San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Man Shot And Killed On Stairs At Richmond BART Station

A man was shot and killed at the Richmond BART station Thursday evening, BART police said.

Multiple calls reported gunfire, including a BART station agent, at 6:22 p.m., BART officials said. The shooting was also reported by Richmond police's ShotSpotter system.

The victim, a man in his 30s, was found shot on the stairs near the 19th Street and MacDonald Avenue entrance to the station. He was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after he was found.

BART police are investigating and talking to witnesses. The suspect remains at large.

BART service was unaffected by the shooting, however some AC Transit buses were re-routed.

San Jose Teacher Arrested For Child Porn Attempts Suicide

An elementary school teacher arrested on child pornography charges Wednesday was taken to a hospital after apparently attempting suicide in his San Jose home Thursday afternoon, police said.

Police responded to the home of Nathan Forstell, 44, at 4:42 p.m. after receiving a report from a partner living there that he appeared to be suffering from a medication overdose, Officer Albert Morales said.

A police officer determined that Forstell had apparently attempted suicide, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment and for a mental health evaluation, Morales said.

He is expected to survive and will remain in the hospital on a 72-hour mental health hold.

Police notified federal authorities after finding about 1,000 pornographic images of children as young as 4 years old on Forstell's computer, police said Thursday.

The cache of sexually explicit photos, including pre-pubescent children aged 4 to 9, was recovered from Forstell's home computer prior to his arrest, police Sgt. Greg Lombardo said.

The minimum number of seized images of child pornography to trigger an investigation by the Assistant U.S. Attorney's office is 1,000 and "we are at around 1,000 right now," Lombardo said.

The images depicted "sexual acts that are very traumatizing" to children, said Lombardo, of the Police Department's sexual assault unit that investigates child pornography.

Detectives learned about Forstell from a routine surveillance of Internet websites where users share sexual images of children and then identified him from his computer's IP address, Lombardo said.

There are so many such image-sharing websites that police concentrate on "the worst of the worst" and located Forstell's IP address and other information allegedly linking him to one of them, Lombardo said.

San Jose police arrested Forstell, 44, at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Seaside at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possession of child pornography, a felony, police said.

He was later released on his own recognizance, Lombardo said.

Hundreds Gather For Rally Demanding More Input In City College Changes

Hundreds of City College of San Francisco students, faculty, staff and their supporters held a large rally in Civic Center Plaza Thursday to demand more input as the school struggles to keep its accreditation.

City College will file a report today in response to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which last July placed the school on "show cause" status, citing more than a dozen problems including excessive non-instructional faculty costs.

If the school fails to show adequate improvement, it could lose its accreditation when the commission issues a ruling on June 10.

Students and faculty at Thursday's rally criticized City College's administration for what they said was a lack of transparency in how the school is addressing the commission's concerns.

"They're not adequately getting input from faculty and students," said Mike Estrada, a political science professor at the school. "They say that's how it's going to be and there's no discussion."

Estrada said the administration is refusing to use funds from Proposition A, a parcel tax passed by the city's voters last November, toward restoring cuts to classes and student services, instead putting more of it into reserves.

Chris Jackson, vice president of City College's Board of Trustees, joined the rally and called for the administration to restore cuts to programs affecting low-income and at-risk students.

"We want City College to continue to be the college we still believe in," Jackson said. "We're here to say enough is enough. We want our City College back."

Lalo Gonzalez, a 24-year-old student seeking to obtain his teaching credential at the school, said the administration has encouraged students and staff not to speak out against City College, saying it brings negative publicity to the school.

"It's absolutely false to put the blame on us," Gonzalez said.

"They're trying to impose cuts that are going to negatively affect thousands of students. That's what's negative."

City College spokesman Larry Kamer said the school did not mind the protest.

"We expect a divergence of views," Kamer said. "We certainly had robust discussion in the workgroups that produced the report."

He said the school was committed to making the necessary changes to keep the school on stable financial footing and maintain its accreditation regardless of criticism from the protesters.

Surfers, Supporters Break Past Gate Onto Martin's Beach To Fight For Public Access

Led by former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey, a group of surfers and proponents of open access to a beach near Half Moon Bay passed through a gate and marched down a privately owned road to the beach Thursday.

