San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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Regents Approve Dirks As New UC Berkeley Chancellor

Nicholas Dirks said Tuesday that one of his goals as the next chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley is to ensure that the university is "both excellent and accountable."

Speaking to the UC Board of Regents after they unanimously approved his appointment at the university's 10th chancellor, Dirks said, "We want to provide the best education" and as well as "keep the public trust alive at all points."

Dirks, 61, said leading UC Berkeley is "the opportunity of a lifetime" because it is "one of the greatest universities in the world."

Dirks told reporters at a news conference a short time later that, "I'm more than a little daunted by the challenges I face" because the university has lost a significant amount of state financial support in the past decade but he hopes to make up the difference by raising funds from the private sector, as his predecessor, outgoing Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, has done.

Dirks said he wants to make sure that UC Berkeley remains academically excellent yet accessible to students from all income levels, saying, "The best education comes out of a diverse community of people."

He said he's impressed that the university already has a good program to increase the access of middle class students and one of his priorities will be to increase resources for financial aid for students who need it.

Dirks, who currently is executive vice president at Columbia University in New York City, won't start his new job until June 1.

He explained to reporters that he and his family want to stay in New York until then because he has a 13-year-old son in the eighth grade who wants to finish the current school year there.

Dirks was accompanied Tuesday by his wife, Columbia history professor Janaki Bakhle, who plans to join him in Berkeley.

Birgeneau said he's "very optimistic" that Bakhle will be able to get a job as a history professor at UC Berkeley but she must still go through the faculty hiring process at the campus.

Birgeneau, 70, who has been chancellor since September 2004, announced in March that he would step down at the end of the year but has greed to serve through the end of May to accommodate Dirks.

15-Year-Old San Jose Suspect In Violent Crime Spree Charged As An Adult

The 15-year-old boy who was arrested on suspicion of taking part in an armed robbery spree, a shootout with police, and the killing of a San Jose man earlier this month has been charged as an adult, according to the district attorney's office.

Adonis Muldrow of San Jose was arraigned Tuesday for charges of murder, assaulting a police officer with a gun, attempting to murder a police officer, four counts of second-degree robbery, and buying or receiving a stolen car, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Muldrow was arrested on Friday in the 5200 block of Clayton Avenue in Concord and booked in Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.

He was wanted on suspicion of killing Rory Park-Pettiford and the attempted murder of a San Jose police officer in a shootout with police that occurred on Nov. 16.

Muldrow's suspected accomplice in the alleged crime spree was Jonathan Wilbanks, 26, of San Jose, who was arrested the night of the shooting.

Police say that Wilbanks and Muldrow robbed four East San Jose businesses and started a shootout with police that injured an officer.

Park-Pettiford was shot during an attempted carjacking in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store in the 400 block of Kiely Boulevard in San Jose that night, according to police.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Assassinated Mayor George Moscone, Supervisor Harvey Milk Remembered At Vigil, Candlelit Walk

To mark 34 years since the assassination of then-San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, city officials and the families and supporters of the slain leaders held a vigil and led a walk from City Hall to the Castro District Tuesday evening.

The 4:30 p.m. vigil was held on the steps of City Hall, the building where Moscone, 49, in his third year as mayor, and Milk, 48, the city's first openly gay supervisor in his first year in office, were fatally shot by former Supervisor Dan White on the morning on Nov. 27, 1978.

The memories of the slain city leaders were honored by members of their family speaking to an audience of about 150.

Jonathan Moscone, the former mayor's youngest son who was a teenager when his father was killed, asked for people to remember Moscone and Milk's lives more vividly than their deaths.

"I'm tired of remembering them on the worst days of their lives," he said. He suggested the city memorialize Moscone on his birthday on Nov. 24 rather than the day he died. "Let's get this straight: George and Harvey did not die heroically. It was a senseless act," he said.

The day of the shooting, White, angry that Moscone had turned down his request to reappoint him after he resigned as supervisor 17 days earlier, entered City Hall through a window in a side entrance and shot Moscone four times in his second floor office, reloaded his revolver, walked down the hall and fired five bullets into Milk.

White was tried on murder charges, but after his defense argued he suffered from diminished mental capacity, the trial jury chose a verdict of voluntary manslaughter in May 1979. The judgment sparked riots in the Castro District and at City Hall by protesters who thought the conviction was too light.

But rather than dwell on the details of their deaths, Moscone's son said that people should live their lives like the two fallen leaders, who were crusaders for equal rights. "We're all agents of change like George and Harvey were. All of us have a voice," Moscone said.

Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown also spoke about the dreams of equality the two shared.

Lee said if Milk and Moscone were alive today, "They would smile. They would see that their efforts to make this city more equitable have already been accomplished."

Milk and Moscone "had been an incredible team," Brown said. "When I walk around the city... I see what George Moscone and Harvey Milk and what their existence inspired in all of us."

