San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Oakland Police Seek Witnesses In Fatal Shooting Of Bystander

Oakland police said Thursday that they are urging witnesses to come forward to help solve the fatal shooting of a woman who was struck by errant gunfire on a busy street in East Oakland Wednesday night. 

Sgt. Chris Bolton said Ramona Foreman, 48, was walking along the north sidewalk of the 9100 block of International Boulevard, in front of Oakland's 92nd Avenue Head Start office, when she was hit by gunfire shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Foreman was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

Bolton said the suspect or suspects in the case fired weapons from across the street but police haven't yet determined why they opened fire or at whom they were shooting.

He said, "We believe witnesses and information exist -- we are urging people to come forward."

The shooting occurred just over a block away from where 50-year-old Wilbur Bartley was killed at his cellphone store, Marcus Cellular, at 9230 International Blvd., at about 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 31, as he was closing his store.

When Felicia Gordon, who lives in the neighborhood, walked by the spot where the woman was killed Wednesday night, she told reporters, "Whoever did this should think about what could happen to their own parents. This woman's kids and grandkids will never see her again."

Gordon said Foreman "was just a bystander but still her life is gone."

Her voice rising, she said, "People need to think before they react. They killed an innocent person."

Gordon said if two groups of people want to shoot at each other "they should do it somewhere else" so that innocent bystanders aren't killed.

Gordon said, "It could have been anybody who was killed. I'm walking with my daughter right now."

Vallejo Suspect To Stand Trial For Arson's At Mayor's Office And At Chapel

A Vallejo man was held over for trial Thursday for arsons at Mayor Osby Davis' office and the Taylor Chapel in Vallejo this year.

Maude Love, 44, is charged with the arson at Davis' office at 410 Tuolumne St. on Sept. 29 and at the Taylor Chapel at 1203 Louisiana St. on July 30, Deputy District Attorney Courtney Anderson said.

A third arson count -- at the Cooley and Riolo Mortuary at 505 Couch St. on June 6 -- was dismissed because of insufficient evidence Wednesday, Anderson said.

At a 3-hour preliminary hearing Thursday, Vallejo police detective Drew Ramsey testified Love told him in an interview he believed the chapel and its property belongs to his family, and that he had legal problems with Davis, Anderson said.

Love is scheduled to re-enter pleas to the two felony charges Jan. 2. He is being held under $250,000 bail in the Solano County jail.

Berkeley Police Offer Rewards For Information On Two Recent Homicides

Berkeley police Thursday announced rewards of up to $17,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in two recent homicides, including a homicide two months ago that they never previously disclosed.

Police announced for the first time that Mark Stannard, 64, a homeless man known as "Cowboy," was found dead in bushes in the 800 block of Harrison Street, near the Berkeley Skate Park, at about 5:50 p.m. on Oct. 7.

Police said their investigation into Stannard's death disclosed that he died as a result of a felony assault and his case has been classified as a homicide.

They said the city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward in the case and Bay Area Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $2,000 reward.

Police said there is a similar reward for information leading to the arrest and convictions of suspects responsible for the homicide of Pamula Mullins, a 50-year-old Berkeley woman who was fatally shot while riding her bicycle in the 2700 block of Sacramento Street, near Derby Street, at about 11:36 p.m. Dec. 4.

Berkeley police are asking anyone with information about either case to call their homicide unit at (510) 981-5741 or their non-emergency number at (510) 981-5900.

Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Mayor Ed Lee Announces Legislation On Highly Lethal, Large Amounts Of Ammo

Two pieces of legislation announced Thursday by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee could make buying ammunition in the city more difficult.

Lee was joined by police Chief Greg Suhr and Supervisor Malia Cohen Thursday to announce the proposals, the first of which would make military-grade ammunition illegal to possess in San Francisco.

The second proposal would require businesses to automatically notify police when someone buys 500 rounds of ammunition or more in one transaction.

Lee said military-grade ammunition such as hollow-point bullets "has no reason to be in our homes and on our streets."

Cohen, who said she expects to introduce the proposals at the board's Jan. 15 meeting, said it "is too easy to obtain and possess military-grade ammunition" that is "designed to expand and shred internal organs" of shooting victims.

