Friday Morning News Roundup
Obama Lands In Bay Area, Will Attend Cybersecurity Summit, Fundraiser
President Barack Obama arrived in the Bay Area Thursday evening for a trip that will include a speech at a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University and a Democratic fundraiser Friday.
The president arrived in Air Force One, which touched down at 5:15 p.m. at San Francisco International Airport.
Obama greeted a crowd of several dozen people who were waiting to meet him, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Sharice Tippens of Tracy, California, was among the crowd gathered there, which was made up largely of family members and friends of government officials and employees. She said she was “extremely nervous” to shake his hand.
“It’s a piece of history,” Tippens said.
Dave Bernstein, an Oakland resident, was holding his 10-month-old son when the president reached out to pick up little Alexander and blow him a kiss.
“I wasn’t expecting anything. The president was looking the other way the whole time but then he turned his head and started reaching,”
Bernstein said. “I’ll have those pictures forever.”
Obama will stay overnight in San Francisco, then visit Palo Alto on Friday morning to deliver remarks at 11:20 a.m. at the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University.
Later on Friday at 12:20 p.m., the president will host a roundtable at Stanford with local business leaders, then attend a 4:40 p.m. Democratic National Committee fundraiser at a private residence in San Francisco.
Obama is then leaving from SFO on Saturday and flying to Palm Springs in Southern California.
The president last visited the Bay Area in October on a fundraising trip.
Bart Board Drops Protester Restitution Request
A divided BART Board of Directors asked Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley Thursday to continue prosecuting 14 protesters who shut down the West Oakland BART station for several hours the day after Thanksgiving but asked her not to seek restitution from them.
The board’s 5-4 vote came at the end of an unruly two-hour meeting at which 34 of 35 speakers who addressed the board asked it to urge O’Malley to dismiss the charges against the so-called “Black Friday 14.” The protesters chained themselves to two trains at the West Oakland station during the Nov. 28 action, shutting down BART service for more than three hours.
The protest was one of many in the Bay Area and across the nation responding to several highly publicized incidents last year in which white police officers killed unarmed black men and boys and weren’t charged for their actions.
BART directors Rebecca Saltzman and Tom Radulovich urged the board to ask the District Attorney’s Office to drop both the misdemeanor charge against the 14 protesters of trespassing on railroad property and a request for up to $5,000 each in restitution, for a total of $70,000.
But the board majority, acting after a 10-minute recess was called because protesters continuously interrupted board members who were trying to speak, voted instead to approve a substitute motion authored by Joel Keller and seconded by Nick Josefowitz that asks prosecutors to retain the charges but drop the restitution demand.
Saltzman, Radulovich, Board President Thomas Blalock and Zakhary Mallett voted against the substitute motion.
Following an outcry after BART sought restitution for the protest, BART general manager Grace Crunican said last month that she was interested in community service or restorative justice programs as an alternative to restitution and said she spoke to O’Malley about that possibility.
Radulovich said Thursday that, “BART management’s overreaction has set us back” in efforts to regain the public’s trust following the Jan. 1, 2009 fatal shooting of unarmed black passenger Oscar Grant III by white transit district officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.
Knife-Wielding Man Killed In Police Shooting Made 911 Call
A man killed in an officer-involved shooting in San Jose on Wednesday was the person who phoned police to report a male with a knife was breaking into his home and had made comments about ending his life before the shooting, police said Thursday.
Phillip Watkins, 23, had been battling depression and had talked about killing himself in front of witnesses sometime prior to calling police, according to San Jose police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol.
Since it was Watkins who called police and then allegedly threatened the responding officers with a knife, the indication is that he sought to be killed by police, Randol said.
However, the case remains under investigation by the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office and the district attorney’s office will conduct a separate investigation, she said.
Watkins was black and the two officers who shot him are both of Asian heritage, Randol said.
The Police Department placed the two officers, who each have eight years of service on the San Jose police force, on one week’s paid administrative leave, as is routine in officer-involved shooting cases, she said.
