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Back to school safety tips from Sheriff Department

Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and Chief Deputy Phil Ryan want to remind citizens to be aware of the dangers of certain situations, such as an active shooter, that could occur now that school is starting up again.

"We hate that our world is in such a place that we even have to speak of this type of crime, but with it being time to go back to school we thought that we would publish some information that can help prepare for bad events that we hope and pray do not happen." Ryan said.

Both Ryan and Weatherford say that the key to surviving an active shooter situation is to remember, "Run, Hide, Fight."

"When an active shooter is in your vicinity, you should run," said Ryan."If you can get out, do. Always try to escape or evacuate, even when others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you, but don't let them slow you down with indecision. Remember what's important: you, not your stuff. Leave your belongings behind and try to find a way to get out safely. Trying to get yourself out of harm's way needs to be your number one priority. Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1."

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.

"If you can't get out safely, you need to find a place to hide," said Weatherford. "Act quickly and quietly and try to secure your hiding place the best you can. Turn out lights, and if possible, remember to lock doors. Silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone and if you can't find a safe room or closet, try to conceal yourself behind large objects that may protect you. Do your best to remain quiet and calm."

According to Weatherford and Ryan, fighting can be used as a last resort only if your life is in danger.

"As a last resort, if your life is at risk, whether you are alone or working as a group, you should fight," Weatherford said. "Act with aggression and improvise weapons. Disarm and commit to taking the shooter down, no matter what."

In any situation, the sheriffs department encourages everyone to be aware of the environment and always have an exit plan.

"In an incident like this victims are generally chosen randomly," Ryan said. "The event is unpredictable and may evolve quickly. The first responders on the scene are not there to evacuate of tend to the injured, they are well trained and are there to stop the shooter."

The Tyler County Sheriff's Department wants citizens to know that your actions can make a difference for your safety and survival and to always be aware and be prepared. If you find yourself faced with an active shooter, there are three things you need to remember to survive: Run, Hide, Fight.

Late night walk ends with drug arrest

by Emily Waldrep

According to Woodville Police Captain Mike McCulley, Officer Erin Dees was working traffic at the intersection of MLK Drive and Hyde on August 17 at approximately 10:30 p.m when she saw a male subject walking in the middle of the dimly lit road in front of her.

Dees talked with the man, identified as Roy Edward McQueen, age 60, of Woodville, and during her interview with him noticed some nervous body language. Dees preformed a routine pat down on McQueen, which revealed a pocketknife and a pack of cigarettes.

The cigarette package contained a clear plastic baggy with crack cocaine inside.

McQueen was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance penalty group 1, less than 1 gram.

Woodville Municipal Judge Judith Haney set McQueen's bond at $6,000.

"Officers encounter people walking down the road at night a lot," McCulley said. "If they are walking in a part of the street that isn't lit and can be easily run over by a car, Officers will stop them and talk to them and ask them to move out of the road. As a result of that we sometimes make drug arrests and this is a prime example."

Hidden camera catches fuel thief

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Phil Ryan said that cameras set up near a vandalized bulldozer led to the arrest of a Colmesneil man illegally siphoning gas from the vehicle, along with other serious charges.

According to Ryan, Deputy Chuck Marshall was dispatched to the old railroad tracks off of C.R. 3200 in reference to reports of vandalism on a bulldozer belonging to Precinct 3. Marshall spoke with Precinct 3 employees and observed a Caterpillar dozer with extensive damage, including cut and torn seats and broken windows.

Employees with Precinct 3 put up a camera at the location of the dozer and saw a white male subject approach the bulldozer. The man, later identified as Michael Forest Clamon, Jr., age 28, of Colmesneil, began siphoning diesel from the bulldozer with a hose and putting it into several jugs. Clamon did not appear to vandalize the dozer at that time.

Shortly after the incident, Clamon was stopped and arrested for outstanding warrants. A routine search of the vehicle revealed the equipment used to siphon the diesel from the bulldozer, along with a dangerous drug in the cab of the vehicle.

Clamon was then arrested and charged with Possession of a Dangerous Drug, Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument and a prior warrant for burglary of a vehicle.

Two arrested for attempted Walmart scam

by Emily Waldrep

Two people were arrested at the Woodville Walmart after attempting to pull off a well-known scam involving other customers' purchase receipts.

Woodville Police Officer Mike McCulley said that an off duty officer, Sergeant Hicks, was at Woodville Walmart when he saw a female subject in the parking lot area acting suspicious. She was seen walking in the lot and picking up merchandise receipts lying on the ground that other customers either dropped or threw away. The woman would then take those receipts, enter the store and attempt to turn in the receipts for refunds with merchandise off the shelves.

"She did not realize that the off duty officer was watching her," McCulley said. "He continued to observe her outside picking up receipts, along with a male subject that was with her that was seen going into the store."

