San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Oakland: Update: Five Suspects Arrested in FBI and Police Raid on Gang

A massive raid in which about 300 law enforcement officers targeted a gang operating out of the Acorn housing project in West Oakland resulted in the arrest of five suspects on gun and drug charges, Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said Thursday.

The arrest of four adults and one juvenile occurred in Oakland, Antioch, Hayward and San Leandro Wednesday night and early Thursday, Jordan said.

He said police also seized four firearms and a large amount of narcotics, including crack cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

The arrests stemmed from a longstanding joint investigation by the Oakland Police Department and the FBI, Jordan said.

Oakland police Lt. Tony Jones said 150 FBI agents, 120 Oakland police officers and several dozen officers from San Leandro, Hayward and Antioch served 16 narcotics and weapons warrants.

Jones said officers were hoping to arrest more suspects and seize more military-style weapons but some of the people they were looking for at the Acorn complex, which is between Seventh and 10th streets near Adeline Street, saw officers coming and were able to get away.

"They could see us coming and it was difficult for us to get upstairs to get everyone we wanted," Jones said.

He vowed, however, that the investigation will continue and "more arrests are coming."

Jones said the raid targeted the Acorn gang, which he said is a long-standing group that has been involved in many shootings and other acts of violence, both in West Oakland near its turf and across town in East Oakland.

Jones said authorities want to get the gang under control because people who live in and near the Acorn project "are afraid to go outside and walk in their neighborhood."

The Acorn gang has been the target of other law enforcement actions in the past, including a massive raid called "Operation Nutcrackers" that was carried out on June 17, 2008, by 400 officers from 17 different law enforcement agencies at 34 locations and resulted in the arrest of 54 suspects.

Oakland police Capt. Ersie Joyner said at that time that it would be "very difficult, if not impossible, for the gang to regain its former power in the wake of the raid.

Jones admitted Thursday that it's been "a challenge" to keep the Acorn gang under control over the years but he added, "We have to be vigilant and stay on top of gangs."

Jones said the Acorn gang "hasn't always been a problem" and there have been periods when there haven't been many shootings in the area surrounding the housing project. 

Mountain View: Solar Plane Pilot Marvels at 'Gorgeous' View of Bay Area

Inside an enormous concave hangar built in the 1930s to house dirigibles at Moffett Field Wednesday, two Swiss pilots stood by the solar-powered plane one of them flew Tuesday over the Bay Area.

"It was so gorgeous with the city just on the water," said Bertrand Piccard, who piloted the four-engine, super-light plane during the 15-hour flight.

"The bay is alive. It's a beautiful region."

"It is very symbolic," said Andre Borschberg, pilot and co-founder of Switzerland-based Solar Impulse.

"It is the heart of the world technology, and Moffett Field has attracted the tech companies from the beginning."

During the flight that stretched west into the Pacific Ocean toward the Fallon Islands, Piccard, 55, controlled the model HB-SIA plane while Borschberg, 60, followed as a passenger in a helicopter to take photos and videos of the flight.

Both men have traded piloting the plane, and each has their own taste in food while on board, with Borschberg favoring sweets and Piccard sandwiches.

"I put out the bread, I take out the pâté," Piccard said.

"I have a Swiss army knife to spread the pâté." Borschberg marveled at how the Bay Area's air traffic controllers kept the air clear in a sky crowded with aircraft for the solar plane, which runs at a top speed of only 47 mph.

"They were so helpful and so flexible," Borschberg said.

"It's not easy for an aircraft like this to be in the air traffic."

"All of this was managed like an orchestra," Piccard said."They were so cooperative."

The single-seat plane, with a wingspan the size of a jumbo jet at 208 feet, is powered by 12,000 solar cells that send electricity into lithium polymer batteries that run four 10-horsepower engines.

A key aspect of the craft is its low weight, which at 3,500 pounds is about that of an average automobile thanks mainly to a building material known as carbon fiber, a substance as light as balsa wood.

With its solar panels taking in sunlight during the day and electricity stored in its batteries, the plane is capable of continuous flight and only lands because the pilot needs rest, Solar Impulse spokeswoman Alenka Zibetto said.

But the plane's engines are quite vulnerable and can break down due to wind, rain, fog and clouds and so must fly only in clear weather, requiring constant forecasting prior to takeoffs, Zibetto said. 

