City of Santa Cruz Mourn Two Detective after Shootout
While the city of Santa Cruz mourns the deaths of two police officers killed in a shooting on Tuesday, investigators are digging into the background of the shooter, a barista and Burning Man aficionado with a history of peeping tom arrests.
Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were gunned down at 822 N. Branciforte Ave. on Tuesday afternoon while following up on a report of a misdemeanor sexual assault.
They had gone to the home of 35-year-old Jeremy Peter Goulet, the suspect in the assault, to speak with him about the incident.
Dressed in plain clothes, they arrived at his home at about 3:30 p.m. Exactly what transpired next remains unclear, but Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said Baker and Butler were gunned down in Goulet's doorway.
Goulet then disarmed the two officers and fled in Baker's detective car, which he later parked on Doyle Street, according to the sheriff's office.
As law enforcement officers swarmed the neighborhood and emergency responders were tending to Baker and Butler, Goulet headed back toward his home and was spotted on the opposite side of a fence that separates 140 Doyle St. from 822 N. Branciforte Ave., sheriff's officials said.
He ran toward Doyle Street, where he encountered teams of officers who were searching for him, Wowak said.
He began firing at them and they fired back, the sheriff said. Wowak said there were pedestrians in the area at the time, as well as a Santa Cruz Fire Department crew and their truck.
He said as the bullets began to fly, a fire department crew member pushed a pedestrian to the ground to protect her from the gunfire.
Multiple bullets fired by Goulet hit the fire truck, he said.
Goulet was eventually killed by officers' bullets, and was later found to have three handguns on him, Wowak said.
He was wearing body armor, which Wowak described as a "standard vest" he said may have been taken from Baker's car.
"There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the officers that engaged Goulet stopped an imminent threat to the community," the sheriff said.
Aidan Hosler, 46, may have been one of the last people to see Sgt. Baker alive.
He said he crossed paths with Baker at about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday after picking up his 14-year-old son from the Alternative Family Education school at 185 Benito Ave., a back alley located near North Branciforte Avenue and Doyle Street.
He was pulling out of the school's parking lot and attempting to enter a narrow one-way driveway leading to North Branciforte Avenue when he was blocked by Baker, who was entering the driveway coming the wrong way, he said.
Baker's car was unmarked and Hosler said he did not initially realize Baker was a police officer.
He said he flashed his lights at the other car.
Baker got out of his car and Hosler saw he was wearing dark pants and a white shirt and was carrying a large gun in a holster, Hosler said.
"I said to myself, 'That's a detective,'" Hosler said.
Baker approached Hosler's car and spoke with him, Hosler said.
"He and I had a short, very polite conversation," Hosler said.
"He apologized for inconveniencing me, and I said 'no worries.'"Hosler said he backed up, turned around and exited the parking lot through another driveway leading to Benito Avenue.
"He seemed like a really nice guy," Hosler said.
Fatal Hit and Run in Santa Rosa
Police are looking for a driver that fatally struck a pedestrian in Santa Rosa Wednesday afternoon and fled the scene.
Officers responded to the collision in the 4600 block of Montgomery Drive at 1:08 p.m. and found the victim on the side of the road, police said.
Initial reports said that the driver had fled the scene before police arrived.
The male victim was checked by medical responders but was pronounced dead at the scene.
His identity has not been released.
Witnesses told police that a light-colored newer model Mercedes had struck the victim and that the driver was a white or Hispanic man in his 30s with dark hair.
The suspect was last seen driving east on Montgomery Drive, possibly with front-end damage.
Montgomery Drive was closed for traffic while police investigated until about 5 p.m.
Anyone with information about the collision has been asked to call Santa Rosa police at (707) 543-4108.
11-Year-Old Foster Child Missing in San Leandro
Police are asking the public for their assistance in locating an 11-year-old foster child who went missing Monday morning after being dropped off at an elementary school in San Leandro.
The missing juvenile, Myles Oliverez, was dropped off at Madison Elementary School at 14571 Juniper St. on Monday at 7:25 a.m., police said.
He failed to return to his foster home at the end of the school day, police said.
San Leandro police believe that Myles may be with his birth mother, Michelle Oliverez, who has been trying to reunite with him since their separation.
Michelle Oliverez does not have a known address, but is known to frequent the East Bay cities of Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland, according to police.
There are no indications of foul play at this time, police said.
