San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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Bryan Stow Back at Home After Insurance Runs Out for Facility Care

Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan critically injured in an attack after a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 2011, is back home after his insurance company declined to continue paying for care at a live-in facility, according to an online post from Stow's family.

Stow's family has been posting updates on a website, www.support4bryanstow.com, since the Santa Cruz-area paramedic and father of two suffered a severe head injury in an attack outside Dodger Stadium during the Giants' opening day game on March 31, 2011.

In the latest update posted last Thursday, the family said that although Stow had been recovering at a live-in facility in Bakersfield for the past several months, his insurance company ceased payments, requiring the family to bring him home.

"Bryan could have benefited greatly by staying ... longer," the family wrote.

"We are glad to have him home, but as prepared as we thought we were, it was a difficult transition."

The family has hired caregivers for Stow but said he has "physically experienced a big setback" by not having as much therapy.

"We do what we can at home, but he needs the 5 days a week that he grew accustomed to," the family said.

"We just don't know how to get that for him."

The family thanked the community for the support they have received.

Stow has received support from the Giants, including via a series of concerts by third base coach Tim Flannery earlier this year that raised nearly $75,000 to go toward the medical bills.

The two men arrested for Stow's beating, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, are still awaiting trial in Los Angeles. 

SF: ICE Cancels Deportation Orders for Mother of Infant Son, Wife of Soldier

A Stockton woman who was about to be deported to the Philippines despite being married to a U.S. Army soldier and the mother of a 9-month-old baby was given a reprieve Wednesday by federal immigration officials.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced Wednesday afternoon that they were exercising prosecutorial discretion in the case of Karla Gaerlan, 28, canceling a formerly issued order of "voluntary departure."

The announcement came hours after dozens of people gathered outside of the ICE office in San Francisco to call on the agency to stop the deportation of Gaerlan, who was joined by her husband Specialist Thad Schmierer, who is due to deploy to Afghanistan in October.

Gaerlan was set to be deported to the Philippines on Sunday after she said she was coerced into signing a "voluntary departure" waiver form when she was detained in federal immigration custody.

Gaerlan, who suffers from post-partum depression after giving birth to her son, was initially detained by police after scratching her husband during an argument at their home on May 7.

Gaerlan and Schmierer joined more than 20 people Wednesday outside the ICE office in San Francisco to call on federal authorities to allow her to stay in the country.

Gaerlan struggled to hold back tears while describing how ICE agents intimidated her and told her to waive her right to see a judge.

She said that if she is deported, she would not be allowed to return to the U.S. for 10 years.

"They didn't tell me I was eligible to apply for a green card," she said.

The couple got married following her eight-day immigration detainment -- charges were never filed in the scratching incident -- but before Wednesday afternoon's announcement, they were looking at being split apart on Father's Day.

Schmierer said the thought of being without his family "makes you want to break down and cry."

Anoop Prasad, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, which is representing the couple, said the case is an example of immigration officials "using any means necessary to trick people into signing away their rights."

The American Civil Liberties Union last week filed a lawsuit against ICE for its alleged practice of coercing undocumented immigrants to sign the "voluntary departure" forms while in custody.

ICE officials said that the meeting with Gaerlan and her family was done in "a professional and respectful setting" and that the agency conferred with Gaerlan, her husband and her mother-in-law.

Prasad said earlier Wednesday that the case is one of many that should be put on hold while Congress considers comprehensive immigration reform.

"It can't be business as usual at ICE," he said. 

SJ: 14-Year-Old Boy Arrested in March 11 Murder of San Jose Man

San Jose police on Tuesday arrested a 14-year-old boy on suspicion of murder with a gang enhancement in a March homicide that led to another suspect being killed in a police shootout, police said Wednesday.

The minor, whose name was not released, was captured without incident and booked into the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall in San Jose, police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said.

The boy's arrest came exactly three months after officers found Daniel Canales, 44, of San Jose, lying wounded in the 2700 block of Murtha Drive in East San Jose on March 11.

Canales was pronounced dead at the scene from at least one bullet wound.

On March 18, a San Jose police officer shot and killed a separate suspect in the Canales murder, Elisa Mejia, 27, of Livermore, in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County near White and Story roads, Morales said.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is investigating the officer-involved shooting of Mejia, Morales said.

Then on May 21, San Jose homicide unit officers, with a warrant, arrested Faustina Teresa Lopez, 26, of San Jose, on suspicion of murder and a gang enhancement in Canales' death. 

Alameda Co.: County Administrator Presents Proposed Budget, Says Economic Outlook Brighter

Alameda County's economic outlook is "brighter" than it was a year ago but cuts in federal and state funding mean that it still faces "an extremely challenging and uncertain fiscal environment," County Administrator Susan Muranishi said.

