Friday Midday News Roundup

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San Francisco Fire Department to Help Battle Growing Rim Fire

A strike team from the San Francisco Fire Department is preparing to head to the Yosemite area today to help battle the expanding Rim Fire.

The fire has crossed into Yosemite National Park as of this morning since it started Saturday at nearby Stanislaus National Forest, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

The blaze has charred more 105,000 acres -- nearly doubling in size since Thursday night.

Sixteen structures have been destroyed and 4,500 other structures are threatened.

Road closures are in effect, including a shutdown of state Highway 120 that leads into Yosemite, and evacuations have been ordered at nearby communities.

Among the many Bay Area fire crews dispatched to the area, 22 San Francisco Fire Department members are heading to the blaze today, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

Five engines will be leaving this afternoon from 19th and Folsom streets.

A full strike team was requested and includes a team leader and an assistant leader, Talmadge said.

Other San Francisco fire officials and an engine crew arrived at the Rim Fire Wednesday night, she said.

Earlier this week, fire crews were dispatched to Tuolumne County to help monitor San Francisco resources such as powerhouses and other water supply and hydroelectrical equipment.

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is located in Yosemite National Park and supplies water to millions of Bay Area residents and business.

There have been no reports of ash or other issues with the water supply and delivery system because of the fire, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials said.

The fire was last reported to be 12 miles downstream from the reservoir, SFPUC officials said.

Some electrical power equipment has been shut down because it is in the fire zone, but power is still being generated at one running turbine, officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

It was only 2 percent contained with more than 2,000 firefighters responding as of late this morning, according to the forest service.

A community meeting with fire crews -- led by the forest service and Cal Fire -- will be held at 7 p.m. at Tenaya Elementary School in Groveland.

Fire personnel will give updates on the fire and plans for handling the growing blaze.

 Child Pornography Charges Filed Against Former Santa Cruz Surf Instructor

Prosecutors in Santa Cruz County have filed 28 criminal charges against a former surfing instructor in a child sex abuse and pornography case that police believe involves "hundreds" of victims.

Dylan Greiner, 38, who taught children how to surf at three Santa Cruz schools, was being held on $1 million bail after his arraignment on the charges Wednesday, according to Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Michael Gilman.

The case against Greiner includes four felony charges of lewd and lascivious behavior on a minor 14 or 15 years old for his alleged touching of children, Gilman said.

The surfing teacher is also charged with five felony counts of possessing child pornography, 11 felony counts of using a minor to create child pornography, one felony count of distributing lewd material to a minor and two felony counts of duplicating child pornography, Gilman said.

The other five counts, all misdemeanors, involve invasion of privacy with a camcorder or other device, stemming from Greiner's alleged use of a video camera to film children under 18 who were nude in a changing, fitting or other room, Gilman said.

Greiner, who was at the hearing Wednesday in Santa Cruz County Superior Court with his attorney Dustin Gordon, did not enter a plea and his arraignment was continued to Sept. 10, Gilman said.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said investigators believe that the Greiner case involves "hundreds" of juvenile victims, including girls whose crotch areas were photographed and might amount to felony child pornography.

The department is receiving 15 to 20 calls a day from people concerned that their child may have been one of those photographed by Greiner, Clark said.

In addition to teaching children at the Santa Cruz Surf School at 131 Center St. that the teacher himself owned, Greiner also taught surfing at the Boys and Girls Club and the Seahorse Swim School, both in Santa Cruz.

Clark announced Thursday that police learned Greiner allegedly took inappropriate photos of kids at the Boys and Girls Club and that detectives uncovered an enormous trove of more than 500,000 photos and videos from Greiner's computers.

Greiner used a video camera and a still camera with a zoom lens to take digital images, Clark said.

Police are still trying to identify many young girls who were alleged victims of Greiner in his photos and videos, the deputy chief said.

The department has received more than 100 phone calls and emails from parents in California and across the country inquiring about their children, according to Clark.

Some people made annual trips to Santa Cruz in order for their family members to take surfing lessons from Greiner, Clark said.

Photos and videos found at Greiner's home focused on girls' breasts, buttocks and genitalia and some images were of girls as young as 8 years old at the beach, police said.

Concerned parents and potential victims may contact Santa Cruz police detectives at (831) 420-5820 or

Foster City Man Fatally Struck on Highway 101

A man who was fatally struck on northbound U.S. Highway 101 in San Mateo late Thursday night has been identified by the San Mateo County coroner's office as 37-year-old Foster City resident Lufti Mukhar.

