Tuesday Morning News Roundup
Man Struck, Killed By Out-Of-Service Caltrain In Tunnel
An out-of-service Caltrain that struck and killed a man in a tunnel in San Francisco on Monday night has been released from the scene, a spokeswoman said.
The collision occurred in Tunnel One shortly after 9 p.m., Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.
The train was heading south and continued traveling in that direction once it was released as of about 10:45 p.m., she said.
Once crews clean up the scene, all trains will be allowed to resume regular scheduled service, Ackemann said.
BART will continue to accept Caltrain tickets at Millbrae for passengers heading north, Caltrain officials said.
No further details were immediately available.
Tracks Cleared After Fatal Crash Between Car, Caltrain
Trains tracks in Menlo Park have been cleared after a crash late Monday afternoon between a car and Caltrain that killed a 30-year-old woman, fire and Caltrain officials said.
All trains in both directions were halted after southbound Caltrain No. 360 hit the car at Ravenswood Avenue at 4:46 p.m.
The female driver was stuck at the Ravenswood crossing where the car was hit, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
The car flew 40 feet across the intersection and the driver had to be extricated from the car that was found on a railroad crossing box and pole. She was taken to Stanford Hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead a short time later, he said.
A child safety seat was found in the car but was unoccupied, according to Schapelhouman.
The car was “pretty much totaled,” he said.
All trains were stopped in both directions until about 5:30 p.m. when a single track was opened through the area, Caltrain officials said.
Around 6 p.m., the northbound tracks reopened for all trains, according to Caltrain officials.
Shortly before 7:30 p.m., the southbound tracks were cleared and trains were allowed to run through the area, Caltrain officials said.
The involved train sustained substantial damage in the crash, according to Caltrain officials.
Preliminary reports indicated the railroad gate crossing was properly working at the time of the crash, Caltrain officials said.
The Ravenswood Avenue crossing was closed to cars Monday night while crews work to repair the gate and signal, according to Caltrain officials.
Samtrans is accepting Caltrain tickets between Menlo Park and Palo Alto, and BART is accepting Caltrain tickets at Millbrae, Caltrain officials said.
About 400 people on board the train were not injured, Caltrain officials said. The crash also impacted traffic on either side of the Ravenswood railroad crossing, according to Schapelhouman.
Pedestrian Struck, Killed By Car On Hwy 880 Off-Ramp
A pedestrian was struck and killed by a car on an Interstate Highway 880 off-ramp in Milpitas on Monday night, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officers responded to a report of a collision between a vehicle and pedestrian around 10:10 p.m. at the off-ramp from northbound Interstate Highway 880 to state Highway 237, CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.
The vehicle was described as a silver Infiniti sedan, Van Eckhardt said.
The ramp has been closed while officers conduct an investigation, he said.
The Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office has been called to the scene.
No further details were immediately available.
Suspects In Home Invasion Identified, 2 Others Arrested Suspected Of Cultivating And Selling Marijuana
Police have identified three suspects, one who died, in armed home invasion that escalated into a shooting in Santa Rosa early Monday morning at a residence where two people were later arrested on suspicion of cultivating and selling marijuana.
Pablo Reyes-Martinez, 22, of Santa Rosa, died after a shooting with a resident in a home invasion reported in the 600 block of Acacia Lane around 12:50 a.m., police said.
The second suspect, 24-year-old Fidencio Reyes Bocanegra, was transported to a hospital for injuries that were considered life-threatening and underwent surgery, according to police.
The third suspect, 36-year-old Miguel Junior Flores of Cloverdale, was arrested and booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, conspiracy, attempted first-degree robbery and committing a felony with a firearm, police said.
The resident told police several armed males tried to force their way into the home, also occupied by a female and two children. The resident and the suspects exchanged gunfire and the suspects fled in a vehicle, police said.
Based on an investigation, detectives suspect the trio was attempting to rob the home where illegal marijuana cultivation and sales were allegedly taking place, police said.
About one hour later, Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies conducted a felony stop on a vehicle that matched the description in the shooting, according to police. The vehicle was pulling into the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, police said.
The suspects in the vehicle initially refused to comply with deputies and the deputies sent rounds of a 40mm chemical agent into the vehicle, according to police.
Two suspects complied and the deputies took them into custody. One of the two suspects, later identified as Bocanegra, was suffering from a gunshot wound and was transported to a hospital, police said.
Deputies took the other suspect, later determined to be Flores, to the Santa Rosa Police Department for further investigation, according to police.
