 22 in the year of our Lord 2017. According to the calendar, it is the first day of autumn. Which means, according to popular imagination, golden-brown leaves falling from trees; crisp, cool air; everyone in sweaters or jackets; and the anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Except in Austin.  Austin does not have autumn. At all. For those of us who are born on the East Coast...
How to watch last night’s Emmy-winning shows

How to watch last night’s Emmy-winning shows

The big question after watching the Emmys every year is, “How can I, the humble viewer, watch all of this incredible TV, even when the season for said TV is over?” Here is your answer, in no particular order. “Atlanta” The stunning FX comedy picked up two of three awards for which it was nominated. Not only did Donald Glover walk away with the lead actor in a comedy trophy...
Wedding album lost during Harvey recovered

Wedding album lost during Harvey recovered

Much of the time, we, the people, look at the Internet and think, “Why, Lord, why?” Even when (with a little Google-fu) we are able to listen to pretty much every piece of recorded music in human history, it doesn’t change the fact that the Internet has made the basest, most destructive impulses of humanity as public as humanly possible. No, I’m not going to link to any of...
A guide to Austin record stores

A guide to Austin record stores

Austin may bill itself as the Live Music Capital of the World, but we submit that it is an equally incredible place to live if you like to buy records from live human beings.  For years, record stores have been rising and falling in the River City, but to the town’s lasting credit, there has never been a time when record shopping vanished.  Not a lot of cities can boast the sheer number...
Victim tries to buy gun sniper used

Victim tries to buy gun sniper used

An Austin man who was shot by Charles Whitman 23 years ago and another man who talked to the sniper on the morning of the massacre are trying to buy two guns from the "Whitman Collection" being offered for sale by a Dallas-area gun dealer. Morris Hohmann was an ambulance attendant for Hyltin-Manor Funeral Chapel when he was struck by a 6mm rifle slug fired by Whitman from his perch atop...
Killer of UT Tower sniper leaving law enforcement

Killer of UT Tower sniper leaving law enforcement

The law enforcement officer who climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower and killed sniper Charles Whitman has reconciled himself to being remembered primarily for his actions on Aug. 1, 1966. Ramiro "Ray" Martinez, 54, said he would prefer to be recalled as a man who did any job that had to be done, then moved on to the next job. "That's just the way I was brought up. I...
Sniper Charles Whitman in movies, books and song

Sniper Charles Whitman in movies, books and song

Thirty years later, Charles Whitman is a notch on a timeline of violence. Pain and loss quietly take the back seat to curiosity and even tastelessness as Whitman bubbles up in pop culture. Here are some examples: The made-for-TV movie, "THE DEADLY--TOWER" (1975), turns up on late-night cable from time to time; it also was released once on video under the name "Sniper." Kurt Russell...
Whitman's father copes by suppressing memories

Whitman's father copes by suppressing memories

He's an old man now with a touch of Alzheimer's. His short-term memory comes and goes. But some memories are never lost: The death of three children -- two violently, one with AIDS. The murder of his wife. And one searing event branded in his soul forever, stamped upon the psyche of countless Americans, and part of the violent saga of our time. Thirty years ago Thursday, his son and namesake, Charles...
Garden now a memorial to victims of UT sniper

Garden now a memorial to victims of UT sniper

This story originally was published on Aug. 2, 1999. A green, peaceful place where, more than three decades ago, horror and death exploded from above, was dedicated Sunday to those who died and those whose lives were forever changed by Charles Whitman's bullets. In a brief, somber ceremony, University of Texas President Larry Faulkner spoke at the leafy, sun-dappled plot of about one-half acre just...
UT reclaims its tower, after 25 years

UT reclaims its tower, after 25 years

University of Texas student Diana Arevalo hauled her bulging camera bag to a ceremony Wednesday night to celebrate the reopening of the UT Tower, and she's lucky she did. Arevalo, a junior majoring in photojournalism, was one of 10 people chosen at random for an inaugural tour of the Tower's observation deck, which reopens to the public today after almost 25 years. The deck sports a new birdcage-like...
UT Tower hero can't forget

