<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News - East Bay]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/localen-usMon, 22 May 2017 10:41:34 -0700Mon, 22 May 2017 10:41:34 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Man Charged For Trying to Light Diners in Denny's on Fire]]>Mon, 22 May 2017 07:52:24 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-21-17_Dennys_Fire.jpg

A Union City man has been charged with multiple counts for attempting to light diners on fire inside a Denny's restaurant in Hayward, according to police.

The man, identified as 43-year-old Victor Rubio, was eating at a Denny's on Industrial Parkway SW Wednesday morning when he whipped out a container similar to lighter fluid and doused several people, including a child, sitting inside the restaurant, according to Hayward police.

Rubio also poured the flammable fluid on the ground near the establishment's entrance and was in the process of igniting it with a lighter when several people managed to physically stop him, according to police.

Rubio escaped temporarily before being arrested without incident by arriving officers, police said. He was placed on a psychiatric hold.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Rubio with seven counts of assault with caustic chemicals, one count of willful and malicious attempt to set fire and one count of child endangerment.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, Hayward Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Crews Battle Fire at Marijuana Grow House in Antioch]]>Sun, 21 May 2017 14:41:21 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-21-17_Antioch_House_Marijuana_Fire.jpg

A marijuana grow house in Antioch caught fire Sunday afternoon, according to fire officials.

The blaze was reported just after 2 p.m. along the 2000 block of Bugle Way, fire officials reported on Twitter. It was pronounced under control by 3 p.m.

An investigation conducted by Antioch police and the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is in the works.

Further information was not available at the time.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District]]>
<![CDATA[No Sign of Fairfield Father Who Disappeared While Saving Son]]>Mon, 22 May 2017 06:03:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-21-17_Pittsburg_Search_Water.jpg

One day after their search for a missing father came up empty, crews returned to the area near the Pittsburg Marina Sunday to scour the murky water for the Fairfield man last seen saving his son following a boating incident.

The 52-year-old father and 9-year-old son, along with at least one other man, were fishing without life jackets from a boat near Broad Slough and the Sacramento Deep River Channel when the son somehow went overboard, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. The father jumped in after his son, and a man on the boat threw the father a rescue device to help successfully save the boy, according to the missing man's niece. The father, however, floated away from the boat and disappeared.


Crews from various agencies combed the water for several hours Saturday night before temporarily calling the search off due to darkness. A search resumed Sunday, and teams used sonar in hopes of finding the man.

A vast area has already been searched with no results, according to officials. If the man is not found Sunday, the search may be suspended.

The father and son, along with their family, were enjoying a fishing trip before the incident.

The boy was transported to a hospital and treated for hypothermia, according to officials.

Further information was not available at the time.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Spare the Air Alert Issued For Monday]]>Sun, 21 May 2017 14:02:38 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/12-24-2013-spare-the-air.jpg

A Spare the Air alert for smog in the San Francisco Bay Area has been issued for Monday, officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said Sunday.

Smog is expected in parts of the East Bay and the Santa Clara Valley because of light winds and a weak and delayed afternoon sea breeze, according to air district officials.

This is the second Spare the Air alert for smog in 2017.

Commuters who drive to work alone are encouraged to use other ways to get to work.

Smog is especially harmful to children, seniors and people with respiratory and heart conditions, air district officials said.

People who decide to exercise outdoors should do so in the early morning hours when smog levels are lower.

Transit will not be free on Monday and air district officials have not issued a wood-burning ban.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Unemployment in Bay Area Counties Below 5 Percent in April]]>Sun, 21 May 2017 10:02:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/165*120/141970054.jpg

Unemployment in all nine Bay Area counties was below five percent last month, officials with California's Employment Development Department said Friday.

Unemployment in San Mateo County was the lowest in the Bay Area at 2.5 percent. In Marin and San Francisco counties the unemployment rate was 2.7 percent.

Except for Solano County, unemployment in the other Bay Area counties was between 3.1 and 3.6 percent.

In Solano County the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Father Disappears After Rescuing Son From Delta]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 19:43:19 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-20-17_Boating_Pittsburg.jpg

A father went missing Saturday after jumping in the water near the Pittsburg Marina to save his son following a boating incident, according to officials.

Crews scoured the murky water for several hours, but they have yet to find the father. They were forced to temporarily call off the search because of darkness.

The father and son, along with at least one other man, were riding in a boat when the son somehow went overboard, according to Amy Nguyen, the missing man's niece. The father jumped in after his son, and a man on the boat threw the father a rescue device to help successfully save the boy. The father, however, floated away from the boat and began to sink.

"He's been gone ever since," Nguyen said.

Multiple agencies are assisting with the search, which is expected to resume Sunday morning.

The boy was treated for possible hypothermia, according to officials.

The father and son, along with their family, were enjoying a fishing trip before the incident.

Further information was not available at the time.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District]]>
<![CDATA[Man Pointing Gun at Police Shot, Killed by Officer]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 14:28:40 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-20-17_Pleasanton_OIS.jpg

A man who advanced toward Pleasanton officers Saturday with a gun in his hand was shot and killed by police, according to the Pleasanton Police Department.

Officers responded to a disturbance call at a house along Burgundy Drive just after 11:30 a.m. when they spotted the man, according to Lt. Maria Munayer. The garage door opened and the man walked out holding a gun pointed at the officers. One officer responded by shooting the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is not clear if the man fired at police, but none of the responding officers were injured, according to Munayer. The people inside the house were also not injured during the shooting, which comes as a surprise to police.

"This is very unusual for this neighborhood," Munayer said.

Specific details regarding what led up to the shooting and the man are not yet available at this time, according to Munayer. A parallel investigation is in the works by Pleasanton police and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

The officer who shot the man has been placed on routine administrative leave, according to Munayer.

Despite the shooting, Munayer insisted that this was an isolated incident.

"Pleasanton is a very safe community," she said. "We're not concerned about any other violence stemming from this incident or any other incidents.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Companies Lead 'Best Places to Work' Ranking]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 16:57:25 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/New+Image20.JPG

The Bay Area is well represented on a recent LinkedIn list of the United States' best places to work. 

Top Companies Where the World Wants to Work Now” ranks 50 of the country's biggest businesses. Collectively, they span 21 industries and employ over three million workers, according to LinkedIn. The list is based on employee retention and interest in not only a company's available jobs, but also its overall brand.

With 72,000 employees globally, Alphabet, the parent company of Mountain View-based Google, came in first place. The tech behemoth set out in 2012 to rely only on renewable energy, and is on track to do exactly that this year.  

In second place was Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle. The company boasts over 340,000 employees across the world and has picked up three Oscars in the last 12 months, LinkedIn said.

Local companies earned the next five spots on LinkedIn's list. Facebook, of Menlo Park, came in third and was followed by Salesforce and Uber, both of San Francisco; Tesla, which is headquartered in Palo Alto; and Apple, a tech giant located in Cupertino. 

Three media organizations — Time Warner, the Walt Disney Company and Comcast NBCUniversal — rounded out the top 10 positions on the list. 

Other familiar names that made the cut include Airbnb, Netflix and Twitter.

LinkedIn, which is also based in Mountain View, excluded itself from the list.

Here are this year's top 20 companies in the U.S.:

  1. Alphabet
  2. Amazon
  3. Facebook
  4. Salesforce
  5. Uber
  6. Tesla
  7. Apple
  8. Time Warner
  9. The Walt Disney Company
  10. Comcast NBCUniversal
  11. Airbnb
  12. Netflix
  13. McKinsey & Company
  14. Dell Technologies
  15. Workday
  16. Under Armour
  17. Twitter
  18. CBRE
  19. Visa
  20. JPMorgan Chase & Co.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Two-Car Derailment in Daly City Causes Major BART Delays]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 15:26:22 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-20-17_BART_Derail.jpg

Two BART cars belonging to a nine-car train derailed outside of the Daly City station Saturday afternoon, triggering systemwide delays, officials said.

The 24 people on board the train were not hurt and everyone was able to disembark safely, but the Daly City station was temporarily closed while crews investigated the incident.

Passengers said the train, which had just left the Daly City station, started bucking before coming to an abrupt stop. A photograph from a passenger on a train heading in the opposite direction and aerial footage showed the cars coming to rest about three feet off the tracks.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation but BART officials said it doesn't appear as if it was due to an error on the part of the train operator.

Officials warned commuters of delays on the San Francisco line in the Pittsburg/Bay Point, Dublin/Pleasanton, Warm Springs, Richmond, SFO, Millbrae and Daly City directions.

BART officials around 4:45 p.m. announced that service between the Balboa Park and Colma stations resumed, but officials still warned travelers about delays in the area around the derailment.

The incident is not expected to affect Sunday service for Bay to Breakers, according to BART officials.

Cal Train, Muni and Samtrans provided alternative service following the derailment, BART officials said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Charged Following Crash That Killed 3-Year-Old Boy]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 22:56:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Malihan+mugshot.jpg

A woman has been charged in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy following a crash on Interstate 680 in San Ramon back in September.

Yarenit Liliana Malihan, who had previously been arrested for a DUI that involved endangering her own child, faces gross vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence charges after her Toyota Sequoia slammed into a disabled Toyota Camry, killing Elijah Dunn and injuring three others, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Malihan, the wife of an Alameda County sheriff's deputy, was determined to be driving under the influence of drugs and arrested after the crash. She was later released on bail, according to the CHP and jail officials. 

Nine months after the fatal wreck, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office issued an arrest warrant for the two felony charges against Malihan, who was also found drunk in public in Pleasanton last week.

The charges, however, garnered mixed reactions from the victim's family.

"I think we should be happy that she's finally been arrested, and it's disappointing and saddening to the family that it took this long to get her charged," Jeff Hubins, the family's attorney, said.

Following the crash, Dunn's grandfather described the youngster as being a sweet child who would always "bring a smile to everybody's face no matter what."

An 11-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl along with their mother managed to survive the crash.



Photo Credit: Alameda County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Student's Video Depicting Terrorists Sparks Controversy]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 19:33:04 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0519-2017-SanRamonValleyHigh.jpg

Some parents in the East Bay area up in arms over a student's campaign for student body president.

The San Ramon Valley High student produced and showed a campaign video depicting Muslim terrorists with guns. It was intended to be a joke with the student promising protection from ISIS if classmates vote for him.

"I think it was the work of a young guy, who was trying to do something funny and didn't really think through what he was doing," parent Karen Pearce said.

The school district initially stripped the boy of his presidency, but then reinstated him, according to parents, after the student's mother and father complained.

"As parents we work very hard to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong," Pearce said.

District spokesperson Elisabeth Graswich said it was determined the boy's video could be protected by the First Amendment's free speech rights.

"I can't share any more details other than to let you know the situation has been resolved," Graswich said.

Meanwhile, the district said the boy's parents have filed a writ, which means they do intend to sue the district.

The student's parents were unable to be reached for comment Friday.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Oakland Officer to Stand Trial in Police Sex Abuse Case]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 12:57:31 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6P+OPD+SEXUAL+MISCONDUCT+PKG+-+00000507.jpg

A judge has ordered a former Oakland police officer charged in a police-misconduct scandal to stand trial, saying the officer behaved "like a pimp" in his dealings with a teen prostitute.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Rogers on Thursday told former Officer Brian Bunton that he had compromised his job as an officer because the teen knew his position and could ask for favors in exchange for her keeping quiet.

The teen says she was sexually exploited by some 30 San Francisco Bay Area police officers.

The teen testified that Bunton coached her on how to be a better prostitute. Bunton's attorney declined comment. She vomited into a trash can on the witness stand after describing sex acts.

Prosecutors have charged six current and retired San Francisco Bay Area officers for their alleged involvement with the teen, including several from Oakland.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2 Suspects on Lam After Person Shot Near Oakland Nursery]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 13:20:24 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/opd8.jpg

One person was shot near a nursery school Friday morning in East Oakland and two suspects are at large, police said.

The shooting was reported at about 10:40 a.m. in the 4400 block of Fleming Avenue near the Peter Pan Cooperative Nursery School and Maxwell Park.

The victim was taken to a hospital and is stable condition, according to police.

Officers are looking for two suspects.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Man Who Stabbed East Bay Boy Sentenced to 30 Years to Life]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 19:12:54 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3-20-17-discovery+bay+.jpg

A man who fessed up to stabbing a 9-year-old boy as the third grader slept inside his Discovery Bay home back in 2015 was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison Friday.

William "Billy" Shultz, who was a friend of Jordan "Jordy" Almgren's older brother, was sleeping over at the Almgren family home in April 2015 when the then-teenager allegedly used a hunting knife to stab Almgren several times. Almgren was rushed to the hospital, but he later died.

Almgren's mother on Friday clutched a necklace her child made for her after the sentencing and said it's now time to move forward.

"There are no winners," Melissa Almgren said. "There aren't. Just healing for the defendant's family and our family."

Jordan Almgren's father added that the ruling offered mixed feelings.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Jon Almgren said. "We still don't have our son."

From the case's opening statements, Shultz's defense team argued that the then-18-year-old was in a chaotic mental state. They argued that he was obsessed with the thought that the world was ending, and when nuclear bombs did not detonate during the sleepover, Shultz was allegedly convinced that he had to kill someone in order to test his ability to survive an impending apocalypse.

In a jailhouse interview with the Bay Area News Group, Shultz said, "I wanted to see what it was like to take a life before someone tried to take mine."

Just one day before the stabbing, Shultz was briefly hospitalized after his family requested that officials evaluate the state of his mental health. Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department officials originally responded to the family's home before deciding that the teenager did not meet the criteria to be placed on an involuntary mental hold, according to the East Bay Times. Shultz still voluntarily went to the hospital, but a doctor later released him before the sleepover.

Shultz did not speak in court, but his mother said what her son did will haunt him forever. Shultz's attorney added that her client is sorry.

"He has told me that he is extremely remorseful for what he did to his second family," defense attorney Cynthia Scofield said.

The joy Jordan Almgren brought to his family has aided them since the killing, and Almgren's brother said that Friday's ruling gives them added satisfaction.

"We've been able to stay strong and keep our heads up, keep smiling, and so, in the end, (Shultz) didn't win," Evan Almgren said.

