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Some in Pilot Point seek to bring unity back to a council busy fighting

PILOT POINT — Infighting between elected officials brought this city to the edge. But people who’ve lived here for a couple years and some for decades showed up to a City Council meeting Monday evening to bring it back.

Dozens of Pilot Point residents have signed a petition that seeks to recall Mayor Shea Dane-Patterson. Without much evidence, the petition accuses Dane-Patterson of abusing her power as she worked to oversee the city manager’s work in some areas. Relatives of some city officials included their names on the petition, signaling the deeper divisions the city government will have to overcome.

During the meeting, which at times seemed more argumentative than anything resembling debate about key issues, the council unanimously decided to toss out the petition and move forward.

“Our council used to be a very respectful council, and appreciated each person’s view,” Dane-Patterson said. “Though we may not [have] always agreed, we were respectful of that. And something’s changed.”

The official reason the city tossed the petition was that the town’s charter says an official cannot be recalled within 90 days of their election. Dane-Patterson was reelected in the May election.

The truest champions of the evening were Pilot Point’s citizens. Several showed up, including Dane-Patterson’s own mother, to support the mayor and ask for their city officials to unify and work together.

“I’ve learned more about our city this week than I’ve known ever since I’ve been here,” resident Mary Jackson said. “This is what we want here in Pilot Point, is for y’all to work for the citizens.”

The town’s newspaper, the Pilot Point Post-Signal, reported that two former city employees, Finance Director Jan Messman and Court Clerk Kathy Charles, started the petition, but people familiar with the city’s politics say it wouldn’t be surprising to know it was the bidding of the current city manager, Alan Guard.

“I think it’s personalities clashing along with him not having the city’s best interests in mind,” said Amy Wright, whose mother is the assistant city secretary.

Guard denied having anything to do with the petition. But his wife, Molly Guard, is among the dozens who have signed it.

“She’s a citizen, she votes, she lives here and pays taxes,” Alan Guard said. “She’s allowed to have her opinion. Believe me, I’m not going to tell my wife what to do.”

Some residents said they see Guard as a toxic problem for this small city on the move. The meeting displayed some council members’ distrust in Guard’s spending, and a discussion was held about whether Guard should be able to spend anything more than $5,000 without council approval.

Dane-Patterson and Guard both got petty at times during Monday’s meeting, audible in their tones of voice as the council talked through possible changes to its procedures.

“The charter also says that we can come up with the rules or guidelines, but it doesn’t say that we have to,” Dane-Patterson said.

“It says ‘shall,’” Guard said.

“Mm’kay,” the mayor responded.

And others speculated that Andy Singleton, the Place 1 council member, had something to do with the petition. Multiple relatives of his have their signatures on the petition as well.

Singleton denies having a role in forming the petition.

Guard and the other officials said they’ll undergo training to better come together and work as a team.

“It’s embarrassing,” one resident said in an open-comment speech about the division among the city’s leaders.

Gunman shot dead after opening fire on federal courthouse in downtown Dallas

A man in a mask and combat gear was fatally shot Monday morning in downtown Dallas after he opened fire with an assault weapon outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building. No one else was injured.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno identified the gunman as Brian Isaack Clyde, 22, at a news conference on a street corner near the federal building. Clyde died at the scene and was taken to Baylor University Medical Center, officials said.

Neither DeSarno nor Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, gave any indication why Clyde targeted the federal building. They also did not say who shot Clyde after police responded to an active-shooter call.

“We’re looking into motive,” DeSarno said at an afternoon news conference. DeSarno said the FBI had not investigated Clyde before the shooting and he was not on any watch list. Investigators were “aggressively pursuing” his social media presence, the agent said.

Dallas Morning News photographer Tom Fox saw Clyde fire outside the building on Jackson Street and took photos as the shooting occurred.

Fox said Clyde fired from the parking lot across the street toward him, another man, a security guard and a woman who was walking a golden retriever.

The windows in a revolving door and two side doors at one entrance were broken. It was unclear whether Clyde or law-enforcement personnel had shot the door.

Fox’s photos show authorities surrounding Clyde as he lay in a parking lot where he’d run and fallen after the shooting.

In one photo, a Homeland Security agent wearing blue latex gloves is hovering over Clyde. In others, Clyde is shirtless and law enforcement officers, including the agent, kneel around him. On Clyde’s left arm, he had a red heart tattoo with the silhouette of a cat inside it.

Fox, who was questioned by the FBI, said he had been outside the building when Clyde parked on the corner of Jackson and Griffin streets. Clyde ran and then stopped on the sidewalk to pick up a loaded magazine he had dropped.

He then began shooting at the courthouse along Jackson Street as security personnel on the first floor pushed people to the ground. At least two bullets ricocheted off the building, spreading clouds of dust and debris.

