Breaking News (Updated): Apocalyptic Fire Ravaging Montrose Apartment Complex (w/ Video)

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Photo by Margaret Downing

Check out our slideshow of the fire.
Update:The Houston Fire Department declared the fire under control at 2:56 p.m. They say all the construction workers were accounted for and there were no injuries reported.

Update 2:32 p.m.: We talked to eyewitness Kim Cortez who works in the Wortham Tower across from the fire. She says that in less than five minutes it went from being a small fire on the roof of the apartments to the full on blaze you see in the photos above and below. "At first people were just watching and taking photos," she says, "and within five minutes you could tell it was just getting worse and worse."

We also have some more video from the scene as supplied by Houston Press Editor Margaret Downing:

Update 2:01 p.m.: Fire officials are saying that if you live in anywhere near the 2400 block of W. Dallas you should avoid the area. Crews are working to protect nearby buildings, but the winds are a problem today. One construction worker was rescued from the scene and fortunately there have been no injuries reported.

Update 1:39p.m.: The Houston Fire Department upgraded the response to a 3-alarm at about 12:50 and to a 4-alarm at 1:04 p.m. By 1:25 p.m. the fire at the complex in the 2400 block of W. Dallas Street was upgraded to a 5-alarm fire.
The fire department responded with 70 units and nearly 200 people.

Original story:
The Houston Fire Department is fighting a 2-alarm fire at an apartment complex at West Dallas and Marconi, just off Montrose.
Smoke can be seen downtown. People on their lunch break were describing a black wall of smoke.

Here's Instagram video by Melanie Tep taken from the Chase tower.


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Raul Hernandez Case: Electricians Charged in Hilton Hotel Pool Death

Categories: Breaking News

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Contributed photo
Raul Hernandez died after being electrocuted in the Westchase Hilton pool.
Three months after 27-year-old Raul Hernandez was electrocuted in the pool of the Westchase Hilton Hotel, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has charged two electricians who worked on the pool with criminally negligent homicide.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Exley said he began looking into the case based on Houston Police Officer K. Ferguson's report. Hernandez and his family had been spending the afternoon at the pool after Hernandez that day. Most of the people had left when Hernandez's mother, Maria Isabel Duran, called to her youngest son, David Duran, to get out of the pool.

Hernandez and his girlfriend were sitting on the edge of the pool. David was moving to the edge of the pool when the electric pool lights flicked on and he began convulsing. Duran moved through the water, trying to get to her son, but couldn't. Hernandez jumped into the water and managed to shove his baby brother to the side. He and his mother were still in the pool, electricity coursing through them, when someone turned the lights off. Hernandez never regained consciousness and died a few days later.

Jason Gorczyca and James Pyle have been charged with criminally negligent homicide, a charge that carries a penalty of six months to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000, for their work on the pool.

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UPDATED Sources: Michael Brown Is Dead

Categories: Breaking News

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RIP
Multiple sources close to the case, including Rachel Brown's divorce lawyer David Brown, are telling us that Michael Brown died after he was taken off life support Thursday. Will have more soon.

A Brown obit:

When defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told the jury in Michael Brown's 2011 assault case, in which he was accused of assaulting his fourth wife Rachel -- and for which he was acquitted -- DeGuerin told the jury he was honored to represent Brown. (Update: See the last page for some thoughts from other lawyers).

It was remarkable theater. We're still not sure what DeGuerin could have meant. Which part was he most honored by -- when Brown beat his then-pregnant wife Darlina's face to a pulp in a drunken rage; when he wrote letters to his infant daughter, telling her how to sexually please her future husband; for spending money on bedding strippers a third his age instead of paying child support; for losing his medical license to continued drug abuse; for allegedly following a lawyer representing his ex-wife out into the parking lot and threatening to kill her; for choking flight attendants; for threatening to destroy perceived enemies and ultimately costing dozens upon dozens of hardworking employees their jobs?

Or was DeGuerin, like every lawyer who chomped at the bit to tap the Brown Piggy Bank, simply but eloquently full of baloney? Did DeGuerin really know Brown? Did he understand how tortured and self-destructive this self-described bipolar man was? Did he or anyone else -- including Rachel Brown -- try to save him from himself, or were they simply parasites attaching themselves to an extremely wealthy host? Could no one see that giving Brown 30 days to surrender to authorities, instead of shuttling him to federal prison straight from court, was flirting with disaster?

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UPDATED Guardian/Litigant Says Michael Brown Collapsed at Home, Not at Party

Categories: Breaking News

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Michael Brown's saga continues.
Michael Brown's former right-hand man and current guardian Ray von Proctor has released a somewhat vague statement about Brown's hospitalization.

Contrary to recent reports by 'unnamed sources' Michael Glyn Brown collapsed at approximately 5:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday 24 October 2013 at his private residence in Miami, Florida. Dr. Brown was not at a party, nor did he suffer 'a massive heart attack' as stated by unknowledgable [claimants.] Staff was present when he collapsed with cardiac arrest and he was rushed to a hospital by ambulance. Due to the uncertified length of time he may have been without oxygen and the need for physicians to treat underlying health concerns, including a lung infection, there have been delays in completing all testing necessary to ascertain his long-term health status. As of this date he remains in [the] hospital in a non-induced coma-like state.
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UPDATED With Good News: Rushmore's Doug's Barbershop, Heights Institution, Not Closing After All

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Still from Rushmore
Jason Schwartzman, as Max Fischer in Rushmore, barbering in Doug's Barber Shop.

Things looked bad for Doug's Barbershop on Friday. The Heights institution -- known for being a continuously working barbershop since 1929 and made even more famous when part of Wes Anderson's 1998 film Rushmore was filmed there -- had received an eviction notice from the owner of the property, J. Conti Interests LLC.

