Thursday, December 28, 2006

"18-year-old woman dies playing reverse Russian roulette"

This is odd, and sad.
A game of reverse Russian roulette early Thursday in a South Bexar County home ended with an 18-year-old woman dead and a man behind bars after he was charged with firing the fatal shot. ...
The three had engaged in a game of reverse Russian roulette using a .357 magnum. Rather than point the gun at their own heads, participants point the weapon at other people, according to [Bexar County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dale] Bennett.
Details of what happened next are unclear. The suspect said he was about 15 feet away from [Amanda] Studymire when he pointed the gun at her and accidentally shot her in the head, Bennett said. He also claimed not to know the gun was loaded.
Right. Then why play the game?

It's never smart to play with guns. It's even dumber to play Russian roulette. And it's even dumber than that to try out variations on the game.

And it's tragic when someone's plain stupidity ends up hurting or killing another.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Two truck stop deaths blamed on drugs

Lomi Kriel of the Express-News reports that two of the several mysterious deaths at area truck stops can be blamed on drugs.

The deaths of a man and woman discovered inside their idling big rig at a far East Side truck stop in November was an accident and the two overdosed on methamphetamine, the Bexar County medical examiner's office ruled Tuesday.

Harry Akroyd Jr., 35, and Michelle McLean, 32, were discovered inside their locked cab Nov. 1 at the Petro Stopping Center in the 1100 block of Ackerman Road, just off Interstate 10. A trucker who had parked next to them noticed a foul smell coming from the 18-wheeler and alerted managers. ...

The couple's deaths were the first of several in the area near the truck stop — over the course of a month, five truck drivers were found dead, none with any apparent trauma to their bodies.

On Nov. 20, Robert Monroe was found inside an 18-wheeler at a truck stop in the 11390 block of Interstate 35 South near Fischer Road, but it was determined the 69-year-old had died of heart disease.

On Thanksgiving Day, 42-year-old Byron Gonzalez was found dead inside his rig. The cause and manner of his death is pending a toxicology report.

Ray Hardestey was found dead Nov. 27 inside his rig at the Flying J truck stop, in the 1800 block of Foster Road. It was later ruled that Hardestey, 53, died because of a heart attack.

Truckers, be careful. It looks like there's nothing insidious going on here, but drugs probably should not figure into your job in the first place. And the truck stop owners probably appreciate people staying alive in their parking lots. Heart attacks are less easy to avoid, but the drugs can be overcome.

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Taking a machete to church

This happened in Fort Worth, not San Antonio, but I thought the story of a man taking a machete to a Christmas Eve service was too strange to pass up.

From WOAI-TV (original story here):

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A man who scared churchgoers on Christmas Eve when he pulled a handmade machete from his pants and placed it on the altar while he prayed remained jailed Tuesday on a weapons charge.

Paul Ray Smith Jr., 39, was charged with unlawful carrying of weapons. Bail was set at $750.

He also had a dagger and a homemade gun on him.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Car crashes into house

Once again, a vehicle has been driven right into an abode. And, this time, it looks intentional.

KSAT-TV reports.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Just another odd mayor's race II

Back in August, I called attention to one of the candidates for mayor of San Antonio, R.G. Griffing (first post is here). This man runs a righty Web site he calls the San Antonio Lightning Newspaper, and he likes to shine his bright, muckraking light on local governmental organizations, politicians, and news organizations. He especially delights in skewering the San Antonio Express-News.

So, I wasn't particularly surprised when Griffing reported on his own site that the Express-News was refusing to run his campaign advertisements. I don't know what the daily newspaper's advertising guidelines are, but I can see where they would think running Griffing's ads would not be in their best interest, as Griffing himself says.

And, let's just remember the words he used to announce his candidacy:

You people make me sick!

Yes, you!

You are hicks and rubes and suckers. You lay down for every tax increase that comes your way. Every stupid political idea.

I sometimes doubt your intelligence.

You are a politician's dream.

Easy marks.

A carnival worker's delight.

Nothing but beasts of burden.

Sometimes you are oxen. Sometimes simply sheep.

You people make me sick!

Yep, that'll win over the voters.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Then, there was the polite armed robber

"She said that he apologized," said Sgt. Brian Custard of the San Antonio Police Department. "He thought she was a young lady and didn't realize she was older and crippled. (He) even offered to put the gun up if it would make her feel better."
Wow. I hope he gives up his ways before he comes across a young woman. He may not be so nice next time.

"Woman Tied Up in Home Invasion"

Looks like another less than succesful home invasion.

