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WED: Storm knocks out power to thousands on Navajo Nation, + More

Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Storm knocks out power to thousands on Navajo, Hopi land - Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Residents across the Navajo Nation were without power Wednesday after a storm that packed powerful wind moved across the region.

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority spokeswoman Deenise Becenti said the outage affected at least 10,000 homes.

Wind knocked over power lines in Shiprock in the New Mexico portion of the reservation. A piece of metal flew off a building and hit a power line in Kayenta on the Arizona side, she said. Navajo communities near Winslow also were affected, she said.

"They were really strong winds that started early evening, and it just seemed to get stronger," Becenti said.

Crews were dispatched, but there was no estimate on when power would be restored, she said.

Arizona Public Service Co. said about 2,000 customers on the Hopi reservation and more than 1,000 south of Payson also were without service Wednesday.

Winds peaked at 77 mph in Lupton and 64 mph at the Window Rock airport, both on the Navajo Nation, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.

Crashes and slide-offs on Interstate 40 from Flagstaff to near the New Mexico state line led to some road and lane closures Wednesday. Heavy rain came before the snow, leaving roads slick overnight and into Wednesday morning.

Employees with the Navajo Nation's legislative and executive branches and students at Diné College and Navajo Technical University had a two-hour delay because of bad weather.

The power outage came as the tribal utility hosted a crew from Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that was on the reservation to do training in a rural area and help connect homes to the electric grid, Becenti said.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the storm also caused damage and power outages across northern New Mexico Wednesday.

The Taos County Commission declared a State of Emergency, setting up a shelter at the Juan Gonzales Agricultural Center.

New Mexico reports 1,357 new COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths - Associated Press

Health officials in New Mexico on Wednesday reported 1,357 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths as the numbers continue to rise.

The latest figures pushed the state's totals to 334,332 cases since the pandemic began and 5,516 known deaths.

On Tuesday, New Mexico had reported 788 new cases and seven deaths.

Health officials said the state usually has around 50 coronavirus-related deaths per week, so the latest numbers are troubling.

According to the state's latest weekly report, New Mexico added 7,953 new cases between Dec. 17-13.

On top of that, New Mexico on Monday reported its first identified case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in a Bernalillo County woman.

"We do have the tools to fight this variant" and that is with all state residents getting vaccinated, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross.

So far, 63.5% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated as are 75% of residents age 18 and older and 56.3% of those age 12 to 17.

Health officials also said 22.4% of children age 15 to 11 in the state have had at least one shot.

They said New Mexico currently ranks 10th in nation for residents age 18 and over who are vaccinated.

New Mexico asks federal permission for child spending - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press / Report For America

Most of New Mexico's congressional delegation has asked Capitol Hill for permission to invest more money into early childhood programs from its resource wealth endowment.

Any changes to the endowment require permission from Capitol Hill, and both of New Mexico's U.S. Senators and two of its Representatives, all Democrats, announced legislation Friday to boost the amount that can be withdrawn from the $25 billion fund. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Melanie Stansbury are sponsoring the bill requesting that the change be allowed.

As a condition for statehood, granted in 1912, the federal government created the endowment to generate an allowance for the majority-Latino, mostly Spanish-speaking territory. Most of the money comes from oil and gas extraction, as well as taxes from mining and logging.

Law restricts the withdrawals to 5% per year, and virtually all of the fund is earmarked for universities and K-12 schools. Prekindergarten schools and other services for children under 5 can't receive any of the funds.

The bill would grant permission for the state to increase withdrawals to 6.25%. It would add most of the increase to early childhood education programs, including pre-K.

New Mexico voters would also have to approve the measure. It would be on the ballot next fall.

Native Americans wield influence in New Mexico redistricting - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Legislators are looking for ways to break a stalemate on redistricting plans for the New Mexico state Senate amid a standoff with Native American leaders about fair representation.

Senate leaders scheduled floor deliberation Wednesday on a bill to redraw Senate political districts, after repeated delays and private meetings with tribal leaders. Lawmakers are in a special session to redraw congressional and legislative districts based on new census data.

Tribal leaders are seeking to bolster Native American influence in the political process amid dissatisfaction with public education, access to basic household infrastructure and economic opportunities. The state is home to 23 federally recognized Native American communities, including large portions of the Navajo Nation.

A Native American consensus map would shore up voting-age Native American majorities in three state Senate districts in northwestern New Mexico and reinforce robust minority-Indigenous voting blocs in two additional districts.