The proposals come in the wake of last week's shooting spree that killed more than two-dozen people at an elementary school in Connecticut and "heightened everyone's awareness" about the problems of gun violence, Lee said.

There have been 67 homicides in San Francisco this year compared to 50 at the same point in 2011, but gun violence in the city is down about 4 percent from last year, according to Suhr, who said he hoped the mayor's proposals would further reduce the violence.

The chief acknowledged that, as currently proposed, the legislation would allow someone to make multiple purchases that total more than 500 rounds as long as one transaction did not reach that number.

"That's a problem," he said. "But there has to be a threshold and we're setting it at 500."

Earlier this week Lee joined more than 750 mayors from across the country in sending a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress calling for comprehensive gun control reform.

More information about the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition can be found at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.com.

Judge Hears Arguments But Defers Ruling On Harborside Dispensary Cases

A federal magistrate judge in San Francisco is considering whether to allow California's largest medical marijuana dispensary to continue to operate in Oakland while that city battles a federal effort to shut down the facility.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James heard arguments Thursday on motions in two related lawsuits concerning the Harborside Health Center but took the cases under submission and will rule at a later date.

The dispute stems from a law enforcement effort in which federal prosecutors throughout California last year began filing forfeiture lawsuits against the landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries that prosecutors considered to be large-scale commercial enterprises.

While California's 1996 medical marijuana law allows seriously ill patients to use the herb for health purposes, federal laws criminalizing marijuana do not recognize the state law.

Harborside's Oakland facility and a smaller subsidiary in San Jose were targeted in federal lawsuits filed in July by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of San Francisco, seeking forfeiture of the landlords' property on the ground that the buildings were used for illegal activities.

At the time, Haag called Harborside a "superstore" and said, "The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need."

In October, Oakland responded with a lawsuit seeking to block the forfeiture bid.

The city contends that since Harborside has operated in compliance with state and city laws since 2006 without federal interference, the five-year statute of limitations for a civil forfeiture lawsuit has passed.

Meanwhile, Harborside's Oakland landlord, Ana Chretien, has asked James to order Harborside to stop growing, possessing or selling marijuana on her property.

Her lawyers have argued she needs the order to prevent the possible "profound harm" of forfeiture of her property.

Oakland's lawyers have filed an opposing motion asking James to halt proceedings on both Chretien's request and the forfeiture lawsuit until the city's own lawsuit is resolved.

James heard arguments Thursday on both those motions as well as a third request in which Harborside's San Jose landlord is also asking for an order blocking marijuana activities. She has no deadline for ruling.

Outside of court, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said, "We would like the federal government to stop this tragic waste of resources to shut down legitimate regulations in conformance with California law and to deny patients access to marijuana."

11-Year-Old Girl Struck In Petaluma By Van Now In Fair Condition

An 11-year-old girl who was struck by a van outside McKinley Elementary School in Petaluma on Tuesday remains hospitalized but is now in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.

The girl, Mercy Martinez, was initially listed in critical condition at Oakland Children's Hospital.

Petaluma police Lt. Tim Lyons said surgery scheduled Thursday on Martinez's arm and leg was postponed because her blood pressure was low.

Mercy and another girl ran onto Ellis Street after school around 2:50 p.m., Lyons said. A white Ford van was approaching as the girls entered the street.

The other girl stopped short and missed the van, but Mercy ran into the side of the vehicle and was run over, Lyons said. She was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital before being transferred to Children's Hospital.

The driver of the van, Zachary Bautista, 34, of Cotati, stopped at the scene, and there is no indication he was at fault, Lyons said.

The girls were not in a crosswalk at the time of the accident, Lyons said.

Petaluma police are collecting money, food, gifts and toys at the police station for the Martinez family through Sunday.

There are three other children ages 14, 8 and 5 in the family, and their mother has not worked since Tuesday because she has been at the hospital, Lyons said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

A high wind advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. in the Bay Area this morning, with southern winds up to 20 mph.

Rain and a chance of thunderstorms are also likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s.

Rain and thunderstorms are likely tonight with lows expected to be in the lower 50s, and southern winds up to 20 mph.

Rain and thunderstorms are likely on Saturday, with highs expected to be in the mid 50s, and southwest winds around 20 mph.

A high surf advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137