<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:17:36 -0500 Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:17:36 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Part of U.S. Highway 75 Closed in McKinney]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:12:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/traffic-US-75.jpg The southbound lanes at U.S. Route 380 are closed in McKinney.]]> <![CDATA[Phony Phone Calls Threaten North Texans]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:13:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phone-call.jpg

North Texans continue to receive calls from phony law enforcement officials asking for money.

The Garland Police Department is the third local agency this month to report residents targeted by the fake phone calls.

According to a release, Garland police continue to receive reports of schemers portraying themselves as officers or Garland city officials.

The schemer will call and threaten to put the person in jail for outstanding warrants if they do not send them money.

Some schemers have even rigged their phones their call back numbers to appear on caller IDs as the City of Garland.

Irving police and the Denton County Sheriff's Office said many of its residents have received calls from people claiming to be with different government agencies.

One family in Irving was told to pay $4,000 or face deportation.

NBC 5 law enforcement expert Don Peritz said law enforcement agencies do not call people and try to extort money from them by alleging there are warrants out for their arrests and demanding payment.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Strong Reaction to Mansfield ISD Discipline Room]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:01:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Isolation-Room---Perry-Elem.jpg

The report of a special needs Mansfield school student repeatedly detained in a closet-like room for discipline has sparked strong reaction.

Edwin Villegas’ parents have withdrawn him from Annette Perry Elementary School after they learned the 7-year-old was held 21 times this school year in what the Mansfield Independent School District calls a “blue" room or “calm" room.

Bridget Villegas, Edwin's mother, said she has still not received documentation required by state law from the school about the discipline for her special education student who is autistic and bipolar.

She said she only saw the "calm" room for the first time Friday.

“I would have expected a Zen kind of calm down type of room or what have you and what we saw was a concrete looking jail room. Upon further inspection of the room, they took me to the back corner, which looks like it used to be a utility closet. And they took me back there and they said that’s where they put Edwin if he doesn’t calm down in the blue room. In the beginning they hold the door shut so he can’t get out, but that it was OK because they can see him in the little glass window at the top of the door,” Bridget Villegas said.

Dr. Lewis Wasserman, an education professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said "time out" is an acceptable part of student behavior management, but detaining a student behind a blocked door is not permissible.

“A peep hole is not an exception contained in Texas state law,” Wasserman said. “And I would also be concerned that the trauma to the child could result in exacerbation of his education problems.”

His mother said Edwin has regressed this year after attending special education classes last year in a different district without problems.

“If our goal is to educate all children including children with disabilities, then this is not the way to go about doing it,” Wasserman said.

But some parents of other Mansfield special needs students disagree with Villegas’ complaints.

“I think it’s a bad rap for the school,” said Isabel Gutierrez de Armas.

She said her special needs daughter has also been confined in a Mansfield “calm room,” but Gutierrez received all required documentation.

“Nothing changes without you knowing about it, without your consent about it, without your understanding what the situation is and what your child’s consequences and reward will be,” she said.

District spokesman Richie Escovedo said retraining has been ordered for special education staff at Perry Elementary School while officials investigate accusations about the school.

He said it is unclear how long the investigation will take and declined to comment on Villegas’ specific complaints. 

Photo Credit: Bridget Villegas Photo/NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[FW & Tarrant County Slightly Adjust WNV Plan]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:02:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/WNV-Trap-041514.jpg

It is that time of year again, when the fight against the West Nile Virus kicks into gear.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council was briefed on the city's 2014 plan, which features some small additions to the 2013 plan.

The city will continue its surveillance program of mosquitoes at its 42 fire stations. But the code compliance department will increase the amount of trapping it does at some popular area parks, like the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and Fort Worth Zoo.

The department also plans to create a "Citizen Participatory WNV Vector Control Program," per its presentation during the pre-council meeting on Tuesday.

The Nature Center averages 50,000 visitor a year, the Botanic Garden around 70,000 and the goal of the extra monitoring is both public safety and science related.

"So that we can continue to work toward having a predictability model for West Nile Virus," said Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett. "That's one of the things that everybody lacks at this point, is it (the West Nile season) going to be bad, is it going to be average, who knows?"

The UNT Health Sciences Center will be working on the data collected at the parks and elsewhere to help develop that possible model. 

Last year the virus saw a major drop off from 2012. In 2013, Fort Worth had only six human cases of the virus and one fatality. A year earlier 81 people were sickened and four people died. The number of positive mosquito pools also were on the declined, with 15 in 2012 and just five in 2013. It should be noted though that testing did not take place across the whole season in 2012.

"We just have to stay on course, stay focused and not allow these slower years to get us off track," Bennett said.

