Wednesday Morning News Roundup
Report Of Shooting Leads To Seven Arrested On Drug Charges
A report about a shooting led to the arrests of seven people on drug charges at a west Santa Rosa residence late Monday morning.
Police received a call around 11 a.m. about a shooting in the area of Finley and Fresno avenues, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Rich Celli said.
The caller said that as he fled a confrontation in a residence in the 3700 block of Finley Avenue he heard gunshots and believed someone was shot, Celli said.
When police met the caller, identified as Isidro Bello-Rosales, near the residence, he said he was helping process marijuana with others in the home and got into a dispute with someone about payment, Celli said.
Rosales was arrested when police found him allegedly in possession of a small quantity of methamphetamine, according to Celli.
Police went to the Finley Avenue residence and found no evidence of a robbery or assault, but located four men on the floor near open boxes containing 1-pound bags of marijuana.
Police heard other people in another bedroom, but they fled out the back of the residence, Celli said. Officers who were on the perimeter of the residence saw two men on a property west of the Finley Avenue house and detained them, Celli said.
Officers found 30 marijuana plants growing in the yard of the Finley Avenue home. Officers obtained a search warrant and found six additional marijuana plants, 230 pounds of processed marijuana, $14,000 in cash and 12 firearms, including one AK-47 assault rifle and SKS rifle outside the bedroom where the two men fled, according to Celli.
Detectives interviewed other people on the property and learned several people were being paid by the hour to trim marijuana, Celli said. The majority of the marijuana was brought to the residence and was not grown on site, and there were no medical claims related to the marijuana, Celli said.
Police arrested Claudio Jimenez-Avendano, Erik Almonte-Mondragon, Sergio Sanchez-Sarmento and Adelfo Avendano Lopez on suspicion of cultivating, harvesting and processing marijuana.
Martin Sarmiento Morales and Isidro Bello-Rosales were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and possession of an opium pipe. All six suspects were booked in the Sonoma County Jail.
A male juvenile was also found at the scene and arrested and booked into Juvenile Hall for cultivating, harvesting and processing marijuana.
Suspect At Large After Shooting Man In The Back In Bernal Heights
A man was shot in the back in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood early Monday morning, police said.
Police said they received a report of a shooting shortly before 2 a.m. on Monday near the intersection of Mission and Randall streets near a Shell gas station.
The 31-year-old victim suffered a gunshot wound to his back and was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, police said.
Officers said the suspect has not been identified and fled the scene in a white sedan following the shooting.
The motive for the shooting remains under investigation, police said.
4-Acre Redwood Grove Fire Now 90 Percent Contained
A fire that burned about 4 acres of one of Marin County’s largest redwood groves was 90 percent contained as of late Tuesday afternoon.
The fire at Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve just north of the San Geronimo Golf Course near Woodacre was reported around 7 a.m., Marin County spokesman Brent Ainsworth said.
Crews set up a staging area in a nearby meadow and approached the center of the fire from several angles, Ainsworth said.
Cloud cover prevented an air attack on the fire, which was 50 percent contained around 10:45 a.m., Ainsworth said.
Marin County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Giannini said the blaze was 90 percent contained as of 4:45 p.m.
Giannini said 85 firefighters responded to the blaze in the old growth redwoods that are among the largest in the county.
Ainsworth said several fire crews have been released and Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve will be closed for 48 hours to fight hot spots and investigate the cause of the blaze.
Marin County Fire Marshal Scott Alber said the fire appears to be human-caused, but investigators do not know if it is accidental or intentional.
No structures were threatened in the area and no injuries were reported.
Giannini said the fire spread quickly even in the damp and humid morning hours.
“This exemplifies the potential for high fire activity as a result of the continuing drought,” Giannini said.
Roy’s Redwoods is managed by the Marin County Open Space District. The 293-acre preserve is a few miles east of where 40 acres burned in June on Mount Barnabe inside Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Ainsworth said.
Roy’s Redwoods is also about nine miles northwest of Muir Woods National Monument and 8.5 miles northwest of downtown San Rafael.
Man Struck And Killed By Car On Mendocino Avenue Identified
The Sonoma County coroner’s office has identified the man who was killed when he was struck by a vehicle in Santa Rosa Monday afternoon as 69-year-old Daniel McCauley of Santa Rosa.