The department received a 911 call at 5:01 p.m. Wednesday from a residence in the 1300 block of Sherman Street, where the caller reported a male breaking into the house with a knife, Randol said.
The person on the phone told the emergency operator that he was locked in an upstairs bedroom with his children and needed help from police, she said.
After being dispatched at 5:03 p.m., two officers arrived a minute later and immediately saw a male suspect on the sidewalk holding a knife in front of the residence on Sherman. The male then ran toward the officers while holding the knife in a threatening manner, police said.
The officers commanded him to stop and to release the weapon, but he continued to charge at them with it. Fearing for their safety and in defense of their lives, both officers fired shots at him, striking him at least once, according to police.
The suspect, later identified as Watkins, was taken to a hospital where he died at 6:20 p.m.
Bart Board Votes To Ban E-Cigarettes
BART directors voted unanimously Thursday to give final approval to an ordinance that allows the transit agency to ban electronic cigarettes on its trains and in its stations.
The American Lung Association and others backed the measure, saying it’s important to protect the health of riders from secondhand vapors and particle pollution from electronic cigarettes.
Smoking an e-cigarette, known colloquially as vaping, previously wasn’t regulated at BART.
BART directors have been getting many complaints from riders about secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes, BART spokesman Taylor Huckaby said.
BART officials said that because there are no state and federal guidelines to restrict the smoking of e-cigarettes, the transit agency’s only immediate option is to enact an ordinance allowing the agency to enforce a restriction.
According to a BART staff memo, e-cigarettes were first developed in China in 2004 with the aim of efficiently delivering nicotine to a user without the harmful effects of inhaling smoke.
E-cigarettes heat a liquid to produce vapors than can carry nicotine to the user, along with a variety of flavored substances. Sales of the devices are booming as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
But the BART staff memo said that just as with the use of traditional tobacco cigarettes, there is concern about potential harm from second-hand exposure to the vapor delivered by e-cigarettes.
BART officials said transit agencies in California have had varied responses to e-cigarettes, with some agencies banning them but other agencies choosing not to action now and instead wait for state or federal guidelines.
Huckaby said BART’s ordinance takes effect immediately but the agency won’t begin enforcing it right away.
Man Convicted Of Stabbing Girlfriend’s Stepfather To Death At Thanksgiving Gathering In 2011
A Hercules man was convicted of second-degree murder Thursday for stabbing his then-girlfriend’s stepfather at their Pacheco home in 2011 during a family Thanksgiving gathering that spun out of control, Contra Costa County prosecutors said.
A jury convicted Frank Carter of the stabbing death of 46-year-old Richard Stratton at 9:20 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2011, according to the district attorney’s office. He was also convicted of two counts of felony assault.
Stratton was found stabbed in the driveway of his home in the 200 block of Center Avenue, according to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken to John Muir Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Sheriff’s officials launched a multi-agency search for Carter after the stabbing. He was found near the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez wearing only his boxer shorts and a rain slicker, Deputy District Attorney Simon O’Connell said.
Carter, then 19, had gone to the home that afternoon for dinner with his girlfriend at the time.
It was only the second time he was meeting her family. O’Connell said there was rising tension between Carter and his girlfriend’s mother throughout the day, and eventually the mother asked him to leave.
Carter refused, and Stratton stood to escort him from the home, leading to a fight between the two.
Prosecutors said Stratton was fatally stabbed after Carter threatened his girlfriend with a knife and the older man stepped in to protect her.
O’Connell said the tragedy of the events was Stratton only wanted to have a nice dinner with his family and tried to appease his stepdaughter’s new boyfriend throughout the day. When the situation became chaotic, he sought to protect his family.
“There’s no dignity in being stabbed to death but there’s a grace in the way he conducted himself in those final few minutes,” O’Connell said.
Two Friends Win Second Big Prize In California Lottery
Two Bay Area women who play the lottery together will share January’s $7 million SuperLotto Plus prize, lottery officials said Thursday.
The two women won the January 10 SuperLotto Plus drawing.
They played the same numbers but bought their tickets from separate retailers. The numbers are a combination of their family member’s birthdates and anniversaries, according to lottery officials.