Mukhar was found by CHP officers who responded at 11:37 p.m. to a report of a person in the roadway on northbound Highway 101 near state Highway 92.

The officers found a male victim in the roadway, later identified as Mukhar, who was apparently struck by several vehicles, CHP officials said.

Traffic was diverted off Highway 101 to Highway 92 and East Hillsdale Boulevard during the investigation into the death. All lanes of traffic reopened shortly before 2:10 a.m., according to the CHP.

The details surrounding Mukhar's death remain under investigation, according to the CHP.

Motorcyclist Killed in Solo Crash

A Suisun City man was killed in a solo crash on his motorcycle near Interstate Highway 580 in Richmond on Thursday afternoon, according to a Contra Costa County deputy coroner.

Kristofer Jauron, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene following a crash reported around 3:25 p.m. near the eastbound Highway 580 on-ramp at Castro Street, authorities said.

Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said it appeared that Jauron suffered a medical issue that caused him to lose consciousness and crash his motorcycle.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Jauron was in a crash earlier Thursday near Stinson Beach and decided to ride home despite not feeling well.

While going through , he veered to the right and slumped over the motorcycle's handlebars before crashing, CHP officials said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which remains under
investigation by the CHP.

Man Arrested in Fatal Oakland Shooting

A man has been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting in Oakland last weekend, police said today.

Rasheed Strane, 23, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly killing 39-year-old Rebecca Viera and injuring another victim in a shooting that occurred at about 9:40 p.m. last Saturday in the 7200 block of MacArthur Boulevard, according to police.

Viera, an Oakland resident, was pronounced dead at the scene while the other victim, a male, is expected to survive.

A 4-year-old boy also suffered minor injuries from glass debris caused by the shooting, police said.

Strane, a wanted suspect, was arrested shortly before 12:50 a.m.

Wednesday after he was spotted walking in East Oakland by patrol officers,
according to police.


Jugde Orders Life in Napa State Hospital for Fremont Man

A judge today ordered that a Fremont man with a history of mental illness who pleaded guilty to murdering a pedestrian with his SUV in Fremont in 2006 be placed at Napa State Hospital, potentially for the rest of his life.

Omeed Popal, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on July 15 for using his black Honda Pilot to strike and kill 54-year-old Stephen Jay Wilson as he walked on Fremont Boulevard south of Ferry Lane in Fremont late on the morning of Aug. 29, 2006.

However, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon then ruled that Popal would not face any prison time because he found that Popal was not guilty because he was insane at the time of the killing.

Reardon based his July 15 ruling on reports by four psychiatrists who concluded that he suffered from significant mental health issues before the killing and was not sane at the time of the incident.

Reardon said today that he agrees with a report that Napa State Hospital is the appropriate place for Popal to be housed and receive treatment for his mental illness.

Prosecutor Tim Wellman said the recommendation that Popal be placed in Napa "was what I expected."

Wellman said Popal already has been at the Napa hospital for a long time because he was placed there after a San Francisco judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity for targeting and striking pedestrians in San Francisco with his car shortly after he killed Wilson.

Popal hit more than a dozen San Francisco pedestrians and one victim was so badly injured that she is now a quadriplegic.

Before he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Popal faced a slew of charges filed by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, including 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Popal's attorney, Tony Cheng, said Popal likely will spend the rest of his life at the Napa institution unless doctors determine at some future time that he has been restored to sanity.

Cheng said finding Popal not guilty be reason of insanity and placing him in Napa was "the right thing to do given the expert's reports and the fact that he has suffered from a lengthy and well-documented history of mental illness."

Cheng said Popal suffers from both a bipolar disorder and paranoid

Vallejo Man Shot Twice in Chest

A 21-year-old Vallejo man was shot at least twice in the chest as he sat in his car in Marin City on Thursday night, a Marin County sheriff's lieutenant said.

The victim was taken to Marin General Hospital where he underwent surgery, Lt. Jamie Scardina said.

The shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. in a parking lot in the 200 block of Drake Avenue. There were 20 to 30 people in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, Scardina said.

The suspect is a black male, 5 feet 9 inches tall with a slim build who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, Scardina said.

The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information to call (415) 479-2311 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.


