Note: There are aspects of this story we are still researching, and may update to provide additional background and clarity, but due to the semi-viral nature of speculation on social media, we preferred to get this article out sooner rather than later. Please check back for updates later in the week.
LEWISVILLE - A Muslim family in Lewisville didn’t realize their religious flag was causing a stir - not until people started coming by to take pictures, and a journalist from a local TV station came to their house. To many Americans, the sight of a black flag with Arabic writing on it invokes an association with some very visible (but different) symbols in use by violent Islamist extremist groups, such as ISIS. Last weekend, one Lewisville woman’s post on a Flower Mound Facebook group resulted in a raging debate, complete with anti-Muslim rhetoric, first amendment arguments, and even a threat from a local man to burn the house down before the thread was deleted.
The truth of the flag, as we learned from several independent sources, and a conversation with a resident from the home is much more mundane: It’s a symbol of the Shia sect of the Islamic faith. The writing on the flag, in Arabic is phonetically “Ya Abbas Alamdar”, meaning “Oh Abbas, standard-bearer”. Abbas (Al Abbas ibn Ali) is believed to be the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, and is revered by Shia Muslims as a martyr in the battle of Karbala in the late 7th century in what is present-day Iraq. In that battle, Abbas carried the standard (or flag) and was killed while trying to bring water back for the children in their camp. Shia Muslims often refer to Abbas using the honorific title Hazrat.
The sword is said to symbolize Zulfiqar, the name of the sword carried by Ali, who was Abbas’ father and Mohammed’s son-in-law. Shia Muslims regard Ali as the first imam. The color black is said to be a symbol of mourning, but was also a color representing the Abbasid line of caliphs.
Nisa, an 18-year-old college student who lives in the residence with her family, spoke to us Tuesday about the flag, and explained that it was just a visible symbol of their family’s Shia faith. Nisa's family is originally from Pakistan, and moved to Texas in December of 2000. They have been in Lewisville since 2003, where they moved for job-related and school-related reasons.
She explained that Muharram, the first month of the Muslim calendar is when Shias typically commemorate Abbas' brother, Imam Hussain, but that for her family, they have the flag year-round. Muharram began October 24th, and ended November 23rd. "Prior to the Facebook incident we have not had any dangerous threats, just people asking questions about the flag in a completely harmless manner," said Nisa. "Several weeks ago a news reporter from WFAA Channel 8 News came to ask about the flag and what it represented because she saw threatening posts on Twitter," she added. "We have had this flag on top of our house for about 8 years and nobody has ever complained about it."
Allison was fighting a fire, and had directed his hose stream into a laundry room, where it contacted a 220v electrical line, shocking him for several seconds. He survived the incident, but was seriously injured and unable to work.
Lewisville Assistant City Manager Melinda Galler provided some background:
[Allison] was victim of an electrocution that occurred on the job while fighting a fire. He has bravely suffered through numerous procedures and surgeries, but has reached a point where the doctors have said that he can never again work as a firefighter. It is a terrible tragedy for one so young. His father is a retired fire captain from Lewisville; therefore, it was very special that Andy came to work for us. He has handled this unfortunate situation with grace and dignity and the City will honor him as a retiree for his service. My hope is that someday he can return to the City in another capacity, because he embodies the attitude that we desire in all employees.
Lewisville Fire Chief Tim Tittle said that the fundraiser was doing very well, and that he was pleased with the response not just locally, but from the Fire Service nationwide.
Here's a letter from Assistant Chief Terry McGrath, giving even more detail about the terrible ordeal that Allison has had to go through:
LEWISVILLE - It was originally scheduled to be complete on April 30th of this year, but Lewisville’s Old Town Park Plaza project, now officially named “Ferguson Plaza”, has experienced numerous delays, and months later is still not complete. The City of Lewisville recently notified J.C. Commercial, the general contractor on the project, that it is now in default on the project, and could end up being dismissed and paying damages.
The November 17th letter from the City, which The Lewisville Texan Journal obtained through open records, puts JCC on notice that although the city believes it has the right to terminate the contractor, it prefers them to properly staff the project, and complete the work. Lewisville City Attorney Liz Plaster demanded in the letter that JCC respond within five working days with a recovery plan to get the project completed in a timely manner. The letter was also sent to JCC’s surety company, Traveler’s Casualty & Surety Company of America, which could be held liable for delay penalties and the costs the city would incur for delays and to cure the default.
The project was originally scheduled for completion on April 30th of this year, but change orders resulting from some unexpected conditions on the ground resulted in the City granting an additional 92 calendar days to complete the project, which would have put the deadline at July 31st. The City had hoped to have the project complete in time for Western Days this year. Right before the city’s largest annual festival, workers scrambled to get sod laid, and open up part of the park for Western Days visitors. But during the festival, the majority of the park was cordoned off with chain link fences to keep people away from the open trenches, dirt piles, and construction debris. The city’s annual Old Town Holiday Stroll - formerly known as “Holiday at the Hall” last weekend was another annual event that passed while the project was still under way.