Myles is described as a black male, standing 4 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds, with black hair and black eyes.
He was last seen wearing a black sweater, a blue shirt, and black sweatpants.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to contact police at (510) 577-3230 or may do so anonymously at (510) 577-3278.
Missing Oakland Couple in Peru Located Alive and Well
An Oakland couple reported missing in Peru posted messages on their Facebook pages Wednesday afternoon confirming that they are alive and well.
The messages from Garrett Hand, 25, and his girlfriend, Jamie Neal, 27, were posted around 3:30 p.m., a few hours after a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, confirmed that the pair had been located "safe and sound."
In his online message Wednesday, Hand wrote simply, "I am alive."
On her Facebook page, Neal apologized for worrying family and friends Wednesday afternoon and said, "We've been traveling though the Amazon and the villages do not have electricity let alone the Internet or phones. We are now stuck on a military base in Pantoja, Peru...and everyone is interviewing us and taking photos...saying that we are now famous in Peru."
The social media postings are the first signs of life in over a month from the couple, who left on a South American bicycle trip in late November.
When frequent online postings, bank account activity and other communication from the pair stopped abruptly a month ago, the couple's families became worried and contacted authorities, said Hand's sister, Concord resident Larkin McGowan.
Also alarming was a travel warning issued by the U.S. Embassy on Feb. 13 of the threat of a criminal group that may have been planning to kidnap Americans in the Cusco area, where the missing pair last posted online updates.
Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the embassy in Lima issued a statement saying that the couple "reported missing by their families in Peru" had been found.
The message also thanked the Peruvian National Police and government for the "tremendous efforts" taken to locate the pair, but did not elaborate further.
In her own online statement Tuesday afternoon, Hand's mother, Francine Fitzgerald, said she had heard from Peruvian authorities that the pair had been spotted in a remote village in the Amazon, but still needed more information.
Fitzgerald is set to hold a news conference in Concord Wednesday evening to give an update on Hand and his girlfriend's whereabouts, McGowan said.
"While I appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the media, the U.S. and Peruvian governments, until I hear from and see my son directly, we will not stop," she wrote.
Family members said that Hand, a commercial fisherman, and Neal, who works at the Pedaler Bike Shop in El Sobrante, are both well-traveled, avid bicyclists.
By Wednesday afternoon, the local bike shop had raised $4,000 toward a reward for the couple's safe return, an employee said.
Oakland to hold First Friday Event Despite Shooting Last Month
Oakland leaders plan to go ahead with another First Friday event later this week despite concerns that were raised by a shooting at the last popular downtown monthly event on Feb. 1 that left one person dead and three others wounded.
Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who represents the Uptown district where the event has occurred for about six years, said Wednesday that there was "a robust discussion" about suspending the monthly gatherings but ultimately it was decided to continue them, although on a smaller scale.
"There's a sense of taking it back to its roots" and focusing on the arts and art vendors who are showcasing their wares, McElhaney said.
She said that even before city officials decided to downsize the event a bit they expected the crowd this Friday to be smaller than previous events because of safety concerns following the shooting at the last event.
First Friday, which draws crowds of up to 20,000 people to the Uptown district the first Friday of every month, is an offshoot of Art Murmur, a gallery walk that occurs earlier on the same night.
McElhaney said the decision to continue the events but on a smaller scale was made by consensus after she and Mayor Jean Quan organized a series of meetings that included members of the Oakland First Fridays, community, Art Murmur organizers, local residents and neighborhood business owners.
Quan said in a statement that the meetings resulted in a working relationship "that preserves the organic, community-grown spirit of Oakland First Fridays while tackling a collective responsibility to keep everyone safe at this growing Oakland mainstay."
Quan said, "They are treasured locally-grown events, a social and creative engine and a big reason why Oakland was recently named among the 12 best 'art places' in the country."
But the feel-good atmosphere at the event was shattered when 18-year-old Kiante Campbell of Oakland was fatally shot in the 2000 block of Telegraph Avenue at about 10:50 p.m. on Feb. 1, shortly after that evening's First Friday event had ended.
Quan said the event this Friday will end at 9 p.m., one hour earlier than normal, and its footprint will be shortened so that it only takes place along Telegraph Avenue from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street. Previous events extended all the way to 16th Street.
Quan also said public drinking of alcohol won't be allowed and art galleries within the immediate vicinity also will suspend alcohol service on Friday.