Scofield plans to appeal the sentencing ruling.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[OMCA Exhibit Explores Pioneering Work of Dorothea Lange]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 15:51:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Dorothea+Lange.jpg

Oakland Museum of California's new exhibit focusing on the works of Dorothea Lange opens this month, giving attendees a rare opportunity to examine a treasure trove of photographs and memorabilia belonging to the preeminent documentary photographer.

Lange's haunting photographs of the Great Depression and Japanese internment during World War II pioneered photography as a potent medium for social activism in the United States. Some of her most iconic works — from the images of gaunt-faced men withering in bread lines to the children crammed together in internment camps — were taken in the Bay Area, where the artist lived until her death in 1965. 

OMCA's exhibition will include more than 100 photographs; some billed as "rarely seen," along with personal artifacts, memos, and unedited proofs. A media room will play rare film clips of the artist talking about her work and methodology. 

Lange gifted her work to the museum 50 years ago. The exhibit is timed to honor that donation, while also offering unfamiliar visitors a chance to discover one of the museum's most treasured collections in its archive. 

Lange's photographs are known for their unflinching look at poverty, racism and exclusion in 20th century America, but the exhibit is outfitted with a few modern flares that invite audiences to draw parallels between the past and present. 

An interactive space will explore ways in which photo manipulation can be used to amplify an image's intended meaning and persuade its audience. Participants are invited to use cropping and sequencing tools to test their own ability to create arresting and thought-provoking images, while also critically examining the power those tools have to shape leading interpretations of important works. 

“This exhibition will present Lange’s work through an activist’s lens in which she provoked social and political change through her powerful imagery," touted Drew Johnson, who is the curator of photography and visual culture at OCMA. "It will also provide museum visitors the opportunity to see Lange’s works in a different light that stretches beyond fine art, as well as mimic her technique through interactives included in the exhibition.” 

Contemporary artists whose work shares thematic parallels with Lange's are also included in the exhibit. Local artists Ken Light, Jason Jacks and Janet Delaney are expected to bear on income inequality, racism and immigration through different mediums. 

"Dorothea Lange: The Politics of Seeing" will run until August 13. For more details, visit OMCA's website.



Photo Credit: OMCA]]>
<![CDATA[Shots Fired During Smash-and-Grab Robbery at Danville Costco]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 23:54:36 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0519-2017-DanvilleCostco.jpg

Police are searching for suspects in a smash-and-grab robbery reported Friday at a Costco in Danville.

Shots were also fired during the incident at the store on Fostoria Way.

Officers at 12:15 p.m. responded to reports of an armed robbery at Costco. Witnesses said two suspects wearing masks and hoodies entered the store, with one of the suspects taking items after smashing a display case with a hammer.

When an employee attempted to stop the suspect, the other suspect fired a shot, police said. 

Both suspects fled the store and got into a newer model silver Camry, with a third suspect driving. A witness said another shot was fired when the suspects got into the car.

The store was temporarily closed while police investigated the shooting and robbery. No injuries were reported.

Friday's incident is the second smash-and-grab robbery reported this month at Costco.

On May 8, police reported one suspect was in custody and were seeking two others after a robbery at the store.

In that robbery, police said three suspects entered Costco just before 9 p.m. One of the suspects, wearing a ski mask, walked to a glass display case, broke the glass with a hammer and took items from the case, police said.

Store employees confronted the trio, tackling one and holding him to the ground, police said. The suspect with the ski mas ran into the parking lot, got into a vehicle and fled. The third suspect also got away, police said.

The suspect detained by employees was identified as Kesean Edwards, 21, of Oakland. Edwards was taken to the Martinez Detention Facility and booked on robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary charges.

Anyone who witnessed Friday's incident may contact Danville police at 925-820-2144.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested After Dog, 9 Puppies Found Inside Parked Hot Car]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 17:59:43 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/POLICE+GENERIC4.jpg

Warm temperatures in the East Bay prompted a Good Samaritan to flag-down a Concord police officer.]]>
<![CDATA[Niles Canyon Road Reopens After Head-On Collision]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 13:01:46 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-19-17-niles-canyon-crash.jpg

A head-on collision shut down both directions of Niles Canyon Road between Sunol and Fremont for roughly two hours early Friday, the Alameda County Fire Department said.

A silver Toyota Camry struck a white minivan around 6 a.m., blocking a bridge over Niles Creek and sending two people to the hospital.

The heavily relied-upon road was reopened just after 8 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

Three fire engines, one fire truck and a battalion chief were on scene, officials said. 




Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[People Pulled From Wrecked BMW After Crash in Oakland Hills]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 07:37:38 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-19-17-overturn-crash-oakland+hills.jpg

Multiple people were pulled from the wreckage of a BMW that plowed through a fence and crashed into a tree in the Oakland Hills early Friday morning.

Emergency crews responded to reports of a single-car crash on Redwood Road and Skyline Boulevard around 3:25 a.m., police said. Four people had been traveling in the vehicle, which flipped over during the accident, they said.

One passenger was ejected from the car, but the driver and the remaining passengers were trapped in the mangled sedan. It took emergency crews more than an hour to pull them out.

Two people sufffered minor injuries, while the others were more severely hurt.

As of Friday afternoon, all four people are said to be stable, although two of them are still in critical condition.

Police said that driving at an unsafe speed appears to have contributed to the accident. It remains unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role. 




Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[UC Regents Approve Cap on Nonresident Undergraduates]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 08:35:07 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/161*120/AP_17123050384211.jpg

The University of California Board of Regents approved its first ever enrollment cap on nonresident undergraduates, heeding calls from the public to reserve more spots at its campuses for students from around the state.

The board also vowed Thursday to implement recommendations to improve the budgeting practices of the president's office following a stinging state audit even as they defended President Janet Napolitano.

The enrollment cap will be 18 percent at most campuses with UC Berkeley and UCLA among the campuses given greater leeway. Nearly one in four undergraduates at UC Berkeley is from another state or country.

A state audit delivered last year found that UC had admitted a growing number of nonresident students, some of whom were less qualified than in-state students, at the expense of residents.

Nonresidents pay nearly $39,000 in tuition and fees, considerably more than the $12,300 paid by resident undergraduates. The amount will top $40,000 after a planned hike in tuition and fees goes into effect this fall.

Regent George Kieffer, a product of the 10-campus University of California system, said Thursday that he didn't want to cap out-of-state enrollment at campuses that could benefit from an influx of out-of-state tuition.

"On the other hand, I think we have to listen to the public, and how they feel about things," he said. "There's a balance in keeping faith with the public."

Much of Thursday's meeting was taken up with a current audit so scathing that it drew bipartisan legislative ire and prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to withhold $50 million from the UC system's budget to "hold their feet to the fire."

Auditor Elaine Howle said Thursday that UC administrators failed to disclose $175 million it had saved by spending less than budgeted and requesting increases based on previous years' overestimated budgets.

She said she meant no disrespect to Napolitano, a former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, but her job was to survey budgeting process and practices.

"And the Office of the President is not doing a good job," she said.

Napolitano disputed findings that her office hid $175 million and said much of the money is committed to system-wide university programs, leaving a much smaller amount —about $38 million— in reserve for unexpected expenses.

Still, she and the board committed to implementing the audit's 33 recommendations to improve transparency and spell out policy. Given the uproar over the audit, the board also declined Thursday to approve 2017-18 budget requests as-is for the president's office until regents had more time to study the requests.

Some board members complained about poor press coverage, and thanked the auditor for clarifying that the president's office did not commit malfeasance.

"I was delighted when I found out we had the possibility of Janet Napolitano as our president. I'm still delighted. She has a record of being someone of great character who is visionary and gets things done," Regent Norman J. Pattiz said to Howle.

"I think, frankly, you lucked out that the president agreed to all of them."

The meeting failed to draw noisy protesters who temporarily shut down the board meeting on Wednesday, upset by audit findings.

The enrollment cap means that the system will receive $18.5 million state lawmakers had held back pending the adoption of a nonresident policy.

Hadi Makarechian was one of two regents to vote against the cap, saying that the University of California should not build walls to keep students out. Gareth Elliott said he voted against the proposal because he didn't want to reserve nearly 25 percent of spots for nonresidents at UC Berkeley.

Besides UC Berkeley, campuses that currently exceed the 18 percent cap will be allowed a higher cap pegged to next year's enrollment. Those campuses are UC San Diego and UCLA at 23 percent; and UC Irvine at 19 percent.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CHP Chase Ends in Crash Closing SB I-880 On-Ramp in Fremont]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 08:14:45 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-19-17-FREMONT1.jpg

A California Highway Patrol chase ended in a crash, closing a southbound Interstate 880 on-ramp early Friday morning.

CHP officers tried stopping a driver for a traffic violation, but he took at unsafe speeds. Officers pursued the man, who was driving south, until he lost control of his car, veered into the grass along the freeway and ended up on the on-ramp from Fremont and Alvarado boulevards to I-880.

The suspect was pulled from the crushed SUV and taken to a local hospital. Once he's been checked out, CHP officers say he will be taken into custody.

No further details were immediately available.

Check back for updates. 




Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[DJ Khaled Gives Berkeley Grads a Crash Course in Winning]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 12:45:14 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/DJ+Khaled.jpg

A group of future number-crunchers had their commencement crashed by DJ Khaled.

The hip-hop star and social media celebrity gave a surprise performance at the ceremony for statistics graduates at the University of California, Berkeley.

In a video posted by the school, speaker Steve Stout had just finished his address Thursday when he said there was a gift for students.

DJ Khaled then walked out among the grads wearing a baby-blue tracksuit and rapping his signature hit "All I Do Is Win."

The students looked stunned and confused, and few raised their hands in the air as he asked.

The 41-year-old rapper then gave a pep talk, saying the world once refused to believe in him, and now he's onstage with "kids and queens and a generation of geniuses."

"I didn't come out here to do a concert, I came here to praise you young kids for graduating today. This is amazing" Khaled said, noting he didn't graduate college himself so "this is the closest thing to graduation for me."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Richmond Police Department Pays Tribute to Fallen Officers]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 20:20:28 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RPD.jpg

The Richmond Police Department held a special ceremony Thursday to honor its officers and pay tribute to those killed in the line of duty. 

Department staff lined the steps and grass outside City Hall for the tribute, which took place at 3 p.m. The ceremony was organized as part of Police Week, a national week of recognition for police officers and support staff around the country. 

Police Chief Allwyn Brown and Assistant Police Chief Bisa French commended officers for their service. Police Chaplain Al Martinez also took to the podium and prayed for their safety.

French read the names of 10 officers in department history who were killed in the line of duty, as officers clad in dress uniforms looked on. 

"The badge of our office is a symbol of public faith, and we accept it as a public trust to be held so long as we are true to the ethics of the police service," French said. "We truly are Richmond's finest."

As part of the event, a slew of officers received awards for their performance. Sgt. Timothy Gray was promoted to lieutenant and Officer Florencio Rivera advanced a rank to sergeant. Both received the oath of office. 

The ceremony also included something called an "Inspection Ceremony." Brown roved around officers and made sure they were complying with dress code and organizational standards, occasionally stopping to exchange greetings. He said the goal of the inspection was to ensure that officers were ready for the "call of duty." 

It was the first time in decades the department held the special ceremony. When asked why the tradition was revived, Brown told NBC Bay Area it was to help "reground officers." 

"The first duty of government is the protection of its citizens," Brown said. "That starts in the neighborhood, in every city, town. You've got to have order to have democracy. We play a significant role, and this is really about regrounding our folks in this higher purpose, why we do what we do, and why we sign up for this dangerous occupation."

"It's high sacrifice work," he said, praising his officers.



Photo Credit: Gillian Edevane]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-OPD Cop Ordered to Stand Trial in Sex Exploitation Case]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 23:40:58 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0518-2017-Jasmin.jpg

A teenager at the center of a widespread sex for information scandal at Oakland Police Department testified Thursday for the first time against a former officer, claiming the two exchanged oral sex for protection from arrests.

The 19-year-old said she started having sex with officers and others when she was 12 and never was arrested thanks to information from officers around the Bay Area about prostitution stings.

Thursday's court appearance marked the first time the woman known by the street name Celeste Guap has testified since she told investigators last year that she had sex with as many as 30 Bay Area police officers -- some when she was still a minor.

Former Oakland police officer Brian Bunton, 41, listened for more than two hours as "Jasmin" described how the two met at a hotel and had oral sex last year.

She said Bunton after warned her about a prostitution sting in Oakland's Fruitvale district.

The victim seemed nervous on the stand as she sometimes graphically described her encounters and conversations with the now former officer, fidgeting with a microphone and trembling when she talked about him.

Meanwhile, the accused officer started straight ahead in court and never showed any emotion.

Some of the evidence came as "Jasmin" read from text messages between her and Bunton, describing how he called himself "Superman" and asked her to text him pictures.

In April 2016, she said she decided to "snitch" on Bunton after she said she learned he was talking about her with another officer who she was also having sex with.

A total of seven law enforcement officers from OPD, Contra Costa County and Livermore were charged in the investigation. Two have already pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges.

A judge at Hayward court decided to send the case to trial. Bunton will be arraigned on felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor prostitution charges in two weeks.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Concord Principal Says District Split Would Cause Layoffs]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 19:34:00 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/20160928+Classroom+Generic.jpg

Highlands Elementary School in Concord stands to lose about half of its students and eliminate at least 15 teaching positions if a controversial proposal to split the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is successful, according to the school’s principal. 

Principal Ryan Sheehy warned in a letter to the campus community that the redistricting proposal, in which five affluent schools secede from Mt. Diablo to form a new district, would severely disrupt the elementary school’s programs and resources. 

“Specialized programs that are centrally-funded would be reduced,” he wrote. “Some programs, including certain Special Education services, would be severely impacted as they would be moved to other MDUSD schools or possibly be eliminated.” 

The school has 26 teachers and about 600 students. 

Under the proposed secession, which is being spearheaded by a group of Walnut Creek parents, a new Northgate Unified School District would be comprised of Valle Verde, Walnut Acres and Bancroft elementary schools, as well as Foothill Middle and Northgate High School. 