UT Tower hero can't forget

The $286 monthly check for former Austin cop Houston McCoy is due any day now. It won't buy much, but to McCoy, the government stipend represents more than purchasing power. It is an acknowledgement that at least some of the problems he's wrestled with for the past 33 years have a rational basis. Since Aug. 1, 1966, when he and fellow officer Ramiro Martinez rode to the top of the University of Texas...
99 minutes, 30 years later

99 minutes, 30 years later

He dreamed of the Tower. People dream about the Tower all the time. Some want to jump off it, and nine people did between 1937 and 1974. Some dream they're falling off it. Some dream it's falling over on top of them. One student, years and years ago, dreamed of it blasting off like a Mercury rocket. Some go to a campus psychiatrist and talk about their anxieties, pop quizzes, success, champions, failure...
UT Tower Tragedy quietly fades into history

UT Tower Tragedy quietly fades into history

Editor's note: This story was written before the death of David Gunby in late 2001. Gunby, whose death was ruled a homicide by a Tarrant County medical examiner, is now considered Whitman's 16th victim. The University of Texas Tower shooting that left 15 people dead is an event that few want to remember as part of the university's history. And so the 35th anniversary of the event passed Wednesday...
A sniper's steely legacy

A sniper's steely legacy

The seven guns that Charles Whitman carried to the top of the University of Texas Tower in 1966 in a bloody rampage that left 14 dead and 31 wounded are being offered for sale by a Dallas-area gun collector. The sale of the three rifles, one shotgun and three pistols has brought back painful memories for some, but at least one of Whitman's shooting victims said he recognizes the historical value of...
Claire James survived Whitman's bullet; the baby she carried didn't

Claire James survived Whitman's bullet; the baby she carried didn't

Claire Wilson James lost her baby in a most public and lurid way. Forty-two years ago, Charles Whitman shot Claire's pregnant womb from his dreadful skybox atop the University of Texas Tower. Now, Claire loses her baby in private, in her sleep, when the world no longer is watching. "I so wanted a baby, and I so missed my baby," she says."For years, even now, I have dreams that somehow...
Heroes of UT Tower tragedy honored

Heroes of UT Tower tragedy honored

Austin's most legendary thin blue line stretched three generations deep Friday along a sidewalk in front of a government office building with a peaceful view of the Hill Country. One by one, the law enforcement officers who helped end Charles Whitman's killing spree from the University of Texas Tower 42 years ago stepped forward for a recognition of their bravery. In some cases, widows, children and...
Ending Whitman's life changed theirs

Ending Whitman's life changed theirs

The resting places of their Medals of Valor reveal the contrasting destinies of Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy better than the men themselves. Martinez's decoration is tucked away inside an upscale home in New Braunfels, where he serves as justice of the peace, clad in a dignified black cloak, respected by the community. McCoy displays his medal to visitors in a gutted building where he lives and...
Oak Hill facility to bear names of heroes of UT Tower rampage

Oak Hill facility to bear names of heroes of UT Tower rampage

The people who risked their lives to stop Charles Whitman's killing marathon from the University of Texas Tower on Aug. 1, 1966, finally are getting permanent recognition for their bravery. But the new memorial is 12 miles from the UT Tower. A Travis County building in Oak Hill will be named the Tower Heroes Building today at the unveiling of a black-and-silver metal historical plaque that lists the...
Houston McCoy, police officer who shot UT Tower sniper Charles Whitman, dies

Houston McCoy, police officer who shot UT Tower sniper Charles Whitman, dies

Houston McCoy, the Austin police officer who stopped University of Texas Tower sniper Charles Whitman more than 46 years ago, died early Thursday afternoon in a rest home in his hometown of Menard. He was 72. McCoy died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by many years of smoking, said his daughter Monika McCoy. McCoy would have hated the first sentence of this obituary...

