<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:00:31 -0700 Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:00:31 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Parents Want More Medical Marijuana Access to Treat Sick Children]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:47:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/980499621.jpg

There is some movement in the United States Senate on making medical marijuana less risky. Three senators introduced a bill in March that would allow use in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution.

The proposed bill is gaining support from parents who use medical marijuana to treat their sick children. Parent said marijuana is a safer option than mainstream pharmaceuticals. Some of those parents attended a forum at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco to advocate for more medical marijuana access.

"I'm a conservative Christian Republican from Texas so this is far off my radar," parent Thalia Michelle said.

Doctors have diagnosed her son, Lance, with autism.

"He was non verbal, lots of aggression, lots of self-injuring behavior," Michelle said.

Michelle formed the group Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, or MAMMA, to help raise awareness about the need for families to have access to marijuana.

Advocates said the medical industry is beginning to see cannabis as a treatment option.

"Now what you're seeing are specialists, cancer specialists, epilepsy specialists, autism specialists who are learning about how cannabis can be used for these conditions," said Amanda Reiman with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Michelle said it is an option the federal government should legalize.

"Medical marijuana is not nearly as dangerous as a heavy-duty narcotic," she said.

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<![CDATA[4 Homes Destroyed in 2-Alarm Fire]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:23:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0330-2015-DublinFire2.jpg

Four homes under construction were destroyed in a two-alarm blaze late Monday in Dublin, according to the Alameda County Fire Department

The fire was reported just after 9 p.m. in the area of Vinton Avenue and Kinsley Street, near the Fallon Road exit off Interstate 580. Fire officials said the department's dispatch center received reports of smoke and flames visible from an area where homes are under construction.

Fire crews from Livermore also assisted in the response. Firefighters were able to keep the blaze away from homes that are complete in the area.

Firefighters also spent time putting out a couple of grass fires nearby sparked by embers blown across by the wind.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Man Suspected of Exposing Himself at Stanford Shopping Center]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:49:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0330-2015-PA-exposure.jpg

Palo Alto police are searching for a man suspected of exposing himself to people three times in the course of an hour at the Stanford Shopping Center.

The incidents were reported last Thursday, police said.

Investigators said the man  exposed himself to two women and one man. The suspect in described as an Asian or Latino man, 30 to 40 years old, short black hair and thick-rimmed glasses.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.



Photo Credit: Palo Alto Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Berkeley Residents Note "Metallic" Taste of Drinking Water]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:34:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/102808+running+water.jpg

Berkeley residents are complaining of a funny taste and smell in their tap water.

The drinking water supply lately has been described by many as having a "metallic" flavor. Some have likened it to the taste of raw meat or other animal parts.

According to Berkeleyside, the change in taste and odor is because the East Bay Municipal Utilities District has been drawing water from the top instead of the bottom of the Pardee Reservoir since Thursday. The unpleasant flavor and smell, attributed to warmer water and algae, are expected to go away by the weekend.

Water in Berkeley tastes and smell like chicken fat. Because the drought.http://t.co/mNU09bBolT @ebmud

— Andrea Helmbolt (@ahelmbolt) March 30, 2015



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Conference Bans "Booth Babes"]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:40:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0330-2015-BoothBabes.jpg

A technology conference is taking a stand against so-called "booth babes."

The RSA Security Conference said it will now ban booth babes at its event, which will begin April 20 in San Francisco. Booth babes are known in the tech industry as scantily-clad women trying to lure convention-going techies to check out what a company is showing off.

"I think if you look at the imagery of the women fulfilling these roles at these conventions, they are disturbing," said Ann Skeet of Santa Clara University.

RSA Security Conference officials said the goal of the ban is to make all convention attendees feel comfortable and respected during the show.

"I was approached by a gentleman who asked me, 'Are you a booth babe?'" said Lise Feng with CipherCloud, a company returning to the RSA Security Conference. "That's a little bit uncomfortable, right?"

The conference's decision to ban booth babes also is welcome news to tech-watchers who found the feature sexist.

"When you see images like this, it's not hard to understand why a young woman would say that's not an industry I'm interested in," Skeet said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SJ Police, City Prepare for Memorial Honoring Slain Officer]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:34:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/johnson71.jpg

San Jose is getting ready to host what is expected to be a huge memorial event Thursday in honor of Michael Johnson, a police officer who was shot and killed last week.

The funeral is bringing top state officials as well as law enforcement agencies from around the country. San Jose Police Department's top brass are coordinating security at the event, while making sure there are enough officers on the street -- all while trying to make sure Johnson gets a proper goodbye.

In addition to Thursday's funeral, there are several other smaller tributes including at San Jose Regional Medical Center, where all the emergency room lights are blue.

"This was his beat," said Luis Maciel, a registered nurse at the hospital. "One of our fellow brothers."

Noe Longoria, who supervises security at San Jose Regional Medical Center, worked with Johnson in two capacities -- first as a police officer before Longoria retired from the force, then as part of the response team at the medical center.

"He was very dedicated, but more importantly this was a person who had promise," Longoria said of Johnson. "There's a lot of promise that was taken away from us."

