Wednesday Morning News Roundup
Overturned Barbecue Leads To Arrest Of Vallejo Man Suspected Of Burglary
Sausalito police arrested a Vallejo man on Tuesday on suspicion of burglary after he was found hiding in a residence on Cypress Place, a police lieutenant said.
A Butte Street resident called police around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday after a man came to his door and asked for directions, Lt. Kurtis Skoog said.
The resident was suspicious because there wasn’t a vehicle in his driveway and it should have appeared to the man that the house was vacant, Skoog said.
Police searched the area and found a man matching the description of the suspect standing in ivory between Tomales Street and Willow Lane, Skoog said.
The suspect fled when he saw Sgt. Stacie Gregory and Officer Francisco Padilla’s patrol car. Gregory and Padilla chased the man but lost sight of him, Skoog said.
Mill Valley police and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office responded, set up a perimeter and conducted a door-to-door search with Sausalito police, Skoog said.
The officers noticed a rear sliding glass door slightly ajar and an overturned barbecue at the rear of a residence on Cypress Place, Skoog said.
Police arrested 18-year-old Tyrell Bland after they found him inside the house, Skoog said. Police found a bag containing electronic devices that Bland allegedly discarded, Skoog said. The items inside the bag were stolen from a Tomales Street residence, Skoog said.
Bland was booked in the Marin County Jail on suspicion of residential burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools and resisting arrest, Skoog said.
Dozens Of Illnesses Reported After Events At Redwood Shores Hotel
A Redwood Shores hotel has closed its kitchen after an outbreak of illness that has affected more than three dozen people, San Mateo County Health System officials said Tuesday.
The outbreak was first reported Oct. 26 when 12 people who had attended the California Hawaii NAACP annual convention at the Hotel Sofitel at 223 Twin Dolphin Drive were taken to the hospital by ambulance with gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to county health officials.
An unspecified number of others also transported themselves to the hospital, triggering an investigation by county and state health officials.
More people became ill following subsequent events at the hotel, bringing the reported total number of people affected to around 40 as of Monday morning, county health spokeswoman Robyn Thaw said.
The hotel closed the kitchen on Thursday and has taken steps to disinfect the property, according to Thaw.
Officials hope to have lab results back this week.
Sandra Duhamel, spokeswoman for hotel group Accor that owns the Sofitel Luxury Hotels chain, said in an email that those who initially fell ill recovered within 24 to 48 hours.
“Shortly after the first illnesses were reported, we retained an epidemiologist who advised us that the symptomatology indicated the possibility of a community acquired virus such as norovirus being the cause,” Duhamel said.
The spokeswoman said the hotel is cooperating with county health officials’ investigation into the illness.
“We understand and sympathize with any concern this has caused, as the health of our guests is of the utmost importance to us,” Duhamel said.
Oldest Bison At Golden Gate Park Named ‘Last Cow’ Died Monday
A bison named “Last Cow” died Monday in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Zoo officials announced Tuesday.
The female American bison was 22 years old and the oldest bison at the park, according to zoo officials.
Members of the San Francisco Zoological Society cared for her and staff from the zoo had been monitoring her for several months due to her old age, officials said.
Bison have a life expectancy of 25 years.
She was living in a meadow at Golden Gate Park and was an original descendant of bison that was a birthday gift in 1984 to then-mayor and Sen. Dianne Feinstein from her husband, Richard Blum.
Six 3-year-old bison were brought to the same meadow in 2011 and remain there today, zoo officials said.
The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department maintains the meadow and the San Francisco Zoological Society provides veterinary services to the bison.
“We take special care to accommodate the needs of our geriatric animals,” Graham Crawford, San Francisco Zoo chief of veterinary services, said in a statement.
“Her longevity can be attributed to the great care provided by her animal care staff,” Crawford said.
Bison were first brought to Golden Gate Park in 1891, when they were at risk for extinction, zoo officials said. The thriving herd gave birth to 100 calves as part of a nationwide captive breeding program.