Cynthia Villanueva bought her ticket in Richmond, close to her home. Erlinda Ravelo bought her ticket in Milpitas, where she buys tickets regularly.
This is the second big win for the women. The two won a prize in the Mega Millions game in 2011. They played the same numbers then and won $466,000 each.
The women said they have three sets of numbers they play. They won the Mega Millions game with the first set of numbers. They won the SuperLotto Plus with the second set of numbers.
Lottery officials said all the two have left to do now is win Powerball with the third set of numbers.
The two took a vacation together with the Mega Millions winnings. This time they will take a trip to Portugal, pay off their houses, help their children and donate to a charity.
The Arco Ampm at 15531 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond sold the winning ticket to Villanueva and the 7-Eleven at 1838 Milmont Drive in Milpitas sold the winning ticket to Ravelo.
The winning numbers were 1, 5, 30, 16, and 24. The Mega number is 7. Each retailer will receive a $17,500 bonus for selling a winning ticket.
Chow Pleads Not Guilty To Revised Indictment
Chinatown association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow pleaded not guilty in federal court in San Francisco Thursday to racketeering conspiracy and other charges in a revised indictment.
The revised organized crime and political corruption indictment was issued by a federal grand jury on Jan. 29 against Chow and 27 other defendants, including former state Sen. Leland Yee and political consultant Keith Jackson.
The charges against most defendants, including Chow, remain the same as in a previous indictment, but the new document added two money laundering conspiracy counts against Yee and Jackson.
All of the defendants are being re-arraigned on the revised 230-count indictment, known as the second superseding indictment, last week and this week.
Chow, 54, of San Francisco, is accused of conspiring to racketeer, or to operate a continuing criminal enterprise that allegedly included selling drugs and stolen property and money laundering.
He is also charged with conspiring to receive and transport stolen liquor, conspiring to traffic in stolen and contraband cigarettes and numerous counts of money laundering.
He entered his not-guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero.
Chow is the “dragonhead” or leader of the Chee Kung Tong, a Chinatown-based fraternal association that is alleged by prosecutors to have a criminal faction.
He was previously convicted of racketeering and gun trafficking and has been in custody without bail since his arrest last March. Chow and his attorneys claim he turned his life around after his release from prison in 2003 and is innocent of the current charges.
Yee, Jackson and two other men are scheduled to go on trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco in June.
No trial date has been set thus far for Chow and the other defendants.
Investigators Closer To Determining Composition Of Mystery Substance Killing East Bay Birds
A mysterious goo that killed hundreds of birds along the East Bay shoreline has been determined to be a mixture of non-petroleum-based fats or oils, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The source of the mixture and how it came to be in the Bay remains a mystery.
Fish and Wildlife investigators have only determined it could be some sort of non-petroleum oil, including synthetic oils such as silicone fluids, tung oils or wood-derivative oils such as resin or rosin oils. It might also contain animal fats and edible and inedible seed oils from plants.
By the time it got onto nearly 500 area seabirds, it had degraded into a sticky, thick consistency that was extremely difficult to clean from the birds.
A total of 323 birds were captured alive covered in the substance. Most of those were taken to the International Bird Rescue in Fairfield to recover. Another 170 were found already dead.
Despite the bird rescue group’s efforts, another 102 birds died there, officials from that organization said. The rest stayed there to recover and were being released in stages as they were ready.
As of last week, about 100 had already been released.
Most of the affected birds were surf scoters, horned grebes, scaups and common goldeneyes. The goo affected their buoyancy and ability to waterproof. Continued exposure led to hypothermia, starvation, drowning, predation, entrapment, suffocation and infections, fish and wildlife officials said.
The last time a contaminated bird was found was Jan. 22, so investigators think the substance is finally gone from the East Bay shores. Evidence of the gunk showed up from Fremont to Oakland and a few cases even turned up on the Peninsula.
Photos Released Of Suspect Wanted For Assaulting A Police Officer
San Francisco police released photos Thursday of a male suspect who assaulted an officer as he fled during a police investigation near the South of Market Caltrain station last month.
