Unoffical Golden Gate Marjuana Celebration Leaves Behind $15,000 Mess
Pot enthusiasts packed San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Saturday for an unofficial celebration of marijuana, leaving behind a mess that city officials now say cost more than $15,000 to clean up.
About 15,000 people gathered in the area known as Hippie Hill on the eastern end of the park throughout the day, said Connie Chan, spokeswoman for the city's Recreation and Park Department.
The first celebrants showed up in the morning with tents, coolers and barbecues -- as well as bongs, pipes and joints -- and the crowd continued to grow until the event culminated in cheers and a massive smoke-out at 4:20 p.m.
while youth soccer games carried on nearby.
The informal gathering, held annually on April 20, was much larger this year than in recent years because it fell on a weekend day that was warm and sunny, Chan said.
The large crowds participating in the cannabis festivities left behind a big mess for city workers to clean up, Chan said.
She said dozens of workers spent eight hours on Sunday, with some having to work overtime, to clean up about five tons of trash in the park.
Some volunteers taking part in the city's Earth Day celebration also helped in the cleanup.
Ted Loewenberg, president of the Haight-Ashbury Improvement Association neighborhood group, said the marijuana celebration "was a disaster for the park and for the neighborhood." Loewenberg said, "Thousands of people, despite their alleged good intentions, were frankly the biggest slobs we've ever seen."
He said, "It looked like a garbage truck had been detonated."
Loewenberg said as the day wore on, many of the celebrants streamed onto nearby Haight Street.
"I was on Haight trying to walk back to my house going against the stream of people, it was like a salmon trying to swim upstream," he said. "People were stoned, weren't looking out where they were going, it was really extremely poor behavior."
No major crimes were reported at the event, although eight people were arrested for narcotics sales, six were arrested for being drunk in public, about 30 received open container citations and three people were placed on mental health detentions, said police Capt. Greg Corrales from the department's Park Station.
Chan from Rec and Park said about 120 parking violation citations were also issued as well as three for public urination and one for unpermitted amplified sound.
Loewenberg said his group wants the city to require celebrants to seek a permit to gather in the park on April 20 in future years.
Oakland Mayor Extends and Expands Contracts with California Highway Patrol to Get More Officers on the Street
Two days after Oakland's contract with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office ended, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan announced Monday that the California Highway Patrol has agreed to extend and expand its patrols in her city.
Oakland has entered into short-term contracts with both the sheriff's office and the CHP because the number of officers in its Police Department has dropped from 836 to 611 in the past four years and it wants to increase the number of patrol officers on the streets while it slowly builds up its staffing again with additional police academies in the next several years.
Oakland's contract with the sheriff's office ended on Saturday night.
Sheriff Greg Ahern said Monday that he decided not to extend it at this time because the county is paying workers' compensation and risk management costs for the officers assigned to Oakland and wants the city to pick up those expenses.
However, Ahern discussions about extending Alameda County's contract with Oakland are continuing and the Board of Supervisors' public protection committee will hold a hearing on the matter on May 9.
The sheriff provided 11 deputies twice a week under its $265,000, 90-day contract with the city.
The CHP has been providing extra patrols two days a week in Oakland since November.
The agency's contract is scheduled to expire on Friday, but Quan said Monday that the CHP has agreed to continue patrolling under the terms of that contract while the city works to finalize the terms of a new contract.
She said the new contract would increase the CHP's availability in Oakland to as many as four days a week.
Quan said her administration is expediting the new agreement and will bring it to the City Council for approval on May 7.
Quan said in a statement, "I want to thank Gov. Jerry Brown for granting the CHP this flexibility to contract with us."
She said, "What this means for the people of Oakland is that our bolstered patrols will continue. This help is especially important while we continue to work hard to rebuild the police force by aggressively funding new academies."
Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said, "I want to thank the sheriff's office and their deputies for their service to Oakland. Sheriff Ahern and his deputies are strong public safety partners with Oakland and we look forward to continued work together to keep Oakland safe."
Fatal San Jose Stabbing Being Investigated as a Suicide
A fatal stabbing reported Monday afternoon in San Jose is being investigated as a suicide, San Jose police said.
The death was initially being investigated as San Jose's 14th homicide this year, but police later clarified that it is now being considered a suicide.
A medical call came in at 12:42 p.m. at a home in the 200 block of Truckee Lane, off of Snell Avenue, near Capitol Expressway, Officer Albert Morales said.
When medical personnel arrived, they found a man who had been stabbed at least once.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, Morales said.