No joke: My old pal Artly was a hero, too

I've known for years that my buddy Artly Snuff is a funny guy. But I didn't know he was brave. On the front page of Sunday's newspaper, we ran a photo from a video taken that awful day of Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman went up in the University of Texas Tower and started shooting people. Thirteen people and an unborn baby were killed that day. I think if it weren't for Artly Snuff and a couple...
Reflections of pain and hope at UT

Reflections of pain and hope at UT

University of Texas officials are creating a million-dollar memorial to the victims of sniper Charles Whitman's shooting spree almost 40 years ago. The tree-covered grassy area north of the Main Building was dedicated as the Tower Garden three years ago. UT President Larry Faulkner said that dedication was the first step in remembering those who died and those whose lives were affected by the shootings...
UT Tower's legacy, 33 years later

UT Tower's legacy, 33 years later

All who were on the University of Texas at Austin campus Aug. 1, 1966, as I was, will forever remember the events of that day. The Tower shootings deeply affected the lives of many people in the community, the state and the nation. At 4 p.m. today, the university will honor all those who died and those whose lives were touched by this tragedy. At the ceremony, we will dedicate a grassy, tree-covered...
Public healing cannot erase private grief

Public healing cannot erase private grief

When her body came to rest after tumbling down two flights of stairs, Mary Lamport thanked God. She was alive, in spite of the multiple bullets that pierced her body. And so was her son Michael. Mother and son talked as they went in and out of consciousness on the stairwell. Nearby, the man who shot them, Charles Whitman, was picking off victims from the observation deck at the University of Texas...
UT Tower shooting claims one more life

UT Tower shooting claims one more life

It took 35 painful years, but a rifle bullet fired by Charles Whitman on Aug. 1, 1966, from the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower finally killed its victim this week. David Gunby, 58, died Monday at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, and the Tarrant County medical examiner, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, ruled the death a homicide, given the chronic kidney problems he suffered because of the gunshot...
A killer's conscience

A killer's conscience

Charles Whitman liked to keep lists, neat little reminders of ways to better himself. In the Marine Corps it was: "Think -- don't be so ready with an excuse." "Organize yourself and your work." "... Exhaust all efforts to find answers." "Know your status and position and conduct yourself accordingly." At the top of the list, the 20-year-old Marine implored himself...
Sniper fire rings for 3 men after 25 years

Sniper fire rings for 3 men after 25 years

In a dry creekbed 150 miles west of Austin, an aging cowboy named Houston McCoy mends a barbed-wire fence under the searing sun, trying to make enough money to fix his ancient pickup. In New Braunfels, 50 miles south of Austin, a burned-out Texas Ranger named Ramiro Martinez leans back in his chair and dreams of retirement. A thousand miles from both of them - deep in the Nevada desert - an old slot...
Writing releases pain of Tower tragedy

Writing releases pain of Tower tragedy

Having lived with the UT sniper tragedy all of my life, I have suppressed a lot. I was a bright, energetic kid and saw the world as a wonderful adventure. Aug. 1, 1966 changed all that for me forever. It's a day that remains painful to me even 40 years later. For me it all started in June. I was in the Boy Scouts, and we were going on a campout that had started Friday night and continued through Sunday...
History forgot Whitman's other shooter

History forgot Whitman's other shooter

Former Austin police officer Houston McCoy says he doesn't want to be called a hero because he was just doing his job when he helped end a massacre by shooting Charles Whitman 40 years ago today on the University of Texas Tower. But McCoy, 66, wants his great-grandchildren, and future generations of Austinites, to know that he fired the two gunshots that stopped a terrifying 96-minute episode on Aug...
UT Tower shootings: The forgetting Aug. 1, 1966

UT Tower shootings: The forgetting Aug. 1, 1966

Forty years ago today a 25-year-old man with a blond crew cut stood high above Austin and forever embedded himself in the history of one of the most prominent elements of the city's skyline — the University of Texas Tower. Now, a generation has passed. Few of the tens of thousands of UT students give much thought to the fact they are the same ages as the majority of the people Charles Whitman...
UT Tower shootings: An anniversary with no answers

