Friday Morning News Roundup
San Pablo Man Arrested In Home Invasion Murder
Hercules police on Thursday said they have arrested a San Pablo man on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with what they are calling a home-invasion robbery gone “terribly wrong.”
Mark Anthony Carr, 27, was arrested Wednesday afternoon shortly after police responded to the area of Marigold Place and Buttercup Court around 2:45 p.m. on a report of a fight.
A resident told officers two men had been fighting in the driveway of a house at 100 Buttercup Court, and that one man had been on top of another and choking him.
Officers approached the house and did not see anyone outside, but did see a blood trail from a truck parked in the driveway to the closed garage door. The front door was ajar, and what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol was lying near the front porch, according to Detective Connie Van Putten.
That weapon was later determined to be a bb gun, and it is thought to have been brought to the home by the suspect, Van Putten said.
Police called in additional help, and put out a description of the man seen choking the other male in the fight.
Officers in the area detained Carr a few blocks away while police entered and searched the home.
Inside, officers found an Asian female around 50 to 60 years old lying just inside the front door with clear plastic covering her face.
Officers removed the plastic and determined the woman was still conscious and breathing. She was taken to John Muir Medical Center where she remains in critical condition, probably as a result of asphyxiation, police said this evening.
A second victim, a Native American male around 50 to 60 years old, was found dead in the garage. He had clear plastic packing tape wrapped around his head and had suffered head trauma.
There were no gunshot or knife wounds on either victim, police said.
While the male victim’s identity has not yet been released, police said he lived in the house. The female victim was a good friend of his.
Van Putten said Thursday that an initial investigation indicates that the suspect entered the man’s home through the front door armed with a very realistic-looking BB gun.
“At this point our investigation leads us to believe it was a home invasion robbery that went terribly wrong,” Van Putten said.
Up To 1,500 Bart Riders Possibly Exposed To Measles By Infected San Mateo Co. Resident
As many as 1,500 BART riders may have been exposed to measles when an infected San Mateo County resident rode BART from Millbrae to San Francisco’s Civic Center station last week, BART and San Mateo County health officials said Thursday.
The patient boarded a Richmond-bound train at Millbrae at about 4:30 p.m. last Friday and exited at the Civic Center station at about 5 p.m., according to county health officials.
The trip was against the typical commute direction on a “very isolated line,” so the number of people potentially exposed to the disease was limited, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.
“You might only have a dozen or so riders on one train car,” she said.
By contrast, the number of BART riders who were potentially exposed when a Contra Costa County resident commuted to San Francisco’s LinkedIn office between Feb. 4 and 6 was as many as 25,000 because it was a busier line and time, Trost said.
But San Mateo County health officer Dr. Scott Morrow stressed that the lesson is not to limit exposure but to make sure you are immune through vaccination.
If all BART riders were immune, “there’d be no issue at all,” Morrow said.
County health officials have so far been unable to determine the vaccination status of the infected person, Morrow said.
It is the fourth measles case reported in San Mateo County since a statewide outbreak began at Disneyland in Southern California in December.
Morrow said county health officials have so far been unable to determine if this case is connected to the Disneyland outbreak.
SFPD Chief Defends Officer Who Used Baton, Pepper Spray Against Homeless Man
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday that a police officer who struck a homeless man with his baton and then administered pepper spray after rousting him from the back of a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus earlier this month was simply doing as he was trained.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released surveillance video Thursday of the incident, which showed the police officer appearing to pursue and strike the man with a baton.
The homeless man, identified by Adachi’s office as 36-year-old Bernard Warren, was arrested on suspicion of threatening an executive officer and was incarcerated for two weeks following the incident. His case is set to go to jury trial on March 6, according to the public defender’s office.
The public defender’s office also released quotes from San Francisco police Officer Raymond Chu’s report of the incident, which describes Warren approaching Chu with “clenched fists.”
However, the surveillance video appears to show Chu continuing to pursue Warren once he gets him off of the bus.
Chu “lost his temper,” Adachi said in a statement.
Suhr defended the officer, saying that based on the video, the police report and the bus driver’s statements, the incident is not as shocking as Adachi would have the public believe.
San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan said Chu is a 10-year veteran of the Police Department.
The incident in question began at about 11 p.m. on Feb. 11 when a 5-Fulton Muni bus reached the end of the line at Cabrillo and La Playa streets near Ocean Beach. Warren was asleep at the back of the bus and Chu was called in to remove him, according to Suhr.