San Jose police said every single law enforcement agency is offering to help staff city streets on Thursday.

A memorial for Johnson was held late Friday on Senter Road. More than 100 people showed up to the vigil held near the scene of the fatal shooting.

Another memorial for Johnson was held that night in the courtyard at San Jose City Hall and was hosted by Star of David Ministries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

Thursday's memorial service for Johnson will be held at 11 a.m. at San Jose's SAP Center.

In addition, Owen Nolan, a former San Jose Shark who is a part owner of the Brittania Arms, is hosting a fundraiser April 2 at the restaurant, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway.

The San Jose Police Officers’ Association is helping raise fund to provide financial assistance to his family.

Checks can be mailed payable to the SJPOACF at: 1151 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112 or online.

Nannette Miranda contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: San Jose police]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Branching Out Beyond Cars, Says CEO]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:03:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/elonmuskmarch.jpg

Tesla Motors is about to take a detour from making cars.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Monday that a major new product line that's not a car would be shown for the first time on April 30 at Tesla's Hawthorne Design Studio. 

The vague missive indirectly invited social media users to guess what Tesla's next creation would be; popular choices to date on both Twitter and Reddit include a motorcycle and a home battery.

A parody Twitter user called BoredElonMusk suggested a product called, "GitHub for tracking where other people in your house put stuff that you now can't find."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DA Launches Task Force to Investigate Misconduct Allegations]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:32:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/187*120/sfda.JPG

Following separate allegations of misconduct by San Francisco police officers and sheriff's deputies and irregularities at the Police Department's DNA lab, District Attorney George Gascon announced Monday that he has created a task force to investigate the cases.

The announcement came after separate accusations that San Francisco sheriff's deputies forced jail inmates to fight, that police officers were exchanging hateful and racist text messages and that there was a protocol breach at the DNA lab. Gascon urged anyone with information about the cases to reach out to his office.

Gascon, who is the top law enforcement official in the city, said because of the "depth and scope" of these allegations, his office has put together a task force with three teams focusing on the separate allegations against law enforcement officials in San Francisco.

He said he is the "guardian of the criminal justice" system in San Francisco and that while he believes most law enforcement officials are "good people trying to do the right thing," recent allegations suggest that there are major problems within the police and sheriff's departments that need to be thoroughly investigated.

He said that during his more than 30 years in law enforcement, he has seen a great deal of misconduct and scandals involving law enforcement officials, but that the frequency and magnitude of these recent allegations are "unusual" and "repulsive," as well as some of the worst allegations he's heard.

Gascon said he is concerned that if these allegations are determined to be true, there could be serious potential repercussions for criminal cases, including some which were possibly prosecuted years ago.

Gascon said that these alleged incidents are concerning not only because of "the level of hate that is reflected" but because of "the impact they may have on the criminal justice system."

He said his office, as well as the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, will be taking a second look at cases from the past 10 years involving officers and deputies named in recent allegations.

"I want to make sure that people in this community feel very comfortable that the law enforcement in this community is clean," Gascon said.

He said the task force has been created to thoroughly look at all allegations and look for any other misconduct.

He said his office has become aware of a protocol breach at the Police Department's DNA lab.

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said this afternoon that a criminalist and her supervisor failed to follow protocol at the lab, creating "irregularities" when uploading information onto the federal government's Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS.

Suhr said, in aggregate, roughly 1,400 cases were touched by the criminalist and her supervisor and will need to be reviewed for errors. He said the DNA lab is now undergoing an audit.

"This is very, very troubling to me," Gascon said Monday, explaining that the irregularities at the lab could impact cases involving murders and sexual assaults.

Gascon, who served as the San Francisco police chief until January 2011, previously had to close down the department's DNA lab in 2010 when a former San Francisco Police Department crime lab employee allegedly pilfered drug evidence, prompting the dismissal of hundreds of prosecutions.

Regarding the gladiator-style fights reported this month at the San Francisco County Jail on the seventh floor of the Hall of Justice, Gascon said that it is unlikely only four deputies knew about the alleged abuse and misconduct.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said his office will not tolerate such behavior from deputies and that he invites the U.S. Department of Justice to assist in the investigation.

Mirkarimi said the four deputies named in the allegations have been placed on administrative leave.

Gascon said he wants to know who else knew about the alleged fights, when they knew and if there have been similar cases of misconduct at the sheriff's department.

Regarding racist and homophobic text messages from police officers that were recently released in federal court documents, Gascon said he wants to know if other people were involved and to see if any prosecutions could be impacted.

Police Department spokesman Albie Esparza confirmed that four officers were reassigned last month to jobs in which they have no contact with the public during a department probe of the text messages, which were sent to and from disgraced former Sgt. Ian Furminger's personal cellphone in 2011 and 2012.

The messages were discovered by the FBI in an investigation of thefts by Furminger and two other officers of money and property seized from suspects in 2009.

"We will have to assess whether there is anybody in custody Monday who perhaps shouldn't be in custody" and if anybody who was convicted shouldn't have been convicted, Gascon said.
 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Student Killed by Car]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/knbc-eloi-vasquez.jpg

Friends and teammates were grieving Monday after learning that a beloved UC Berkeley student athlete who went missing in Los Angeles over the weekend was fatally struck by a car as he ran across freeway lanes.