The West Nile Virus plan calls for canvassing of neighborhoods and assessing environmental exposure concerns when a positive human case is found.

The city also assesses environmental risks when positive mosquito pool samples are found. The city also responds to citizens’ calls for concerns.

Bennett says his department is prepared to go door to door if needed again this year.

The city started trapping at various parks in mid-June in 2013, but will now do so year round at the Nature Center, Botanic Garden, Acadia Park, Gateway Park, Cobb Park and Rolling Hills Park.

During the testing in 2013 in the parks there were no positive mosquito pools found in the 49 samples tested.

If positive mosquito pools are found in the parks, city staff will work to mitigate the hazards. That includes finding the source of the mosquitoes and using larvicide and larvae eating fish to combat the mosquitoes. 

The best way to fight the virus the city says is through protecting yourself with the four D’s, Deet, Dress in long sleeves, stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn and Drain standing water. There is also the 5x5 program, where you check your home and five others around your neighborhood to make sure there are no mosquito pools.

Tarrant County Public Health is also modifying its plan this year, but only slightly. Surveillance is year round for the county but on April 1, the seasonal surveillance program kicked off which features dozens of traps around the county in various cities.

One change this year is that the county health department will no longer call for spraying of nuisance mosquitoes. Last year the county would spray in spots due to a high abundance of mosquitoes in certain areas.

"Spraying will only be done in response to a positive mosquito sample," said Dr. Anita Kurian, Tarrant County Public Health Assistant Director.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Crash Closes NB I-35W at Yucca/Northside]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:20:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+Police+Lights+bar.jpg

Northbound traffic along Interstate 35W north of Downtown Fort Worth came to a standstill Tuesday afternoon due to a crash near Yucca Avenue/Northside Drive.

The crash involves a big-rig and a dump truck and is blocking all lanes, according to the Fort Worth Fire Department.

Motorists are advised to seek alternate routes and to watch for emergency vehicles.

Officials have not said what caused the crash.

The highway reopened to traffic at around 4:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[2016 RNC Bid Brings GOP to Dallas Next Week]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:03:55 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/generic-dallas-skyline.jpg

GOP officials will soon get their first boots-on-the-ground look at Dallas’ bid for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

CLICK HERE for more on this story from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News

<![CDATA[Arlington Water Gives $20 Credit for Paying With Smartphone]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:17:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/arlington-check-me.jpg

The Arlington Water Department is offering customers a $20 credit if they use a smartphone app to pay their next bill.

The app, by check.me, lets customers pay and track bills from their smartphones.

Once a customer uses the app to pay their bill, they'll receive $20 off.

Visit this link to download the app, which is available to both Android and iOS users.


Photo Credit: City of Arlington]]>
<![CDATA[Bomb Threat Over at Highland Park HS]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:18:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/hp-hs-aerial-02.jpg

Officials with the Highland Park Independent School District confirm a bomb threat was received at the high school Tuesday afternoon.

While police investigated the threat, students were held in classrooms while classes continued.

Investigators searched both inside and outside of the building before giving the all clear at around 2 p.m.

In 2013 University Park police arrested a teen in connection with a number of threats directed at the school.  A 16-year-old was eventually arrested and charged with 17 counts of terroristic threat. 

At this time, police have revealed no connection to the previous string of incidents.

We will update this story with more information as soon as it's available.  As this story is developing, elements may change.

<![CDATA[Wendy Davis to Undergo Neck Surgery]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:16:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP13062509029.jpg

Texas state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis announced she will have "routine" surgery to correct an issue with her neck.

Communications Director Zac Petkanas released the following statement:

"After experiencing shoulder and right arm pain in recent weeks, Senator Davis will have a routine surgical procedure to remove bone spurs and degenerative discs that are creating compression on the nerves in her neck."

Petkanas said the condition is commonly experienced by runners and endurance athletes.

The campaign announced Davis plans to have the surgery in Fort Worth on Wednesday morning and has planned to resume campaigning following the Easter holidays.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Remains of Woman Found in Trash in Corpus Christi]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:11:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Generic+Police+Lights+bar.jpg

Corpus Christi police are investigating after the remains of a 41-year-old woman were discovered when a trash truck dumped its contents at a garbage collection business.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that police were called to the business early Tuesday morning.

Corpus Christi police Senior Officer Kirk Stowers says an employee discovered the remains after the truck dumped its contents.

The remains were sent to the Nueces County medical examiner, who will determine cause of death. Officials are trying to notify the woman's family.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Trial Continues for Father Who Created Active Shooter Drill]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:37:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gun-free-zone-school-sign.jpg

The trial of a Celina father who allegedly threatened workers at his child's elementary school will be in a jury's hands on Wednesday morning.