Left intact, the proposal from Indigenous groups would leave Republican state Sen. Joshua Sanchez of Bosque outside the boundaries of his current district, potentially to compete in a neighboring district against GOP Senate minority leader Greg Baca of Belen. Native American leaders have denounced an effort to fight that pairing and others like it under their plan.

On Tuesday, the All Pueblo Council of Governors that represents 19 Indigenous communities urged members of the state Senate in a letter to vote down any components of a Senate redistricting bill that modifies consensus recommendations from tribal governments.

Albuquerque police arrest 1 in vandalism of police station - Associated Press

Albuquerque police officers went to a familiar location, the police department's own headquarters, to respond to a vandalism call early Wednesday.

Officers found "extensive graffiti" covering the southern steps of the building, which also is home to the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, a police spokesperson said..

Officer Chase Jewell said the graffiti that included racial slurs and "inappropriate verbiage" was written in red spray paint along the stairs, walls, benches and planters.

Officers arrested one person who was jailed on felony criminal damage charges, Jewell said.

The person's identity was not released.

Jewell said crews were being dispatched to clean up the graffiti.

Strong winds in Midwest whip up dust, blow over semitrailers - By Margery A. Beck And Margaret Stafford Associated Press

A powerful storm system swept across the Great Plains and Midwest Wednesday, closing highways in western Kansas, spawning numerous tornado warnings in Nebraska and raising concerns about fires because of unusually high temperatures.

The strong winds whipped up dust that reduced visibility to zero west of Wakeeney, Kansas, the state Department of Transportation said, and caused at least four semitrailers to blow over. Kansas officials closed Interstate 70 from the Colorado border to Russell, as well as all state highways in nine counties in northwest Kansas.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several eastern Nebraska counties Wednesday afternoon. Ryan Pfannkuch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Hastings, said unconfirmed tornadoes were reported south of Hastings and near Aurora.

The system came on the heels of devastating tornadoes last weekend that cut a path through states including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky, killing at least 88 people.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for an area stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan — including Wisconsin and Illinois. Gusts topping 80 mph were recorded in the Texas Panhandle and western Kansas. The weather service said an automated observation site in Lamar, Colorado, recorded a gust of 107 mph Wednesday morning.

Officials also warned of a dangerous fire risk along the western edge of the weather system, where conditions were dry.

Scientists say extreme weather events and warmer temperatures, much like what's happening, are more likely to occur with human-caused climate change. However, scientifically attributing a specific event like this storm sytem to global warming requires specific analysis and computer simulations that take time, haven't been done and sometimes show no clear connection.

"I think we also need to stop asking the question of whether or not this event was caused by climate change. All events nowadays are augmented by climate change," said Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini. "We need to be asking, `To what extent did climate change play a role and how likely was this event to occur in the absence of climate change?'"

The unusually warm temperatures on Wednesday were due in part to ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico being at record-warm levels, which wouldn't have happened without global warming, said Jeff Masters, a Yale Climate Connections meteorologist Jeff Masters, who cofounded Weather Underground.

"That record heat is helping feed heat and moisture into today's storms, increasing their damage potential," he said.

Damaging winds were likely to bring down trees and power lines, leading to power outages, the National Weather Service warned. Some schools in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa either canceled in-person classes or closed early.

Officials in Ashland, Kansas, shut down the town's power supply for a few hours to reduce the threat of fire after multiple power poles were knocked down.

The system blew into the Plains from Colorado, where high winds knocked out power, closed roads and highways and delayed or canceled hundreds of flights.

In the Southwest, strong winds took down power lines in Shiprock, New Mexico, knocking out power to residents across the Navajo Nation.

Blowing dust drastically cutting visibility in the Texas Panhandle, where Sherman County Sheriff Ted Allen said all roads in and out of the county were closed. In the Oklahoma Panhandle, the state Department of Transportation reported the main road north from Boise City into Colorado was closed because of collisions and downed power lines.

The winds and storms were expected to move quickly east, Thies said. After that, forecasters expect temperatures to plunge, with below freezing temperatures in the northern Plains.


Stafford reported from Liberty, Mo. Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Terry Wallace in Dallas; Seth Borenstein in Washington D.C.; and Jim Anderson in Denver, contributed to this report.

$478 million for state needs passed by the NM Senate, despite fears of rushed process - By Shaun Griswold and Patrick Lohmann, Source New Mexico 

New Mexico is inching closer to spending nearly half of the roughly $1.1 billion in remaining federal relief money given to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act passed earlier this year.

