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Daughter who survived Salcido massacre looks back 25 years later

25 years after the infamous rampage by winery worker Ramon Salcido left seven people including his wife and two daughters dead in Sonoma County, KTVU talked to Salcido's sole surviving daughter about finding healing through her voice.

Her first name "Carmina" means song. Her last name "Salcido" brings back memories of the horrific crime committed by her father on April 14, 1989. She told KTVU she thinks of the mother and two sisters she lost every day.

"I tell them how much I miss them. I know that they're with me," said 27-year-old Carmina.

She was a toddler just days away from her third birthday when her father slashed her throat and left her for dead in a garbage dump.

"I vividly remember everything from the day of the tragedy. I had this survivor instinct; was born with it," said Carmina. "It wasn't a choice. It was there. It was in my DNA."

She was raised by adoptive parents in Missouri. As an adult, she moved back to Northern California.

Carmina told KTVU she has visited her father on death row at San Quentin a few times in recent years. She said she forgives him, but he's lost his right to be her father.

"Honestly, he was rightly stripped of that. No dad, no father would even for a half second think of hurting their children ever," said Carmina.

She tried out for "American Idol" in 2011 but didn't make it into the finals.

Carmina is now a single mom, but lost custody of her daughter Zophia. The girl is three, the same age as Carmina when her father killed her family.

She said her past leaves her feeling alone often. Carmina explained she was unable to provide a stable home for her little girl. Accusations of drug use landed her in this position.

"I want to provide for her a good life; a good education where she doesn't have to be constantly reminded of her grandfather or her past," said Carmina.

She now works for a solar company and shares a townhouse with a roommate. Carmina hopes to regain custody of her daughter soon.

In spite of her struggles, Carmina said it's a miracle she alive today.

"Especially since my throat was cut, that I have a voice to speak with at all and then to be able to sing," said Carmina.

A voice to tell her young daughter about the mother and two sisters she lost, but whose spirit guides Carmina as she takes on life each day.

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:46:27 -0700

Portland reservoir to be flushed after man urinates in it

Portland city officials are having to flush millions of gallons of treated reservoir water after a 19-year-old man allegedly relieved himself in a non-traditional location. 

It happened around 1 a.m. Wednesday as three teens snuck into Portland's Reservoir 5, which holds some of the city's drinking water. This security footage reportedly shows one of the guys leaning against the fence and presumably urinating. (Via KGW-TV)

Those three men were detained shortly after they were seen in the security footage, and hours later, Portland city officials decided to take the 50-million gallon reservoir offline and flush 38-million gallons. (Via KPTV)

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The Portland Water Bureau there's little risk to the public's health but bureau administrator David Shaff says, "Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation." 

This kind of incident has happened once before. The city flushed 8 million gallons of water in 2011 after a 21-year-old man urinated in another reservoir. (Via KOIN)

The Oregonian reports that previous episode was said to have cost $35,000, but KATU reports this most recent incident won't cost the city anything seeing that city employees are already scheduled to work. 

Portland police cited all three men for trespassing and cited one of the men for public urination. The security footage will be reviewed by the district attorney's office and those men could face criminal charges. 

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:38:44 -0700

East Bay water calls for more restrictions

People in a large section of the East Bay could soon face dramatic mandatory water cutbacks  after the Zone 7 Water Agency Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to call for a 25 percent reduction in water supply to each of its four retailers.

Zone 7 provides water to retailers in eastern Alameda County including Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon. In turn, those cities are planning to implement mandatory cutbacks for their customers.

"Everybody's going to hurt on this and maybe they need to hurt a little more," said Zone 7 board member J.J. Greci.

During Wednesday evening's meeting, the Zone 7 board heard sobering facts. Staff reported that one new well is expected to boost supply when it is completed this summer. A second new well is set to be completed by next spring. Efforts to reduce demand, however, are falling short.

Leaders of the various cities warned the Zone 7 Board that they are required to maintain a certain minimum supply for fire departments to use, so if people do not conserve enough, there could be areas that have no water for outdoor use this summer.

"We're talking about 50 to 60 percent reductions that we might need in August and September," said Pleasanton Director of Operations Daniel Smith.

"The scenario is to literally shut down water system to parts of the community to maintain fire storage for the health and safety of the community. That's the severity we're facing with this drought," said Bert Michalczyk of the Dublin/San Ramon Services District.

The drought is bringing worries to local businesses.

Joel Pelote is co-owner of Working Man Brewery. That brewery along with the two others, Altamont Brewery and Eight Bridges Brewery in Livermore, depend on water supplies to craft their brews.