Today there are more than 200,000 bison in existence protected in their natural environment at Yellowstone National Park.
One Shot In City’s Tenderloin Neighborhood Tonight, Suspect At Large
One person was wounded in a shooting in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood Tuesday night, a police spokesman said.
Officers responded to a report of a shooting at Eddy and Larkin streets around 8 p.m., police Officer Gordon Shyy said.
Arriving officers found a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper body, Shyy said.
He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment and is expected to survive his injuries, according to Shyy.
The suspect fled the area and is at large, the spokesman said.
Co-Defendant Convicted Of First-Degree Murder In 2012 Death Of Monte Sereno Man
A jury in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on Tuesday found a defendant in the 2012 homicide of a wealthy Monte Sereno man guilty of first-degree murder with a gang enhancement that requires a life sentence without parole, according to a prosecutor.
The jury convicted Marcellous Drummer in the murder of Raveesh Kumra, who choked to death while gagged by duct tape during a robbery of his three-story home of cash, jewelry and other valuables on Nov. 30, 2012, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said.
The jury also found Drummer guilty of false imprisonment of Kumra and his ex-wife Harinder Kumra during the home invasion robbery but did not convict him on a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge on Harinder, finding him guilty instead of misdemeanor assault, Smith said.
But Drummer’s conviction on the count of first-degree murder with a special circumstance and a gang enhancement means that he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and sentences on the other charges likely will run consecutively, Smith said.
A hearing on Drummer’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21 in Superior Court in San Jose, according to Smith.
Smith, after the verdict, recounted what he said to the jury during his closing argument last week.
Drummer was being tried separately from his two co-defendants in the Kumra murder case, DeAngelo Austin and Javier Garcia, who like Drummer are members of Oakland street gangs who have been charged in the robbery-murder but their trials have not begun.
Prosecutors alleged that the three men entered the Kumras’ Monte Sereno home, tied up and gagged Raveesh Kumra and beat, gagged and tied up Harinder Kumra before ransacking their home, taking about $30,000 in cash in addition to valuables before fleeing their home.
At one point while the Kumras were in tied up in the kitchen area of their home, Raveesh suffocated next to his ex-wife as the defendants ransacked the residence, according to prosecutors.
During Drummer’s trial, prosecutors used DNA evidence they said tied Drummer to the crime scene and relied on the testimony of a star witness, Katrina Fritz, a longtime prostitute from Pittsburg in the East Bay who provided sexual services for Raveesh Kumra from 1999 to 2011.
PG&E Executive Who Lost Job Over Emails To Receive $1.1 Million In Severance Pay
A former PG&E senior executive who lost his job following the disclosure of inappropriate emails to regulators will receive a $1.1 million severance payment, according to a report filed by the utility with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Thomas Bottorff, the former senior vice president of regulatory affairs, was one of three executives whose employment was terminated in September when PG&E revealed a set of emails to the California Public Utilities Commission that appeared to show improper judge-shopping.
Bottorff’s separation agreement was included in San Francisco-based PG&E’s quarterly report to the SEC, filed on Oct. 28.
The agreement was signed by Bottorff on Sept. 12 and said he resigned as of that date.
Conditions of the severance package are that Bottorff must cooperate in legal and regulatory proceedings concerning PG&E, must not sue PG&E for any reason, and must refrain from demeaning the utility’s reputation.
Bottorff’s separation benefits include the $1.1 million in severance pay; continued vesting of stock given to him in an incentive plan; $29,000 in health insurance payments for 18 months; and $12,000 worth of career-transition services.
PG&E spokesman Keith Stephens said Tuesday, “The benefits that were provided were in accordance with the company’s officer separation policy and are based on individual compensation levels and years of service.
The emails were announced by PG&E on Sept. 15. They were written in January by former Vice President for Regulatory Relations Brian Cherry, whom Bottorff supervised, to a PUC staff member and Commissioner Mike Florio.