For their part, JCC denies the delay is their fault. A letter from JCC President Larry Wagnor in response to the city laid the blame on Design Workshop, the firm that created the plan for the park, and the City of Lewisville, for denying JCC the number of additional days it requested in response to change orders. Wagnor said in his letter that his firm had sent requests for information on 34 different items that were not responded to within the contractually-allowed 30 days, with at least one of the RFIs still pending. Wagnor said 987 days were above and beyond the time allowed. Submittals were another problem cited by JCC: Wagnor said a dozen submittals were held longer than 30 days before approval, and that it was impossible to order material without them being approved.
Change orders for the project resulted in Lewisville granting 92 additional days, out of 236 days requested by JCC. The firm says that 144 days remain unaccounted for. However, if one adds the 144 days to the July 31st amended deadline that Lewisville approved, that puts the completion date at December 22nd, 2014. Although it is apparent that work is accelerated on the site now, it does not appear that JCC could meet even that deadline.
Carrollton Police released mugshots of the two suspects captured Sunday night and Monday morning after a home invasion in Flower Mound and a carjacking in Lewisville.
The suspects, shown at right, are Juan Fernando Olaya, 34, and Rodney Ray Granger, 19.
Olaya is held on an immigration detainer, two charges of aggravated robbery from Flower Mound and Collin County, robbery from Lewisville, and failure to identify from Carrollton PD.
Granger is charged with two counts of evading arrest, and resisting arrest in Carrollton, aggravated robbery from Collin County, and Robbery from Lewisville PD.
According to the Cross Timbers Gazette, Allen Police arrested Chaka Castro, 39 on Tuesday after executing a search warrant on a house in Carrollton that had been under surveillance since Saturday. That surveillance was shortly after a home invasion that occurred in Allen.
Coppell police are searching for another suspect: Octavius Dejon Scott, 22, who they believe was involved in a home invasion there. Carrollton PD believes he is the suspect who eluded police Sunday night and is still on the run. He is described as 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds.
Update 12/11/2014 - 10:40 a.m.: Flower Mound Police report that Octavius Scott has been arrested:
FLOWER MOUND, TX- The Flower Mound Police Department has confirmed the arrest of a fourth suspect who was wanted in connection with the aggravated robbery that occurred on December 7 in Flower Mound. The suspect, identified as Octavius Dejon Scott, 22, was located in the Houston area by the U.S. Marshals East Texas Fugitive Task Force and, in the early hours of December 11, was taken into custody without incident by members of the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Task Force.
Octavius Scott is currently being held in Houston on a charge of Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon but faces multiple charges for his involvement in several additional aggravated robberies in the North Texas area.
The Flower Mound Police Department would like to thank the Allen, Carrollton, Coppell, and the Lewisville Police Departments as well as members of the East Texas Fugitive Task Force and the Gulf Coast Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Office for their work in identifying, locating, and bringing this suspect into custody.
LEWISVILLE - Sunday night just after 9 p.m., Flower Mound police responded to an armed robbery at a home in the 5600 block of Suncrest Drive in Flower Mound.
A family of six was in the home at the time, when four suspects armed with handguns forced their way into the home, and ordered everyone into the living room. Police say one of the family members was assaulted, but there were no serious injuries reported.
A person who knows the victim posted on Facebook last night that the robbery started with a woman knocking on the door alone, and when someone answered the door, men with ski masks forced their way in, looking for money and valuables.
Flower Mound Police arrested the driver of the group's getaway car. At this point, the suspects ran to a nearby neighborhood in Lewisville in the 1500 block of Sunswept Terrace, where they stole a blue Nissan Versa.
Despite having DPS officers searching by helicopter, and numerous Flower Mound and Lewisville police combing the area, the suspects were able to make their way to Carrollton, in the vicinity of Castle Hills.
Carrollton Police have not yet released much information, but do say that they have two* (see update) suspects in custody, and have recovered the stolen vehicle. They worked with DPS until the early morning hours, spotting possible hiding locations by air, with officers on the ground checking them out, and going house-to-house in the vicinity of Arbor Creek Middle School.
Police finally called off the search early in the morning when the DPS helicopter ran low on fuel, and needed to return to base.
At this time, Flower Mound police are not releasing any more information. We will update the story when we know more. Follow us on Facebook for updates.
Update 12/8 - 8:21: Because of police activity near Arbor Creek Middle School, LISD has delayed opening until 10 a.m. this morning. LTJ recalls scanner traffic last night where police had been looking for possibly-ditched firearms. It's a good time to talk to your kids about what to do if they find a gun.