Although Highlands would not be included in the new district, its current student feeder patterns would be drastically altered. About 300 students who currently live in Highlands territory would find themselves part of the new district, and would likely be required to switch to one of the aforementioned elementary schools, according to the district.  

Because the student population would dwindle under the plan, teaching positions would have to be reduced accordingly, Sheehy said.

In a phone interview with NBC Bay Area, Sheehy said he felt compelled to write the letter to get the word out about how the school would be directly impacted and to combat misinformation. He noted that there was a lot of anxiety at a school staff meeting earlier Wednesday about the issue. 

“At this point I thought it was very important to get the information out to our parent community,” he said. “We are a deeply affected campus. Not everyone understands the impact it will have on our school community.” 

“It’s essentially going to be breaking up our family,” he continued.

In a statement to NBC Bay Area, Northgate CAPS — the coalition supporting the district split — said that Sheehy's comments were "intended to scare parents into opposing NUSD, but they have no basis." 

According to the group, the Northgate Unified School District would allow students and parents a chance to choose which school to attend. 

"We would never force them to attend an NUSD school," said Jim Mills, a board member with Northgate CAPS. "MDUSD people sometimes have a difficult time understanding such a choice, since MDUSD does not allow outbound inter-district transfers to families who want to attend a public school outside the district."  

Because the proposal has not yet been approved by the Board of Education, it's unclear if students would, in fact, be able to remain at Highlands. 

As NBC Bay Area previously reported, the secession movement has stirred controversy and garnered national attention for what critics say are parallels to segregation. 

Following two public hearings earlier this month, the proposal is now under the consideration of the Contra Costa County Board of Education, which has 120 days to render a decision. If approved, the proposal will then move to the state’s Board of Education. If it passes that juncture, it will then appear on the ballot before voters.

If approved, the district split would be finalized in 2021.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock / maroke]]>
<![CDATA[Two Texas Men Get 3-Year Sentences for Beating Sikh Man]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 23:37:14 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Maan+Singh+Khalsa.jpg

Two Texas men on Thursday pleaded no contest to hate-crime charges that stemmed from them beating a Sikh man in the Bay Area last year.

Colton LeBlanc, 25, and Chase Little, 31, were sentenced to prison for three years apiece. The pair were former contractors at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

Investigators say they viciously attacked Maan Singh Khalsa at a Richmond stop light in September. 

The Texas men's attorneys downplayed the attack.

"I don't think he's hated by the clients. I think this is a very unfortunate incident," defense attorney Joseph Tully said. "I don't think it was motivated by the differences in religion or culture or anything like that."

The men first threw a beer can at Khalsa's car and cursed and yelled at him. Then they followed him, pulled his head out of the window, forcibly removed his turban and snipped off his long hair, authorities said. 

"My attackers hit me with their fists, knocked off my turban, and yelled, 'Cut his f****** hair.' They yanked my hair through the window and used a knife to saw parts of it off," Khalsa said in a statement issued after the sentencing on Thursday.

Khalsa's finger was amputated after it was severely injured during the attack. He told police that he believes the men targeted him because they mistook him for a Muslim, according to a police report.

"The actions of Mr. Little and Mr. Leblanc have greatly affected every facet of my life; they have transformed my day-to-day experiences and my very outlook on the world," Khalsa wrote in the statement.

Khalsa added that he wishes people could just treat each other as equals despite their differences. He said he hopes his attackers will change their ways.

"I am blown away by Mr. Khalsa's dignity and humanity," deputy DA Simon O'Connell said. "He is a gentle spirit and something we all need to find within ourselves in these times."

Sheriff's deputies also arrested Dustin Micheal Albarado, 25, of Louisiana, on felony assault charges. He has been cleared of criminal liability and will not be charged, the District Attorney's Office said.

Khalsa immigrated to the United States from India in 2003. An IT specialist for the Social Security Administration, he is the father of an 8-year-old girl and volunteers his time to aid the Bay Area's Sikh community. 

Reflecting on his life before the Sept. 25 assault, Khalsa, described being "care free." His interests included horseback riding, working out and rock climbing with his child.

"I always assumed the best in others, like when I tried to explain that, “There is a misunderstanding, I am your brother” as the defendants followed my car and cussed at me. Like when I didn’t think to roll up the window as the defendants came toward my car to punch me through my window," he wrote.

Reliving Little and LeBlanc using a knife to hack off parts of his unshorn hair — a symbol of Sikhs' love for God — Khalsa described feeling humiliated. 

"By cutting my hair, the attackers did not just attack my body; they attacked my dignity, my spirit, my faith, my religion and my entire community," Khalsa stressed.

Even though he was able to drive away from his attackers and get help from police, Khalsa said his life is no longer the same. 

"Immediately after the attack, I had suffered damaged teeth, a black eye, and cuts and bruises, including a gash on my right pinky finger," he said. "Nearly eight months later, there are lasting impacts on my health – I have trouble with short-term memory, I have lost a body part (my pinky), I struggle with PTSD, anxiety and depression, and it is difficult for me to sleep at night."

The physical effects have affected Khalsa's psyche and reduced his productivity at work. The ambush robbed him of some of his favorite activities — he can no longer saddle a horse, lift weights, hoist himself up rock climbing walls or type easily. Khalsa is now also faced with a mountain of medical bills, forcing him to get a second job and cut back on volunteering. 

Worse, though, is the fact that he no longer trusts easily, Khalsa admitted.

"It is difficult for me to go outside now without having pepper spray with me," he said. "Now, when I interact with strangers, I am not as open as I used to be — I am more likely to view others not as my brothers, but as possible threats to my safety."

Aware that it will take years, maybe the remainder of his life, to truly recover from the anguish he suffered, Khalsa said he takes solace from the fact that LeBlanc and Little's actions were viewed as hate crimes. He is also turning to his Sikh faith, which underlies the importance of treating all people as equal, no matter one's background.

"Mr. Little and Mr. Leblanc, I hope that one day you will come to share this view. I still consider you my brothers, and I hope that you will learn about me and my community, and one day consider me your brother, too," Khalsa concluded. 

I am blown away by Mr. Khalsa's dignity & humanity. He is a gentle spirit & something we all need to find within ourselves in these times. 



Photo Credit: Maan Singh Khalsa]]>
<![CDATA[Bail For East Bay Car Fires Suspect Set at $1.5 Million]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 11:41:33 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0517-2017-JamesBishop.jpg

A judge on Thursday set bail at $1.5 million for the 36-year-old man arrested on suspicion of lighting a series of vehicle fires across Contra Costa County. 

Contra Costa County Fire District investigators said they have evidence James Bishop III, a Pittsburg resident, set 11 separate fires in the county since the beginning of this year, allegedly using an accelerant to ignite cars parked in driveways.


Fire officials at a Wednesday press conference said at least 30 other car fires are tied to Bishop III. Officials added they believe there are more related incidents and anticipate additional charges could be filed.

Investigators said surveillance video of Bishop III's Toyota Rav-4 was captured near several of the scenes, which helped lead them to the suspect. Bishop III was arrested over the past weekend a few blocks from a car fire that had just been set in Benicia.

A Thursday arraignment was moved to May 26. 


Last week, seven cars parked across Contra Costa County went up in flames under the cover of darkness. An investigation coordinated by several law enforcement agencies eventually ended with Bishop III's arrest in Benicia early Saturday.

Fire officials have said the blazes, which ranged in location from Lafayette to Brentwood, were all related.

Fire officials are still actively investigating the series of fires and are asking for the public to contact the department if they have information on any car fires since the beginning of the year.

Since Bishop III was arrested, vehicle fire reports have fallen back to a normal level, officials said.




Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District
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<![CDATA[UC Approves Out-of-State Enrollment Cap]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 08:24:09 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ucsd+aerial.jpg

The University of California Board of Regents approved its first ever enrollment cap on nonresident undergraduates, heeding calls from the public to reserve more spots at its campuses for students from around the state.

The board also vowed Thursday to implement recommendations to improve the budgeting practices of the president's office following a stinging state audit even as they defended President Janet Napolitano.

The enrollment cap will be 18 percent at most campuses with UC Berkeley and UCLA among the campuses given greater leeway. Nearly one in four undergraduates at UC Berkeley is from another state or country.

A state audit delivered last year found that UC had admitted a growing number of nonresident students, some of whom were less qualified than in-state students, at the expense of residents.

Nonresidents pay nearly $39,000 in tuition and fees, considerably more than the $12,300 paid by resident undergraduates. The amount will top $40,000 after a planned hike in tuition and fees goes into effect this fall.

Regent George Kieffer, a product of the 10-campus University of California system, said Thursday that he didn't want to cap out-of-state enrollment at campuses that could benefit from an influx of out-of-state tuition.

"On the other hand, I think we have to listen to the public, and how they feel about things," he said. "There's a balance in keeping faith with the public."

Much of Thursday's meeting was taken up with a current audit so scathing that it drew bipartisan legislative ire and prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to withhold $50 million from the UC system's budget to "hold their feet to the fire."

Auditor Elaine Howle said Thursday that UC administrators failed to disclose $175 million it had saved by spending less than budgeted and requesting increases based on previous years' overestimated budgets.

She said she meant no disrespect to Napolitano, a former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, but her job was to survey budgeting process and practices.

"And the Office of the President is not doing a good job," she said.

Napolitano disputed findings that her office hid $175 million and said much of the money is committed to system-wide university programs, leaving a much smaller amount --about $38 million-- in reserve for unexpected expenses.

Still, she and the board committed to implementing the audit's 33 recommendations to improve transparency and spell out policy. Given the uproar over the audit, the board also declined Thursday to approve 2017-18 budget requests as-is for the president's office until regents had more time to study the requests.

Some board members complained about poor press coverage, and thanked the auditor for clarifying that the president's office did not commit malfeasance.

"I was delighted when I found out we had the possibility of Janet Napolitano as our president. I'm still delighted. She has a record of being someone of great character who is visionary and gets things done," Regent Norman J. Pattiz said to Howle.

"I think, frankly, you lucked out that the president agreed to all of them."

The meeting failed to draw noisy protesters who temporarily shut down the board meeting on Wednesday, upset by audit findings.

The enrollment cap means that the system will receive $18.5 million state lawmakers had held back pending the adoption of a nonresident policy.

Hadi Makarechian was one of two regents to vote against the cap, saying that the University of California should not build walls to keep students out. Gareth Elliott said he voted against the proposal because he didn't want to reserve nearly 25 percent of spots for nonresidents at UC Berkeley.

Besides UC Berkeley, campuses that currently exceed the 18 percent cap will be allowed a higher cap pegged to next year's enrollment. Those campuses are UC San Diego and UCLA at 23 percent; and UC Irvine at 19 percent.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[El Sobrante Standoff Ends With Man's Arrest]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 10:43:41 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-18-17-el-sobrante-day-barricade.jpg

A lengthy standoff involving a man who Contra Costa County sheriff's officials believe barricaded himself inside his El Sobrante home under the influence of drugs has ended with his arrest.

Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of people yelling and possible gunshots being fired on the 5700 block of Nottingham Drive around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. 

The man allegedly fired in the direction of a neighbor's house and a bullet struck an SUV. It remains unknown whether he meant to target the resident of that house or was just shooting indiscriminately. 

Sheriff's officials surrounded the house with police cruisers and an armored vehicle. They shone lights on the structure and a deputy used a PA to issue commands to the man inside the house, urging him to come out with his arms in the air.

The man surrendered peacefully, but not until just before 5 a.m. 

Sheriff's deputies have been out to the man's house several times in the last year due to his alleged drug use. Detectives believe he was under the influence of drugs during the hours-long standoff. No one was hurt.

A few surveillance cameras were perched on the exterior of the man's house and the words "No Visitors" were printed on the front door. Sheriff's officials said the man suffered from paranoia.

Editor's note: Initial reports indicated that a man and a woman were both barricaded inside the house. That information was later updated.




Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Capitol Corridor Train Hits, Kills Trespasser in Pinole]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 11:37:38 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CHOPPER+AMTRAK+vs+PEDESTRIAN+-+07323807.jpg

A Sacramento-bound Capitol Corridor train on Thursday morning struck and killed a trespasser in Pinole, according to Amtrak.

Train 520, which departed from Oakland, hit the pedestrian near the intersection of Tennent and Railroad avenues around 6 a.m., Amtrak spokesperson Verne Graham said. It remains unclear why the pedestrian was on the tracks. 

Fifteen people were board the train. None of them were injured, Graham said. 

Systemwide delays are expected amd Capitol Corridor Service was also interrupted. One track was reopened around 7:40 a.m. The passengers were placed on other trains so they could continue their journey, Graham said.

For more information, people can call 1-877-974-3322.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Police Search for Burglary Suspects Caught on Camera]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 21:56:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lafayette+burglary-05171.jpg

Lafayette police are asking for the public's help in tracking down two burglars who were caught on security video inside a home Tuesday.

The resident's Nest camera captured two males inside the home in the 900 block of Acalanes Road, where police later learned the suspects made off with several computers and tablets, among other items.

The video footage shows two men descending a staircase inside the home. The second suspect saw the device, disabled it and took it, police said.

Investigators canvassed the neighborhood to see if neighbors had cameras that possibly showed a suspect vehicle, police said.

An Orinda Officer then advised that he had responded for a suspicious circumstance report in Orinda about an hour before the burglary report. A neighbor had seen a strange vehicle driving slowly in the neighborhood and reported it to police.

Investigators determined the vehicle to be a newer gray Chrysler minivan, police said.

The Orinda resident had talked with the van's occupants and later was shown the Nest video of the two subjects inside the Lafayette home, and he confirmed they were the same two individuals in the van.

Police were able to track down the van, but the suspects were still at-large. Police found a Nest camera inside the vehicle.

Anyone with information about the identities of the suspects is asked to use a Tipline email at 94549tip@gmail.com or call 925-283-3680.

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<![CDATA[Richmond Jail Expansion Inches Closer to Approval]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 18:20:34 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sb10062143p-001.jpg

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is one step closer to securing a $70 million state grant for a controversial expansion of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

A Board of State and Community Corrections steering committee approved the sheriff's grant application Wednesday in Sacramento. The proposal will now move forward for a full and final vote before the entire board on June 8.

