San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

Reset News Feed's picture

Oakland Airport Passenger Found With Suspicious Device During Security Screening

A passenger attempting to depart from Oakland International Airport on Thursday evening was arrested at a security checkpoint when a suspicious item was discovered, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said today.

The passenger was at the Terminal 2 checkpoint at about 7:45 p.m. when TSA officers found the suspicious device, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.

The discovery closed the security checkpoint area and the passenger was taken into custody by Alameda County sheriff's deputies, according to Melendez.

Armed Teen Kidnaps, Sexually Assaults 65-Year-Old Woman In Vallejo

A 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the kidnapping, physical and sexual assault and attempted murder of a 65-year-old woman in Vallejo on Thursday evening, according to police.

Vallejo police were dispatched to the area of Hiddenbrooke Parkway and Interstate Highway 80 at 6:02 p.m. on reports of a woman who had been found bound by duct tape in a ditch.

Police and medical personnel arrived at the scene and took the victim to a hospital, police said. Information about her condition was not immediately available this morning.

Detectives spoke with the victim and determined that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint from in front of a retail store in the 100 block of Plaza Drive in Vallejo, police said.

Police said she was forced to drive to a location within five miles of her abduction and was physically and sexually assaulted, then left unconscious and bound by duct tape in a ditch.

Police said the suspect fled in her minivan and passersby then saw the victim in distress and came to her assistance and alerted police.

While the woman was being kidnapped, one of her family members had received a phone call from someone demanding money in exchange for the victim's return, police said.

Detectives located the suspect, who had returned to the area, andvtook him into custody without incident. His name is not being released because he is a juvenile.

The teen was found to be in possession of a replica handgun, the victim's property, and the victim's minivan, police said.

The juvenile suspect, identified as a Vallejo resident, was arrested for multiple charges related to the assaults, as well as on suspicion of attempted murder, carjacking, armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom.

He was booked into Solano County Juvenile Hall, police said.

Vallejo police plan to hold a news conference to discuss the case at 11 a.m. today.

Norman Yee Declares Victory In District 7 Supervisor Race

In the historically tight race for San Francisco's District 7 supervisor seat, board of education president Norman Yee declared victory over F.X. Crowley on Thursday, nine days after Election Day.

Yee edged out Crowley, a former member of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and San Francisco Port Commission, by 131 votes after six rounds of ranked-choice voting.

Thursday's totals, which appear to represent the final vote tally in the race, had 12,448 votes for Yee compared to Crowley's 12,317.

"I am pleased that the final vote count has been completed, showing I have come out in front," Yee said in a statement Thursday.

"It has been a very long eight days since Election Night for my family and my supporters," Yee said. "Through it all, they have stood by me and provided encouragement."

The San Francisco Department of Elections will certify the votes by a deadline of Dec. 4.

As of this morning, Crowley had yet to concede.

Nine contestants were vying for the seat in the Nov. 6 election to replace termed-out Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Michael Garcia, who was endorsed by Elsbernd, finished third. Yee acknowledged the neck-and-neck race, which Crowley was initially leading on Election Night before Yee went ahead last weekend as provisional ballots were tabulated.

Department of Elections director John Arntz said earlier this week that the race was the closest he was aware of for a supervisor seat in San Francisco history.

"I would like to thank my opponents for creating a dynamic race," Yee said. "I think we can all agree that we care about San Francisco and District 7."

As the winner, Yee will represent the district in the southwest part of the city that includes the West Portal and Park Merced neighborhoods as well as the areas near Lake Merced, San Francisco State University and west of Twin Peaks.

State Legislators Defend Moraga Teen Kicked Out Of Boy Scouts For Being Gay

Dozens of prominent local elected officials are rallying to the defense of a Moraga teen who was kicked out of his Boy Scouts troop after acknowledging he is gay.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer are among 32 state legislators who signed onto a letter authored by state Sen. Leland Yee urging the Boy Scouts of America to honor 18-year-old Ryan Andresen's bid to receive the Eagle Scout Award -- the Boy Scouts' highest rank.

The showing of support comes more than a month after the teen's mother, Karen Andresen, started a petition on Change.org asking the Boy Scouts to give her son the award and to end its discriminatory policy toward gay members. The petition had gained nearly 425,000 signatures as of this morning.

The Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council, which oversees the teen's former troop, has said that it was following the national organization's policy when it expelled Andresen after he informed troop leaders that he is gay.

The council's scout executive could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.

But state legislators are now urging the local council to reject that policy, as many troops nationwide have done, and to award Andresen the Eagle Scout Award, which the teen earned by completing an anti-bullying "Tolerance Wall" at his former middle school in Moraga.

"In defending this hurtful and discriminatory policy barring gay youth and leaders, the Boy Scouts of America are simply standing on the wrong side of history. And in doing so, the Boy Scouts are hurting the very people that you aim to serve: the young men who participate in your programs," Newsom wrote in a letter to the Boy Scouts this week.

