San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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Passengers Brace for a Possible BART Strike

As Bay Area transit riders brace for a possible strike by BART workers, a union representing 1,800 AC Transit workers warned that a BART strike could create a dangerous situation for transit workers and commuters. 

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 released a letter from union president Yvonne Williams to AC Transit general manager David Armijo expressing concern about news reports that AC Transit could help absorb large numbers of transit riders who would otherwise be stranded by a BART strike

"There are not enough buses in AC Transit's fleet to serve patrons who normally ride BART. In the past, AC Transit has redirected service away from our loyal, daily passengers, stranding them," Williams wrote in the letter. 

However, AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson stressed that there would be no re-direction of AC Transit buses away from their regular routes in the event of a BART strike. 

"Our regular East Bay service will remain intact," Johnson said. "We would offer as much supplemental service as we could or might be needed along our existing Transbay lines." 

Williams said Tuesday that during a previous BART strike in 1997, some AC Transit drivers faced a "riotous" situation, where buses might be surrounded by stranded commuters or placed in situations where riders were pushing and shoving to get a space on public transit, something in short supply in the absence of BART. 

At the time, BART carried about 200,000 passengers per day, Williams said. Now it averages about 400,000. 

Further compounding a potentially chaotic transit situation, the AC Transit union's contract expires on Sunday, the same day contracts between BART and its five unions end. Williams said 97.4 percent of AC Transit employees who participated in a vote last week supported authorizing a possible strike. 

Johnson said he remains hopeful that a new contract will be negotiated in time to avert a strike, and said the agency and the union are currently working with a state mediator. 

Williams cited worker safety and plans to replace sheriff's deputies assigned to AC Transit with private security guards as primary union concerns in the negotiations. She said that AC Transit has recorded a 50 percent increase in on-the-job injuries to operators from 2011 to 2012. 

But she said that the union is continuing to negotiate Tuesday in the hopes of having a contract in place shortly. 

Negotiations between BART and two of its five unions have been more contentious, with both sides publicly alleging bad-faith bargaining, and two of the unions filing a lawsuit. 

State mediators have been called in, and BART's two largest unions are conducting a strike authorization vote among their members Tuesday. 

The two unions are Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, and Service Employees International Union Local 1221, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers. 

Antonette Bryant, a spokeswoman for ATU Local 1555, said a joint statement will be released this morning detailing the results of the strike vote. 

"We are fighting to get a contract," Bryant said. 

She said, however, that the union hopes to avoid a strike. BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency is also trying to prevent a strike from happening. She said the unions' decision to hold a strike authorization vote Tuesday has delayed negotiations until today. 

But, Trost said, BART is "not at the point of warning our passengers." 

The MTC has posted an alert on its website that warns of a possible BART strike as soon as Monday. 

The agency is advising commuters to plan ahead and try to work from home or carpool. Heavy traffic and overcrowded public transit systems are likely in the event of a strike, MTC officials said. 

Reward for the Capture of Two Oakland Shooters

The family of a 22-year-old shot by two suspects after a traffic accident earlier this month in Oakland announced Tuesday they are offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to the capture of two suspects. 

At the site where Aya Nakano, a recent University of Oregon graduate, was gunned down by two male suspects after they had rear-ended his car near Market Street and Stanford Avenue the night of June 12, his family and friends stood behind a memorial of flower bouquets and held fliers and framed pictures of their smiling relatives Tuesday afternoon. 

Nakano was driving west on Stanford Avenue near Market Street when he was hit. He then pulled over in the 5800 block of Market Street where two male suspects confronted him and one shot him dead, Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said. 

The suspects' vehicle is described as a newer-model four-door silver sedan, according to Watson. 

Police are reviewing surveillance video that shows Nakano driving back to his Emeryville home from the University of California at Berkeley where he had been playing basketball before the 11 p.m. collision, Watson said. 

"Video has played a key component," she said about the investigation. 

Still more information is needed, Watson said, and the reward is being posted on billboards, benches, and buses throughout Oakland, and 800 fliers have been printed, Watson said. 

Watson said tips have come in about the case, but investigators need more to find the perpetrators. 

Additionally, Watson said investigators are trying to determine if the shooting stemmed from a simple fender-bender or if it was a ruse to get Nakano exposed. 

"This is a tremendous loss to them," Watson said about Nakano's family. 

One of Nakano's mothers, Maria Climaco, pleaded for the public to come forward with information about who took away her son. 

While clutching a framed photograph of her family, including Nakano's pet dog, Climaco said the toughest part of losing Nakano is waiting for him to walk through the front door. 

"I really miss him," she said. 

She emphasized the need to find the suspects. "I'm begging you with all my heart to please come forward," she said. 

Two Vallejo Firemen Honored for Heroic Actions

A man who was trapped on the balcony of his burning apartment in Vallejo last month escaped with his life thanks to a crew of dedicated firefighters. 