McCauley was hit by a pickup truck on northbound Mendocino Avenue between Benton Street and College Avenue around 2:50 p.m., Santa Rosa police Sgt. Mike Numainville said.
The pickup driver, a 73-year-old Santa Rosa man, remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation, Numainville said.
McCauley was pronounced dead at the scene.
The area is south of Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa Junior College where there are pedestrian crossings with flashing yellow lights that require motorists to stop.
Former Fire Cheif Dies, Hailed As ‘Visionary’
Former Alameda County Fire Chief Bill McCammon died Monday at the age of 61, department officials said.
McCammon led the department for 13 years before retiring and unsuccessfully running for state Assembly in 2006, when he was narrowly defeated by Mary Hayashi.
He was named Fire Chief of the Year by the California Fire Chiefs Association before his retirement. McCammon was the department’s first fire chief, taking the post when it was created in 1993.
The department doubled in size under his tenure and added contracts covering San Leandro, Dublin and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
“Bill was a visionary that implemented changes that improved the fire service, public safety and the quality of life in our communities,” current Alameda County fire Chief David Rocha said in a statement Monday.
After retiring from the fire department, McCammon went on to be executive director of the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority, a coordinating agency to help improve inter-departmental communications for East Bay emergency responders, comprising of 43 different agencies.
McCammon was an Oakland native, attending public schools there before transferring from Merritt Junior College to the University of California at Davis, where he got a degree in agricultural science and management.
He was a firefighter since 1978. As fire chief in Alameda County, he oversaw a department of 260 firefighters servicing an area of more than 250,000 people with 21,000 calls for emergency services each year.
“The Alameda County Fire Department has lost a dear friend and inspiring mentor in Bill McCammon,” Rocha said. “No words can adequately express our sadness at Bill’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. Our thought and prayers are with his family.”
AAA Reports Lower Gas Prices Compared To September
Bay Area automobile drivers have seen gas prices go down by more than 25 cents compared to a month ago, according to a report released Tuesday by AAA.
Across the region, gas prices have fallen an average of $0.26 to $3.61 since Sept. 9, when AAA issued its last report.
“Low demand combined with abundant supply has kept downward pressure on global oil prices,” AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said.
Harris said increasing oil production nationally, the seasonal switch to the winter blend of gas and reduced consumer consumption are specific reasons behind the lower prices.
Prices are also down compared with a year ago, according to AAA. In the Bay Area, prices are down $0.27, compared with October 2013.
Unless there is an event that would cause prices to increase, prices could continue to drop through the holiday season, Harris said.
“Things are looking down,” she joked.
Woman Reports Lewd Conduct At Public Park Last Week
Officers received a report from a woman claiming to be the victim of lewd and lascivious acts in Oakland last week, according to police.
The victim realized a man was following her in Joaquin Miller Park, located at 3450 Joaquin Miller Drive, around 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, police said.
Following her along one of the park’s trails, the suspect reportedly made lewd gestures and was inappropriately touching himself while attempting to verbally lure the victim to go with him, according to police.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic man with a thick accent in his 30s, between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 175 pounds with a medium complexion and a light-colored mustache.
The suspect wore a black and white Oakland Raiders hat, black T-shirt and black jeans.
The suspect’s vehicle is described as a late 80s or early 90s four-door brownish-purple car with a dent on the door, possibly a Pontiac Grand Am.
Police recommend pedestrians to always remain aware of their surroundings, stay in well-lit and populated areas, and call police whenever suspicious activity is seen.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Police Department’s Youth and Family Services Division at (510) 238-3641 or tip line at (510) 637-0298.
Sidecar Gets Permit To Operate At Airport, Talks With Uber, Lyft Continue
Sidecar will be the first transportation network company allowed to operate legally at a California airport when it begins operations at San Francisco International Airport in the next 30 days, SFO officials announced Tuesday.
The airport is also in talks with Uber and Lyft to begin operating there, but so far neither company has signed a similar permit, SFO officials said.
The permit for all three companies is identical, but logistical discussions continue with Uber and Lyft, such as how to track how many vehicles are coming through the airport, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said Tuesday.
Sidecar will be charged $3.85 for each trip to the airport, a fee similar to what taxi and limo services pay to operate there, Yakel said.