In particular, Pelote says his brews are specifically designed for the unique flavor profile of Livermore's water.

"Over time, our recipes started to adjust themselves to the water here in Livermore," Pelote told KTVU.

Pelote says each gallon of beer can require 3-5 gallons of water.

The region's 50 wineries could also be impacted.

"There may not be enough water to keep the grapes productive during the warmer summer months," said Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Director Chris Chandler .

Livermore already implemented mandatory cuts of 5 percent indoor and 50 percent outdoor use.

Dublin/San Ramon is expected to propose 5 percent indoor and 60 percent outdoor cuts at a meeting Tuesday.

Pleasanton could ask for 10 percent indoor and 40 percent outdoor cuts at the next meeting May 6th.

The Zone 7 Board is scheduled to meet again May 7th and discuss whether to pass an ordinance with stricter mandatory cutbacks.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:18:14 -0700

Martinez bans outdoor marijuana growing

In a unanimous 5-0 vote Wednesday night, the Martinez City Council effectively banned outdoor growing of marijuana.

The council cited public complaints concerning odor and the public safety issue of backyard growing operations that could draw thieves to a neighborhood.

The city of Concord passed a similar ban last year.

More than 80 cities and counties in California have passed ordinances that are either more or less restrictive than state law.

California voters approved an initiative which allows medical marijuana users to grow a limited number of plants.

Martinez City Hall was packed as the public, both for and against the ban, made their voices heard.

“We’re not depriving these people of their marijuana,” said Martinez resident Georgia Giblin. “They can do it if they want. They just don’t have to grow it either inside or outside.”

“It may be marijuana in Martinez and it would be garlic in Gilroy,” said ban opponent Boaz Benzakry. “Its something that would also bother your nostrils and be a nuisance in the neighborhood.”

The Martinez City Council vote will require a second vote in May before the ban can take effect.

Violations of the ban would be a code enforcement issue that could result in a citation.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:06:19 -0700

Oakland vandals cutting license plates to steal registration stickers

While stealing license plates and vehicle registration stickers are not uncommon crimes, some thieves in Oakland have been resorting to the more destructive tactic of actually cutting off part of the plate.

Driver Mike Schultz showed KTVU his license plate, which had the right third of it -- including where the vehicle registration sticker would be -- sheared off.

He discovered the chopped up plate on his car on Coolidge Avenue in the Oakland hills a couple weeks ago.

"It was in the driveway, came out one morning and my license plate had basically been busted in two," Schultz said.

He's still trying to figure out exactly what the thieves were after. "Either one of two things - they were trying to steal the whole plate and it just broke on them, or they wanted to steal the registration sticker."

The California Highway Patrol says it is an unusual tactic, but they have heard of this happening before.

"I've seen it a few times where someone will cut the license plate. They'll just cut the corner off to get to the license plate tab," said California Highway Patrol Officer Sean Wilkenfeld.

Wilkenfeld said it's a crime that usually doesn't get reported. Drivers will typically just head to the DMV for a new registration sticker and plate.

Schultz isn't the only victim in his Oakland neighborhood. Another driver on Coolidge also had her license plate cut up and a photo posted on the neighborhood website shows a third car from the area with a chopped plate.

Wilkenfeld recommends using a razor to cut into the registration stickers once they're applied, to make them less of a target.

"Once you cut up the tab it makes it harder for someone to remove it and apply it to a new plate," Wilkenfeld said. "Because they're not only trying to get it off your plate, they're theoretically going to put it on their own."

Schultz plans to keep that advice in mind for next time.

"Maybe I'll try the razor blade tactic," he said.

There are 32 million registered vehicles in California. The average amount Californians paid to register their vehicle was $169, but depending on the size and type of vehicle registration can cost several hundred more than that.

Large vehicles like trailers can cost thousands of dollars to register.

KTVU spoke to the DMV and found out the agency does not keep track of the number of lost or stolen vehicle registration stickers it replaces, even though drivers have to check a box explaining whether their registration was lost or stolen when they fill out an application for a replacement.

The CHP said vehicles that have mismatched registration stickers and plates are immediately impounded when discovered.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:09:43 -0700

One dead, one injured in Redwood City boating accident

One person was killed and one injured Wednesday evening when a sailboat taking part in a race near Redwood City collided with a channel marker buoy, according to a US Coast Guard spokesman.

The Coast Guard learned shortly before 7 p.m. that a 42-foot Catalina sailboat had collided with a marker buoy in a channel outside Redwood City, according to Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Mark Leahey.

