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Police say murder suspect used bayonet to stab man

This story has been updated to include information about the arrest as well as to include reporting about other murders in 2019.

A 17-year-old was charged with murder Wednesday after telling Denton police he used a bayonet to attack a man during what police said was a confrontational drug deal Saturday night in Denton.

Noah Brunson was booked into the Denton City Jail on Wednesday morning on a murder charge. His bond was set at $100,000. A Denton police spokeswoman said Brunson turned himself in Wednesday morning.

Police have accused him of stabbing to death Isaiah Rahimi, 20, Saturday night in the parking lot of the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in the 3600 block of East McKinney Street. The spokeswoman said Brunson told police he used a bayonet when he stabbed Rahimi.

Noah Brunson

A probable cause affidavit for Brunson’s arrest says Rahimi and Brunson encountered each other when two groups of people met in the parking lot around 7:30 p.m. Saturday for a marijuana drug deal. The document alleges Brunson pulled out a bayonet and stabbed Rahimi.

A Denton ISD spokeswoman said late Wednesday morning that nobody with Brunson’s name had been enrolled in the district for at least two years.

This is the fourth homicide of the year in Denton.

The first was in February, when 25-year-old Delisha McPeters allegedly drove an SUV into 17-year-old Cameron Fleming. Fleming died more than a week after he was hospitalized. McPeters was indicted on murder in May.

About that time, police found the decapitated body of Sarah Warriner, whose son, Isaac Warriner, was arrested after a police chase into Oklahoma and charged with abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and, eventually, murder.

The third homicide was in late September. In that one, police say 39-year-old Anton Thorp told police he shot and killed Bridgette Antoinette Forte in their home.

Day care closure, shaky ground threatens survival of Krum church

Krum First United Methodist Church leaders voted Monday and announced Tuesday that a connected day care, Children’s Day Out, would soon close.

That means 16 employees and the parents of 72 kids will soon, if they aren’t already, start hunting for other livelihoods or child care arrangements before the lights go out on Oct. 31.

The child care facility operates out of the church and rents its space at a subsidized rate, but it is under a separate incorporation. Regardless, a church board maintains significant control.

This isn’t the first time many of those involved have been in this situation. Church board members voted in early July to close the facility before the 2019-20 school year began. That announcement came three days after the high-profile injury of a child at the hands of another student on the church playground.

The Rev. Sonya Shahan, who gave her first sermon at the church one day before the July 8 announcement was sent, said the initial decision to close the facility was largely a financial one.

Since mid-July, no safety deficiencies have been recorded by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Regardless, the facility has significantly more deficiencies than the state average.

Shahan said the recent decision to close was a pragmatic one. She compared church operation and day care oversight to two spinning plates being kept in the air, “and both spinning plates are not doing great financially.”

Part of the problem, Shahan said, is simply declining church membership. When Children’s Day Out first opened as a full-time operator roughly 10 years ago, church membership was closer to 140 on Sunday mornings, so members were better able to subsidize the day care when need be.

These days, she said that approximately 55 members will show up for the average Sunday service.

Emily Roan, mother of a 2-year-old and 6-year-old enrolled at the day care, saw things differently. She saw a 15% increase in tuition beginning on Sept. 1. She saw a successful bake sale this past weekend that raised approximately $1,300 dollars for the program. She saw a handful of hefty private donations come their way.

Now she doesn’t know what she sees coming next. As of Tuesday evening, she didn’t know where her kids were headed next.

She recalled a meeting with church leaders a few months ago where parents were promised the facility would last until at least a Nov. 1 assessment. She also remembered the promise of at least four weeks’ notice if closure were headed their way.

Speaking Tuesday evening, Roan felt that church leaders had jumped the gun.

Shahan agreed that board members had originally hoped to review the facility in November, staving off closure until late December at the earliest; however, she said those projections were never guarantees. The financial reality forced their hand earlier than they would have liked.

“They’ve struggled every pay period to pay payroll, and that’s basic,” Shahan said.

Additionally, the church has helped cover insurance, upkeep and utility costs while day care administrators have been chipping away at the tens of thousands of dollars worth of back taxes left by a previous director.

Mira Boyer, assistant director of Children’s Day Out, said the day care owed roughly $32,000 in back taxes when she took over her current role. That number has since grown by approximately $3,000.