The state Senate on Tuesday approved $478 million to be distributed to state agencies, covering housing services, upgrades to state parks, pre-trial services monitoring and a new rural hospital.

The Senate passed the bill 36-4, and two senators were absent. The measure heads back to the House side where representatives crafted the bill and passed it nearly unanimously 65-1. Money will be distributed shortly after it is signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. She also has the option of vetoing it.

Despite the bill passing with broad, bipartisan support, senators raised concerns during floor debate about whether it was prudent to spend so much money so fast.

The Senate made one significant change decreasing the budget the House sent over, removing $26 million for the Department of Information Technology, according to Senate documents. That alteration means the bill will be sent back to the House for “concurrence” before the governor reviews it.

However, the tech agency will still receive more than $123 million for broadband projects.

Another $10 million is slated for upgrading tribal libraries and their Internet infrastructure through the Public Education Department.

Beyond broadband efforts, the Department of Transportation is the biggest winner, receiving $142.5 million for road construction efforts and another $10 million to clean up roadways.

Senators preserved the $50 million appropriation that was added by a House committee to build an “acute care hospital” in a county with less than 100,000 residents.

This money will be available for the majority of New Mexico counties, as 28 out of the 33 counties in the state have populations under 100,000, according to 2020 census numbers. However, Valencia County could be a contender for the funding, lawmakers said.

The Senate bill also keeps $2 million for the Higher Education Department to repay teachers who take loans for professional development.

Housing services will see millions through the Department of Finance and Administration,, including $10 million toward assistance to homeless people that is contingent on a 100% match by the communities seeking that money. Another $15 million is meant to cover costs of energy-efficient affordable homes.

It’s unclear when the House will take up the spending bill. Members are in recess waiting for the Senate to reconvene, according to the House Majority Office. The Senate is in caucus figuring out Senate district maps.

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) began the floor hearing by pressing Sen. George Muñoz, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on where exactly the money would be going. On spending $25 million to address homelessness and lack of affordable housing, for example, Cervantes asked where the new homes would be built. He had similar questions about roadway and broadband spending.

“I'm not really sure we're doing it in the best way we can,” Cervantes said before Senators voted. “I believe the reason that we're not doing it the best we can is because we're rushing.”

Lawmakers were pressed to spend the money because of a last-minute proclamation by Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, who announced just days before the session began that lawmakers would need to agree on how to divvy up the money while also passing new maps for federal and state voting districts.

Her announcement came after legislators sued the governor this year, and a state Supreme Court ruling that removed Lujan Grisham’s ability to spend the $1.8 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds without legislative approval. By the time the Legislature got its hands on the money, around $1.1 billion remained.

Lawmakers, in consultation with the governor, later pushed off spending about half of that funding into the regular 30-day session, opting to allocate money this week on what they described as programs or projects that were already identified and did not need additional administrative bills to launch.

Cervantes asked his fellow senators to take their time in allocating the money despite the governor’s proclamation, and he said they should focus primarily on using the funds on health care matters, like addressing COVID or responding to mental health problems exacerbated by the pandemic.

Without more specifics, he said, where the money is spent will be left up to the agencies in the executive branch, which undermines the whole point of having the Legislature be a part of the process at all.

“Is this the transformative use of a billion dollars in response to COVID? Or are we simply responding to a tune that's been played for us, and we're doing the dance?” Cervantes said. “We're dancing to the tune of the proclamation.”

Lawmakers previously expressed concerns about the quick turnaround on spending the money. In a previous Senate committee hearing, $15 million was incorrectly allocated to two agencies that had no use for it. Those errors that were corrected, but leaders attributed them to the quick pace.

Muñoz responded by saying the Legislature was prioritizing valuable projects that were “transformative” despite the quick pace, like $50 million toward a county hospital, millions toward improving state roads and money to help pre-trial services monitor defendants. And, in a news release later Tuesday touting the bill’s passage, he set his sights on the money still left to be spent in the upcoming legislative session.

The bill’s allocations “represent an effective way for us to put some of the federal aid into vetted, one-time projects that are ready to go, getting money out the door and continuing our pandemic recovery efforts,” Muñoz said. “ … But there is still more to do, and during the regular session in January, we will be looking at making even more bold, transformational investments.”