The federal building houses federal courts, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas, a passport office and the U.S. Marshals Service. Streets around the courthouse will be closed for several days, Dallas police said.

Nearby El Centro College was also placed on lockdown during the day.

The shooting happened a block from where the July 7, 2016, ambush occurred during which four Dallas police officers and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer were fatally shot. In that attack, the gunman entered El Centro and fired from a window at the fifth officer who was killed. The shooter, Micah Johnson, was killed with explosives delivered by a police robot.

Dallas police detonated a suspicious device about 10:40 a.m. that was found in the 2003 Nissan Altima that Clyde had driven to the courthouse. The blast was strong enough to shake sapling trees blocks away.

DeSarno would not confirm Monday afternoon whether law enforcement found explosives inside the car.

Police also checked downtown for other suspicious devices, and many buildings downtown were locked down or evacuated.

The investigation

DeSarno said more than 200 FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel are investigating the shooting. Investigators expect they will have multiple videos from several angles to watch as they determine what happened.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing Clyde’s assault weapon, DeSarno said. Clyde had more than five 30-round magazines, he said.

The FBI searched Clyde’s apartment in Fort Worth but did not provide details about what was found.

Joycelyn Mendoza, who lives in the apartment directly above Clyde’s, said FBI agents removed a large black box from the complex. The FBI also questioned her about what she knew about Clyde, she said.

“I told them honestly, it smells like marijuana around there most of the time,” she said.

Other people seemed to live in Clyde’s apartment or visit frequently, she said. A woman from his apartment sometimes complained when Mendoza’s 2-year-old son ran around upstairs. Mendoza said she last saw the woman two weeks ago.

She said the FBI showed her pictures of two men, only one of whom she recognized.

‘I just ran’

Ed Modla was working from home Monday morning at SoCo Urban Lofts, near the federal building, when he heard at least 10 gunshots. He looked outside and saw the gunman running.

“As soon as I saw the shooter, I got the hell away from the window,” he said.

He took another peek from his third-floor window a few moments later and saw officers “zeroing in” on Clyde across the street, he said.

Dallas police evacuated the apartment building about 10 a.m., going door-to-door to make sure everyone got out.

Don Miles heard 10 to 15 shots as he walked up to the Commerce Street entrance of the federal building for a 9 a.m. appointment.

“I just ran,” Miles said.

Herman Turner, 50, had taken the day off work to run errands. He was on his way to get a cashier’s check when he saw Clyde race from the courthouse door near Main and Griffin streets, plant himself in the middle of the street and begin firing his rifle back at the building.

First Responders: 'I want to be able to help'

Sgt. Kevin Crawford says the purpose of his existence is “to be a guardian of others,” and that’s why he’s proud to be part of the University of North Texas Police Department.

Crawford, who grew up in Fort Worth, said he became interested in police work after he did a ride-along with his older brother, a police officer in DeSoto at the time, whom he describes as his role model.

Crawford said he loved everything about the ride-along. From looking out for criminal activity to watching his brother take one call after another, the experience enticed him to the point that he wanted to change his path from the military to policing.

When his brother had to respond to a call, Crawford, a teenager and a civilian, was not allowed to leave the car. He hated not being able to be involved and having to watch from the car window.

That experience lit a fire in him.

“Man, I don’t want to be in a car watching,” Crawford said. “I want to be able to help those people and do stuff.”

He served in the U.S. Army for eight years. He was stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia, as well as in South Korea and Italy. Crawford became a military police officer, and his work involved patrolling areas during 12-hour shifts. Beyond the day-to-day routine work, his job was to look for criminal activity, help anyone needing assistance and identify suspicious activity.

Crawford said his MP experience “helped me develop communication skills when talking to people.” When he was a military police officer, he thought he was getting the best of both worlds. However, he left the military because his wife wanted to move home to Texas.

After leaving the military, Crawford kept talking with a friend about the work he really wanted to do. This friend was a UNT student who told him the university was a great place to be.

As Crawford looked more closely into the Denton County Sheriff’s Office and the UNT Police Department, he found lots of reasons to come. He also enrolled as a student at UNT, where he’s working on a degree in applied arts and sciences.

“I am currently just a part-time student so I can balance work and family,” he said.

Courtesy photo 

Sgt. Kevin Crawford talks with a student at the University of North Texas Police Department’s Pizza With Police event on March 26.

His advice to other students: “I would suggest taking one bite at a time. As a full-time employee and father of three, life can be very demanding. Taking just a couple of classes at a time allows me to focus on work and what really matters. Personally, I am treating this as a marathon and not a sprint.”