The airport first established the permitting process for TNCs in April after the California Public Utilities Commission set new regulations requiring permits at airports last year.
The CPUC previously threatened to shut down TNCs operating at airports in June, citing numerous problems with drivers caught there, including unlicensed drivers, cars without proper insurance or registration and cars operated by someone other than its owner.
Since beginning enforcement of the ban on TNCs in April, Yakel said Tuesday hundreds of verbal admonishments have been issued for drivers using the airport while not permitted and about three dozen misdemeanor citations have been issued for second offenses.
Most of those drivers were working for Uber, Yakel said.
A statement from Sidecar Tuesday did not address any particular provisions of the permit except that the company would not be able to run its Shared Rides program, a carpooling feature that the CPUC has said is illegal.
But Sidecar and SFO officials, as well as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, issued statements Tuesday hailing the decision.
“The sharing economy was born here, and I am committed to ensuring that San Francisco supports this innovation sector’s growth and success,” Lee said.
Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul said, “When regulators and innovators work together, consumers win.”
Airport director John Martin commended Sidecar for coming to an agreement with SFO.
“Their proactive approach sets an example for other transportation network companies to follow,” Martin said.
Yakel said that with only Sidecar being permitted to operate at SFO, enforcement would continue for Uber and Lyft drivers trying to make pickups there.
Driver Who Hit Skateboarder Arrested For DUI
A driver was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence after seriously injuring a skateboarder Tuesday afternoon in the Tara Hills area of Contra Costa County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash was reported at 2:25 p.m. at Mahan Way and Flannery Road, a suburban area just north of Richmond, CHP officials said.
The 18-year-old skateboarder suffered a head injury and was bleeding badly after the white Honda Pilot hit him on Flannery Road, CHP
Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said.
The skateboarder was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek with serious but not life-threatening injuries, Wilkenfeld said.
The driver, who has not yet been identified, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI, Wilkenfeld said.
Police Identify Suspect In Custody For Homicides Of Man, Girl
A man arrested after the shooting deaths of a man and 4-year-old girl at a Watsonville restaurant and motel late Friday is believed to be responsible for both killings, police said Tuesday.
Police have identified Michael Escobar as the shooter in both homicides and he will continue to be the focus of the investigation in the shootings, according to Watsonville police spokesman Lt. Jorge Zamora.
Meanwhile, supporters of the girl killed in the shooting, Jaelyn Marie Zavala, of Watsonville, have started a bank account to raise funds for her funeral expenses and released a photograph of her superimposed with angel wings and a halo over her head.
The account is set up with Wells Fargo Bank and the number to use to deposit contributions is 5284735320, according to Zamora.
At 11:55 p.m. Friday, Watsonville police answered a call about a fight involving multiple people and a possible weapon at the Fish House Bar and Grill at 972 Main St. and Valley Inn Motel at 970 Main St. in Watsonville.
When officers arrived along with agents of the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force, they heard gunshots and saw people running from the restaurant and motel area, according to police.
Jaelyn lay mortally wounded inside the restaurant while another victim, 26-year-old Watsonville resident Emanuel Hernandez, was near her suffering from at least one bullet wound but his injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
Outside on the ground next to the motel, 33-year-old Ramon Rendon, also of Watsonville, lay dead from at least one gunshot, Zamora said.
Jaelyn died soon afterwards at a hospital, police said.
Escobar and a second man attempted to run away from the scene but police gave chase and took them into custody. Police were not immediately releasing the name of the second suspect.
Police believe that Jaelyn and Hernandez were caught in crossfire during a dispute in the Fish House Bar and Grill and were struck by gunshots while they were in the office of the business, Zamora said.
Sleepy Driver Says Truck Overturned When He Turned To Avoid Crash
A box truck overturned on westbound Interstate Highway 80 in Vallejo early Tuesday morning when a sleepy driver made an abrupt turn to avoid hitting another truck, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The truck overturned on Highway 80 just east of the state Highway 37 overcrossing around 3 a.m. and blocked westbound lanes of the highway until 7:15 a.m., CHP officials said.
Jesus Oseguera, 24, of Sacramento, said he was falling asleep when he almost hit the back of another truck, CHP Officer Chris Parker said.