She claims three masked men barged their way into her home. They had two guns and an assault rifle. One of the men pointed the rifle at the woman's head and demanded money.

The woman was tied up with plastic ties, while the robbers ransacked her home looking for cash.

They got away with nothing.

It's sad that these terrifying crimes are happening, but at least they don't seem to be very profitable. Let's hope the dimwits get discouraged before long.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Cell Phone Stolen in Home Invasion"

You would think that if somebody went to the trouble of orchestrating a home invasion, they might take more than just a telephone. Wouldn't you?


Police say a pair of robbery suspects stole an unusual item during an overnight home invasion. Instead of grabbing cash or jewelry, officers say the two men made off with a cell phone. ...

Six people were home at the time. Officers say one of those people was pistol-whipped by the suspects.

I think there's more to this than just some thieves' desire to get a new cell phone. There must be something on that phone that's very valuable to the perps.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Elderly Woman Accused of Hiding Drugs in Underwear"

Maybe we should be frisking little old ladies.


A fourth grade teacher and an 81 year old grandmother are not the type of people you would expect to be charged in a drug smuggling ring. But that is the case with two women who went before a federal judge Wednesday. The elderly woman is actually accused of hiding cocaine in her underwear! ...

Prosecutors argued the 81 year old drug suspect is key to this investigation.

"Josefina Campos was a leader in the organization," said Asst. US Attorney Greg Surovic.

Campos is accused of carrying the drugs across the border in her underwear.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

San Antonio's official city seal: ugly

As far as municipal flags go, San Antonio has one that actually looks pretty cool (you can check it out at Flags of the World, or on the top banner on the city's Web site). But the same cannot be said about the city seal.

Witness this screen capture I got from a Defenders story on KSAT's Web site (it is taken from the video story titled "Some Upset With City's New Garbage Cans"):

That is the most garish, gaudy, overdone, tasteless, uninspired, and just plain loud official seal I have ever seen. It's a little embarrassing, and I think the city needs a new seal.

There is a brief and somewhat charming history of how the current seal came about here, but I don't think an interesting background is justification for keeping such an eyesore. To be fair, the original designer apparently did not assign the colors for this seal (he carved it out of wood), but the current incarnation is downright ugly, and it should go.

Let's hope some inspired council member on some future council floats the idea of updating the city seal.

"Sewage Spill Damages Town Homes"


SAN ANTONIO -- Several town homes were damaged Monday on the Northwest Side after raw sewage spilled into the residences.

Residents said they woke up to find sewage water on the floors of their town homes in the 4900 block of Ali Avenue. ...

[Angel] Bustamante said his belongings, including Christmas trees and gifts, were damaged by the sewage.

He added that Christmas will not be the same this year because of the mess.

I'll bet. What's sad is that the sewage came into the homes because a main was blocked, but the local water utility says it is "not responsible for the damages because the sewer main was blocked by grease and rags." That's a drag.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Woman Shot, Bound and Stuffed in Barrel"

This is scary strange.

The body of a 25-year-old woman was found stuffed in a barrel in the backyard of an east side house, and San Antonio Police were looking for her killer Monday. ...

Investigators told News 4 WOAI when they got to the house, the front door was open. Several shell casings were found on the front lawn. They found several pools of blood and an assault rifle in the backyard, officers said.

Moments later, [Chanell Monique] Dixon’s body was found inside a 55-gallon drum in the backyrad of the home, authorities said. ...

Dixon was shot, officials said. Her body was bound in a garden hose and wrapped inside a carpet[.]

Let's hope the police find the dirtbags that did this.

UPDATE: WOAI-TV reports that the police have a suspect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Correcting an entire news story

The San Antonio Current has great coverage of local music and art events, but I have often found their news stories to be seriously lacking in journalist quality. Witness this correction from the December 13 issue. It is reproduced in its entirety.

The December 5-12 news story “Reproductive Outlook?” incorrectly said a Southside Planned Parenthood clinic had closed; it was converted from a free-service clinic to a full-fee clinic in January 2006. Abortion care throughout San Antonio was provided to 1,400 patients, not 10,000. Texas elected six new pro-choice housemembers, not five. And $10 million in federal funding went to Federally Qualified Health Centers for family planning care, while $5 million went to crisis pregnancy centers. [emphases added]

That's four serious mistakes in a 680-word news story. Poor journalism. I wonder if alt-weeklies in other cities suffer from the same utter vacuity when it comes to news and commentary. But, as I said at the outset, at least they have good music and arts coverage.

