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Santa Fe man charged with multiple counts after pursuit through woods

Edward Allen McKinney is arrested after lengthy pursuit through woods. (Courtesy Photo)Edward Allen McKinney is arrested after lengthy pursuit through woods. (Courtesy Photo)

by Emily Waldrep

On May 17 at approximately 6:30 a.m, Tyler County Deputy Brant Loechel conducted a traffic stop on Hwy 190 East in the Moss Hill area. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Edward Allen McKinney, age 48, of Santa Fe, Texas. According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, McKinney told deputies he had been arguing with a female passenger while they were on their way to Conroe. The deputy did not see a passenger with McKinney and there were no other occupants in the vehicle. It was discovered that the passenger had gotten out of the vehicle earlier and was walking on foot.

As deputies spoke with McKinney, a DPS Trooper in the area also arrived on scene. As conversation with McKinney continued, he fled from officers on foot into a wooded area.

"While officers were looking for McKinney, they checked around the New Shady Grove Baptist Church and on the outside of the building between the building and a storage shed, they located a white female identified as Tina Marie Davis, age 35, of Santa Fe, Texas," Weatherford said. "Once deputies spoke with Davis she identified McKinney as her husband."

A pat down search of Davis revealed a baggie containing a clear crystal like substance which tested positive for methamphetamine, Weatherford said. Davis was arrested for Possession of Controlled Substance, third degree felony.

Additional deputies arrived on scene and were unable to locate McKinney at that time. Deputies knew McKinney's identity and a computer check through the database revealed that McKinney had no outstanding warrants at that time.

McKinney's vehicle was towed from the scene and a warrant was issued for him for Evading Arrest and Detention.

Later that same afternoon in the Moss Hill area, Deputy Loechel received a call regarding a vehicle that was broken into just down from the church and several items were taken from the vehicle. Those items were later recovered in McKinney's vehicle that had been towed. An addition warrant was sought for Burglary of a Vehicle.

According to Weatherford, on May 18, the Tyler County Sheriff's Department received a call reporting that there was a male subject inside the New Shady Grove Baptist Church that did not belong there. The caller told dispatch that the male subject had left the church and was walking on US 190 toward Woodville. The description of the man given by the caller matched the description of McKinney.

At that time, Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and Deputy Loechel proceeded to the scene. When deputies arrived in the area they observed McKinney walking down the roadway and when McKinney saw the deputies unit, he immediately ran into the woods. Weatherford contacted the Department of Criminal Justice and requested assistance from their tracking dogs. Assistance was also received from the Woodville Police Department and Texas Game Wardens, Weatherford said.

Once the tracking dogs arrived on scene, they were released in an area where McKinney was last seen running into the woods and the dogs began to track McKinney. He was observed crossing County Road 4050 and continued to evade law enforcement officers as he was running west toward Woodville. He was seen again crossing County Road 4440. Officers were able to box McKinney in behind a residence on US 190 and he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

According to Weatherford, US 190 was shut down for a brief time to allow the dogs to work and to keep the public out of the area.

McKinney has been charged with two counts of Evading Arrest or Detention, Burglary of a Vehicle and Criminal Mischief of a Place of Worship, which is a state jail felony.

There are also charges pending against Davis.

Both Davis and McKinney are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Ivanhoe Fire Department gets new trucks

Ivanhoe Fire Department Gets New Trucks

Ivanhoe Fire Department gets new trucks—A funding process started by John-Paul Feeley has provided the Ivanhoe Fire Department with two new fire trucks and a 40 x 20 ft. addition to the fire station to house them. According to E.S.D. Board President B.A. Smith,the trucks will benefit not only Ivanhoe but the surrounding area as well. He also said that a lot in Hillister has been donated, where they hope to put a substation.

Man high on PCP arrested on FM 1745

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched on May 3 to FM 1745 near Colmesneil after a caller reported that there was a black male walking in the roadway and trespassing on various properties. In addition to the original caller, several other callers had reported that the subject was going into fields behind their homes and going behind different houses on the highway.

Deputies arrived on scene and spoke to the original caller, who stated that the black male tried to get through a bob wire fence across from his residence but got tangled up in it for several minutes and stated that the subject appeared to be intoxicated.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies located the subject walking down the middle of the roadway on FM 1745. Deputies knew the subject from prior interactions, and identified him as Arthur Bob Thomas, age 33, of Woodville.

Deputies observed that Thomas was sweating, had red eyes and slow and slurred speech, and that he was staring off into space. According to Weatherford, both of Thomas' fists were closed and Deputies asked him to open them. Thomas was holding a knife, which Deputies ordered him to drop and he did. He was then detained and put in handcuffs for his own safety, Weatherford said.

Deputies asked Thomas if he had taken any illegal drugs and Thomas stated that he had smoked some "wet" or PCP approximately three hours earlier, Weatherford said.

A pat down search of Thomas revealed a small mouthwash bottle containing a small amount of liquid.

"The liquid had some pieces of tobacco floating inside of it," Weatherford said. "Due to the officers training and experience, they knew that bottles that they come across like this usually contain PCP, and users typically dip their cigarettes and joints into before they smoke it, which is commonly known as 'wet'."

The search also revealed two small bags of marijuana from the same pocket, as well as a small clear plastic bag containing a powdery white substance that appeared to be cocaine and field tested positive for cocaine, Weatherford said.

Thomas was charged with Public Intoxication – Class C Misdemeanor, Possession of Marijuana – Class B Misdemeanor, Possession of Controlled Substance (Cocaine) – State Jail Felony, and Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCP) – Second Degree Felony.

Arthur is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Oklahoma lineman dies repairing power lines

by Emily Waldrep

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, a lineman working in Tyler County after the severe storms blew through the area was killed while working on power lines on County Road 3630 off of FM 256 in the Colmesneil area.

