San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Thousands Attend Emotional Memorial For Two Slain Santa Cruz Police Officers

Thousands of law officers, family members and other mourners Thursday attended an emotional and heartfelt memorial in downtown San Jose in honor of two Santa Cruz police detectives killed by a criminal suspect last week.

A dozen people, at times solemn, other times humorous, took turns speaking on a stage bedecked by floral wreaths overlooking the flag-draped caskets containing the remains of Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler inside the HP Pavilion.

Baker, 51, and Butler, 38, were shot and killed in Santa Cruz on Feb. 26 while following up on a report of a misdemeanor sexual assault.

The shooter, 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, was later killed in a gun battle with authorities.

Before the service began at noon, more than 200 police, fire and other vehicles formed a funeral motorcade in Santa Cruz that grew to several miles long on state Highways 17, 85 and 87 to accompany hearses carrying the caskets to San Jose.

Thousands of uniformed police, sheriff's deputies, firefighters, paramedics, harbor police, park rangers and other officers from throughout California and as far away as Canada filed into the arena, some marching in military-like fashion, to take their seats.

"When a tragedy like this happens, you really see the community of law enforcement come together," said San Francisco County sheriff's Deputy Kurt Ledesma.

"It makes you want to work harder, train harder."

"There is a bond we share because of the sacrifice," Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark, a longtime friend of Baker, said to the men and women in uniform during his eulogy for Baker.

"Do what you do today to return with honor," he urged officers and civilians alike, "to honor that sacrifice."

The ceremony opened with members of an honor guard who marched to the caskets and stood guard as cameras projected the site on a large screen over the stage and four larger screens on a huge video scoreboard hanging from the arena's ceiling.

An extended moment of silence throughout the arena ended just after Gov. Jerry Brown, his entrance shown on the video screens, took a seat among the hundreds of people on folding chairs on the arena floor.

The Santa Cruz Pipe and Drums group, in green kilts, marched down the center aisle on the floor playing bagpipes followed by a procession of members of the fallen officers' families.

The speakers included former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant.

SJ: Update: Missing Man Found Stabbed to Death at His Apartment

A missing man was found stabbed to death in his South San Jose apartment Thursday morning and investigators have arrested a suspect in the case, police said.

Officers responded to a report of a dead body at the Hilltop Manor low-income senior apartment complex at 790 Ironwood Drive at about 11:35 a.m., Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

When officers arrived, they found the stabbing victim, Dwyer said.

The man was later identified as 69-year-old Stanley Jacobson, who went missing in early February, according to police.

Police said last week that Jacobson, who suffered from dementia, was last seen by a neighbor at his home on Ironwood Drive on Feb. 5.

His family reported him missing Feb. 18 and told investigators that Jacobson did not know how to read or write and had left his wallet and identification at home.

It was Jacobson's family members who discovered his body Thursday, Dwyer said.

Police said they have made an arrest in the case, but have not yet released the suspect's name.

At the time they announced Jacobson's disappearance, police said it was possible that he was in the company of a 46-year-old woman named Regina Butler, and that he may be driving a tan 1996 Ford Taurus with license plate No. 3PQF984.

Jacobson's death marked San Jose's eighth homicide of the year.

No one at Hilltop Manor was immediately available for comment.

SF: Rental Truck With Flattened Tires Leads Police on Chase from Bayview to Haight

A husband pushed his wife into the back of a rental truck Thursday afternoon and fled police through a broad swath of San Francisco, even after officers used spike strips to flatten two of the truck's tires, police said.

The chase began with an argument between the husband and wife in the 600 block of Jamestown Avenue near Candlestick Park, Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.

Police received a 911 call at 4:35 p.m. reporting that after the argument, the man pushed his wife into a Budget rental truck and another woman, a friend or family member, got in the truck with the man and the three drove away, Andraychak said.

Officers began looking for the truck because the driver was suspected of domestic violence, and spotted it nearby.

The driver took off with police in pursuit.

The chase went all over San Francisco, through the Bayview, Potrero Hill, Mission and Lower Haight neighborhoods.

Police used spike strips to flatten two of the truck's tires, but the driver didn't stop.

As the driver became more reckless on city streets, police called off the pursuit, fearing it could cause a public safety hazard.

The truck was later found abandoned near the corner of Oak and Clayton streets, next to the Panhandle.

The three occupants had apparently fled.

Andraychak said that police know who the three are and are looking to talk to them, as well as any witnesses to the initial incident, to determine what sparked it all.

Several cars sustained minor damage during the chase and police took incident reports from those car owners and are making that part of the ongoing investigation.

SF: Home Invasion Robbery Suspects Pistol-Whip Victim, Flee Across Bay Bridge

Two male suspects conducted a home invasion robbery and pistol-whipped a victim in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood before fleeing from police across the San Francisco-Bay Bridge into Oakland early this morning, according police.