The application seeks $70 million out of SB-844 funding, which is money the state set aside to improve mental health facilities and fund jail construction across California. If approved, the behemoth project — which would add more than 120,000 square feet to the Richmond jail — will cost Contra Costa County $25 million and another $5 million per year to operate. 

The Wednesday meeting was flanked with about 30 people from a coalition opposing the expansion, who expressed their concerns about the proposal during public comment. The coalition members, many of whom are Richmond residents, have been protesting and writing opposition letters for months. 

“We feel like they didn’t hear our voices,” said activist Claudia Jimenez, who has been a lead organizer with the Services Not Cells opposition campaign. “We spoke, we sent many, many letters, but they didn’t hear us.”

Jimenez and other critics have argued that the expansion is a poor use of scarce county resources. They believe that overcrowding in jails could be addressed by releasing nonviolent offenders, as well as severing the sheriff’s contract with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, in which 200 beds at the Richmond jail are leased to ICE. 

Meanwhile, Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston has maintained that the expansion is a crucial step to reduce overcrowding and stop the “double bunking” practice at the Martinez jail, a decrepit facility that is operating at double capacity nearly every day. He said the expansion is ultimately about protecting and providing resources to inmates who are mentally ill. 

"Today was a good day for those who care about public safety in Contra Costa County and also want to see treatment for mentally ill offenders as I do," Livingston said in a statement. "The State's Steering Committee saw the value of our jail and mental health treatment project and voted to fund it.”

Livingston also claims that the expansion will not add to the net number of beds at the Richmond jail — a requirement for any jail that leases to outside entities, including ICE, that receives funding under SB 844.

But Jimenez and other detractors are skeptical of that claim, and say the existing ICE contract creates substantial trust issues between the Sheriff’s department and the immigrant community.

The Services Not Cells coalition plans to continue their opposition at the May 24 Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting, and they will also attend the June 8 Board of State and Community Corrections meeting.

“We’re not giving up, not at all,” Jimenez said. “It’s a moral thing. This is about our future and our values.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UC Irvine Law Dean Named Dean of UC Berkeley Law School]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 18:26:39 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-566037213.jpg

UC Irvine Law School's founder and dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, will take the helm of the UC Berkeley School of Law on July 1, it was announced Wednesday.

The renowned constitutional legal scholar's new appointment comes nearly 10 years after his hiring as dean at UCI and several months after National Jurist magazine honored him as the "most influential person in legal education in the United States." 

Chemerinsky told City News Service that he had planned to step down next year as UCI law school dean.

"Ten years, I think, is generally the right amount of time to be a dean,'' Chemerinsky said. "There's a long learning curve in any learning institution and then it takes time to learn, it takes time to implement things, and then at a certain point it's time to let someone else take over and examine things and see whether it should be taken in a new direction.''

Chemerinsky said he is proud of how UCI's law school has progressed. U.S. News and World Report ranked it as the 28th best law school in the country, he noted.

"And just yesterday, a blog came out saying it's seventh in placing students as federal judicial clerks,'' Chemerinsky said. "We're second only to Stanford in California.''

The biggest challenge at his new job will be funding, he said.

"I think they've got great faculty, students. The important challenge for the new dean is revenue generating." 

That's true of all of the UC schools, which are "all suffering financially," he said.

Carol Christ, interim executive vice-chancellor and provost at UC Berkeley, believes Chemerinsky is up to the task.

"Dean Chemerinsky is an acclaimed researcher, gifted teacher and accomplished administrator, and I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion," she said.

Former UCI Chancellor Michael Drake hired Chemerinsky in September 2007 to head and found the university's new law school. Then, following pressure from some who thought he was "too liberal," Drake rescinded the offer, but then reversed course a week later when that decision drew howls of protest from the legal community.

Chemerinsky found himself again generating headlines locally when he led a group of legal scholars calling on the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2015 to investigate the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County following allegations of violations of constitutional rights of defendants in criminal cases.

Last year, Chemerinsky represented the Orange County Superior Court in the Fourth District Court of Appeal in a legal battle over mass disqualifications of Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals by prosecutors following his ruling to recuse the Orange County District Attorney's Office from prosecuting Scott Dekraai, the worst mass killer in the county's history, based on violations of the rights of defendants in the confidential informant system in the Orange County jails.

Chemerinsky lost that case, but the justices said they agreed the mass "papering" of Goethals was wrong and called on lawmakers to change the law on judicial disqualifications.

Chemerinsky is one of the legal scholars who filed a federal lawsuit in New York challenging the Trump administration on the emoluments clause, which prohibits the receiving of gifts from foreign powers. The plaintiffs are awaiting Trump's motion to dismiss, Chemerinsky said.



Photo Credit: LA Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Authorities Identify East Bay Car Fires Suspect]]>Thu, 18 May 2017 00:19:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0517-2017-JamesBishop.jpg

Authorities on Wednesday identified the 36-year-old suspect arrested in connection to a series of suspicious vehicle fires in Contra Costa County as James Bishop III.

Contra Costa County Fire District investigators said they have evidence Bishop III, a Pittsburg resident, set 11 separate fires in the county since the beginning of this year, allegedly using an accelerant to ignite cars parked in driveways.

Fire officials at a Wednesday press conference said at least 30 other car fires are tied to Bishop III. Officials added they believe there are more related incidents and anticipate additional charges could be filed.

Investigators said surveillance video of Bishop III's Toyota Rav-4 was captured near several of the scenes, which helped lead them to the suspect. Bishop III was arrested over the past weekend a few blocks from a car fire that had just been set in Benicia.

Last week, seven cars parked across Contra Costa County went up in flames under the cover of darkness. An investigation coordinated by several law enforcement agencies eventually ended with Bishop III's arrest in Benicia early Saturday.


Fire officials have said the blazes, which ranged in location from Lafayette to Brentwood, were all related.

Fire officials are still actively investigating the series of fires and are asking for the public to contact the department if they have information on any car fires since the beginning of the year.

Since Bishop III was arrested, vehicle fire reports have fallen back to a normal level, officials said.




Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District
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<![CDATA[Deputy DA Graves to Run for Contra Costa County's Top Cop]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 14:18:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0517-2017-PaulGraves.jpg

Contra Costa County Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves announced Wednesday he will run for the county's top cop.

The news comes after the county's Civil Grand Jury last week called for the removal of District Attorney Mark Peterson and the District Attorney Association authorized a no-confidence vote.

"After careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues in the District Attorney's Office and with others in law enforcement, I have decided to run for Contra Costa District Attorney in 2018," Graves said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. "Simply put, I know I can make a difference."

Graves added that he will make a formal public announcement at which time he will "outline his vision for restoring honor and integrity tho this office and serving the people of Contra Costa County."

Peterson is currently facing a firestorm after admitting he spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his personal use. He admitted to the Fair Political Practices Commission last year that he used more than $66,000 in campaign funds from 2011 through 2015 for personal items such as meals, clothing and movie tickets.

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<![CDATA[New Safe Exchange Zone Opens in the East Bay]]>Wed, 17 May 2017 00:15:47 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/05-16-2017-safe-exchange-zone.jpg

For those wishing to sell an item or make a Craigslist exchange in the East Bay, there’s a new safe place to do it. Starting this week, people who live near Danville now have a designated neutral exchange zone, and it's under the watchful eye of a hidden camera.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Walnut Creek Leaders Consider Ways to Implement Marijuana]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 09:28:00 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-592213300-marijuana-generic.jpg

With marijuana use legalized, Walnut Creek city leaders are trying to figure out how to regulate the drug. Pete Suratos reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Killed in Fremont Crash Remembered at Prayer Service]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 23:40:09 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shane-logan-hs.jpg

Family, friends and classmates of a teenage girl killed in a Fremont car crash said their mournful goodbyes during a prayer service Monday night.

Love, grace and beauty were just a few of the ways Shane Marcelino, 18,  was remembered at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Union City. The senior at James Logan High School was killed early Sunday morning in a violent crash while riding home in her mother’s car after prom night. It's the second time this school year a senior at the high school has been killed in a car accident.

Friends said Marcelino was passionate about music and was scheduled to sing at the church Sunday night during Mass.

"She was very active in the church and had a beautiful voice," Rev. Jun Manalo said.

It was hard for some of Marcelino's friends to put their emotions into words, but a few managed.

"She was always caring," one friend said. "Every time you see her, she would be happy."

Marcelino’s smiling face was projected on the wall inside the parish at St. Anne’s. It was a night filled with a lot of hugs and pain.

"When you were down, she would look after you and make sure you are OK," another friend said.

On the James Logan campus earlier Monday, grief counselors helped students and staff cope with their loss.

"She was a wonderful young lady," said John Mattos, a spokesman for the New Haven Unified School District. "She was in band and got great grades taking AP and college prep classes, and students really liked her."

Marcelino's good friend David Willkom said she always made people smile.

"She was like the funniest person ever," he said. "I want her to be remembered as a person who was always willing to help someone no matter what."

Marcelino's mother, who was driving the car, suffered major injuries in the crash on Fremont Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. She remained hospitalized Monday.

Fremont police are investigating whether alcohol may have played a role in the crash that also injured two men in the other vehicle. So far, no arrests have been made, and the two men were cooperating with the investigation.

Marcelino's classmate, senior Izaiah Meased, died in a car accident in September. Seniors at James Logan plan to honor both students with a moment of silence during graduation ceremonies next month.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Families of Oakland Warehouse Fire Victims Sue ]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 19:24:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/627450192-oakland-warehouse-fire-firefighters.jpg

A new lawsuit that was filed today on behalf of the families of half of the 36 people who were killed in a warehouse fire in Oakland in December adds the utility PG&E to a lengthy list of defendants that also includes the building's owner and master tenant.

Speaking at a news conference after the suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Mary Alexander, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said, "We're here to bring justice to the families of those who died and to hold accountable those who caused this horrific fire" at the Ghost Ship warehouse on Dec. 2.

Alexander said the new suit expands upon lawsuits that were filed on behalf of two victims' families in December that mainly focused on allegations of negligence against Chor Ng, the owner of the warehouse at 1315 31st Ave. in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood, Derick Ion Almena, the warehouse master tenant, and his wife, Micah Allison.

She said the new complaint also names PG&E as a defendant because she and other plaintiffs' attorneys believe that the utility "was negligent in supplying power to the building and failed to make it safe."

Alexander said, "PG&E failed to follow its own rules for providing electricity in a safe manner and acted with conscious and willful disregard for peoples' safety."

The suit says, "The interior of the 10,000-square-foot Ghost Ship was a death trap that contained a maze of makeshift rooms, alcoves and partitions."

It also alleges that the warehouse "lacked a safe means of access between the upper floor where the music was and the exit on the ground floor" and "lacked adequate and sufficient fire safety measures and was not up to fire protections and life safety codes."

The suit says the electrical system "was overloaded with excessive" use by the dozens of people who lived and worked at the Ghost Ship.

It alleges, "There were often sparks from the electrical system that smelled and circuit breakers blew out often. Overloaded electrical lines at the rear of the Ghost Ship likely contributed to the fire."

In a prepared statement, PG&E said, "We've reviewed our records and over the last 10-plus years we have no reports of electric theft or any other anomalies from this location or the adjacent premises."

The utility said, "We're fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this tragic event."

Among the other defendants named in the suit are that night's performer, Joel Shanahan, whose stage name is Golden Donna, Jon Hrabko and a business called "100% Silk," claiming they, along with Almena and Allison, were organizers of the Dec. 2 event, which was attended by at least 100 people.

In addition, two men who leased buildings neighboring the Ghost Ship warehouse, Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega, are also named in the suit, which claims they provided electricity and bathroom access to event attendees.

Christopher Dolan, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said that although the city of Oakland isn't named in the suit that was filed today, he believes it is "absolutely culpable for what happened because it turned a blind eye to the death trap" that he believes the Ghost Ship warehouse was.

Dolan said separate claims have been filed against the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the state of California and he believes those parties will eventually be added to the new suit.

Alexander said she believes that all of the family members of the 36 victims of the blaze will ultimately be added to the suit.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the fire but spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said the probe is ongoing and she doesn't know when it will be complete.

Almena's lawyers have said he didn't engage in any criminal misconduct and alleged that government agencies are responsible for the fire.

Ng's lawyer didn't respond to a request for a comment on the suit.

Leisa Askew, the mother of fire victim Cash Askew, 22, who grew up in San Francisco and lived in Oakland, said she's participating in the lawsuit because "36 people died and that is so wrong and I can't just stand by."

Holding a photo of her daughter, Askew said Cash "was a beautiful person and a talented artist and musician who was going places."

Cash Askew attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and was a member of Them Are Us Too, a Bay Area musical duo that makes textural music.

The suit accuses the defendants of negligence, premises liability and creating a public nuisance and seeks unspecified compensatory, general, special and punitive damages.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[$1.5M Camera Project Designed to Quell Freeway Shootings]]>Tue, 16 May 2017 21:30:14 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-15-17_East_Bay_Cameras.jpg

City and state leaders in Contra Costa County on Monday designated $1.5 million to install cameras along area freeways in hopes of quelling an uptick in roadway shootings.

A total of 15 locations along Interstate 80 and Highway 4 in the East Bay have been identified as spots to house the cameras, license plate readers and SpotShotter microphones. The equipment is expected to be installed and operational with a matter of months, if not weeks, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.

Since November of 2015, there have been an estimated 85 shootings on highways or freeways in Contra Costa County, according to the California Highway Patrol. Eight people were killed and 21 were injured as a result of those shootings.

Law enforcement officials hope the new technology will both help capture future shooters and prevent others from opening fire.

"The message to the shooters on the freeways is: 'The reign of terror is over,'" Mary Knox from the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office said.

California State Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who represents the golden state's 15th district, echoed that sentiment.

"Let it be known that if you commit a horrible act, that it will be recorded and that you will be held accountable for your actions," he said.

Beginning at Cutting Boulevard in Richmond, the string of cameras will extend east along I-80 and continue east along Highway 4 through Antioch.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Rock-Wielding Hitchhiker Strikes Woman Outside BART Station]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 09:14:15 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BARTpolicelights.jpg

A woman carrying a child allegedly beat a driver with a rock when the driver refused to give her a ride outside the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station Sunday night, according to BART police.