Oakland: Police Chief Comforts Boy Who Saw His Mother Fatally Shot

Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said Thursday that he tried to comfort a 4-year-old boy who saw his mother fatally shot in North Oakland Wednesday night.

Jordan said the shooting near the corner of 54th Street and Shattuck Avenue at about 8:43 p.m. was "very tragic."

He said he fears that, "For a 4-year-old boy to witness a shooting like this will be a memory in his mind for a long time. I don't know how he'll recover."

Police said the mother was from San Leandro but didn't release her name or age.

Jordan said police know why the woman was in the North Oakland neighborhood, which is near Children's Hospital Oakland, but don't want to release that information at this time.

He said police haven't arrested anyone in connection with the shooting but will release a description of the suspect and the suspect's vehicle later Thursday.

Shootings in that area are "very unusual" and witnesses have been "cooperative" with police because they're concerned about the incident, Jordan said.

A second woman was with the woman who was fatally shot and sought medical treatment, Jordan said.

He didn't elaborate on the second woman's injuries except to say that she wasn't hit by gunfire.

Jordan said he went to the shooting scene because he was working late to help oversee a major operation in which police and FBI agents served warrants at the Acorn housing complex in West Oakland.

He said when he first saw the 4-year-old boy, whose first name is Joshua, he was sitting in a patrol car and playing with an officer's flashlight.

Jordan said he gave the boy a police sticker and swore him in as a junior police officer.

Another officer later took the boy to a nearby McDonald's restaurant to get some food, he said.

Jordan said the shooting of the woman in front of her young boy is "very personal" for him because he has young children himself.

The boy is now with other family members, he said. 

Petaluma: Groundbreaking Today on Old Redwood Highway-U.S. Highway 101 Interchange

Caltrans broke ground Thursday afternoon on the U.S. Highway 101 Old Redwood Highway Interchange Improvement Project.

The $41 million project includes reconstructing the Highway 101 interchange in Petaluma, including all ramps, upgrading Old Redwood Highway and Petaluma Boulevard North and providing sound walls.

It also will include a bicycle path and pedestrian crosswalk in each direction, Caltrans spokesman Allyn Amsk said.

The on- and off-ramps at the Old Redwood Highway interchange will be widened from one lane to two and ramp metering will be installed.

The project is being financed with money from Petaluma, Sonoma County Measure M tax revenue and state proposition 1B, Amsk said.

The interchange improvement project will be completed by the summer of 2015. During construction, northbound and southbound traffic will be diverted onto Old Redwood Highway, North McDowell Boulevard and Redwood Way. 

Martinez: Fugitive Accused of 2009 Slaying in Richmond Arrested, Charged With Murder

A man accused of killing his neighbor in Richmond in 2009 and evading arrest since that time has been captured and charged with murder, authorities said Thursday.

Demaurier Bullard, 26, was charged with murder in Contra Costa County Superior Court earlier this week, more than four years after police say he killed 29-year-old Latoy Stevens, according to court documents.

Richmond police Detective Nicole Abetkov said Bullard is suspected of killing Stevens on March 17, 2009, after an argument over the victim playing loud music.

Bullard allegedly went to Stevens's girlfriend's home and shot him in the neck in front of her, Abetkov said.

Officers were called to the home in the 500 block of Sixth Street around 11 p.m. that night, according to police.

Police said Stevens was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses at the time told investigators they heard people arguing just before hearing the gunshots, according to police.

Police quickly identified Bullard as the suspect and obtained a $1 million warrant for his arrest, but he was nowhere to be found, Abetkov said.

It wasn't until last week that the Bullard was arrested in unincorporated Sacramento County after the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department received a tip that he was living in the area, she said.

He was transported to a Contra Costa County jail earlier this week and is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on April 30.

SF: Update: State Bar Judge to Recommend Penalty for Attorney Who Smuggled Documents for Murder Defendent

The State Bar Court disciplinary trial of an East Bay lawyer who admitted to smuggling documents out of a client's jail cell was completed in San Francisco Thursday amid competing pleas for her disbarment or for a six-month suspension.

State Bar prosecutor Robin Brune asked State Bar Hearing Judge Patrice McElroy to recommend revocation of the law license of Lorna Brown, 67, of Berkeley.

"This is a huge issue of public protection and public harm," Brune argued at the close of three days of testimony in the trial.