McCulley said that the male subject left the store and entered a blue Ford pickup next to the garden center.

Hicks radioed for Officer Parton to come assist, and upon his arrival, he met with Hicks at the entrance of the store. At that time, the female was detained and identified as Brittany Nicole Williford, age 23, of Colmesneil. Officer Parton confronted Williford regarding the scam and she admitted her intentions were in fact to get money from the fraudulent receipts.

Williford was placed under arrest for Class C Attempted Theft.

The male subject who was with Williford was also detained and identified as Joshua Mullins, age 24, of Beaumont. Mullins denied any knowledge of Williford's intentions, but the two were together when they arrived at the store.

Hicks and Parton then noticed that Mullins had a syringe in his hand and attempted to detain him for possession of drug paraphernalia. Mullins resisted arrest and a short struggle ensued, but he was later secured and the syringe was found under the seat of the car. The syringe was later tested positive for heroin residue.

Mullins also had two warrants out of Jefferson County. He was arrested and charged for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, resisting arrest or search and the prior warrants.

Lufkin man’s body found in hunting club

by Emily Waldrep

The body of a 79 year old man found in Billams Creek hunting club off of County Road 2975 in Rockland, Texas, is thought to be the body of Lufkin resident Arthur Henry Foster, pending DNA confirmation.

On Thursday, August 8 at approximately 5 p.m the communications department received a call stating that a 1997 model silver Dodge Dakota pickup truck had been found in the woods with a dead body inside.

According to Chief Deputy Phil Ryan and Sheriff Bryan Weatherford of the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, Captain Sturrock, Chief Steven Sturrock, Federal Park Ranger Mike Hughes, Deputy Rossi Carruth, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Officer Ryan Eddings and Bradley Mosely all responded to the call.

The vehicle was located approximately 2 miles down a skidder trail at the end of a dead end road, and military equipment from the Tyler County Sheriff's Department had to be used to reach the pickup. When they arrived, investigators saw that the vehicle was stuck in the sand, wedged between some small trees, and the body of a white male was inside.

"It looks like the man drove into the woods and got stuck," Ryan said.

The truck was registered to Mary Lee Foster of Lufkin, Texas. Tyler County dispatch reported that the vehicle was being driven by Arthur Henry Foster, 79, of Lufkin when he went missing on June 1, 2013. He had reportedly been suffering from dementia and diabetes.

The Justice of the Peace Pct. 1 Trisher Ford held the inquest at the scene and ordered an autopsy to be performed.

Several items at the scene, such as a wallet and identification, led investigators to believe that the body belongs to Henry, but DNA evidence has yet to confirm the identity of the body.

"There was no way that anyone would have looked for a missing person in that region," Ryan said. "It's a road that leads to a residence that then leads through a gate, down a skidder trail and then turns into nothing."

The Tyler County Sheriff's Department hopes that DNA evidence will confirm Henry's identity and the family can get some closure.

Three teens injured in UTV rollover

by Emily Waldrep

by Emily Waldrep

Wednesday, August 7, at approximately 4:30 p.m., three teenage girls in Fred were involved in a major ATV/UTV rollover accident that sent all three girls to the hospital.

Sierra Williams, age 13, of Spurger; Caitlyn Moore, age 14, of Spurger; and Madlynn Davis, age 14, of Fred were drifting a curve in a Polaris Ranger Crew side-by-side when they lost control and flipped the vehicle. None of the girls were wearing seat belts or helmets at the time of the accident.

Moore suffered from major road rash and muscle injuries, Williams broke a finger, fractured her hand and received major abrasions to her palms, and Davis suffered from bone exposure and torn ligaments. Davis was taken by helicopter to UTMB Galveston and Williams was transported to St. Elizabeth in Beaumont by ambulance. Moore was also taken to St. Elizabeth hospital by her parents.

All three girls are expected to recover from their injuries, but Davis is still being held UTMB Galveston. Williams was released from the hospital on August 10, three days after the accident. Both Davis and Williams went through surgery to help recovery.

"We all handled it pretty well and kept calm but we were all worried about each other and not ourselves," Williams said. "We were just driving way too fast."

The girls now want to warn others that ATV/UTV safety is serious.

"We want to tell other locals to not get too comfortable in what you are traveling in and don't ever think it couldn't happen to you," Williams said. "Always respect ATVs and UTVs. We learned that no matter how experienced you think you are, accidents do and will happen to anyone at any time."

Williams also says that she and her friends are thankful they are from such a tight knit community.

"We would all like to thank everyone that was on scene during the ambulance wait that helped keep us calm," she said. "Most of all we want to thank God that we are still here today to share our story and testimony; if wasn't for him we wouldn't be here, but he is giving us all a second chance."

For more information on ATV and UTV safety, always read the warnings posted on your vehicle or go to www.atvsafety.org for help registering for an ATV/UTV safety class.