San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

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Richmond: Baby Hit by Stray Bullet Fragment Thursday in 'Good' Condition

A 1-year-old boy who was injured by a stray bullet fragment at an apartment complex in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood Thursday was in good condition this morning, a police lieutenant said.

The boy was one of two people injured in a shooting around 1:15 p.m. at St. John's Apartments at 121 W. MacDonald Ave., according to police.

Lt. Bisa French said the infant is recovering at Children's Hospital in Oakland after undergoing surgery to remove a bullet fragment from his neck.

French said she did not know when the boy would be released.

A gunman opened fire across the street from the apartment building, striking a man on a bicycle who police believe may have been the intended target.

A bullet fragment also struck the boy, who was being held by his grandmother inside an apartment home, French said.

The man hit by the gunfire arrived at a hospital a short time later suffering from a bullet wound to his leg.

He is recovering today, the lieutenant said.

Police said at least one male suspect fled the scene of the shooting armed with a gun.

Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus said Thursday that finding the suspects in the shooting the department's highest priority.

"Obviously the family is traumatized.You have a 1-year-old child who is literally in the arms of his grandparents, they're feeding him and bullets come into the house," Magnus said.

"I am really angry about this. I am sickened, I am appalled."

The chief more than doubled the usual reward for information leading to a suspect's capture and conviction to $25,000 in the hopes of gathering information as quickly as possible, he said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Richmond police at (510) 233-1214.

Anonymous callers may leave tips at (510) 232-8477. 

Santa Rosa: No Contest Plea by Driver Who Struck Bicyclist on Gold Course

An 82-year-old man pleaded no contest this morning in Sonoma County Superior Court to assaulting a bicyclist with his truck on a Santa Rosa golf course last August.

Harry Edward Smith, a Santa Rosa resident, faces up to eight years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced May 3.

Smith pleaded no contest to two counts of assault with his vehicle, as well as hit-and-run and driving without a license.

He also admitted the assault caused great bodily harm.

As part of the plea agreement, charges of attempted murder and threatening to commit a crime will be dismissed at the sentencing.

Smith's attorney Charles Dresow and Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney said psychologists examined Smith and the plea agreement was reached because Smith has a mental health condition.

"It's a condition many seniors face," Dresow said.

Dresow said Smith, a Korean War veteran, has led a good life and raised a beautiful family.

"It's unfortunate this happened toward the end of his life," Dresow said.

Nanney said the injured bicyclist, Toraj Soltani, 47, a Santa Rosa deli owner, agrees with the disposition of the case.

Judge Ken Gnoss could sentence Smith to probation or a prison term, the prosecutor said.

Smith initially faced 13 years and eight months in prison if he had been convicted of all the charges filed against him, Nanney said.

On Aug. 16, 2012, Soltani was riding on Pythian Road when Smith allegedly began yelling at him and tried to hit his bicycle, Santa Rosa police said.

Soltani fled onto the Oakmont Golf Course to try to escape Smith, but Smith followed him and struck Soltani with his vehicle before leaving the scene, according to police.

At Smith's preliminary hearing, Soltani testified he was sitting upright while riding his bicycle on Pythian Road without his hands on the handlebars to give his back a rest around 5:30 p.m. that day.

Smith pulled his Toyota sedan alongside his bicycle and the pair exchanged words, then Smith struck his thigh, Soltani said.

Soltani testified he became angry and punched the passenger side mirror of Smith's Toyota twice with his fist.

The Toyota was about 12 inches away when Smith said, "You damaged my vehicle. I'm going to get you. I'm going to kill you," Soltani said.

Smith took out his cellphone and said he was going to call the police, Soltani said.

Soltani said he then rode his bike on the sidewalk and turned left on Oak Leaf Drive but Smith followed him.

Soltani said he then rode his bike back to Pythian Road and down the cart path at the golf course to escape the Toyota.

He said he rode about 100 yards when he heard an engine accelerating before the Toyota struck the rear of his bike.

"It's kind of a blur. I went up in the air and the car plowed through me and I went to the ground.I tried to break my fall with my left hand," Soltani said.