UT Tower shootings: An anniversary with no answers

After former University of Texas Police Chief Allen Hamilton's files on the 1966 Tower shootings turned up at Half-Price Books the other day, I got a glimpse of the future. Someday my children will come across the three sagging boxes labeled "Whitman" in my garage and ask the same question that Hamilton's family did: What to do with all this stuff? Their course of action likely will be the...
Sniper papers depict chaos

Sniper papers depict chaos

Christian Kurtz, a used-book buyer at Half Price Books in Austin, is used to finding all sorts of strange and unique things in the boxes people bring into his North Lamar store. Nothing, however, could have prepared Kurtz for what he found in the files of Allen Hamilton, who was chief of security for the University of Texas in 1966, when Charles Whitman went on a shooting spree atop the UT Tower....
40 years later, KTBC retells the tale of UT’s tragic day

40 years later, KTBC retells the tale of UT’s tragic day

Before Columbine, before Oklahoma City and Sept. 11, there was the University of Texas Tower massacre. On Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman pointed a rifle from the observation deck of the Tower and began shooting in a homicidal rampage that went on for 96 minutes. All told, he killed 15 people (the film says 16, which includes an unborn child) and wounded another 31, and in the shocked aftermath, a handful...

Casualties of the streets: American-Statesman analysis reveals how Austin’s homeless are dying

They died just out of sight: In the wooded area behind Krieg fields in Southeast Austin; in the drainage ditch outside a North Austin Jiffy Lube; suspended in the branches of a Williamson Creek tree. City officials warn that up to 50 percent of chronically homeless people are at risk of premature death, according to recent studies. In Austin, that means about 300 people live with that increased risk...
Doctor says bodybuilding correction officer allegedly disabled for 20 years shouldn't return to work

Doctor says bodybuilding correction officer allegedly disabled for 20 years shouldn't return to work

A former Mass. state worker out on disability for 20 years also often enters bodybuilding competitions. FOX Undercover introduced you to the bodybuilder back in May and after our report, the state pushed for answers. "I'm in good shape, yeah," 45-year-old Mark Lovell said. "I can still try to stay in shape and do what I can do but I have my limitations, absolutely, 100 percent."...

Missed signs, fatal consequences

In 2009, the Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse — and neglect-related death in the state in hopes of identifying patterns and discovering ways to prevent abuse deaths. But the Statesman has learned that CPS has not systematically analyzed those reports, meaning that in important ways, Texas’ child protection workers effectively have been operating...
DPS ends South Texas checkpoints

DPS ends South Texas checkpoints

State law enforcement leaders said Tuesday they would no longer deploy controversial traffic checkpoints along the Texas-Mexico border, even as Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for an unprecedented border enforcement initiative. Critics called the so-called regulatory checkpoints — used in the Rio Grande Valley in September and October — state-operated immigration traps. Department of Public...
Billy's World

Billy's World

The American-Statesman originally published this series in 2008 in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal at a Texas Youth Commission lockup that produced a cascade of investigations and reform efforts. Nearly forgotten was the fate of 500 juveniles freed after state lawmakers told the agency to stop locking up misdemeanor offenders. American-Statesman investigative reporter Eric Dexheimer and photographer...
Emails reveal how agency grappled with doctor abuse case, aftermath

Emails reveal how agency grappled with doctor abuse case, aftermath

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Oct. 25, Austin State Hospital Superintendent Carl Schock was preparing to suspend a longtime child psychiatrist with a once-sterling history of service. Dr. Charles Fischer, a well-regarded doctor with a seemingly unblemished 20-year career at the psychiatric hospital, had been under investigation for more than five months by the Department of Family and Protective Services...

Even court officials find fees hard to untangle

Because of the Legislature's tinkering, the matrix of fees, fines and costs criminal defendants face has grown into an administrative thicket that even people who see it every day can find baffling. "Sometimes I can't even tell my client what the bill is for," said David Gonzales, an Austin defense attorney. The Office of Court Administration fields "hundreds of calls a year from trial...
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