San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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Vallejo: Suspect Found Dead Inside Home After Standoff 

A shotgun-wielding man barricaded inside a Vallejo home and threatening police and neighbors was found dead inside the home after a SWAT team entered, police said.

Police first arrived after receiving reports at 11:36 a.m. that a man was pointing a rifle or shotgun at people on the street.

When police arrived he had retreated into a residence in the 1800 block of Sutter Street, police said.

Police set up a perimeter and surrounded the house.

An armored vehicle was parked outside for police to take cover behind.

Hostage negotiators contacted the man by phone, and he was hostile and threatened to kill police, others, and himself.

He made demands and said he would kill someone if his demands were not met.

At about 1:15 p.m. the man broke a window in the front of the house and pointed a shotgun outside, police said.

Officers fired multiple rounds at him and he disappeared back inside.

Eventually the Vallejo/Benicia SWAT team and the Solano County sheriff's SWAT team arrived and deployed gas to force the man out, but there was no response.

As they were about to send a robot inside, they saw the man down and entered.

He was found dead from a gunshot wound with a shotgun lying beside him, police said.

No officers or civilians were injured. The suspect's identity has not been released pending notification of his family.

Neighbor Tracie Frost, who lives on Illinois Street near that intersection, said elderly and disabled people live at the home, which she can see from her house.

Homes in the area were evacuated during the standoff, and Frost and her family took shelter in the back of their home for about two hours, Frost said.

Frost said police snipers were on the roof of her house and other homes in the area, and described the scene as similar to a "battle zone."

San Jose: Private Vigil Planned for High School Student Killed By Passing Train

Well-wishers for a high school student musician killed Tuesday by a passing train near San Jose Diridon station are to take part in a private vigil today, a school district spokesman said.

Donae Johnican, 16, a junior at Lincoln High School in San Jose, was the person struck and killed by a Caltrain line, said Paul Higgins, spokesman for the San Jose Unified School District.

Higgins said that parents, family members and friends of Donae plan to attend the evening vigil but he declined to divulge the time and location citing the wishes of the mourners.

"We're saddened to learn of the loss of Donae and we offer our condolences to the family," Higgins said.

Caltrain officials reported Tuesday that a pedestrian had been hit and killed by train No. 263 south of Diridon station near West Virginia Street at about 4:05 p.m.

The northbound train had recently left Tamien Station with only one passenger on board, transit officials said.

The school district recruited grief counselors to come on the Lincoln campus at 555 Dana Ave. Wednesday and today to help students cope with the tragedy, Higgins said.

Donae was an aspiring musician and guitar player at Lincoln, a high school for the performing arts, according to a video he posted Feb. 26 on YouTube.

In the two-minute video, on a channel called Silicon Valley De-Bug, Donae is seen playing his guitar on a sidewalk and talking about writing songs.

"I put my emotions into music and I find it's really hard to if you're not putting your emotions into it," he said. 

"I like to say this to a lot of people: music can change the world, all you need is the right song."

Donae said that he started his interest in music in the sixth grade and started playing the guitar in the seventh grade.

"Teaching is not just a job, it's like a gift from God," he said. "The kids and teachers need to put in 100 percent for the school to be a good school."

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office's Transit Police Bureau is investigating Donae's death, Caltrain spokesman Jayme Ackemann said. 

Santa Clara Co.: Man Arrested in Robbery, Sexual Assalt of Masseuse in Palo Alto Hotel

A San Jose man has been arrested in connection with the March 9 armed robbery and sexual assault of a masseuse at a Palo Alto hotel, police said Wednesday.

Palo Alto police served an arrest warrant on David Yi, 44, on Tuesday after the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office charged him with robbery, attempted robbery and forcible oral copulation, police said.

Officers delivered the warrant while Yi was in the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose where Palo Alto police had him booked Friday on two other felony warrants, police said.

On March 9, a person contacted a woman who had placed an online advertisement for massages and the two agreed to meet at a guest room in the Glass Slipper Inn at 3941 El Camino Real, police said.

After they entered the room, the suspect produced a knife, ordered her to hand over all of her money and then forced the woman to participate in a sex act, police said.

The suspect left the room with the victim's money and confronted a second woman sitting in a chair outside, brandished a knife and demanded money.

The woman replied that she had no money and the suspect fled on foot.

On Friday, Palo Alto police arrested Yi in the 3300 block of Cropley Avenue in San Jose on outstanding warrants for alleged assault with a deadly weapon in San Jose and a probation violation out of Santa Clara County, police said.

Yi was on probation related to a prior conviction for possession of methamphetamine and being under the influence of narcotics, police said.

San Mateo: Threat Against Aragon High School Made in Social Media Post

A heightened police presence will be seen on the campus of Aragon High School in San Mateo today after San Mateo police received a threat to the school via a social media site, a police sergeant said Wednesday.

Police were notified Wednesday morning of a rambling threat that appeared on a Facebook Anonymous "confessions" page.

The online posting lead San Mateo police officers and detectives to the school to investigate the threat and provide increased safety to the high school, which is located on Alameda de las Pulgas in San Mateo's tony Baywood neighborhood, according to San Mateo police Sgt. Dave Norris.