In his letter to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council, signed by the 32 state legislators, Sen. Yee wrote that the organization's decision to hold Andresen to a different standard than other scouts is "as offensive and un-American as it would be to do so because of the color of his skin."

The local teen and his mother, who both appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show last month, say that they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from lawmakers and from people worldwide who have signed the Change.org petition.

Andresen said he is encouraged by the actions of companies like UPS, a large corporate donor of the Boy Scouts of America, which stated this week that it would no longer donate to organizations that discriminate, including the BSA.

"I really hope the Boy Scouts realize that this is just the beginning," Andresen said. "Their decision to uphold this awful policy doesn't just hurt gay Scouts like me, but it hurts the entire Scouting community. But I know that if enough of us speak out, we can change this."

Antioch Man Shot And Killed In Apartment Complex Wednesday Identified

A man who was shot and killed at an Antioch apartment complex Wednesday night has been identified as 32-year-old Juan Hernandez, a Contra Costa County coroner's deputy said.

Officers were called at 9:12 p.m. Wednesday to reports of a shooting at the Delta Pines apartment complex at 2301 Sycamore Drive, according to police.

Arriving officers located Hernandez, an Antioch resident, inside an apartment at the complex, dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

Inside the apartment, police also discovered a suspicious device and summoned the Walnut Creek Police Department's bomb squad, which determined that the device was not a bomb and removed it from the premises.

Antioch police are investigating Hernandez' death as a homicide but have not confirmed any arrests or suspects in the case.

Man Who Died After Apparent Fall In Berkeley Hills Identified

A man who fell to his death in the Berkeley Hills on Wednesday evening while drinking and hiking with friends has been identified as Jonathan Geovany Mendiola Urbina, 24, of San Pablo.

University of California at Berkeley police said they responded to a report of a hiker who had gone missing from his group near Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Capt. Margo Bennett said when officers arrived, a hiking group of four people told them that the fifth member of the group had trekked to a different area and had not returned.

Police searched the area and found the man, later identified as Mendiola Urbina, down the hillside, Bennett said.

Bennett said police learned from the group that Mendiola Urbina and another hiker had started to climb a large rock in the area. The second hiker had left to return to the group but Mendiola Urbina stayed by the rock, she said.

Bennett said it appears Mendiola Urbina fell from the rock. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The members of the group said they had been drinking prior to the apparent accident, the captain said.

The apparent fall occurred on UC Berkeley property in the hills, but none of the group members are affiliated with UC Berkeley, according to Bennett.

The incident remains under investigation.

Cats, Dogs Up For Adoption Starting Today At Macy's Holiday Window in Downtown San Francisco

Adoptable puppies and kittens are expected to draw crowds at storefront window displays being unveiled today to kick off the holiday season at the downtown San Francisco Macy's.

Former Mayor Willie Brown will join San Francisco SPCA officials at 5 p.m. to pull back the curtains at the 26th annual window displays outside the department store at Stockton and O'Farrell streets.

More than 325 animals found homes and the adoption center raised nearly $80,000 during last year's holiday season, organizers said.

To see a preview of the different cats and dogs up for adoption each day at the Macy's windows, check the SPCA website at www.sfspca.org/holiday, SPCA spokeswoman Krista Maloney said.

The SPCA is still looking for volunteers to take on two-hour shifts greeting people on the street, accepting donations and directing interested families to adoption officials, Maloney said.

Those interested in signing up can visit www.sfspca.org/holiday-volunteer.

For those dissuaded by the large crowds but who still want a glimpse of the cuddly creatures up for adoption, a daily livestream of the window displays will also be available for viewing on the SPCA website.

The windows will remain open with pets up for adoption until Jan. 1, 2013.

For those who can't make it to Macy's to look at the animals, the SPCA will be waiving adoption fees on adult animals at the main adoption center at 250 Florida St. through New Year's Day.

Santa Rosa Man Arrested For DUI After CHP Pursuit In Two Counties

A Santa Rosa man was arrested on suspicion of DUI and evading police officers after leading the California Highway Patrol on a 30-mile pursuit in Sonoma and Marin counties early this morning.

Jacob Henry Shull, 26, was arrested following a pursuit that started when a Toyota 4Runner failed to yield on eastbound West Sierra Avenue in Cotati around 2 a.m., CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

The Toyota then turned onto Old Redwood Highway and sped through surface streets in Cotati in excess of 90 mph before driving south on U.S. Highway 101 into Marin County, Sloat said.

Marin CHP officers joined the chase as the vehicle exited the freeway onto Manuel T. Freitas Parkway and drove through red lights and stop signs, according to Sloat.