Eloi Vasquez, 19, was hit on the eastbound 10 Freeway east of Vermont Avenue (map) about an hour after friends said they last saw him leaving a party near the USC campus, officials with the Los Angeles Police Department said.

It was unclear why Vasquez was on the freeway. The 45-year-old driver of the Chevrolet Impala stopped and told California Highway Patrol officers the man was running across lanes and she could not avoid him. The car was going about 60 mph, the CHP said.

Vasquez was declared dead at the scene. The driver was not arrested.

"We're heartbroken, we're devastated," said Wesley Mallette, a Cal associate athletics director.

Vasquez's family did not immediately comment on his death. Police said the family was "very distraught" and asked for privacy.

Vasquez didn't have ID or money on him when he left the fraternity house party in the 600 block of West 28th Street about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

However, he did have a cellphone and had told friends over the phone that he was "going to the beach."

He was also on the phone with a friend in Northern California about 2:18 a.m. He told her he was "screwed," scared and lost.

CHP officials said Vasquez was struck by the car about 2:25 a.m. The coroner's office confirmed that the victim was Vasquez.

Vasquez was a freshman midfielder on the UC Berkeley soccer team. Friends said they made the trip to Los Angeles for spring break.

"Eloi was a wonderful teammate, he was very close to all of his players and our guys are grieving pretty hard" said Cal soccer coach Kevin Grimes. "I really loved Eloi and I know our teammates did, too."

The news of his death came as family members announced a $100,000 reward for his safe return and also said they hired a private investigator to help locate the teen from Novato.

The Cal Athletics website described Vasquez as "a wonderful young man who has excelled both academically and athletically here at Cal."

"Eloi always had a way of making you laugh and he brought energy to the room," said Vasquez's teammate, Alex Mangels, as he fought back tears.

A toxicology report was expected to be complete in a few weeks.

 

 

NBC4's Irene Moore contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Cluster of Cougars of Discovered in East Bay Hills]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:46:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SUNOL+PUMAS+PART+2+OF+2+STILL+PP+PUSH+RAW+-+00003516.jpg

Ecologists have discovered at least nine different mountain lions in the East Bay hills in an area east of Fremont and south of Livermore in the Sunol/Ohlone Regional Wilderness.

Normally it’s not a surprise for mountain lion sightings to be spotted in the area, but in this instance the density is high, which is welcome news to ecologists.

The East Bay Regional Park District set up cameras throughout the area, and in the last two years more than 400 pictures have captured cougars doing what they do when humans aren’t around.

Experts have identified nine different mountain lions living within 11 square kilometers.

"That’s a phenomenal density for that area,” said Carolyn Jones with the East Bay Regional Park District. Jones believes the mountain lion population is a good sign of a healthy habitat. "It’s an area that’s very wild and there’s plenty of deer for them to eat. They seem very happy.”

A happy mountain lion doesn’t need to search far and wide for food, which is why Jones said hikers should be alert, but not scared.

In the event you do come face to face with one of these cats, the advice is to "back away slowly, don’t take your eyes off of it," said Jones. "Don’t run away. Just very slowly back away.”

Although there are mountain lion warning signs for hikers entering trails in the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, hiker Kevin Payne was surprised to learn he was hiking in an actual mountain lion breeding ground.

"They will hide in the oak trees there so I keep an eye above me so I’m not taken as some food,” he said.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. There have been three fatal attacks in the last 30 years.

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<![CDATA[Woman Arrested After Stealing Vehicle with Baby in Backseat: SJPD]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:56:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TerriaArtiga_SanJose.jpg

A 36-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly stealing a vehicle with an 8-month-old child in the backseat.

Terria Artiga was arrested Sunday and faces charges of kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle, San Jose Police Officer Albert Morales said.

Morales said police responded to a call from the baby's father at 7:16 a.m. to report seeing an unknown woman driving his vehicle on the southbound lane of Hopkins Avenue.

Police later found the vehicle abandoned with the infant inside nearby on Mabel Avenue. The baby was unharmed, according to Morales.

Police continued to search the area and located a suspicious vehicle nearby on Karl Street. Artiga was the only person inside the vehicle and was sitting in the passenger seat, Morales said.  She matched a suspect description and was subsequently taken into custody.



Photo Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tom Brady Jumps Off a Giant Cliff]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:53:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/221*120/brady4.JPG

New England Patriots quarterback and San Mateo native Tom Brady posted a video of himself jumping off a giant cliff, sending thousands of fans into a frenzy.

"Never doing that again!" Brady says in the Facebook video post from Saturday, which quickly went viral, getting over nine million views and 50K shares.

Never doing that again! #AirBrady

Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Are you going to jump off?" a voice can be heard asking him at the start of the video. And the next thing you know, Brady dives. Hundreds of Pats fans commented on the post on Facebook:

"Bob Kraft and Bill Belechik just passed out," wrote Ellen Maloney.