Suhr said it is not uncommon for someone to be found asleep at the end of the line, but in this incident, the bus driver called for police to wake Warren up because he believed him to be threatening and possibly dangerous.
The video shows it takes about 30 seconds for Chu to wake Warren up. Once Warren is awake, he appears disoriented and is slow to stand up and walk toward the bus exit.
Chu starts leading Warren toward the back door of the bus, but when Warren turns and says in slurred speech, “I could beat your ass,” Chu becomes aggressive and throws his weight on the man, pushing him toward the door, the video shows.
Once outside of the bus, the video shows Warren as he walks away from the bus. Chu pulls out his baton and, walking toward Warren, repeatedly asks, “Are we done here?”
In the video, Warren briefly turns back toward Chu, who then strikes him with the baton.
Suhr said that Chu wrote in the police report that he hit Warren in the legs five times but it was ineffective, so he decided to use the pepper spray.
The public defender’s Chief Attorney Matt Gonzalez said in a statement that Chu’s actions were a “reckless and unnecessary escalation of force.”
“There was no justification for the use of a baton or pepper spray. Officers must be trained to diffuse conflicts rather than intensify them. We should not expect these routine encounters to end in bruises and burns,” Gonzalez said.
The police chief said the suspect is “clearly outside himself” and verbally threatening at the time of the incident and that Chu acted as he was trained to do so.
Suhr said all San Francisco police officers are trained on how to deal with people who are not mentally sound.
According to Suhr, the court has found sufficient evidence to hold the case over to trial and that Chu has not faced discipline for the incident.
Warren faces up to a year in jail if convicted of the threats charge, according to the public defender’s office.
Explosion At R&D Company Contained To Manufacturing Lab
Two people suffered minor burns in a hydrogen explosion at a Sunnyvale research and development manufacturing lab Thursday afternoon, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety.
The explosion was reported at 1:33 p.m. at Altex Technologies at 244 Sobrante Way, public safety officials said.
The two employees were working in the manufacturing lab using hydrogen, which reacted and caused the explosion. Both employees suffered minor burns to the face. They were treated at the scene and then taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Public safety crews evacuated the building, which is shared with other businesses. Once evacuated, hazardous materials crews went inside and checked the air and environment. They concluded there was no danger, public safety officials said.
About 90 minutes later, building occupants were allowed to return inside. However, Altex employees remained outside while a secondary inspection of that office was completed.
The incident was determined to have been contained to that manufacturing lab. There was no danger to the public, public safety officials said.
Altex is a research and development corporation that develops heat exchange and fuel cell technology. The public safety department has not previously responded there, according to the department.
Fort Baker Vandalism Suspects Stranded On Cliff During Pursuit By Rangers
Two men suspected of vandalizing a historic structure near Fort Baker became stranded on a steep cliff just north of the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday afternoon when they attempted to evade arrest, National Park Service officials said.
The men got stuck after they scrambled down a steep cliff near the water’s edge at Fort Baker, which borders on Sausalito, around 4:30 p.m. when they were approached by park rangers, officials said.
The rangers called in Southern Marin Fire Department personnel, a California Highway Patrol helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard boat to rescue the men.
The first man was pulled up by rangers and firefighters using rope skills and climbing gear, while the second was lifted by a long-line from the CHP helicopter. The rescue was completed around 6:15 p.m.
The vandalism case remains under investigation, officials said.
Former Exec Director Of San Mateo Business Association Pleads No Contest To Embezzlement
A Burlingame woman accused of using her position as executive director of a San Mateo business group to embezzle $5,000 pleaded no contest Wednesday to a felony charge, prosecutors said.
However, the felony embezzlement charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor if Jessica Evans, 41, pays full restitution for her thefts from the Downtown San Mateo Association, according to her plea agreement with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Evans first came to the attention of the association’s executive committee in June 2014 when she was up for a salary review. The salary survey she submitted appeared to be fraudulent and the committee looked into her finances more closely, prosecutors said.
They discovered she had used the association’s checking account and credit cards for personal gain, including spending $600 on a night at a Sausalito resort, paying her personal cellphone bill, writing checks to herself without clear business purposes, buying clothing at Target, purchasing cosmetics, groceries and gasoline and using petty cash to pay her babysitter. She embezzled about $5,000 in all, prosecutors said.