The Toyota stopped at the end of Arlene Terrace in San Rafael where the driver, later identified as Shull, ran onto a pedestrian trail, Sloat said.

Shull eventually surrendered and was booked into Sonoma County Jail around 5:30 a.m. on suspicion of evading police, DUI and resisting or obstructing an officer, Sloat said.

Shull was on probation for DUI that required an ignition-interlocking device, according to Sloat.

San Jose Police Searching For Missing 75-Year-Old Man With Alzheimer's

A man suffering from Alzheimer's disease was located in San Jose today about 14 hours after his family reported him missing when he did not return home from a walk to a supermarket on Thursday afternoon, police said.

Fernando Nunez, 75, was found by San Jose police officers in the 1800 block of Oakland Road at about 8:20 a.m. today after residents reported a suspicious man standing close to parked cars, police said.

Nunez, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, which can result in disorientation and memory loss, was unhurt and reunited with his family, police said.

Foul play is not suspected in his overnight disappearance, according to police.

Nunez's family called police at 6:40 p.m. Thursday to report he had not returned after walking from their home in the 400 block of North 12th Street in San Jose a few hours earlier.

Nunez told family members he planned to go to the nearby Mi Pueblo supermarket to return a shopping cart.

Officers responded and searched for him throughout the night after a "be on the lookout" message was sent to patrol units, police said.

Oakland Man Charged With Alleged Craigslist Armed Robberies

A 19-year-old Oakland man has been charged with two counts of armed robbery in connection with alleged robberies of victims he met through Craigslist.

Oakland police said Cas Black also is a suspect in a string of similar robberies between Aug. 22 and Oct. 22.

They said Black placed ads on Craigslist, was contacted by potential customers and then robbed them at gunpoint when they arrived to buy the items.

Black was arrested on Nov. 9 but Oakland police didn't announce his arrest until Thursday night.

He has already been arraigned and is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing. He is being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $150,000 bail.

San Francisco City Leaders To Open Newly Renovated Sunset Recreation Center

San Francisco leaders will convene today to officially open a newly renovated recreation center in the city's Sunset District.

The Sunset Recreation Center, located at 29th Avenue and Lawton Street, has had renovations done to its 18,000-square-foot gym and clubhouse, sprinkler system, restrooms, doors, windows, roof, and mechanical and electrical systems. The center has also been made more accessible for those with disabilities.

The center, which will again be open for residents, "has been a community hub since 1940," said Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Connie Chan. Chan said the renovations began in June 2011 and were just recently finished.

The cost of making the renovations to the center was $14.2 million and was funded by the voter-approved 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.

District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu will join other city representatives, including Recreation and Park Commissioner Allan Low, for a ribbon-cutting event at the center at 1 p.m.

The Sunset Recreation Center has been a public space since 1937, when it was purchased by the city and turned into a park.

In the 1950s, Mayor Elmer Robinson dedicated a new facility on the site with a clubhouse and gym.

The latest renovation was the first one to be made at the site since the 1950s, according to city officials.

San Francisco Police Seek Suspect In Tenderloin Home Invasion Robbery

A man was robbed at knifepoint by a suspect who forced his way inside his home in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood on Thursday night, police said today.

The home invasion robbery was reported at about 10:15 p.m. in the 400 block of Ellis Street.

The 52-year-old victim heard a knock on his door and when he answered it, the suspect forced his way inside and held him at knifepoint, according to police.

The suspect, described as a man in his late 20s, took cash from the victim and then fled from the residence. He had not been found as of this morning, police said.

The victim was not injured in the robbery.

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

PG&E Employees Returning From NY After Helping To Restore Power

The last group of PG&E employees who traveled to New York to help restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is set to return to California today, according to utility officials.

PG&E sent around 250 employees, including overhead and underground maintenance and construction crews, electric first responders and damage assessment personnel, as well as logistical support and field safety personnel, officials said.

The first group of around 150 employees returned on Wednesday after working to help Con Edison in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The group of around 100 employees returning today have spent the past two weeks restoring power to Long Island Power Authority customers by replacing and repairing wires and transformers and cutting and pruning fallen trees.

They are expected to arrive at Sacramento International Airport around 1 p.m. today.

Bay Area Unemployment Rates Mostly Stagnant In October

Unemployment throughout the state dropped slightly in October, while Bay Area counties maintained similar rates from September, according to a state employment report released today.

The California unemployment rate dropped from 10.2 percent in September to 10.1 percent last month. In October 2011, the jobless rate was 11.5 percent, according to the state's Employment Development Department.

Locally, Marin County maintained the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.8 percent in October, the same as the previous month.

The highest unemployment numbers in the region come from Solano County, where a 9.3 percent rate continued in October.

San Francisco's rate remained at 6.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate jumped slightly to 7.9 percent in October compared to 7.8 percent the previous month, according to officials.

The state's unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 households throughout California.

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