Captain Dan Rochelle with Lewisville PD says the robbers assaulted the car's owner, but did not display guns. However, he says they presume the robbers still had guns at that point. They are listing it as a robbery.
Carrollton reportedly has 2 suspects in custody now, with a third still on the loose.
Update 12/8 - 11:55 a.m.: The Carrollton Police department has provided a few more details - confirming they have two in custody and are still at this hour searching for a third. The suspect is a black male, about 5 foot 9 inches tall, 155 pounds, last seen wearing a white or gray shirt. He is considered to be armed. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call 911 immediately.
Carrollton confirms they did recover two firearms from the vehicle when the three suspects jumped out and ran last night.
Update 12/8 - 4:50 p.m.: The Flower Mound police department has released the name of the woman arrested for Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon. The suspect is Johnisha Ann-Marie Williams, 19 (Right). She is currently held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Flower Mound detectives believe the offence is connected to the recent home invasion robberies in Allen. Carrollton police have two suspects in custody there, but we do not yet have their identities.
LTJ was able to find a home address for Williams in Fort Worth, but no criminal history.
Update 12/8 - 6:02 p.m.: (Via Cross Timbers Gazette) Juan Fernando Olaya, 34, has been charged with aggravated robbery and failure to identify. He is also under a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer, according to the Carrollton Police Department. Rodney Ray Granger, 19, is charged with two counts of evading arrest or detention and resisting arrest, search or transportation. Additional charges are pending, police said.
Update 12/8 - 7:13 p.m.: Carrollton Police note that mugshots are not being released yet for the two men in custody, at the request of other police agencies.
They continue to search for the third man, described as a black male, 5 foot, 9 inches tall, approximately 150 pounds, last seen wearing a white or gray t-shirt and baggy black pants. Anyone with information about the suspect's whereabouts, and anyone noticing anything suspicious should dial 911.
Keep Lewisville Beautiful (KLB) is currently taking nominations for Holiday Yard of the Month. KLB will be judging residential yards in the following categories: Most Beautiful, Most Whimsical, Best of Season, Best Dressed Window, and Best Musical House. Nominations are being accepted from December 1st – December 15th. A photo submission is required for all nominations and will be put on the KLB website for all to enjoy.
KLB will also be conducting a public vote for Best Dressed Window at the City of Lewisville and Old Town Business Association’s Old Town Holiday Stroll on Dec 6th. Best Dressed Window displays will be unveiled at Holiday Stroll, with public voting for this category at KLB’s open house at the event.
DALLAS - Diego Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI’s Dallas Division, Sarah Saldaña, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Larry Boyd, Chief of the Irving Police Department, announced today the addition of Yaser Abdel Said to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list and a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest. Said is a capital murder suspect wanted in connection with the homicide of his two teenaged daughters, Amina and Sarah.
On January 1, 2008, Said took his daughters Amina (18) and Sarah (17) for a ride in his taxi cab, under the guise of taking them to get something to eat. He drove them to Irving, Texas, where he allegedly shot both girls inside the taxi cab. They died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Based on an investigation by the Irving Police Department, on January 2, 2008, a Capital Murder-Multiple warrant was issued for Said’s arrest. On August 21, 2008, a federal Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution warrant was issued by the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.
Over the last seven years, this case has been featured nationally on “America’s Most Wanted” and profiled in local and national media stories. One year ago, a $20,000 reward was announced by the Dallas FBI; however, Said has remained at large and his whereabouts are unknown. Adding Said to the “FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list creates the national and international attention needed to bring this fugitive to justice.
In making today’s announcement, SAC Rodriguez asked the media and public to help solve this case. “Yaser Abdel Said is wanted for his alleged role in committing a terrible act of violence against his own daughters. We believe the combination of publicity, the significant reward offering, and the team of experienced investigators assembled by the Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force and Irving Police Department will lead to his arrest,” explained SAC Rodriguez. “This addition to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list illustrates the severity of his alleged crime and our commitment to seeking justice for Amina and Sarah.”
Said’s last confirmed sighting was in Irving, Texas, in 2008. He was born in Egypt in 1957 and is 57 years old. The fugitive is 6’2” tall, 180 pounds, and has a medium complexion. He has brown eyes and black hair. His physical features may vary in order to conceal his identity.
Said may seek shelter in Egyptian-affiliated communities in the United States or abroad. He is believed to have ties to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the New York City area, Virginia, Canada and Egypt. He frequents Denny's and IHOP restaurants; smokes Marlboro Lights 100s cigarettes; and loves dogs, especially tan- and black-colored German Shepherds. He may work as a taxi driver.
Said is considered armed and dangerous. He reportedly carries a weapon with him at all times and was known to keep a handgun in his taxi cab.