Deputies found a third suspect, later identified as Reyes-Martinez, unconscious in the vehicle and he was pronounced dead after first responders tried to revive him, police said.
Detectives later determined that the residents, 25-year-old Manuel Garcia and 23-year-old Rolando Ramirez-Ruiz, were allegedly cultivating marijuana at the home, according to Linscomb.
Garcia and Ramirez-Ruiz were arrested and booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of possession and cultivation of marijuana for sales, manufacturing hashish, possession of narcotics for sale and firearms charges connected with drug sales, police said.
Garcia is also suspected of felony child endangerment because children were in the home where the alleged drug activity was taking place, police said.
$20,000 Reward Offered For Suspect In 2004 Stabbing Death
Watsonville police issued a plea for assistance Monday to find a suspect in the 2004 stabbing death of a 17-year-old boy.
Mario Lozano, 29, is suspected to have fled to Mexico to avoid capture for the Dec. 3, 2004, death of Isaac Guzman in Watsonville.
Guzman was found stabbed in front of Hector’s Bakery at 301 Airport Blvd. at about 4 p.m. that day.
Witnesses told police that Lozano chased Guzman and stabbed him several times as he tried to get away. Lozano is the only suspect in the stabbing, according to police.
A warrant for Lozano’s arrest was issued shortly after the stabbing.
Lozano is described as a Hispanic man standing 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo that says “Roxanne” on the right side of his neck along with a large birthmark.
He also has a tattoo of four dots on his left wrist, police said.
The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Anyone with information about Lozano has been asked to call the Watsonville police Investigations Division at (831) 768-3389 or the tip line at (831) 768-3350.
Officers Search For Those Responsible For Dumping 2 Dogs, Killing Puppy
Officers with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter are seeking help in finding those responsible for throwing sand bags containing a female dog and her puppy Friday into a dumping ground outside Watsonville, killing the puppy.
Shelter officers responded at about 5 p.m. Friday to Minto Road in an unincorporated area north of Watsonville about a report of an abandoned dog and a puppy, Officer Todd Stosuy said.
Officers arrived there to find that the puppy had died and its mother had remained standing next its body and although she was afraid of them, the mother refused to leave her puppy’s side, according to Stosuy.
After the mother was placed into the animal control vehicle, she started crying and scratching the door and calmed down when officers put her dead puppy beside her, he said.
From an investigation and a necropsy on the puppy, a shelter veterinarian determined that someone placed the dogs inside separate sand bags and threw them from a vehicle into the dumping ground, he said.
The puppy died of blunt force head trauma from the impact and the mother chewed her way through her bag, freed herself and pulled the puppy out.
While attempting to revive the puppy, the mother bit the puppy’s tongue off, the veterinarian reported.
The puppy had been dead for four to five hours before it was found and was thrown onto the ground at about noon or 1 p.m. Friday, Stosuy said.
The veterinarian said that the mother was allowed to be present during the necropsy and would periodically walk over to lick the puppy and then go back to the veterinarian, he said.
The adult dog is a sable, tan and white Miniature Pinscher and about 6 years old. The puppy was 4 to 6 weeks old.
The mother will remain at the shelter for adoption by a special rescue group and not for open adoption because she will need care for a heart murmur unrelated to her abandonment that will last for the rest of her life, according to Stosuy.
Those responsible for what happened to the dogs could face two felony counts of animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of willingly abandoning an animal, he said.
Two Suspects Charged With Murder For December Shooting
Two young San Leandro men were charged Monday with murder, robbery and assault with a firearm for the fatal shooting in December of a wheelchair-bound man in Berkeley and wounding a woman who was with him.
Khalil Phanor, 18, and Carl Young, 20, have been charged for the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton in a parking lot near San Pablo and University avenues at about 9:45 p.m. on Dec. 29.
Phanor and Young are also charged with the special circumstance of committing a murder during the course of a robbery, which carries a potential penalty of life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
The assault with a firearm charge stems from shooting the arm of a woman who was with Middleton but survived her injuries.
Prosecutors allege that Phanor was the suspect who shot Middleton and the female victim.
Young was scheduled to be arraigned at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland Monday afternoon but Phanor remains at large.
Berkeley police said they also arrested a 17-year-old suspect in the shooting last Thursday and he is being held at the Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro.
Prosecutors weren’t immediately available for comment on whether charges have been filed against the 17-year-old.
Berkeley police Officer Jesse Grant said in a probable cause statement filed in court that investigators developed information that indicated Young as a suspect in the shooting and he was identified in a lineup as a person who participated in the robbery.
