Bay Area News Roundup

May 8, 2014 2:07:04 PM PDT
A roundup of Bay Area stories making news today.

Pres. Obama in the Bay Area

President Barack Obama is expected to arrive in the Bay Area today for a roughly 19-hour visit, including a fundraiser in San Jose and an appearance at a Mountain View Walmart, White House officials said.

Air Force One is expected to touch down at Moffett Federal Airfield at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View at about 3:50 p.m. today.

From there, Obama will travel to a roundtable discussion for the Democratic National Committee at a private residence in Los Altos and later a fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel at 170 S. Market St. in San Jose, according to the White House.

The president will spend the night in San Jose and on Friday morning will give a speech on energy efficiency at a Walmart at 600 Showers Drive in Mountain View.

The speech is scheduled to begin at about 10 a.m. He will then depart the Bay Area from Moffett Field later that morning, White House officials said.

Mountain View police advised today that there will be street closures and traffic delays in the area during the president's visit, but his exact routes are not announced in advance.

Protesters opposing a controversial proposed new section of the Keystone pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast, planned to greet Obama as he arrives at the Fairmont this evening.

The protesters plan to gather in Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park in San Jose, across the street from the Fairmont, at 5 p.m. and remain until the president departs.

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Fatal mobile home fire

Two people were found dead in a fire at a mobile home in Sunnyvale early this morning, officials with the city's Department of Public Safety said.

The two-alarm fire was reported around 2 a.m. at a mobile home in the 1000 block of Borregas Avenue, Capt. Carl Rushmeyer said.

The unit was at the corner of the entrance to Cape Cod Village, a mobile home community for seniors ages 55 and older, Rushmeyer said.

Firefighters responded and extinguished the blaze about 20 minutes later. A man believed to be in his 40s had come out of the home and told authorities that he lived in the unit with his parents, Rushmeyer said.

The names of the two people who died have not been released, Capt. Jeff Hunter said.

Santa Clara County fire investigators responded to the scene to assist in determining the cause of the blaze, Hunter said.

The flames did not cause any other injuries and did not spread to other units at the mobile home community, but excessive heat broke windows at a home next to the involved unit, according to Rushmeyer.

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Bike to Work Day

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined other city leaders and thousands of other cyclists throughout San Francisco as he pedaled to City Hall this morning for the 20th annual celebration of Bike to Work Day.

Lee celebrated the day devoted to bicycling by riding on a newly completed protected bike lane on Polk Street between Market and Grove streets.

The new "contraflow" lane, which takes riders against traffic on a lane painted green, was hailed by Lee and other elected officials for creating a safer passage across Market Street and into the Tenderloin neighborhood and beyond.

This year's Bike to Work Day event included 11 commuter convoys rolling in from throughout the city that were led by many district supervisors.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Eric Mar biked some of the farthest distances from the Sunset and Richmond districts, respectively.

At a news conference on the steps of City Hall, Mar called for more bike improvements in other parts of the city.

Supervisor Malia Cohen came in from the southeast neighborhoods and vowed to make the area better connected to the rest of the city for bicyclists, who often get bogged down in what is known as the "hairball," where Potrero Avenue, Cesar Chavez Street and Bayshore Boulevard intersect underneath U.S. Highway 101.

Supervisor Scott Wiener called for an end to double parking that blocks bike lanes, while Supervisor David Campos pledged to include more funding in the city budget for the multi-agency "Vision Zero," a goal to reach zero traffic fatalities by 2024.

Police Chief Greg Suhr and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who both biked to City Hall this morning, recommitted to supporting Vision Zero.

"Sadly, we are not going to make that goal this year," Suhr said, but he noted that bicycle collisions are down 16 percent so far compared to the same time last year and that there is more enforcement on the streets.

There have already been seven fatal pedestrian collisions this year following a deadly 2013 with 21 such incidents, as well as four involving bicyclists.

Hayes-White said the fire department is committed to make sure everyone is safe on the road and that her department "fully embraces Vision Zero."

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told the bicyclists in front of City Hall, "I look forward to the day we won't have a single traffic fatality."

Looking at the dozens of cyclists who stopped by Civic Center Plaza, Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, an avid cyclist, recalled, "In the 1990s it was lonely on the streets."

According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the organization behind today's event and rides, there are an average of 3,000 eastbound trips made on Market Street every day and bicycle ridership citywide increased 14 percent between 2011 and 2013.

Volunteers and staff from the SF Bicycle Coalition set up 26 energizer stations throughout the city this morning, offering free bags, bike information and fuel -- in the form of bagels and coffee -- for participating riders.

The stations will be back up for the evening commute starting at 5 p.m.

The mayor and several other leaders today called for the passage of two November ballot measures that include a $500 million transportation bond and a state vehicle license fee increase.