Ron Miller, 44, is charged with making a terroristic threat against a public servant after he allegedly told employees at Celina Elementary School that he had a gun and was a shooter.

Miller told police he was only conducting a drill to show school employees there were problems with security.

Several school employees and Celina Police officers took the stand Tuesday.

Both women said that in January 2013 they knew Ron Miller from previous visits to the school, but did feel threatened when he said he was a shooter and that he had a gun.

The school's secretary testified that she has had to go to counseling because of what happened on that day and said her sense of security has been lost.

Miller's attorney grilled both employees about exactly what happened that morning and asked if they had felt so threatened why did they not call the police immediately.

Both women said their immediate reaction was to get the children who were in and around the school's office out of the way first.

The jury also got insight into Miller’s mindset that day in early January 2013.

George Milner III, Miller’s defense attorney, told NBC 5 his client was dealing with deep grief, after losing his 16-year-old daughter to cancer not long before the incident at Celina Elementary.

Milner added the Miller family had dealt with security questions involving Celina Independent School District before, including, he says, that the Miller’s seven-year-old son was able to wander away from the school during the fall semester of 2012 – just months before Miller’s arrest.

Then, Milner said, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School had his client thinking hard about school security in his home town, adding the Millers could bear to lose another child.

"What got this going was the Sandy Hook deal - and they had the Christmas holidays that intervened in between and he had some time to think - is this school really safe?" Milner said. "That was a factor - the child being allowed to wander off on his own was a factor, and personally I believe the loss of his daughter was also a factor. That was the most significant factor in his thinking. I've lost one child - I cannot lose another one."

Milner told the jury what is at stake in this case is not whether or not his client made a good or bad decision in conducting his own drill, but what matters is that the state can prove "intent" – that Miller was not reckless or negligent, but intended to make a terroristic threat.

The lead investigator in the case from the Celina PD testified that, in his opinion, Miller’s intent was clear, because his behavior "escalated" as he moved from the sidewalk into the school office.

If Miller is convicted of this crime he could face up to a year in jail.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Photos: Formerly Conjoined Twins to Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:24:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas are expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday, eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old.

Medical City announced Monday that Owen and Emmett Ezell are expected to be released to a local inpatient rehabilitation center this week.

"I am so excited. I am shaking I am so excited. We have been waiting months for this and it's finally here," said the twins' mother Jenni Ezell.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

They've lived in the neonatal intensive care until ever since and have each had multiple surgeries and setbacks. Through it all, the boys' parents never lost faith.

"Back when the struggles were the hardest and the struggles were the biggest, basically the way we would keep pressing on without losing it was to talk about having all four boys together," said the boys' father Dave Ezell. "When this is over, we're going to have 4 boys, we're going to be a family."

In the past the hospital had said the boys had to pass three major hurdles to go home -- eating and breathing on their own and fully healing from their surgical wounds.

The hospital said Monday the twins are breathing on their own through trachea breathing tubes and are no longer being fed through an IV, but they continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens.

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"It's been a dream. We've made it and it's been really hard. I feel like that first 9 months, it's all been emotional, it has been very difficult emotionally," said Jenni Ezell. "But from here out it's going to be very difficult physically. We are going to be exhausted taking care of these boys but it's going to be totally worth it!"

Jenni and Dave Ezell call the twins their "little miracles" and say each step has been part of a greater plan.

"They wouldn't be here if it weren't for God. It's the truth," said Jenni Ezell.

To celebrate the twins' health and success, a small celebration is being planned on Wednesday prior to their departure. Ahead of that celebration, the hospital and Ezell family released new photographs of the now 9-month-old boys on Tuesday.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Parents Enroll Kids in Dallas ISD Pre-K]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:56:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DMN-Lara-Solt-pre-K-registration.jpg

Thousands of parents answered Dallas ISD’s call last week to enroll their children in prekindergarten classes.

Read more about this story at The Dallas Morning News by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Lara Solt/Dallas Morning News]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Killed in Hit-and-Run Crash With Stolen Van]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:23:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/M+Streets+Crash+041514.jpg

A teenager was killed and his mother was critically injured in a crash involving the driver of a stolen minivan fleeing the Highland Park police Tuesday morning, officials say.

Lt. Max Geron with the Dallas Police Department said the teen killed was a passenger in a car struck by the driver of a minivan fleeing a traffic stop near the M Streets.

"It's awful it's awful, nobody was expecting that this morning, they probably didn't even know what hit them," said eyewitness Brian Gray.

The teen was identified by the Dallas County medical examiner Tuesday afternoon as 13-year-old Ethan Vasquez.  NBC 5 has learned the teen's father, Sgt. Victor Vasquez, works for the Cedar Hill Police Department and that the boy was in the 7th grade at the William B. Travis Academy.