The violent encounter was sparked around 9:45 a.m. along the station's access road when the driver stopped to avoid hitting the woman, who was standing in the middle of the roadway, according to BART police.

The woman standing in the road requested a ride, but the driver refused, according to BART police. The woman brandished a rock and struck the driver before fleeing the scene.

The driver suffered minor injuries and went to a local hospital to receive treatment, according to BART police.

Her attacker was described as being about 25 years of age, and she was holding a toddler during the melee, BART police said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Injured During Freeway Shooting in Hayward]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 06:47:45 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hay+shooting.jpg

Two people were shot and injured on an Interstate 880 off-ramp in Hayward late Sunday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A Toyota Tacoma was exiting the freeway at the southbound Winton Avenue off-ramp around 9:15 p.m. when an unknown vehicle likely pulled up to the driver's side and opened fire, CHP Sgt. Brad Hopkins said.

Two of the three people sitting inside the Tacoma were struck by bullets, Hopkins said. They both sustained non-life threatening injuries and were transported to the hospital in stable condition.

The suspect vehicle sped away from the scene in an unknown direction, Hopkins said.

It is unclear what led up to the shooting, according to Hopkins.

While authorities investigated the shooting, on-ramps and off-ramps for I-880 at Winton Avenue were blocked for multiple hours, according to the CHP.

No other details were available.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Authorities May Release Name of East Bay Car Fires Suspect]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 06:43:48 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-13-17_CoCo_Car_Fires.jpg

Authorities on Monday may release the name of a 36-year-old suspect who faces 43 different arson charges for his alleged role in a series of suspicious vehicle fires reported recently in Contra Costa County.

Last week, seven cars parked across Contra Costa County went up in flames under the cover of darkness. An investigation coordinated by several law enforcement agencies eventually ended with an arrest in Benicia early Saturday.

"We're confident that he is responsible for the charges that we are bringing against him," Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said Saturday.

Fire officials on Friday said the blazes, which ranged in location from Lafayette to Brentwood, were all related.

"There have been commonalities between all of the fires that we know of that the suspect is currently being charged with," Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said Saturday. "There were common threads."

The latest in a rash of Contra Costa County car fires that has East Bay residents on edge were reported early Friday morning — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette. Investigators confirmed Friday that the two overnight fires were related to five others that have been reported earlier in the week — two in Brentwood and one each in Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Martinez.

It is not clear if the suspect was working alone, and authorities could not disclose if he has a previous criminal record, Marshall said. The suspect's bail has been set at over $3.1 million.

Despite the arrest, Marshall warned East Bay residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. He also encouraged them to make sure their front yards are well lit.

Anyone with information regarding the fires is encouraged to contact 1-866-50-ARSON.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor Donates Warriors Tickets to Benefit Fire Survivors]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 07:47:31 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/libby-schaaf-warriors.jpg

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has offered a pair of NBA Western Conference Finals Tickets to be auctioned off, in an attempt to raise funds to help the survivors of the West Oakland San Pablo Avenue fire.

Schaff donated the tickets to Game 2, where the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, to the West Oakland San Pablo Avenue Fire Recovery and Relief Fund, according to organization officials.

Organization officials said each donation of $100 or more made to the fund gives the donator a chance at winning the highly coveted tickets, which can cost up to $5,000 a piece.

The drawing will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday and the tickets will be made available for pick-up by 11 a.m.

People interested in making a contribution can email staff@bwopa.org or call (510) 763-9523 for more information.



Photo Credit: Media Services]]>
<![CDATA[Unprotected Electrical Circuit Hurts Firefighters in Antioch]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 07:10:49 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-14-17_Antioch_Fire.jpg

Two firefighters battling a blaze in Antioch Sunday night were injured after being shocked by an unprotected electrical circuit, according to fire officials.

Multiple fire crews were fighting the two-alarm house fire along the 3500 block of Blythe Drive around 10:30 p.m. when the firefighters were hurt, according to Contra Costa Fire Protection District Captain George Laing. Laing specified that "an illegal bypass and unprotected electrical circuits" triggered the injuries.

"That put their lives at risk and that's a very serious concern for our fire department and all other fire departments," he said.

Electrical bypasses are typically spotted in marijuana grow houses or homes with people uninterested in paying utility bills, according to Laing.

The Contra Costa Fire Protection District may file criminal charges against the residents, according to Laing.

"Theft of power is a crime and causing injury to firefighters is also a crime," he said.

The house fire, which threatened a neighboring structure, was knocked down by 11 p.m. and under control just after 11:30 p.m., according to fire officials.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Brief Police Pursuit in East Bay Ends in Death, Arrest]]>Sun, 14 May 2017 11:34:34 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-14-17_Clayton_Chase_Fatal.jpg

A woman with a history of run-ins with law enforcement was arrested Saturday after leading Clayton police on a pursuit that ended up killing one person, according to police.

The brief but reckless ordeal began just after 3 p.m. when police arrived to the Clayton Station Shopping Center after receiving reports of a woman, who was later identified as Amy Fiasconaro of Antioch, peeking into cars, authorities said. Just as police pulled up to the scene, Fiasconaro hopped in a white SUV, which was recently stolen from Oakley, and took off.

Police said Fiasconaro acted with "total disregard to public safety" as she slammed on the gas and sped down Myrtle Drive in excess of 80 mph while being chased by two Clayton police cruisers. Moments later, she lost control and smashed into a yard located along the 4900 block of Myrtle Drive. The chase lasted less than a half mile, according to police.

A 24-year-old female passenger in the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene, and Fiasconaro was transported to a nearby hospital.

Police arrested Fiasconaro for theft of a vehicle, felony evading and vehicular manslaughter.

The 24-year-old passenger's identity will not be released until her family is notified, police said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Crews Still Putting Out Hot Spots at 5-Alarm Emerville Fire ]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 17:54:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-14-17_Emeryville_Fire_Crane.jpg

A structurally unstable crane damaged by a massive five-alarm fire in Emeryville Saturday morning was safely dismantled early Sunday, according to fire officials.

Several hours after the blaze engulfed a building under construction at 3800 San Pablo Ave. in Emeryville, heavy equipment was dispatched to the scene to remove the mangled crane, fire officials said. Earlier in the day, evacuations in the area were triggered out of the fear that the crane might topple onto nearby homes or power lines.


No one was injured in the blaze or crane teardown, but firefighters remained on scene through Sunday to extinguish hot spots, according to fire officials.

Saturday's fire marked the second time in 10 months that the large building caught fire. Back in July of 2016, a six-alarm fire gutted the building, which was also under construction at that time.

A cause for Saturday's fire is still under investigation.



Photo Credit: Alameda County Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Teenager Killed, Mother Hurt in Fremont Car Crash: Police]]>Sun, 14 May 2017 23:50:07 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-14-17_Fremont_Fatal_Crash.jpg

A teenager on her way home from prom night was killed, and her mother suffered major injuries during a grisly crash in Fremont early Sunday morning, police said.

A Toyota Yaris was attempting to make a left turn from Fremont Boulevard onto Darwin Drive around 2:30 a.m. when a Chevy Malibu traveling in the opposite direction of Fremont Boulevard collided with the Yaris, according to Fremont police.

An 18-year-old woman riding in the front passenger seat of the Yaris was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. Later Sunday, she was identified as Fremont resident Shane Alexis Marcelino.

Marcelino was a senior at James Logan High School in Union City, according to the campus newspaper The Courier. She was on her way back home from senior prom night, the newspaper said.

Her close friends called her Shaney. Some went to the accident scene Sunday night, still stunned. David Willkom knew Shaney from youth ministry at Saint Anne's Catholic Church.

"I wanted to pray and talk to her," Willkom said. "I want her to be remembered as a person who was always willing to help someone, no matter what."

Friends say Marcelino was a talented flutist who was in the school band.

Marcelino's mother, 39, suffered major non-life-threatening injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

A 23-year-old man from Union City was behind the wheel of the Malibu and a 25-year-old man was in the front passenger seat, police said. Both suffered minor injuries and were transported to nearby hospitals.

A complete investigation has yet to be conducted, but speeding and running a red light may have played a role in the crash, according to Fremont Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Dickinson.

"It looks like they were traveling at a pretty good rate of speed," he said. "(The cars) are definitely separated. It was a heavy impact. Major damage."

No arrests were made Sunday, police said.

Michael Whalen lives near the accident scene and saw the mangled car.

"This is a terrible intersection," he said. "I see accidents here multiple times a year, and I often see cars getting T-boned."

Traffic in the area was impacted for several hours while crews investigated the crash.

Editor's Note: A previous edition of this report stated that two people sustained critical injuries, according to fire officials. A subsequent investigation revealed that only one person sustained critical injuries, according to police.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Economic Growth in East Bay May Not Benefit Everyone: Report]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 13:12:52 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/120916+cash+money+generic.jpg

Economic growth in the East Bay is amazing but not everyone may benefit because of the housing shortage, an economist said following the release Friday morning of a report written by his firm.

Chris Thornberg, Ph.D., cautioned though that unless more housing is built in the Bay Area the benefits of the economic growth will not reach everyone.

The report released Friday morning was written for the East Bay Economic Development Alliance by the staff Beacon Economics where Thornberg is a founding partner.

"Things are going great guys," Thornberg said. "The question we need to answer is is it going to be for everyone. That's a question of housing."

Median homes prices in Alameda and Contra Costa counties jumped about 70 percent between 2010 and 2015 because people are willing to pay those prices, Thornberg said.

Unfortunately, some East Bay residents are moving elsewhere because they cannot afford to buy a home here.

Thornberg cited several reasons for the housing shortage such as the challenges developers face in getting new housing permitted, the high cost of permits and the opposition to new housing by existing residents.

Also, Proposition 13 provides only a limited incentive for the construction of new housing because it limits the amount of property taxes local governments can collect, Thornberg said.

Add to that the large amount of public services such as police and fire protection demanded by residents, and it doesn't make financial sense for local governments to encourage housing construction, he said.

Still, Thornberg, who's been studying the East Bay economy since 2003, said it's as strong as he's ever seen it.

Between February 2016 and February of this year, nonfarm jobs grew by 21,200 or 1.9 percent, which is higher than the nation's 1.6 percent.

Also, the labor market in the East Bay is stronger than in many other urban areas such as Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Boston, according to the report.

That suggests that this year unemployment in the East Bay will drop below 4 percent. The region's economic growth this year should continue.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area-Made Urolift Helps Men with Enlarged Prostates]]>Mon, 15 May 2017 20:00:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/urolift-0515.jpg

Fifty-three-year-old Regan Arndt, a self-descried road trip enthusiast, was recently forced to put a halt to his journeys.

“I was up a couple times a night,” Arndt said. “Two to three at least."

Instead of hitting the road, he was making constant trips to the bathroom to urinate. So he went to his doctor and found out his prostate was enlarged. It’s a common problem that affects an estimated 40 million men. Arndt had severe side effects from medications and didn't want a painful surgery to remove prostate tissue like his father had.

“He described the pain, and I definitely shied away from that just by his descriptions,” he said.

So Dr. Brian Hopkins gave him the Urolift procedure, implanting a small device made by Pleasanton-based Neotract.

“The urine has to go through this enlarged prostate,” Dr. Hopkins described pointing to a diagram. “What the Urolift does is we place these little bands, and they basically squeeze the prostate open so that urine can pass easily and unobstructed. It's as simple as that."

The procedure takes about an hour. Hopkins says the recovery time is one to two days, instead of one to two weeks with more invasive surgeries.

It helped Arndt immediately.

“It was incredible. I was moving and walking the next morning,” he said.

Patients often don’t have to continue with medication.

“This is the first of its kind. I think treatments like this are the wave of the future, I really do. I don't think we'll be using medications like we did in the past,” Hopkins said.

It helped Arndt get back on the road.

“After about a month or so, you didn't even know you had an operation or surgery … you felt younger. Ten years younger,” Arndt said.

Hopkins says the Urolift procedure is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[5-Alarm Fire Engulfs Building Under Construction in East Bay]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 14:45:02 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-13-17_Emeryville_Fire_3.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Truck Strikes, Kills Bicyclist in Unincorporated Alameda Co.]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 12:58:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_185887181_police_lights_generic1.jpg

A bicyclist died Saturday morning in a collision with a truck on a road in unincorporated Alameda County, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The collision was reported at 7:35 a.m. on Niles Canyon Road about two miles west of Main Street in Sunol, CHP Officer Derek Reed said.

The bicyclist was riding eastbound on Niles Canyon Road in an area where there is no bike lane and no shoulder. The driver of a 2006 Toyota Tacoma hit the bicyclist from behind, according to Reed.

The driver of the truck told CHP officers that she did not see the bicyclist until she hit him because the sun was in her eyes.

She was driving at 40 to 45 mph. The bicyclist died before he could be taken to a hospital.

Neither drugs nor alcohol played a part in the collision, Reed said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest Made in Connection With String of East Bay Car Fires]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 07:52:11 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-13-17_CoCo_Car_Fires.jpg

A 36-year-old suspect faces 43 different arson charges for his alleged role in a series of suspicious vehicle fires reported recently in Contra Costa County, officials said Saturday.

This past week, seven cars parked across Contra Costa County went up in flames under the cover of darkness. Fire officials on Friday said those blazes were all related.

"There have been commonalities between all of the fires that we know of that the suspect is currently being charged with," Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said. "There were common threads."


The arson suspect, who has yet to be identified but is from Contra Costa County, set fire to another car along the 400 block of West Seaview Drive in Benicia early Saturday when he was spotted by authorities, according to Marshall and the Benicia Police Department. The man was promptly stopped and taken into custody without incident.

"We're confident that he is responsible for the charges that we are bringing against him," Marshall said.

Concord police were keeping tabs on the suspect Friday night before investigators eventually came into contact with the man in Benicia, according to the Benicia Police Department.

The latest in a rash of car fires that has East Bay residents on edge were reported early Friday morning — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette. Investigators confirmed Friday that the two overnight fires are related to five others that have been reported this week — two in Brentwood and one each in Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Martinez.

Marshall was not able to provide many specific details regarding the suspect, but he was thankful that an arrest was made.

"Obviously we're relieved," he said. "We're hoping that the fires will stop."