The boat, which was involved in a race hosted by a local yacht club, had struck the buoy and become entangled, Leahey said.

Other boats in the area were having trouble reaching the damaged boat due to the shallow water, Leahey said.

The Coast Guard and Redwood City Fire Department responded to the scene, but upon arriving learned that a U.S. Geological Survey boat in the area had been able to bring two injured parties on board and take them to emergency personnel.

One person was in distress and receiving CPR before the Coast Guard arrived on the scene.

One person was later reported dead and one injured as a result of the accident, Leahey said.

Five people in total were on the damaged yacht. The other three who remained on board were uninjured and were eventually able to free the boat from the buoy, Leahey said.

Sequoia Yacht Club Commodore Winston Bumpus confirmed this evening that the incident was connected with a race staged by the club, which is located at 441 Seaport Court in Redwood City.

The club calendar shows events scheduled for today including a "Beer Can Race" starting at 5 p.m.

The Redwood City Fire Department was called to the area of Chesapeake Drive and Seaport Boulevard this evening near the yacht club around 6:40 p.m. to provide medical aid, according to fire officials.

Fire officials declined comment this evening, but said in statements on Twitter that the boat had sustained a broken mast in the collision.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:46:12 -0700

Cadaver dogs may have found remains at site of huge San Jose fire

Fire investigators in San Jose are set to return to the scene of a weekend fire after cadaver dogs indicated there may be human remains buried in the ash and debris.

 Crews stopped Wednesday evening after encountering heavy debris, but investigators said they will return with heavy lifting equipment Thursday morning to resume the search.

 On Sunday, the five-alarm fire raced through the former the offices and studios for KNTV. The television station moved out years ago, and a homeless community moved into the large building.

A fire investigator's report said there were three people missing following the fire, and their remains may still be in the building.

Two different cadaver dogs alerted their handlers to the presence of remains in the same location in the burned out building. Cole Doss, from the San Jose Fire Department said the dogs are highly trained to find human remains specifically.

"We're hearing that there might be pets that were inside this building," said Doss. "So that could be a hit, but they are very well much trained in just looking for human remains."

While crews were searching the building the suspect in the case, 55-year-old Stillman Pfeffer appeared in Santa Clara County court to be formally charged. Pfeffer covered his face for most of the court proceedings, and did not enter a plea to the arson and burglary charges.

The fire investigators report said a witness saw Pfeffer spray some kind of liquid on a mattress, and that the fire broke out seconds later.

Santa Clara County prosecutor David Boyd asked the judge to set no bond, saying Pfeffer could face more charges if a body is found in the ash and debris of the building.

"Should a body be found, than you're dealing with a homicide and a homicide in the course of an arson can be charged as a murder," said Boyd.

Pfeffer is due back in court April 23rd.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:44:37 -0700

Family shattered after mother, son die in Sunnydale fire

A family was struggling with their grief Wednesday after a mother and her three-year-old son were killed in a smoky, one-alarm fire that swept through a home in San Francisco's Sunnydale housing project.

The San Francisco Fire Department said it responded to the fire at the Sunnydale Housing Projects on Brookdale Avenue just before 10 a.m. 

"When firefighters kicked the door in, it split in half. So it was burnt pretty good on the other side," said San Francisco Fire Capt. Mark Gonzales.

On the inside of the two-story unit -- according to family -- were three-year-old boy Santana Williams, his mother Eseta Ioane and his aunt Moana Uilama.

Uilama told KTVU she works overnight and was sleeping when the fire started.

"All I heard was my nephew going 'Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!'" said Uilama.

Uilama said the fire burned so fast she could not get downstairs and had to jump out a window to survive.

"I woke up and I hear everyone saying, 'Jump out! Get out! The house is on fire!'" remembered Uilama. "I jumped out of the window."

Keith Williams, Santana's father, did not hide his tears as he stood outside San Francisco General Hospital Wednesday afternoon.

"I just know I'm going to really miss him just coming into the room saying, 'Good morning dad, '" said Williams not long after finding out the three-year-old died in the fire. "He was a great kid. Fun loving; smart; loved football. A real boy's boy."

Keith Williams said he had joint custody of the toddler and is living in Richmond. Williams said he'll miss putting arm being around his little boy.

"He's three years old and a whole life ahead of him tragedy, I'm devastated."

A spokeswoman for the San Francisco housing authority said the smoke detectors in the unit where the fire started were working during the fire. Two other units were damaged.