8-Year-Old Baseball Player Suffers Life-Threating Disrupton to Heart after Being Struck by a Basesball
An 8-year-old baseball player who suffered a life-threatening disruption to his heart rhythm when he was struck in the chest with a baseball reunited with his team members on Saturday.
Matthew Henry was hit in a chest by a pitched ball during a game between two Cal Ripken Babe Ruth Baseball League teams on April 13.
He walked a few steps toward first base before collapsing.
Petaluma Fire Department paramedic and Capt. Dan Farren and his wife Sue Farren, also a paramedic, performed CPR until Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Officer Brandon Davidge delivered a single shock to the boy's heart with an automated external defibrillator.
Henry regained consciousness and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital before he was transferred to Oakland Children's Hospital and Research Center.
He was released last Tuesday.
On Saturday, Henry was picked up at his home by the same fire crew in the same fire engine that took him to the hospital and brought him to the baseball field where he nearly lost his life, said Aaron Johnson, director of operations for the Cal Ripken Babe Ruth Baseball League and a sergeant with the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety.
"That was a ton of closure," Johnson said. Players from Henry's team, the Blue Jays, and their opposing team were lined up at the field, Johnson said.
Henry jumped from the fire truck and "high-fived" everyone one by one, Johnson said.
On Sunday, SOS CPR Training of Rohnert Park provided free CPR training to 70 of the league's coaches and managers at Benicia Park in Rohnert Park, Johnson said.
SOS CPR employee Laurie Carlson also donated a $1,500 automated external defibrillator to the league, Johnson said.
"Laurie told me that when she heard of the incident she immediately connected with the kids.
She spent many years in this league and obviously her heart is still here," Johnson said.
Henry still "has the heart for baseball" but has to rest for four months before he gets back in the game, Johnson said.
Refrigerator Repairman Suffers Injuries after Pipe Explosion
A refrigerator repairman suffered a serious cut to his hand after a pipe exploded and started leaking Freon gas at a Richmond grocery store Monday afternoon, the Richmond fire chief said.
Fire crews were called to the Foods Co at 1250 Macdonald Ave. around 2:15 p.m. after a minor explosion and Freon leak in a refrigeration unit at the store, fire Chief Michael Banks said.
Freon, a chlorofluorocarbon, is a compound commonly used as a refrigerant. Banks described the odor the gas emits as a musty, oily smell.
A repairman, who does not work at the grocery store, hit his hand against piping in a second-floor utility room of the store after a pipe exploded.
The explosion left his hand seriously injured and he was taken by ambulance to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Banks said.
A female employee at the store was having breathing issues after inhaling some of the gas, Banks said.
She was taken to Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center to be evaluated, Banks said.
Burlingame Man Accused of Beating Roommate to Death Testifies in Court
A Burlingame man accused of beating his roommate to death in December 2011 testified Monday that he was defending himself against an armed and aggressive attack by the 70-year-old victim.
Lawrence Hoffman, 65, took the witness stand in San Mateo County Superior Court, where he is on trial for murdering his roommate, Joe Consentino, in the apartment they shared on Garden Drive on Dec. 5, 2011.
Wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and blue tie, Hoffman recounted the events leading up to the fatal confrontation, testifying that he endured weeks of verbal abuse from his roommate that ranged from calling the defendant lazy to making demeaning comments about his ex-wife and two daughters.
"Joe was arrogant, bossy, critical," Hoffman said. "He was smoking too much."
At around 4 a.m. on the morning of the killing, Hoffman testified that Consentino confronted him in the hallway of their apartment holding a mallet in the air ready to strike him.
Hoffman said his roommate was in his underwear, and that he ordered the defendant to perform oral sex on him.
"He told me to suck his c---," Hoffman said. "That phrase made me feel afraid."
Hoffman had testified earlier that he had been sodomized and beaten by his father as a child, and that he was sexually assaulted during a Boy Scout trip when he was a teenager.
When confronted by Consentino, the defendant said he "snapped" and wrestled the mallet away from the man, pushed him, and then struck him in the back of the head with the weapon as he fell away.
"I took it away from him before he could use it," Hoffman said.
When Consentino fell on the floor of the hallway, Hoffman admitted to hitting him in the head at least two more times before realizing what he had done.
"I was in a frenzy," he said.
Deputy District Attorney Al Serrato questioned Hoffman's version of events, and pressed the defendant on whether he felt genuinely threatened by a 70-year-old man who suffered from emphysema and was four to six inches shorter than him.
"I thought he was going to hurt me," Hoffman said.
Fearful that police wouldn't believe his story, Hoffman said he covered the body with blankets and left the apartment, tossing his blood-spattered clothes and the murder weapon in a Dumpster.
"I wasn't thinking," he said.