It is not clear if the suspect was working alone, and authorities could not disclose if he has a previous criminal record, Marshall said. The suspect's bail has been set at over $3.1 million.

Despite the arrest, Marshall warned East Bay residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. He also encouraged them to make sure their front yards are well lit.

Anyone with information regarding the fires is encouraged to contact 1-866-50-ARSON.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[5-Alarm Fire Along Oakland-Emeryville Border Contained]]>Sat, 13 May 2017 07:29:09 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0513-2017-OaklandFire.jpeg

Less than one year after going up in flames, a building under construction along the Oakland-Emeryville border caught fire once again early Saturday.

Firefighters from multiple agencies responded to the five-alarm blaze, which broke out around 5:00 a.m. at 3800 San Pablo Ave. in Emeryville, according to Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Zoraida Diaz. Emergency crews contained the wind-aided blaze at around 7:15 a.m., and no injuries were reported.


Liz Briggs-Fandek, who lives one block from the burned building, said "the sky was completely red with embers."

"(Firefighters) woke us up at 5 (a.m.) and saved our life," she said. "All we saw was red out the window. We really thought our house was going to burn down."

Keith Alcorn of Oakland was awestruck by the red and orange glow lighting up the early morning sky.

"It looked like it was summertime out here," he said. "It was that lit and the flames were flying so high that they were flying over (Interstate) 580."

While the fire is contained, crews will remain on scene through Sunday morning to extinguish any hot spots if necessary and dismantle a large crane in the building that was badly damaged by the flames, according to Diaz. There is concern the crane may fall.

At least 35 people in the area have been evacuated as a precaution while crews monitor the stability of the crane. The number of people who have to leave the area may go up, Alameda County fire spokeswoman Aisha Knowles said.

Three adjacent townhomes were impacted by the fire, according to Diaz. At least one family living in one of those townhomes was displaced, and the other two townhomes were not occupied at the time of fire.

Back in July of 2016, a six-alarm fire ripped through the same building where 105 apartments and 25,000 square feet of commercial space were being built. A five-alarm blaze 10 months later is raising questions.

"It's interesting," Diaz said. "We don't know if it was intentional because it's still under investigation. When they complete the investigation, we'll be able to determine exactly where the fire started and if it was suspicious."

Rick Hollander, the property's developer, believes someone may have intentionally set the most recent blaze.

Due to crews investigating the fire and keeping an eye on the crane, several streets in the area are temporarily closed.

Emeryville police said San Pablo Avenue is closed between 37th and 40th streets. Adeline Street between 36th Street and Yerba Buena Avenue is closed as is all westbound traffic on West MacArthur Boulevard, Apgar Street and 39th Street from Market Street. All eastbound travel on West MacArthur Boulevard at Emery Street is prohibited. Police did not say when the roads will reopen.

Firefighters from the Oakland, Emeryville and Alameda County fire departments responded to the scene. No firefighters were injured during the fight.

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Grand Jury Seeks Removal of Contra Costa County DA]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 17:08:50 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0512-2017-MarkPeterson.jpg

The top cop in Contra Costa County is facing a firestorm after admitting he spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his personal use.

The county's Civil Grand Jury is now calling for the removal of the county's District Attorney Mark Peterson. On Friday, members of the District Attorney Association authorized a no-confidence vote.

"This is not acceptable," said Aron DeFerrari with the Contra Costa County District Attorney Association. "This situation is not acceptable and we do not agree with Mr. Peterson's actions. They do not represent the values we have as criminal prosecutors in Contra Costa County."

Prosecutors with Contra Costa County's DA Association Board gave the green light Friday morning for a no-confidence vote against Peterson.

"We are unanimous in our recommendation to our association members to vote no-confidence in Mr. Peterson," DeFerrari said.

The move comes one day after a grand jury filed an accusation with the court calling on Peterson's removal from office. Peterson admitted to the Fair Political Practices Commission last year that he used more than $66,000 in campaign funds from 2011 through 2015 for personal items such as meals, clothing and movie tickets.

"His actions constitute willful or corrupt misconduct in office and warrant his removal from office," said Jim Mellander, grand jury foreperson.

Peterson refused to speak with NBC Bay Area on Friday.

Meanwhile, many are sounding off on the news, including a South Bay prosecutor who has announced he is running for Peterson's position next year.

"Mr. Peterson needs to assess his behavior and admissions that he made to the FPPC, and should allow someone to come in to run the office in an honest and respectable manner," said Patrick Vanier, a DA candidate.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County]]>
<![CDATA[BART Board Endorses Proposed Brentwood Transit Hub]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 22:23:45 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart-generic.jpg

The potential home of a future eBART station in Brentwood won the unanimous endorsement of the BART Board of Directors Thursday.

The board passed a resolution of support for the proposed Brentwood Transit Center and Mokelumne Trail Bridge, which could someday become part of the transit agency's eBART system.

"The resolution from the BART Board is an important step in showing the strong regional support for building the Brentwood Transit Center," BART Director Joel Keller said in a written statement.

The transit center plan calls for what at first will essentially be a bus hub that would connect passengers from eastern Contra Costa County to the planned eBART station in Antioch near Hillcrest Avenue.

"The transit center would remove approximately 1,000 cars from Highway 4 for more than four miles past the Antioch eBART station by providing parking for customers taking Tri Delta Transit to BART," Keller said.

If eBART is ever extended to Brentwood, the station would most likely be built at the same location.

In March, the Brentwood City Council voted unanimously to explore building a transit center near the intersection of the Mokelumne Multi-use Trail and State Highway 4, which is between Lone Tree Way and Sand Creek Road.

No money has been allocated for the project, other than $550,000 in Measure J funds for a Mokelumne trail bridge over Highway 4. The bridge project, however, is estimated to cost roughly $8 million.

The eBART system is currently under construction and will connect the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station to a Pittsburg Center station and an Antioch station when it opens in May 2018.

eBART is a light-rail system that will operate with independently propelled diesel trains.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[To the Rescue: Coast Guard Crews Save Entangled Sea Turtles]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 15:55:50 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/5-12-17-coast-guard-rescue-turtle.jpg

Photo Credit: United States Coast Guard]]>
<![CDATA[Livermore In-N-Out Reopens After Customers Fell Sick]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 17:01:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/In+N+Out.jpg

An In-N-Out burger restaurant in Livermore has reopened after it closed because customers fell ill.

Officials said the food may not be to blame for making nine people sick. The softball players reported flu-like symptoms on Wednesday and In-N-Out closed to investigate.

The team's coach said some of the players were sick before eating at In-N-Out.

After a thorough cleaning, the restaurant is back open.



Photo Credit: NBC BAY AREA ]]>
<![CDATA[Science Experiment Prompts Evacuations at Danville School]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 13:00:07 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/new2016-breaker1.jpg

A building at the Monte Vista High School campus in Danville has been evacuated Friday afternoon while firefighters investigate a hazardous materials incident.

San Ramon Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan McNamara said the incident started at around 11:15 a.m. when a class was conducting a science experiment. The experiment had a different reaction than anticipated, prompting the teacher to evacuate the classroom and later the building, McNamara said.

Officials said there are 15 patients, but none will be transported to a hospital.

Firefighters are on scene investigating the incident.

No other information was immediately available.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Suspicious Car Fires in CoCo County Are Related: FD]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 07:33:01 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-12-17-aftermath-walnut-creek-car-fire.jpg

The growing number of suspicious car fires reported in cities across Contra Costa County are related, fire officials said Friday.

Two more blazes — the latest in a rash of car fires that has East Bay residents on edge — were reported early Friday morning — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette. 

Flames were spotted at 2:06 a.m. at 1311 Juanita Drive in Walnut Creek and 11 minutes later at 1170 Crescenta Court in Lafayette. The two locations are less than three miles apart, according to Fire Marshal Robert Marshall. 

Investigators confirmed Friday that the two overnight fires are related to five others that have been reported this week — two in Brentwood and one each in Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Martinez. Marshal says there is a connection between this week's fires and at least five others reported earlier in the year.

"There are a number of things that they're doing that connect them; for lack of a better term, kind of like a signature," Marshall said.

There is a common thread among all the fires, but Marshall declined to divulge that detail, saying he doesn't want to taint the ongoing investigation. 

So far, the only difference has been that the cars damaged in Friday's fires were parked on streets, not in driveways. 

A Lafayette man who lost his car Friday believes his vehicle was likely targeted by the person behind the recent string of blazes.

"I guess it's this guy that's been in the news or whoever this is," David Blumberg said. "Lighting cars on fire, that's this person's favorite pastime, apparently."

Early Thursday morning, two fires sparked in Brentwood. 

The first was reported at 3:28 a.m. on the 1100 block of Hollowbrook Court in Brentwood. Along with charring a Chevrolet Avalanche, it damaged the residence's garage.

The homeowner, who only identified himself as John, said a neighbor happened to be awake early Thursday and was heading to work when he noticed their car was ablaze. So he rang the doorbell and woke up the family, giving a couple, their twin 6-year-old girls and their grandmother time to make it out safely. 

John was thankful his neighbor rang the alarm.

"We could be in the hospital or worse," he said. "It's as simple as that. That's why I'm frustrated. I don't understand how anyone would choose to do that."


The second fire broke out just a mile away at 3:36 a.m. It scorched a car parked in the driveway of a home on the 1800 block of Highland Way.

Both fires are being investigated, but it's too early to say if these are acts of arson. They are suspicious, though, because of the time they broke out and their proximity to each other. 

A neighbor's surveillance system captured a person walking by his house before one of the two Brentwood fires ignited. Fire investigators said the person captured on camera is a person of interest, not a suspect.

Thursday's scare follow a pair of fires — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette — that destroyed two cars early Wednesday morning. Another car burned in Martinez early Monday morning. 


Car fires are suspicious by their very nature, according to the Contra Costa county Fire Protection District, but there are indications of arson in the Lafayette and Walnut Creek blazes.

People who live in these areas say the blazes are suspicious enough to make them take precautions. 

"This is a very quiet neighborhood and to wake up in the middle of the night and see a car on fire and then find out that it could be arson is quite scary," John Cumbers said.

Tips usually help fire investigators get to the bottom of such cases, Marhall said. Anyone with information or surveillance footage pertaining to the fires is asked to contact the Arson tip line at 1-866-50-ARSON.


A third car fire on Thursday also broke out in Orinda, but that one was deemed accidental.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Rear-Ended by Bus, Killed]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 13:12:24 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-12-2017-khin-deadly-crash.jpg

An Alameda County sheriff’s deputy was killed Friday when a commuter bus carrying Tesla employees rear-ended his car on eastbound Interstate 580 at the Altamont Pass, according to law enforcement officials.

The deputy was identified by Sheriff Greg Ahearn as Sroeuy Khin, a father-of-four who would have celebrated his 51st birthday tomorrow.


Fifty-one Tesla employees were en route to Stockton in a white 2016 Temsa touring bus contracted by their company, California Highway Patrol spokesman Derek Reed said.

Khin, who joined the sheriff's office in 2007, was heading to his Central Valley home after having worked overtime at the Santa Rita Jail, Ahearn said.

He was driving slowly or had stopped in the No. 2 lane, according to CHP Officer Christopher Sherry. His white 2002 Volkswagen Beetle was crushed when the bus rammed into it, and Khin was pronounced dead at the scene. 

"It's a tragic loss for his family," Ahern said. "He was just trying to do his best to earn some extra money to take care of his wife and family."


The bus driver, who has been cooperative with officials, said that the sun's glare was blinding in the moments before the collision. Sherry said that the cause of the crash is still being investigated, but drugs and alcohol do not appear to have contributed.

Sherry estimated that the bus was traveling at around 65 pmh when it slammed into Khin's car. One person on the bus sustained minor injuries. Investigators are also trying to determine whether Khin had, in fact, stopped or slowed down or if he was perhaps trying to move to the shoulder on I-580.

The CHP issued a Sig-alert on I-580 at Altamont Pass, closing the eastbound No. 1 and 2 lanes for hours, prompting vehicles to back up for miles. The entire highway was reopened around 1:45 p.m. but residual delays were expected.

CHP officers who responded to the accident did not know Khin was a sheriff's deputy, but identified him based on his license information, Ahern said.

Footage from the scene showed CHP officers gathering around the body, and saluting and draping it with an American flag. A convoy of law enforcement officials, including CHP officers from Dublin, also escorted Khin's body to the Alameda County Coroner's Office. 

Ahern expressed gratitude for the "dignity and respect" afforded to Khin on Friday. 

Khin was described by Ahearn as an extremely dedicated and hard-working member of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. His fellow deputies were with his family after they learned of his death. 

"It's too much too soon," Ahern said. "It's heartwrenching."

Not only do sheriff's deputies face challenges and risks in their day-to-day work, but the "tight family" now has to "deal with the tragic loss of one of their brothers," he added.

Khin's loss will reverberate through the department and he will be missed by everyone, "from line staff to command staff to myself," Ahern said.

NBC-affiliate KCRA reported that Khin had previously worked for the Stockton and Jackson police departments.

In a statement issued Friday, Tesla described the bus involved in the fatal crash as an "independently-operated shuttle."

"All Tesla employees on the bus are safe and accounted for, however we are deeply saddened by reports that there was a fatality as a result of the accident. We will lend any support that we can to the authorities who are investigating the incident," the statement said.

Sherry said Officers are interviewing witnesses and examining physical evidence at the scene. Criminal charges, if any, will be filed once the investigation is complete.

People with information about the crash are asked to call 925-828-0466.

NBC Bay Area's John Zuchelli contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Alameda County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Deputy Killed in I-580 Crash with Bus Carrying Tesla Workers]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 14:06:11 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-12-17-CAR-CRASH-LIVERMORE-580.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[BART Looks to Solve its Homeless Problem to Boost Ridership]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 08:09:50 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart-riders-generic.jpg

Complaints about homeless people at BART stations are contributing to a decline in ridership as are concerns about crowded trains and unreliable service, a reports says.

In excess of 400,000 people ride BART during the week, that number is down 3 percent in comparison to last year, according to the SF Gate. Criticism aimed at the overall atmosphere at the agency's stations and on its trains is causing the slump.  

Homeless people take shelter at BART stations, especially the ones in downtown San Francisco, which is a major concern for commuters. 