A group of about 10 busted through the gate that was erected in 2010 and is covered in restrictive signs after the property was sold to a private owner in 2008, and made their way to Martin's Beach, just off of state Highway 1, a few miles south of Half Moon Bay, around 10 a.m.

San Mateo County sheriff's vehicles monitoring the beach and access roads allowed the group to walk towards the beach where competitive surfer Joao DeMeceado took on the waves.

"The public has the right to do that," McCloskey said as he pointed to DeMeceado catching a wave.

No arrests were made.

The group met at the beach in support of a lawsuit filed against Martin's Beach 1 and 2, LLC, on Tuesday by the Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy law firm on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation.

The lawsuit claims that owners failed to obtain a coastal development permit for the new gates and restrictive signs that prevent the pubic from accessing Martin's Beach Road, in direct violation of the California Coastal Act.

Court records from a separate beach access suit filed last October in San Mateo County Superior Court name venture capitalist Vinod Khosla as the presumed primary owner of Martin's Beach.

Joan Gallo, the attorney for Martin's Beach LLC, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Mike Wallace, a long time surfer and competitive surf coach from Moss Beach, said Martin's Beach, "should be open until proven otherwise."

McCloskey, 85, whose district included San Mateo County when he served in Congress in the 1970s and 80s, recalled coming to the beach in past decades when public access was unrestricted and cars could park further down the road.

Wallace said the restriction of the beach, which is known in the surf community for its consistent swells that break over underwater reefs, will affect future surfers and coastal enthusiasts.

"The next generation doesn't get to experience what we've experienced," he said.

Man Convicted Of Manslaughter For 2011 Livermore Road Rage Incident

A Livermore software engineer was convicted Thursday of voluntary manslaughter for the stabbing death of another man in a road rage incident in Livermore two years ago.

Prosecutors had sought a murder conviction for Cort Holbrook for the death of Ricky Ziesmer, a 48-year-old Fremont man, in a confrontation in a parking lot on Old First Street in downtown Livermore near John's Char Burger and the Livermore Cyclery at about 1:30 p.m. on March 9, 2011, but jurors returned the lesser verdict of voluntary manslaughter after deliberating for two days.

According to Livermore police, when they interviewed Holbrook he alleged that Ziesmer had started the incident by drifting into his lane several times and nearly colliding with him before. When they later got out of their cars and started arguing, Ziesmer punched him several times, Holbrook told police.

But police said Holbrook did not flee from the scene of the confrontation and instead called Livermore police and said he had been involved in a road rage incident.

Police also said Holbrook, who was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, had several opportunities to avoid further conflict with Ziesmer, who was driving a gold Chevrolet Cavalier, after they encountered each other on the road but that Holbrook had chosen not to do so.

Livermore police said the two men eventually pulled into the downtown parking lot and got into a confrontation.

Ziesmer punched Holbrook in the face twice, knocking him to the ground, but as the confrontation continued, Holbrook reached into his driver's door compartment, retrieved a dagger and eventually stabbed Ziesmer in the upper chest and also stabbed the driver's side rear door of Ziesmer's car to prevent him from leaving, police said.

However, Ziesmer was able to get away and drove himself to Valley Memorial Hospital in Livermore, according to police.

He subsequently was transported to the trauma center at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, where he succumbed to his injuries at about 5:45 p.m. that day.

Woman Accused Of Kicking Toddler In Golden Gate Park Excused From Court Hearing After Outburst

A strange case in which a woman allegedly kicked a toddler in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Monday got even more bizarre Thursday when she was excused from appearing at her arraignment after yelling at her attorney.

Sabryna Bell, 24, is facing three felony and two misdemeanor charges for the attack, which was reported at about 4:30 p.m. at the Koret Children's Quarter near Kezar Drive in the southeast corner of the park. 

For no apparent reason, Bell kicked a stroller that struck a mother holding a 3-month-old baby, then kicked a 23-month-old girl in the chest and threatened other parents at the playground, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

The toddler who was kicked fell and hit her head on the pavement but did not suffer serious injuries. She was in San Francisco with her family from out of state to be a flower girl at a wedding, police said.