San Francisco Fire officials said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:21:02 -0700

2 Investigates: Is cleanliness an issue on BART trains?

After a BART train was taken off the tracks to due to a report of bed bugs, 2 Investigates dug into how often riders complain about car cleanliness to the transit agency.

The train that was the subject of the bed bug complaint was cleaned and is back in service. A BART spokesperson said no bed bugs were found.

A BART's spokesperson said the transit system immediately responded.

"We hunted down that train, pulled it out of service and gave it the proper cleaning that it needed," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.

2 Investigates found BART received a total of 39 interior car cleanliness complaints in the last year. None were for bed bugs until last week's report.

According to BART's most recent quarterly performance report, BART met its goal for train cleanliness.

A larger independent customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2012 had different results.

BART received the lowest ratings for 6 service attributes including the condition and cleanliness of train seats.

Another customer satisfaction survey will be conducted this fall.

BART's spokesperson said increases in customer satisfaction are likely as BART replaces wool seats with vinyl seats.

"Generally speaking, I've always had weird reactions to the upholstered seats and carpets with all the stains and stuff. I mean, I don't even want to know what the stains are," said commuter Brian Buddell.

Buddell is not alone.

On the same day as the BART bedbug complaint, another commuter tweeted BART: "What's that stain and should I sit there? A #BART game."

2 Investigates asked how BART knows if a stain is a spill or something more serious.

"We're going to send someone out immediately no matter what the stain is," said Trost. Workers need to be able to find the stain.

BART tweeted back: "Thanks for feedback. In future, please tweet @SFBART car number on front/back door & approximate seat location for follow up."

BART said the interior car cleanliness complaint category could include everything from trash to human waste.

BART customer service employees are able to search the category by keyword, but it takes time.

2 Investigates asked for a breakdown of the different cleanliness complaints BART has received. KTVU will provide that information once BART gets that it to us.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:18:21 -0700

Official discuss power grid safety on anniversary of Metcalf Station attack

Government officials met in Washington Wednesday to discuss securing America's power grid one year after an attack on a South Bay power plant.

There is non-stop security around the Metcalf PG&E power station between San Jose and Morgan Hill ever since vandals riddled the facility with gunfire one year ago.

It was an act of sabotage that resonated across the country.

On April 16, 2013 someone fired about 150 rounds from a high powered rifle and caused extensive damage. It turned out to be the culmination of a bigger plan.

The members of Congress gathered at a meeting in Washington D.C. organized by the Center For Security focused on the Metcalf attack.

The group said the incident is a wake-up call exposing the vulnerability of the nation's power grid.

They said it showed that terrorists with the right tools could knock out electricity in major cities and disrupt the economy in many ways.

KTVU coverage of the attack at the time showed early on the efficiently coordinated sabotage plan.

It actually started before the shooting when someone went down two separate manholes and precisely cut sections of an AT&T fiber optic line.

Sheriff Laurie Smith said then those cuts knocked out 9-1-1 calls to law enforcement and communication normally used to respond to a gunfire attack.

The sheriff also pointed out that even though the plant's surveillance cameras captured images of the gunfire the person shooting escaped detection.

"It reinforces the fact that we never see the shooter" Smith said, "the person knew what they were doing."

In February, PG&E disclosed to KTVU it was spending 86-million dollars to upgrade Metcalf including more guards, a new wall to replace the chain link fence as well as more cameras and alarms.

The improvements are planned by priority at PG&E's 900 other California substations.

At Wednesday's meeting in D.C, participants also said they will need Congress's help to secure power plants against future attacks.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:11:33 -0700

Google Glass certain to impact privacy laws

Electronic retailers usually sell consumers gadgets in boxes, but with the availability of Google Glass, they will soon be offering technology you can wear.

Some worry that new tech like Google Glass will strip away all of our privacy rights. Some even say that wearable technology may lay our privacy bare.

Google Glass is a full-blown computer, which, like smart phones can shoot pictures, video and sound. The difference being that with the specialized glasses, shooting can be done without being obvious about it.

There's even talk of putting such technology into contact lenses. That idea is worrisome to the watchdog of cyber privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"As these devices become more and more a part of our bodies and less and less visible, the privacy implications rise," said Electronic Frontier Foundation spokesperson Adi Kamdar.

It's a reality that anything any of us does in public, can and often is recorded on video. But, can a business legally prohibit Google Glass type technologies inside their establishments as some already have attempted?

Ann Nguyen is a lawyer who's studied the wearable technology issue as related to businesses.