The Toyota made a U-turn on the fairway, stopped briefly and sped away, Soltani said.

"I was walking around in a daze," he said.

Soltani suffered a fractured wrist and lacerated tendon but was able to call 911.

A civil suit filed against Smith is nearly resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, Soltani's attorney Tom Kennedy said after today's plea hearing. 

Richmond: Alcohol A Factor in Crash That Left Two in 'Extremely Critical' Condition

Two people involved in a head-on collision apparently fueled by alcohol and high speeds in Richmond late Thursday night are clinging to life and another is in critical condition, a police lieutenant said this morning.

Around 7:20 p.m., a Camaro was driving south on South 37th Street and going over the speed limit when it collided with a pickup truck heading north, police Lt. Bisa French said.

The truck flipped over, injuring two passengers and critically injuring the driver, police said.

A woman who was ejected from the Camaro was gravely injured and the driver was critically injured, while two other passengers suffered injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

The drivers and passengers involved in the collision were taken to hospitals.

French said the woman who was ejected and the pickup truck driver were both in "extremely critical" condition this morning.

She said investigators have determined that alcohol played a role in the crash and that all occupants of the Camaro were under 21 years old.

Monterey Co.: Off-Duty CHP Officer Killed While Working on Car at Home

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer.

CHP Officer Bryan Wright, 41, of Parkfield, was working on a car at his home when an accident occurred and he was killed, sheriff's officials said Thursday.

Additional details about the case were not immediately available, but the death has been deemed accidental.

Gilroy: Update: Man Killed in Crash on Rural Highway

A 44-year-old Watsonville man was killed Thursday night when his car crashed into a tree on a rural highway in Gilroy, a police spokesman said today. The accident was reported to police at about 10:50 p.m. in the 2600 block of Hecker Pass Highway, Gilroy police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said. The man, whose name is not yet being released pending notification of family members, was pronounced dead at the scene of the single-car wreck, Espinoza said. Officers diverted traffic away from the area until about 6 a.m. while authorities investigated the accident, Espinoza said.

SF: Man Found Dead at Ocean Beach Identified

A man who was found dead at San Francisco's Ocean Beach on Thursday morning has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 30-year-old Alex Peer.

Peer, a San Francisco resident, was found face-down in the water near Great Highway and Judah Street at 7:26 a.m.

Thursday, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

U.S. Park police are investigating the death, National Park Service spokesman Howard Levitt said.

SF: Update: Two Men Injured in Shooting Near Alamo Square

Two men were injured in a shooting near San Francisco's Alamo Square early this morning, a police spokesman said.

The shooting was reported at 12:22 a.m. at Oak and Pierce streets.

The two victims, ages 20 and 32, were in separate cars traveling east on Oak Street and stopped at a red light at Pierce, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

A passenger in another vehicle then opened fire at the 20-year-old, striking him in the arm.

The 32-year-old was also struck and suffered facial injuries, either by a bullet fragment or shattered glass, Esparza said.

The 20-year-old victim drove himself to the hospital while the 32-year-old stopped at the scene and flagged down police in the area.

Both victims' injuries are not considered life-threatening, Esparza said.

The suspect vehicle, described only as a blue car, fled east on Oak Street after the shooting and has not been found.

No other suspect information was immediately available, Esparza said.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Emeryville: Body Found on Beach Determined to be Suicide from Fremont

A woman's body found on an Emeryville beach Thursday morning has been determined to be that of a reported missing person from the Fremont area, an Emeryville police sergeant said this morning.

At 7:14 a.m. Thursday, a passerby reported seeing an unresponsive person on the beach at Shorebird Park, which is off the western end of Powell Street on a stretch of land that juts into the Bay.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency crews.

Emeryville police Sgt. Brian Head said the death has been determined to be a suicide and not suspicious.

People wanting to speak with someone about suicide or depression can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Concord: Update: Man Injured After Trying to Save Truck From Burning Garage

A man was injured after trying to save his truck from a two-alarm fire that badly damaged a Concord home this morning, fire officials said.

