San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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El Cerrito: Police Continuing Search for Suspects in Double Shooting

One of two teens injured in an El Cerrito shooting Wednesday afternoon was in surgery that evening while police continued to search for suspects, according to police.

The shooting was reported at about 2 p.m. near the Ohlone Greenway between Lincoln and Stockton avenues and prompted the lockdown of two local schools, police said.

Police said the two victims, both males in their late teens, were taken to a hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds.

One of the victims' wounds appeared to be superficial, while the other was taken to surgery, police Capt. Mike Regan said.

Multiple suspects fled the area, heading east on Stockton Avenue.

As officers responded to the shooting, El Cerrito High School and Fairmount Elementary School were locked down.

Police determined that the suspects had left the area and the lockdowns were lifted within an hour.

The Ohlone Greenway between Eureka and Stockton avenues remained closed Wednesday evening and was expected to remain closed for several hours, Regan said.

Oakland: Fire in Vacant Building Extinguished, Two Questioned By Police

Firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze in a vacant residence near Oakland's Chinatown Wednesday evening for about three hours before it was extinguished.

But the three-story building at 621 Harrison St. was a total loss by the time it was put out, Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said.

The fire was first reported at 5:21 p.m.

Arriving firefighters found two people on a neighboring roof and it appeared they had escaped there from the burning home.

Firefighters used a ladder to assist them down, and they were checked for injuries at the scene but declined medical attention, Drayton said.

The two were detained by Oakland police and questioned as to their involvement in the fire, but it was unclear Wednesday night if they were ever arrested.

The building's owner was at the scene and once the fire was out brought in a crew to board up the building to prevent entrance.

Firefighters will remain on the scene throughout the night checking for embers and flare-ups, Drayton said.

In total about 60 firefighters responded to the blaze.

SJ: Police Find Second of Two Cars Stolen in Home Invasion Robbery

Police Wednesday recovered the second of two cars stolen during a home invasion robbery in San Jose on Monday in which an elderly couple was tied up, San Jose police said.

The couple's green 2007 Toyota Highlander was pulled out of the Uvas Reservoir Wednesday morning about two miles west of San Martin by Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies, police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

Last night, the California Highway Patrol found the couple's tan 1997 Toyota Camry abandoned near U.S. Highway 101 and state Highway 152 in the Gilroy area, Dwyer said.

"I'm not sure how our having the vehicles will play for us as far as evidence," Dwyer said.

The home invasion robbery happened at about 6:50 p.m. Monday in the 6700 block of Bret Harte Drive in the city's Almaden Valley neighborhood.

One of the victims answered a knock at the front door "and one of the suspects forced their way in," Dwyer said. Eventually several male suspects got inside the home, brandished weapons and tied up the residents, a 76-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man, according to police.

The robbers then stole property from the home and fled in the victims' cars, which were parked in the garage, police said.

Police have not located any of the suspects, Dwyer said. "There are many troubling aspects to the home invasion, especially the age of the victims," Dwyer said.

The home invasion case is a priority for police because the suspects were armed, forced their way into the home and threatened the victims with firearms, Dwyer said.

Oakland: Mayor Hopes Measures Will Improve City's Crime Rate

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the City Council's approval early Wednesday of four measures aimed at beefing up and improving the city's understaffed Police Department represents "an opportunity bring down crime and increase hope."

Quan said she's "pleased and encouraged" by council's actions at a marathon meeting that didn't end until nearly 3 a.m. and she hopes they will help bring "a different relationship between the police and the community."

The most controversial measure, and the one that generated the most debate, calls for expanding an existing contract with Massachusetts-based Strategic Policy Partnership to bring on William Bratton, who formerly served as police chief in Los Angeles and police commissioner in New York City and Boston, to provide crime-fighting advice to Oakland.

Robert Wasserman, the former chief of staff of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton, heads the partnership.

City Administrator Deanna Santana entered into a $99,000 contract with the partnership last fall to provide advice, but because the contract is being increased to $250,000 to bring Bratton on board, the matter needed City Council approval.

One of the other measures that was approved calls for hiring 11 Alameda County Sheriff's deputies for up to 180 days at a cost of up to $265,000 to work ten-hour shifts twice a week on violence-suppression measures in East and West Oakland.

Quan said that measure will have the most immediate impact because the deputies are expected to begin working in Oakland on Feb. 2.

Another measure will fund an additional police academy to train new officers that will begin in September and the third will hire 20 police service technicians at a cost of $1.5 million to be assigned to field duty as well as one crime lab position.

The additional academy will supplement a police academy that began last fall and a second academy will begin in March.