Grant said that after Young was arrested at his home on Mitchell Avenue in San Leandro last Thursday he admitted his role in the crimes.
Woman Allegedly Seen In Surveillance Video Arrested In Death Of 56-Year-Old Man
A 19-year-old San Jose woman has been arrested in the homicide of a man whose body was found in his Gilroy home on Feb. 16, police said Monday.
Gabriela Bernice Ortiz was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of murdering 56-year-old Robert Joseph Heiser and will be arraigned today in Superior Court in San Jose, Gilroy police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said.
Police believe that Ortiz was one of two women seen on surveillance video at a convenience store on White Road in East San Jose and used Heiser’s credit card to buy items hours after his death, Espinoza said.
At 2:59 a.m. Feb. 16, police went to investigate a complaint from a neighbor about a noise near Heiser’s residence in the 1400 block of Bay Tree Drive near Santa Teresa Boulevard.
The neighbor had heard dogs barking in the area of Heiser’s home and after officers entered his residence, they found Heiser lying unconscious inside.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. Although he had no visible signs of a violent death, police regarded his death as suspicious.
After releasing photos of the two females in the surveillance video as persons of interest, police received a number of tips that led to Ortiz’s arrest, Espinoza said.
Officers are investigating Ortiz in connection with other incidents in Bay Area cities, he said.
The investigation into Heiser’s death is ongoing and those with information about it are urged to call police Detective Eric Cryar at (408) 846-0330 or (408) 846-0350.
Lack Of Overnight Bart Service Biggest Concern Raised In Late-Night Transportation Report
A report released Monday studying how to improve late-night transportation options in San Francisco offers some short-term solutions but substantial improvements could be decades away.
While steps have already been taken to improve late-night San Francisco Municipal Railway service and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit transbay bus service, a study by the Late Night Transportation Working Group found that the biggest impediment to late-night travelers was the lack of overnight BART service.
BART service, however, must shut down overnight for necessary maintenance work. The working group in its report recommended further study of the challenges to overnight BART service, but recognized that ultimately a second Transbay Tube may be necessary to ever have truly overnight transbay rail service.
A current Metropolitan Transportation Commission study on a second transbay rail crossing and potential Muni improvements is expected to be completed in 2018.
The report was heard in a meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ land use and economic development committee Monday. BART Director Robert Raburn spoke there and said the agency would take another look at how to reduce maintenance times for expanding late-night service by at least an hour or two.
That might happen once new train cars are phased in over the next few years, he said.
In the meantime, the report points out that while BART and AC Transit have partnered to provide more frequent late-night service, bus service throughout the area, and particularly to the East Bay and Peninsula, remains skeletal at best.
Other short-term measures recommended by the report include expanding the bike sharing service, taking steps to improve safety and reliability of late-night buses, improving taxi dispatching and offering low-income subsidies for taxi service when other transportation options are not available.
Also in the short term, the study indicated that simply making people more aware of late-night transit options could improve the lives of late-night travelers. Nearly half of the study’s 2,800 respondents were either not aware of late-night Muni and transbay buses or did not know where they run.
To that end, the report recommends adding monitors to areas that are late-night destinations and improving technological infrastructure, such as websites like 511.org, to keep passengers more informed.
CCSF Students, Faculty Protest Appointment Of New Special Trustee
Students, faculty and members of the City College of San Francisco community protested Monday’s appointment of a special trustee who will oversee the transition of governance back to the college’s elected board of trustees in July.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris appointed Guy Lease to the position, known as the “special trustee with extraordinary powers” on Monday to replace Robert Agrella, who in January announced his retirement.
Agrella was appointed by the California Community Colleges’ board of governors in July 2013 to help keep the school open after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges decided to revoke City College’s accreditation, citing issues with the school’s finances and governance structure.
The extraordinary powers granted to Agrella, and now to Lease, take decision-making authority away from the college’s elected trustees and gives that power to the special trustee instead.
A large group of protesters, who maintain that the appointment of another special trustee is undemocratic and unnecessary, voiced their concerns at a meeting held by the college’s administration Monday morning.
Protesters entered the meeting, streaming past San Francisco police officers, and addressed Lease with boos while encouraging him to step down from his new position.
Many protesters said Monday that the initial decision to appoint a special trustee was based on a recommendation by the ACCJC, but the ACCJC’s credibility is now in question.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit that ended with a judge issuing an injunction allowing the college another opportunity to defend itself against the ACCJC’s decision.