Agency leaders have been spurred into action and are not working with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and homeless outreach group to address these problems, the SF Gate reports.

Toward that end, BART plans to have more workers cleaning stations, get homeless people to shelters and create higher barriers to dissuade fare evaders. A number of community officers will also patrol BART stations.  

This collaborative strategy is in inception phase. BART officials hope to include the proposed fixes in their upcoming budget for the next fiscal year, the SF Gate said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Paralyzed Cal Rugby Player Makes Progress as Family Prays]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 23:36:58 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Cal+Robert+Paylor.jpg

A Cal rugby player who was partially paralyzed last weekend during a match in Santa Clara, was making progress and was moved to the rehab trauma center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

A GoFundMe page for Robert Paylor posted the news of his transfer Thursday while about a hundred people gathered for a prayer service in Berkeley to show their support.

Paylor was injured early in the national championship match Saturday at Santa Clara University. The injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.

His Cal teammates on Thursday night huddled together outside the private prayer service, wearing their blue cardigans with gold stripes.

Those in attendance at the service talked about the sense of family inside.

"Our sons played rugby; we're a rugby family," team friend Bob Wilson said. "We know how the game goes. Some people get injured, but always have great support."

The GoFundMe page has raised about $400,000 for the Paylor family's medical expenses.

Cal students were still stunned by the news.

"I'm getting emotional," said Steve Burstin. "He's at the best school. He needs all the support he can get."

Even as UC Berkeley students remember the weekend's championship victory and deal with finals this week, their thoughts are with Paylor.

"I think everybody has hope," Wilson said. "With the grace of God, he'll come through."



Photo Credit: ABFlyer]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Faces Ticket For Using Fake Child in Carpool Lane]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 18:21:49 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-11-17_CHP_Carpool_Doll.jpg

Another day, another attempt to skirt carpool rules on a Bay Area freeway.

California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland pulled over a driver along westbound Interstate 80 last week and found a child-sized doll, clad in a pink hoodie, jeans and sneakers, resting in the back seat. At quick glance, the doll could pass as a human, but there was one significant problem. The seatbelt's shoulder restraint was pinned behind the doll.


Officers took to social media to offer a message to the driver and those attempting to break carpool rules.

"If you're going to use a fake child to avoid carpool rules, at least buckle them in properly! #AttentionToDetail #Busted," a tweet from CHP Oakland read.

The driver faces a $500 fine for violating the freeway's three-person carpool rule, according to the CHP.



Photo Credit: CHP Oakland
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<![CDATA[Grand Jury Seeks Removal Contra Costa County DA]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 18:40:08 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_court_gavel_generic_law.jpg

A Contra Costa County civil grand jury is citing District Attorney Mark Peterson's misuse of campaign funds in seeking his removal from office.

In an accusation filed Thursday with the court, the grand jury said Peterson illegally spent $66,000 from his political campaign account on personal items from 2011 to 2016.

These actions, and his failure to report the spending on campaign finance disclosure forms, amount to "willful or corrupt misconduct in office," according to the grand jury.

"Mr. Peterson's willful misconduct included approximately 600 separate instances of malfeasance and resulted in nine charges by the Fair Political Practices Commission, which Mr. Peterson later admitted," according to the accusation.

Peterson, who first took office in 2010 and won re-election in 2014, was fined $45,000 by the Commission in December for violating the California Political Reform Act by spending $66,372 on personal expenses.

The money came from Peterson's political campaign coffers and it is a violation of state law to use it for anything other than campaign expenses.

In December Peterson said he considered the money to be loans and that he was paying the campaign fund back.

"I am humbled and embarrassed by my mistakes, for which I take full responsibility and I apologize for my regrettable errors," Peterson said in December in response to the FPPC findings.

Peterson reached an agreement with the FPPC's Enforcement Division on the fine and paid back all the money he took from the campaign account.

"When an official makes personal use of campaign funds, it erodes public confidence in the political process by blurring that line between lawful contributions and payments to public officials," the FPPC said in the December agreement with Peterson.

Peterson could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

]]>
<![CDATA[Adult Education Teachers in Richmond Fear Displacement ]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 19:38:43 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/206*120/Teachers+Serra.jpg

A Mandarin dual-immersion school coming to Richmond next year is roiling adult education teachers in the city, who fear the new campus will ultimately disrupt long-established programs that cater to many in the community's low-income, immigrant population. 

The highly-touted new Mandarin school, which will at first offer three kindergarten classes and then expand after the 2018 academic year, will be temporarily housed at the Serra Adult School campus. It will be one of four public schools in the state that offer school-wide immersion programs in Mandarin.

While adult education teachers have been quick to praise the district for offering the immersion program to the community's youth, some expressed concern that its placement at the Serra campus will displace continuing education courses already there, specifically English language and high school equivalency programs. 

"It all feels very uncertain," said Kristen Pursley, who has been teaching at Serra since the 1990s. "We haven't been a part of the discussion, whatsoever, so we don't know what's next." 

The district is spending $125,000 to upgrade the Serra Adult School campus for kindergarten students, and an additional $75,000 will be spent to build a kindergarten playground. Because of these expenditures, some teachers believe that all adult education classes at Serra will eventually be reduced, moved, or canceled completely, a claim the district has denied. 

However, the adult education's administrative offices have already been forced to relocate three miles away to Alvarado Adult School, decentralizing a hub that is essential for academic testing, teachers said. Physical education classes have also had to switch times and locations. The district claims that "nearly all" of the adult education classes at Serra will run uninterrupted through 2018, but a location plan for the 2019 academic year has yet to be finalized.

Teachers argue that the district's focus on the immersion program has been myopic and irresponsible. 

"In order to create a new resource, they’re kind of breaking up and damaging a resource they already have," Pursley said. "When you do that, you’re not really gaining anything. You’re trading one of thing for another."

About 40 supporters of the Serra campus rallied the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday evening, pleading with the board to take into account program displacement before expanding the Mandarin immersion school. They would like to see a guarantee that adult education can remain at Serra after the next year, a reassurance that the district has been reluctant to offer. 

Educators also expressed concern that future students wouldn't have easy access to similar programs if the courses do move over to the Alvarado campus. A location-preference survey filled out by Serra attendees overwhelmingly showed that people from the northern areas of Richmond and from San Pablo would have a difficult time getting to Alvarado. 

"When I started taking classes, I didn't know any English," said Rosa Alvez, who now works for the school district and has gone on to earn two degrees. "The ones who make decisions still don't understand how important it is for the ESL students to learn English here. This program opens many doors for us and it looks like they are trying to keep them closed to us." 

Jim Knebelman, who teaches English courses at Serra, said displacing a school that caters to an immigrant community currently "under attack" from the Trump administration goes against Richmond's values. 

"It's like an absurd, cruel joke," Knebelman said. "They're going to be displacing a school that overwhelmingly serves people of color and immigrants to build the immersion school. And it's not just the English language classes -- it's also high school equivalency. Those are kids from flatlands who, for whatever reason, didn't finish the first time around."

In an email to NBC Bay Area, Superintendent Matt Duffy reiterated his commitment to adult education offerings in the community. He also noted that the immersion school would only be at the Serra campus for a few years.

"To be clear, there is absolutely no intent to shutter Adult Education," Duffy wrote. 

In a previous letter to the Richmond community, Duffy wrote that moving adult education from Serra could actually benefit its students.

"The District is also looking at this transition as an opportunity to review where our adult education classes are held," Duffy wrote in the letter. "There may be an opportunity to locate classes closer to public transportation and in more locations throughout the District, which may better serve our adult students." 

But the letter did little to assuage displacement anxieties, and it ultimately irked teachers who view the campus as a home and welcoming environment rather than a simple brick-and-mortar location.

Pursley believes the Mandarin school's expansion, and the good publicity it has generated for the school district, will make it a priority that comes before the adult school. And, when the Mandarin school finds a new permanent campus in three to four years time, some teachers are under the impression that they won't get the campus back. Instead, they fear it will be sold to a charter school or used to house other programs. 

"One of the things the district is trying to do is diffuse the situation and take away the sense of urgency, by saying 'you're okay for one year'," Pursley said. "We appreciate that them trying to mitigate some of the damages, but it's not permanent...It doesn't seem like they view this as a resource."

She continued: "If the Mandarin school grows — and everyone here hopes it will — we're fully believe we are going to get pushed out."



Photo Credit: Gillian Edevane]]>
<![CDATA[Cameras to Be Installed Along I-80, Hwy. 4 After Shootings]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 18:47:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-11-2017-east-bay-freeway-shootings.jpg

East Bay leaders on Thursday took a big step toward safer freeways.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office on Thursday met with local law enforcement officials and an FBI task force to discuss funding a new camera network along Interstate 80 and Highway 4, following a rash of highway shootings in recent years.

Deputy DA Mary Knox and law enforcement officers mapped out 13 crime hot spots where state-funded high-tech cameras, microphones and license plate readers will soon be installed. If shots are fired on Interstate 80 or Highway 4, an alert will be sent out to investigators in seconds.

"The reign of terror on the freeways is over," Knox said. "The task force commander will be able to potentially see suspect vehicles, potentially identify exits the shooter is taking off the freeway, take still photos of the involved cars and send to freeway-adjacent law enforcement."

The California Highway Patrol reports that at least 85 shootings have been reported on the freeways between Richmond and Antioch since November 2015, according to the East Bay Times.

In Contra Costa County alone, 21 people were injured by the gunfire and eight were killed.

Macletus Henderson knows all too well how dangerous the county's freeways have become. Her 24-year-old son Demarcus Doss was shot and killed while driving a friend home on I-80 just two months ago. She says freeway cameras are a must.

"I feel lost. I feel like the mother hen looking for one of my chicks, and he's not there," said Henderson, who added that she just hopes it doesn't happen to anyone else. 

Officials plan to install three types of technology at various points along the highways, the Times reported.

The first is a surveillance camera that can pan, tilt and zoom. Next are shotspotter microphones that recognize gunfire and automatically direct the cameras in the right direction. And finally, a camera that is constantly scanning license plate numbers, the Times reported.

"Every time a shooting happens, it feels to us like it's just a matter of time before stray bullets hit innocent commuters, families in cars with children," Knox said.

State officials have pledged the funds to cover the cost of the equipment, which is expected to run between $1.5 million and $2 million.

The newspaper reported the new surveillance system could be rolled out once the cost is nailed down, likely in a few weeks.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2017 Mother's Day Events in the Bay Area ]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 16:10:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mothersdaygen.jpg

If you forgot to make Mother's Day plans this year, don't fret. It's not too late to plan a memorable day for the mom in your life. 

Here are some of NBC Bay Area's favorite events happening this weekend: 

Free Day at the Exploratorium:

Families are invited to celebrate Mother's Day at the Exploratorium in San Francisco for free on Sunday. Spend the morning making crafty flowers, or immerse yourself in some of the interactive activities the museum offers. The area is packed with brunch places nearby, too. Visit the Exploratorium's website for more details. Free tickets are first come, first served. 

Mother's Day at the Zoo:

Mom and her cubs might enjoy a docent-led cycling tour through the San Francisco Zoo. You have to bring your own bike, and pre-registration is required. But there's a free continental breakfast at the end of the tour, so there's no need to make additional lunch plans. Visit the San Francisco Zoo website for more details. Tickets are $35 for non-members. 

Downtown Alameda's annual Spring Festival:

One of Alameda's most popular hubs will transform into a large-scale festival, complete with live music, arts and crafts booths, bounce houses, and more. A lot of pop-up shops will be selling artisanal goods, so this activity could also double as a leisurely shopping trip. Visit the Spring Festival's website for more information: 

Stanford Powwow:

The 46th annual Mother's Day Weekend Powow will bring Native American music, dancing and cuisine to the prestigious university's scenic campus. The event runs Friday through Sunday, and families are invited to camp overnight. The event is free, but donations are accepted. Check the Powwow's website for more information. 

Urban Tilth's Festival of Flowers:

The community farm in Richmond on Saturday will host its inaugural Annual Festival of Flowers, complete with live music, a brunch buffet and a raffle. Prizes include tickets to the Oakland symphony, a professional manicure and pedicure, and gift baskets. Families will also have the opportunity to make unique flower arrangements, flower crowns and Mother's Day cards. The best part? The event is completely free! Check out the website for more information. 

Wine and painting: 

If you and mom are looking for something more low-key, consider one of the many Paint-and-Sip classes that have popped up in recent years. There are dozens of shops scattered around the Bay Area that offer attendees the chance to sip wine, listen to relaxing music and get a painting lesson straight from the professionals! Check out the Canvas and Cabernet website to see what the classes entail and find price information. 

Plan your own adventure: 

Visit one of the Bay Area's many beaches, or scour parts of your neighborhood that you've never been to before — maybe start a new tradition. Ultimately, you can't go wrong on Mother's Day so long as you and mom have quality time together. 

Is there an event missing from this list? Email Gillian.Edevane@nbcuni.com with details for possible inclusion. 

]]>
<![CDATA[East Bay Residents on Edge After Latest in Rash of Car Fires]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 23:44:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Brentwood-car-fire.jpg

Contra Costa County residents are on alert Thursday after two more car fires — just the latest in a string of suspicious and "likely related" blazes — broke out a few minutes apart in Brentwood.

The first fire was reported at 3:28 a.m. on the 1100 block of Hollowbrook Court in Brentwood. Along with charring the Chevrolet Avalanche, it damaged the residence's garage.

The homeowner, who only identified himself as John, said a neighbor happened to be awake early Thursday and was heading to work when he noticed their car was ablaze. So he rang the doorbell and woke up the family, giving a couple, their twin 6-year-old girls and their grandmother time to make it out safely. 

John was thankful his neighbor rang the alarm.

"We could be in the hospital or worse," he said. "It's as simple as that. That's why I'm frustrated. I don't understand how anyone would choose to do that."

The second fire broke out just a mile away at 3:36 a.m. It scorched a car parked in the driveway of a home on the 1800 block of Highland Way.

Both fires are being investigated, but it's too early to say if these are acts of arson. They are suspicious, though, because of the time they broke out and their proximity to each other. 

Investigators were not ruling out that the string of fires are connected to one individual or group.