"They have a right to refuse service on whatever ground they want as long as it doesn't violate the law," said Nguyen.

That would also apply to hospitals, private and public, which have an even greater duty to protect the privacy of their patients. But what if a doctor wanted to record your private examination or surgery, or, for that matter you wanted to record it? That may well be new territory.

"Laws are catching up with technology. It's a bit behind but they're doing the best they can to catch up," explained attorney Nguyen.

Programmers and app developers can build in some security and protections, but not all.

"If you detect that someone is driving, you cannot allow them to use, you know, something that would distract their driving, things like that. But, in the end, it is just software. Somebody with enough knowledge can hack anything and make it do anything they want," said Zane Staggs, an app and software developer.

More than anything else -- mostly through legislation and lawsuits -- Google Glass will redefine privacy laws as we move headlong into smaller and far less detectable technology.

So what should Google Glass users do until then?

"Best course of action is to let folks know they're being recorded and that they consent to being recorded," attorney Nguyen said.

We really won't know much until enough of these devices start enough controversy to get courts and legislators involved.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:35:46 -0700

San Jose State students protest heat in aging campus building

A noisy campus protest at San Jose State University Wednesday afternoon highlighted what students and faculty say are potentially dangerous conditions in one of the school's oldest buildings.

KTVU crews witnessed what students called a "faint-in."

A line of about 100 students and some faculty members snaked around campus and chanted "It's too hot! We need a change!"

They were protesting what they called intolerable conditions in Dudley Moorhead Hall, one of the oldest campus buildings first occupied in 1957.

Inside, chanting students crowded steamy hallways.

"It gets very hot in this building. There's no air conditioning, the heaters are on in the classrooms. Right now, the heaters are on!" cried senior sociology major Amanda Aldama.

In fact, warm air could be felt blowing from vents, even though it was almost 80 degrees outside. In almost every classroom, students say windows won't and open blinds don't work.

The 57-year old elevator shudders and shakes.

"It's like straight out of a horror movie. It's ridiculous for a building that's in the heart of the Silicon Valley," said Aldana

Some also staged a "faint-in" lying on a hallway floor.

At least three students have passed out in hot classrooms according to faculty members who say the administration has ignored their grievances for years.

"So the students are now kind of taking it, you know not into the streets, but into the halls to try to get some sense of justice for them," said Sociology Professor Scott Myers-Lipton.

KTVU videographer Chuck Leighton followed a handful of students who charged the University president's office, only to find him gone.

This is part of a long history of campus activism here including the San Jose city minimum wage movement said Myers-Lipton.

"You should be involved in the democratic process and this is a small example of that," he said.

The facilities manager for the University said, although plans are not final, the old building may be demolished and is not likely to be renovated.

So Wednesday's colorful and noisy action may be for nothing, as students got yet another lesson in the way the system works.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:58:11 -0700

Woman pleads not guilty to fatally striking pedestrian, fleeing

A San Francisco woman charged in a deadly hit-and-run accident entered a not guilty plea at her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

31-year-old Nidra Stubbs appeared in Superior Court and pleaded "not guilty" to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and denied the allegations against her.

When asked on her way into court if she saw anyone in the crosswalk that day, Stubbs remained quiet.

Her public defender disputed the charges.

"There is no evidence to indicate the vehicle that was seized was involved in an accident. There are no eyewitnesses that place Ms. Stubbs behind the wheel of the car at the time of the accident." said Michelle Dillon.

When asked if the District Attorney's office just got it wrong, Dillon replied, "It's important to remember the law says you're innocent until proven guilty. I believe she will be exonerated."

On March 20th, 82-year-old San Francisco resident Oi Yeung was hit and killed in a crosswalk at the intersection of Bayshore and Visitacion, just two blocks from her home in the Visitacion Valley district.

"An 82-year-old lady is dead because of the defendant's actions, and that 82 year old lady was simply walking in the crosswalk." explained Assistant District Attorney, Alex Bastian. "And to add insult to injury, the defendant fled the scene, and there are going to be serious consequences as a result of that."

The prosecutor asked the judge to revoke Stubbs' driving privileges while she's out on bail. Instead, the judge opted to limit them to driving her two young children where they need to go, and for her work as a driver at a courier service.

The public defender told the court Stubbs worked for King Courier. A manager there told KTVU she is no longer employed there. He said Stubbs left for personal reasons weeks before the deadly hit and run. Because of the charges against her, she would not be eligible for rehire.