Oakland had as many as 837 police officers four years ago but Jordan said it currently has only 613 and ideally he'd like to have 1,000 officers.

Many of the more than 100 speakers who addressed the council Tuesday night said they oppose the appointment of Bratton because they believe he supports aggressive police measures including one commonly called "stop and frisk" that they believe will lead to racial profiling.

However, both Quan and police Chief Howard Jordan said that stop and frisk tactics won't be used in Oakland and there won't be any racial profiling.

Jordan, who joined Quan at a news conference at City Hall late Wednesday, said Oakland officers will only stop suspects based on constitutional methods such as reasonable suspicion and "not based on race."

He said, "That's what I train our officers to do -- to follow the law."

SF: Intentionally Set Fire Could Land Mission Street Art Gallery in Trouble

A Mission Street art gallery may be in trouble after San Francisco firefighters responded Tuesday night to a fire intentionally set there, apparently as part of an art piece, a fire official said Wednesday.

Firefighters responded around 10 p.m. Tuesday to Queen's Nails, a gallery located at 3191 Mission St. in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood, Deputy Fire Chief Mark Gonzales said.

The fire, which was quickly put out after causing $5,000 in damage, was apparently started on a piece of art shaped like the U.S. and made of matches that was set ablaze, Gonzales said.

"It was a piece of art that this person had lit up thinking it was not a problem," he said. "It turned out to be a problem."

Queen's Nails issued a statement Wednesday saying the installation was "America (Burnt/Unburnt)" by Paris-based artist Claire Fontaine.

The statement said inadequate ventilation in the gallery caused a large amount of smoke to come from the front of the building and prompted onlookers to call 911, but by the time firefighters arrived, the fire had already been put out.

"We would like to assure the community that the utmost precaution was taken during the controlled burning of the piece and that the flame was at no time out of hand," the statement said.

"The burning of the piece, which was not open to the public, has been done by Claire Fontaine seven other times in various venues across the world with the same concerns and care taken into regard," the statement said.

Gonzales said, "This was something we would not permit if it was applied for. It was done more out of ignorance, not maliciousness, as far as we're concerned."

He said the Police Department and district attorney's office will take over the investigation to determine if charges should be filed for the incident.

Oakland: Man Arrested After Aiming Laser Pointer at Helicopters During Suspect Search

A man was arrested in Oakland Monday after aiming a laser pointer at a California Highway Patrol airplane involved in a search for suspects in an officer-involved shooting.

Around 9 p.m., a CHP airplane pilot and flight officer were flying over the intersection of International Boulevard and Seminary Avenue when the pilot noticed a red laser pointer being directed at them from the ground, CHP Officer Jeff Moring said.

The pilot and officer were so distracted by the laser that they had to call off their search for the suspects.

Meanwhile, the pilot of KGO News' Sky7 helicopter contacted the CHP pilot to advise that they had also been struck with the red laser from a residence near the intersection of East 15th Street and 55th Avenue, Moring said.

The news helicopter pilot was able to take a clear video of the suspect aiming a laser at the aircraft and pinpointed his location. 

CHP Tactical Flight Officer Tom Lipsey, who was aboard the affected CHP plane, directed CHP units on the ground to the suspect's house.

Officers arrived at the home and spoke to the suspect, who was positively identified by the KGO helicopter crew.

The suspect, a 40-year-old man, was arrested without incident and could face up to three years in prison and up to $2,000 in fines.

The CHP helicopter crew struck by the laser was searching for suspects in a shooting that injured an undercover Oakland police officer in East Oakland around 6:20 p.m. Monday.

The officer was treated and released, and police tracked down and arrested five suspects in connection with the shooting.

Regional: Mills College Settles U.S. Probe By Agreeing to Disability Access Improvements

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that Mills College in Oakland has agreed to fix 260 barriers and inaccessible devices on the 135-acre campus that allegedly violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The settlement between the women's college and the government resolves an investigation begun by the Justice Department in 2010 after receiving a complaint from an unidentified person with a disability.

The department did not file a lawsuit. The settlement states that Mills denies violating the ADA, but is agreeing to the pact to avoid the burden of further investigation and a possible lawsuit.

"Mills College is pleased to have reached this agreement," said Vice President for Operations Renee Jadushlever.

"While this means the college will incur additional costs, we will continue to make the necessary accommodations to provide unobstructed access to facilities for students and visitors with disabilities on our historic campus at all times," Jadushlever said.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of San Francisco said, "We commend Mills College for its cooperation and commitment to providing people with disabilities unfettered access to its facilities."