Cervantes ended up being one of four senators who voted against the bill, and the only Democrat who did. Republicans who voted against it included Mark Moores of Albuquerque, Greg Schmedes of Tijeras and David Gallegos of Eunice. Two senators were absent, including Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque, who just changed his party from Democrat to “decline to state” at the start of the special session, and Democrat Roberto Gonzales of Ranchos de Taos.

The Senate plans to reconvene Wednesday at 2 p.m. The House plans to meet again Thursday.

Tribal leaders say they won’t accept changes to their state Senate map after hours of talks - Patrick Lohmann, Source New Mexico 

A coalition of tribal leaders announced Tuesday that despite “productive, meaningful, and respectful” conversations with leadership of the New Mexico State Senate, they still do not accept any of the alterations to the Senate district map they drew up earlier this year.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors celebrated in September a “historic” consensus about what the 23 pueblos and tribes in New Mexico would like to see in political districts here for the next decade. It took them eight months to achieve agreement on a map, one that was ultimately endorsed as nonpartisan and fair by an independent expert and redistricting committee.

But on Sunday, tribal leaders said they were stunned when State Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), the Senate’s president pro tem, introduced an amended map to the Senate Judiciary Committee, one that changed the layout of districts in and around tribal lands and pueblos.

The map passed the committee 7-2. Since then, the public workings of the Legislature have been halted as tribal leaders and their allies in the Senate talk to resolve the impasse.

State Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), sponsored the original SB 2, which includes the layout of Senate districts in accordance with the tribes’ map. That version was voted down in favor of Stewart’s changed map.

The pueblo coalition released a letter Tuesday mid-morning to Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) saying that the tribes “remain steadfast” in their support of an unchanged SB 2.

They said a senator told them in negotiations that protecting sitting legislators who live in current districts is a reason behind changes to their map. The tribes’ map would potentially draw two Republican senators in Districts 29 and 30 – Sens. Greg Baca and Joshua Sanchez – into the same district, meaning one would have to resign or move. Stewart’s amendment prevents that.

Wilfred Herrera, chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, wrote in the letter that protecting incumbents at the expense of the tribes’ preferred boundaries is unacceptable. The tribes did not draw maps considering the home addresses of sitting legislators, and neither did the nonpartisan Citizen Redistricting Committee.

“We find that wholly unacceptable,” he said, “primarily because that was never a priority for the CRC nor the All Pueblo Council of Governors, especially in designing Senate District 30.”

The tribal consensus maps aimed to protect Native American majorities of at least 65% in the three Senate districts where they are the biggest racial group and keep District 30 as an “influence group,” with 35% Native American composition. The map they agreed upon had 34.5% Native Americans, and Stewart’s map has 34.1% in District 30.

“The Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna, Isleta and Zuni have tribal lands and communities located in SD 30. All support maintaining the boundaries of SD 30 as contained in the tribal consensus plan,” he wrote. “Doing so will allow the tribes to increase their chances of not only electing a candidate of their choice, but also increasing the possibility of electing a Native candidate to the New Mexico Senate, a candidate who is responsive, understanding, and supportive of tribal issues and concerns.”

Pueblo governors previously told Source New Mexico that even if the decrease in Native Americans in each district might seem small, the data do not reflect the way Stewart’s amended map dilutes or divides specific Native American communities and boundaries that the tribe recognizes.

Boy killed in hit-and-run after leaving ABQ BioPark – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Albuquerque police are searching for the driver who struck and killed a 7-year-old boy as he was crossing the street with his family, though they may have located the vehicle.

Police have identified the boy killed as Pronoy Bhattacharya.

Authorities say the hit-and-run occurred Sunday around 8:30 p.m. at Central and Tingley as the boy’s family left the River of Lights display at the Albuquerque BioPark.

According to traffic camera footage, a car - described by police as an off-highway vehicle - ran a red light while the family was in the crosswalk with the right of way and did not stop.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene and his father was injured.

The Albuquerque Journal reports APD announced Tuesday they may have located the vehicle following several tips from the public. Department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said in a statement that a vehicle was collected as evidence from a property in northwest Albuquerque.

The investigation is ongoing.

Cities wracked by opioids close to getting $26B settlement - By Andrew Selsky Associated Press

The opioid epidemic blew into this picturesque Oregon town like a toxic wind, leaving overdoses, addiction, homelessness and wrecked families in its wake.

In a humble, single-story brick building, three blocks from downtown McMinnville's wine-tasting rooms and cafes, staffers and volunteers of a recovery center called Provoking Hope help the casualties. The workers, who themselves are recovering from drug addiction, offer counseling, coffee and, for some, clean syringes.

