San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

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Stormy Weather Floods Bay Area Roadways, Knocks Out Power For Thousands

As a storm continues to batter the Bay Area from Thursday night into this morning, the heaviest rainfall has been recorded in the North Bay, according to a National Weather Service forecaster.

The storm system was moving southeast through the Bay Area late this morning and is expected to soak the entire region for the rest of the day, forecaster Diana Henderson said.

In the past 24 hours, parts of Sonoma County saw more than 7.5 inches of rain while the Santa Cruz Mountains were deluged with 7 inches.

Rainfall in the past day was recorded at 4.33 inches in Calistoga.

In downtown San Francisco, 1.18 inches of rain was recorded with somewhat higher measurements at San Francisco International Airport and other parts of the Peninsula, Henderson said.

Henderson said more severe weather is expected to affect the region's more mountainous areas and some areas along the coast.

Just before 11:30 a.m., an urban and small stream flood advisory was issued for all Bay Area counties until 2:30 p.m. because of many reports of flooded streets, highways, underpasses and small creeks.

A flash flood warning is in effect for the Monterey Bay area, while the rest of the Bay Area is under a flash flood watch through the weekend, Henderson said.

"It's a heads up basically that conditions are ripe," she said.

A wind advisory is in place until 2 p.m. this afternoon for the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, with strongest winds expected along the coast.

Henderson said wind was more prevalent overnight. Gusts have become more benign late this morning at about 10 mph, she said.

Because of the storm, the California Highway Patrol has reported an abundance of flooded roadways throughout the region this morning.

In the San Francisco area, there are flooded lanes and freeway ramps including the Silver Avenue and Octavia Boulevard on-ramps to southbound U.S. Highway 101, according to the CHP.

A lot of water has also pooled on southbound Highway 101 near San Francisco International Airport, according to the CHP.

In the North Bay, a vehicle got stuck this morning at Ross Station Road at Ross Branch Road near Sebastopol, while other flooded roadways have been reported at Rohnert Park Expressway at Stony Point near Santa Rosa.

In Hayward, heavy flooding was reported along A Street this morning, while in Fairfield the westbound Interstate Highway 80 Air Base Parkway off-ramp was reportedly completely flooded.

Near Woodside, there was a foot of water reported on Interstate Highway 280 at Woodside Road.

As of 11 a.m., 3,700 customers in the Bay Area are still without power because of storm-related outages, according to PG&E officials.

In the North Bay, 2,200 customers were affected, while others impacted by the outages include 390 in the East Bay, 160 in San Francisco, 650 along the Peninsula, and 320 in the South Bay.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, 1,400 customers were without power and an additional 1,300 customers were affected in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties, according to the utility.

At its peak, the storm caused nearly 16,000 customers to lose power overnight in the Bay Area, according to PG&E officials.

The forecaster Henderson said steady rain is expected to fall through the end of the weekend.

Dozens Of Flights Cancelled At SFO As Stormy Weather Continues

Stormy weather this morning was affecting travel plans in and out of the Bay Area, according to airport officials.

At San Francisco International Airport, 60 flights -- 30 arrivals and 30 departures -- were canceled this morning, airport duty manager Joe Walsh said.

The cancellations, which started early this morning, were expected to continue to affect flights until about noon, Walsh said.

A delay program is in place at the airport until the end of the day, Walsh said.

He advised passengers check with their airlines before arriving at the airport.

In the East Bay, there was only one flight canceled this morning out of Oakland International Airport, an airport operations employee said.

No flight delays have been reported there.

Mineta San Jose International Airport has no cancellations or delays because of the weather, airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.

Man Killed During Home Invasion Robbery In Monte Sereno

Police are searching for a suspect in connection with a homicide during a home invasion robbery early this morning in Monte Sereno, according to police.

A man and a woman were at their residence in the 18000 block of Withey Road, near Beck Avenue, when a burglar entered the residence and ransacked the home, police said.

The female victim was able to call police when the burglar left the residence at 1:36 a.m., police said.

Upon arrival, police located the male resident deceased inside the residence.

The female victim was transported by ambulance to a hospital with injuries not considered to be life threatening, police said.

The name of the deceased victim is not being released, pending family notification by the coroner's office, according to police.