The messages concerned apparent attempts to influence the selection of a PUC administrative law judge for a PG&E gas transmission and storage rate case. PG&E said when disclosing the messages that it believed they violated the PUC’s rules barring private communications to commissioners and staff on regulatory matters.
An administrative law judge who held a hearing on the messages ruled on Oct. 16 that “PG&E’s actions severely harmed the integrity of the regulatory process.” The commission is scheduled to consider a penalty at a Nov. 20 meeting.
Cherry and Vice President of Regulatory Proceedings and Rates Trina Horner were also terminated from PG&E employment in September. The Oct. 28 SEC filing did not provide any information on the terms of their separations.
On Oct. 6, PG&E released a second batch of emails written by Cherry in 2010 and 2013 and said those messages also appeared to violate the rules.
In an email report sent to Bottorff on May 31, 2010, Cherry described a private dinner with PUC President Michael Peevey at which, according to Cherry’s letter, they discussed several regulatory proceedings and Peevey allegedly asked PG&E to contribute $1.1 million to an anniversary dinner and a campaign against a ballot initiative.
The 2013 emails were exchanged between Cherry and Florio and concerned whether the pressure in a disputed natural gas line in San Carlos could be restored to normal operating level.
House Fire Considered Arson Because Tenants Received Eviction Notice
A fire at a rented house in Geyserville on Tuesday morning is considered arson because the tenants received an eviction notice three days ago, a Sonoma County sheriff’s sergeant said.
When a sheriff’s deputy went to the house on Healdsburg Avenue around 8:40 a.m. to serve the eviction, he found the house fully engulfed in flames, Sgt. Cecile Focha said.
It was too dangerous to go inside, so the deputy called the Geyserville Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol provided traffic control, Focha said.
A newer, dark green extended cab pickup truck with two men inside left the scene moments before the deputy arrived, and the truck possibly went down Lytton Springs Road to U.S. Highway 101, Focha said.
The owner of the home who arrived while emergency responders were present said the rental property was posted for eviction three days earlier, Focha said. The initial report will list the fire as arson, Focha said.
The sheriff’s office is not releasing the names of the tenants or the owner pending further investigation, Focha said.
Family Of Five Displaced By 1-Alarm Townhouse Fire
A one-alarm fire in San Jose displaced a mother and her five children Tuesday evening, a fire captain said.
Fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire in the 3400 block of Sugarcreek Drive around 5:10 p.m., San Jose fire Capt. Reggie Williams said.
The blaze was west of Silver Creek High School.
The fire broke out at a unit in a two-story townhouse and did not spread to five other units in the structure, he said.
The blaze was under control at 5:37 p.m., according to Williams.
No one was inside the unit during the fire, Williams said.
No injuries were reported.
The fire does not appear to be suspicious, the captain said.
The blaze appears to have started inside the kitchen however the exact cause of the fire is under investigation.
One Killed, One Injured In Shooting At Apartment
San Jose police are investigating a homicide that happened at an apartment Tuesday evening, a police spokeswoman said.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired and a person down in the 5700 block of Almaden Road near Almaden Expressway around 5:15 p.m., San Jose police Sgt. Heather Randol said.
A male victim suffering from at least one gunshot wound was pronounced dead at the scene, she said.
A 16-year-old boy who also a victim of the shooting was found and transported to a hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening, according to Randol.
The Police Department’s homicide unit responded to the scene and is investigating the incident.
The suspect or suspects remain at large, according to Randol.
Police are not releasing the deceased’s identity pending confirmation by the Santa Clara medical examiner’s office and notification of his next of kin, Randol said.
Police Looking For Two Boys Who Appear To Have Run Away Monday
Gilroy police are asking for the public’s help in locating two boys who appear to have run away Monday afternoon.