Crawford said the determining factor that brought him here was the community feel. On the military base, it was a community within the community. He said it was very tight-knit and in its own bubble. He got that same feeling with Denton and said he thought, “This is my community. I can care for these people and protect these people.”

At UNT, his official position is sergeant of community relations and training. From a community relations standpoint, much of his work is behind the scenes, including identifying and addressing community needs, as well as finding opportunities to collaborate with other departments and organizations on campus.

His role also entails creating the next 12-month training program for officers. Crawford has worked with UNT for four years but has 12 years of police experience overall.

Crawford says he wishes people would understand that police officers are not robots. At the end of the day, they are still vulnerable to things, just like everyone else. For instance, the future of Crawford’s family remains top of mind.

“As a parent, you always worry about the future,” he said.

Crawford and his wife — his high school sweetheart — now have three children. The couple met when they were both around 16 years old, then dated until he had to leave for the military. He said he thought he would need to end their relationship at that point, but he didn’t want that — so they got married.

Now, he says he’s just a regular dad who loves taking pictures.

Just because cops put the uniform on, it doesn’t mean they aren’t human and aren’t insensitive to situations. Crawford said he has taken people to jail although he didn’t really want to, but they broke the law and it couldn’t be helped.

For people who may fear the police, Crawford says they should take time to get to know an officer. You’ll find out they are people, too. Let biases go away. On campus, if you see a police officer, walk up and talk to them, ask them about themselves.

Crawford also hopes the way younger generations view police will change.

“The police department is having trouble finding new recruits for their department because there is a commitment that is required to be a police officer,” he said. “You have to work on days off, holidays, night shifts — and to the younger generations, that is not really the lifestyle that they want.”

Local diabetes advocate headed to Congress

Lexi Quilty, 17, is headed to the nation’s capital in less than a month as both a tourist and delegate.

Along with roughly 160 other minors, Quilty hopes to explain to legislators what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes and what lawmakers can do to help.

She was diagnosed with the disease on April 2, 2013 — a date she finds easy to remember.

“At 10 years old, learning to rewire your life, it really catches you off guard,” said Quilty, who will be a senior at Guyer High School in the coming school year.

For the most part, that means having to plan ahead to outpace a failing biological function her body is meant to do on its own: regulate insulin levels.

Her trip to Washington is coordinated through the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation Children’s Congress program. She first joined the Greater Dallas Chapter of the organization roughly two years after being diagnosed, and she’s been a youth ambassador for about four years.

That means she regularly addresses crowds to spread knowledge about what it means to live with Type 1 diabetes, which is often confused with Type 2 diabetes.

Two bits of technology, which she wears constantly, have helped her more easily manage her condition, but no cure exists. A glucose monitor helps track her levels, as well as understand what they might do in the short term.

If they rise too high, she treats with doses of insulin. On the other hand, if her glucose level drops too low, she knows to eat something sugary soon.

A slim insulin pump also keeps her from having to worry about needles. While the technology makes managing the disease easier, it still leaves treatment as a reactive process.

Trevor Watson could count on one hand the number of times he and his wife have slept through the night in the past two years. Their 6-year-old son, David, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes roughly two years ago.

He said that contrary to popular belief, Type 1 diabetes, which was once known more commonly as juvenile diabetes, is often thought of as a minor inconvenience — something that will fade away with proper treatment.

“I think folks just don’t realize how life-altering or exhausting it is,” Watson said. “I think they don’t realize it is 24/7.”

He said he’s often asked whether his son’s condition has leveled out, “as if you take a pill and it gets better.”

Instead, the disease is something that can disrupt not only the lives of those with a diagnosis, but friends and family members as well.

Watson said he and his wife have to give other parents a rundown of what the disease is and how it’s treated before their son can enjoy a play date.

Quilty said she has friends and family trained to look for warning signs, and several are able to remotely monitor her levels through their smartphones.

That means that if her levels are too far off, she might get calls from several people at once checking on her.

While she remains hopeful for a cure within her lifetime, recent and upcoming medical advances keep her spirits up most of the time.

Even with the near-constant anxiety that can accompany the disease, misconceptions, misinformation and overall ignorance also contribute toward the trouble brought to the life of a diabetic.

That struggle in particular is a large motivating factor for Quilty’s advocacy, which has brought her recognition within her local Junior Diabetes Research Foundation chapter, and will soon send her to Capitol Hill.

While researchers continue to search for a cure and improve treatments, and JDRF continues its fundraising efforts, Quilty is looking forward to her next step: attending the Children’s Congress next month.

She will head to Washington on July 5 for a few days of sight-seeing. The congress will take place July 8-10, when delegates from across the country will attempt to bend the ears of any and all legislators and staffers they can.