"He was just full of life, a very smart intelligent little boy who just loved life, who was always on the computer playing games and stuff." said Ethan's uncle Ruben Vasquez. "A good little boy. Smart, smart kid."

His mother, Sandy Vasquez, is in critical condition at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Police officers and other first responders spent the day in and out of the hospital supporting the Vasquez family.

"We are his second family. Fire and police officers alike as well as any emergency personnel, and we are just here in a show of support for him," said a Cedar Hill Firefighter.

During a news conference Tuesday morning, Highland Park Police Sgt. Lance Koppa said an officer witnessed a moving violation at about 8:15 a.m. and attempted to stop the driver of the minivan. The driver of the minivan refused to pull over and the officer pursued. 

Koppa said the chase was terminated and the pursuing officer slowed down and turned off his lights when the driver of the minivan sped into a residential area near the M Streets.  Koppa said even though the officer pulled back from the chase, the driver of the minivan continued to drive recklessly.

From a distance the officer then saw the driver of the minivan run a stop sign at Homer Street and Monticello Avenue and collide with a sedan crossing the intersection, police said. The sedan was then pushed into a third vehicle stopped at the intersection.

Koppa and Geron said the driver of the third vehicle got out to assist the victims in the sedan, and that's when police believe as many as two people ran from the stolen minivan. 

"The mother was non-responsive at first but then they got her, she started to kinda at least she was breathing, and they were getting a little bit of movement out of her and then when we saw the boy I just you know I just feel so sorry cause I, he was just non-responsive," said eyewitness Peter Ferris.

Geron said the minivan had been reported stolen about two weeks ago and that a description of the person(s) who fled the scene are not yet available.  Police continue to search the area for those involved in the hit-and-run.

Oak Farms Dairy is offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the driver of the vehicle that hit Ethan and Sandy Vasquez. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Dallas police.

NBC 5's Julie Fine and Randy McIlwain contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[States Reform Use of Student Seclusion]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:26:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scream+room+with+desk_fixed.jpg

On its face, the idea of forcing an emotionally unstable child alone into a small room is disturbing; no good teacher wants to do it.

And yet it happens, thousands of times a year, all over the country.

The reason is that many educators, particularly those who work with special needs students, consider seclusion an important, last-ditch method to keep a troubled, unruly kid, and his or her classmates, from getting hurt.

But the tactic has become a political lightning rod in recent years, with parents and advocates accusing schools of subjecting kids to tortuous conditions, and arguing that seclusion serves no therapeutic benefit. The last major uproars were in 2012, in Connecticut, where parents in Middletown learned that children were being put in a 10-by-6 room after acting out, and Ohio, where journalists uncovered rampant misuse of seclusion. Outrage also boiled over this year in Arizona and Oregon.

In response, a growing number of states are revisiting their policies on seclusion — and the more drastic use of restraints. Little by little, they are making it more difficult to resort to so-called "scream rooms."

"It's been a slow march, often in response to situations like the one in Connecticut," said Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Child and Adolescent Action Center. "There's been a steady stream of activity, but still some states have nothing. They have no regulation, no laws, no guidelines, and schools can really do whatever they want.

"Not that schools intend to harm children. But many simply don't know. They haven't been trained in effective responses to these issues."

The policies are also coming under scrutiny as districts embark on broader efforts to protect schools from outside threats, and dangerous escalations within.

Seclusion is completely banned in four states, with another 13 states limiting its use to situations where someone is in serious physical danger, according to a recent survey by Jessica Butler, congressional affairs coordinator for the Autism National Committee. Twenty states have what she calls "meaningful protections" from both seclusion and restraint for all children, disabled or not.

By her count, 19 states have no “meaningful protections” for kids with disabilities, either because they have nothing on the books, or have only guidelines, which serve, essentially, as suggestions that can be ignored.

In many parts of the country, she said, a child can be put in seclusion for yelling in class or for standing up, which is not unusual among kids with disabilities, who have trouble following directions. Some states allow a child to kept in seclusion even after the “emergency” situation that put them there has passed, she said.

“A lot of people have described it as a patchwork quilt, but it’s a patchwork quilt with a lot of holes in in it,” Butler said.

Few states — Connecticut being one of them — require schools to collect comprehensive data on the use of seclusion or restraints.

The solution, many advocates argue, is a federal law that restricts or bans seclusion, and provides money to train educators to seek more proactive ways to intervene with a student who is growing disruptive. Gruttadaro said her organization is not opposed to the use of restraints when there's "an immediate danger of serious bodily harm."