Stubbs is out on $80,000 bail. She is due in court again May 19th.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:33:31 -0700

Officials prepared to crack down on 4/20 events at Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and city Supervisor London Breed Wednesday announced a crackdown on misbehavior during unofficial celebrations at Golden Gate Park Sunday for the day revolving around marijuana known as "4/20."

This year, "4/20" falls on Easter Sunday, a day when many spring and Easter events are scheduled to occur in the park -- some permitted and others just anticipated.

Breed has called for increased enforcement throughout the park after last year, when about 150,000 people gathered in an area of the park known as Hippie Hill and generated about 10,000 pounds of garbage.

The trash left behind required a San Francisco Recreation and Park staff of 25 to work for 12 hours to clean up at the cost of $15,000, according to department general manager Phil Ginsburg.

Ginsburg joined Breed, Chief Greg Suhr and other public safety officials at the San Francisco Police Department's Park station this afternoon to talk about preparations for the weekend in the park.

Breed said last year's event, which included a massive smoke-out at 4:20 p.m., also involved underage drinking.

"We can't say don't come here for 4/20," Breed said, but warned to be prepared "if you are breaking the law."

She added, "We are not by any means saying we condone smoking marijuana for non medicinal purposes."

Suhr assured that "this weekend is going to be a blast," but warned park attendees that police are not going to tolerate dangerous and illegal behavior.

There will be uniformed and plainclothes officers patrolling the park, he said.

Last year there were eight arrests for narcotics sales, six for being drunk in public and 30 open container citations.

Other citations were issued for parking violations, public urination and unpermitted amplified sound.

Suhr reminded residents that vending items is not allowed in the park, and selling marijuana is a felony offense.

Ginsburg said his department is "much better positioned to manage" a weekend 4/20 event this year and advised attendees to take on the camping mentality of "pack it in and pack it out."

He advised city residents, meanwhile, to try to avoid the crowds at Golden Gate Park, and if possible, plan any Easter or spring festivities at other city parks.

"Sunday is going to be a hectic day in Golden Gate Park," he said.

Ginsburg also highlighted his department's family-friendly "Spring Eggstravaganza" event with an egg hunt, arts and crafts and carnival rides at Sharon Meadow on Saturday, ahead of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence "Hunky Jesus Contest" which will take place in Golden Gate Park on Sunday.

Usually the tongue-in-check holiday event is held at Dolores Park, but with renovations under way there the event, organized by the Castro District-based community service organization, has been moved.

Organizers expect thousands to come out for the cross-dressing fashion show and other activities at the 35th annual Easter celebration and picnic.

More information about the contest is available online at

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:42:52 -0700

Fire truck rams SoCal eatery; 15 injured

Two firetrucks heading to a burning home collided Wednesday in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one careening into a restaurant and injuring 15 people, including at least five firefighters.

One of the victims was in critical condition, officials said.

The crash on a busy commercial strip in Monterey Park left one truck embedded in the restaurant, with shattered glass and rubble heaped on the sidewalk. Chairs and tables were scattered inside.

"There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking. I thought it was an earthquake," said Wendy Wu, a waitress who was in a walk-in freezer when the truck plowed through the front of the restaurant.

When she walked out of the freezer, uninjured, she saw a refrigerator pushed across the room and furniture in disarray. Wearing a uniform with the restaurant logo and speaking through an interpreter, she said she saw several injured people bleeding and attempting to stand.

Waitress Vivian Lu arrived for her shift moments after the truck rammed the building. She said she saw "a lot of people covered with blood," including a pedestrian with a mangled leg who had been knocked into the restaurant.

Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell said trucks from his city and neighboring Alhambra were responding to a house fire shortly after 3 p.m. when they slammed into each other and one truck plowed into the restaurant.

Rosa Saca, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, said nine victims were brought there, including the five firefighters. The critically injured person was among the hospital's patients but is not one of the firefighters, she said.

Erik Jiang, a spokesman for Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, said six victims from the crash were being treated at the hospital. None was in critical condition, he added.

An investigation was underway to determine what caused the crash.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:32:54 -0700

Pro-Russian insurgents seize armored vehicles

Pro-Russian insurgents commandeered six Ukrainian armored vehicles along with their crews and hoisted Russian flags over them Wednesday, dampening the central government's hopes of re-establishing control over restive eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian soldiers manning the vehicles offered no armed resistance, and masked pro-Russian militias in combat fatigues sat on top as they drove into the eastern city of Slovyansk, a hotbed of unrest against Ukraine's interim government.