Officers received a report at 12:04 a.m. of a home invasion robbery at a residence in the 2100 block of 23rd Street, near De Haro Street.

Two suspects wearing dark clothing forced their way inside the victim's home and struck the victim with a pistol, according to police.

The suspects took the victim's iPhone and iPad and fled from the residence in a vehicle before police arrived at the scene.

Police were able to track the suspect vehicle across the San Francisco-Bay Bridge to Oakland, before losing sight of the vehicle.

The home invasion robbery and assault remain under investigation.

Anyone with information regarding the suspects is asked to contact San Francisco police.

SF: Update: Victim in Soma Shooting Today Expected to Survive

A man shot in his torso in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood Thursday morning is expected to survive, according to police.

The victim, a man in his 30s, was in the first block of Bryant Street when he was shot around 3:45 p.m., police said.

After that, a driver not injured in the shooting drove around with the victim looking for a hospital.

The driver flagged down a parking official at Mission and Main streets and asked for directions to a hospital, police said.

The two then stopped at Market and Main streets where the man in the passenger seat was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.

The shooting suspect fled, possibly on foot, and was only described as a male, police said.

San Ramon: Department's First Police K-9 Retires After 10 Years

Contra Costa County's oldest working police dog will have plenty of time for new tricks after retiring from the San Ramon Police Department this week.

Dar, a 12-year-old German Shepherd, retired from the local department after more than a decade patrolling the streets of San Ramon alongside Officer Marty Echelmeier.

"I don't even want to think about it," Echelmeier said earlier this week about his first shift without Dar.

"I know it will be very strange and lonely.

I'm sure I'll be calling (my wife) a lot to check in on him."

Police say Dar, whose name means "gift," was born in the Czech Republic and began intense training as an 8-week-old pup.

In 2003, he was brought to the United States and the SRPD was able to purchase him with federal grant money.

At two years old, the German Shepherd was the city's first police K-9, police said.

Dar's extensive training allowed him the ability to detect the odor of narcotics, missing people or hiding suspects.

Over the past decade, the furry crime-fighter has helped apprehend more than three-dozen suspects and has located dozens more people in need of assistance, including 23 lost children and elderly people suffering from dementia.

The beloved K-9 also made the rounds at more lighthearted police events, including school presentations and bike rodeos.

"Not only is Dar a part of our police department family, he is a highly recognizable member of our San Ramon community.

With the number of school and community presentations where he has appeared you would be hard-pressed to find a local student who does not know Dar by name," police Chief Scott Holder said.

Echelmeier, who will remain Dar's caretaker, said his former co-worker will now have ample time for one of his favorite hobbies -- searching for balls around the tennis courts near his home.

SF: Update: Four In Custody After Robbery, Standoff at Marijuana Grow Site in Bayview

San Francisco police Thursday identified four men who were arrested after allegedly trying to rob a marijuana growing operation in the city's Bayview District on Wednesday.

The standoff began around 3:50 a.m. in the 2100 block of Jennings Street, where suspects wearing ski masks tried to rob the facility, which was apparently permitted by the city and contained about 1,000 marijuana plants, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

Three suspects, Damien Thomas, 33, Joseph Nathaniel Hall, 30, and Daniel Contreras, 40, then fled on foot but were arrested about two blocks away, Andraychak said.

A fourth suspect, 22-year-old William Frederick Carter, remained inside with employees there for several hours while police surrounded the building and closed off nearby streets.

Around 8:30 a.m., officers led four people believed to be facility employees out of the building, and the standoff continued until about 10 a.m. when Carter finally surrendered to tactical officers accompanied by a K-9 unit, Andraychak said.

Evidence recovered at the scene included multiple ski masks and two handguns, police said.

The four suspects, all San Francisco residents, were booked into jail on suspicion of burglary, robbery, false imprisonment, kidnapping and conspiracy.

Thomas will face additional charges of possessing stolen property, battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, while Carter is facing firearm and probation violations and Hall is accused of resisting a police officer.

No one was injured during the robbery or standoff, which included the Police Department's SWAT team, crisis negotiators, firefighters, medical responders and forced the San Francisco Municipal Railway 54-Felton bus line to be rerouted.

Contra Costa Co: DA's Office Files Papers to Block Child Sex Offender's Move to Bay Point

Contra Costa County prosecutors are hoping court papers filed Wednesday will prevent a man the state deems a "sexually violent predator" from moving into a Bay Point neighborhood next week.

Convicted child molester Charles Christman, 69, was ordered by a state Superior Court judge on Feb. 26 to live in a cottage at 1975 Willow Pass Road in Bay Point upon his release from a state mental hospital, which is expected to occur on or before Tuesday.

Many residents and businesses in the area learned of their potential new neighbor for the first time Wednesday afternoon when sheriff's deputies canvassing the neighborhood notified them.

But Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts is hopeful that a writ of mandate he filed Wednesday seeking a stay of Christman's release order will prevent the registered sex offender from moving in.