Fellow Vallejo Officers Testify About Fatal Shooting Of James Capoot

A dozen witnesses testified Tuesday in the preliminary hearing for a man accused of fatally shooting Vallejo police Officer James Capoot during a pursuit after a bank robbery in November 2011.

At the hearing in Solano County Superior Court in Fairfield, Vallejo police Officer Peppino Messina testified that defendant Henry Albert Smith looked directly at him as his Yukon Denali sped past his parked patrol car on Tuolomne Street at about 60 mph with Capoot in pursuit.

"He made eye contact," Messina said.

Smith, 39, of Fairfield, is charged with Capoot's murder on the afternoon of Nov. 17, 2011. He has also been charged with several special-circumstance allegations including lying in wait and killing a police officer to avoid arrest. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Messina said he joined the chase, which ended when Capoot used his patrol car to make Smith's SUV spin out on Janice Street in a residential neighborhood.

Smith fled the vehicle as it was still moving, and Capoot gave chase on foot, Messina said.

"He was about 10 to 15 yards behind the suspect," Messina said of Capoot.

Messina also joined the foot chase but said he lost sight of the suspect and Capoot.

"I heard three shots. Two were one after another, then there was a two- to three-second pause and then the last shot," Messina said.

He said he saw the microphone that Capoot had been wearing on his uniform dangling over the top of a fence along the side yard of a home at 124 Janice St.

"I pushed the fence down to get to the backyard. I saw Jim lying face-down in the backyard. His arms were under his body," Messina testified.

Messina said he and his police dog searched the yard for the suspect then returned to help Capoot, who was unresponsive but making moaning sounds, Messina testified.

Messina and another officer who arrived took off Capoot's shirt and vest and began CPR, Messina said.

"I tried to get a carotid pulse, but didn't get anything," Messina said.

Capoot had been shot once in the back, and later died at a hospital.

San Francisco Judge Denies NRA Bid For Preliminary Injuction Blocking Gun and Ammunition Laws

A federal judge in San Francisco has rejected a bid by the National Rifle Association for a preliminary injunction blocking two city laws regulating gun possession and ammunition sales.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said in a ruling Monday that the NRA hadn't met the standards for a preliminary injunction because it hadn't shown that it was likely to prove in a full trial that the two laws were unconstitutional.

Seeborg said the constitutionality of laws that regulate, but don't entirely ban, gun possession is still "unsettled" in the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008.

In that case, the high court said the constitutional Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to individuals and not just to militias.

But the panel also said the Second Amendment right is not unlimited and that some regulations would be permissible.

One of the two San Francisco laws challenged by the NRA in a 2009 lawsuit is known as the Safe Storage Law. It requires gun owners other than peace officers to keep their weapons in a locked container or to use trigger lock devices when they are not carrying the guns.

The second law prohibits gun shops in the city from selling dangerous ammunition, such as fragmenting bullets, which serve no sporting purpose.

Seeborg wrote that case law concerning gun regulations is still evolving, but said, "Plaintiffs have not shown there is reason to believe these provisions of the San Francisco Police Code are in conflict with the Second Amendment."

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose office defended the laws, said, "This is a thoughtful and persuasive ruling that affirms our position that San Francisco's gun laws protect public safety in a manner that's reasonable and constitutional."

A lawyer for the NRA was not immediately available for comment.

UC Berkeley Protesters Barricaded Inside Vacant University Building

Several students who barricaded themselves inside of a vacant University of California at Berkeley building Tuesday evening to demand support for minority programs on campus ended their occupation Tuesday night, according to protesters.

Banners were hung from the building at the sixth floor of Eshleman Hall, where the protesters were barricaded for roughly six hours Tuesday while police stood outside of the building.

Protesters also gathered in the plaza outside of the occupied building, lighting candles and cheering on the demonstration inside.

At one point the barricaded protesters threw a message from the window to the crowd waiting below. "This is what anti-racist solidarity looks like," the letter said, and was signed, "Students for Equity and Efficacy."

They emerged peacefully Tuesday night shortly after 9:30 p.m. and none were arrested.

A statement of demands distributed by protesters over the Internet and in printed fliers said that the six protesters who locked themselves in Eshleman Hall are seeking increased support from the administration for minority recruitment and the Multicultural Student Development offices.

Protesters in Sproul Plaza also said they were concerned that minority representation on campus was diminishing following the 1996 passage of Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action programs at California public universities.

Protesters said that the protest began with a rally outside UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's home Tuesday afternoon, and six protesters then broke off and barricaded themselves in Eshleman Hall.

Protesters said that Eshleman Hall used to be the home of the university's multicultural center.

The building is slated for demolition this fall to make way for planned improvements for the Sproul Plaza area of the campus, according to university officials.

Treasure Island Standoff Suicide Identified As Benicia Carjacking Suspect

A suspect who shot at San Francisco police during a pursuit before killing himself during a standoff on Treasure Island early Tuesday morning has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 29-year-old Duncan Phillips.

Phillips was wanted by Benicia police for allegedly stealing his ex-girlfriend's car at gunpoint and robbing and pistol-whipping another woman last Thursday.