This time of year, many people like to help out those who are less fortunate - especially kids who may not have an especially blessed Christmas. Several organizations are collecting gifts for kids in the area:
Lewisville High School Angel Tree Lewisville High School’s student council runs an Angel Tree program where students of all ages and grades throughout Lewisville ISD who have been identified by their counselors as being in need are added to a list by code instead of by name. Donors choose a kid from the list, and contact the coordinator to “adopt” them. The donors then buy gifts to help meet the child’s needs - whether it be for clothing, toys, or in some cases gift cards for food. Donors wrap the gifts and put the code number on the tag, delivering it to Lewisville High School, where volunteers deliver the gifts to the students. For more information, or to adopt an angel, visit the web page.
Toys for Tots The United States Marine Corps Reserve has collected toys for needy children since 1947. Typically, the Marines partner with a social service agency that identifies needy families and children, and parents can select a given number of items per child from donated toys, that they then wrap and give to their children. You can donate by bringing a new non-gift-wrapped toy to any collection site.
In Lewisville, you can drop off your donations at the Witherspoon Distillery, 545 N. Cowan Avenue, Suite F. There are also upcoming events in the area, such as a toy drive at Freddy’s Steak Burgers in Highland Village on December 6th, and Core Chiropractic & Rehab in Flower Mound on December 13th.
Young Heroes of the Guard The Texas State Guard collects and distributes new toys to kids who are patients in children’s hospitals during the Christmas season. They are looking for donations of new non-gift-wrapped toys. In Lewisville, the Lewisville Public Library has a collection box. For more information, visit the toy drive website.
CCA Giving Tree / Christmas Toy Store Christian Community Action’s Christmas Toy Store allows parents to select from donated new non-gift-wrapped toys, which they can then provide to their kids. A CCA volunteer will be at a “Giving Tree” at the Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville at the upper level, next to the food court through December 23rd to collect donations.
Flower Mound Santa Cops Program In an effort to spread holiday cheer to Flower Mound families in need, the Flower Mound Police Department and Flower Mound Citizen's Police Academy Alumni Association are teaming up for the annual Santa Cops program.
Donations and gifts for the program will be accepted through December 12 and distributed prior to Christmas to deserving Flower Mound children who might not otherwise receive a gift from Santa. Those interested in referring a family for the Santa Cops program, must submit that information by December 5. These donations provide an opportunity for local police officers to make Christmas brighter for a child, while also strengthening the bond between Flower Mound families and first responders.
Residents who would like to make a donation in the form of a new, non-gift-wrapped toy, gift card, or check, can drop items off at one of more than 20 drop-off box locations, which are listed at http://www.flower-mound.com/santacops.
Did we leave someone out? If you know of other programs in the area that benefit children during the holidays, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
One of the services we provide here at the Lewisville Texan Journal a live public feed of police and fire department radio. There had been an online feed of the Lewisville Fire Department already, but up to the point we rolled this out, nothing for Lewisville Police. We wanted to make not only a live feed available, but recordings of traffic as well so that we could later piece together news if we didn't happen to be listening at the time it happened.
The stream that you can listen to here may contain radio traffic of a sensitive nature. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This service is provided as-is, as available, and may be discontinued at any time for any reason. NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND ARE EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE LEGALITY OF ANY DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE RECORDINGS. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Click the play button below to listen to the feed:
Archive instructions: Select a date from the column on the right, and click it. Dates are in the format DD-MM-YYYY. (Which is backasswards from normal American date formatting, but that's how the software works, and we can't change that.) Select an individual file to play, or scroll all the way down to the bottom, and select one of the hourly playlists to play all of the radio traffic from that hour. There are also playlists for the entire day, and just police traffic or just fire department traffic.
The Lewisville City Council Monday night approved an agreement with the University of North Texas that would provide city funding and support for the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area through September, 2015. The 1,903 acre property owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers is currently leased to UNT and Lewisville ISD until 2022 for conservation, education, research, and recreation purposes.
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement, The University of North Texas will continue to provide the current services at LLELA, and will pay the salaries of the three full-time employees who currently work there. UNT will request the Corps add the City of Lewisville to the lease on the property. In return, Lewisville will provide staffing to operate the toll booth at the entrance to LLELA, and will provide up to $213,272 in funding in the 2014-15 fiscal year to be used for city-approved operational expenses.
Earlier this year, LLELA’s prior funding source ran out, and Lewisville became nervous about losing its programs, and access to the area’s amenities for its residents. LLELA had previously been funded as part of a lump-sum $1.5 million grant given to UNT in 2007 by the City of Lewisville and Denton County as mitigation funding required by USACE for the impacts of unrelated works projects the two entities had done over its land. But those funds ran out with the fiscal year, and it seemed that UNT would not be able to fund the continued operation.