The homicide and burglary remain under investigation, police said. 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department at (408) 827-3219 or after hours (408) 354-8600.

Body Discovered In Fairfax Structure Fire

A body was discovered inside a burning structure in Cascade Canyon in Fairfax early this morning, according to the Marin County Fire Department.

Fire crews responded to a burning structure at the end of a long dirt driveway on Meadow Way around 1:30 a.m., fire officials said.

Firefighters needed about 700 feet of hose to reach the 20-by-35-foot structure that was almost completely destroyed by the time crews arrived, officials said.

By 2:30 a.m., during overhaul operations, firefighters discovered a body in the ashes and debris.

The Marin County coroner's office has yet to identify the body.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

No other injuries were reported and no other structures in the area were damaged.

Missing Timber Cove Man Found Dead

A Timber Cove man who was reported missing Tuesday was found dead in a creek bed near his residence Thursday morning, a Sonoma County sheriff's lieutenant said.

Sheriff's deputies were asked to check on the welfare of 60-year-old Aron Laventer around 7 p.m. Tuesday, Lt. Steve Brown said.

Laventer had not been heard from since Nov. 21, Brown said.

Deputies found Laventer's vehicle and several personal items at his residence, leading them to believe Laventer arrived home but left without personal belongings, Brown said.

The Sonoma County Search and Rescue Team searched for Laventer Wednesday until it got dark, he said.

The California Rescue Dog Association joined the search Thursday and at about 9:45 a.m., authorities found Laventer's body in a creek bed near his home, Brown said.

An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon, a Sonoma County coroner's office spokesman said.

Plea Hearing Set In San Jose Gang-Related Beating Death Of 14-Year-Old Boy

A plea hearing is set for today in Santa Clara County Superior Court for eight suspected gang members in connection with the April beating death of a 14-year-old boy and assault on his brother in San Jose, a deputy district attorney said.

Seven of the defendants have been charged with murder in the brutal homicide of Heriberto Reyes, an eighth-grader at Bernal Intermediate School, and attempted murder of his older brother Juan, Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega said.

The prosecution claims that defendants Ruben Becerra, Scott Conway, James Conklin, Angel Lamas, Javier Lamas, Jacob Lynch and Clemente Salas punched and kicked the Reyes brothers on a basketball court at Roosevelt Park on April 27 in downtown San Jose.

The eighth defendant, Joe Chavarriai, has been charged with being an accessory in the murder and attempted murder, Vega said.

The plea hearing is set for 2 p.m. at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

Each of the individuals charged in the beatings have allegedly been confirmed either as criminal gang members or those who committed the acts for the benefit of or in association with a criminal gang, Vega said.

On April 27, the brothers' father dropped them off after school to play basketball at Roosevelt Park, located between Julian and Santa Clara streets in an area known for gang activity, Vega said.

Both victims later became the center of a large fight determined to be gang-related, Vega said.

Heriberto died at the Regional Medical Center of San Jose three days after the beating, while his brother has recovered from his injuries.

There is no indication that either of the two victims were gang members, Vega said.

San Jose Firefighters Tackling Taqueria Fire This Morning

Firefighters are tackling a two-alarm fire at a San Jose taqueria this morning, a fire captain said.

The fire was reported at 7:42 a.m. in the attic area of Taqueria Lorena's at 399 S. 24th St., San Jose fire Capt. Rob Brown said.

Crews arrived minutes later to the restaurant, which had yet to open for the day, Brown said.

Nobody was inside the business at the time of the fire, he said. 

The blaze was contained to the attic, but water damaged parts of the main business, Brown said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Brown said firefighters had some difficulty attacking the blaze initially because of a hazardous location of an electrical panel.

No injuries have been reported and neighboring buildings are not affected by the blaze, he said.

The fire was reduced to a single alarm shortly before 8:30 a.m., Brown said.

The intersection of East William and South 24th streets is closed to traffic and pedestrians because of the blaze, he said.

Vallejo Rapper Arrested In Las Vegas On Drug Trafficking Charges

A Vallejo rapper was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service in Las Vegas Thursday on drug trafficking charges, federal prosecutors said.

