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Texas cleared homeless camps Wednesday. On Thursday, residents were already back.



Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Crystal Brimm said she was gone all of 20 minutes.

That’s all the time it took for the Texas Department of Transportation to clean the encampment where she lives under U.S. Highway 290 and Ben White Boulevard on Wednesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered homeless people to be removed from state overpasses in Austin. Abbott has spent months railing against Austin and its local leaders, accusing them of worsening what he calls a dangerous homelessness crisis by relaxing camping ordinances.

About 10 people returned to that area of the overpass, down from 30 before TxDOT arrived, Brimm said as she sat in a lawn chair Thursday outside the blue camping tent she shares with her husband.

Crystal Brimm lives under Ben White Boulevard and Lamar Avenue.

Crystal Brimm lives under Ben White Boulevard and Lamar Avenue.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune“Everybody else packed up and ran like cockroaches,” she said.

As Brimm pondered her future living situation, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office unveiled his plan to provide temporary living space for Austin’s homeless — a five-acre plot of land off State Highway 183 near Montopolis Drive.

The soon-to-be campground is a large expanse of concrete surrounded by a manufactured home factory and forest. It’s about five miles away from the Texas Capitol, in a clearing adjacent to the historically low-income Montopolis neighborhood, across from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

On Thursday afternoon, TxDOT backhoes were leveling dirt in apparent preparation for the new temporary residents. Ten port-a-potties and five hand-washing stations were already in place.

The plot of land will include “portable restrooms, hand washing stations, and comes with commitments from local charities to deliver food multiple times a day,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a text message. He said the solution “will provide access to healthcare providers and homeless case workers to provide care for the homeless.”

The Department of Public Safety will provide 24-hour security, Wittman said.

As state vehicles drove in and out of the property, Chuck Mitchell, a housing consultant at Palm Harbor Homes — next door to the planned site — said he hadn’t heard of the governor’s plans before Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the campsite will be on five acres of state-owned land near Montopolis Drive and State Highway 183.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the campsite will be on five acres of state-owned land near Montopolis Drive and State Highway 183.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Abbott’s political foe, responded to Abbott’s announcement by stressing the city would be focusing on permanent housing solutions.

“Shelters can be an important part of the range of housing we need and are most effective when associated with a housing exit strategy,” Adler said. “The State’s temporary camping area can be constructive when it provides people with a choice that has greater safety, services and support and a real prospect of a housing exit. The city will support such efforts with continued focus on permanent housing solutions and we could really use the State’s help here, too.”

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, a Democrat whose district includes the temporary camp, expressed concern that the encampment was being moved to a community that is “primarily Hispanic and exists in one of the most historically underserved parts of Austin.”

He called for more permanent solutions to help Austin’s homeless population.

“We must also ensure that there are adequate resources for the people who choose to take shelter in this location and strive to replace this stopgap measure with more permanent housing options as soon as possible,” he said.

Wittman said camping is a short-term solution but will be available “as long as it takes” while the chamber of commerce, businesses and faith-based groups develop a long-term solution.

Meanwhile, the Austin Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning unveiled a coalition made up of business leaders, nonprofits and faith-based organizations which hopes to raise $14 million to construct a 300-bed shelter in Austin. The coalition, dubbed ATX Helps, hopes to raise $2 million by the end of the year to fund the physical shelter. The remaining money will be used to fund storage, dining and sanitation services, as well as services to help people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, for two years.

Dewitt Peart, president of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said a lack of emergency shelters is the “critical missing piece” in Austin’s response to homelessness.

Peart did not specify where the planned shelter would be located, but noted the coalition hopes it will be within half a mile of Austin’s central business district, near social service providers. He said the city of Austin has offered its support in “expediting” the process and hinted at the possibility of using state land.

“Obviously, if we had state land available to us, that makes things a lot easier,” Peart said.

A homeless encampment under Ben White Boulevard and Lamar Avenue.
A homeless encampment under Ben White Boulevard and Lamar Avenue.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Back under Highway 290, people experiencing homelessness were mulling whether they’d move to the state’s new designated area for camps.

Terrance, who asked only to be identified by his first name, said privacy and proximity to transit are his two most important concerns. Stops for Capital Metro’s 217 and 350 bus routes are about one mile from the camp.