John Rizzo, the former president of the college’s board of trustees stood with protesters during the meeting Monday and urged the administration to return power to the elected board of trustees immediately.
Rafael Mandelman, the president of the board of trustees, said Monday that while he supports the appointment of Lease, he would work hard to reduce the power of the special trustee in the coming months and hopes that full power will be transferred back to the board by this July 1.
Ex-SJ Councilman Could Get Immunity For Testifying Against Former Supe Shirakawa
A Santa Clara County prosecutor on Monday argued in Superior Court that former San Jose City Councilman Xavier Campos could be granted immunity from prosecution to testify Thursday in the felony phony mailer case against former county Supervisor George Shirakawa.
Deputy District Attorney John Chase said in a motion that because the four-year statute of limitations had passed for a potential state campaign law violation from 2010, Campos “does not face a true possibility of prosecution” and the judge had legal standing to grant him immunity from future prosecution.
Chase’s motion was in response to one filed Monday by Campos attorney Gregory Ward to quash a subpoena directing Campos to testify Monday in a hearing in the case against Shirakawa, charged with falsely impersonating Campos’ opponent in a 2010 District 5 council election.
Judge Ron Del Pozzo ruled that Xavier Campos would have to take the stand Thursday and face questions from Chase even if the former councilman planned to cite his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The judge’s decision came as attorneys for Shirakawa have filed motions to exclude DNA evidence prosecutors claim implicates him in political flyers sent out during the 2010 campaign to trick Vietnamese voters into believing Campos rival Magdalena Carrasco supported the Communist regime in Vietnam.
The mailer showed a photo of Carrasco beside a Communist Vietnamese flag that is offensive to many former residents of Vietnam in the United States.
Campos defeated Carrasco by only 20 votes in the June 2010 primary
and won the general election that November with 51.8 percent of the vote to her 48.2 percent. Carrasco defeated Campos’ bid for re-election last year.
According to Chase’s filing, DNA testing of several 2010 mailers located a partial DNA profile and in May 2013 — after Shirakawa was arrested on unrelated perjury and other charges — a sample of his DNA “closely resembled” the profile and a second analysis using an updated test kit “confirmed a strong similarity” between his DNA and that found on the mailer.
Shirakawa’s attorney Jay Rorty Monday filed a motion to exclude the prosecution’s DNA evidence that he said were extracted from two anti-Carrasco mailers.
In another brief filed Monday, Chase claimed that Shirakawa, while serving time in county jail last year, wrote a letter expressing anger with Campos, Campos’s sister Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose and Nora’s husband Neil Struthers implying that he “was frustrated that he is the only person taking the rap for the crime that put Xavier Campos on office.”
School Evacuation Lifted, No Threat Found
Students were allowed to return to Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City on Monday after an evacuation prompted by a student who called 911 to report hearing gunshots, according to a police lieutenant.
The incident was reported at roughly 9:25 a.m. Monday in the vicinity of Broadway and Charter Street. Responding officers set up a perimeter and closed down Broadway from Mills Way to Woodside Road, police said.
Summit Preparatory at 890 Broadway also initiated an evacuation, according to Lt. Sean Hart.
“The students were evacuated, the campus was searched and we did not locate anything to indicate there was a shooting on campus,” Hart said.
He said the student may have heard balloons being popped in a classroom exercise being conducted at the time, or the sound of nail guns being used at a nearby construction site.
There were no injuries related to the initial incident. One student suffered an asthma attack or some kind of hyperventilation and was treated at the scene, Hart said.
Joe Witherspoon with Motostrano, a bicycle and motorcycle shop nearby at 926 Broadway, said around 11:10 a.m. that police had pointed guns and rifles at the school campus.
Witherspoon said police were “evacuating students with their hands in the air.”
Hart said that was a safety precaution.
“When we do the initial evacuation, you don’t know if you have a suspect coming out or a victim or a witness, so a lot of times they’re told to put their hands up until they can be cleared,” Hart said.
By noon, officers were clearing the scene and the students had been allowed to return to school. Parents with questions can call school representative Mira Brown at (917) 319-5634.
The Redwood City Police Department was assisted by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol and the Redwood City Fire Department.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be sunny today with highs in the lower to mid 60s. Winds will be from the northeast at 5 to 10 mph in the morning and from the west at 5 to 15 mph in the afternoon.
Skies will be mostly clear in the evening and become partly cloudy later. Lows will be in the upper 40s with west winds of 5 to 10 mph.
Skies will mostly cloudy Wednesday with highs in the lower 60s and west winds of 5 to 10 mph.