The notice would have forced Doug's Barbershop to close on November 15, proprietor Doug Dreher said. The eviction notice was served because the landlord said Dreher had not paid rent or shown the company proof of insurance, he said. Dreher remembered dropping off the October rent check before going out of town for a few weeks. When he got back to town, just before the end of the month, he was notified that his business, located at 219 East 11th Street, was being evicted in two weeks.


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UPDATED: Federal Judge Blocked Part of Texas Abortion Law

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Photo by Francisco Montes
And now the courts have decided

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz have both issued statements about Yeakel's decision and we're shocked to report they're both agin' it. In other news, the world is round! Puppies are cute! There's gambling in Casablanca!

Anyways, Perry said he'll continue the fight (or something John Wayne-ish like that):

"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans," Perry stated.

Meanwhile, Cruz went with crossing his fingers that the whole thing will be ruled a bad dream by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals:

"Texas passed commonsense legislation to protect the health of women and their unborn children. This law is constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent protecting the life and health of the mother and child. I hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Texas' reasonable law," Cruz stated.

The Texas abortion law has been judged. And found wanting.

After hearing three days of arguments in Austin last week, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled on whether the controversial law -- the one that launched Sen. Wendy Davis into the political stratosphere and elicited heated protests and debate on both sides of the issue -- is actually constitutional. Yeakel ruled new abortion regulations are unconstitutional. The regulations were slated to go into effect Tuesday, which obviously won't be happening now, according to the Associated Press.

Yeakel ruled that the regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics, according to AP.

In the days leading up to the ruling, Yeakel said he would rule on the law before it was actually implemented on Tuesday, but he noted his ruling would be based on only the constitution thing.

"The abortion issue is a big issue in this country and it's a divisive issue," Yeakel said, according to the Associated Press. "This court is not to rule on whether women should be allowed to have abortions ... or my personal beliefs."

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Suspect Allegedly Took HISD Officer's Gun (Doubtful He'll be Let Off With a Warning Now)

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Pro-tip: Don't take an HISD officer's gun when he or she pulls you over
A traffic stop turned stupid when a suspect apparently decided that it was a good idea to try and take an HISD police officer's gun on Wednesday morning.

The incident happened about 8:30 a.m. when an officer made a traffic stop near Chavez High School.

We've all had traffic stops before (except for those few and proud with perfect driving records, but we're not talking about them right now.) The conversation usually goes:

Officer: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

In your head you know it was for speeding, expired inspection, rolling through that stop sign or whatever, but you say: "No sir, I don't."

Then the officer takes your license and all that, and you sit in the car, miserable, but still hoping said officer will come back and say something about how this time was a warning.


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UPDATED AGAIN: Man Douses Himself With Liquid From a Gas Can Outside Exxon Building

Categories: Breaking News

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Photo by Cory Garcia


Update 11 a.m. September 30: Houston police say the man, who has a history of mentall illness, will not be charged and remains in Ben Taub NeuroPsychiatric Unit.

A man in a suit doused himself with what appeared to be gasoline outside the Exxon building on the corner of Milam Street and Leeland Street at about 5 p.m. Friday.

Houston police spokesman Kes Smith said the 25-year-old man approached a security guard at the Exxon building, 800 Bell Street. and said he had a can of gasoline with him. The building security guard and an off-duty Houston police officer who was working as a security guard saw the man walk around the corner to Milam Street. Houston police responded to a call about a possible protestor at about 4:45 p.m., Smith said.

The man sat on the sidewalk in front of the building with a small pillow and a large red gas can. Maria Gonzalez was standing on the corner when she saw him grab the can and dump the liquid on himself.

He pulled a lighter from the pocket of his dark suit and was believed to be trying to set himself on fire when the officer responding to the call and the off-duty officer lunged at him, grappling with the man to get the lighter from his hands.

"He was trying to use the lighter and the officers were trying so hard," Gonzalez said.

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HISD Student Stabbed at Bus Stop, Suspect in Custody

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An HISD student was attacked while defending another student, according to an HISD release

Having to ride a bus is bad enough, and then some guy throws a knife into the mix. A Westside High School freshman was cut with a knife Thursday morning when he helped fight off a man who was allegedly trying to abduct another student, according to a release issued by HISD.

Police believe the suspect, Cecil Keith McClenan Jr., 52, and the student he was attempting to abduct are related. The suspect was taken into custody on Thursday afternoon when he walked into Westside High School, according to the release.

The incident, described by eyewitnesses to KHOU as a stabbing, occurred around 6:30 a.m. at a bus stop located at Waldemar and Bentworth.


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UPDATED: Family of Woman Thrown from Golf Cart Sues Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Categories: Breaking News

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UPDATED: "We can't comment on pending litigation at the advice of our legal counsel. This is a tragic accident," Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Interim President Leroy Shafer said, noting that Yvonne Herndon is a longtime volunteer with the organization. "This pains us very much, and we're very concerned for her welfare and we're very concerned for the welfare of her family."

The family of the woman thrown from a golf cart in February at the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is suing the organization, and pretty much everyone else who had anything to do with that golf cart.

Herndon and her husband attended the Toby Keith concert that was put on in conjunction with the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. After the show ended, the couple used the golf cart transportation service to return to their vehicle. Herndon was in the front seat with the driver and her husband was in the row behind her. The driver, operating on behalf of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, allegedly made a sudden, unexpected left turn, ejecting Herndon from the cart, head-first onto the pavement of the Reliant Stadium parking lot.

Herndon suffered a closed-head injury as a result of the trauma and has been in a coma since the incident on February 25.


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