San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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Cupertino: Preschool Students Allowed to Go Home After Lockdown

A lockdown at a preschool in Cupertino was lifted by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office shortly after 2 p.m.

Wednesday more than two hours after deputies and Sunnyvale public safety officers began searching for a suspect in the area, a school official said.

The lockdown was launched at about 11:45 a.m. after Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officers pursued a suspect who fled from a car in which officers found evidence tied to a recent home burglary, Sunnyvale Capt.

David Verbrugge said. Sunnyvale police witnessed a traffic violation involving the car in Sunnyvale, stopped the vehicle across the city border in Cupertino and then saw the car's three occupants take off on foot back into Sunnyvale, Verbrugge said.

Two of the suspects were captured, but after the third suspect escaped, sheriff's deputies requested a lockdown at the Good Samaritan Preschool at 19624 Homestead Road in nearby Cupertino so that students "were never in any danger," Verbrugge said.

Sunnyvale police have no reason to believe the third suspect, who is still missing, was armed, and neither of the other two suspects had firearms, Verbrugge said.

At about 2:10 p.m. or 2:15 p.m., a sheriff's deputy informed Good Samaritan administrators they could unlock the school's doors, but not allow students on the playground, said Loretta Wong, the school's director.

The deputy said that it would be a good time to send the children home, so the school contacted the students' parents and the children left for the day, Wong said.

During the lockdown, sheriff's deputies watched the school property from the Cupertino side of the school grounds while Sunnyvale police officers kept an eye on the side that borders Sunnyvale, Wong said.

About 60 children were locked in their classrooms, placed on a rainy-day type of schedule, ate their lunches in class and then took naps in the early afternoon, school assistant director Stacey O'Toole said.

Teachers kept the preschool children unaware of the lockdown, O'Toole said.

The missing suspect is described only as a Hispanic male adult, said Verbrugge, who declined to identify the other suspects in custody.

SF: Mayor Mulls New Ways to Counter Violence in Bayview After Recent Deaths

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Wednesday he is working on strategies to reduce violence in the city's Bayview District after two teens died in the neighborhood last weekend.

Montreal Blakely, 17, died in a shooting on the first block of Osceola Lane at about 10 p.m. Saturday while Jaynice Johnson, 16, was found around 12:45 p.m. Sunday on the sidewalk near Quesada Avenue and Jennings Street and died later at San Francisco General Hospital.

No arrests have been made in the shooting of Blakely while Johnson's mother, 46-year-old Heidi Heidelberg, was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment but had her case discharged by the district attorney's office pending further investigation.

"This past week was horrible," Lee said.

The mayor said he was meeting Wednesday with members of the city's interfaith community and other local leaders to discuss ways to reduce the recent uptick of violence.

Police said there have been 67 homicides so far in 2012 compared to 50 at the same date last year.

Lee earlier this year introduced an Interrupt, Predict, Organize (IPO) strategy for violence reduction via the increased use of crime data and community organization and said Wednesday he was interested in using other tactics, such as keeping libraries open later or creating other safe places for youth to gather.

Lee especially lamented the death of Blakely, a popular student and football player at Concord High School in the East Bay who was in the city visiting friends.

"What's he doing out there at 10 o'clock at night on a street corner that everybody knows is dangerous?" he said.

"We need to make those areas safer, but we need to also find alternatives for youth rather than stand on the corner and be a part of this horrible data that we're seeing in the increase of crime," he said.

Lee said despite murder rates also rising in neighboring big cities like Oakland and San Jose, "I'm not satisfied by simply accepting the fact that everybody's homicides are up."

He said, "Every life is valuable," and added that the recent deaths are "examples of what we could prevent."

Vigils for Blakely and Johnson are scheduled for this morning at the sites where they were found last weekend and are being organized by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which has recently begun honoring the city's homicide victims with the sidewalk prayer services.

Blakely's service is scheduled for 10 a.m. on the first block of Osceola Lane while Johnson's is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. near Quesada Avenue and Jennings Street.

Oakland: Man Convicted of Murdering Two Men in 2010

An Oakland man was convicted Wednesday of two counts of first-degree murder for his role in the shooting deaths of two men in West Oakland in March 2010.

Jurors deliberated for less than one full day before reaching their verdicts against Jason Watts, 27, for the deaths of 29-year-old Victor Johns and 56-year-old John Jones, both of Oakland, who were killed in the 1000 block of 30th Street in Oakland at about 2:35 p.m. on March 5.

Watts was also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which means that he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright sentences him on Feb. 8.

Prosecutors believe that DeShawn Reed, 29, shot both Johns and Jones and Watts drove the car to and from the shooting scene.

Prosecutors say Watts slowed down the car as he and Reed approached the scene and then Reed got out of the car and shot both Johns and Jones before climbing back inside.

Watts and Reed sped from the scene but Oakland police Officer Michael Osanna was on routine patrol in the area and was able to quickly detain them, according to prosecutors.

Reed has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 3 for a progress report on his mental health.