In Brussels, NATO announced it was immediately strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border — which often lies next to Russia — in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The leaders of Russia and Germany, meanwhile, talked about the turmoil in Ukraine but came to very different conclusions, their offices said.

Insurgents in Slovyansk have seized the police headquarters and the administration building, demanding broader autonomy for eastern Ukraine and closer ties with Russia. Their actions have been repeated in at least eight other cities in eastern Ukraine — and the central government says Moscow is fomenting the unrest.

One of the Ukrainian soldiers said they had defected to the pro-Russian side — which raises the specter of an uprising led by disgruntled Ukrainian forces. But an AP journalist overheard another soldier suggesting they were forced at gunpoint to hand over the vehicles.

"How was I supposed to behave if I had guns pointed at me?" the soldier, who did not identify himself, asked a resident.

Breaking hours of silence, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying Ukrainian troops had entered Kramatorsk, south of Slovyansk, on Wednesday morning, where locals and "members of Russian sabotage groups" seized six armored personnel vehicles and drove them to Slovyansk.

The military said "the whereabouts of the Ukrainian servicemen" were not yet known. The Interfax news agency quoted Miroslav Rudenko, one of the insurgent leaders in Slovyansk, as saying the soldiers will be offered the chance to join a local militia or leave the region.

Eastern Ukraine was the support base for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after months of protests over his decision to reject closer relations with the European Union and turn instead toward Russia.

Reflecting the West's concern over the turmoil in Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation and preparations for diplomatic talks Thursday in Geneva on Ukraine.

The Kremlin said Putin told Merkel that "the sharp escalation of the conflict places the country in effect on the verge of a civil war." Merkel's office said she and Putin had "different assessments" of the events in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, meanwhile, said NATO will respond to what he called Russian aggression in Ukraine. NATO aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region and allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere if needed.

"We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land," Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels.

NATO says Russia has up to 40,000 troops stationed near its border with Ukraine. Western nations and the new government in Kiev fear that Moscow will use unrest in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for a military invasion.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but several NATO members — Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland — all border Russia. NATO members Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey also border the Black Sea along with Russia and Ukraine.

In Slovyansk, a Ukrainian city 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the border with Russia, the armored vehicles stopped near a government building and flew Russian flags while residents chanted "Good job! Good job!"

One of the men on them, who identified himself only as Andrei, said the unit was part of Ukraine's 25th Brigade of Airborne Forces and they had switched to the pro-Russian side.

"Our bosses made the decision and we obeyed," he said.

His statement couldn't be independently confirmed.

Some onlookers were happy with the pro-Russian forces.

"We will never allow the fascist Kiev authorities to come here," said Andrei Bondar, 32, a Slovyansk resident.

But Tetyana Kustova, a 35-year-old sales clerk, was appalled by the unrest.

"They are pushing us toward Russia," she said. "They are tearing Ukraine into pieces."

Later Wednesday, in Pchyolkino, a town south of Slovyansk, tensions boiled over as several hundred residents surrounded 14 Ukrainian armored vehicles. Fearing the troops were sent to quell them, the crowd refused to let the vehicles leave despite the pleas of a Ukrainian officer. The crowd was later reinforced by pro-Russian gunmen.

To end the standoff, leaders in the crowd told Lt. Colonel Oleksandr Shvets they would let his 100-strong troops go if they handed over the magazines from their assault rifles. The soldiers took the magazines off, put them in plastic bags and gave them to the pro-Russian insurgents.

"We are really tired of all of this confusion," said Sgt. Dmytro Mokletsov. "It's really scary giving away the magazines. We have no weapons now. But we were told to, it was an order."

The column of APCs was preparing to leave the area Wednesday evening.

In the eastern regional capital of Donetsk, armed militias seized the mayor's office, demanding that the Kiev government hold a vote on giving the east more autonomy.

"We have come into this building so that Kiev accepts our demands, the demands of the ordinary people of Donbass, to adopt a law on local referendums," said militiaman Alexander Zakharchenko.

In Kiev, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest.

"Russia has got a new export now, apart from oil and gas: Russia is now exporting terrorism to Ukraine," Yatsenyuk told a Cabinet meeting. "Russia must withdraw its sabotage groups, condemn terrorists and liberate all administrative buildings."

Russian markets have been rattled by the tensions between Moscow and Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Black Sea region of Crimea last month.

The Russian economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year as spooked investors pulled money out of the country.

Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told parliament that growth was only 0.8 percent in the first quarter — far short of the ministry's earlier prediction of 2.5 percent — because of "the acute international situation of the past two months" as well as "serious capital flight."