In presenting her proposed $2.7 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Muranishi told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the county's unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent, which is below national and state levels, and sales tax and property tax revenues are up.

But she said state and federal funding provide the money for about half of the county's budget and both of those levels of government are cutting back their funding.

The proposed budget represents an increase of $58 million, or 2.2 percent, over the current budget At the state level, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to transfer about $300 million statewide away from county health and prevention programs in the next fiscal year and $900 million and $1.3 billion, respectively, in the following two years, Muranishi said.

She said Brown's proposal "raises significant concerns" about the ongoing cost to counties of providing services to those not covered by an expansion in a state-administered Medi-Cal expansion program.

In Alameda County alone, an estimated 100,000 people may still be uninsured and require county indigent health care services, Muranishi said.

The county also expects to lose about $7 million in federal funding because of sequestration cuts and recently approved caps on discretionary spending, she said.

Those cuts will hurt the county's senior and housing programs, Muranishi said.

On a more positive note, Muranishi said the county's $80 million funding gap is $8 million smaller than the gap in the current fiscal year that ends on June 30 and those two shortfalls are the only ones in the past five years that have been less than $100 million.

She said she plans to close the funding gap by making $48 million in one-time saving strategies such as efficiency efforts and $32 million in ongoing strategies such as cutbacks in programs and staffing.

Muranishi said much of the savings will come from the county's ongoing fiscal management reward system, which allows departments to carry over net savings each fiscal year to be used in subsequent years to balance the budget and help preserve important services.

Despite the efforts to close the funding gap, Muranishi is proposing a net increase of 66 county workers, a switch from the current year, in which 37 positions were eliminated by not filling vacancies.

That would bring the county's workforce to a total of 9,162 employees.

For the first time in five years, Muranishi also is proposing cost of living increases for most county employees as well as for 260 community-based organizations who deliver services to county residents.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings on the budget on June 25, 26 and 27 and is scheduled to approve a budget on June 28. Muranishi said she's "cautiously optimistic" about the next fiscal year but the county still will have to continue to "scrimp and save" because it likely will face another funding gap the following year.

Fremont: Man Charged With Kidnapping Teen Girl in Supermarket Parking Lot

A Fremont man was charged Wednesday with kidnapping for allegedly abducting a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint from a grocery store parking lot early Monday morning.

Aron Kumar Roy, 23, who is being held in custody without bail, was scheduled to be arraigned at Alameda County Superior Court in Fremont Wednesday.

He's charged with second-degree robbery and possession of cocaine in addition to kidnapping.

According to a probable cause statement filed in court by Fremont police Officer Vivian Tung, the girl told police that Roy appeared from the back seat of her car, held a knife to her arm and told her to drive when she returned to her car after shopping at the Lucky store at the Brookvale Shopping Center in Fremont at about 7 a.m. Monday.

Roy then directed the 16-year-old to make a series of turns and asked her if she was a virgin, Tung said.

Roy eventually had the girl park on Nutman Drive just south of Dominici Drive and told her to take off her clothes but she was able to bolt out of her car and run to a nearby house, where a resident let her in, locked the door and called police, according to Tung.

The girl wasn't physically harmed but when she spoke to police she "was extremely upset" and was crying, shaking and scared, Tung said.

Investigators arrested Roy at his job as a salesman at the Best Buy store at 4820 Dublin Blvd. in Dublin, where he was helping a customer, at about 6 p.m. Monday after discovering a latent fingerprint on the girl's car that linked him to fingerprints that were in a police database from previous arrests, Tung said.

Investigators also tracked Roy's movements through tracking the girl's cellphone, which he allegedly stole, she said.

After he was arrested, Roy admitted that he had been at the Lucky grocery store but said he had gotten into the wrong car by accident, according to Tung.

Roy also admitted that the cocaine found in his wallet belonged to him and that he had downloaded "rough sex porn" onto his cellphone, Tung said.

However, "Roy said that he never touched the victim and that this was an accident and that he was only trying to get out of the car," Tung wrote.

Union City: Man Killed After Crashing Into Light Pole Tuesday Morning

A man was killed after crashing into a light pole Tuesday morning in Union City, police said Wednesday.

Anthony James Chavez, 45, of Manteca and Union City, was driving his 2000 Jeep Cherokee east on Horner Street, near Varni Place, when he lost control of his car at about 11:05 a.m., according to police.

The Cherokee then collided into a light pole and chain-link fence, police said.

Chavez was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was the only person in the car.

No one else was injured in the crash, police said.

