NOVEMBER 27, 2008
Emergency flags mark the spot where Sheriff Brent Lee’s patrol car left the roadway early Thanksgiving morning. The more disturbing sight is the burned vehicle. The Crown Victoria slammed into a tree, now charred by the blaze. The veteran lawman died at the very end of Farm to Market Road 3453. That road is off State Highway 19, about one mile south of the Trinity city limit sign.

A longtime partner and now deputy found Lee’s partially burned body lying about six feet from the burning vehicle. Chief Deputy Donald Fisher now assumes a leadership role. After hours of being up Fisher said, “We’re just gonna have to move along with this and just take it one step at a time.”

At the time of the accident the sheriff, along with two deputies in separate vehicles, were responding to 911 calls placed from Pinecrest Estates. The sheriff and his deputies had responded to numerous calls from this development. It all ended with a shooting during a party. The sheriff came back three times showing his dedication to law enforcement.

Shooting Investigation

The shooting involved a Trinity police dispatcher. Chassin Bynum was shot and life-flighted to a Tyler hospital. She’s said to be in stable condition. Bynum was attending a party in this trailer at Pinecrest Estates. Sheriff Lee was first called there at around 2:30 this morning for a hit and run, but the suspects had already fled the scene. He returned about twenty minutes later after Bynum was shot. While Lee was at the hospital more shots were fired from the same location. On that third trip is when the accident occurred. Texas Rangers are assisting in the shooting investigation. At this time the motive is unclear and no arrests have been made.

Accident Investigation

Deputies continued the disturbance investigation knowing just a few hundred feet away state troopers were investigating the place where their boss had died. An accident reconstructive team spent several hours taking measurements and collecting evidence. Lead investigator, Trooper Rae Shel Lee said, “This is a mass, volume of information that’s being collected and has to be analyzed before we can draw any conclusion.” Clues may come from skid testing. Trooper Lee explained, “You get the vehicle to 35 miles per hour or less and once we sustain that speed then we lock up our brakes on our vehicle, and that machine measures exactly how far it takes to stop.” It’s a collection of evidence to determine how a lawman died. The details are needed for a report, but these fellow officers know what happened is the risk that comes with a law enforcement job.


Sheriff Brent Lee is no stranger to East Texas. He’s the son of a former Trinity County sheriff, former state corrections officer and former Livingston police officer. Last thirty years Lee worked for the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, retiring as a lieutenant out of the Lufkin office. It didn’t take long for nearby sheriffs to come to the scene of the accident to provide assistance and condolences. Angelina County Sheriff Kent Henson reflected, “You couldn’t ask for a nice person. He always had a smile on his face and that’s one thing I’ll remember him by is that smile. He was always willing to go the extra mile to help everybody out.”

Lee was elected for a term that begins January 1st, but he was sworn in this summer following the outgoing sheriff’s resignation. Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said, “We have already seen some positive reflection of his action and his department. He has done an excellent job and we’re truly gonna miss him.”

An autopsy is necessary in Lee’s investigation. Until that’s completed Lee’s funeral arrangements are pending. Sheriff Lee was 58 years old. He leaves a wife and three grown children.

NOVEMBER 27, 2009
LAKE CONROE – From a disturbance at a lakeside restaurant/bar, to the pursuit, to a crash and then an ambulance ride, it was a wild night for a 24-year-old Willis man.

Around 9:20 p.m. Friday night, The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office dispatched officers to a disturbance at Grampy Larry’s, located on Lake Conroe Hills, off of FM 1097. A vehicle description of the suspect’s Chevy Venture mini-van was dispatched as well.

Pct. 1 Deputy Constable Ray Rauen was in the area and saw the van just after hearing the dispatch. He turned around and pursued the vehicle as it sped into the Lake Conroe Hills subdivision. Rauen searched the vehicle and found it a short time later, stopped alongside the road with the driver, Bryan Lee Cole, standing beside it.

Cole jumped into the van and again sped away. Rauen followed, but the pursuit was short-lived, as Cole rounded the corner on Ridgecrest Drive and lost control of the van, running off of the road and striking a culver. The impact caused the rear of the vehicle to leave the ground, coming back down against Kristina Bartlett’s vehicle that was parked beside the driveway.

Bartlett said she had just arrived at her mother’s home after driving from Missouri. Her mother, Linda Parsons, was sitting in the living room when the van crashed with such impact that it shook the walls of the house. It also struck the culvert so hard that it cracked the concrete driveway.

Cole was found unconscious and not wearing his seatbelt. North Montgomery County Fire Department and MCHD responded. Cole was transported by ground ambulance to Conroe Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

Pct. 1 is investigating the accident and awaiting lab results on Cole to determine what role alcohol might have played. Charges are pending.