Oseguera said he turned suddenly and the 2012 International box truck’s load of FedEx packages shifted, causing the truck to overturn, according to Parker.
Oseguera was able to climb out of the truck and complained of pain in his neck and right leg, Parker said.
Motorists were advised to use westbound Highway 37 to bypass the incident. The CHP later also advised motorists to use Interstate Highway 680 as an alternate route.
Superior Court Reduces Services While Court Workers Strike
A one-day strike held by San Francisco Superior Court workers with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 at courthouses across the city Tuesday slowed down the city’s justice system, court officials said.
SEIU Local 1021 workers set up picket lines at the city’s three courthouses Tuesday morning and are alleging that court management is bargaining over their labor contracts in bad faith.
The union filed charges with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board alleging that the court has refused to bargain over mandatory issues, withheld information from the union so it can bargain properly and has threatened the jobs of union members at the bargaining table.
Michael Yuen, the court executive officer for the San Francisco Superior Court, has been bargaining with the union since March and said the alleged unfair labor practices charge is “bogus.”
Yuen said that the court is in the process of seeking an injunction to end the strike and also plans to file their own charge with the Public Employment Relations Board over Tuesday’s demonstrations, which he said are unlawful.
Court officials said they believe the strike breaks the current contract with SEIU Local 1021, which took effect Dec. 5, 2012, and expires on June 30, 2015, because it contains a no-strike provision.
Yuen said around 250 of the city’s 438 court employees honored the picket line Tuesday and did not show up for work, but the court was able to remain open, albeit in a limited capacity.
He said more than half of all courtrooms at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. and just under half of all courtrooms at the Civic Center Courthouse at 400 McAllister St. remained open Tuesday, but that all trials are being held over until today. He said the Juvenile Justice Center at 375 Woodside Ave. is also operating, but with limited service.
According to Yuen, the court’s $16 million reserve spending plan is earmarked to provide “service to the public rather than higher wages for the highest-paid court employees in the state of California, if not the country.”
The funding plan largely allocates funds toward retiree health, budget balancing and facility projects, Yuen said.
Under its current contract, SEIU members received a one-time $3,500 payment, followed in July 2013 by a 3 percent cost of living increase, court officials said.
SEIU Local 1021 organizer Steve Stallone said union members voted late last month in favor of authorizing a strike.
Stallone said the court workers are asking for 3 to 3.5 percent wage increases, but that court management has offered no proposed wage increases in response.
DNA Evidence Connects Man To 1984 Pleasanton Murder
A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that belatedly uncovered DNA evidence proves that a then-teenage boy murdered his 14-year-old high school classmate in Pleasanton 30 years ago.
Tina Faelz’s stabbing death on April 5, 1984, remained unsolved for more than 25 years, but prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said a 2011 DNA test showed that a small amount of blood that was found on Faelz’s purse was Steven Carlson’s.
The chances of that blood belonging to someone other than Carlson, who was 16 at the time of Faelz’s murder and is now 46, are only 1 in 5 quadrillion, Pettigrew said.
Carlson, who has a long criminal history, including convictions for committing lewd acts with a child under the age of 14 and assault, was arrested and charged with murdering Faelz in August 2011.
Carlson and Faelz both attended Foothill High School in Pleasanton.
Faelz was killed on her way home from school and was found dead in a ditch adjacent to Interstate Highway 680, east of the high school.
At Carlson’s preliminary hearing two years ago, a pathologist testified that Faelz died from 44 stabbing and incised wounds in her back, torso, chin and head.
Pettigrew alleged Tuesday that Carlson “brutally murdered Tina and left her alive in a drainage ditch next to I-680.”
The prosecutor said that at the end of the trial, she will ask jurors to conclude that, “The only reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that Steven Carlson is guilty of murdering Tina Faelz.”
Carlson’s lawyer, Annie Beles, said there are many questions about the DNA that was collected in the case, such as when it was collected, how it was collected, whether it was contaminated and whether it was improperly transferred.
Beles said the prosecution also lacks other evidence that might connect Carlson to Faelz’s death, such as a motive, fingerprints or a weapon.
“At the end of the case, after you listen to all of the evidence, the only verdict you will have is that Steven Carlson is not guilty,” Beles told jurors.