"The best QB in the history of the NFL needs to be tucked away safely in a padded room. No more of that, TB12!," wrote Aaron Diaz.

"A collective gasp heard all over New England!" wrote Thomas Mitchell.



Photo Credit: Tom Brady via Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Rescued From Korean Meat Farm Find Homes]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:48:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/188*120/New+puppies.jpg

The San Francisco SPCA has found homes for two of the 57 dogs and puppies rescued from a Korean meat farm two weeks ago. Molly and Masha were adopted on March 27. The SPCA is now looking for homes for four more dogs: Calvin, Nutmeg, Daisy, and Abby.

Molly is a 3-month old female, Korean Jindo mix who headed home with a couple to live just outside of Pescadero. Molly's new owners had their hearts set on giving one of the Korean meat farm puppies a new lease on life. They arrived at the SPCA four hours before it opened to be first in line for Molly.

Masha is a 3-year old female Shiba Inu mix who is a little shy at first, very active and “ready to start her new life in America,”  with her new loving family, the SPCA said.

All of these dogs came to the United States on Mar. 19 from what SPCA described as “horrific conditions and certain death” at a meat farm outside of Seoul.

The SPCA along with shelters in Marin, the East Bay, and Sacramento have partnered with Humane Society International to care for these dogs and give them new lives.

Some of these pups still need medical attention and are not ready for their forever homes yet. 



Photo Credit: SF SPCA]]>
<![CDATA[Old Bay Bridge Cantilevers Should Be Gone By Summer]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:31:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/BAYBRIDGE26.jpg

The last parts of the west and east cantilevers of the old Bay Bridge should be taken down by this summer.

In a video posted by Metropolitan Transportation Commission video journalist Mark Jones on the update of the demolition project, Caltrans engineer Bill Howe says the remainder of the west cantilever should be taken down by some time in April, with the east cantilever to be taken down by June. He also estimates that the bike path will be finished by June or July and open by the end of the year.

Caltrans' second phase of demolition is set to begin this summer, with much of the upper portion of the old Bay Bridge expected to be gone by 2018. The timeline takes into consideration the nesting seasons of birds that make temporary homes in the old structure.

A contract has not yet been awarded for the third phase of demolition, which will involve destroying the foundations, reported the Associated Press.



Photo Credit: Screen grab from MTC video on Bay Bridge demolition
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Waldo Tunnel Moves Closer to Being Named for Robin Williams]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:50:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/petition.JPG

A Bay Area landmark is moving closer to being named for Robin Williams.

The proposal to rename the rainbow-striped “Waldo Tunnel” as the Robin Williams has cleared a state assembly committee, according to the SF Chronicle.

It now goes to the appropriations committee — on its way to a full vote by the assembly.
It's expected to clear both houses by summer. The tunnel connects Golden Gate Bridge traffic to Marin County.

Williams died in August in his Tiburon home at age 63. His death shocked family, friends and fans across the Bay Area and the world, drawing an outpouring of grief and tributes.

The Waldo Tunnel is a tunnel on U.S. 101 between the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. William Waldo was a California politician who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1853. The tunnel’s archways are painted in rainbow colors, which is why people sometimes call it the "rainbow tunnel."

The tunnel is reportedly featured in the Clint Eastwood film “Dirty Harry,” the Humphrey Bogart film “Dark Passage” and also plays a part in Williams’ 1999 film “Bicentennial Man.”
 



Photo Credit: Change.org]]>
<![CDATA[The French Laundry to Reopen in April]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:37:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/tlmd_thefrench_laundry.jpg

The French Laundry has a new look for spring.

Thomas Keller plans to reopen his acclaimed Yountville restaurant on April 7, midway through a renovation project that has kept it closed since December.

According to Inside Scoop SF, The French Laundry is building a new entry court, annex and kitchen. The improvements aren't expected to be finished until the fall, but the staff will be cooking out of a temporary kitchen fashioned out of a shipping container. 

Reservations for the first several weeks of service are currently full on OpenTable but the restaurant maintains a waiting list for cancellations.



Photo Credit: The French Laundry]]>
<![CDATA[StubHub Files Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:40:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/stub+hub+all+star.jpg

StubHub is suing Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors, alleging it unfairly required fans looking to resell tickets to use Ticketmaster's resale exchange.

The online ticket marketplace and division of San Jose, California-based eBay Inc. alleges in the lawsuit filed Sunday night that the organizations prevent fans from deciding how they want to resell tickets and artificially drive up ticket prices.

Specifically, StubHub said Ticketmaster and the Warriors cancelled fans' regular-season and playoff-game tickets when those fans used StubHub and other exchanges to resell tickets. In other cases, the complaint says, Ticketmaster and the Warriors' front office broke the law by threatening fans with cancellation to force them to use Ticketmaster's resale exchange.

"While we do not comment specifically on pending legal matters, we wanted to provide our fans some of the important reasons for our policies," the Warriors said in a statement.

"The Warriors are committed to providing fans with the opportunity to see our games in person through a safe and secure ticket buying experience. Dozens of fans are denied entry to Oracle Arena each game because they purchased counterfeit tickets. Warriors.com and NBATickets.com are the only sites where tickets are guaranteed to be authentic. Although some third party sites may offer a 'money-back' guarantee, none of them can verify ticket authenticity that would guarantee entry to our games."