Consentino's body was found three days later by Burlingame police, who went to the apartment after an associate of Hoffman's said the defendant confessed to killing his roommate.
The victim had a five-inch hole in the back of his skull, according to the district attorney's office.
Man Seriously Injured in Hit and Run in San Francisco North Beach Neighborhood
A man seriously injured in a hit-and-run collision in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood last May will soon finally be on his way home to Georgia after family, friends and even an ex-San Francisco 49er helped raise enough money to transport him there.
More than $17,000 has been raised to help Selester "Les" Rowe, a 63-year-old homeless man who was struck by an SUV on May 12, 2012.
Rowe was walking east across Columbus Avenue near Stockton and Green streets that night when he was hit and suffered major injuries, including a fractured spine, brain swelling and multiple broken bones, police and family members said.
The suspect vehicle, described as a late 1990s-model white Chevrolet SUV, possibly a Suburban, fled and has not been found.
In the days after the hit-and-run, North Beach businesses and residents -- who considered Rowe a friendly presence in the neighborhood -- raised some money for Rowe's medical bills and for his family to travel from their homes in the South.
After several months, Rowe had recovered enough to be taken home from San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, but the family lacked the money to transport him.
In stepped a group of Rowe's high school classmates and friends from Columbus, Ga., and elsewhere in the South.
The group raised the $17,400 necessary to take him home via an air ambulance from Arizona-based Angel MedFlight, said Larry Anderson, who went to Spencer High School in Columbus with Rowe.
The majority of the money was raised in less than two months, Anderson said.
He said the group received thousands of dollars from several local churches, $2,600 from a fish fry in a grocery store parking lot, $1,000 from a Georgia state representative, about $1,000 left over from the previous San Francisco donations, and more from dozens of smaller local donations.
"The money just came from everywhere," he said.
"It's been a life-changing experience for me, when you see these people face-to-face, it makes you feel really great about just the spirit of the human race."
East Oakland Man Pleads Not Guilty to Murder of 18-Year-Old
A man pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge that he murdered an 18-year-old man in East Oakland last year.
Manuel Calderon, 23, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on May 20 for a pretrial hearing on the charge that he's one of the people responsible for the shooting death of William Mejia in the 400 block of Stoneford Ave.
at about 5:20 a.m. on March 3, 2012. Oakland police Officer Leonel Sanchez said in a probable cause statement filed in court that four eyewitnesses identified Calderon as "one of the subjects that shot and killed William Mejia."
Calderon was only recently charged in the case.
Another suspect, 26-year-old Jonathan Santacruz, was arrested last year and has undergone a preliminary hearing at which a judge ruled that prosecutors produced enough evidence to have him stand trial.
Calderon and Santacruz, who are both accused of fatally shooting Mejia, are being held in the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin without bail.
Calderon also is charged with having two prior felony convictions in San Joaquin County, which could add to his prison term if he's convicted.
Prosecutors allege that he was convicted of the sale or transportation of marijuana on Nov. 13, 2009, and of receiving stolen property on Dec. 7, 2009.
Calderon was on probation at the time that Mejia was killed, according to Sanchez.
Prosecutors and police haven't revealed a motive for Mejia's shooting death.
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa Makes Urgent Appeal for More Donations
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa launched an urgent appeal for more donations Monday, saying that a funding shortage could force it to drop 200 people from its roster of 1,200 seniors receiving home-delivered meals.
The Martinez-based nonprofit group currently uses 800 volunteers per year to deliver one nutritious meal each day to 1,200 homebound, low-income elderly people throughout Contra Costa County, according to program director Paul Kraintz.
Kraintz said the organization has been struggling with budget problems for several reasons, including reduced donations and increased need stemming from the recent recession.
But he said a crucial blow has been the loss of $100,000 in funding as a result of the federal budget sequestration.
"The sequestration was a bridge way too far," he said.
"We're always struggling with increased need for services and not enough revenue, but when the federal government hit us for $100,000, it made it so we had to act differently," he said.
Kraintz said the program has an annual budget of $3.5 million.
About 60 percent of that comes from donations from individuals and foundations and contributions from the seniors, who pay on a sliding scale ranging from zero to $5 for the meals.
The other 40 percent comes from state, local and federal governments.
Until recently, that included $500,000 per year from the senior nutrition program of the federal Administration for Community Living, formerly known as the Administration of Aging.
Sequestration will reduce that amount by $100,000, Kraintz said. "We're pedaling as fast as we can to try to find new funding," he said.
People who would like to donate to the program may mail a contribution to Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, PO Box 3195, Martinez, CA 94553, or donate via the group's website: www.mealsonwheelsofcontracosta.org.
