AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As 2022 draws to a close, MyHighPlains.com is taking a look back at what we consider the top four stories of the past year.
While this list will focus on local impact and MyHighPlains.com pageviews, we’ll also be taking a look at the most significant stories in categories such as politics, education, and health.
Here’s an overview of the highest-traffic local stories on MyHighPlains.com in 2022.
On April 30, the Amarillo Police Department responded to the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse at around 8:30 p.m. after a call about a shooting. Police said that 23-year-old Marisela Mendoza was injured after multiple shots were fired into a car.
Mendoza was taken to a local hospital, according to police, and later died of her injuries. Police arrested 30-year-old Mario Rodriguez in connection to the incident after being found in Hereford.
Timeline | Texas Roadhouse shooting coverage:
- APD: 1 dead, 1 arrested after shooting in Texas Roadhouse parking lot
- 1 indicted in connection with Texas Roadhouse Shooting
In May, court documents filed in the 108th District Court in Potter County revealed details about a land dispute that posed a setback to the development of an Amarillo Buc-ee’s Travel Center location. As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, the dispute surrounded an easement on land that was being used by a local SpeedCo as well as the plans for the Buc-ee’s location.
While the Amarillo City Council unanimously approved an economic development agreement with Buc-ee’s in February, a lawyer with the company said in May that the land dispute had delayed purchasing the land highlighted in the agreement as the area for the new location, at the southeast corner of E I-40 and Airport Boulevard.
Between May and October, no further court documents had been filed in the case. Buc-ee’s legal team confirmed to MyHighPlains.com at the time that they had closed on buying the property that had been under dispute. Construction for the Amarillo Buc-ee’s location is expected to begin in 2023.
Timeline | Amarillo Buc-ee’s Travel Center location coverage:
- WATCH: Amarillo in talks with Buc-ee’s for area location
- Amarillo City Council approves agreement with Buc-ee’s
- Buc-ee’s Lawyer: Land still unpurchased, land dispute between current owners
- Court documents shed light on land dispute on potential Buc-ee’s location
- Lawyer: Amarillo Buc-ee’s location to be built next year
In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde in June that led to the deaths of 21 people and drew national attention, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott published a letter that directed the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center to create a to-do list for education agencies to complete before the fall semester.
As the TEA explained at the time, every local education agency in Texas was required to complete the list of state-mandated security initiatives by Sept. 1 and verify the completion with the TxSSC by Sept. 9. The list focused on conducting safety audits, reviewing emergency plans with safety committees, training staff on emergency procedures, and scheduling emergency drills for the upcoming school year. Further, the 2019-2021 School Safety and Security Grant Notice of Grant Award end date was extended until June 2023, aimed at providing funding public schools for safety improvements such as metal detectors, vehicle barriers, alarm systems, and bullet-resistant glass.
Timeline | School security in Texas and the High Plains in 2022:
- Texas shooting highlights role of doors in school security plans
- Amarillo ISD conducts emergency response drill to bolster school security
- Governor Abbott directing TEA to create school safety, security position
- Texas schools have a security to-do list for Fall 2022
- Local districts focus on safety as school quickly approaches
Amid the festivities of the Tri-State Fair and Rodeo on Sept. 19, off-duty Potter County deputies were involved in a shooting while working security. Four people, including the suspect, a bystander, a deputy and a firefighter were injured during the shooting and hospitalized.
Potter County Deputy William “Jake” Snyder and Potter County Fire and Rescue Volunteer Firefighter Brady Carroll were treated for their injuries sustained in the incident. The two were given financial assistance from the 100 Club and were also honored with a “Certificate of Appreciation” from the Potter County Commissioners’ Court.
As noted in previous reporting and in court documents, 17-year-old Eleazar Suarez was charged via criminal complaint on Sept. 22 with two counts of “aggravated assault against a public servant.” According to the court documents, Suarez was allegedly in a fight with another person at the fair on the night of the shooting and ran away from law enforcement when officials responded to separate the two. Suarez allegedly fired a gun at officials when they instructed him to stop. County officials said that Suarez was injured when officials returned fire.
Timeline | Tri-State Fair shooting coverage:
- 4 injured in shooting at Tri-State Fair
- Tri-State Fair first responders ‘had no fear,’ in good condition
- 100 Club responds to first responders injured in fair shooting
- 2 first responders involved in fair shooting to be honored
- Potter County Sheriff’s Office updates on deputy injured in Tri-State Fair shooting
- 17-year-old charged with involvement in Tri-State Fair shooting
- More information on suspect in September Tri-State Fair shooting
Other MyHighPlains.com Top Stories of 2022
According to officials with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, the Seagraves Independent School District Superintendent who was under investigation for invasive visual recording, Joshua Goen, was found dead west of Shallowater. Goen was found dead “with a single self-inflicted gunshot wound” on Dec. 9.
Two 21-year-old Portales residents died in a head-on crash on Northbound I-27 near McCormick on Oct. 13. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Alicia Bustos and Analuisa Mendoza were killed when their vehicle crashed into a pickup truck traveling southbound in the northbound lane of I-27. DPS believed that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
A man on a median at the intersection of Georgia and I-40 was killed on Aug. 26 after being hit by a truck that was traveling on the access road and left the roadway. Police said the driver involved in the incident, Casey Curtis Howard, was arrested on a charge of,= “Accident Involving Injury/Death.”
At the start of September, Dalhart JV football team player Yahir Cancino died after losing consciousness during a game in Dimmitt. After the Dalhart High School Student Council hosted a candlelight vigil in Cancino’s honor, school districts around the region offered their support to the community in an outpouring of well-wishes, vigils, and donning the color purple.
Cancino was also an organ donor, as noted in previous reports on MyHighPlains.com. University Medical Center told KAMC News that his donations would save the lives of five other people.
On May 21, 27-year-old Adilene Adame, of Friona, and 37-year-old Osiel Rodriguez, of Dimmit, were found dead off of FM 1057 in Castro County. The Texas Department of Public Safety noted that an autopsy was ordered, and that law enforcement officials were continuing to investigate the incident.
Adame was identified as a staff member of Friona High School, as both a teacher and coach. School officials made a Region 16 Crisis Team and counselors from neighboring schools available for students and staff in the wake of her death.
On May 6, 51-year-old Bettye Montano and 21-year-old Allton Montano were killed in the area of 34th Avenue and Lipscomb, as a result of a wreck that rolled two vehicles and damaged a home. Officials reported that Bettye and Allton were in a Dodge Durango that collided with a Ford Mustang on 34th Avenue and died at the scene.
One other person involved in the crash was hospitalized with what officials described as “life-threatening” injuries.
For the latest updates on local news, events, and weather, check with MyHighPlains.com.