The high school is one of seven high schools in the San Mateo Union High School District.

Officials at the San Mateo-Foster City School District were also notified as one of its elementary schools, Baywood Elementary School, is located close to Aragon.

"While it's not our experience that real threats are posted in advance on popular online forums, the safety of our city's students and school campuses are of paramount concern," Norris said in a statement.

Security operations and a strong police presence will greet students at school this morning.

The San Mateo Police Department is working closely with the school districts to investigate and assess the source and level of the threat.

According to police, offenders issuing or posting any threats will be held accountable.

Police will provide updates to the community when information comes available, according to Norris.

SF: Singer Says Alleged Anti-Gay Comments at SF Venue Were Misinterpreted

A Grammy-nominated folk singer who reportedly made anti-gay comments at a San Francisco concert venue on Sunday released a statement Wednesday proclaiming her support for the LGBT community.

Michelle Shocked, whose career started in the 1980s, reportedly said "God hates fags" and made other anti-gay comments during a show at Yoshi's in San Francisco's Fillmore District, drawing controversy and the cancellation of all upcoming dates on her tour.

Officials from Yoshi's also said Shocked would never be invited back to their venue.

Shocked said in the statement Wednesday that she was misinterpreted by the Yoshi's audience, some of whom wrote on social media about the comments.

"I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals," Shocked said.

She said when she told fans, "Twitter that Michelle Shocked says 'God hates faggots,'" she was "predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted."

Shocked said, "To those fans who are disappointed by what they've heard or think I said, I'm very sorry: I don't always express myself as clearly as I should. But don't believe everything you read on Facebook or Twitter. My view of homosexuality has changed not one iota. I judge not."

She said, "If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor, and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them." 

Nevertheless, the singer's comments at Yoshi's prompted concert organizers to cancel all upcoming shows on Shocked's U.S. tour, according to the website of John M. Becker, who created a Change.org petition encouraging the venues to cancel her shows.

The upcoming concerts included ones in Santa Cruz and Novato. Shocked's statement Wednesday also did little to assuage angered fans on social media.

One person wrote on Twitter, "Sorry Michelle Shocked but some vague PR letter doesn't get you off the hook. It's over. You're done." 

Oakland: Man Convicted of Murdering Google Job Hopeful

An Oakland man was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and other charges for the shooting death of a Virginia man who had come to the Bay Area for a job interview at Google.

George Huggins, 26, also was convicted of the special circumstance of committing a murder during a robbery for the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Jinghong Kang, who was fatally shot in the 1900 block of Webster Street in Downtown Oakland at about 11:30 p.m. on July 18, 2010.

In addition, Huggins was convicted of attempted second-degree robbery for trying to rob Hai Huang, a dental assistant who had just cleaned Kang's teeth at her office on Webster Street that night, and of two counts of second-degree robbery for taking items from a man and woman, both 26 at the time, as they were sitting in a parked car in the 1700 block of Telegraph Avenue early the morning of June 21, 2010, several weeks before Kang was killed.

Huggins also was convicted of using a gun to shoot and injure the man in the earlier incident.

He faces a term of life in state prison without parole when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson sentences him on April 18. Jurors only deliberated for a day before returning their verdict against Huggins, who bowed his head and was comforted by his attorney, Annie Beles.

Prosecutor Tim Wellman told the seven-woman, five-man jury that Huggins, and his former girlfriend, Althea Housley, 36, also of Oakland, targeted Kang and his friend Huang as they stood next to Kang's rental car because they "were vulnerable and were easy targets."

Wellman said Kang had flown to the Bay Area because he had a job interview at Google the next day and he had driven his rental car to Downtown Oakland to have his teeth cleaned by Huang, a dental hygienist whom Kang had met at a church conference.

He said Huggins and Housley worked together as a team, with Huggins approaching male victims and Housley approaching female victims, and that was what they did when they walked up to Kang and Huang.

Wellman said Housley grabbed Huang by her hair and threw her to the ground and Huggins pointed a gun at Kang and demanded that he turn over his money.

Kang told Huggins all he had was $17, and he gave Huggins that amount but Huggins still fired three shots at him, striking Kang in his leg and his chest and killing him, Wellman said.

Housley and Huggins then fled, according to the prosecutor.

Oakland police obtained video footage of the suspects captured by surveillance cameras at nearby businesses and they were later arrested, Wellman said.

Housley initially told police that she wasn't involved but later admitted she was present.

However, she said that Huggins was the person who shot Kang and claimed she didn't know anyone would be shot, he said. Wellman said police ballistics experts determined that the same .22-caliber handgun was used to shoot both Kang and the male victim in the earlier robbery.

Berkeley: Council Passes Resolution Supporting Student Denied Entry to U.S.

The Berkeley City Council has voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of a Berkeley fourth-grader who wasn't allowed to return home when his family tried to come back to the U.S. from Mexico in January.

Councilman Kriss Worthington, who authored the resolution along with colleagues Jesse Arreguin and Max Anderson, said 9-year-old Rodrigo Guzman and his parents, Reyna Diaz Mayida and Javier Ponce Guzman, were detained by federal authorities in Houston on Jan. 10 when they returned from a trip to Mexico because the parents' visas had expired.