But such measures have stalled in Congress. Among the opponents is the American Association of School Administrators, which represents local superintendents. It argues that the methods are necessary to prevent children from hurting themselves and others.

"Clearly there's a lot of room here for concern, but I think the solution is not to say you can't do seclusion or restraint," said Daniel Domenech, the group's executive director. "We can't let these kids pluck their eyeballs out or physical injure a student or attack a staff member.

"Some kids are big, 6-4, 250. That's a danger. Not just to themselves but to others. And you have to have the ability to restrain them and put them in seclusion in an environment until they calm down. You also have to have someone who is well trained…on where to make that intervention a last resort."

Domenech said he sees no indication that a federal bill, proposed in different forms in the recent past by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California, will come up for debate any time soon.

"Nothing happening there," Domenech said.

Gruttadaro, however, said she expects to see a bill reintroduced in the next few months.

To her, the sooner, the better.

"Seclusion rooms are not therapeutic. There's no benefit to be gained from them. And there really is no other side to it," Gruttadaro said. "We don't need them."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Weather Causes Lufthansa A380 to Divert to DFW Airport]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:26:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/217*120/91d9e88f-28b8-4bed-907d-510b34b16039.JPG

A Lufthansa A380 plane en route from Frankfurt, Germany, to Houston was diverted to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for the third time in a year on Monday.

Weather conditions in southeast Texas caused the airbus to land at DFW at about 3 p.m. After 5:30 p.m., the plane's crew timed out, so everyone had to deplane and the flight was canceled.

NBC 5 received a photo from an airport worker who guided the massive plane to it’s parking spot.

Lufthansa is making arrangements for its passengers.

The passengers had to exit the aircraft via the stair car because the A380 is too large to fit at the terminal.

DFW Airport recently began work to remodel a gate at Terminal D that will allow the largest passenger aircraft in the world to pull up to the gate.


Photo Credit: @AVgeek1701]]>
<![CDATA[Witnesses Sought After Object Hits Driver in the Face]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:29:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/driver-hit-in-face-fort-worth.jpg

Fort Worth police are looking for witnesses to a crash on Friday where an object pierced a car's windshield and hit the driver in the face.

The incident happened around 10 a.m. on Interstate 35W, just north of the Interstate 30, I-35W Mixmaster interchange near downtown, according to police.

The driver, headed northbound, was hit in the face by an unknown object that may have fallen off a nearby vehicle, Fort Worth police officer Sharron Neal said.

The object, likely a large piece of metal, was heavy enough to puncture a hole in the driver's windshield — a gold 2010 Volvo sport utility vehicle.

After being hit in the face, the driver hit another car and then ran off the road, coming to a stop in a grassy area off the highway, police said.

If you were in the area at the time and know what may have hit the driver, you're asked to call the Fort Worth police.

If the incident was truly an accident, no charges would be filed, Neal said. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[AA Pilot Under Investigation for Bringing Gun to DFW Airport]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:27:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DFWairport.jpg

An American Airlines pilot is under investigation after agents with the Transportation Security Administration discovered a gun in his luggage as he was about to board a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Mexico.

Ronald Calabrese was stopped on March 16 after trying to get through a security checkpoint in Terminal D at Dallas-Fort-Worth International Airport.

An agent with the TSA noticed Calabrese had a gun in his backpack as it passed through the X-ray machine.

The weapon was a chrome 9 mm handgun with two clips and 23 rounds of ammunition.

Calabrese was scheduled to fly to Cancun, Mexico, and told investigators that he’d recently been camping and took the weapon with him on the trip and forgot he had it in his backpack.

A detective with airport police noted that Calabrese was cooperative and showed no signs of deception but recommended that he be charged for carrying the weapon in a prohibited area, calling Calabrese, “reckless,” for not thoroughly checking his backpack.

Calabrese was released the same day and allowed to make his scheduled flight to Cancun, Mexico.

American Airlines is not commenting on the incident citing the ongoing investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Church Trip Canceled, Travel Agent Declares Bankruptcy]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:20:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/church-group-trip-canceled.jpg

Members of a Granbury church are out $70,000 and had to cancel their trip to the Vatican scheduled for later this month after their travel agent declared bankruptcy.

The group planned to see Pope John Paul II get canonized in late April, but their travel agent, Teresa Rosser, declared bankruptcy causing them to cancel their trip. 

“It’s a huge disappointment,” said retired Granbury bookkeeper Jeanne Holderman.

Holderman and about 30 other members of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Granbury booked the pilgrimage with a Cleburne travel agency, run by Rosser, called "Born to Fly and Entertain."

The company’s website advertises, “Travel the world. We will get you there.”