The crash remains under investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call Union City police at (510) 675-5292. 

Vallejo: Solano DA Says Officers Acted in Self-Defense in Mario Romero Fatal Shooting

Two Vallejo police officers acted in self-defense when they fatally shot one man and wounded another in September, Solano County District Attorney Donald du Bain said in a 15-page report Wednesday. Mario Romero, 23, was fatally shot and 21-year-old Joseph Johnson was wounded as they sat in a white 1992 Ford Thunderbird around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 2, in the 100 block of Pepper Drive.

It was one of six fatal officer-involved shootings in Vallejo in 2012 that drew protests at Vallejo City Hall Vallejo police said Romero reached for a weapon that turned out to be a Beretta pellet gun that was a replica of a Beretta semi-automatic handgun.

District Attorney Donald du Bain said Vallejo Police Officers Dustin Joseph and Sean Kenney are not criminally responsible because they "actually and reasonably believed that they were in imminent danger of being shot, resulting in death or serious bodily injury by Mr. Romero."

"Mr. Johnson it appears was inadvertently struck by a bullet in the pelvic area on his left side when the officers were firing at Mr. Romero," du Bain said.

"The doctrine of self-defense is available to insulate anyone in the officers' position from criminal responsibility in this situation as long as they were acting in justifiable self-defense when inflicting the injury on an otherwise innocent bystander," du Bain said.

Du Bain said the events that day "posed an awful dilemma for the officers in this case."

"No one sought the tragic result that occurred. Still, given the circumstances and applying the legal principles outlined above, I must conclude that both Officer Kenney and Officer Joseph were justified in using deadly force in self-defense of each other; therefore I find their actions with respect to both Mario Romero and Joseph Johnson to be lawful," du Bain said.

The district attorney said Romero's decision to remove the pellet gun from his waistband was "a very poor decision."

"The officers, both fearing for their safety, had no opportunity to determine whether the firearm was real or fake before reacting to this threat by firing their handguns in self-defense and the defense of each other," du Bain said.

Du Bain noted Romero's supporters claimed Romero never opened the car door and could not have exited as police assert.

"However, one of the bullet holes in the door of the Thunderbird had a corresponding hole in the interior, which is visible only when the door is in an open position, indicating that the door was indeed open when it was shot, most likely by Mr. Joseph," du Bain said.

Civilian witnesses claimed an officer fired into the car's windshield from the roof of the vehicle, du Bain said.

"None of the 23 bullet holes found in the windshield of the Thunderbird exhibited characteristics consistent with a downward angle," du Bain said.

Kenney maintained he never fired into the car from the roof, but was on the roof to get a better view of the interior of the car, du Bain said.

The officers were responding to a report early that morning of a burglary in an area where that was a recent spike of violence, including six incidents that were gun-related, du Bain said.

Kenny was aware one of the shootings involved a white 1990s Thunderbird, and the officers were justified in investigating the people in the 1992 Thunderbird as possible suspects or witnesses to the reported burglary, du Bain said.

Du Bain said his analysis of the incident will be reviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office's Eastern District and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. 

Santa Rosa: Propane Tanks Explode During Garage Fires at Residences

A fire that caused propane tanks to explode burned the garages of two residences in northwest Santa Rosa Wednesday morning, a Santa Rosa Fire Department battalion chief said.

Firefighters who arrived around 9:25 a.m. found flames burning the inside and outside of a garage at 1414 Tuliptree Road, Battalion Chief Mark Basque said.

The fire burned through a wood fence between 1414 and 1418 Tuliptree Road and caused 5-gallon propane tanks between the residences that were exposed to the extreme heat to explode, Basque said.

Lawn mowers and gas cans between the fences of the two residences also were destroyed, Basque said.

The fire also reached the garage at 1418 Tuliptree Road prompting a second alarm.

The resident at 1414 Tuliptree Road evacuated before the fire department arrived, and the residents next door were not at home at the time of the fire but arrived after the fire was under control, Basque said.

A small dog was found safe in a backyard and returned to the residents.

The fire caused very serious damage to the interior and exterior of the garage and personal belongings at 1414 Tuliptree Road, Basque said.

The blaze caused moderate damage to the exterior of the garage at 1418 Tuliptree Road but the interior of the house was not affected, Basque said.

PG&E responded to secure gas meters and electrical panels that were damaged by the flames, Basque said.

The fire left both homes uninhabitable and the Red Cross responded to find shelters and supplies for the occupants.

The fire caused damage estimated at $300,000 and the cause is under investigation, Basque said. 