Inoa Ulukou, 15, reportedly left a children’s home in the 200 block of Ioof Avenue around 4:50 p.m., Gilroy police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said.
Police do not believe Inoa was a victim of a crime and may be with a 14-year-old boy who also ran away from the home, Espinoza said.
Police have only released Inoa’s name because his medical condition, which Espinoza could not disclose, puts him at risk.
Inoa is overdue for medication required for his health, according to Espinoza.
Both boys are friends and police believe they are on foot, the sergeant said.
Inoa is described as a Hawaiian boy standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and around 200 pounds, police said.
His family is originally from San Jose, Espinoza said.
The 14 year old is described as a Hispanic boy standing at about 5 feet 4 inches tall and around 135 pounds, according to police.
Both boys have black hair and brown eyes. They were last seen wearing black sweatshirts, black pants and black shoes, Espinoza said.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call Gilroy police Officer Michael Beebe at (408) 846-0350. Anonymous tip can be left through the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463.
Surfer Drowns At Linda Mar Beach Monday
A 60-year-old man drowned at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica while surfing with his son on Monday, a police captain said.
The Pacifica Police Department, American Medical Response and North County Fire Authority responded to a report of a drowning at the beach around 9:30 a.m. and found the man in a wetsuit lifeless, Pacifica police Capt. Daniel Steidle said.
First responders performed life-saving measures on the victim, but he was pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital, according to Steidle.
Surfers at the beach reported to police that they saw a surfboard fly into the air and shortly thereafter saw the man floating in the water.
Surfers then brought the victim to shore and called for help.
The man was surfing with his son, but they were not surfing near each other, Steidle said. His son did not see what happened.
Police said the man was a Pacifica resident and are not releasing the victim’s name until his family has been notified of the death, and the San Mateo County coroner’s office is responsible for releasing the name.
The man’s death is under investigation by Pacifica police and the coroner’s office.
A call to the coroner’s office was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters have extinguished a series of small grass fires that occurred along Guadalupe Canyon Parkway in San Bruno Mountain State Park on Tuesday afternoon, according to a fire official.
The fires, four in all, were found burning along the road between Carter Street and Radio Road in the park west of Brisbane and reported shortly after 2:30 p.m., according to North County Fire Authority Deputy Chief Richard Johnson.
A second alarm was called in response to the fires, but individually they were small and burned maybe a total of a quarter of an acre, Johnson said.
The fire was found in Cal Fire’s jurisdiction and that agency will be handling the investigation, Johnson said.
Calls to Cal Fire have not yet been returned.
Woman Dies In Crash Into Tree North Of Santa Rosa
A woman was killed when she crashed her car into a tree north of Santa Rosa on Tuesday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The woman’s silver Honda Civic hit a tree on Michele Way near Mark West Springs Road at 3:14 p.m., the CHP said.
A coroner responded to the scene shortly after the crash.
One Person Critically Injured In Shooting At Site Of Recent Homicide
A 19-year-old Pittsburg man was shot and critically injured Tuesday morning at the intersection where a homicide occurred last week, according to police.
The shooting occurred just before 6 a.m. at West and West 11th streets, according to Capt. Ron Raman.
The victim was found in his own vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head and taken to John Muir Medical Center in critical condition, Raman said.
It appears the victim was the intended target in the shooting and there were no other injuries. No suspect information is available at this point.
Raman said it is unclear if Tuesday’s shooting is related to a homicide that occurred at the same intersection last Wednesday evening.
In that shooting, 22-year-old Dominique Rakeem Thomas, also a Pittsburg resident, was shot a short time before 7 p.m. and died at the scene, according to police.
In that case, it appeared that both the suspect and victim were walking in the area when the two made contact and the suspect opened fire.
Raman said that a large crowd of people was present at last week’s shooting but were uncooperative with police.
Thomas’s killing was Pittsburg’s second homicide this year. The last homicide occurred on April 3, when 36-year-old Seluis Zuniga was shot and killed on Stevenson Street.
