Four-Alarm Fire In Mission District Kills One, Injures Six And Displaces 40

One person was killed and six people transported to hospitals in a four-alarm fire in San Francisco’s Mission District Wednesday evening.

The fire at 22nd and Mission streets was still burning late Wednesday night and the American Red Cross had established an evacuation center at 22nd and Valencia streets nearby.

Red Cross spokesman Woody Baker-Cohn said they did not yet know how many people had been displaced by the fire, although around 50 were gathered at the evacuation center set up at a City College building at 22nd and Valencia streets.

“It’s certain nobody is going back in there, everybody there is displaced,” Baker-Cohn said of the damaged building.

Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission District, said on Twitter that he was “heartbroken” over the death of one resident.

“Can’t thank our firefighters enough for risking their lives for our community,” Campos said.

Video Released Of Police Handcuffing Attorney Trying To Represent Client

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office released cellphone videos Wednesday of a deputy public defender who was placed in handcuffs for resisting arrest outside of a courtroom on Tuesday afternoon after she attempted to represent her client while a plainclothes police officer tried to question and photograph him.

Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson, who has worked as an attorney with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office for 18 years, was detained and handcuffed around 2 p.m. Tuesday inside the San Francisco Hall of Justice.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said he was outraged and disappointed with how police treated Tillotson.

“She advised her client that he did not have to answer any questions, as is his right,” Adachi said.

He said Tillotson refused to let her client be questioned without the presence of his attorney and she was subsequently detained. She is now facing charges of misdemeanor resisting arrest, a charge Adachi said has a maximum penalty of one year in prison.

Tillotson said she was in Department 17 on Tuesday afternoon representing her clients facing misdemeanor charges, as she routinely does, when she was informed that police in the hallway outside of the courtroom were attempting to detain and question one of her clients and another person.

The videos show San Francisco police Inspector Brian Stansbury, who is among the officers facing a lawsuit filed by a black San Francisco police officer in federal court that claims he was racially profiled during a traffic stop and then allegedly choked and tackled to the ground by officers in May 2013.

In the video, Tillotson repeatedly tells Stansbury and other officers, “I am representing my client here.”

Stansbury tells the two males being detained that he needs to take their photographs and tells Tillotson that if she doesn’t step aside she will be arrested.

Stansbury then handcuffs Tillotson and places her under arrest and she is then led away from her client.

Tillotson said she was taken to the Southern Police Station and handcuffed to a wall in a holding room for about an hour before she was let go.

Judge Sets $100k Bail For Defendant In Street Race That Killed Woman Who Was Jogging

A man charged in the death of a woman killed Monday after he and another man allegedly raced cars on a street in East San Jose was yelled at by the victim’s supporters as he left Santa Clara County Superior Court Wednesday.

Manuel Maldonado, 24, appeared at a hearing to set court dates on a charge of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence from the crash that killed 24-year-old Kiran Pabla.

Judge Deborah Ryan denied a request by Maldonado’s lawyer Steven Nakano that he be released on his own recognizance but set a hearing for Feb. 5 to consider further pre-trial research on the defendant.

Ryan also scheduled a plea hearing for Maldonado on Mar. 2 and set his bail at $100,000.

Maldonado and co-defendant Gabriel Esparza, 18, are accused of racing against each other along Yerba Buena Road at Edenvale Drive at about noon Monday, according to Deputy District Attorney My Phuong Truong.

The pair, Maldonado driving a BMW and Esparza a Nissan Altima, reached speeds of up to 70 mph heading south on Yerba Buena when Esparza clipped an AT&T work truck and the men’s cars both veered off the road and onto the sidewalk, Truong said.

The Altima slammed into Pabla, pinning her against a tree and inflicting fatal injuries, she said.

“What this incident highlights is street racing is extremely dangerous,” Truong said.

Prosecutors do not know if the drivers knew one another at the time they were on the road and other aspects of the case are still being investigated, according to Truong.

Esparza, who is also charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, is set to be in court on Feb. 9 and has been released from county jail after posting $100,000 bail, she said.

As Maldonado’s hearing concluded, a few members of a group of about 20 family members, friends and others who arrived to show support for Pabla shouted, some using profanities, toward the judge and the defendant, prompting a deputy to appear as they left.