The investigation revealed she had financial difficulties, including maxing out her personal credit card, prosecutors said.
Her defense attorney, Ricardo Ippolito, said Thursday that Evans had been willing to pay back the money since the thefts were discovered last June but instead the committee pursued the criminal investigation.
“That’s something she’s been willing to pay back since day one,” Ippolito said.
Evans left her position with the association once the embezzlement was discovered. She never disputed the charges, but Ippolito fought them because there was an allegation that the embezzled money was public funds, Ippolito said.
The association collects dues from downtown businesses through the city’s business tax collection, but the dues are voluntary and are not part of the city’s tax code, Ippolito said. He said eventually prosecutors agreed to drop that from the charges.
City Considering Operating Own Police Force, Severing Sheriff’s Services
With the cost of sheriff’s services rising, city leaders in Oakley are looking to end their contract for police service with the county and operate their own police force.
Since Oakley’s incorporation in 1999, the city has contracted with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office for its police services, according to city documents.
City Manager Bryan Montgomery said the city currently has one police station located in City Hall. County staff is “embedded,” meaning they wear Oakley police uniforms and drive city-owned and marked patrol cars, Montgomery said.
Montgomery emphasized that the city has been very pleased with the level of service from the sheriff’s office, but costs have been creeping up over the last several years.
Between 2006 and 2014, the cost per deputy increased 50 percent from $163,600 to $243,800, according to city documents. The county increased its fee by $650,000 in 2014 and city staffers said the city will be forced to shell out an additional $350,000 this year.
Jimmy Lee, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said he would not comment on why costs are rising, nor would he comment on how the loss of Oakley’s contract might affect finances for the sheriff’s office.
“We don’t want to get into it at this point,” Lee said. “If (the city) is going through this process, we don’t need to be talking about it in the background.”
Lee did say that the sheriff’s office is currently providing police services to Danville, Lafayette and Orinda in addition to Oakley, and up until around 2007, to San Ramon, as well.
Mayor Doug Hardcastle said the county needs the money to fund its retirement liabilities.
“We’re just tired of paying for retirement for county employees,” Hardcastle said. “By us doing this, it will save us a lot of money and it will allow us to put more police on the streets.”
Montgomery said the city has already paid a consulting group $10,000 to conduct an initial transition study. The study looked at 27 other police agencies and analyzed some 30 components of police services.
The city has also looked at different organizational structures, including continuing to contract out services like forensics and dispatch to the sheriff’s office, and spoken to potential contractors.
If and when the council votes to separate from the sheriff’s office, Montgomery said the city would issue a formal request for proposals.
Prosecutor: Evidence Means Two Men Should Be Convicted Of Murder
A prosecutor on Thursday urged jurors to convict two young men of first-degree murder for the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl in East Oakland two years ago in what he said was an act of revenge that went awry.
In his closing argument in the trial of 19-year-old Lilron Jones and 22-year-old Vijay Bhushan, prosecutor Glenn Kim said there’s no question that the fatal shooting of Jubrille Jordan in the 6600 block of Lion Way, near the Lion Creek Crossings apartment complex at about 3:40 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2012, was premeditated and deliberated because 20 shots were fired in the incident.
Kim said Jones, Bhushan and a third suspect, 25-year-old Marquise Thompson, had “a plan of action,” which was to kill a 14-year-old boy who they thought had killed their 15-year-old friend Hadari Askari five months earlier.
The 14-year-old boy was shot in the leg and survived the shooting but Jubrille, who attended Melrose School, was an innocent victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was hit in the head and killed by one of the 20 bullets that were fired in the incident, Kim said.
The prosecutor alleged that Jones and Thompson were the shooters in the incident but he said Bhushan is equally guilty because he gave Thompson the gun that he used and the gun that he believes Jones used was later found at Bhushan’s house.
Thompson will be prosecuted in a separate trial next month.
But Bhushan’s lawyer, Ernie Castillo, told jurors that Bhushan should be found not guilty because he made a decision not to participate in the shooting after he noticed that the 14-year-old boy was near to Jubrille and the other girls as well as a baby and he decided it was too dangerous to open fire.
Kim will present his rebuttal closing argument on Monday and then jurors will begin their deliberations.