“If there was buses and stuff close, I would do it,” he said. “But other than that, I don’t like to travel far when it comes to my needs as far as like going to my doctor’s appointments or social security or something like that.”

Disclosure: Steve Adler is a former Texas Tribune board chairman. Adler and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at


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Former police officers accused of providing false information that caused deadly drug raid



Houston Police Department

HOUSTON, Texas — A thorough investigation has led to the arrest of two former Houston police officers accused of providing false information that caused a deadly drug raid earlier this year.

Sources from FOX News say former officers Gerald Goines (left) and Steven Bryant (right) were arrested in connection with the drug raid that occurred on January 28.

A civilian identified as Patricia Garcia was also arrested due to her alleged involvement in the incident.

Reports say 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle were killed in their home during the drug raid.

Five officers were wounded as well, according to FOX, including Goines who was shot during the raid.

Goines is reportedly being Charged with seven counts, including lying in a search warrant and making up an informant who he allegedly said had bought drugs from the home.

He allegedly confessed to buying the drugs himself.

Bryant has been Charged with falsifying records, having allegedly claimed he identified a substance bought from the home as heroin.

FOX says Garcia was Charged with providing false information.

Garcia allegedly called 911 and claimed the people inside the home were drug dealers that were using crack and heroin.

According to the DOJ, she reportedly told police that she could see her daughter inside the home.

Reports say police went to the residence after receiving the call from Garcia.

Gunfire erupted inside the home, leaving Rhogena and Dennis dead and five officers injured.

One of the officers was left paralyzed after the raid, according to FOX.

Goines and Bryant were reportedly relieved of duty after the raid and retired.

Police say they realized Goines had made up the informant when they could not find him during the investigation into the incident.

Authorities reportedly found small amounts of marijuana and cocaine inside the home, but no heroin.

FOX says family and friends of Rhogena and Dennis told police the two never sold drugs.

Goines is reportedly facing up to life in prison.

Sources say Bryant is facing up to 20 years if he is convicted.

Garcia is facing up to five years in prison.

Sources say the former officers are facing state Charges as well.

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Deputy accused of stealing from tornado-damaged Home Depot he was guarding



Dallas County Sheriff's Office

DALLAS, Texas — A Dallas County Deputy was arrested earlier this afternoon for allegedly stealing from a Home Depot that had been badly damaged by a tornado last month.

The deputy’s mugshot and bond information are currently unavailable.

Sources with CBSDFW say the Deputy, identified as Joseph Bobadilla, had been working off-duty as a guard at the Home Depot located on Forest Lane.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said Bobadilla has been Charged with Theft of Property worth $750 to $2,500, which will be enhanced due to him being a public servant.

Bobadilla allegedly took products from the damaged store, exchanged them at a different Home Depot for store credit, and used that credit to purchase items.

CBSDFW says police removed a new laundry machine from Bobadilla’s home after executing a search warrant at his residence.

“The Dallas Sheriff’s Office does not condone or support employees that break the law,” said Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown. “Our core values are integrity, professionalism and accountability and as a result, we will follow the proper procedures and guidelines in place to uphold the law and ensure the deputy is held responsible for his actions.”

Texas Breaking News will update you once more information on this ongoing investigation is available.

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Breaking News

Gun owner shot and killed while trying to stop robbery



Houston Police Department

HOUSTON, Texas Houston Police are searching for two male suspects who shot and killed a man while robbing a pawn shop.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the robbery took place Wednesday night in southwest Houston when two masked men entered the EZ Pawn store located in the 6000 block of Bellaire Boulevard.

Police say the masked men forced employees onto their knees and rushed to the back of the store while a citizen with a licensed concealed handgun waited for them to return to the front of the store.

Once the suspected robbers went back to the front, the citizen drew his gun and reportedly exchanged gunfire with the two suspects.

Sources say the citizen was struck several times and fell to the floor.

The suspects then fled the scene; Police are not sure if either of them was shot.

The injured gunowner was rushed to a nearby hospital where sources say he was pronounced dead.

The two suspects are still at large and are currently wanted by law enforcement.

They are only described as black males in their early to mid-20s.

One suspect was wearing a white jacket and grey hood, blue sweatpants, white shoes and a black mask.

The other suspect wore a grey hoodie, white pants, white shoes and a red mask.

If you have any information on the suspects, contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600.


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