McMinnville and thousands of other towns across the United States are on the precipice of receiving billions of dollars in the second-biggest legal settlement in U.S. history. The $26 billion from three drug distributors and a pharmaceutical manufacturer would address damage wrought by opioids, which the federal government declared in 2017 was a public health emergency.

States, counties and cities face a deadline in three weeks to sign onto the deal, and most states have agreed to do so. But a few holdouts remain, including Oregon, where disagreements have emerged between state and local government officials.

The money is needed. In Yamhill County, where McMinnville is the county seat, it would expand counseling and treatment, including in jails, expand residential treatment and recovery facilities and fund other programs, said County Commissioner Casey Kulla.

As Provoking Hope's office manager, Anne Muilenburg has seen the devastating effects of drug addiction and also experienced it first-hand. She says her addiction started as many in America did, after her physician prescribed opioids. They were for a painful spinal bone spur. Ten years later, using her prescription and buying two other people's prescriptions, she was taking 35 pills per day, far exceeding the maximum dosage.

"It wasn't even enough to make me feel high. It was just enough to not make me sick," Muilenburg said. She described opiate withdrawal — experienced when she would run out of pills — as "the worst feeling ever."

"It makes you feel like somebody's peeling your skin off," she recalled in her small office, decorated with posters with sayings like "be kind" and "stay humble."

Muilenburg finally got treatment but then "drug jumped" to alcohol and methamphetamine. She wound up losing her job at a car dealership and splitting with her husband, though they have since reunited. She was in and out of jail and found herself living on the street.

"My being homeless was one of the things that led me to wanting to change my life," Muilenburg said.

She has been free of drugs for 4 1/2 years. Muilenburg said funds from the settlement are needed to address the community's drug dependency.

"We need more treatment centers. Every place needs more treatment centers," she said. "It's ridiculous that somebody wants to go to treatment and they have to wait eight to 10 weeks for a bed."

In the U.S., more than 500,000 deaths over the last two decades have been linked to opioids, both prescription drugs and illegal ones.

The clock is ticking on the settlement, with a payout second only to the $200 billion-plus tobacco settlement, in 1998, with the nation's four largest tobacco companies.

The three drug distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson agreed in July to pay the combined $26 billion to resolve thousands of state and local government lawsuits. But if the defendants feel there's a lack of participation by states and local jurisdictions, it could cause them to back away from the landmark agreement or eventually reduce the settlement amount.

"The defendants have the last bite at the apple to say, 'Do we have a critical mass to justify going forward?'" said Joe Rice, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

In exchange for the payout, participating states, counties and cities would have to drop any lawsuits against the defendants and agree not to sue them in the future for the opioid epidemic.

"There are complex tradeoffs at stake here," said Caleb Alexander, a drug safety expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "On the one hand, the settlement would offer sorely needed funding to scale up treatment and otherwise address the opioid epidemic. On the other, many parties believe the settlement is not enough."

At least 45 states have signed on or signaled their intent to do so, and at least 4,012 counties and cities have also confirmed participation, plaintiffs' attorneys said Friday.

Washington state has already ruled out participating, with Attorney General Bob Ferguson calling the settlement "woefully insufficient." He's suing the nation's three biggest drug distributors — the same ones in the national settlement — for $38 billion in a trial that began in November.

In Pennsylvania, the district attorneys for Philadelphia and Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, have sued the state attorney general to ensure their lawsuits against the drug industry could continue, saying their communities' shares from the settlement would cover only a fraction of the epidemic's financial toll.

"We are not going to accept a settlement that is a sellout," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro says receiving payouts from the settlement is a sure thing, unlike continuing to pursue lawsuits against the companies. Local governments can opt out and keep suing, he said, but the more that do, the less the state would receive.

New Mexico is still working out details, "and we're anticipating that counties and local governments will be responding soon," said Jerri Mares of the state attorney general's office.

In Oregon, lawyers for local governments and the state recently resolved an impasse over how the settlement would be disbursed, according to The Lund Report, a health care news site.

The state of Oregon had wanted local governments to apply to it for grants. The local governments instead wanted a larger share of the funds in direct payments. There's now disagreement on how much of the settlement should go to attorneys who sued on behalf of several Oregon counties.

Kulla, the Yamhill County commissioner, supports the opioid settlement but doesn't want the state taking excessive control of it.

"We at the counties are the ones working with those addicted and their families, and we incur the societal costs of those addictions," he said.