Bell was set to appear in court Thursday afternoon for the arraignment, but moments before the hearing, she was heard yelling expletives at her attorney from a holding cell adjacent to the courtroom.

She was then excused from appearing at the arraignment, which was continued to March 21.

Bell is being held on $250,000 bail for the charges, which include assault, child endangerment and making criminal threats, all felonies, and misdemeanor battery and child endangerment, Bastian said.

She was also ordered to stay away from the victims, which included three children and four adults.

District Attorney George Gascon said the case is "extremely concerning to us."

Gascon said, "As a father myself, I can't imagine taking my kid to the park and having someone just coming out of nowhere and assaulting them." 

It remains unclear what prompted the attack, but Gascon said mental health or substance abuse issues may have played a role.

Reputed Oakland Gang Members Arriagned On Variety Of Charges

Alleged members and associates of an Oakland gang that Police Chief Howard Jordan said is probably the most violent group of young people he's seen were arraigned earlier this week on a variety of charges, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Most of the 17 people affiliated with the Case Boys Gang who have been charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office were arrested in a large multi-agency sweep in Oakland and surrounding cities last Friday, although several remain at large.

Oakland police didn't return phone calls Thursday seeking information on how many suspects are still at large.

In addition to conspiracy to commit murder, the charges against the reputed members of the Case Boys Gang include conspiracy to commit robbery, assault on a police officer, assault with a firearm, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, fraud, pimping and pandering.

Oakland police Sgt. Chris Bolton said many of the suspects also face enhancement allegations that they committed crimes to benefit a street gang, which could add significant time to their sentences if they're convicted.

Jordan said last Friday that the raid stemmed from a lengthy investigation into crimes allegedly committed by members of the Case Boys Gang as well as by members of the rival Money Team Gang.

Some of the charges involve alleged plots by Case Boys Gang members to murder Money Team Gang members.

Oakland police Officer Anthony Tedesco, the lead investigator in the probe, said in a probable cause statement filed in court that reputed Case Boys Gang members Lorenzo Richardson, Darren Morris, Zayonta Casmire, Deyonne White and several others planned to kill a rival gang member on Feb. 9 but the intended target was not where they thought he would be.

Tedesco said officers followed the suspects, conducted surveillance and took steps to remove the intended victim from the area if necessary.

Tedesco also said reputed Case Boys members Cleveland Pratt, Morris, Daniel Cortez, and Bertran Keeton were involved in a separate failed attempt to kill a gang rival on Feb. 25.

Among the other charges are allegations that reputed Case Boys members planned to commit robberies in different parts of Oakland on Feb. 7, Feb. 20 and March 3 and for a Feb. 6 incident in which alleged gang member Laquan Lubin is accused of ramming a patrol car containing two officers who were trying to arrest him on a warrant.

Jordan said the crime sweep was part of Operation Ceasefire, a multi-disciplinary approach to fighting violence that his department launched last October.

Fremont Teen Arrested As Co-Conspirator In Bomb Threat Hoax

Police in Fremont arrested a 14-year-old student Thursday who was part of a bomb threat conspiracy at a junior high school, police said.

Officers responded to a report that a bomb threat was called into Thornton Jr. High School, located at 4357 Thornton Ave., at about 10:50 a.m., Officer Geneva Bosques said.

School officials and police officers quickly determined the call was organized by a student at the school, Bosques said.

Bosques said school remained in session during the search of the campus.

It was the second bomb threat made on Thornton Jr. High School in as many days. On Wednesday, the threat was called into the Fremont Unified School District office, Bosques said.

The school was locked down for about a half hour while officers searched the school for any explosives, she said.

The boy who was arrested at the school cooperated with police and Bosques said he admitted to meeting someone online to coordinate the bomb threats.

That co-conspirator, however, remains at large.

Bosques said police are continuing to follow leads provided by the boy to find the other person. It's likely that person was the actual caller, she said.

The boy was cited and released from police custody, Bosques said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

Partly cloudy skies are forecast for the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are expected to be in the 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening, with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are likely to be in the upper 40s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Saturday morning, becoming partly cloudy later in the day. Highs are expected to be in the 60s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

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