The writ requests the state appeals court to speedily review the merits of the case and impose an emergency stay on the convict's release, Butts said.

The filing is based on the location of the sex offender's potential new home, which is just a quarter-mile from Willow Cove Elementary School.

When using a straight-line measurement, the school is less than 500 feet from Christman's proposed residence -- which would violate California law prohibiting a convicted child sex offender from living within a quarter-mile of a school, the prosecutor said.

Instead, the state court accepted a pedestrian measurement from 1975 Willow Pass Road to the school's front door, which is slightly over a quarter-mile.

"If you use a pedestrian route, (a sex offender) could literally live next to a school as long as it requires you to walk a quarter-mile to the school," Butts said. "What if there's a hole in the fence? There's no way to apply the statute evenly."

While the prosecutors said "things are moving quickly" through the courts, there is no guarantee a stay will be granted.

If the release order is upheld, Christman is expected to move into the Bay Point neighborhood populated by families with young children.

His release comes after decades of prison and state mental hospital time following convictions in the 1980s for sex crimes against children under 14 years old.

Christman also had a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

San Mateo Co: Burglary Suspects Nabbed After Police Pursuit That Spanned Three Cities

Alert residents in the Peninsula helped police track down and arrest three home burglary suspects after a three-city pursuit that ended in Belmont Thursday afternoon, a San Mateo police sergeant said.

San Mateo police responded to a report of the sound of a front door breaking in the first block of Lakewood Circle at about 10:20 a.m., Sgt. Dave Norris said.

Officers quickly arrived at the scene and, with the help of witness accounts, began a lookout for a gold, four-door car with a dark gray trim fleeing the area, Norris said.

Police located the car on U.S. Highway 101 and pursued it off the highway and onto Holly Street in San Carlos, according to Norris.

After evading police again, the car was spotted by Belmont police in the area of El Camino Real and Ralston Avenue, Norris said.

With the assistance of a San Mateo County sheriff's detective, Belmont police pursued the car through the hills of Belmont and onto Rinconada Court, Norris said.

At that time, three suspects, believed to be in their 20s and from the East Bay, exited the car, one with a handgun, and fled the area, the sergeant said.

Calls from community members helped police keep a beat on the suspects' whereabouts and a short period later, all three suspects were safely taken into custody, Norris said.

The entire pursuit ended at about 11:20 a.m., he said. No shots were fired.

One officer suffered a minor injury in a crash during the pursuit, he said.

Nearby Fox Elementary and Ralston Middle schools were locked down briefly during the pursuit, Norris said.

San Mateo police are investigating the burglary, and no further suspect information was immediately available.

Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call San Mateo police at (650) 522-7700 or (650) 522-7650, anonymously at (650) 522-7676, or via text to (650) 262-3473.

Vallejo Man Who Operated Napa County Food Truck Reported Missing

The family of a missing Vallejo man who operated a food truck in Napa County believes he has been abducted, Napa County sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said Thursday afternoon.

Ramiro Arechiga's family reported him missing to Vallejo police Tuesday, and police notified the Napa County Sheriff's Office Wednesday, Stuart said.

"The family is convinced he was abducted because he wouldn't just leave," Stuart said.

Arechiga's food truck was found at 770 Skyway Court here his wife last saw him on Monday, Stuart said.

Arechiga spent Monday night at the Travis Lodge in Fairfield, and withdrew money from the Wells Fargo bank in Fairfield around 11:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Stuart said. It's unknown how he got to Fairfield from where he left his truck on Skyway Court in Napa County near the Napa County Airport, Stuart said.

Stuart said Arechiga's cell phone, keys and money were found in the food truck.

Arechiga, who speaks little English, is 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 200 pounds and has brown eyes and dark brown hair, Stuart said.

Arechiga operated the taco truck near the Napa County Airport and Coombs Street in Napa, Stuart said.

Antioch: Early-Morning Fire Destroys Boat, Heavily Damages Home

A one-alarm fire destroyed a boat and caused major damage to a home in Antioch early Thursday morning, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said.

Fire personnel were called to a home in the 200 block of Creed Avenue around 3:10 a.m. on reports of a structure fire, according to the fire district.

When crews arrived on the scene, they saw heavy smoke and fire coming from the home's backyard.

Fire personnel discovered the fire had started on a boat kept on the property and spread to a detached residence, fire officials said.

No residents were inside when crews arrived and no injuries were reported.

Crews were able to get the fire under control in about 17 minutes and kept the flames from spreading to other nearby buildings.

The boat was lost in the blaze and the home sustained significant damage.

The total damage to the boat and the residence is estimated to be around $100,000, according to fire officials.

Fire investigators have ruled the fire accidental.

Weather Forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area 

Partly cloudy skies are forecast for the Bay Area this morning, becoming sunny later in the day.

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

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening becoming clear later in the night.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 40s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Saturday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s, with winds around 5 mph.


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