The mayor said the programming and performances on Friday "will be united around themes of unity, diversity, healing and peace" and there will be two long moments of silence.
McElhaney said what she described as the "unregulated consumption of alcohol on the street" has been a problem at recent First Friday events.
She said the drinking has been "a unanimous concern of all groups" involved in the recent series of meetings because it has "changed the climate of the event significantly."
McElhaney said the event this Friday "is really dedicated to peace and Kiante Campbell and all victims of homicide."
She said she hopes it will "celebrate the best of what we are and show that we are grappling with gun-related violence."
Residents and Offical Gather to Celebrate Launch of Free Muni Rides for Youth
Students, parents and school and city officials gathered in San Francisco Wednesday to celebrate the launch on Friday of a pilot program to provide free Municipal Railway rides for youth.
The 16-month Free Muni for Youth program will allow low- and moderate-income youth between 5 and 17 years old to ride Muni with a valid Clipper card. More than 20,000 children have already signed up and organizers who held a rally Wednesday afternoon outside of Everett Middle School encouraged others to register as the program is set to start.
"Transportation is a right that everyone should be able to enjoy," said Paul Monge-Rodriguez, a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's board of directors in December approved $1.6 million for the program as part of a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
The SFMTA and the San Francisco Unified School District also contributed additional funding.
"We had a hard decision to make," said SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin.
"The Muni system has a lot of needs," Reiskin said. "But while our system has needs, our community has needs too."
The cost of a Muni youth pass had gone up from $10 to $22 since 2009, while the school district had reduced its bus service by 43 percent since 2011 because of state budget cuts.
The program had support from some members of the city's Board of Supervisors, most notably Supervisor David Campos.
"We're investing in the future generation of riders," Campos said at Wednesday's rally.
"We have to make it so families can afford to live in San Francisco," he said.
The program is important for parents like Donaji Lona, who has two children that go to public schools in the city, one at Everett Middle School and the other at Mission High School.
"I think it's huge," Lona said. "Imagine being worried to not have enough money to send our sons and daughters to school."
For information on eligibility and how to sign up for the program, people can go online at www.sfmta.com/freemuni4youth.
Muni will provide a 30-day grace period for enforcement to educate new users on how to use a Clipper card.
Body Found at Pleasanton Garbage Site Indicates Accidental Death
The initial evidence indicates that the death of a man whose body was found at a garbage site in Pleasanton on Tuesday was an accident, police said Wednesday.
Sgt. Maria Munayer said police recovered the body of an adult male after they received a call from an employee at the Pleasanton Transfer Station at about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday reporting that a body had been found among some cardboard recyclables.
Munayer said the cause of the man's death hasn't yet been determined but initial autopsy results have shown no sign of trauma.
"The evidence is leaning toward it being an accident," Munayer said.
She said authorities have identified the man but aren't yet releasing his name because they haven't been able to reach his family members to notify them.
Pleasanton police said anyone with information about the man or his death should call them at (925) 931-5100.
Man Wanted for Prunedale Taco Bell Murder was Arrested trying to Enter Arizonia
A man wanted since 2004 for a murder at a Prunedale Taco Bell was arrested while attempting to enter Arizona from Mexico on Tuesday, the Monterey County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
Raul M. Sandoval Jr., 26, had a warrant for his arrest in connection with the Dec. 12, 2004, fatal stabbing of Brenden Tsukimura, 18, during an attempted robbery at the Taco Bell in the Prunedale Shopping Center at 17533 Vierra Canyon Road.
Two men were already convicted in the case, what prosecutors said was a botched robbery that led to the death of Tsukimura, an employee at the restaurant.
Prosecutors said the three men entered the Taco Bell and one, Gabriel Alcaraz, confronted the night manager with a shotgun.
The manager pushed Alcaraz away and locked himself in the office to call police.
Another suspect, Cain Beltran, actually killed Tsukimura when he took him to a refrigeration unit out of witnesses' view and stabbed him to death.
Beltran was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of first-degree murder in 2005, and Alcaraz was sentenced to 25 years in 2006 for voluntary manslaughter, attempted robbery, burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.
Investigators also suspected that Sandoval was involved in the robbery and murder, and said that he fled the Monterey County area in the days after the incident.
