Around East Texas 06/28/07

Lufkin Robbery

An East Texas hotel clerk is robbed at gunpoint. It happened Tuesday night at the Comfort Suites on South First street in Lufkin. Police say the suspect went into a restroom and came out wearing a mask and pointed a gun at the clerk. The suspect took off with an undetermined amount of money from the hotel safe. The hotel's owner, Victor Patel, has no doubt the thief will be caught. "We have closed circuit cameras at the front desk which is being recorded. I think it was a very errant situation. It's not representative of what happens, not even just at our hotels or any hotel in Lufkin. I think it's still a very safe place and a very safe community." The hotel employee was not injured in the robbery.

Tyler Shooting

An East Texas man is shot in the head and today is recovering in a Tyler hospital. The victim, Chris Battles, told police he was robbed Wednesday somewhere near North Forest and Erwin streets in Tyler. Police later determined two armed black males entered a home on North Forest, shooting Battles when he tried to run away.

Death Row Inmate

The state death row appeal from 24-year old Beunka Adams has been denied. Adams and Richard Cobb were arrested in September 2002 in connection with the abduction of three people at a Rusk convenience store. The three victims were driven to a field near Alto and then shot with a shotgun, one of them died. Richard Cobb was also sentenced to death.

Wellness Center

A brand new multi-million dollar wellness center is headed for East Texas. Wednesday, officials with Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview planted a tree o site of their new 17-million dollar "Institute for Healthy Living." The wellness center will focus on rehabilitation after surgery and physical therapy. The facility will also have a fitness center for anyone to join. The Institute for Healthy Living is expected to open late next summer.

Funeral Services

Funerals were held Wednesday for the victims of a weekend wreck.  One of the victims, 31-year old Martha Mondragon was eight months pregnant when she was killed in that accident Saturday. Wednesday, a funeral for her and her unborn child was held at the Immaculate Conception Church in Tyler. Dozens were in attendance. There are new details about the suspect. He is 15-years old and lives in Carthage. His age was indicated on his Mexican birth certificate. Police got a copy of it from the boy's school and it's because of his illegal status, police have filed an immigration detainer. The victim's daughter, Bianca Mondragon was injured in Saturday's crash. She has since been treated and released from a Dallas hospital.

Fireworks Booming

Pouring rains send business pouring into some local firework stands. Firework stand owners say because of the rains, their sales have nearly doubled from last year. In 2006, East Texas suffered from a drought and many counties vigorously enforced burn bans. They say since the ground is wet, people are not as worried about popping off the fireworks, however, they stress keep safety first.  Watch tonight's East Texas News, or check with your local officials for firework do's and don'ts in your area.

Special Donation

A special donation for an East Texas agency. Wednesday, Pilgrim's Pride donated 100-thousand pounds of chicken to the East Texas Food Bank. A donation Food Bank officials call tremendous. Officials say the donation is enough to feed thousands of East Texans.

Lightning Safety Awareness

Afternoon thunderstorms are a recurring theme during the summer months. With these storms comes the threat of lightning. This week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Lightning is one of mother nature's most fascinating features. While the odds of getting struck by lightning is only one in 35,000, there is one important rule to follow that has been widely used and advised by several weather experts. It's known as the 30/30 rule. "If you see a flash of lightning, count to 30. If you hear thunder before 30 seconds, you are within striking distance. Lightning can strike as far away as 8 to 10 miles from a thunderstorm. The other part of the 30 rule has to do with how much time you should allow until you resume outdoor activities. Simply put, remain indoors for 30 minutes following the last rumble of thunder you hear. By that time, the storm will have either weakened or moved far enough away and out of the area," says KTRE Meteorologist Brad Hlozek. If you find yourself caught outside as a thunderstorm approaches, don't panic. If you are boating and swimming, get out of the water and get inside a sturdy structure immediately.  Once you are inside, avoid talking on the telephone and using any electrical appliances. Also, avoid taking a shower or running water for any reason as the electrical current can oftentimes travel through your plumbing. More summertime thunderstorms are expected. Keep a watchful eye to the sky. If you see clouds building, be prepared and be alert, knowing that a storm may be forming at anytime. For more information on lightning and other weather phenomenon, go to the weather section of

Storm Victims Warning

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is warning north Texas residents to be wary of price gouging and fraud attempts on homeowners. Price gouging, contractor scams, and charity ploys are common in the aftermath of storms. Governor Rick Perry has issued a disaster declaration for seven north Texas counties that have experienced severe flooding. The Governor's declaration provides the Attorney General enhanced authority to prosecute price gouging in those communities that have been formally named disaster areas. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects consumers from high prices on necessities during or after official disaster declarations. Abbott says he will not tolerate anyone who attempts to illegally profit from a disaster.