The Tyler County Communications center received a call Tuesday morning reporting that the incident had happened after linemen with Utility Plus Incorporated were walking out on a line getting ready to restore power when the lineman came in contact with part of a downed wire. Witnesses report that he fell instantly and attempts at CPR failed.

The lineman, who was 33 years old and from Oklahoma, was pronounced dead on the scene by Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Greg Dawson.

Sheriff’s Deputies respond to call reporting SUV driver with gun

by Emily Waldrep

On May 1, Deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department were dispatched to County Road 3155 in Colmesneil. According to Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the caller reported that a white male was driving an SUV with a rifle hanging out of the driver's door.

Deputies arrived in the area, and observed a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle described by the caller. The vehicle was parked on the edge of the roadway, and as deputies began to approach the vehicle, they observed the subject pick up what appeared to be a rifle, Weatherford said. The subject was ordered to drop the weapon and raise both of his hands.

"The subject would raise his hands, then lower one of his hands into the vehicle where officers could not see them," Weatherford said. "They continued to give him orders to comply with directions and the driver finally placed both hands outside of the vehicle and deputies were able to open the door and take the subject into custody."
According to Weatherford, as officers were removing him from the vehicle they observed a small bag of what appeared to be Marijuana.

The subject was identified as Billy Joe Ott, 34, of Colmesneil.

The gun Ott was carrying was a BB gun rifle, and a computer check revealed that he had an outstanding warrant out of Tyler County that was for a Motion to Revoke Probation with the original charge being Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.

Ott was placed under arrest at that time for the warrant, as well as the marijuana that he had in his possession.
When Ott arrived at the jail, he advised deputies that he had some methamphetamines in his sock. According to Weatherford, Deputies removed two clear plastic baggies from his sock with a crystal white substance that tested positive for methamphetamines.

Ott was charged Possession of a Controlled Substance State Jail Felony, Possession of Marijuana and the outstanding felony warrant.

Ott is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Firefighters respond to second fire at Woodville German Pellet Plant

German Pellet Fire

by Emily Waldrep

Firefighters from Tyler County and Livingston fought a silo fire at German Pellets on April 26, but another fire at the plant broke out on May 2, requiring the help of several volunteer fire departments.

The second fire began at approximately 7 p.m. Saturday, at the German Pellet Plant, said Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Freeman. At first, the call reported that it was only a small fire and only the assistance of Woodville VFD was needed. Shortly after, the call stated to send every resource available. All Tyler County Fire Departments, besides Chester, Whitetail Ridge, and Village Mills responded, as well as Jasper and Livingston VFD.

"The radio traffic was constant and frantic for a while," Freeman said. "The call went out for the VFD's to bring all the fresh air apparatuses that they had."

According to Freeman, the fire started in a mechanism called "the cyclone" which spins trees at high speeds to remove bark and debris. The fire then spread to the silos. There were several explosions inside the plant during the fire.

"When the Woodville VFD first arrived, they were attacking the fire with hoses strung from the ground up onto the structure and decks that encompassed the vessels that were on fire," Freeman said. "When the second explosion occurred, four of our firemen with Woodville VFD were on a deck in close proximity to where the blast release occurred. They were knocked to the deck by superheated smoke and air that blew out from the blast. They were wearing gear that protected them from being burned, but they said the smoke was so intense that they could not see anything. They just held onto the rail until it cleared up."

The four firemen inside the blast were John David Risinger, Joey Lane, Scott Cloud and Assistant Chief Jimmy Watts.

To fight the fire safely, a ladder truck was desperately needed, but Livingston's truck was down for repairs at the time. Thankfully they were able to send nine to ten fireman along with foam agents.

Jasper VFD responded with their Tower 1 ladder truck to get water into the silos from the air, as firefighters on the ground sprayed water to keep the silos cool. According to Freeman, there are no fire hydrants around the plant so numerous water trucks had to deliver water to the scene from Gemma Plant and a hydrant in front of the Bealls Shopping Center, which took extra time and slowed the flow of water when it ran low.

The fire was safely brought under control around midnight.

"I am wonderfully impressed with the way Chief Tommy Shane conducted the attack," said Marc DeShazo, who was working at the hospital at the time of the fire. "I am grateful to all departments that responded. We need to express our gratitude to the firemen and women who put their lives in jeopardy for us. Thank you!!"

Freeman says that if Woodville wants to continue to have a plant like this, the proper equipment is needed to keep our volunteer firemen safe.

"We cannot continue as we are going," Freeman said. "We were close to having fireman injured or worse this time. We cannot afford to lose any of our lineman nor can German Pellets afford to lose any of their employees."
Tyler County residents are beginning to echo his concern.

"We do have a plant in our town and a ladder truck is much needed," said Tyler County resident Virginia Riddick. "I've seen several times that German Pellets has caught fire and needed one available right then. The place is a safety hazard and should have all of the resources they need available at first response."

Others think that German Pellets should be responsible for providing or helping provide the necessary ladder truck and equipment.

"German Pellets should purchase a ladder truck," said Gay Lynn Muzny. "Our men and women are too valuable to get hurt or burned."

Some of the things Freeman says German Pellets are on-site water available, a fixed fire monitor system, fixed foam nozzle in the top of the vessels prone to fires, fire training with their employees, fresh air breathing apparatuses, and hydrants. Woodville VFD also desperately needs a ladder truck, Freeman said.

"With this certainty and now historically confirmed that there will be re-occurring fires, German Pellets needs to step up and be responsible," Freeman said. "They cannot rely on the generosity of the VFD's of Tyler County and the VFD's of the cities in the counties to our left and right to rescue them with the fire occurrences are becoming a standard and regular practice for their business."