Wiener said if the measures pass, "we will have permanent sustainable funding for road resurfacing."

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency director Ed Reiskin said the funding would also support transit system upgrades, along with pedestrian and bike-specific efforts.

Reiskin noted other recent SFMTA projects, including improving six miles of bike lanes, adding bike parking, and enhancing projects such as the Bay Area Bike Share.

According to city officials, to keep up with demand San Francisco needs to invest $10 billion in transportation infrastructure through 2030.

More information about Bike to Work Day can be found at sfbike.org/btwd.

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Danville school threat

Police are increasing patrols at Danville schools today after a threat to kill people was found spray-painted near a middle school, according to school district administrators.

A week ago, school staff found a message in graffiti next to Charlotte Wood Middle School on El Capitan Drive that said "I will kill 12 people on May 8," according to San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokesman Terry Koehne.

School staff called police, who began investigating the graffiti. The school also informed parents of the threat.

Since that time, two other copycat graffiti messages were found at the middle school and in the boys' bathroom at John Baldwin Elementary School at 741 Brookside Drive.

Police apprehended a boy believed to be behind one of the copycat messages on Wednesday, Danville police Lt. Allan Shields said.

The juvenile was cited and released to his parents.

Shields said police continue to investigate the case and have a "zero-tolerance policy" for threats.

"We have no way of knowing for certain whether the threat that was spray-painted was a credible threat but we have to treat it as though it were," said Danville town spokesman Geoff Gillette.

Gillette said police are increasing patrols not only at the two schools where the threats were found but around all of Danville's schools today.

Some parents have opted to keep their children home from school today, according to Koehne.

Koehne said that while the district is encouraging students to come to school as they normally would, the decision to keep children home is a "personal family decision."

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Firefighter pleads not guilty

A former San Francisco firefighter pleaded not guilty this morning to DUI charges that came down from a grand jury indictment for a 2013 crash between his fire truck and a motorcycle.

Michael Quinn, 43, entered not guilty pleas to three felony charges of DUI, including DUI causing injury and driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .04 percent or higher.

Quinn appeared before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan and remains out of custody on $100,000 bail for the incident on June 28, 2013.

He was arrested after he hit a motorcycle on Fifth and Howard streets in the city's South of Market neighborhood. The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries in the crash and has since been recovering.

In March, Quinn was indicted by a grand jury after the San Francisco District Attorney's Office initially declined to file charges last July following his arrest.

Quinn, a 23-year veteran of the fire department, resigned from the department in November. He had been placed on unpaid leave following his arrest.

Prior to his arrest, he had no record of misconduct and had received two merit awards for his work out of Station 1, located at 935 Folsom St., according to the firefighters' union.

His attorney Jim Bustamante said outside of court this morning that he is "optimistic" about the outcome of the case. "My client will come out OK," Bustamante said.

Bustamante said he was surprised the case went before the grand jury and said that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence.

He expressed doubt about the quality of DUI testing performed after the incident and the maintenance records of the vehicles involved.

Bustamante said he has more than a thousand pages of evidence to look through and 30 witness accounts.

The court scheduled the attorneys to return to discuss the case on June 30. Quinn does not have to appear at that time.

"We feel for the gentleman on the motorcycle," Bustamante said.

He said that Quinn is "doing well" and is caring for his family.

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Oakland murder sentence

An Oakland man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison for murdering his teenage ex-girlfriend at an abandoned house in East Oakland three years ago.

Adrian Blocker pleaded no contest to murder on April 10 at the end of the first day of his trial in connection with the death of 17-year-old Onika Jones on June 18, 2011.

In addition to pleading no contest to murder and assault with a deadly weapon, Blocker also pleaded to a burglary charge for stealing the gun that he used to kill Jones.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon formally sentenced Blocker on Wednesday after ruling that the killing was a second-degree murder.

Prosecutor Tim Wagstaffe told jurors in his opening statement of the trial that Blocker, now 23, shot Jones twice in the back of her head execution-style at the abandoned house at 98th Avenue and C Street and then hid her body there for eight months until a neighbor smelled the odor and called police, who then found her body.

Wagstaffe said Blocker lived at his family's home, which is next door to the abandoned house.

The prosecutor said Blocker had a history of attacking Jones. He was convicted of a misdemeanor count of domestic violence for hitting her in October 2010 and admitted in his plea that he committed assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Jones in the foot during an argument in May 2011, a month before she was killed.

Wagstaffe said Jones, who was killed two days before her 18th birthday, had been uncooperative with police when they investigated that incident, refusing to tell them who had shot her.

Jones had been kicked out of her grandmother's house and it appeared that she lived with Blocker in the abandoned house, Wagstaffe said.

