Senior Sgt. Steve Urias of the Austin Police Department became the second Austin police officer to die of COVID-19 in just 24 hours, according to a statement from interim Chief Joe Chacon.
Chacon said that Urias was nearing retirement when he tested positive for COVID and died Thursday afternoon. In a written statement on Twitter, Chacon wrote that Urias served over 31 years with the department.
Today, Senior Sergeant Steve Urias lost his battle with COVID-19, and passed away while fighting the good fight. This is the 2nd line of duty death from COVID in as many days with our department, and frankly, it is hard for me to express my grief. pic.twitter.com/BVIBw1aRBx
— Joseph Chacon 👮🏻♂️ (@Chief_Chacon) August 26, 2021
"He was nearing retirement when this horrible disease struck him & his family," Chacon wrote. "He was a wonderful officer, husband, father & friend. He will be missed by us all."
Urias is survived by his wife and 2 adult children, Chacon wrote. "Frankly it is hard for me to express my grief," Chacon said.
The news comes just a day after Austin police officer Randall "Randy" Boyd was the first in the department to die due to complications from COVID-19. Boyd, who died on Wednesday morning, is survived by his wife and young twin boys.
"Randy was a great officer who gave everything he had for a life of service," Chacon said. "Despite the surging pandemic, officers have continued to put their lives on the line, showing up to serve the Austin community while placing themselves in harm's way."
It is once again with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the loss of another of our family - Senior Police Officer Randolph “Randy" Boyd. After a valiant fight against COVID-19, he succumbed to this horrible virus this morning. He is survived by his wife and young twin boys. pic.twitter.com/c4oSTJDzqp
— Joseph Chacon 👮🏻♂️ (@Chief_Chacon) August 25, 2021
Though these are firsts for Austin, police officers have died more from COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 than any other cause, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
APD said they would not disclose whether either officer was was vaccinated.
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.