The main stock index in Moscow tanked 10 percent in March, wiping out billions in market capitalization. In the first three months of 2014, the ruble lost 9 percent against the dollar, making imports more expensive, while spooked investors pulled about $70 billion out of the country — more than in all of 2013.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:17:01 -0700

Wednesday Weather Forecast: Warming trend

Cooler Weather on tap for your Thursday high temperatures will drop back into the 60s and 70s. Look for patchy fog to reform at the coast over the next couple of days.

Partly to mostly sunny skies are expected during the afternoon hours. Highs should range from the low 60s near the coast to the upper 70s inland.

Projected highs for Thursday:

  • Santa Rosa: 76
  • Napa: 76
  • Concord: 77
  • San Rafael: 73
  • Oakland: 70
  • San Francisco: 66
  • Pacifica: 60
  • Redwood City: 72
  • Fremont: 72
  • San Jose: 74
  • Morgan Hill: 76

The cooling trend lasts through Friday. The weekend will be dry. The Easter Sunday forecast features partly cloudy skies after the morning fog clears.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:10:24 -0700

Former school bus driver sentenced for touching girls on bus

A former school bus driver has been sentenced to a year in state prison for touching two female students in Monterey and threatening to rape one of them, according to the Monterey County District Attorney's Office.

Carlos Dominguez Rodriguez III, 31, of Salinas, was sentenced on Tuesday to 365 days in custody and a six-year suspended term, Deputy District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said.

Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta also required Rodriguez, upon his release from prison, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and prohibited him from possessing a cellphone with a video camera because of his prior use of a phone to surreptitiously take videos of females, Pacioni said.

Rodriguez was convicted of felony lewd acts and making criminal threats, prosecutors said.

The district attorney's office alleged that last October, Rodriguez touched two girls, aged 12 and 13, both students at Colton Middle School in Monterey, while transporting them to and from school as a bus driver for the Monterey Peninsula Union School District.

Rodriguez at one point told one of the girls that he knew where she lived and would go to her home and rape her, prosecutors said.

The girls then ran away from his bus to a parent to report him.

Witnesses on Rodriguez's bus reported he showed explicit video on his phone to children riding with him, played songs with inappropriate lyrics on a boom box and singled out one of the victims with his attention, according the district attorney's office.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:05:28 -0700

Quick acting employee thwarts Oakland bank robbery

Two masked men who tried to rob a bank in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood Wednesday morning were foiled by a quick-thinking employee who locked them out, police said.

The robbery was reported at 10:13 a.m. in the 6000 block of College Avenue, police Officer J. Moore said.

Two masked men tried to enter the First Federal Savings bank at 6058 College Ave. but were spotted by a bank employee and locked out, police said in a statement.

Bank employees did not see any weapons in the suspects' possession, according to Moore.

One suspect was described as a male in his late teens or early 20s, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall with a thin build and wearing a white plastic mask on his face, a light blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, police said.

The other suspect was described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a thin build and a charcoal or gray hooded sweatshirt pulled over his face.

Police said the two fled in a beige four-door Toyota Camry or Corolla that was last seen near Harwood Avenue off of College Avenue.

Anyone who spots the suspects or their car has been asked to call 911 or Oakland police at (510) 777-3333 or the Oakland police robbery section at (510) 238-3326.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:21:59 -0700

Young man gunned down on Oakland street

A man in his 20s was killed in a brazen drive-by shooting on a busy West Oakland street Wednesday, authorities said.

The shooting was reported at 9 a.m. in the 1000 block of Willow Street.

Witnesses said a car drove up and the gunman opened fire. The wounded man stumbled into a corner liquor store.

 A neighbor said he heard gunshots on the street outside his window and saw a victim taken out of Sharifs Market at 1044 Willow St. and into an ambulance.

"Our victim was on the street when the shooting occurred,” said Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson. “The key in the follow-up investigation this morning is we had a lot of witnesses who are out. This is a well-populated area and we have a lot of not only pedestrian traffic but vehicle traffic “

Investigators were going over their witnesses’ statements as well as surveillance footage .

The dead man’s uncle told KTVU that the killing on Oakland’s streets has to stop.

“I just wish people would realize that this is not the way to live this is not the way to survive,” said Calvin Alexander, “There's too many little children coming up. If you had a situation with someone in the past they used to fight it out, they didn't kill each other….There's just too much of this."

Police were searching for a suspect vehicle but have not yet released any description.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:01:50 -0700