Berkeley: Police are Still Looking for Sexual Assault Suspect

Police are still searching for a man who sexually assaulted a child in a public bathroom at the Berkeley Marina on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said Wednesday.

Berkeley police spokeswoman Officer Jamie Perkins said detectives worked through the night following up on any leads they may have received about the assault, which was reported by a community member at 1:37 p.m. Tuesday.

Perkins said the suspect is described as a male of unknown race with a dark complexion under 30 years old with blonde hair with a green streak who was wearing a green shirt, jeans and black sneakers.

Berkeley police said that after the incident was reported on Tuesday afternoon, they responded quickly and worked to contain the marina by checking all cars leaving the area.

They said they were assisted in the search, which included air and foot patrols, by officers from East Bay Regional Park District police and the state Department of Fish and Game.

Perkins said it's difficult to know where the suspect is now but she said police are still conducting patrols in the Berkeley Marina area.

She said anyone with information about the incident should call a tip line at (510) 981-5735.

Berkeley police haven't released the age or gender of the child or any information about the child's condition. 

SJ: Remains, Artifacts Excavated from Old 'Potter's Field' to be Displayed at Building Site

The excavation of hundreds of bodies from an unmarked cemetery, some buried back in 1875, at a construction site in San Jose is nearly complete and remains and artifacts will be on display, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Osteologists, or bone experts, and archeologists have been examining the remains of 631 people since some coffins were unearthed last year behind the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said Santa Clara County spokeswoman Joy Alexiou.

A building contractor's crew discovered the so-called Potter's Field in February 2012 while doing grading work for the county hospital's Services Building on undeveloped land off of Ginger Lane between Clover and Middle drives, Alexiou said.

"They ran into some coffins and then kind of started digging and found about 15 and then they said 'we have something here and we need to have this looked at,'" Alexiou said.

The individual, unmarked graves contained the bodies of people buried between 1875 and 1935 who were either unidentified, unclaimed by family members or could not afford funeral expenses, Alexiou said.

Most of the remains were inside redwood coffins but others were buried without clothing and wrapped in some kind of material, Alexiou said.

Santa Clara County's first government hospital opened next to the Potter's Field in 1876, so it is likely many of the people had died there, Alexiou said.

The osteologists were hired to study the skeletal remains for evidence of disease and bone formation so "they can determine the age and sex of the deceased," Alexiou said.

"A lot of the bones were of men who died in their 20s to 60s," she said.

Archeologists have been going through the historic artifacts recovered from the bodies that included spectacles, some clothing and jewelry, Alexiou said.

None of the bodies could be identified, she said.

Local knowledge of the cemetery, which had no signs or tombstones, waned over the years after it closed in 1935.

The graveyard was marked on a county map dated from 1932 but a revised map drawn in 1958 did not show it and in 1966 the county turned most of the site into an employee parking lot.

The 631 people buried there is substantial but not that many considering the cemetery operated for 60 years, Alexiou said.

Remains and artifacts from the excavation will be on display from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Ginger Lane in the rear of medical center's campus at 751 S. Bascom Ave. 

Berkeley: Chez Panisse Restaurant Prepping for June 24 Reopening Months After Fire

After a fire in March shut the doors to Berkeley's famous gourmet restaurant Chez Panisse, the eatery is preparing to reopen later this month.

The March 8 fire at the restaurant owned by renowned chef Alice Waters, located at 1517 Shattuck Ave., caused as much as $200,000 in damage when electrical equipment under the building's porch malfunctioned.

The fire broke out just after 3 a.m. that day and shuttered the business for months as it worked on repairs to the side and underside of the building, along with utility issues and smoke and water damage.

Since the end of May the restaurant has been taking reservations for the restaurant and café starting on June 24.

A Facebook message posted last week on the restaurant's page stated, "We are booking one calendar month out in advance, and can't wait to have all of you back!"

A woman answering the reservation line Wednesday morning said calls have been coming in frequently to book a spot at the restaurant.

Ahead of the opening, a re-opening celebration and fundraiser is scheduled at the restaurant on June 21.

The $1,000 to $2,500 per head dining tickets will go toward education programs at the Edible Schoolyard Project.

The nonprofit program provides a school curriculum that teaches students about food, the environment, and healthy living.

In Berkeley, there is a 1-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for students at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, located at 1781 Rose St.

The evening will offer a special menu, music, dancing and wines.

The event falls on the summer solstice and will be the first operating night at the restaurant since its closure. 

Weather Forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area

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

Highs are expected to be in the 50s to lower 70s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly clear skies are likely this evening, with patchy fog after midnight.

Lows are likely to be in the 50s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.

Sunny skies are expected Friday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s to lower 70s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

 

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