Wagstaffe said Jones' body wasn't found until February 2012 and prosecutors didn't develop enough evidence to file charges against Blocker until June 2012.

Wagstaffe couldn't be reached for comment today on the sentencing.

After Blocker entered his plea last month, Wagstaffe said, "I think this is a good resolution of the case, but sadly for Jones' family this won't bring her back. Perhaps they can now move on with their lives."

Blocker's attorney, Spencer Strellis, declined to comment on the case.

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Santa Rosa reckless driving arrests

Reckless driving led to the arrest of two men in Santa Rosa on Wednesday night, a police sergeant said.

Police responded to a report of reckless driving around 9:30 p.m. in the area of Dutton Meadow Drive and Hearn Avenue, Sgt. Rich Celli said.

The caller said two people in a speeding black Chrysler 300 forced him off the road and entered northbound U.S. Highway 101, Celli said.

The caller followed the Chrysler and reported its license plate to police. Officers then stopped the vehicle at Steele Lane and Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa, Celli said.

Marcus Jacobo, 23, of Santa Rosa, a passenger in the Chrysler, lied about his identity and was arrested on suspicion of providing false information to police and violating the terms of his probation, Celli said.

The driver of the Chrysler, David Lynn Campbell, 42, of Santa Rosa, tried to keep officers from accessing the vehicle and a fight began between Campbell and the officers in the open driver's door of the Chrysler, according to Celli.

Campbell was eventually subdued and handcuffed and was arrested on suspicion of resisting the officers, Celli said.

Officers found a loaded Glock .45-caliber pistol between the driver's seat and floorboard of the Chrysler, Celli said.

The officers determined the gun was stolen in Sun River, Ore., and Campbell was also arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm and possession of stolen property, Celli said.

Both men were booked into Sonoma County Jail.

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Oakland carjacking, shooting

A man was shot during a carjacking in Oakland's San Antonio district Wednesday night, a police officer said.

The man was in a vehicle in the 2000 block of 23rd Avenue when he was approached by a suspect with a gun, police Officer J. Moore said.

The suspect shot the man, then stole the vehicle and fled, Moore said.

The man was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition this morning, Moore said.

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Salinas burglaries

A Salinas man has pleaded no contest to three residential burglaries and has admitted to possessing stolen items from nine additional burglaries, Monterey County prosecutors said Wednesday.

Ronald Dillon, 37, who now has three strikes under California's three-strikes law, is facing eight years in prison. He is scheduled for sentencing May 16.

Prosecutors said Dillon was involved in several burglaries in the Carmel Valley area and was pegged as a suspect after he dropped his cellphone outside a residence he burglarized.

On Dec. 13, detectives obtained a search warrant and searched Dillon's SUV and residence, where they found several items recently stolen in burglaries.

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Redwood City telephone scams

Redwood City police are warning citizens to be wary of telephone scams in which callers claim to represent the Internal Revenue Service or other law enforcement agencies.

Police said they have seen an increase in scams in which the unsuspecting victims are told that there is a problem with their tax returns and are instructed to pay an amount owed immediately under threat of arrest.

Other scams include callers claiming to be law enforcement officials warning victims that a bench warrant will be issued for them unless they make a payment over the phone and lottery scams where callers ask for money over the phone after claiming the victim has won a lottery sweepstakes.

Police advise citizens not to wire money or purchase pre-paid cards for unsolicited calls on the telephone, noting that the IRS and law enforcement do not operate in such a manner.

For more information on how to avoid becoming the victim of telephone scams, people can go to http://redwoodcitypd.blogspot.com/2014/05/telephone-scam-alert.html.

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Weather

Tonight will become increasingly cloudy, with overnight lows ranging from upper 40s to low 50s. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, with a chance of spotty, light showers. Highs will range from low 60s at the coast to low 70s inland.

Concord 70
Oakland 67
Redwood City 70
San Francisco 64
San Jose 71
Santa Rosa 72

Coast
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Upper 40s to Near 50
Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy/Chance of Light Showers
Highs: Low 60s

East Bay
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Low 50s
Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy/Chance of Light Showers
Highs: Mid to Upper 60s

East Bay Valleys
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Upper 40s to Low 50s
Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy/Chance of Spotty, Light Showers
Highs: Upper 60s to Low 70s

North Bay Valleys
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Mid to Upper 40s
Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy/Spotty, Light Showers
Highs: Low 70s

Peninsula
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Low 50s
Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy/Chance of Light Showers
Highs: Upper 60s to Around 70

South Bay
Tonight: Increasing Clouds Overnight
Lows: Upper 40s to Low 50s
Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy
Highs: Upper 60s to Low 70s

Friday:
Partly Cloudy & Mild
Highs: Around 60 Coast to Mid 70s Inland


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