The family was told that they could not re-apply for a visa for five years and was sent back to the Mexico City area, Worthington said. Rodrigo has lived in Berkeley since he was two years old and was a student at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, Worthington said.

A similar resolution was passed by the Berkeley school board last week.

The City Council's resolution, passed at its meeting Tuesday night, says Rodrigo and his family were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Houston and prevented from returning home to Berkeley.

But ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said her office wasn't involved in the matter and it was handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection because it's the agency responsible for determining the admissibility of aliens at ports of entry.

Yolanda Choates, a spokeswoman for the Customs and Border Protection office in Houston, said she could not comment on the specifics of Rodrigo's situation because of privacy laws.

But Choates said that under immigration law applicants for admission "bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the U.S."

She said, "In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility."

Choates said there are more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility, including documentation requirements. She said that if a child has a valid visa but his parents don't he would only to be allowed to enter the U.S. if there was an adult who was prepared to receive the child and accept custody of the child.

The resolution approved by the City Council calls on President Obama, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, to support the family's return.

Worthington said five of Rodrigo's classmates are hoping to travel to Washington, D.C., during their upcoming spring break to lobby Congress and even the president for Rodrigo and for immigration reform.

SF: Attorney Argues For Rehab For Man Who Stole Taxi, Rammed Police Car 

A San Francisco man who allegedly stole a taxi early last Friday and tried to run over police with it, prompting an officer to shoot at him, should be released without bail to a rehabilitation facility, his defense attorney said Wednesday.

Peter Russell, 25, is charged with carjacking, assault on a police officer, DUI and reckless driving for an incident that began around 4:30 a.m. Friday near Jackson and Buchanan streets in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Russell allegedly began jumping on the hood of a taxi and smashed its windshield, causing the cab driver to flee.

Russell then got behind the wheel and drove away, police said.

Officers soon tracked the car to Jackson and Spruce streets in Presidio Heights, where they tried to block it from fleeing.

However, Russell allegedly drove straight at the officers, clipping a patrol car.

One officer jumped out of the way and avoided injury while a second officer fired his service weapon at Russell, who was not hit, police said.

The suspect fled in the taxi but it was found abandoned shortly afterward at Bay and Octavia streets near Fort Mason.

Russell was found a half-block away and was arrested, according to police.

"It's a really difficult and sad case," defense attorney Stuart Hanlon said outside of court.

"This is the danger of alcohol."

Hanlon argued to Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson that Russell should have his $175,000 bail reduced or removed completely so he can enter Ohlhoff House, a San Francisco-based recovery center for people with alcohol or drug problems.

Hanlon said Russell entered and completed the program on his own last year, but suffered a relapse before his run-in with police on Friday.

"He doesn't have a history of violence, he has a history with alcohol," he told the judge.

Assistant District Attorney Nicole Crosby argued for the bail to remain at $175,000, saying the fact that Russell had already been in the program but still was drinking and endangered so many people made him a public safety risk.

Crosby said, "Potentially the defendant can return to a residential facility ... I don't think that day should be today."

The judge said he would take the matter under submission and make a ruling on this afternoon.

Russell has not entered a plea to the charges against him and remains in custody.

Santa Cruz Co.: County Hands Out Free Canvas Reusable Shopping Bags as 25-Cent Fee for Paper Begins

Shoppers in parts of Santa Cruz County are paying more to use paper bags starting Wednesday and the county handed out free canvas bags to encourage reusable over single-use bags.

Grocery markets and other stores outside city limits must begin charging customers 25 cents per paper bag at checkout as part of the county's effort to reduce disposable carryout bags, county public works resource planner Tim Goncharoff said.

Wednesday also is the first anniversary of Santa Cruz County's ban on single-use plastic bags.

The cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Capitola also have approved bans on plastic, Goncharoff said.

While paper bags will still be permitted for the 25-cent fee -- which the businesses keep as revenue -- the county is seeking to discourage paper bags as well, Goncharoff said.

Unlike plastic bags that take years to decompose and are more harmful to the environment, paper bags deteriorate faster but contain chemicals like mercury and the paper manufacturing process "is one of the dirtiest industries we know," Goncharoff said.

"The key is to have people bring their own reusable bags so that we have taken care of the problem of disposable bags," Goncharoff said.

Another ban takes effect on April 22, to coincide with Earth Day, when restaurants in unincorporated Santa Cruz County may no longer hand out food in plastic bags.

Restaurants, however, will be permitted to provide paper bags free of charge for takeout food, Goncharoff said.

"We didn't want people to have to hold out their hands for their burgers and fries," he said.

About 68 cities in California have enacted bans on plastic bags, about 100 others are considering it and there are bills in the State Legislature to ban them statewide, Goncharoff said.

"We think the time will come when we will see the end of plastic bags in California," he said.

Bay Area Thursday Morning Weather Forecast

Partly cloudy skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning, becoming sunny later in the day. Highs are expected to be around 60, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Clear skies are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the mid 40s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Friday morning. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s, with winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

 

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