According to police, at about 5:40 p.m. on Jan. 23, the suspect fled from officers as they conducted an investigation at the corner of Fourth and King streets.
As the suspect fled, he knocked a police officer off of a raised San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light-rail train platform, causing him to fall onto the ground below.
The officer was injured in the fall but continued to pursue the suspect on foot, according to police.
While the suspect managed to evade police, officers located Muni surveillance footage that clearly shows the suspects’ face and body while he was aboard a light-rail vehicle.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect captured by surveillance cameras.
One Billion Rising Event Raises Awareness About City’s Fight Against Domestic Violence, Sex Trafficking
Hundreds of advocates and activists gathered with city officials at San Francisco’s City Hall Thursday to celebrate One Billion Rising, a global day of action to end violence against women and girls.
The One Billion Rising: Revolution campaign is a call to action based on the statistic that one in three women on the planet, or roughly one billion women and girls, will be beaten or raped during their lifetimes.
The campaign to end violence against women and girls was launched on Valentine’s Day 2012 and has been celebrated each year in February as an opportunity for the community to come together to demand an end to violence against women and girls.
Thursday’s event featured drumming and dancing beneath San Francisco City Hall’s rotunda to celebrate those who have survived abuse and appreciate the strides that have been made to eradicate violence towards women.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed were among the local officials who spoke to the crowd about how the city has fought for victims.
Alleged Killer Of Naked Man In Daly City Backyard Ordered To Stand Trial
A Hayward man was ordered Wednesday to stand trial for allegedly killing a man in his Daly City backyard last year and then shooting at the man’s mother after she watched her son die, San Mateo County prosecutors said Thursday.
Demond Spikes, 35, allegedly shot and killed Marcus Brackenridge outside of his home in the 500 block of Skyline Drive at about 5:50 a.m. on April 13.
Spikes allegedly stood over a naked Brackenridge and shot him in the abdomen and head after an argument over money with an alleged prostitute standing nearby, prosecutors said.
Brackenridge’s mother watched the shooting from inside the home’s sliding glass doors. When she yelled out as her son was shot, Spikes allegedly turned the gun on her, firing through the glass doors and hitting her in the abdomen, prosecutors said.
Spikes and the prostitute fled the area. Police arrived and found Brackenridge lying dead on the ground.
Investigators eventually tied Spikes to the shooting and obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was finally arrested on Oct. 9 in Sacramento and charged with murder, attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling and weapons violations, prosecutors said.
He was ordered to stand trial Wednesday by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Karesh. He has two prior strikes for violent crime convictions and is facing life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
He is next scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 26.
Pit Bull Found On I-880 Returned Safely To Owners
A pit bull found Wednesday on a highway in Oakland has been returned to her original owners, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday.
The female pit bull, named Piglet, was found around 6 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate Highway 880 near 66th Street.
CHP officials from the agency’s Oakland office wrote on Facebook that day that the dog, who was wearing a red collar but no tags, was “very sweet and clearly has been taken care of by someone.”
After her photo circulated online, her owners contacted the CHP and were reunited with her this afternoon.
CHP officials said the dog was given the honorary title of “Junior Officer” and took one last ride in a patrol car before heading home.
1-Alarm Fire At Mobile Home Under Control
The driver of a motor home that caught fire in East Oakland on Wednesday has died, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Thursday.
Donald Evans, 63, of Oakland, had suffered burns to 80 percent of his body in the 12:30 p.m. fire, according to Oakland fire officials.
His vehicle, a 36-foot-long older model motor home, caught fire on eastbound Hegenberger Road before Hamilton Avenue, and was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene.
The one-alarm fire was under control by around 12:45 p.m.
The driver suffered third-degree burns and was initially taken to Highland Hospital, then transported to the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco for treatment, fire officials said.
No other injuries were reported.
The vehicle was considered a total loss and the fire caused an estimated $30,000 in damage, according to Logan.