Boyer, who claimed Shahan told her not to discuss the impending closure, said the facility is barely getting by, but that “we’ve always been barely getting by.”

She started working at Children’s Day Out as a teacher in 2015.

For her part, Shahan has found life after the closure announcement difficult. Not only has she seemingly faced criticism on every front, but she had also grown attached to the program through the weekly religious lessons she had been giving to students.

Shahan said she understands the disappointment, sadness and loss coming her way. She was once in a similar situation when her daughter was in pre-kindergarten.

Even with the day care’s closure, she was hesitant Tuesday to say the church would survive all the financial upheaval. For now, she’s running on hope.

“We will be a people of faith that God has great plans for us in the community of Krum,” she said.

Denton County legislator calls for Bonnen to step down as Texas House speaker

Denton County’s Republican legislators tiptoed around disturbing revelations from a secretly recorded conversation of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, but state Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, leaned right in Wednesday.

Beckley was among five legislators to address business leaders in a luncheon organized by the Denton Chamber of Commerce. The program was a bookend to the chamber’s “Denton County Days,” a 30-year-old program that brings local government and business leaders together each biennium to visit with the delegation about community needs when the Legislature is in session.

“I have a different speech than what I prepared for today,” Beckley said.

She then called for Bonnen to step down as speaker.

Ever since a right-wing activist suggested in June that he had secretly recorded a meeting with the House speaker, Bonnen, a Republican from Angleton, has faced criticism from Democrats and within his own party. The activist finally released the full 64-minute recording Tuesday. In the recording, Bonnen can be heard, among other things, criticizing freshman Democrats in the Legislature and calling Beckley “vile.”

Beckley told business leaders it wasn’t Bonnen’s insult but his remarks in another part of the conversation that offended her most. She read aloud from a transcript: “Any mayor, county judge that was dumb ass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the Legislature for cities and counties.”

She encouraged local leaders to read the recording transcript for themselves. In the conversation, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, says he hopes the next session will be worse for local governments, and Bonnen echoes that.

About 84% of Texans live in cities.

“What’s going on in Austin is the same as at the national level, and it’s not acceptable,” Beckley said. “I’m happy to work with you no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.”

Earlier in the luncheon, state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, avoided the controversy, except to thank the county judge, county commissioners, city council and school board members, and other local officials for their service and sacrifice.

Jeff Woo/DRC  

State Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, speaks to guests during the Denton County Legislative Delegation Luncheon at the HUB Club Level at Apogee Stadium in Denton. The Denton Chamber of Commerce invited local representatives to sum up the legislative initiatives passed this year and what that means for the year ahead.

“We’ll fight passionately to protect those institutions and what you do,” Parker said.

He reminded the crowd that the only thing the Texas Legislature is required to do every two years is pass a budget to keep the government running.

Parker flirted briefly with a run for House speaker himself before it was clear the job would be Bonnen’s. Several Texas media outlets reported that Parker was on a list of 10 current legislators targeted by Bonnen for a primary challenge.

Following the luncheon, Parker declined to comment on whether he agreed with Beckley that Bonnen should step down as speaker, deferring instead to his previous statements on the matter. He also declined to say whether he was thinking of running again for speaker.

But late Wednesday evening Parker issued a statement, calling for Bonnen to step down as speaker in order to provide the Texas House a chance to restore confidence in its leadership.

What was said on the audio recording directly conflicts with the values of the Republican Party,” his statement began. He went on to state that the release of the full recording substantiated the fact that current members were being targeted for a primary challenge. “If we cannot honor our commitments as elected officials between each other, I’m not sure how the Texas House upholds the trust of the people of Texas,” Parker wrote.

In other matters, state Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton, told the crowd he expected an announcement Thursday on the location for a new driver’s license office in Denton. The Department of Public Safety plans to open a new building in December 2020 that will be equipped with 12 work stations and 200 parking places — three to four times the size of the current building on Loop 288.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, had a staff member read a letter to the crowd as she was unable to attend. State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, arrived about 30 minutes after he was scheduled to speak. He encouraged people to vote for Proposition 4 on the November ballot, which will make it more difficult for the state to adopt an income tax.

“Businesses need certainty,” Fallon said.