Individual items to be made more accessible under the agreement include grab bars, paper towel dispensers, counter heights, signs and drinking fountains in science laboratories, music and art centers, bathrooms and auditoriums.

Also on the list of improvements are adjustments in the slopes of building entrance ramps, reductions in the amount of force needed to open doors and installation of accessible toilet stalls.

The majority of the changes must be made by Dec. 31, 2014. Two other sets of improvements have deadlines of 2017 and 2023.

Mills, now one of only about 47 women's colleges in the United States, was founded as the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia in 1852.

In 1871, it moved to its present campus at MacArthur Boulevard and Seminary Avenue in the Oakland foothills.

It was incorporated as Mills College, the first women's college west of the Rocky Mountains, in 1885. It has 949 women undergraduates and 597 female and male graduate students.

SF: Man Arrested for Recent String of Bank Robberies

A man has been arrested for robbing or trying to rob several San Francisco banks over a two-day period earlier this month, police said Wednesday.

Shaun Laughlin Magnusoon, 35, was arrested on Jan. 14 on suspicion of two counts of robbery, four counts of attempted robbery and six counts of burglary, according to police.

The first robbery was reported around 9 a.m. on Jan. 10 at a bank in the 1200 block of Market Street and was followed later that day by another robbery in the 200 block of Valencia Street.

The following day, Magnusoon allegedly robbed or tried to rob banks in the 700 block of Golden Gate Avenue, the 1800 block of Van Ness Avenue, the 1200 block of Market Street and the 100 block of Pine Street, all between 9:40 a.m. and 2 p.m., police said.

In each case, he allegedly handed a note to a teller demanding money and then fled in a vehicle, according to police.

Investigators are looking into whether Magnusoon may have been responsible for other recent bank robberies in the city, police said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Inspector Phil Wong of the department's criminal investigations unit at (415) 553-1201 or the operations center after hours at (415) 553-1071.

People wishing to remain anonymous can call a tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

SF: Newsom Says 49ers' Super Bowl Run 'Bittersweet' Because of Impending Move

While the San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl run has caused joy for residents and city officials, count former mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom among those whose excitement is tempered a bit by the team's impending move to the South Bay.

The 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl and face the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

Newsom and current San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee both talked about the 49ers at an unrelated event at University of California at San Francisco Wednesday.

While Lee expressed enthusiasm about the team and its chances, Newsom called the moment "bittersweet" because of the 49ers' plans to move to a new stadium starting in the 2014 season.

He said, "I still maintain strong opinions on that, perhaps exclusive to my experiences of trying to keep them" in the city while mayor from 2003 to 2010, when he was elected lieutenant governor.

The 49ers, who still play in aging Candlestick Park, had worked with San Francisco officials on looking into new stadium sites.

However, plans never fully materialized before the team decided to move down south and Santa Clara voters approved a 2010 ballot measure to help fund a new stadium, which is currently under construction.

Newsom said while he is still "as big a fan as there can possibly be" of the 49ers, he was still "very disappointed" in the team's decision to move, both as mayor and as a fifth-generation San Franciscan.

Newsom too decided to leave San Francisco last year though, moving with his family to a new home in Marin County. 

Hercules: Teen Arrested for Allegedly Bringing BB Gun Onto High School Campus

A Richmond teen was arrested after bringing a BB gun onto the Hercules Middle-High School campus Wednesday, according to police.

A student at Hercules Middle-High School told an on-campus police officer around 9:15 a.m. that she had seen a male sitting in front of her on a WestCAT bus take a black handgun out of his pocket, Detective Connie Van Putten said.

The girl then reported seeing the armed male on campus by the school's administration gate.

The officer went to that area of the campus and located the suspect, whom she immediately recognized as Brandon White, 19, a former student at the school who is not allowed to visit the campus during school hours, Van Putten said.

The officer un-holstered her duty weapon and ordered White to lie facedown on the ground.

White complied and the officer handcuffed him and checked his front pocket where he had reportedly stowed his gun.

As the officer reached for his pocket, White told the officer that he was carrying a BB gun.

Police said the officer recovered the weapon - a black Walther CP99 compact semi-automatic BB gun, which was on "fire mode" but was not loaded with a C02 canister or pellets.

Nonetheless, Van Putten said, White was arrested on suspicion of bringing a weapon on school grounds, which is a felony.

The teen was taken to county jail in Martinez where he is being held on $10,000 bail.

Bay Area Thursday Morning Weather Forecast

Partly cloudy skies and isolated showers are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the upper 50s, with northeast winds around 10 mph.

Partly cloudy skies and isolated showers are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s, with northeast winds up to 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers are likely Friday. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with winds around 5 mph.

 

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