He was featured twice on America's Most Wanted and was listed on its website, but eluded authorities, including the U.S. Marshals Office, until his capture Tuesday.
Sandoval was found trying to cross the border from Mexico in San Luis, Ariz., at about 11:30 a.m. and was arrested.
Investigators from Monterey County have flown to Arizona to follow up on his arrest, sheriff's officials said.
Woman Injured in East Oakland House Fire
A passing driver stopped a woman from re-entering her burning East Oakland home while she waited for firefighters to arrive Wednesday evening, fire officials said.
She was later hospitalized for smoke inhalation as firefighters worked to extinguish a fully-involved fire at her home at 4916 Daisy St., next to Interstate Highway 580 and Mills College, Battalion Chief Emon Usher said.
The fire in the two-story single-family home was first reported at 5:26 p.m. and was under control at 5:51 p.m.
There was heavy damage, totaling between $200,000 and $300,000 worth of damage to the home and its contents, Usher estimated.
The woman, in her late 60s, first exited the home but tried to go back inside just as the fire was growing.
A passing motorist stopped and prevented her from re-entering the home.
Usher said she might have been trying to go back inside to try and put out the fire, which started when she accidentally set a blanket on fire, possibly while smoking.
She was later transported by ambulance to a hospital because she was having difficulty breathing.
The woman lives there with one other person, who was not home at the time of the fire.
The Red Cross is assisting that person with temporary housing.
Rohnert Park Police Arrest Montana Man For Lewd acts on 15 -Year-Old Girl
Rohnert Park police arrested a Montana man Tuesday on suspicion of committing a lewd act with a 15-year-old girl in the backseat of a vehicle at Sunrise Park, a police sergeant said.
Motorcycle officer Ryan Foiles saw a suspicious vehicle parked in Sunrise Park at the corner of Snyder Lane and Rohnert Park Expressway around 12:30 p.m., Sgt. Joe Ferronato said.
Foiles found 35-year-old Jonathon Wayne Smith in the backseat with the girl, Ferronato said.
Another 15-year-old girl was also in the car but left before Foiles arrived, Ferronato said.
Smith met the two Rohnert Park girls the previous weekend at a local shopping mall and was communicating with them by cell phone since, Ferronato said.
He arranged to meet them Tuesday and picked them up at the University Square Shopping Plaza at 1451 Southwest Blvd., Ferronato said.
Smith took the girls to two motels but was unable to get a room, so he drove to Sunrise Park, Ferronato said.
He was arrested for committing a lewd and lascivious act and having unlawful sex with a minor.
He is being held in the Sonoma County jail under $30,000 bail and is to be arraigned in Sonoma County Superior Court this afternoon.
The girls' parents were not aware their daughters arranged to meet Smith, who is not a registered sex offender, Ferronato said.
Walnut Creek Man Arrested for Sending Inappropriate Text to Middle School Students
A Walnut Creek man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sending inappropriate text messages to middle school students, a police lieutenant said.
Ariel Romero Ortigoza, 29, was arrested at Walnut Creek home Wednesday on suspicion of sending harmful matter to a minor with the intention to seduce, contact with a minor with the intent to commit a sex act and attempting to meet a minor to engage in lewd and lascivious conduct, police Lt. Steve Gorski said. On Sunday, parents of Walnut Creek Intermediate School students reported that an unknown man was sending lewd social media messages to their daughters, police said.
The parents reported that the man was also trying to arrange meetings with the underage girls to engage in sexual activity, according to police.
Working with middle school administrators, detectives were able to identify other students who received messages from the suspect.
Gorski said about ten students received inappropriate messages from Ortigoza.
After identifying the suspect, police obtained a search warrant, which was served Wednesday.
In addition to arresting Ortigoza, police also seized evidence in connection with the alleged sex crimes.
Police said the 29-year-old was taken to county jail in Martinez, where he is being held on $65,000 bail.
Gorski said it is unclear why the suspect targeted the middle school, but that he was not employed there.
Anyone with further information about the suspect is asked to call Walnut Creek police Detective Keagy at (925) 953-5881.
Bay Area Weather February 28
Partly cloudy skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.
Highs are likely to be in the lower 60s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph by the afternoon.
Mostly clear skies are expected this evening.
Lows are likely to be in the upper 40s,with winds up to 10 mph. Sunny skies are likely Friday morning.
Highs are expected to be in the mid 60s, with winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.
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