The Warriors added that more than 10,500 fans are waiting for the opportunity to purchase season tickets.

"However, each year a significant number of those tickets are purchased by ticket brokers with the sole intent to resell them at a markup. The Warriors recently decided not to renew 2015-16 season tickets held by some ticket brokers, so that we can instead sell those tickets directly to fans on our wait list," the team said. "This approach reflects our commitment to giving our fans the game experience they deserve."

Ticketmaster is a unit of Beverly Hills, California-based Live Nation Entertainment Inc. A representative for the company could not immediately be reached.

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<![CDATA[St. Baldrick's Event Exceeds Fundraising Goal]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:20:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/205*120/2015-03-16_12-41-59.jpg

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland raised over $215,000 for pediatric cancer research during its 8th annual St. Baldrick's Foundation head-shaving event, surpassing its $200,000 goal, the hospital announced on Sunday.

More than 200 people volunteered to shave their heads for the event which took place on March 13 and 14, including nurses, fire fighters, and police officers, as well as families and friends of patients.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer grants all over the world, is perhaps most well-known for its head-shaving events. The idea was conceived 15 years ago as a challenge between businessmen, and now hundreds of events take place every year around St. Patrick’s Day.

Over the years, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland has raised a total of $1.4 million for St. Baldrick's.

Click here for more information on how to donate.



Photo Credit: Melinda Krigel]]>
<![CDATA[$100K Reward for Missing College Student: Family]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:39:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/3-29-15+Missing+UC+Berkeley+student.JPG

A $100,000 reward was being offered for the safe return of a UC Berkeley student who went missing after leaving a party near the University of Southern California campus early Saturday morning, family members said.

Eloi Vasquez, a 19-year-old freshman from Novato who plays on the school's soccer team, walked out of a fraternity house in the 600 block of West 28th Street about 1:30 a.m. with only his cellphone in hand.

His friends tried to get him to come back to the party, but he told them over the phone he "was going to the beach."

Vasquez then called a friend, Aurora Cardena, in Northern California at 2:18 a.m. and told her he was "screwed" and got lost, his mother Wendy Margolin said.

"He pretty much said, 'I need you to come over here, I need help.' I asked him 'Where are you?' and he told me that he was in LA and that he didn’t know where he was at and that he was lost," Aurora Cardenas told NBC Bay Area. "The second time he called it just clicked. I didn’t know if his phone died, or if he hung up."

When Vasquez left the party he didn't have his wallet, money or ID with him. The phone he used to call his friend has since died.

"Everyone knows how responsible he is, how dedicated to school he is and he hasn't contacted anyone since," Margolin said. "Something is going on with him."

Vasquez's parents drove to LA from Northern California on Saturday hoping to find their son. The home where Vasquez was last seen has since been littered with fliers by friends also in hopes of his return.

A $50,000 reward was offered for Vasquez's safe return Sunday. The amount was doubled Monday. 

"All his friends are out scouring for him... looking around for him," Margolin said. They've gone to lifeguard towers in the Santa Monica and Venice area, hoping someone has seen him.

His mother planned to visit candy and doughnut shops that stayed open late night near where the party was.

Vasquez's friends said they had been drinking at the party on spring break.

"It's definitely unlike him and we're very concerned," said Vasquez's friend, Marko Helfrich.

Vasquez is described as 6 feet tall, weighing about 175 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a baseball T-shirt with red sleeves, gray pants and white tennis shoes.

"Eloi is a wonderful young man who has excelled both academically and athletically here at Cal. Our entire Cal Athletics family is very concerned for Eloi’s safety and our first priority is to help in any way we can to locate him," the Berkeley athletics department said in a statement.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 213-486-8582.

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<![CDATA[Civil Trial in Audrie Pott Sexual Assault Case to Begin]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:34:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/audrie-pott.jpg

The trial in a civil suit filed by the parents of Audrie Pott is expected to begin on Monday.

In 2012, three teenage boys sexually assaulted Audrie, wrote lewd messages on her body, and took photos of her while she was unconscious at a party. The 15-year-old Saratoga High School student later committed suicide.

Her attackers have served jail time – two of the teens served 30 days in juvenile hall over a series of weekends so they could still attend school, and the third teen served a consecutive 45-day sentence.

However, Audrie’s family doesn’t believe that punishment is severe enough. The parents are suing two of the three attackers in order to bring awareness to teenage sexual assault, to ensure that the attackers take responsibility for their actions, and to determine what really happened to their daughter that night, according to the Mercury News. They settled with the third boy earlier this year when his parents agreed to pay $600,000.

The other two boys, who deny they caused Audrie's suicide, are the ones going to trial.

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<![CDATA[Van Torched in Campbell Strip Mall]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:56:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/campbell+car+fire.jpg

A fire broke out in the parking lot of a Campbell strip mall early Monday morning, leaving a van belonging to a local business burnt to a crisp.

Flames engulfed the van, located on Curtner Avenue near Highway 17, but were quickly doused by the fire department.