Watts put his head down and then looked back at his family members and friends after the verdicts against him were announced.

His mother reacted with outrage, shouting, "It's not right! My son didn't kill nobody."

Sobbing, Watts' mother told him at the end of the hearing, "We love you, baby. Hang in there."

Family members of Johns and Jones also cried when the verdicts were announced.

Watts admitted to having two prior felony convictions, one for selling and transporting marijuana in 2004 and one for selling a controlled substance in 2005.

In his closing argument on Tuesday, Watts' lawyer, Michael Berger, told jurors that Watts should be found not guilty because "there's simply a failure of proof" in the case.

Berger said, "Mr. Reed's guilt is essential to the case" but he doesn't think the prosecution proved that Reed was the shooter because there were discrepancies in the witnesses' description of the shooter.

Berger said, "This case is not proven. It sounds like the shooter was someone other than Mr. Reed." He said, "We may never know who the murderer was." 

SF: Man Released from ICE Detention Calls for Immigration Reform

A 26-year-old San Jose man who was just released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention on Tuesday was joined by supporters outside the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco Wednesday morning as they called for federal immigration reform.

Jesus Ruiz Diego, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico with his family when he was four years old, graduated from high school and wanted to join the U.S. Marines but was ineligible because of his immigration status.

Ruiz Diego was then deported to Mexico in 2008 when his family's house was raided, and after he returned to the U.S. two months later, he was detained again this September at his workplace, a sheet metal company in San Jose.

But after actions that included a rally in front of ICE offices in San Francisco last month and a petition drive that gathered about 5,000 signatures, Ruiz Diego was set free Tuesday night -- albeit with a tracking device on his ankle.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Ruiz Diego was released under the agency's Intensive Supervision Program pending a future hearing before an immigration judge.

Kice said the decision on whether to release undocumented immigrants while their cases are pending "is based upon a thorough assessment of each individual's circumstances, including the person's criminal and immigration history."

Ruiz Diego said he hoped his story inspires Feinstein and other elected officials to enact legislative changes "not just for me but for other people in my situation."

He said, "We were basically raised here, then thrown into another country that they say is your country but it doesn't feel like home."

He said, "This is my home, whether I'm here legally or not."

Ruiz Diego's attorney, Niloufar Khonsari, said her client should be eligible for a federal policy change announced by President Barack Obama in June that provides a two-year deferral of deportation for people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and meet other requirements.

However, because he was previously deported in 2008, Ruiz Diego's eligibility for the program remains up in the air and could be decided in the coming weeks and months, Khonsari said.

She said people like Ruiz Diego are examples of the need to enact permanent immigration reform.

"He was doing good for this country. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school, the first in his neighborhood to get a really good job," she said.

"He could be a role model in his community."

Oakland: Accused Murderer Testifies That He Acted in Self-Defense

Accused murderer Laron Logwood testified Wednesday that he fatally shot Edwin "Mikey" Grady outside a corner market in East Oakland in broad daylight three years ago because he thought Grady had a gun and was planning to kill him.

Asked by prosecutor Tim Wellman if he actually saw Grady, 25, with a gun in the incident outside the Arrwa One Stop Market at the corner of 86th and Bancroft avenues just before 2 p.m. July 16, 2009, Logwood said, "I actually seen it. I'm 115 percent sure."

But Logwood, 36, seemed confused when Wellman asked him to describe the gun Grady allegedly was carrying.

He asked the prosecutor, "Describe it? How do you do that?"

Logwood admitted that he didn't know the gun's color but claimed that at one point he could see it through Grady's shirt and at another point he saw a bulge in Grady's pants that he believed was a gun.

Police officers who responded to the shooting didn't find any evidence that Grady had a gun but Logwood's lawyer, William DuBois alleged in his opening statement in the case that Grady's friends removed his gun before police arrived.

Wellman told jurors in his opening statement that Logwood killed Grady in cold blood after the two men exchanged words in front of the market.

The shooting was captured by the store's surveillance camera and the footage has been shown to jurors.

The video shows Logwood firing a single shot into Grady's chest. Grady then ran around the corner, collapsed and died a short time later.

DuBois said Logwood acted in self-defense because he thought that his family members, who were at the scene, were in danger of being shot by Grady.

He said Logwood came to the store after a female cousin told him a man -- not Grady -- had smashed her face and she needed his help.

DuBois alleged that Grady sold drugs in front of the market and was upset that Logwood and others were hanging out there and interfering with his ability to sell drugs.

Logwood testified earlier this week that Grady was upset at people being on what he believed was his spot.

Logwood admitted Wednesday that Grady never pointed a gun at him and he didn't think about leaving the scene or calling police after he perceived that Grady might kill him.

Asked by Wellman if he called 911 too report his concerns, Logwood said, "No, it wouldn't help me."

Santa Clara: Sheriff's Office Identifies 3rd Suspect in Handyman Kidnapping, Assault Case

Sheriff's investigators have identified a third suspect in connection with the kidnapping and assault of a handyman who was forced to do repair work in unincorporated Santa Clara County earlier this month, a sheriff's sergeant said.