"Tribute to furry friends"

I don't mean to make light of mourning, but this story by Scott Huddleston of the Express-News does seem a little strange and over the top:

The Austin resident was one of about 60 people of all ages, along with several cats and dogs, attending the 4th annual Tribute to Tails, a candlelight service celebrating the lives of companion animals, particularly the ones that have died.

For well over an hour, pet owners read poems, shared stories of beloved pets and contemplated one central question: Do pets go to heaven?

Pastor Ivan Ujueta of Family Vision Center Church, where the service was held Tuesday, said he believes they do — but that their owners have to keep God first, if they want a reunion in the hereafter.

I like dogs and all, but this is taking anthropomorphization to a new and absurd level.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Fetus found buried in bottle in backyard"

This is weird -- a fetus found buried in a bottle in a West Side yard. And, the police found it by accident.

From the Express-News:

Police discovered the fetus on the 1300 block of Billings Drive around 4 p.m. Thursday, after being called to the home for a burglary in progress, police spokesman Sgt. Gabe Trevino said. ...

As they checked the house, they discovered drug paraphernalia and drug residue and secured the home while they obtained a search warrant, Trevino said.

During that process, a photograph of the fetus was found inside a shoebox ....

The woman in the home, who was in her twenties, claimed she had been assaulted during her pregnancy, causing her to miscarry around May.

She then told them she put the fetus in a bottled and buried it in the backyard, where it was found by police. I'm sure more details will be forthcoming.

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn: the San Antonio Connection

Did a local college student cause two Hollywood celebrities to split up? WOAI-TV looks into it.

The co-stars of the movie, "The Break-up" ended their real life romance after Vince reportedly had a one night affair with a junior from Trinity University.

Star Magazine reports Vaughn met the San Antonio student while she was studying abroad.

UPDATE: The woman who broke up the celebrity couple talks to the Express-News. She's sorry that her e-mail talking about her night with Vaughn became public, but she's not sorry for spending time with him. And, she says she didn't have sex with him.

In an exclusive interview with the Express-News Tuesday, Lane, a 20-year-old Trinity University junior said she has no regrets about having spent a night with Vince Vaughn, a dalliance that reportedly led to his break-up with Jennifer Aniston. ...

“It was an innocent night of meeting a celebrity,” Lane said by phone from Rome about her one-night encounter that occurred in late November. “The experience itself is not what I am wanting to change because nothing happened,” she emphasized. “I was star struck. I didn't do anything that hurt anybody else.” ...

“I'm in Europe. I met a star. I acted in the way that any 20-year-old girl would. I don't feel I did anything horribly wrong — except maybe having a lapse in judgment by sending out the e-mail.”

Or, except maybe spending the night in a hotel room with another woman's man.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Burying records in Texas

Here's an odd thing. Until recently, it was legal in Texas for governments to just put private records under some dirt when disposing of them. And, apparently, they did not have to be secretive about it.

From the Express-News:

Thousands of pieces of personal information — a gold mine in this age of identity theft — was found buried in a park in Converse. ...

"Drivers license (numbers). Social Security (numbers). Lot of photographs. All the information you'd ever want if you were going to do any kind of fraud," said David Meyer, who is part of the crew that discovered the files. ...

Converse City Manager Sam Hughes did not want to go on camera but says the city never envisioned that all those files, which were buried in 1998, would ever be
accidentally dug up.

In 1998, it was perfectly legal to bury that kind of paperwork, but the state law was changed five years ago.

And while routine paperwork can still be buried all personal information has to be burned, recycled or shredded.

Monday morning the city sent in at least half a dozen dump trucks to haul out all of the buried files.

But it's where the files were sent that's concern [sic] some people. The files were sent straight over and buried at the other city park in Converse.

Converse is a suburb of San Antonio. If you live there, be careful with your identity.

"Burglars Target Day Care Centers"

Overall, it's not that strange that mothers distracted by small children are being burgled. But, it seems odd to call your child care facility a coop.


A month ago another woman, an employee, was targeted at the neighboring Kiddie Koop.

"I opened the doors and all the papers were on the floor and I went, what? So then I looked and my purse was gone and I went, oh!” said Christy Flores, a victim and employee at the Kiddie Koop.

Ms. Flores is quite expressive, isn't she?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Car crashes into house

Actually, it's a cell phone store.

From WOAI:
An elderly woman was parked out in front of the store on FM 78 Saturday morning when instead of hitting the brakes, she hit the gas, authorities told News 4 WOAI. The car came crashing through the window of the store.