An employee from a nearby business told NBC Bay Area that the incident seemed suspicious. The fire is currently under investigation.

NBC Bay Area's Henry Jerkins contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Henry Jerkins]]>
<![CDATA[Public Memorial for Mother Killed by Gravel Truck]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:38:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/martinez9.JPG

The public is invited to a celebration Monday to honor the life of a Martinez woman killed in a gravel truck accident.

A gravel truck toppled over on March 23 and crushed 32-year-old mother Lindsey Comb’s car as she was trying to move it. Since then, fundraisers have brought in more than $14,000 to pay for funeral expenses.

The event will be held at the Martinez Sportsmen’s Club from 11:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Apple's Tim Cook: Anti-Gay Laws Are "Very Dangerous"]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:22:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tim-cook-apple-fortuna.jpg

Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed Indiana's new "religious objection" legislation over the weekend, penning a Washington Post piece warning that “there’s something very dangerous happening in America.”

The piece, which was posted late Sunday night, said the openly gay executive, who was raised in a Baptist home in the South, was "deeply disappointed" in the recently passed "Religious Freedom Restoration" law in Indiana that shields business owners who turn away customers for religious reasons.

"This isn’t a political issue," he wrote. "It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous."

Cook called this new wave of legislation "very dangerous," noting there are about 100 similar bills under consideration in two dozen states. And he added that they "go against the very principles our nation was founded on" and "have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

“America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.”

Cook, who was baptized in a Baptist church and grew up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s.  He publicly disclosed that he is gay in October. Last week, Cook announced that he will give his fortune away.



Photo Credit: NBC NEWS]]>
<![CDATA[High Court Will Not Take Up T-Shirt Case]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:33:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/LIVEOAK3.JPG

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday - without any explanation - to take up a free speech case that was sparked over boys wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo at a Morgan Hill high school five years ago.

The justices met Friday behind closed doors to decide whether to hear the case: Dariano vs. Morgan Hill Unified School District, which a federal appeals court in San Francisco refused to reconsider in September 2014. But a decision to not take the case was quietly posted Monday.

"It's unjust, it's discretionary, it's politicized," Robert Joseph Muise, the plaintiff's lead counsel for the conservative American Freedom Law Center, told NBC Bay Area Monday morning. "The 9th circuit set a horrible precedent. Why? I don't know and they won't tell me."

But San Francisco-based Gordon and Rees LLP attorney Don Willenburg, lead counsel for the school district, said he was happy the previous court ruling was left standing because student violence is a "particularly salient concern in an era of rampant school violence."

The decision not to take the case means the February 2014 decision made in San Francisco by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stands. That court also let stand a lower court ruling in favor of Live Oak High School Principal Nick Boden and Vice Principal Miguel Rodriguez, who asked a group of boys to change or hide their red-white-and-blue clothes and T-shirts by turning them inside out out of concern about violence that might break out on Cinco de Mayo in 2010, at a school where 40 percent of the student body was Latino. The May 5 holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces.

The administrators worried that the blatant American flag symbols on a day honoring Mexican pride would instigate violence on campus. And Willenberg said threats of "physical fights" over the shirts had been made on that day.

The boys, their parents, attorneys and conservative talk show hosts, argued, however, that they had every right to wear what they wanted - especially red, white and blue.

But the two sets of judges noted that Live Oak High School documented at least 30 fights on campus during a six-year span between gangs and "between Caucasian and Hispanic" students and that administrators had good reason to tell the boys not to wear the T-shirts on a Mexican holiday, court documents state. One of those fights occurred a year before the day in question, when mostly white students hung an American flag on campus, chanted "USA," and cussed at Mexican students, the judges noted.

Both Boden and Rodriguez are no longer at the school. The boys who wore the shirts - Daniel Galli, Austin Carvalho, Matthew Dariano and Dominic Maciel - have all graduated.

But William J. Becker Jr., the boys' parents' lawyer, who is the president and CEO of Freedom X, a group that protects "conservative and religious freedom of expression," vowed to appeal the decision - and he did, bringing it all the way to the highest court in the country.

Becker's side was represented by the American Freedom Law Center in Michigan. The conservative Alliance Defending Freedom in Georgia, and The Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence in Orange, Calif. signed on to the case in support of the boys' families. They had argued the T-shirts represented freedom of expression.

The case at the time drew national attention where many of of the boys were asked for interviews on conservative talk shows and Fox News. And the interest in the story still hasn't died down completely. In May 2014, a small group of Tea Party patriots picketed in front of the high school with American flags, who were arguing in support of the "restoration of American values and ideas."

As a preemptive strike before the protest, the school released a three-minute video asking students to be proud of their heritage without "beating on other people's opinions."



Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Robin Williams' Children Battle Widow Over Estate ]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:08:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP741201775385.jpg

Seven months after Robin Williams' tragic suicide, his family is taking their battle over his estate to the courtroom.

According to court documents, Williams’ three children will dispute with the late actor's widow, Susan Schneider, Monday morning over the rights to Williams' Marin County home and the belongings inside.