“They killed our sister,” exclaimed one man, “Don’t be easy on these guys.”

“She’s our baby, our little baby,” shouted a woman.

Police Release Photos Of Man Suspected Of Stealing Puppy On Muni Bus

The San Francisco Police Department released photos Wednesday of a man suspected of punching another man in the face before stealing his pit bull puppy on a bus in the city’s South of Market neighborhood early last Thursday morning.

Police said the 18-year-old victim was riding the bus with his 4-month-old puppy near the intersection of Sixth and Mission streets shortly before 2:40 a.m. Thursday when a man approached him, according to police.

The suspect punched him in the face and then grabbed the victim’s puppy, named “Chester,” before exiting the Muni bus with it, police said.

Police have released photos of the small, dark-colored pit bull puppy as well as photos of the suspect obtained from Muni video surveillance footage.

According to police, the suspect is a black man in his 20s, standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall. He was last seen wearing a black winter vest with a dark gray hooded sweatshirt underneath.

In the photos taken from Muni surveillance footage, the suspect is wearing a black baseball cap, light-colored pants and light-colored shoes.

No arrests have been made in connection with the assault and robbery, according to police.

Drunk Driver Who Smashed Into Bus In Ssf Sentenced To Year In Jail

An intoxicated driver who plowed into the back of a SamTrans bus in South San Francisco last year and then threw up in the backseat of a patrol car after his arrest was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail, prosecutors said.

In addition to the jail sentence, Jimmy Velasco, 32, was sentenced to five years’ probation, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said.

Velasco could avoid jail time if a judge approves a work release program, but Wednesday was ordered to begin serving his sentence on April 25. He has nine days of credit for time served, Gallagher said.

The crash happened just before 6 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2014. Velasco was driving on El Camino Real and rear-ended a bus stopped at the intersection with Arroyo Drive, prosecutors said.

Multiple passengers were injured and taken to a hospital.

Velasco was not hurt in the crash and told arriving officers, “I hit the bus, I’m a little drunk,” prosecutors said. Police testing found that he was driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.17 percent.

When Velasco was arrested, he threw up in the back of the officers’ patrol car.

He pleaded no contest to felony drunk driving last month in exchange for a maximum sentence of two years in prison, prosecutors said.

In addition to his jail and probation sentence, he must pay restitution to six victims, $7,341 to one and an amount to be determined for the other five. His driving privileges were suspended and he must enroll in a nine-month alcohol abuse program, Gallagher said.

Velasco’s attorney was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.

Alameda Supervisor Wilma Chan Announces Plan To End Hunger By 2020

Supervisor Wilma Chan visited the Alameda County Food Bank in Oakland Wednesday morning to announce the launch of the All In To End Hunger 2020 Initiative.

During an 11 a.m. news conference, Chan said the initiative’s goal is to eliminate food insecurity in Alameda County within five years by focusing on inefficiencies in the food system, public policy reforms, economic development and community involvement.

“Poverty in the U.S. is the highest that it’s been since 1965, and California has the highest poverty rate in the nation,” Chan said. “There are nearly 200,000 people living in poverty right here in Alameda County, and income inequality is the highest that it’s been since the 1920s.”

Chan said that since California is the eighth richest economy in the world, feeding our children, seniors and working families should be a moral imperative.

She invited all Alameda County residents to get involved in the initiative by donating food, contributing to the efforts of a community garden and reducing their own food-waste.

Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Food Bank, said one in five Alameda County residents depend on food banks.

“These aren’t just people below the poverty line,” Bateson said. “One third of them are above the poverty line, and 54 percent of the people we serve have jobs but aren’t making enough to make ends meet.”

“People frequently buy expired food and eat it. People often water down their food in order to make it go farther, and families are buying the cheapest food they can get their hands on to fill empty stomachs,” Bateson said. “Is that the Alameda County that we want?”

Chan said that to end hunger in Alameda County over the next five years it’s going to require policy changes, coordination between agencies and financial resources. To facilitate that process Mark Friedman, chief executive officer for the Thomas J. Long Foundation, announced a $5 million donation to get the initiative started.

Suspect Shoots At Detectives Watching A Marijuana Grow

A man allegedly shot at two plainclothes detectives with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in West Oakland Wednesday afternoon while they were investigating a suspected marijuana growing operation.