Under the settlement, the payments would be made over 18 years. The tobacco settlement was controlled by state governments, and most of the money has not gone to pay for the toll of tobacco. By contrast, the opioid settlements are structured so most of the money is intended to fight the crisis.

Kulla recognizes there won't be a quick fix.

"It's going to be long-term," Kulla said. "It's going to take generations, really, to dig ourselves out of this."

Navajo Nation: 37 more COVID cases, no deaths 2nd day in row

The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 37 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the second consecutive day.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe's total to 40,571 cases since the pandemic began.

The known death toll remains at 1,562.

Based on cases from Nov. 26-Dec. 9, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory Monday for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez has issued a reminder to get the vaccine or the booster as the Christmas holiday approaches.

"Approximately 72-percent of our people are fully vaccinated and over 85-percent of the elderly population are fully vaccinated," Nez said in a statement Tuesday. "Our health care officials are doing a great job getting our people vaccinated for COVID-19, but we still have more to do."

The reservation covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Fatal shooting by Torrance County deputy under investigation

A Torrance County sheriff's deputy fatally shot a man who reportedly had earlier entered a woman's backyard and fired at least one gunshot, the New Mexico State Police said.

The State Police didn't immediately release the identity of the man shot Monday.

The State Police said it was investigating the incident and that results of the investigation would be turned over to the District Attorney's Office.

According to a State Police statement, the man was wearing a black hoodie and a red facemask when he entered the woman's yard.

"For reasons still under investigation the deputy discharged his duty weapon at least once striking the suspect,"" the statement said.

Man indicted after 3 bodies found in burning Texas dumpster - Associated Press

A grand jury in Texas has returned a capital murder indictment against a man authorities have said confessed to killing five people, including three whose dismembered bodies were found in a burning dumpster earlier this year.

Jason Thornburg, 41, was indicted Monday on a charge of capital murder in the deaths of David Lueras, 42, Lauren Phillips, 34, and Maricruz Mathis, 33, the Tarrant County district attorney's office said. Their bodies were discovered in a burning dumpster in Fort Worth in September.

Thornburg remains jailed on $1 million bond. Jail records do no list an attorney for him.

Surveillance footage of a vehicle at the site of the dumpster led authorities to Thornburg.

During an interview with police, he confessed to killing the three people found in the dumpster as well as his roommate and girlfriend, according to his arrest warrant. He told officers that he had in-depth knowledge of the Bible and believed he was being called to "commit sacrifices," according to the arrest warrant.

Police have said that when they identified Thornburg as a suspect in the slayings of the three found in the dumpster, they were already familiar with him from a suspicious death investigation earlier in the year.

According to the arrest warrant, Thornburg's roommate had been killed in a suspicious house fire in May. During the police interview in September, Thornburg told officers he had slit his roommate's throat, then uncapped a natural gas line and lit a candle. At the time, the medical examiner had not been able to determine his roommate's cause of death.

When police asked Thornburg about any other sacrifices, he said he also sacrificed his girlfriend in Arizona, according to the arrest warrant.

Tanya Begay, an American Indian woman from Gallup, New Mexico, has been missing since taking a trip with Thornburg in 2017. When Begay last spoke to her mother, she told her she planned to travel from the Arizona town of Leupp back to her family's home near Gallup, New Mexico — a drive through the Navajo Nation that should've taken a few hours.

Messages left with police in the Navajo Nation and Gallup seeking any updates on her case were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Pecos man accused of fatally shooting drinking companions – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A Pecos man is accused of fatally shooting two drinking companions and shooting at another man who had called 911 while hiding in a closet of his residence, state police said Tuesday.

State police on Saturday found Mark Valencia, 40, sitting in a vehicle outside the residence, two people fatally shot inside the residence and the 63-year-old property owner hiding in a closet, a state police statement said.

Those killed were identified as Santa Fe residents Steven Singer, 40 and Evan Aragon, 48,

The shooting occurred after Valencia, Singer and Aragon were drinking and Valencia and Singer got into an altercation, the statement said.

An arrest warrant affidavit said Valencia and Singer argued about a haircut that Singer had given Valencia, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

At least one shot was fired at the closet where the property owner was hiding, but he wasn't hit, the statement said.

Valencia was arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder, attempted murder and other crimes, according to court records.

David Silva, listed in court records as Valencia's lawyer, did not immediately respond to a phone call by The Associated Press seeking comment on behalf of Valencia.