SoMA Health Care Center Geared Toward Aiding City’s Most Vulnerable Residents Breaks Ground
A health care center geared toward providing primary medical care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and re-entry services to San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents broke ground in the city’s South of Market neighborhood Thursday.
Situated in a former garment manufacturing building, HealthRight 360 will transform the five-story, 50,000 square foot space into a healthcare center.
By the end of 2016, the center aims to offer a 14-room medical clinic, dentistry services, a pharmacy, a substance use disorder treatment intake center and outpatient behavioral health treatment, as well as a resource center where individuals can take GED classes, learn computer literacy, receive job counseling, as well as employment and housing referrals, all under one roof.
The building will enable HealthRight 360 to double its capacity for primary care services in San Francisco.
According to David Crawford, HealthRight 360’s chief financial officer, the new building at 1563 Mission St., near South Van Ness Avenue, was purchased for $17 million.
But before the building opens to the public at the end of 2016, an additional $20 million must be spent on completing construction and preparing the space for clients.
Crawford said that national health care reform has proven vital to HealthRight 360, as the federal government through Medicaid now provides more services to those in need.
“It’s having a huge impact,” Crawford said.
Prior to health care reform the Mayor’s Office and the city’s Department of Public Health funded HealthRight 360, but now the property’s mortgage will be paid with federal dollars made available via the Affordable Care Act, Crawford said.
Police Say Replica Gun That Looked Real Nearly Caused Officer-Involved Shooting
An Oakland man had a replica firearm that resembled a real weapon when he confronted police after he failed to stop his bicycle for a moving violation Tuesday, Fairfield police said.
Roderick Harris, 40, was subdued with a Taser because of his aggressive behavior, Officer Rebecca Belk said.
The replica handgun in his shoulder holster looked real because the red safety tip was removed, and Belk said the incident could have become an officer-involved shooting.
The incident began when an officer tried to stop Harris for the moving violation on his bicycle around 6:30 p.m. in the 200 block of E. Tabor Avenue, Belk said.
Harris fled on foot and ignored orders to stop, turned toward an officer and took an aggressive fighting stance, Belk said.
After Harris was shot with a Taser, an officer noticed what looked like a firearm magazine on the ground, Belk said.
When Harris was taken into custody, officers noticed the replica firearm with the red tip removed in a shoulder holster Harris was wearing Belk said.
“Carrying this replica gun with the red safety tip removed, concealed in the holster, during nighttime hours could have led to tragedy, Belk said.
“This is dangerous to the officers, Mr. Harris and the community at large,” Belk said.
Because Harris was uncooperative, the situation could have escalated to an officer-involved shooting,” Belk said.
Belk said police are asking the public to consider this scenario when deciding to purchase replica firearms.
DA Finds Officer-Involved Shooting Justified
Police were justified in shooting at a 19-year-old man who allegedly pointed a gun at officers in San Pablo while they were serving a search warrant last week, a deputy district attorney said Thursday.
On Feb. 18 around 8:30 a.m., officers served a high-risk search warrant at a motel, located at 14771 San Pablo Ave., police said.
While officers were serving the search warrant, a man later identified as Jonathan Ramos, of Pinole, allegedly pointed a gun at police.
Ramos was suspected of being involved in a Berkeley armed robbery, along with armed robberies in two other jurisdictions, according to police.
Two officers, a 7-year and a 5-year veteran of the police force, shot at the suspect, San Pablo police Cmdr. David Krastof said. Nobody was injured.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed felony charges of alleged robbery, possession of a firearm with a prior conviction, exhibiting a firearm in the presence of police officers, and possession of a firearm with prior knowledge of conviction against Ramos, Krastof said.
Both officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the district attorney’s office, Krastof said.
However, Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove on Thursday said the district attorney’s office has determined the shooting was justified, and Krastof said the officers have returned to work.
Caltrans Employee Takes No Contest Plea For Fuel Embezzlement
A Caltrans employee pleaded no contest Wednesday to embezzling gasoline by filling up his personal vehicle using a Caltrans fuel pump, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Mohamed Sirker, 57, of Daly City, pleaded no contest to embezzlement on the condition of no prison time and his charge being reduced to a misdemeanor, prosecutors said.
He was sentenced to two years of probation and 32 days of county jail, but his jail sentence is already complete with credit for time served, prosecutors said.
Another Caltrans employee charged in the case, 26-year-old Joseph Torres of Menlo Park, is proceeding with a not guilty plea and scheduled for preliminary hearing on March 26.