Phillips was spotted in a stolen car by San Francisco police at about 11 p.m. Monday at Mason and Bush streets after his father had called 911 following some sort of dispute between the pair, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

Officers tried to stop the vehicle but it did not pull over, instead running through multiple red lights, police said.

A pursuit ensued, during which at least one shot was fired from the vehicle toward officers, who were not hit by the gunfire.

The pursuit continued onto the Bay Bridge and ended on Treasure Island, where Phillips got out of the car and ran to the shoreline and threatened to kill himself.

After an hours-long standoff, police heard a single gunshot and then moved in to find Phillips suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Traffic was blocked going in to and off of Treasure Island during the standoff and residents were asked to stay inside their homes. Traffic was reopened by shortly after 6 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

The American Red Cross responded to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to assist Treasure Island residents who were not able to get to their homes.

Suspect Sought After Firing Shots At Milpitas Police Officer Following Traffic Stop

The Milpitas Police Department is searching for a man who fired shots at an officer and shattered the windshield of the officer's vehicle early Tuesday morning following a traffic stop, police said.

The officer, who was not hit by the suspect's shots, returned fire at the suspect and suffered minor injuries during the shootout, police said.

The incident occurred in the 400 block of Jacklin Road at about 1:49 a.m. Tuesday when the officer pulled over a vehicle for a moving violation, police said.

Just as the officer left his patrol vehicle, the suspect got out of his car and began firing shots, hitting the police cruiser and shattering the windshield.

The suspect then went back into his car and drove away. Officers soon located the car, a tan 1996 Honda Accord, abandoned in a residential area, and learned that it had been reported stolen in San Jose.

Police have described the suspect as a Hispanic male, 20 to 25 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing from 160 to 180 pounds and wearing a black and while horizontal-striped flannel shirt.

Police are urging anyone with information about the suspect or the case to call the Milpitas Police Department at (408) 586-2400.

Fourth Claimant Sues Moraga School District Over Alleged Sex Abuse in the 1990s

A fourth former middle school student has filed suit against the Moraga School District in connection with alleged sexual abuse by a teacher in the 1990s, the school district's chief said Tuesday.

The claimant, who did not want their name released, charges that the district and three former employees could have prevented alleged abuse by Daniel Witters, a one-time science teacher at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, district Superintendent Bruce K. Burns said.

The district and its school board have consented to submit the new case and those of three other plaintiffs, including one by Kristen Cunnane, for mediation early next year, Burns said.

"The Moraga School Board continues to express deep regret for what happened to these students in the 1990s," Burns said in a prepared statement.

The board has placed all four of the claims on the agenda of its Dec. 11 meeting and will discuss the status of each one, Burns said. 

Cunnane and the three unnamed plaintiffs charge that the school district, a former principal, a former vice principal and a former district superintendent failed to act on complaints of sexual abuse at the Joaquin middle school in the 1990s.

Cunnane, 30, now a swimming coach at University of California at Berkeley, filed suit in September against the district, claiming that Witters and Julie Correa, a gym teacher, both abused her while she was a 13-year-old eighth grade student at the middle school in 1996.

The latest unnamed litigant filed suit against the same four defendants, but only alleged sexual abuse by Witters, according to Burns.

"Two of our former employees abused children who were entrusted to our care," Burns said. "This will be a source of sorrow and regret as long as we are a district."

In 1996, Witters was placed on leave and then committed suicide soon after several students complained to the school that he sexually abused them.

Correa is serving an eight-year prison sentence following her conviction in 2011 of rape and sexual battery charges stemming from allegations of abuse at the middle school.

Three San Jose Residents Killed In H-152 Collision With Big Rig

Three San Jose residents were killed in a crash involving a big-rig on state Highway 152 in Madera County Tuesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The victims, a man and two women, were identified by the Madera County Sheriff's Office as Thang Quoc Dang, 49, Thuy Trang Dang, 48, and Thanh Nhan Thi Nguyen, 54.

The crash was reported at 7:57 a.m. on westbound state Highway 152, according to the CHP.

A previous collision involving an overturned big-rig had spilled bales of cotton onto the roadway west of Road 16, causing a 2009 Volvo pulling a container trailer to swerve to avoid the debris.

The Volvo, driven by a 38-year-old San Leandro resident, struck a 1999 Honda that was traveling in the same direction.

The three San Jose residents who were inside the Honda died from injuries they suffered in the collision. The driver of the Volvo was transported to Madera Community Hospital with minor injuries.

The collision remains under investigation, according to the CHP.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

A high wind warning is in effect until 11 a.m. this morning in the Bay Area. Thunderstorms and rain are also likely this morning. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s. Southeast winds are likely to be between 30 and 45 mph with gusts around 60 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and showers are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the mid 50s. Winds from the southeast are expected to reach up to 15 mph.

Rain and heavy winds are likely Thursday. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s, with winds from the south up to 20 mph.

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