Rosser declared bankruptcy on Friday. She claimed to have just $5 cash to her name.

"I think she's in a very dark place in her life,” Holderman said. “I'm quite sorry for her because what she's done is a bad thing. She did a bad thing to a lot of good people — for money."

NBC 5 attempted to contact Rosser, but she could not be reached for comment.

The address of her travel agency was to her town house.

"She feels badly about it," her attorney, Mike Rogers of Cleburne, said. "She had no evil intent … She's not a bad person. She didn't set out to steal anyone's money."

Rogers declined to state where the money went, but added that despite the bankruptcy, Rosser is still trying to repay the victims.

Holderman said she's out $3,300.

"And she took everyone else's money, and that would include our priest,” Holderman said.

But more importantly, she said she'll miss being there to witness church history.

Holderman met Pope John Paul II during a trip to Rome in 1996.

"That's not going to happen again in my lifetime,” Holderman said.

Cleburne police are conducting a criminal investigation. No charges have been filed.

"I suspect we'll never see the money again and we have to get over the disappointment,” Holderman said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas "Scream" Room Sparks Investigation]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:41:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mansfiel-ISD-Scream-Room.jpg

An investigation and school staff retraining have been ordered after a parent complained about her 7-year-old child's repeated confinement in a closet-like room at his Mansfield Independent School District campus.

Bridget Villegas said her son Edwin is autistic, bipolar and has behavior issues. Villegas said she visited the special education program her son attends at Annette Perry Elementary School Friday after his latest confinement in what some people call a “scream" room, since that’s what kids are often doing when teachers put them there.

“He’s at that school specifically because they’re supposed to know how to deal with him better than other places and it just seems like it’s gone really wrong there,” Villegas said. “He had been scratched on the hand during a transport where four teachers actually kind of manhandled him to this room.”

Mansfield ISD calls it a calm room or blue room.

“I would have expected a Zen kind of calm down type of room or what have you, and what we saw was a concrete looking jail room,” Villegas said.

Villegas now has school records showing Edwin had been placed in the room 21 times this school year, school officials told her on Friday.

“In the beginning, they hold the door shut so he can’t get out, but that it was OK because they can see him in the little glass window at the top of the door,” she said.

Villegas took pictures of the room and posted them online after her visit. A friend of Villegas posted a photo on the NBC 5 Facebook page. She found the many other people were outraged about the room. 

“I wouldn’t want to be locked in there either, so I can’t blame him,” Villegas said.

Rules forbid locking a child in such a room. A school official pointed out that the picture Villegas took showed the door has no locking mechanism.

Still, Villegas said Edwin attended first grade in the Alvarado Independent School District last year and had none of these problems.

“I am angry," Villegas said. "I’m angry because he’s withdrawn. He has regressed.”

Villegas said she and her husband intend to withdraw Edwin from Mansfield ISD and find a better school for his special education needs.

“I’m not putting all the blame on the teachers,” she said. “I’m kind of putting the blame on the district itself for allowing these kind of things to go on.”

Mansfield spokesman Richie Escovedo provided the following response by email:

Mansfield ISD officials are aware of an issue raised at Perry Elementary and are working to address the situation with the parent involved. 
  • District administrators are conducting an investigation into the concern at the campus.
  • The Department of Special Education has scheduled de-escalation retraining for Perry Elementary School staff related to the SUCCESS program in the proper use of behavior management techniques in a crisis situation and providing appropriate documentation for parents.

It is the policy of Mansfield ISD to treat all students with dignity and respect, including students with disabilities who receive special education services. Any behavior management technique and/or discipline management practice must be implemented in such a way as to protect the health and safety of the student and others.

The District uses the blue rooms (and calm rooms) as behavior management method of last-resort for timeout if other methods do not de-escalate a situation and a student becomes a danger to him/herself or others. State and local policy addresses timeout as a behavior management technique in which, to provide a student with an opportunity to regain self-control, the student is separated from other students for a limited period in a separate setting that is not locked and from which the exit is not physically blocked by furniture, a closed door held shut from the outside, or another inanimate object.

Necessary documentation regarding the use of timeout, if any, is addressed in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Bridget Villegas Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Flower Mound Teen Burned Saving Others Returns Home]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:24:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Andrew+Walling+041414.jpg

Flower Mound teenager Andrew Walling is finally back home after spending more than a week in the hospital being treated for burns he suffered in an explosion during a hunting trip.

"Very few things have ever felt any better then having him home," said his mother Karen Walling.

Walling went turkey hunting with his grandmother and some of her friends in Coleman, Texas, last weekend. When they were done hunting, they went to a mobile home to make dinner. What they did not know was that there was a gas leak. One of the men went to light the stove and flames shot up.