The detectives were in an unmarked car, conducting surveillance on a suspected marijuana growing operation in the vicinity of and Adeline and 28th Streets around 3:15 p.m. when the shooting occurred, Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

Police said a man who was thought to be connected to the growing operation pointed a handgun at them and opened fire, striking the vehicle at least one time.

“It looks like this guy chased our officers down and then shot at them,” Kelly said.

No injuries were reported and the detectives did not return fire, according to Kelly.

“They were just trying to get to safety and get out of the way,” Kelly said.

Shortly after the shooting, they returned to the scene, apprehended a suspect and recovered a handgun thought to have been used in the crime, Kelly said.

The suspect has not yet been identified.

Store Employee Threatened In Robbery At Fry’s Store

Palo Alto police are looking for two suspects who threatened an employee with a gun during the robbery of a Fry’s store Wednesday afternoon.

The two suspects entered the store at 340 Portage Ave. around 3:45 p.m. and grabbed three gaming consoles with a total value of around $1200 off the shelf, according to police.

The first suspect fled with two consoles, but when a store employee tried to stop the second suspect from leaving, the suspect pulled a silver revolver out of his waistband and pointed it at him, police said.

The victim backed off and the suspect ran outside.

The suspects were last seen driving away in a dark four-door sedan west on Portage Avenue toward El Camino Real.

The suspects were both described as Hispanic males between 25 and 30 years old and around 5 feet 8 inches tall, with short black hair and jeans. The suspect with the gun was wearing a dark t-shirt, and the first suspect had a white t-shirt.

Police have released a surveillance image of the two suspects and are working on producing a sketch of the armed suspect with the help for the victim.

Police Investigate Homicide After Body Parts Found In Suitcase

San Francisco police say a suitcase found in the South of Market area Wednesday afternoon contained dismembered body parts.

The suitcase was found after a caller reported a suspicious package near 11th and Mission Streets Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

Sen. Boxer Praises Bart Board Decision To Ban E-Cigarettes

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Wednesday praised the BART Board of Directors for moving to ban electronic cigarettes in BART trains and stations, citing new research that reveals health concerns about the vaporized tobacco products.

In a letter to BART board President Thomas Blalock, Boxer, D-California, cited the presence of chemicals like nicotine and formaldehyde present in e-cigarette vapor that pose a risk to health.

“Research has raised major concerns about secondhand exposure to e-cigarette vapor,” Boxer wrote. “This is particularly relevant in small, enclosed spaces such as trains and stations, leading the World Health Organization to recommend that steps be taken to end the use of e-cigarettes indoors in public and work places.”

Boxer’s letter comes the same day that the California Department of Public Health issued a health advisory about e-cigarettes, warning use of the products is rising for teens and young adults and exposure to the vapor could lead to cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

E-cigarettes contain at least 10 chemicals known to the state of California to cause health problems, according to the health department. It plans to take steps to reduce e-cigarette use through education and advertising campaigns.

The BART board voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes in the BART system at its meeting last Thursday. The board said it had received complaints of e-cigarettes on the system, prompting them to introduce the regulations.

The new restrictions are expected to be finalized at the board’s
Feb. 12 meeting.

Two Boaters Rescued In The Alviso Slough

Two South Bay boaters were rescued from a small craft that was taking on water in the Alviso Slough Wednesday afternoon near San Jose, according to the United States Coast Guard.

The call first came in shortly before 4:25 p.m., and personnel from the San Jose and Santa Clara fire departments deployed to try and locate the sinking boat, according to USCG Lt. Theo Vaughan.

Vaughan said a Coast Guard helicopter was used to locate the vessel, and the aircraft’s crew helped guide a rescue boat from the San Jose Fire Department to their location.

Both of the people on board were rescued and transported to the Alviso Marina.

“The boat’s pretty much going to remain there, sunk in about four feet of water,” Vaughan said.

According to Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, rescue crews from his agency responded to two similar incidents in the Alviso area last week.

16-Year-Old Arrested After Allegedly Bringing Pot Cookies For Sale To School

Police arrested a 16-year-old after he allegedly brought marijuana-laced chocolate chip cookies to sell at a Hercules school on Tuesday, police said Wednesday.

Police said a school resource officer received information around 1:40 p.m. that a student had pot cookies for sale.