The fire was reported at 9:13 a.m. at a two-story house in the 900 block of Autumn Oak Circle, said Lewis Broschard, fire marshal of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

One of the house's two residents, a man in his mid 20s, attempted to enter the home's burning garage to salvage his pickup truck.

He suffered smoke inhalation and burns to his feet and was taken to a hospital in stable condition, Broschard said.

The second resident, a roommate around the same age, escaped the home without injury, he said.

Fire crews arriving on the scene saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the home's garage.

The flames quickly spread to second-floor bedrooms and into the house's attic space.

Broschard said firefighters battled the "stubborn" fire for about an hour before getting it under control.

The blaze displaced both residents and significantly damaged the home, although Broschard said damage estimates were not yet available.

Investigators are looking into what caused the fire, but arson is not suspected.

Broschard said the incident serves as a reminder that re-entering a burning home is never a good idea.

"It's just not safe, particularly in this case where the person was going in to try and save a truck," the fire marshal said.

"The truck can be replaced, but he was close to getting himself into some very serious trouble by going back in there and putting his own life in peril." 

Novato: Police Arrest Two in Connection with Attempted Bank Robbery

Novato police arrested two men who tried to rob a bank inside a grocery store Thursday afternoon.

Officers responded to a report of a robbery at about 1:45 p.m. at a U.S. Bank inside the Safeway grocery store located at 5720 Nave Drive, police said.

One suspect, later identified as Joshua Metoxen, 23, of American Canyon, was identified by an employee as having been involved in a previous robbery of the bank on Feb. 19 and the employee called police.

Metoxen fled on foot and was picked up by a car believed to be involved in the attempted robbery, according to police.

Officers eventually stopped the car on northbound U.S. Highway 101 at the Rowland Boulevard off-ramp, about five miles away from the bank, police said.

Police arrested Metoxen and the driver, Jack Dennis, 20, of Napa, on suspicion of attempted bank robbery and burglary, police said.

Metoxen received an additional charge of robbery for the February incident and also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest issued in Lake County for robbery, police said.

No one was injured in the robbery or arrest.

Both Metoxen and Dennis are being investigated by Novato police, the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the FBI for their involvement in the various robberies.

SF: Female Driver Crashes Into Hunters Point Home, Flees

A female driver crashed into a home in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood early this morning and then fled, police and fire officials said.

The car hit the side of the three-story building in the 1200 block of Hawes Street around 3:55 a.m., fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The driver fled after crashing into the building's siding and creating a hole, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. No injuries were reported, Esparza said.

SF: Man Arrested for Attack During Giants-A's Exhibition Game at AT&T Park

A man was arrested at AT&T Park on Thursday night for allegedly kicking another man during a fight at the San Francisco Giants' exhibition game against the Oakland A's.

Trinidad Ortega Juarez, 19, of Millbrae, was arrested following an attack reported at about 10 p.m. Thursday in the arcade area of the ballpark, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said.

Officers responding to a report of a fight saw a large crowd congregating, then saw someone on the ground and Ortega Juarez allegedly kicking him in the head, Shyy said.

He was taken into custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and a probation violation, while the 25-year-old victim was treated at the scene for swelling and cuts, according to Shyy.

The A's defeated the Giants 7-3 in the game, the first of three between the two teams to close out spring training.

The teams will play again at AT&T Park at 7:15 p.m. today, then in Oakland at O.co Coliseum for the final preseason game at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.

Bay Area, State Unemployment Rates Drop in February

Unemployment rates in the state and in the Bay Area continued to drop in February, according to employment data released today.

The California unemployment rate dropped to 9.6 percent in February, well below a year ago when it stood at 10.8 percent, according to the California Employment Development Department.

In the Bay Area, the jobless rate was down in many counties, including San Francisco, which saw a drop from 6.8 percent in January to 6.3 percent in February.

Marin County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, dropping to 5.4 percent last month.

The highest unemployment rate in the Bay Area for February was in Solano County at 9.3 percent.

However, that figure dropped from 10 percent the previous month.

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent in February.

 

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