Walling went right to the door as it exploded.

"I was lucky I was able to see it fast enough, the door fast enough, and we were all able to get out of there," said Walling.

As he opened it, he was blown out, suffering burns on 30 percent of his body. He was reunited with his parents at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

"He said to me, 'Hey mom, I bet you are a lot worse off than I am.' I looked at him and smiled and said, 'I don't think so,'" said Karen Walling.

She is proud of him for his quick thinking, but not surprised.

"Now more people in the world know what we already knew about Andrew, and that is a great feeling for him and us," said Karen Walling.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[US Airways Apologizes for Tweeting Shocking Photo ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:35:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/120913+american+airlines+us+airways+merger.jpg

Isn't Twitter wonderful? First, it allowed someone, allegedly a 14-year-old Dutch girl, to make a threat Sunday against American Airlines. Now, American's merger partner, US Airways, is apologizing for sending out a graphic photo Monday.

CLICK HERE to read more from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pace of John Wiley Price Investigation Hard to Understand]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:21:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/John-Wiley-Price-01.jpg

Over the weekend, my colleagues on the news side had a strong story about the ongoing investigation into County Commissioner John Wiley Price that stitched together some of what federal investigators are looking into.

Click here to read more from our partners at The Dallas Morning News.

Photo Credit: NBCDFW.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bluebonnets in Bloom - Gallery II]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:07:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/226*120/0b692f76f02b4ce8a75e812e33f8c966.jpg NBC 5 viewers share their photos of bluebonnets in bloom in North Texas.]]> <![CDATA[Freeze Warning in Effect Until Tuesday Morning]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:56:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/forecast-lows.jpg

A cold front has brought snow to the Texas Panhandle, hail to the central part of the state and forecasts for freezing conditions accompanied by strong winds to North Texas.

Much of North Texas remains under a wind advisory until 9 p.m. and a freeze warning until 10 a.m. Tuesday.

NBC 5 meteorologist Remeisha Shade said strong northerly winds gusting to 40 mph will continue to push in cold air and that the high Monday is only expected to climb into the 50s.

"The skies should clear later this evening and provide good viewing for the lunar eclipse after midnight," Shade said. "Tuesday morning will be cold with some locations experiencing the latest freeze on record, especially north and west of DFW. Milder weather returns later this week, but the 70s won't return until Thursday."

A freeze warning means these conditions may kill sensitive plants and residents are advised to protect tender vegetation. Automatic sprinkler systems should also be turned off to avoid creating ice patches on nearby roads, driveways and sidewalks.

Ron McQueen, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lubbock, said temperatures Sunday in West Texas were in the 80s, but then plummeted into the evening. A half-inch of snow fell on Amarillo and other areas.

McQueen said temperatures in South Texas will drop Monday from the 80s down to the 50s with winds of 30 mph.

Strong thunderstorms and hail moved through Central Texas on Monday and will extend into the Houston area.

In addition to the Dallas area, San Antonio areas saw temperatures drop into the 40s overnight Sunday.

<![CDATA[Flight Diverted After Man Attempts Mid-Air Exit]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:16:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/swa-mdw-smf-passenger-11.jpg

A Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Sacramento was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Nebraska on Sunday after a passenger reportedly tried to make an abrupt midair exit.

Video recorded by a producer from NBC station KCRA in Sacramento shows authorities removing the man from Flight 722 after the pilot put the plane down at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb.

Witnesses said they heard screaming coming from the back of the plane. A flight attendant was yelling, "Help me! Help me!" as the man attempted to jump out of the plane through a rear door.

A doctor and other passengers reacted.

"I ran to the back of the plane. At that point in time I was joined by about two other people," Dr. Scott Porter said. "We basically tackled the — I don't want to say gentleman — but the guy who was back there and pinned him down and restrained him."

Another passenger, Monique Lawler, told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that she saw the man acting strangely during the flight. At one point he came out of the bathroom soaking wet, she said.

The flight with five crew members and 134 passengers arrived safely in Sacramento about two hours behind schedule, the airline said in a statement.

No injuries were reported.

A representative with the Omaha Airport Authority said the FBI was looking into the incident. Jan Sharp, the chief of the General Crimes Unit for the United States Attorney’s Office in Nebraska, said no criminal complaint had been filed as of 10 a.m.

<![CDATA[Man Who Posed as Active Shooter at Son's School in Court]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:21:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/police_generic2.jpg

Jury selection is underway in the trial of a Collin County man who allegedly pretended to be a gunman at his own child’s school.

Police said 44-year-old Ron Miller, of Celina, went inside Celina Elementary School on Jan. 9, 2013, and, according to police, told school workers that he had a gun and was a shooter with a target inside.