The officer contacted the student and found a Tupperware container in his possession with 17 individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies inside, police said.

The officer found another cookie inside the teenager’s pocket and $44 in cash, police said.

Detective Connie Van Putten said the officer conducted a “presumptive test” with a field kit that the officers carry to test for the presence of THC, a chemical found in marijuana.

The cookie tested positive, police said.

The officer arrested the juvenile on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and child endangerment charges. He was transported and booked in the John A. Davis Juvenile Hall, police said.

Police said the officer was not able to determine if any cookies had actually been sold to any students.

There were no immediate reports of illness, but the school is notifying parents of the incident, police said.

Police Arrest One Driver, Seek Another In Fatal Hit-And-Run

San Jose police have arrested the driver of one of two vehicles in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian on Almaden Expressway last Friday and are looking for the other driver, police said Wednesday.

Officers responded at 6:19 p.m. last Friday to a report of a vehicle striking a pedestrian on Almaden Expressway near Via Monte Drive, where they found a woman lying in the middle of the roadway, San Jose police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said.

The woman, later identified as 71-year-old Soroor Vossoughi, was pronounced dead at the scene, Morales said.

The Police Department’s traffic investigations unit determined that two vehicles had been traveling south on Almaden Expressway when Vossoughi tried to cross the road and was struck, he said.

The drivers of both cars drove away and failed to return to the scene, but later that evening, 37-year-old Juan Saldana Alfaro, of Los Gatos, the driver of a Honda Accord, turned himself in to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, Morales said.

Alfaro was booked into county jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and hit and run, he said.

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the driver of the second vehicle, described as a light-colored small pickup truck that continued to drive south on Almaden after the crash.

The driver may have been involved in the collision or could provide a witness statement, Morales said.

Teen Bicyclist Struck By Car, Seriously Injured

A 14-year-old boy riding on a bicycle was struck by a car and injured Wednesday afternoon in Danville, according to police.

The boy was riding his bike on the sidewalk on Green Valley Road between Waingarth Way and Hope Lane around 4:20 p.m. when he veered around some garbage cans on the sidewalk and into the roadway, according to police.

He was struck by an automobile and suffered serious injuries that required him to be transported by helicopter to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

The driver stopped at the scene and is cooperating with police.

Man Fatally Shot In Bayview District Tuesday Identified

A 38-year-old man who was fatally shot in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Tuesday afternoon has been identified Wednesday, according to the medical examiner’s office.

The victim, identified as San Francisco resident Donte Glenn, died of his injuries at San Francisco General Hospital following a shooting reported at 4:24 p.m. in the 200 block of Bayshore Boulevard.

San Francisco police said a female victim with Glenn also suffered from gunshot wounds but is expected to survive.

According to an employee at The Old Clam House restaurant, located at 299 Bayshore Blvd., the female victim drove the male victim, later identified as Glenn, to the restaurant and then came into the restaurant to get help.

The employee said she called 911 and emergency crews responded to the restaurant.

The Old Clam House employee, who declined to be named, said she did not hear any shots fired near the restaurant prior to seeing the two victims.

Emergency crews arrived at the restaurant, located Glenn and the female victim, and transported them to the hospital, where Glenn died.

About 10 minutes earlier, police were notified of a female that had been shot a couple of blocks away in the 1200 block of Revere Avenue.

Officers responded to a ShotSpotter gunshot detection system alert activated in the area of Ingalls Street and Revere Avenue at 4:15 p.m., San Francisco police Officer Grace Gatpandan said.

Arriving officers found a woman in her 30s suffering from multiple gunshot wounds on the sidewalk near the intersection, Gatpandan said.

The officers performed CPR on the woman and transported her to San Francisco General Hospital, where she died of her injuries, according to Gatpandan. Her name was not immediately being released by the medical examiner’s office.

The two cases are possibly related and remain under investigation, police said.

Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area

Skies will partly cloudy this morning before becoming sunny in the afternoon. Highs will be in lower 60s. Winds will be from the north at around 5 mph in the morning and from the west in the afternoon.

Skies will partly cloudy tonight with lows around 50 degrees. Winds will be from the west at 5 to 10 mph.

Skies will partly cloudy Friday morning and sunny later in the day. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s and west winds of 5 to 10 mph are expected throughout the day.