Anyone with information about last week’s homicide or Tuesday’s shooting is asked to call Pittsburg police at (925) 427-7369. Tips can be made anonymously.
Body Found On Bart Tracks Monday Was Hit By Train
The Contra Costa County coroner’s office said Tuesday that the man who was hit by a BART train Monday died from “multiple blunt force injuries.”
Earlier on Tuesday BART officials confirmed that one of their trains hit Malikyar Mirwais on Monday on the tracks serving residents along the Pittsburg/Bay Point line.
After an autopsy by the Contra Costa County coroner Tuesday, a spokesman for the coroner’s office said it’s likely that Mirwais died as a result of being struck by a moving train.
On Monday, a report of blood and human remains came in about 8:50 a.m., and BART discontinued service on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line to investigate. BART police found the remains between the Concord and North Concord stations. Service resumed Monday afternoon.
BART police are investigating whether the death is related to reports of a person on the tracks early Monday about 4:30 a.m. between the Concord and North Concord stations. Police searched the tracks before daylight and again after sunrise, but did not find anyone.
County Elections Web Site Back Up Following Web Crash
Contra Costa County’s elections web site is back online and the company that hosts it says others are being restored following a crash that affected similar sites around the country.
The county’s elections web site, hosted by SOE Software, went down Tuesday morning along with three other sites in California and about 18 nationwide, according to Maureen Szlemp, a marketing manager for SOE.
The crash, which also affected SOE’s own web site, was due to a “much higher traffic volume than anticipated,” Szlemp said. It is unclear what caused the spike in traffic.
“We’re in the process of redistributing the loads and that should solve the problem,” she said.
In California, the problem also affected Shasta and Ventura counties, but all jurisdictions should have service restored by the time election results come in, Szlemp said.
Assistant Registrar Scott Konopasek said the county has worked with SOE for around seven years and never had a similar problem before.
Konopasek said the outage did not affect the county’s ability to count and process votes but made it harder for voters to look up information including the locations of their police places.
“It’s a customer service issue,” Konopasek said.
Elections officials are cross-posting polling locations and other election information to the county’s main web site at www.co.contra-costa.ca.us.
16-Year-Old Killed By Caltrain In Apparent Suicide
A 16-year-old boy was killed by a commuter train early Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, a Caltrain spokeswoman said.
The victim was identified Palo Alto resident Cameron Lee by the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office.
He was on the tracks just south of the California Avenue station in Palo Alto when he was hit by the train, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
The preliminary investigation indicates that Lee killed himself, she said.
The train was the last train of the day from San Francisco and due to arrive in San Jose at 1:34 a.m., Dunn said.
The 43 passengers were held on board the train until the investigation was complete at about 3 a.m. and then proceeded to San Jose, she said.
This is the eighth fatality by Caltrain this year. The commuter rail sees about 12 deaths every year, 90 percent of them suicides, Dunn said.
Suicide by Caltrain accounts for about 3 percent of suicides in its service area, she said.
Caltrain posts signs around its trackways with the national suicide prevention hotline number. Anyone at-risk is urged to call (800) 784-2433.
Police Searching For At-Risk Missing Woman
San Francisco police are looking for a missing woman who they fear could harm herself if she is not found.
Dana Stoica was last seen on Sunday around noon, according to police.
She is described as a white female, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 120 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She speaks English with a Romanian accent.
Anyone who sees Stoica or knows her whereabouts should call San Francisco police.
Man Critically Injured In Shooting This Morning
A man was critically injured when he was shot Tuesday morning near the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, police said.
The victim was shot near the corner of Edes Avenue and Hegenberger Road at 10:24 a.m., police said.
The man managed to take himself to a hospital, where he was reported to be in critical condition but is expected to recover.
Police have not made any arrests and have released no information about a suspect or motive in the shooting.
Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to call Oakland police at (510) 238-3426.