Man Shot in Bayview District

A man was shot in the back in San Francisco's Bayview District on Thursday night, a police spokesman said today.

The shooting was reported around 10:50 p.m. near Revere Avenue and Hawes Street.

The 22-year-old victim was shot while walking back to his SUV, which was parked in the area and had a passenger inside, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said.

The passenger slid over to the driver's seat and drove the victim to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which were not considered life-threatening, Shyy said.

The victim's SUV was also struck multiple times by the gunfire, Shyy said.

No arrests had been made in the shooting and no detailed suspect description was immediately available this morning, according to Shyy.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.


Fairfield Police Searching for Prowler

Fairfield police are looking for a prowler who entered the bedrooms of two homes in late July and last Sunday.

The incidents happened during the early morning hours in the area of Utah Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Sgt. Rob Lenke said.

The residents were asleep but woke up to find the prowler in their bedroom. The suspect left the bedroom when he was confronted by the residents of both homes and calmly walked to the front door of the home, Lenke said.

After the incident on Sunday, the suspect was seen running on Pennsylvania Avenue toward downtown Fairfield, Lenke said.

The suspect is a white or Hispanic man around 20 to 30 years old.

He is approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall with short hair and one witness said he has a "wide build," Lenke said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Derrick Fok at (707) 428-7608, a 24-hour tip line at (707) 428-7345 or Crime Stoppers at (707) 644-7897.

Police advised residents to be cautious in leaving windows open or unlocked in warm weather and to report any suspicious person in their neighborhood.

Burglars Pose as PG&E Workers

Burglars posing as PG&E workers robbed a home in San Carlos on Thursday, according to San Mateo County sheriff's deputies.

At about noon on Thursday a residential burglary was reported in the unit block of Upland Avenue, near Hillcrest Circle Park, deputies said.

According to sheriff's deputies, a suspect posing as a PG&E employee wearing a vest and a hard hat approached the front door of a residence and was granted entry by the victim.

The suspect went to the rear yard claiming that an overhead line was being installed above the backyard, deputies said.

According to deputies, the suspect placed a call to a second suspect who entered the house and took coins and cash from the master bedroom.

Deputies are warning residents to be aware of burglars posing as utility workers.

Earlier this week, two men posing as utility workers robbed a home in Oakland, stealing cash and jewelry from the residence.

San Carlos residents are encouraged to review proper identification prior to allowing an unknown person claiming to be a utility worker into their home, deputies said.

Anyone with concerns about the legitimacy of the employee's identification is encouraged to contact the sheriff's office at (650) 363-4911 or call 911.

Police Release Sketch of Santa Clara Attacker

Police have released a sketch of a man who sexually assaulted a female walking in Santa Clara early Wednesday morning.

The assault was reported around 12:10 a.m. in the area of Franklin and Sherman streets, police said.

An investigation revealed that the female was walking south on Franklin Street near Sherman Street when a man approached and sexually assaulted her, according to police. He then fled the area.

The suspect is described as a white man with a light tan, standing between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds with an athletic build. He was clean-shaven with light brown hazel eyes, a narrow pointed nose, and was wearing his dirty blond hair in a "faux-hawk."

He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, police said.

Anyone with information about the incident or who recognizes the person in the sketch is asked to call Santa Clara police Detective Sgt. Todd Cummins at (408) 615-4815.


Small Lands End Fire Extinguished

A small fire at San Francisco's Lands End has been put out this morning, a San Francisco fire department spokeswoman said.

The fire near Mile Rock Beach, which is close to El Camino Del Mar and 32nd Avenue, was reported around 7:05 a.m., fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The site of the fire was initially difficult to find, but once firefighters arrived they found a small campfire that had spread into nearby trees and brush, Talmadge said.

Crews were able to put out the fire around 9:40 a.m.

National Park Service crews assisted firefighters responding to the blaze.


Mountain Lion Spotted in San Mateo Parking Lot

A mountain lion was spotted in a parking lot Wednesday night in Portola Valley, San Mateo County emergency officials said.

The cat was seen at about 8 p.m. Wednesday in the southwest area of the parking lot at The Sequoias elderly care community, located at 501 Portola Road.

Residents are advised to not approach mountain lions, especially if they are feeding or with offspring.

Anyone who encounters a mountain lion should face it, make loud noises and try to appear large and threatening while throwing rocks or other objects at the cat, emergency officials said.

More information about mountain lions can be found online at

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