Matthew Wilson

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Matthew Wilson is a multimedia and general assignments reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4425 or at mwilson@themonitor.com.

Local organizations renovate McAllen veteran’s yard

Twenty-five volunteers from the Pharr Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity gathered here Monday, at the home of Retired Cpl. Juan Antonio Cocio to transform the veteran’s yard. Volunteers cleaned, gardened, hammered and sawed throughout the morning. By early afternoon, a dump truck’s worth of debris had been removed from the Cocios’ yard, a large collection of plants and flowers was sitting on a new plant rack and the couple was sitting in the shade on their porch enjoying their new yard. “This is one of six veterans projects that we have going on in the Valley right now,” Herman Ochoa with the Home Depot Foundation said. “Every store in the Valley is doing one project for a veteran, so we continue to give back to those that gave so much to us.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local organizations renovate McAllen veteran’s yard

McALLEN — Twenty-five volunteers from the Pharr Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity gathered here Monday, at the home of Retired Cpl. Juan Antonio Cocio to transform the veteran’s yard. Volunteers cleaned, gardened, hammered and sawed throughout the morning. By early afternoon, a dump truck’s worth of debris had been removed from the Cocios’ yard, a large collection of plants and flowers was sitting on a new plant rack and the couple was sitting in the shade on their porch enjoying their new yard. “This is one of six veterans projects that we have going on in the Valley right now,” Herman Ochoa with the Home Depot Foundation said. “Every store in the Valley is doing one project for a veteran, so we continue to give back to those that gave so much to us.” Read more at the monitor.com.

Mission restaurant owners arrested for illegal oysters

Two Mission restaurant owners were arrested by Texas game wardens last week on charges stemming from over 50 bags of oysters allegedly purchased illegally and being sold in the men’s restaurants. On the afternoon of Sept. 27, a Texas game warden conducted a compliance check at Mariscos El 7 Mares # 2, located at 2500 E. Expressway 83 #100 in Mission, according to documents released Wednesday. During the inspection, the warden discovered 21 unlabeled clear bags of raw oysters in a large freezer located in the kitchen. The bags had no certification number nor any labeling as required by state law. Read more at the monitor.com.

Hidalgo Co. law enforcement bonds with community during National Night Out

Hundreds gathered at J.R. “Milo” Ponce Park in northeast Edinburg Tuesday evening for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office’s 15th annual National Night Out. National Night Out is a program geared toward fostering community-police relationships and heightening crime prevention awareness. Agencies across the nation host the events at the beginning of fall annually. The location of Hidalgo County’s National Night Out is rotated between the county’s four precincts, and the event was last held at Milo Ponce Park four years ago. Guests of the HCSO’s Night Out were greeted by lively music, free food, and representatives from a multitude of law enforcement agencies. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

In a state with strict gambling laws, poker club operates openly

The first thing you hear when you step into Robert Espericueta’s club is the constant rattle of poker chips, a steady drum of clicks and clacks that constantly emanate from the room like a pulse. The chips are red and white and green, worth anywhere from a buck to $25. When you add them up you realize there’s a few thousand dollars sitting on the tables, which explains the black-clad security guards with white headphones, the dozens of cameras, and the cashier sitting in a steel cage in the corner. By the end of the night, a lucky gambler or a canny card sharp could walk out of the door with hundreds, maybe thousands more dollars than he walked in with. Or, if the game doesn’t go his way, he could walk out with no money at all. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

9/11 fire chief arrives in McAllen to offer first responder training

Retired FDNY Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Pfeifer was greeted at the McAllen Miller International Airport Sunday afternoon by a water salute and a contingent of local firefighters. Pfeifer will be the keynote speaker at the Proactive Education for Emergency Responders Annual Safety & Wellness Summit in McAllen this week, speaking about his leadership experience as the first chief through the doors of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Pfeifer, who set up a command post in the north tower lobby during the attack, retired last year after 37 years of service with the department. He also served during Hurricane Sandy and helped make ebola response plans in the city. Read more on the monitor.com.

McAllen PD: Brownsville man who committed suicide was suspect in online solicitation probe

The man who shot and killed himself at La Vista Apartments after police attempted to arrest him Wednesday has been identified as 25-year-old Eloy Antonio Cruz Jr., according to a statement released by McAllen PD Thursday. Cruz’s last known address was Brownsville. According to a statement released by McAllen police, investigators and agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were conducting an investigation into online sexual solicitation of a minor at the apartment complex, located in the 2400 block of West La Vista, when the shooting occurred.

Brothers arraigned, accused of stealing car with child inside

Brothers Eric and Ovidio Zamora were arraigned Wednesday at the Hidalgo County Courthouse on charges related to allegedly stealing a car with a 2-year-old child inside. Eric, 18, and Ovidio, 24, listened, shackled and expressionless, as Justice of the Peace Jason Peña read identical charges for the brothers. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen police investigating suspected suicide in public place

McALLEN — McAllen police say a man in his mid-20s died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday afternoon. According to a statement released by McAllen PD Wednesday, department investigators and ICE agents were conducting an investigation of online sexual solicitation of a minor at La Vista Apartments in the 2400 block of West La Vista when the shooting occurred. Read more at the monitor.com.

Lifting spirits

Edinburg Police Sgt. Christopher Blandford traded in his police gear for a spandex Spider-Man suit Tuesday, joining fellow SWAT members at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance for Project Superhero, an annual event coordinated between the department and the hospital which brings children suffering from cancer and other illnesses together with police officers posing as comic book heroes. In his Spider-Man suit, Blandford was lifted to the fourth floor window outside the pediatric ward playroom in a fire engine bucket, waving to the children within. Admittedly, he couldn’t tell whether anyone waved back because he couldn’t see through the costume’s mask. Read more at the monitor.com