When school workers noticed that he did not have a weapon, they ordered him off the school property and called police.

On Monday, Tessa Cantrell, a former Celina Elementary teacher, took the witness stand.

Cantrell testified that she was assigned to carpool lane duty, standing in front of the school the day Miller was arrested.

She said Miller approached her, dressed all in black, wearing a sweatshirt with a hood and a black hat, saying, “I am here to test your school. I am a gunman. I am going to shoot you. What are you going to do?”

Cantrell said during that exchange Miller was “in [her] personal space”.

She said she saw him pat his sweatshirt pocket – taking that to indicate that he had a gun.

When school workers noticed that he did not have a weapon they ordered him off the school property and called police.

Miller was initially charged with terroristic threat, which is a third-degree felony.  However, Miller’s attorney George Milner III told NBC5 on Monday that the facts of the case have been distorted.

“What this guy was doing was ensuring the safety of his child as well as the other children of every parent up there,” Milner said. “He didn't violate any laws."

After going to a grand jury, the charge was dropped to making a terroristic threat against a public servant, which is a misdemeanor.

Miller told police he just wanted to conduct his own drill to test Celina Elementary School’s response to an active shooter situation.

"You've got to look at this from the standpoint of a parent," Milner said. "You're standing there saying I want to know my child is safe.”

Celina ISD did make changes to its security protocol following the incident.

The judge told the jurors Monday that he expects the trial to last for two days.

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Dutch Girl Arrested for American Airlines "Terror Tweet"]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:56:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/American_Airlines_generic.jpg

Police in Rotterdam, Netherlands, confirmed to NBC News that a 14-year-old girl has been arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly writing a message on Twitter that threatened American Airlines.

The original tweet has since been deleted, however various news organization have reported the exchange between the teen, who tweeted under a fake name, and the airline's customer service Twitter handle.

The message from @QueenDemetriax_ reportedly said "@AmericanAir hello my name's Ibrahim and I'm from Afghanistan. I'm part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I'm gonna do something really big bye"

The airline responded through their @AmericanAir account. "@queendemetriax_Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI."

Rotterdam police said they first heard of the tweet when a member of the public notified authorities. According to police, they investigated the information on their own without a request from authorities in the U.S.

"It was a serious tweet, so we had to investigate," a spokesperson told NBC News.

Once police investigated and discovered the identity of the person behind the alleged tweet, that teen and her mother went to the police station to turn the teen over to authorities. Authorities are questioning the girl, but have not yet filed charges.

When asked for comment, American Airlines representatives said "At American, the safety of our passengers and crew is out top priority. We take security matters very seriously."

Meanwhile others, including the teen alleged to be behind the tweet, said the message sent to the airline was a "joke."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hobbyist Distillers Aim to Legalize Homemade Liquor]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:40:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/BearMain-DMN-041414.jpg

The movement to legalize marijuana dominates headlines these days, but another group is laboring in relative obscurity to legalize its chosen intoxicant: homemade liquor.

Read this complete report at The Dallas Morning News.

<![CDATA[Mavs Back Where They Belong: In the NBA Playoffs]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:46:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/484500619.jpg

Back in October some of us predicted the Mavericks would win 50 games and make the playoffs. So Saturday night’s victory over the Suns that clinched a return to the postseason isn’t exactly a shocker. But the way they got here – and where they might end up – is a bit surprising.

Continuing a fascinating, frustrating season in which nothing has come easy, the Mavs trailed Phoenix by 13 points in the third quarter Saturday night in American Airlines Center before rallying behind Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitkzi. Even in the end, Ellis missed two free throws to give the Suns a couple last looks at potentially tying the game.

They missed. The Mavs won. And Dallas is back in the playoffs.

Feels like it’s been forever, no? It was only last season that they missed, but the year before they were swept by the Thunder. So the Mavs haven’t won a playoff game since they clinched their only title in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Only two players – Dirk and Shawn Marion – remain from that moment.

Though they have only one game remaining – Wednesday at Memphis – there is still work to be done and a position to be improved. As we said before, as daunting as it will be to face probable MVP Kevin Durant and the Thunder in a first-round series, it’s better than matching up with the best team in the league, the Spurs. San Antonio has beaten Dallas nine straight times; the Mavs have two wins over Oklahoma City in the past month.

To clinch the No. 7 seed – and face the No. 2 Thunder – Dallas needs to be beat the Grizzlies Wednesday or have Memphis lose to the Suns in Phoenix tonight.

The Mavs didn’t pop any corks Saturday night, but let’s admit it: Spring feels fresher, the birds are a little chirpier and life is better when the Mavs are in the playoffs.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>