Brown formerly represented Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, 27, of Oakland, who was convicted in 2011 of three counts of murder for ordering the 2007 executions of investigative journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men.

Brown has admitted to two State Bar charges that she smuggled documents out of Bey's cell at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on March 8, 2010, and lied to investigators in an interview a month later.

The purpose of the trial has been to determine what penalty Brown should be given.

McElroy will prepare a written recommendation for the California Supreme Court, which has the final say, sometime after receiving final briefs on Monday.

The smuggled papers included a sealed greeting card for Bey's common-law wife, Tiffany Wade, that turned out to contain instructions for destroying evidence.

The materials also contained interview transcripts for three key prosecution witnesses.

Bar prosecutors contend the transcripts were annotated in Bey's handwriting with instructions to a Bey lieutenant, Gary Popoff, to intimidate or eliminate the witnesses.

Brown has testified that she thought the sealed greeting card was a message of reconciliation and that she didn't know about the alleged handwritten instructions.

Her attorney, Vicki Young, asked McElroy to recommend a six-month suspension, arguing that Brown's actions were "misdemeanor conduct" and that she had no previous ethical violations and is remorseful.

"She made a grievous mistake. She has indicated by her testimony and her demeanor that she'll regret that decision for the rest of her life," Young said during her closing argument.

During her testimony Thursday, Brown acknowledged in answer to a question from Young that she had sent the State Bar a letter of resignation.

Bar spokeswoman Laura Ernde confirmed that the letter was dated Nov. 7, 2010, and was sent to the bar.

It has been presented as an evidence exhibit in the current disciplinary proceeding, Ernde said.

But Ernde said that under California court rules, a lawyer who wants to resign during a State Bar disciplinary investigation or trial can do so only by submitting an application to the State Bar Court and receiving permission from the California Supreme Court to resign.

Ernde said Brown did not take the step of filing such an application with the State Bar Court. 

Santa Clara: Police Arrest Man After Lengthy Standoff Wednesday Night

Police in Santa Clara arrested a man Wednesday night after a two-and-a-half hour standoff, a lieutenant said Thursday.

Officers responded to reports of shots fired in the 3300 block of Lochinvar Avenue at about 7 p.m., Lt. Kurt Clarke said.

When officers arrived, they set up a perimeter around an apartment, Clarke said.

The suspect, identified as 50-year-old James Skowronski, had allegedly locked himself in an apartment unit that he had recently been evicted from, Clarke said.

Skowronski gave himself up around 9:30 p.m., the lieutenant said.

Clarke said officers found no evidence that any shots were fired.

"No gun was found, and no shell casings from any bullets fired were located at the scene," he said.

Officers arrested Skowronski on suspicion of trespassing and resisting arrest, Clarke said.

No one was injured in the standoff. 

SJ: Police Announce New Goals, Including Expanded Use of Social Media, Gang Suppression

The San Jose Police Department Thursday announced a new series of goals, including expanding its use of social media and technology to provide better service, increase gang enforcement and retain officers while reducing crime.

The department, in the wake of losing about 300 officers to layoffs and early retirement over the past two years, decided to "simplify its mission" to meet concerns expressed by the public and its own officers, police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

"We developed a new direction," Dwyer said at a news conference at police headquarters at 201 W. Mission St. in San Jose.

"We are not going to stay adrift."

Much of the new efforts center on using social media to communicate with the public about reporting and preventing crimes in neighborhoods, Dwyer said.

Acting Police Chief Larry Esquivel, who recently began sending messages on Twitter while riding with patrol officers, on Wednesday logged into Nextdoor, a San Francisco-based online chat room which has partnered with the department, Dwyer said.

Nextdoor permits city residents to join a chatroom open only to people with a confirmed address in their neighborhood and use it to communicate directly with the chief, Dwyer said.

So far, about 318 neighborhoods in San Jose are members of Nextdoor, a kind of private social network started in October 2011 and used in 11,000 neighborhoods in all 50 states, Nextdoor spokeswoman Kelsey Grady said.

About 20 percent of the content written by Nextdoor users is about crime issues, the other 80 percent about events, recommendations and classified ads exchanged among neighbors, Kelsey said.

Another new service by San Jose police, CityConnect, is an app for Apple smart phones for access to online police services and news from police captains in local divisions about crime-related issues and what patrol officers are doing on their streets, Dwyer said.