Kraintz said the program is important for both nutrition and social contact for frail seniors.
"For most of the seniors we serve, we are their only source of receiving a daily nutritious meal, and frequently, the volunteer is the only contact for many of our housebound elders," he said.
"Our volunteers are really looking in on this person to make sure the person is OK," he said.
Kraintz said the last-ditch option of dropping 200 seniors from the number served would solve only part of the funding problem.
For the moment, he said, the organization is relying on attrition of seniors in the program in order to reduce number of clients.
It is taking on new clients "only if their situation is absolutely desperate," but is no longer signing up "people who would fare better with the meals but who would still get by if not added" to the list, he said.
But "how deep we have to cut depends on what the response is" to the new funding appeal, Kraintz said.
Fatal Crash on U.S. 101 in San Jose
A man who died in a fatal crash on U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose Sunday night has been identified as 45-year-old Eric Schrader of San Jose, the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office said.
California Highway Patrol received a report of a fatal crash on southbound Highway 101 just north of Hellyer Avenue at about 8:10 p.m.
The preliminary investigation determined a red 1993 Honda Accord driven by Schrader was traveling south on Highway 101 in the third lane at a high rate of speed.
A silver 2003 Audi A4, driven by a 48-year-old woman, was traveling in the fourth lane at 65 mph, the CHP said.
For unknown reasons, Schrader merged into the fourth lane, colliding with the Audi.
Following the collision, the Honda continued off the roadway and hit an orange detour sign before coming to a rest on its roof and on the right shoulder, the CHP said.
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, the CHP said.
The driver of the Audi complained of pain but refused treatment at the scene.
It is unknown at this time whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, the CHP said.
A Sig-alert had been issued 8:52 p.m. with the two right lanes blocked because of the crash.
Three hours later, at 11:52 p.m., the Sig-alert was cancelled as all lanes were cleared, the CHP said.
Four Members of the North Side Oakland Gang Faces Three counts of Murder
A prosecutor said Monday that four reputed members of the North Side Oakland gang should be convicted of three counts of murder for a fatal shooting in Berkeley and a subsequent car chase that killed two innocent bystanders in Oakland four years ago.
Prosecutor Steve Dal Porto said the shooting occurred as a result of a feud the North Side Oakland gang has had with a rival Berkeley gang that started over a stolen car tire rim in 2002 and continued with the murders of three North Side Oakland gang members.
He told jurors in his closing argument in the trial of the four reputed gang members that they set out for revenge on May 16, 2009, and were looking for a member of the Berkeley gang but when they didn't find him they targeted they fired multiple shots at the member's brother, 25-year-old Charles Davis of Berkeley in the vicinity of Allston Way and 10th Street in West Berkeley. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dal Porto said he believes the specific incident that prompted the shooting was the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Nguyen Ngo of Pinole, a reputed North Side Oakland member, in the 800 block of 45th Street in Oakland three weeks earlier.
The prosecutor said that after Davis was shot, the suspects fled the scene in a Cadillac at high rates of speed, going through numerous stop signs as they took a circuitous route through Berkeley and Oakland.
The Cadillac then crashed into a Mazda and a pedestrian at Aileen Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, killing both the Mazda driver, 27-year-old Todd Perea of Brentwood, and the pedestrian, 41-year-old Floyd Ross of Berkeley.
After the crash, police arrested 26-year-old Stephon Anthony of San Leandro, who they believe was driving the Cadillac, and 30-year-old Anthony Price of Oakland.
Two rifles were found on the passenger side of the car, prosecutors said.
However, Samuel Flowers, 25, and Rafael Campbell, 28, managed to flee on foot. Flowers was arrested in Bal Harbour, Fla., on May 25, 2009.
Prosecutors said witnesses have identified Flowers as the person who shot and killed Davis. Campbell, who was profiled on "America's Most Wanted," was arrested in Sacramento on Nov. 17, 2009.
Dal Porto alleged that Flowers is the person who shot Davis and argued that the other three men should also be convicted of murder for participating in the crimes.
He said the reputed gang members "embraced a mindset of how much fear and terror they can instill in people in the community" and didn't care if innocent bystanders were killed.
Dal Porto said Davis "presented absolutely no threat to them" and described the shooting as "a savage, low-down and despicable as its gets."
San Francisco Bay Area Weather
Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.
Highs are expected to be in the lower 70s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.
Mostly clear skies are likely this evening.
Lows are expected to be around 50, with southwest winds up to 20 mph.
Sunny skies are expected Wednesday morning.
Highs are likely to be in the 60s, with winds up to 20 mph.
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