Tonight, the Vallejo City Council will honor two of them -- Vallejo Fire Battalion Chief David Urrutia and Firefighter Kevin Hickey -- with Medals of Valor for their roles in that rescue. 

"They're great firefighters," fire department spokesman Mark Libby said. 

"We're a short-staffed department, we don't have a lot of people, so sometimes even the chiefs have to go into action," he said. 

Around 4:30 p.m. on May 20, Urrutia and Hickey were part of a small engine company that responded to the blaze at an apartment complex in the 400 block of Ebbetts Pass Road, fire officials said. 

Once on the scene, the crew learned that a man was trapped on the balcony of his apartment, Libby said. 

"Fire was coming up over the top of his head and burning his head, and for some reason he walked back into his apartment," he said. 

Hickey quickly grabbed a ladder and climbed into the second-floor apartment, found the man and pulled him back onto the balcony. 

Urrutia was waiting at the top of the ladder to help the man down to safety, Libby said. 

The victim was taken to a trauma center to be treated for third-degree burns to his neck and arms, according to fire officials. 

About 20 people were displaced by the fire, which caused smoke and fire damage to multiple apartments. 

Libby said the fire was ultimately deemed accidental. 

The City Council is set to present the commendations to Hickey and Urrutia shortly at tonight's 7 p.m. meeting at Vallejo City Hall, located at 555 Santa Clara St.

2010 San Francisco Stabber found Gulity 

A 23-year-old man was convicted of multiple felony counts on Monday in connection with a brutal stabbing near San Francisco's Union Square in 2010, prosecutors said Tuesday. 

Oscar Arana was found guilty of aggravated mayhem and assault with a deadly weapon for the attack on Nov. 3, 2010, following the parade celebrating the San Francisco Giants' World Series victory, according to the district attorney's office. 

According to court testimony, Arana and the then-21-year-old victim were with a group of friends when, unprovoked, Arana came up from behind and stabbed the victim four times in the back, prosecutors said.

One of the stab wounds ruptured the victim's kidney and spleen and the others left him paralyzed from the chest down, prosecutors said. 

After a trial that lasted more than two weeks, a San Francisco Superior Court jury deliberated for about two days before returning the guilty verdicts, although he was acquitted of attempted murder, according to the district attorney's office. 

The aggravated mayhem charge still carries the possibility of a life sentence in prison, prosecutors said. Arana is set to be sentenced in the case on July 29. 

"This cowardly and abhorrent act changed the victim's life forever," District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. 

3-Year-Old Boy Dies After Drive-By Shooting in East Oakland 

An eyewitness said in court Tuesday that 3-year-old Carlos Nava remained alive for a few moments after he was struck by bullets in a drive-by shooting in East Oakland two years ago but soon succumbed to his injuries. 

Fighting back tears as she testified in the preliminary hearing for suspected shooter Lawrence Denard, 28, and suspected driver Willie Torrence, 24, Cynthia Montiel said Carlos was "looking and wondering what had happened" and she tried to comfort Carlos by telling him "to hold on." 

But Montiel, 22, said Carlos soon "started twitching his head, his eyes closed and his skin changed color to pale or green."  

Montiel said, "I seen him falling asleep and I knew he wouldn't make it because he couldn't twitch hard anymore." 

However, Montiel said she didn't tell Carlos' mother that Carlos had died because she was "really out of control" and she didn't know how she would react. 

Denard and Torrence are both charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder for the shooting outside a grocery store in a strip mall in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, which left Carlos dead and two men wounded. 

Oakland police said they believe the shooting was gang-related and the intended targets were the two men, who survived their injuries. 

They said Carlos and his family, who were shopping at the time, had no connection to the two men. 

Montiel said she was also shopping at the strip mall with her sister, her niece and a friend and saw Carlos with his mother and an older brother who appeared to be about five years old. She said Carlos was in a miniature car outside the grocery store when a gunman in a gray car fired shots at two black men who were near her. 

Carlos' mother immediately and repeatedly screamed in Spanish that her son had been shot, Montiel testified. 

She said that when she looked at Carlos "I seen a little hole in the side of his neck." 

Montiel said the two men were also struck by the gunfire and as they lay on the ground they yelled for someone to call an ambulance. 

Robert Hudson, 39, one of the men who was hit, denied on the witness stand Tuesday that he told police in a taped interview on Sept. 14, 2011, that Denard was the man who shot him. 

After the interview was played in court, Hudson admitted that his voice was on the tape but said he never told authorities that he got a good look at Denard as he hung halfway out a car window and fired shots. 

When Denard's lawyer, Annie Beles, asked him if he thought the tape had been doctored, Hudson said, "It has got to be. They rigged it up." 

When Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, who is presiding over the hearing, asked him if was his voice identifying Denard as the shooter, Hudson said, "I don't know how they put it together" and said he doesn't know Denard and doesn't know who shot him.