In her filing, Schnieder alleges the comedian's children from two previous marriages took items without her permission from the Tiburon, California, home she shared with Williams.

Williams' trust granted his children his memorabilia and awards in the entertainment industry and some other specific personal items, but also called for the creation of provisions to benefit his wife, who has two teenage sons of her own. This included the couple's home in Tiburon, California and "the contents thereof,” according to the actors will, The New York Times reported.

Schneider is asking the court to exclude the contents of the Tiburon home from items Williams wanted the children to have.

The case over the details of Williams’ trust is expected to go beyond Monday’s initial hearing.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[7.5 Quake Hits Papua New Guinea, Triggers Tsunami Warning]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:52:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/earthquake_generic_1.jpg

A major earthquake in Papua New Guinea has triggered a tsunami warning, as a 7.5 quake struck near the city of Kokopo on the northeast part of the island.

A tsunami warning is in effect for coasts within 620 miles of the epicenter.

The coast of New Guinea, as well as the Solomon Islands are most at risk. But the northwestern Hawaiian Islands may see minor effects from the quake.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Sold-Out Crowd Descends on Levi's for WrestleMania]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:44:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/WM31_03292015ca_2266.jpg

A sold-out crowd of 76,000 screaming fans descended on Levis Stadium for WrestleMania 31 — also known as the Super Bowl of wrestling. Tickets weren't cheap either, some wrestling fans paid more than $10,000 for a ticket. That helped make it the highest ever grossing event ever for WWE. It raked in more than $12.5 million.

Fans said it was well worth it.

After four days of buildup, the gates to the main event opened at 1:30 p.m. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic all night.

Joe DiBenedetto came from Fresno to watch the show. He said he had a great time at WrestleMania.

“The charisma, the camaraderie — everybody around us," DiBenedetto said. "It was like one, big happy family. And I mean you got to see some old characters, new characters, arising, departure. Everything was great.”

Fans watched as Sting stepped into a WWE ring after 14 years of anticipation, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was named a Hall of Fame inductee. Also, East Bay native The Rock paid a visit to the event.

But 15-year-old Damian Prado had his own highlights.

"I got to spend time with my father, and not just that, but I also got to spend time with the WWE Universe," Prado said. "So, it was awesome.”

WrestleMania 31 drew an international crowd with fans from 40 countries. People like Frankie Lawrence came from Bedford, England.

”This was a dream come true, coming across to America for the first time and actually watching my dream, WrestleMania,” Lawrence said.

Many jumped on light rail and came directly from a fan event at the San Jose Convention Center. The trains were definitely crowded, and many people had to stand for the trip.

"The light rail was an easy way to get from the hotel and convention to Levi's Stadium. You don't have to worry about car and parking parking and all the hassles," WrestleMania attendee Jason Heinitz said.

For those who opted to drive, many complained about a major backup once they got off Highway 101 and tried to make it to the stadium. But late Sunday afternoon, that seemed to clear up.

After the event, the parking lot cleared out within 45 minutes.



Photo Credit: WWE]]>
<![CDATA[Man With Machete Goes on Rampage in San Jose]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:29:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tully_sjpd_standoff_neighborhood.jpg

A San Jose neighborhood was shut down Sunday morning when a man with a machete went on a rampage.

Neighbors said around 10:30 a.m., the man went walking around the neighborhood with a machete on Mocho Court near the Tully Road U.S. Highway 101 exit. Later, he smashed a car with the weapon and then went into his garage and started lighting items on fire, witnesses said.

Police surrounded him and took him into custody, specifically for mental evaluation.

But his sister, Julie Gutierrez, said he may have wanted police to take his life and he needs medical help. She added he has a history of mental illness and has used crystal meth.

"He actually needs help," she said. "He doesn't need to be going to jail or being charged with this. He needs help. Counseling, therapy, something."

The suspect has not been identified, and nobody was hurt.

NBC Bay Area's Ted Case contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Settlement Figures Disclosed in Audrie Pott Suicide Suit]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:53:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/audrie-pott.jpg

Five parties have paid a combined $875,000 to settle their part of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of a Silicon Valley teen who committed suicide after being sexually assaulted in 2012, according to recently filed court records.

Audrie Pott, 15, hanged herself in the Saratoga home she shared with her mother in September 2012. Audrie committed suicide several days after she drank and passed out a teen party without adult supervision. She woke up the next morning without her pants on and with crude remarks scribbled in marker on her body.

Her parents sued the three boys, their parents, owners of the house where the party was held and a teen girl who attended the party. The parents allege that Audrie was humiliated and terrified that the boys photographed the assault with their phones and shared the images on social media sites and elsewhere. The three boys pleaded guilty to felonies in juvenile court and served brief jail sentences.

One of the boys and his family agreed to pay $600,000 to settle. The other two boys deny they caused Audrie's suicide and are scheduled to stand trial Wednesday in San Jose.

The documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on March 23 also show the owners of the house where the assault occurred paid $100,000. The family of an unnamed teen girl paid $150,000. The divorced mother of one of the boys facing trial paid $25,000.