Michael Lott, who performs under the name "Miami the Most", is alleged to be part of a drug trafficking operation throughout the country, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Authorities said Lott was a close associate of Vallejo rapper Mac Dre, also known as Andre Hicks, who was fatally shot in Kansas City, Mo., eight years ago.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed in April revealed the drug ring was operated by several Vallejo-based rappers and associates of an entertainment label known as "Thizz Entertainment", according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

In April, federal agents arrested 25 people in Vallejo, Stockton, Fairfield, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York and Oklahoma City, U.S. Attorney's officials said.

Agents seized approximately 45,000 Ecstasy pills, 4 pounds of crack cocaine, a half-pound of heroin and $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds as well as 230 acres of property valued at $1 million, authorities said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation uncovered a network of drug distributors in the "Crest" neighborhood of Vallejo that transported drugs outside California, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Lott will be brought to California after an initial court appearance in Las Vegas, U.S. Attorney's officials said.

Bruce Thurmon, who performs as "Little Bruce," and Beshiba Cook are the two remaining fugitives sought by federal law enforcement authorities in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Former Pittsburg Elementary School Teacher Sentenced For Child Pornography

A former teacher at a Pittsburg elementary school has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to four years and nine months in prison for possession of child pornography.

Alex Bursch, 28, of Antioch, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Wednesday and was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

Bursch formerly taught at Los Medanos Elementary School and was also a swim coach for the Pleasant Hill Dolfins, a youth swim team.

He was convicted on Aug. 29 by Hamilton in a one-day nonjury trial of one count of possessing child pornography on Sept. 1, 2010.

That date was the day that Contra Costa County sheriff's detectives arrested Bursch after discovering pornography images on his computers in a search of his home.

Prosecutors said in a sentencing brief that authorities found approximately 4,000 child pornography images and 150 child pornography videos on the computers.

They said the investigation began when an undercover officer discovered that a computer using Bursch's Internet connection was sharing child pornography images through the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing software.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of seven years and three months in prison, while Bursch's defense attorneys asked for probation, saying that Bursch had no previous criminal record and was amenable to treatment.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said that in imposing the four-year, nine-month sentence, Hamilton noted that Bursch's collection contained a large number of images and that some of the images were of prepubescent children and of sadistic sex acts involving children.

Hamilton denied Bursch's request to be allowed to remain free during an appeal and ordered him to surrender to begin serving his sentence on Jan. 28.

Caltrain's Holiday Train To Collect Donated Toys This Weekend

Caltrain is getting the holiday season off to a spirited start this weekend as the annual Holiday Train pulls into stations from San Francisco to San Jose.

A special illuminated train will make stops at eight Peninsula cities, spreading good cheer and collecting toys for the region's less fortunate kids through the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program.

The Holiday Train will carry Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, a Salvation Army brass band, singers and other holiday characters to greet families and well-wishers who bring new, unwrapped toys to their local Caltrain stations.

On Saturday beginning at 4 p.m., the Holiday Train will stop at the San Francisco, Burlingame, Redwood City, Mountain View and Santa Clara stations.

On Sunday, also starting at 4 p.m., the train will be at the San Francisco, Millbrae, San Mateo, Menlo Park and Sunnyvale stations.

An exact schedule of arrival times can be found online at www.holiday-train.org.

Since its inception in 2001, the Holiday Train has collected more than 45,000 toys for the region's needy families, according to Caltrain.

Two Injured In Shooting In East Oakland

A shooting in East Oakland left two people injured Thursday night, according to police.

Two adults arrived at a hospital with gunshot wounds following a shooting at about 10:50 p.m. in the 1400 block of 48th Avenue near International Boulevard, police said.

Both victims were in stable condition, police said this morning.

The victims reported that one suspect with a firearm fled the scene in a vehicle, police said.

Shots Fired Into Empty Cars In Front Of Watsonville Bakery

Shots were fired into several empty vehicles parked in front of a Watsonville bakery Thursday night, according to police.

An unknown gunman fired multiple shots into vehicles parked in front of the La Rosa Tortilla Factory on Menker Street around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, police said.

No one was struck by the gunfire, but employees inside the bakery called police when they heard the shots.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Watsonville police at (831) 768-3350 or an anonymous tip line at (831) 768-3544.

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