Five stories that have North Texas talking: two high-profile gun bills take center stage at the Texas Capitol; the Princeton lottery winner hasn’t claimed the big prize yet; the North Texas mom whose van was crushed gets a new car; and more.
Two high-profile gun bills took center stage at the Texas Capitol Thursday. The Texas Tribune reports: “After a hearing that lasted almost eight hours, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed bills that would lift a ban on concealed handguns at university campuses (Senate Bill 11) and allow license holders to carry holstered handguns openly (Senate Bill 17). Both measures passed 7-2, with the committee's two Democrats voting against, and now proceed to the full Senate. Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting in which 32 students and faculty members died, was among those who spoke. He asked lawmakers not to use the Virginia Tech tragedy to justify campus carry bills. … Though gun rights supporters from a variety of groups across the state voiced their support for the bills, some made clear they would like even fewer restrictions than the legislation proposed.” [Texas Tribune]
- Police video played in court shows a former Marine telling officers investigating the deaths of famed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend that he had "taken a couple of souls" and had more to take. The patrol car video shows officers in Lancaster trying to coax Eddie Ray Routh from a pickup in the hours after Kyle and Chad Littlefield were found dead at a shooting range in February 2013. The video played Thursday in Routh's murder trial shows him negotiating with police while making comments like, "Anarchy has been killing the world." Routh eventually sped away from officers, who pursued and rammed the pickup before Routh surrendered. Kyle, whose memoir "American Sniper" inspired the Oscar-nominated film, was trying to help Routh work through personal troubles. [Associated Press]
- The small North Texas town of Princeton is in the lottery spotlight. Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot was $564 million – and one of the three winning tickets was bought in Princeton in Collin County. The winner hasn’t come forward yet. But Princeton is buzzing, with everyone wondering who the winner could be. The winning ticket was bought at the Appletree Food Mart. Smriti Acharya owns the store with her husband. She gets a $1 million dollar bonus for selling a winning ticket. The winner will get $127 million, sharing the big prize with two other winners in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. The Texas Lottery says it has talked with the winner, but that he or she is seeking legal and financial advice before claiming the prize. The Texas winner has about six months to claim his or her share. [KERA]
- The North Texas woman who beat up a robbery suspect who crashed into her minivan has received tons of publicity – and a new van. The Dallas Morning News reports: “Jessica Liesmann said Thursday she’s been bombarded with phone calls, texts and Facebook messages from across the country since TV helicopters recorded her reaction to a suspected car thief crashing into the back of her van Wednesday afternoon. Liesmann said she normally drops her two kids off at school before heading to work at an Arby’s restaurant. … She said Good Morning America has reached out for an interview, and a Japanese TV station is also trying to snag her for its morning show.” Southwest Kia in Mesquite offered a new car to replace Liesmann’s crunched-up van.
- A new resident of the Fort Worth Zoo wears her heart on her neck. The giraffe born Jan. 11 has drawn attention, with Saturday being Valentine's Day, for a particular marking. The animal, which has yet to be named, has a prominent heart shaped-spot on her lower neck. Officials weren't aware of the spot until recent images by a zoo photographer showed the marking. Learn more here. [Associated Press]