Attorney Bob Allard, who represents Audrie's family, said the settlement disclosures should have been filed under seal. He called their public disclosure an ``underhanded attempt'' to "portray my clients as being motivated by money.'' Allard said Audrie's parents are seeking to call attention to cyberbullying, teen suicide and the misuse of social media.

Ian Frazer-Thomson, a lawyer representing one of the two boys still facing trial who filed one of the documents, said failing to keep the settlement figures confidential was a mistake. The court clerk filing the document should have noticed it required being filed under seal, he said.
 

]]>
<![CDATA[How Do We Account for California’s Revenue Surplus?]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:50:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/235*120/larry2.JPG California has received $1 billion more in revenue than expected during the first eight months of the current year. If history is any guide, the number could swell to $2 billion by June 30. How do we account for this bounty, and what do we do with it? NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston joins us with his thoughts.]]> <![CDATA[$100K Reward for Missing College Student in LA: Family]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:53:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/3-29-15+Missing+UC+Berkeley+student.JPG

A $100,000 reward was being offered for the safe return of a UC Berkeley student who went missing after leaving a party near the University of Southern California campus early Saturday morning, family members said.

Eloi Vasquez, a 19-year-old freshman who plays on the school's soccer team, walked out of a fraternity house in the 600 block of West 28th Street about 1:30 a.m. with only his cellphone in hand.

His friends tried to get him to come back to the party, but he told them over the phone he "was going to the beach."

Vasquez then called a friend, Aurora Cardena, in Northern California at 2:18 a.m. and told her he was "screwed" and got lost, his mother Wendy Margolin said.

"He pretty much said, 'I need you to come over here, I need help.' I asked him 'Where are you?' and he told me that he was in LA and that he didn’t know where he was at and that he was lost," Aurora Cardenas told NBC Bay Area. "The second time he called it just clicked. I didn’t know if his phone died, or if he hung up."

When Vasquez left the party he didn't have his wallet, money or ID with him. The phone he used to call his friend has since died.

"Everyone knows how responsible he is, how dedicated to school he is and he hasn't contacted anyone since," Margolin said. "Something is going on with him."

Vasquez's parents drove to LA from Northern California on Saturday hoping to find their son. The home where Vasquez was last seen has since been littered with fliers by friends also in hopes of his return.

A $50,000 reward was offered for Vasquez's safe return Sunday. The amount was doubled Monday. 

"All his friends are out scouring for him... looking around for him," Margolin said. They've gone to lifeguard towers in the Santa Monica and Venice area, hoping someone has seen him.

His mother planned to visit candy and doughnut shops that stayed open late night near where the party was.

Vasquez's friends said they had been drinking at the party on spring break.

"It's definitely unlike him and we're very concerned," said Vasquez's friend, Marko Helfrich.

Vasquez is described as 6 feet tall, weighing about 175 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a baseball T-shirt with red sleeves, gray pants and white tennis shoes.

"Eloi is a wonderful young man who has excelled both academically and athletically here at Cal. Our entire Cal Athletics family is very concerned for Eloi’s safety and our first priority is to help in any way we can to locate him," the Berkeley athletics department said in a statement.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 213-486-8582.

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<![CDATA[WrestleMania Takes Over Levi's Stadium]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:55:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/wrestlemania_hall_of_fame_set1.JPG

Wrestling fans have had lots to do before the main WrestleMania event Sunday evening.

At the SAP Center Saturday, a WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony inducted some of the biggest legends in wrestling into the Hall of Fame. And some of the biggest names in wrestling were there to honor them.

Several wrestling stars on the red carpet have ties to the Bay Area, including Roman Reigns, who will be wrestling tomorrow in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Levis Stadium against Brock Lesnar.

Roman said he has lots of family in the Bay Area. So does Eva Marie from the show "Total Divas." She was born and raised in Concord and graduated from Northgate High School. She said she is thrilled WrestleMania will be held at the new Levi's Stadium.

"I think Levi's Stadium is phenomenal," Marie said. "I can't wait for us to go in there and perform tomorrow night. I think it's great for the community. It brings so many people out that wouldn't normally come out to Levi's Stadium because it's the 49ers spot. So now that WrestleMania is there, it's bringing so much awareness to that facility. It's awesome."

Brett Heart already has been inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. He said he is happy to have played a role in making wrestling so popular.

Seventy-one-thousand fans are expected to attend Sunday's event at Levi's Stadium. But on Saturday, it was all about honoring the legends as they are inducted into the Hall of Fame, including Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

VTA said it is ready to handle tens of thousands of fans. The system has had some practice, with a whole season of 49ers games under its belt. The big difference is that tomorrow, many more fans will be from out of town. And they will be using the light rail line for the first time.



Photo Credit: Christie Smith]]>
<![CDATA[Twittersphere: #WrestleMania at Levi's Stadium]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:48:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/wrestlemania_hall_of_fame_set1.JPG

It's considered the Super Bowl of wrestling — on Sunday Levi’s Stadium will be packed with more than 70,000 screaming WWE wrestling fans.

Are you going? Tweet us your #WrestleMania photos @nbcbayarea or email them to limbay@nbcuni.com



Photo Credit: Christie Smith]]>