Advocates Protest Against Hunters Point Shipyard Project  

Dozens of advocates for construction workers in San Francisco's southeast neighborhoods blocked vehicles from entering the Hunters Point Shipyard project site Tuesday, protesting what they said was a lack of job opportunities for residents living nearby. 

Members of the Bayview-Hunters Point-based group Aboriginal Blackman United gathered at the intersection of Innes Avenue and Donahue Street Tuesday morning and stopped trucks and other vehicles from entering the site, where construction is set to begin this summer. 

The redevelopment of the former naval shipyard is expected to eventually include thousands of new homes and new retail and commercial space being built over the next several years, according to project organizers. 

The city's Building Trades Council signed an agreement in 2007 with Lennar Urban, the company overseeing the Hunters Point redevelopment, to work with the local nonprofit Young Community Developers on local hire efforts for the project, council secretary-treasurer Michael Theriault said. 

ABU president James Richards said his members are protesting because they "haven't been brought to the table" in negotiations over who will be hired for the project. The group held a similar protest at the site last week and will continue to take similar actions until Lennar and the city develop a plan to engage with them and other local job groups who want to work on the project, Richards said. 

"The job is getting ready to get started," he said. "I can't lie down and let this happen." 

He said, "Our motto is if we don't work, no one works." 

The group blocked several large trucks and other vehicles from turning left from Innes Avenue onto Donahue Street toward the worksite. 

A couple of police patrol cars arrived at the intersection around noon to oversee the protest but did not stop the group from blocking traffic. 

Derek Lynch, a member of a collective of artists who works at a studio at the shipyard unassociated with the construction project, was among the drivers who were blocked by the protesters. 

Lynch said he was annoyed at being stopped since he and other artists are in favor of the neighborhood residents getting jobs on the project. 

"We're on their side as much as anyone," he said.

Theriault said the city is not making any changes as a result of the protests. 

"We will stand by all of our agreements," he said, adding that Young Community Developers "will do a fine job of referring Bayview-Hunters Point residents" to jobs on the project. 

Theriault said if ABU members "want a job, tell them to go sign up with YCD." 

Bernal Heights Shooting Victim Identified

A man who was fatally shot near a public housing complex in San
Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood early Tuesday morning has been
identified by the medical examiner's office as 27-year-old Richard Wells

Officers responded shortly after midnight to a report of shots fired in the 900 block of Ellsworth Street near the San Francisco Housing Authority's Alemany Boulevard complex, police said. 

They found Wells suffering from at least one gunshot wound to his chest. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m., according to police. 

No arrests have been made in connection with the killing, police said. 

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's homicide detail at (415) 553-1145, its anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message. 

Suspected Shooters at Hunters Point Bus Stop Arrested 

San Francisco police have arrested two suspects in a shooting at a Hunters Point bus stop that left a man dead and a teen girl in critical

The two were shot at about 1 p.m. Monday at West Point and Middle Point roads, police said. 

Jaquan Rice, 19, of San Francisco and a 17-year-old girl were both taken tolSan Francisco General Hospital, where Rice succumbed to his injuries.  

The girl remained at the hospital being treated for injuries that are considered life threatening, according to police. 

Police announced Tuesday that 20-year-old Derrick Hunter of San Francisco and a 14 year-old boy were arrested and booked on suspicion of Rice's murder. 

One Suspect Arrested in Suisun City Robbery 

Fairfield police have arrested one suspect and are seeking two others believed to have robbed a victim of his cellphone on Monday. 

At about 10:20 a.m. Monday, the victim called Fairfield police to report that the suspects had stolen his cellphone in a strong-arm robbery in Suisun City and that he had followed them to Fairfield, police said. 

The suspects were driving a brown 1987 Toyota Corolla and parked it in the 100 block of Villa Circle in Fairfield, according to police. 

Officers responded to that block, and the suspects fled north on foot, climbing over fences into a residential neighborhood, police said. 

Ground units and a CHP helicopter scoured the neighborhood for the suspects, and one was located on a roof in the 1200 block of Meadowlark Drive

He was taken into custody and identified as 19-year-old Jakkari Sampson, of Dixon, police said. He was found to be in possession of the victim's cellphone. 

Sampson was arrested for possession of stolen property and robbery, police said. The other two suspects were not located. 

The suspects' vehicle was reported stolen out of Vallejo on Sunday, and the trio is believed to have taken it during an armed carjacking, Fairfield police said.  

Bay Area Forecast for Wednesday 26

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning, with highs in the upper 50s to lower 70s. Southwest winds up to 20 mph are expected. 

Continued clouds and patchy fog are expected this evening. Lows are likely to be in the 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph. 

Sunny skies with patchy fog in the morning are likely on Thursday. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s to mid 70s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

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