NOVEMBER 27, 2012
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 24100 block of Zahn Road in the Magnolia area in reference to a shooting just after 9:00 PM. The victim had been taken by a neighbor in a private automobile seeking medical aid and stopped at the Rosehill Fire Station just a few miles away on FM 2920 in Harris County where the shooting victim died. The victim, 37-year-old Alfredo “Freddy” Medina, appears to have been shot in the chest with a shotgun. Witnesses reported seeing a mid-2000 Blue Honda Civic and three suspects leaving the victim’s residence just after the shooting. The description of the suspects are vague but are believed to be Hispanic or white males. The victim’s body has been taken to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. Major Crime and Crime Scene Investigators have been interviewing witnesses and examining evidence and a motive for the shooting has not yet been determined. Anyone who has information about this crime should call the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Office at 936-760-5876. Crime Stoppers will pay up to a $1000 cash reward for information leading to an arrest or indictment of a felony crime. Call 800-392-STOP (7867). Anonymous tips can also be made through the Montgomery County Crime Stoppers WEB PAGE at

NOVEMBER 27, 2013

Firefighters lined the streets and highways from the Texas Medical Center to Tomball Wednesday to honor Captain Bill Dowling and his family as he headed home. Dowling rode in his captain’s seat on Fire Engine 68 while receiving a hero’s salute along the way.

Volunteer Fire Departments were staged along the route as the captain traveled down North Macgregor Way to Highway 288, on to I-45 North and outside the city limits. Captain Dowling lost both of his legs and suffered brain damage after getting trapped in the fire on May 31, which has become known as the deadliest day in the Houston Fire Department’s 118-year history.

Dowling was trapped in the fire with his legs pinned by burning debris. He was awake and alert when he was rescued and shouted to his fellow firefighters to let his wife know he would be okay, but his condition began to worsen soon after. After the medical amputation and he began to awake from several weeks of sedation, it became apparent that he suffered hypoxia. The condition left him barely able to communicate.

His colleagues from Houston Fire Department Station 68 drove their ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital to personally transfer Dowling to the rehabilitation facility at TIRR, the same facility where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords underwent rehabilitation.

After months of rehab, the captain is now being allowed to return to the comforts of his own home, but he still has a long road of recovery ahead.

Captain Dowling will need constant in-home nursing care. How much he will eventually recover from the hypoxia he suffered during treatment is still only a guess. But this is the same Bill known as “Iron Bill” and the same man who yelled from an ambulance the day of the fire, “Tell Jacki that I’m going to fight for her and the kids.”

That’s the fighter Jacki Dowling, his wife, believes will eventually come home.

“One million percent. He’s still fighting. He’s a tough cookie,” Jacki said. “My hope is for him to get 100 percent recovered and we move forward with our life the way it was before he got hurt.”

The Dowlings will host friends and family for the long-awaited homecoming Wednesday afternoon. They have been supported by multiple fundraisers during the six-month hospital stay. At their Tomball home their bathroom, master bedroom, and kitchen were recently renovated for free by Milton Frank Plumbing to make the home completely wheelchair accessible for the injured firefighter.

Killed in the Southwest Inn fire were: Capt. Matthew Renaud, 35, who had been with the department for 11 ½ years; engineer operator Robert Bebee, 41, who joined the department almost 12 years ago; firefighter Robert Garner, 29, who joined the department 2 ½ years ago; and Anne Sullivan, 24, a probationary firefighter who had graduated in April from the Houston Fire Department Academy.

Thirteen firefighters in total were injured. Firefighters Anthony Livesay and Robert Yarbrough were seriously injured in the fire, but they fought against the pain and were released from the hospital to attend the memorial for their fallen comrades.

NOVEMBER 27, 2014
Houston Police responded to a call Thursday evening in reference to a body being found near a wooded area along the San Jacinto River near US 59 and Townsend. After arriving on the scene they determined the body was in Harris County. Harris County Homicide is working the case along with the Harris County Medical Examiners Office. The remains were in a condition which they feel had been there an extended time. It was not determined an age, gender or how the victim died. The Harris County Medical Examiners Office with an attempt to make those findings.

NOVEMBER 27, 2014
Terri Jaggers, the acting President and Chairman of Montgomery County CPS/Child/ Welfare Board and Director of Engagement and Adoption at Orphan Care Solutions reported vandalism of several statues at the Montgomery County Courthouse Tuesday night. The bronze statues were donated in April of this year by Spirit of Texas Bank. One of the bronze statues titled A.J. was stolen. Another titled T.J. was broken as if the vandals could complete their task of removing the others.

The statues were the love project of Montgomery County CPS New Year’s Eve gala, “Light Up the Night With Hope” on December 31, 2013. A granite marker at the location reads “In tribute to Montgomery County’s abused and neglected children, those who protect them, and those who care for them.”

“This was the cornerstone of the courthouse adoptions and press conference! It is sickening,” posted Jaggers.

“It was special and a reflection of the value our community places on caring for our children,” added Jaggers. “My tears are of anger and hurt … frustration and simply not knowing where to go from here.”

She is also asking scrap yards to be aware it is missing and prays the thief doesn’t attempt to cut A.J. up to attempt to sell it.

If anyone has information on this vandalism and theft you are encouraged to contact the following law enforcement agencies:

Conroe Police Department: 936-522-3200

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at 936-760-5800.

Anonymous tips can be reported to Montgomery County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867), or contacted through the website at the link provided. Readers are asked to share this article on their social media pages in an effort to apprehend the thief and recover the bronze figure.

NOVEMBER 27, 2020