Usually we just keep to ourselves here in Tyler and East Texas, but every now and then something so big happens that the national news media can’t help but pay attention to us. Here’s a look at a few of the times East Texas made national headlines.

SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA DISASTER

The space shuttle clumbia on its doomed re-entry. Photo credit: Joe Terrell, KLTV

It’s almost hard to believe that more than a decade has passed since the space shuttle Columbia fell apart in the skies over East Texas and the world was deprived the brilliance and bravery of its crew of seven astronauts. The 2003 incident occurred due to a piece of foam falling off from the shuttle’s external tank and fatally breaching one of the craft’s wings. Debris from the disintegrated craft was recovered from across the East Texas area.

For a comprehensive accounting and remembrance of the event, visit this memorial page on KLTV’s website.

SMITH COUNTY COURTHOUSE SHOOTING

On February 24, 2005, David Hernandez Arroyo, Sr. opened fire in front of the Smith County Courthouse in downtown Tyler. Arroyo is believed to have shot 50 rounds during his rampage that killed two, his ex-wife and downtown Tyler resident Mark Alan Wilson who attempted to intervene, and injured four including his son and several police officers. Following the incident, Arroyo fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase, which ended with officers fatally shooting Arroyo.

Original reporting from FOX News can be read here.

EAST TEXAS CHURCH ARSONS

From January to February of 2010, 19-year-old Jason Robert Bourque, of Lindale, and 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister, of Ben Wheeler, terrorized East Texas churchgoers with multiple acts of arson that destroyed churches across the East Texas region. The churches included Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton, Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler, Prairie Creek Fellowship of Lindale and First Church of Christ, Scientist in Tyler, along with six others.

McAllister and Bourque both plead guilty and were given sentences of life in prison and life in prison plus 20 years, respectively.

Little Hope Was Arson, a documentary film about the incidents, was released in 2013.

MARY LOU BRUNER

Photo courtesy candidate's website

Most Texas politicians don't typically make national headlines. Mary Lou Bruner of Mineola is definitely one of the exceptions.

By most appearances, Bruner looks like your typical sweet East Texas grandmother. Until she opens her mouth, that is. Then, the woman who aspired to be elected to Texas' state school board would espouse some of the most bizarre accusations against a sitting president (among other things) that have ever originated from anyone seeking office. Sure, it's nothing new to hear a conservative politician from Texas hurl insults at President Barack Obama, but to hear Bruner tell it, he was a homosexual prostitute at one point who used his prostituting money to fuel his cocaine habit. Also, did you know that the democrats were who had President Kennedy assassinated? Or that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged? Oy.

Bruner was defeated in a May runoff election by her opponent, Keven M. Ellis.