Strangest State: February 2019

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

Drue Wagner

WICHITA FALLS // A woman was banned from Walmart after drinking wine from a Pringles can while astride an electric shopping cart. The Wichita Falls Times-Record-News reports that when a police officer arrived at the store around 9 a.m., employees said the lone ranger had been riding in the parking lot since 6:30. After the story made the rounds, 10,000 people jokingly RSVP’d to a copycat Facebook event — and three men actually showed up to toast in her honor at a North Austin Walmart.

LUBBOCK // December 18 must have been a very slow news day at KLBK. That’s when the station reported that a Lubbock woman was concerned about a mysterious light in the night sky. “Everybody’s entitled to know if there’s something out there,” Michelle Hamilton said, adding that she’s been watching the light for seven months now. The KLBK report offered a possible answer: “According to National Weather Service officials, she could be seeing the planet Venus.”

ABILENE // A city council member announced that instead of seeking re-election, he plans to spend more time working on his underground bunker. Steve Savage, who has served on the council since 2015, told KTXS that he’s creating an “ultra-safe” home within a ballistic missile silo. The silo is one of 12 built by the military during the 1960s near Dyess Air Force Base.

AUSTIN // A woman was charged with aggravated assault after she live-streamed herself setting a man’s pants on fire. The victim told police that after falling asleep in an acquaintance’s minivan, he awoke to find Lilly Elizabeth Sanchez, 19, holding a lighter, laughing and posting the scene to Snapchat. “She initially said the victim had set himself on fire but changed her answer when told that investigators had the video,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.

EL PASO // Revenge is a dish best served… crunchy? The meerkats in the El Paso Zoo feasted on roaches for Valentine’s Day as part of an unusual publicity stunt. The zoo encouraged fans to send in exes’ names, which zookeepers posted in the meerkat habitat alongside the bugs named in their (dis)honor. “The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack, and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!” event coordinator Sarah Borrego told CBS Austin.

TEXAS CITY // When two assailants wearing creepy clown masks and brandishing a machete threatened robbery in front of a woman’s home, she successfully scared them off with a child’s scooter. “The victims followed the suspects when they attempted to flee the scene and managed to hit their vehicle with the scooter, breaking a window,” the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

CORPUS CHRISTI // A hit-and-run driver led police on a thrilling low-speed chase to catch his John Deere tractor. KRIS reports that Alan Baade, 45, allegedly backed into a van with his tractor before fleeing on Highway 77. The hour-long chase ended when the camo-clad Baade drove into a field and was surrounded by cops.

Visit texasobserver.org/strangest-state for more “Strangest State” and links to original stories. Got a local oddity or some small-town news to share? Tips are welcome at [email protected].

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Rose Cahalan is managing editor at the Observer and also edits the magazine’s arts and culture coverage.

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