The sheriff's office has obtained an arrest warrant for 49-year-old Richard Rodriguez Jr., Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. Jose Cardoza said.

He is believed to have ties to the two Morgan Hill residents, Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedson, 33, who were arrested shortly after they allegedly forced a repairman to perform services on their residence in the 200 block of Caldwell Way in unincorporated Morgan Hill, Cardoza said.

On Dec. 3, San Jose police received a report of a kidnapping and assault at about 7 p.m. from the 50-year-old male victim, who had managed to escape his captors at a San Jose gas station.

Police handed the investigation over to the sheriff's office since the kidnapping occurred outside police jurisdiction, Cardoza said.

The victim told deputies he had initially performed handyman services for a relative of one of the suspects about two months ago, but was not paid in full for his work, resulting in a dispute for services rendered, Cardoza said.

The victim said the suspects lured him to their residence to do repair work just before 11 a.m., the sergeant said. Upon arrival at the residence, the victim was assaulted, held against his will and threatened with his life for several hours, Cardoza said.

The victim was still at the residence on Caldwell Way at 5:30 p.m. when the suspects forced the victim into his truck.

The victim was told he would be made to finish the repair work that he began two months ago at the suspect's relative's house in Santa Clara.

On the way to the home, the suspects stopped at the Chevron gas station at the intersection of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Cottle Road in San Jose to purchase gas.

When the suspects exited the vehicle to purchase gas and food, the victim escaped on foot, disregarding a warning by suspects to stay put, Cardoza said.

The victim ran to a nearby residence to report the incident, he said. San Jose police responded to the area, located the suspects near the gas station and took them into custody.

DeJesus and Troedson were arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats and conspiracy.

Rodriguez is wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment against the victim, Cardoza said.

"Unfortunately, there is no solid information of his whereabouts right now," Cardoza said.

Rodriguez's last known address was in Alameda, but he has lived in several cities throughout Alameda County over the past number of years, Cardoza said.

Cardoza said that because Rodriguez hasn't had a steady place of residence, the sheriff's deputies "really need the public's help" to track him down.

Rodriguez is described as a 5-foot-8-inch Hispanic man with multiple tattoos on his arms.

At the time of the incident, he had a mustache.

Anyone with information on Rodriguez's whereabouts is asked to call (408) 808-4500 or anonymously at (408) 808-4431.

SF: Police Notify Public About Recent Release of Sex Offender

San Francisco police Wednesday notified the community that a convicted sex offender was recently released from prison and is currently residing in the city's South of Market neighborhood.

David Simons, 53, had been incarcerated for 24 years but was released from custody on Dec. 13 and is staying at 1288 Mission St., No. 230.

He is not wanted for any crime and is in compliance as a registered sex offender, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

The information about Simons' whereabouts is being released to allow members of the public to protect themselves and their children from sex offenders, Andraychak said.

However, anyone that uses the information about his whereabouts to commit a crime will face a sentence enhancement if convicted, he said.

Simons was classified as a sexually violent predator and has convictions for various sexual assaults in Sacramento County in 1982, San Francisco in 1988 and Alameda County in 1990, police said.

He has targeted boys between 5 and 11 years old and often gains the trust of the victim or their parents to gain access to the victim before sexually assaulting him, police said.

SJ: Elderly Woman Displaced by House Fire Sparked By Candles in Kitchen

A fire that appears to have been sparked by a candle displaced an elderly woman from her San Jose home Wednesday afternoon, a San Jose fire captain said.

Multiple reports, including one from a plane overhead, came in about the fire at 138 Lyndale Ave. at 4:07 p.m., according to San Jose fire Capt. Rob Brown.

Fire crews arrived by 4:12 p.m.

The fire briefly reached two alarms but the second alarm was canceled within minutes.

The fire was under control at 4:38 p.m., Brown said.

The blaze appears to have started in the kitchen when the sole resident said she had lit a candle near some papers that caught fire, Brown said.

The woman tried to put out the fire with some water, Brown said, and when that did not work she left the house as fire crews responded.

The fire caused major damage to the house with the fire burning the kitchen and spreading up through to the attic and roof, Brown said.

The woman suffered minor smoke inhalation and was treated at the scene but declined to be transported to a hospital, Brown said.

Fire crews as of 5:15 p.m. were searching for two dogs and a cat from the home.

The woman will be staying with friends nearby and keeping an eye out for the pets that are unaccounted for, according to Brown.

No firefighters were injured fighting the blaze and no neighboring homes were damaged, Brown said.

Brown advised residents be careful when lighting candles inside.

"Have a nice clear space around your candles," the fire captain said.

SF Bay Area Morning Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of rain are likely in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 30 mph in the afternoon.

Rain is likely tonight with lows expected to be in the lower 50s, and southern winds up to 30 mph.

Rain is likely on Friday, with highs expected to be in the mid 50s, and winds up to 30 mph.

A wind advisory is in effect through Friday morning.

 

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