Group Calls On Chevron To Stop Spending Money On Politics
A capital management firm chose Richmond as its backdrop to announce a shareholder resolution Thursday calling on Chevron to stop spending money to influence political campaigns across the nation.
Green Century Capital Management, a national sustainable and socially responsible investment firm with a stake in Chevron, filed the shareholder resolution to ask management to refrain from making political contributions.
Standing at the base of Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, Erin Gray, a marketing and strategic analyst for Green Century, said the political contributions are not only unpopular with residents across political lines, but they also bring bad publicity to the company and they don’t work.
“The corporations’ recent rounds of expenditure provoked a backlash in its own backyard, worsening community relations and attracting negative media attention nationwide,” Gray said. “We believe that Chevron’s expenditures are risky bets that are neither prudent nor well-executed.”
Last November, Richmond became the battleground for what some politicians characterized as a fight between grassroots organizers and corporate interests. Chevron, which is one of Richmond’s largest employers, poured some $3 million into candidates for the mayoral and City Council elections.
All of Chevron’s candidates lost, which former mayor and current City Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin said demonstrated residents’ aversion to corporate money in local elections.
McLaughlin was joined by councilmembers Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez, the Sierra Club and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network in supporting the shareholder resolution.
In response to Thursday’s event, Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said, “After more than a century of operating here, it’s natural for us to be involved in the political sphere, as we are in many other aspects of the community.”
Thousands Sign Online Petition To Expel Three Male Students Linked To 2012 Suicide Of Saratoga Girl
The parents of a Saratoga girl who committed suicide after an alleged sexual assault by three boys in 2012 posted an online petition Wednesday calling for the expulsion of the boys from high schools in Saratoga and Gilroy.
The petition, prepared by the parents of 15-year-old Audrie Pott on the website Change.org, asks the principals of Saratoga and Christopher high schools to expel the boys. It had been signed by nearly 18,000 people as of Thursday, according to the site, with a goal of 150,000 signers.
The parents, Lawrence and Sheila Pott, also on Wednesday posted a message on the Facebook page of their non-profit charity the Audrie Pott Foundation urging Facebook members to sign the Change.org petition.
The three boys, two of whom attend Saratoga high and a third who attends Christopher high in Gilroy, were 16 at the time of alleged sexual assault on Audrie on Sept. 2, 2012 during a party at Audrie’s friend’s home in Saratoga after she had been intoxicated from drinking alcohol.
They allegedly removed Audrie’s clothing, wrote on her body with a felt pen, sexually abused her and took pictures of her to show students at Saratoga High School where they and Audrie were sophomores, according a wrongful death suit filed her parents.
Audrie hanged herself eight days later at her mother’s Los Altos home, went into a coma and died at a hospital two days afterwards when she was removed from life support.
Her parents in 2013 filed their suit against the boys’ parents and others claiming that anguish over the events at the party and the photos drove the girl to suicide.
The teen boys were arrested by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in 2013 on suspicion of sexual battery and charged in juvenile court in San Jose.
According to Audrie’s parents, they were convicted, but activity in their criminal case has not been made public because the boys were under 18 years old.
Suspect In December Fatal Hit-And-Run Arrested
A two-month investigation has led to the arrest of a suspect who fled the scene of a fatal collision in Daly City in December, police said Thursday.
The Dec. 4 crash killed 77-year-old Jose Rosel of Daly City as he was walking across state Highway 35 in a crosswalk near Westridge Avenue at about 11:30 p.m., police said.
Rosel was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the white Ford F-150 pickup truck fled the area, police said.
In late December, police issued a plea for information about the truck, broadcasting its description in an effort to track down its owner.
Investigators eventually tracked it to 39-year-old Joro Petrovmoray of Pacifica. He was arrested and booked into San Mateo County jail on suspicion of the fatal hit-and-run crash.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be sunny today with highs in the upper 60s. Winds will be from the north at 5 to 15 mph.
Skies will be mostly clear tonight with lows in the mid 50s. Winds will be from the northwest at 5 to 15 mph.
Skies will be sunny Saturday with highs in the upper 60s and winds around 5 mph from the southeast, then from the north in the afternoon.