Among the major new priorities for the department is to "strengthen trust" within communities through professional conduct by officers and showing empathy for residents to "create positive interaction," Dwyer said.

The department also intends to take a more "proactive" role in reducing crime with a sharper focus on combating property crimes such as auto thefts and burglaries, Dwyer said.

Violent crimes last year increased by 10 percent and property crime 27 percent and "we are not used to seeing those numbers in San Jose," Dwyer said.

Other top goals include instituting a more positive work environment for the department's 1,000-officer force with new training programs, providing mentors for young officers and placing officers in temporary leadership roles, he said. 

SF: 27-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot While Sitting in Car in Bayview

A 27-year-old man who was fatally shot while sitting in a car in San Francisco's Bayview District on Wednesday afternoon has been identified as a Rodeo resident.

Dixon Trivon, identified by the San Francisco medical examiner's office, was shot in the first block of Whitney Young Circle, near Hudson Avenue, around 3:40 p.m., police said.

A black car pulled up to Trivon's vehicle and a passenger got out and opened fire, police said.

The suspects then fled in the car, heading east on Whitney Young Circle, according to police.

They remained at large as of Thursday afternoon.

Responding officers attempted life-saving measures on Trivon until medics arrived and transported him to San Francisco General Hospital, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

He later died at the hospital. 

Oakland: Oscar Grant's Cousin Gets Nearly 16 Years for Robbery Conviction

A cousin of Oscar Grant III was sentenced Thursday to nearly 16 years in state prison for his conviction for robbery, using a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm for an incident in East Oakland a year ago.

In sentencing Tony Jones, 25, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright scolded him for what she described as his "complete lack of respect for the community and women."

Cartwright was responding to remarks by prosecutor Allyson Donovan, who said Jones uttered profanities to her after jurors convicted him on Jan. 31 and threatened to have sex with a female courthouse security officer he encountered during his trial.

Donovan said Jones should get the maximum sentence possible because "he's a menace to society and would be a menace on the streets" because he threatened to kill a witness in the case as well as a bailiff and the bailiff's family.

Jones, who had two prior robbery convictions as well as two convictions for assaulting correctional officers, was convicting of robbing a man at gunpoint outside the Fairfax Liquor Store at Foothill Boulevard and Cole Street at about 11 p.m. on Feb. 19, 2012.

Donovan said Jones had an accomplice who has never been arrested.

A short time later Jones was shot and wounded by Oakland police Officer Cesar Garcia in the 2000 block of 62nd Avenue.

Donovan said Garcia had stopped a van in which Jones and the other suspect were traveling and Garcia shot Jones because Jones ran from the van with a gun in his hand and later made a move which the officer believed indicated that Jones was reaching for the gun.

Jones has filed a $10 million civil rights lawsuit against Garcia and the city of Oakland alleging that they violated his constitutional protections against unlawful detention, unlawful arrest and the use of unreasonable force.

The suit alleges that Garcia shot Jones in the back and accuses the officer of assault and battery and false imprisonment.

Jones' lawsuit was put on hold pending the outcome of his criminal trial.

Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, was shot and killed by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland early on Jan. 1, 2009, after Mehserle and other officers responded to reports of a fight on a train.

Mehserle, who claimed that he meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant and fired his service weapon by mistake, was charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Jones is the son of the sister of Grant's father, according to Oakland attorney John Burris, who represented Grant's family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Mehserle and BART. 

SF: Update: Man Killed by Samtrans Bus in Outer Mission Identified

A man who was fatally struck by a SamTrans bus in San Francisco's Outer Mission neighborhood earlier this week has been identified as Eugenio Mallari, according to the San Francisco medical examiner's office.

Mallari was hit when he stepped onto Mission Street near Valencia Street, just south of Cesar Chavez Street around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police.

Police said he was 50 years old, however the medical examiner's office could not confirm his age nor city of residence.

SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn said that at the time of the collision, the SamTrans Route 391 bus was traveling south, heading from the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to the Redwood City Caltrain station.

Mallari was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for head and torso injuries, police said.

Dunn said Mallari later succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the bus involved in the incident has been removed from duty and tested for drugs and alcohol, as is standard procedure, Dunn said.

Police are continuing to investigate the accident. 

Weather Forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely this evening.

Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected Saturday morning.

Highs are likely to be in the lower to mid 60s, with southwest winds up to 15 mph.

 

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