The embezzlement came to light when a Caltrans supervisor noticed discrepancies in the fuel log last June and found suspicious entries going back to December 2013.
To catch the fuel thief, Caltrans set up a hidden camera near the agency’s fuel pump.
Prosecutors said Sirker was caught on camera fueling his personal vehicle at Caltrans fuel pumps five times and on one occasion drove a Caltrans work truck to his home without authorization.
Torres allegedly was caught on camera twice fueling his personal car at Caltrans fuel pumps, on another occasion fueling a Toyota that did not belong to him, and another time helping three other people fill up their cars, prosecutors said.
The California Highway Patrol investigated the case after that, concluding that a total of $4,400 worth of gasoline had been stolen, prosecutors said.
Sirker is set to appear in court on April 27 for a restitution hearing. His attorney was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.
Sheriff Investigating Deceased Person Found In Penngrove Home
Sonoma County sheriff’s officials are investigating the death of a person found Thursday morning in a home in Penngrove, a sheriff’s sergeant said.
Sgt. Cecile Focha said the sheriff’s office received a call at 11:52 a.m. about the deceased person in the 900 block of Rose Avenue.
Rose Avenue is in a rural area off of Minnesota Avenue south of Cotati and Rohnert Park.
Focha said no other information about the case is being released yet.
Jury Finds Man Was Sane When He Stabbed, Killed Businesswoman On City Street
A Santa Cruz County Superior Court jury on Wednesday found that a man was sane when he fatally stabbed a Santa Cruz businesswoman in 2012 in what police described as a “senseless” attack.
The same jury on Feb. 4 found the defendant, 45-year-old Charles Anthony Edwards III, of San Francisco, guilty of first-degree murder in the attack on 38-year-old Shannon Collins, Assistant District Attorney Celia Rowland said.
The verdict in the sanity phase of the case means that Edwards will serve a life sentence in state prison instead of a mental hospital, Rowland said.
Collins, a resident of the unincorporated area of Live Oak, was the well-respected co-owner of Camouflage lingerie and adult store at 1329 Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz, according to police.
On May 7, 2012, she was walking in the 300 block of Broadway several blocks northeast of her business on her way to a haircut appointment when she was attacked and stabbed multiple times at 11:52 a.m., police said.
Witnesses to the stabbing tried to render medical aid to Collins and helped police track the suspect, Rowland said.
Minutes later, officers located Edwards about two blocks to the south near the intersection of Barson and Campbell streets after he had discarded a knife and bloody clothing in an attempt to hide the evidence and disguise his appearance, Rowland said.
A day later, Santa Cruz police issued a statement describing the fatal assault on Collins as “senseless, unprovoked, and random.”
According to police, Edwards had a long and violent criminal history while living in San Francisco and had only been in Santa Cruz for about a week prior to Collins’ murder.
After her death, members of the community organized a walk, known as “I am Shannon,” tracing the route she would have taken to get back to her store on Pacific the day she was killed.
The sanity phase of Edward’s trial started on Feb. 9 and the jury deliberated for four days afterwards before finding on Wednesday that he was sane and had planned to deliberately kill Collins, Rowland said.
Judge Timothy Volkmann is set to sentence Edwards at a hearing on March 25.
Student Sexually Battered Wednesday On UC Campus
A suspect sexually battered a 22-year-old student Wednesday on the campus of University of California at Berkeley, university police said Thursday.
Police said the incident took place at 4:07 p.m. Wednesday near Barrows Hall.
The 22-year-old female student was walking towards Morrison Hall when the suspect approached her and grabbed her breast. The woman was not injured, according to police.
The suspect continued walking west after the incident and police were unable to find him during a search. Police described the suspect as a Hispanic man with a square jaw who was clean-shaven and is between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall with a medium muscular build and short to medium straight black hair.
He was wearing olive-colored pants and no shirt. He had something tied around his waist and a dark cap on backwards, police said.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be mostly cloudy today with highs in the lower to mid-60s. There will be a slight chance of showers. Winds will be from the northwest at 15 to 20 mph.
Skies will be mostly cloudy in the evening, with a chance of showers. Lows will be in the lower 50s and northeast winds could reach 20 to 30 mph.
Skies will be mostly cloudy Saturday with a chance of showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms. Highs will be in the lower 60s and west winds could reach 5 to 10 mph.