“We do know that some characteristics of the fires have some commonality," they said. "We believe that to be the work of the same person or group of people.”

A neighbor's surveillance system captured a person walking by his house before one of the two Brentwood fires ignited. Fire investigators said the person captured on camera is a person of interest, not a suspect.

Thursday's scare follow a pair of fires — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette — that destroyed two cars early Wednesday morning. Another car burned in Martinez early Monday morning. The recent slew of blazes are "likely related," according to Contra Costa County Fire investigators.

Car fires are suspicious by their very nature, according to the Contra Costa county Fire Protection District, but there are indications of arson in the Lafayette and Walnut Creek blazes.

People who live in these areas say the blazes are suspicious enough to make them take precautions. 

"This is a very quiet neighborhood and to wake up in the middle of the night and see a car on fire and then find out that it could be arson is quite scary," John Cumbers said.

John, the homeowner who lost his Chevrolet Avalanche, added that the fires are unnerving.

"There's no reason to do that," he said. "You're putting people's lives at risk. I don't understand the reason for it."

Anyone with information or surveillance footage pertaining to the fires is asked to contact the Arson tip line at 1-866-50-ARSON.

A third car fire on Thursday also broke out in Orinda, but that one was deemed accidental.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Bob Redell/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Unified School Board Names New Superintendent]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 23:50:11 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/johnson-trammell.jpg

After a months-long search for a new superintendent for the Oakland Unified School District, the school board announced Wednesday evening that Kyla Johnson-Trammell has been selected for the position.

If the full board approves the selection of Johnson-Trammell, she will succeed former superintendent Antwan Wilson, who left at the end of January to lead a school district in Washington, D.C.

Devin Dillon, the school district's former deputy superintendent, has been serving as interim superintendent since Wilson left.

Johnson-Trammell, who's been with the district for 18 years, is currently serving as the district's interim deputy superintendent.

Johnson-Trammell was born and raised in Oakland, and her family has lived in the city for three generations. Having attended Montclair Elementary School and Montera Middle School in the past, she is an advocate for Oakland's public schools, school district officials said.

Johnson-Trammell holds a communications degree from the University of Pennsylvania and has an education doctorate degree from UC Berkeley in educational leadership.

"I am honored by this opportunity to guide such an important organization in my hometown. To lead the teachers and staff of OUSD has been a dream of mine since I first stepped into a classroom as a professional,"

Johnson-Trammell said in a statement. "I am excited by the progress our district has made and look forward to tackling the challenges that lie ahead."

"Kyla embodies in so many ways everything the community was looking for in a superintendent," said Ash Solar, executive director of GO Public Schools Oakland, a non-profit organization focused on education advocacy.

GO Public Schools Oakland assisted the district in the search for a permanent superintendent by convening community groups, parents and teachers to establish the qualifications and values needed for the position, according to Solar.

School district officials said a diverse group of people applied to become Oakland's superintendent of schools, with over 50 percent identifying as people of color and 37 percent as female, according to the Oakland Unified School District.

Of the 35 applicants for the position, nine were African-American, eight were Latino and three were Asian. Of the remaining applicants, 12 were Caucasian and three were of unknown background, according to numbers released by the district.

More than 60 percent of the applicants, a total of 21 people, live in Oakland or the Bay Area. Four of the applicants are from California outside the Bay Area, and 10 are from out of state, school district officials said.



Photo Credit: Oakland Unified School District]]>
<![CDATA[Massive Wedding Brawl Leaves 2 Injured, 1 Remains Critical]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 00:04:34 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/wedding+brawl+venue-0510.jpg

A wedding reception in the East Bay last weekend quickly turned into a war zone when a massive brawl broke out and left at least two people critically injured.

Police in Fremont responded Saturday night to the scene where a small fight on the dance floor grew into a violent brawl involving as many as 70 people in the parking lot of the Royal Palace.

Two people were taken to the hospital with critical injuries, and one remained in critical condition Wednesday night.

Cellphone video of the brawl has surfaced on social media. It shows a chaotic scene, with several people kicking and throwing punches. Some guests are yelling and appear to be trying to break up the fight, and others are seen huddled around a man lying on the pavement.

"When people heard the sirens, they just ran here and there," said Raja Singh, a wedding photographer hired by the bride and groom.

Singh said just before midnight, he noticed some wedding guests starting to argue on the dance floor and then running outside to the parking lot of the banquet hall.

"Someone is beating someone on that side. Someone is beating someone else on that side. It was a big fight," he said.

Singh said he watched the fight from a distance, but on Wednesday, he took a closer look at the cellphone video posted on Instagram. He wasn't sure who threw the first punch, but wedding guests told him the argument was a family dispute.

One of the suspects in the brawl was scheduled to be arraigned in a Fremont courtroom Wednesday. Police said Armritpal Singh, from Missouri, faces a felony aggravated battery charge.

Raja Singh said he’s hoping the victim makes a full recovery.

"The doctors don't know what's going to happen," he said. "It's pretty serious."

Police arrested and released a second suspect. The incident is still under investigation.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Firing of Comey Sparks Bay Area Protest]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 23:33:54 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0510-2017-OakProtest.jpg

President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey is sparking outrage among many Democrats, and even a few Republicans.

The Comey firing prompted several protests, including one outside the federal building in Oakland on Wednesday.

"I hope this is the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Xochito Johnson with the group Refuse Fascism.

Congressman Eric Swalwell called Trump's firing of Comey an abuse of the highest magnitude. The East Bay congressman believes Comey's investigation into possible Russian ties to Trump's presidential campaign may have been making the president a little too nervous.

"I wish I could say I was surprised, but frankly I'm not," Swalwell said. "Most people will see this as Director Comey and his investigation may have been getting too close to the president and his family, and his campaign."

Swallwell and others are now calling for an independent prosecutor to take over the probe.

"Let an independent investigation proceed, and if there is no evidence to support that the president or his campaign were involved with Russia's interference, it's in his interest that come forward," Swalwell said. "And if there is evidence, then it's in our country's interest that anyone who is responsible is held accountable."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said he spoke with Trump on Tuesday night, and the president said he'd lost confidence in Comey. McCarthy said just a few months ago, many Democrats felt the same way.

"I would argue Comey made the FBI political," McCarthy said while attending a Politico event in San Francisco. "I personally think when the FBI director thinks he becomes also the attorney general and the prosecutor, he's probably overstepped."



Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Police Investigate Possible Attempted Kidnapping]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 15:43:54 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/oaklandPD.jpg

There was a possible attempted kidnapping of a 10-year-old boy in Oakland Tuesday night, police said Wednesday.

The boy was outside of his residence in the 300 block of 45th Street at 8:54 p.m. Tuesday when he was approached by a stranger who grabbed him, according to police.

A brief struggle ensued but the boy was able to break free and run to his home, police said.

The suspect is described by police as a man who was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Oakland police are asking anyone who has information about the case to call their special victims unit at (510) 238-3641 or Crime Stoppers of Oakland at 510-777-8572.

Crime Stoppers of Oakland is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[East Bay Residents in Line for Water Rate Increase]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 07:18:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/water10.jpg

More than a million people in the East Bay will soon have to shell out more for water.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is mulling increasing water rates and say the move is prompted by the seemingly counter-intuitive fact that customers saved too much water during the drought.

The proposed price hike was discussed during a district board of directors meeting on Tuesday. If approved, it would lead to a 9.25 percent increase in 2017 and a 9 percent jump in 2018, which translates to a $4.34 to $4.63 increase in monthly water bills. Combined that's a nearly 19 percent raise in two years.

The additional funds will be used to improve infrastructure from pipelines to water treatment plants.

The irony is that the money will also be used to set off revenue lost from people doing the right thing and conserving water drought the drought. Officials say the average East Bay household used about 50 gallons less of water per day while California was in the grip of a historic drought.

Customers are currently beng notified about the possible changes. A public hearing is scheduled for June before a final decision is made. The new rates would kick in July 1.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Questions Arise Amid Series of East Bay Car Fires]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 23:59:13 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CarfireWalnutCreek.jpg

Firefighters are investigating a pair of car fires that broke out in the East Bay, just two days after another vehicle went up in flames in another Contra Costa County city.

Both blazes, one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette, were reported between midnight and 1 a.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Within a few hours, not much was left of a sedan that burst into flames on Leroy Lane in Walnut Creek. The fire department was able to put out the fire before it spread to the house in front of which the car was parked.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said it is too early to tell if the fire was intentionally set or related to another car fire just over two miles away.

In that case, a white SUV burned while it was parked in the driveway of a Padre Street house in Lafayette. Firefighters prevented the flames from damaging a nearby home there too.

"This is a very quiet neighborhood; to wake up in the middle of the night and see a car on fire and to find out it could be arson is quite scary," neighbor John Cumbers said. "I heard that they found some sort of device under the car. I don’t know what it was."

In both instances, an arson investigator was called to the scene.

Contra Costa County fire officials are particularly concerned because these aren’t the only vehicle fires that have occurred this week.

A vehicle was burned a few feet away from the Holiday Highlands Park in Martinez just before 4 a.m. Monday. An arson investigator also looked into that incident, but it remains unclear if that fire was set by someone.

"It could be a weird coincidence, but it's unlikely" neighbor Michael Samuel said. "I would like the police to get to the bottom of it hopefully."



Photo Credit: Bob Redell/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Pair Rescued After Boat Capsizes Near Berkeley Marina]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 08:28:12 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/US-Coast-Guard-Generic.jpg

Firefighters on Tuesday evening rescued two people from the water near the Berkeley Marina after their boat capsized.

At about 4:40 p.m., a good Samaritan reported seeing a capsized boat near the marina, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

Berkeley firefighters and police officers, along with Coast Guard officials, responded to the area to assist with the rescue.

A 29-foot Coast Guard rescue boat arrived on scene at 5:03 p.m. and was able to pull the victims, two men, from the water.

Emergency crews at the pier treated the pair for hypothermia, as the water temperature at the time was 57 degrees, according to Coast Guard officials.

The Coast Guard recommends that boaters dress for the water temperature and not the air temperature. Additionally boaters should wear a lifejacket at all times, Coast Guard officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[River Otter Pups to Make Debut at Oakland Zoo]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 13:34:13 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/5+days+old.JPG

The Oakland Zoo will be debuting three North American river otter pups on Wednesday morning, just in time for Mother's Day on Sunday.

Rose, the mother, gave birth to a male and two females on Feb. 9. The male has been named Si'ahl and the females have been named Imnaha and Talulah.

"We are pleased to have our sixth healthy litter of otter pups since 2011," Zoological Manager Adam Fink said in a statement. "This is Rose's second litter and we are happy that she is once again being a great mother to her pups."

Zookeepers say the pups are still nursing, but they're also starting to eat fish and meat. Swimming is an acquired skill for otter pups, so zoo officials do not put them on display until they're strong swimmers and they grow to a "certain size."

The litter's father, Wyatt, is the only adult male otter at the Oakland Zoo. He was relocated from Abilene Texas three years ago, and has a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to Oakland Zoo officials.



Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Man Steps in to Break Up Fight on Southwest Plane]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 00:00:35 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sw+airlines+fight.jpg

A retired firefighter from the Bay Area jumped into action Sunday when two men began throwing punches on a Southwest Airlines plane at Burbank Airport.

The flight from Dallas was on its way to Oakland and made a stop at the Southern California airport. While it was on the tarmac, two men aboard the plane started fighting.

That's when Daniel Green stepped in.

"The victim did nothing; he was just getting ready to disembark," Green said. "The guy who started it, according to the victim, 'this guy just started going crazy on me.'"

Cellphone video shows passengers scrambling to get out of the way as the two men punched each other and wrestled across aisles and seats.

Some passengers and flight crew attempted to calm tensions between the two men.

"What was awesome was the women were the first ones there trying to break up the guys, but they couldn’t," Green said.

The video shows a female flight attendant rushing in but ending up in the seat with the men slugging it out on top of her.

"I see people with their cellphones, but nobody’s helping," Green said.

Green was able to break it up.

"It was surreal," he said. "You see it on TV; all of a sudden it’s happening in front of you."

Southwest Airlines acknowledged the fight took place, giving thanks to its employees for their response.

One person was arrested.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor Suspected of Sexually Assaulting Patient]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 18:08:28 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0509-2017-RajeshKumarSingla.jpg

A doctor was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a patient and investigators believe there may be additional victims, according to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.

Rajesh Kumar Singla, a 36-year-old resident of Milpitas, is a family medicine doctor in the John Muir Health network who has been working out of an office at 1450 Treat Blvd. near Walnut Creek, sheriff's officials said.

"We are shocked and saddened by the arrest of Dr. Rajesh Singla, a family medicine physician practicing at our outpatient center at 1450 Treat. The care and safety of our patients is always our highest priority, and we are cooperating fully with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department on their ongoing investigation," John Muir Health spokesperson Ben Drew said in a statement.

Dr. Singla is currently on leave pending the outcome of the investigation and the legal process. We will not have any additional comment at this time.

Deputies launched an investigation based on complaints from a female patient earlier this month. Singla was arrested at his office on suspicion of sexual battery, indecent exposure and attempted oral copulation.

He was being held at the Martinez Detention Facility on $130,000 bail until he made bail and was released early Tuesday, sheriff's officials said.

Investigators believe other victims may be out there, and they're asking anyone with additional information to call detectives at 925-313-2621. Tips can also be emailed to tips@so.cccounty.us.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Rain-Weary Tree Falls, Knocking Out Electricity in Danville]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 08:59:32 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-9-17-danville-fallen-tree.jpg

A weather-damaged tree in Danville fell early Tuesday, knocking out power lines and leaving hundreds of PG&E customers in the dark, according to city officials.

Chunks of the downed tree, which split an electricity pole in half, were seen in the backyards of homes on the 100 block of Verde Mesa Drive, just blocks away from Monte Visa High School, which didn't lose power.

The outage, which occurred around 1:45 a.m., initially affected an estimated 2,800 PG&E customers. As the day progressed, that number dropped to 611 and then to 482. 


Los Cerros Middle School is without electricity, but classes are in session. School administrators, who were told the outage will last until about 2 p.m., will bring in generators and cold lunches for students. 

According to city officials, PG&E crews are on the scene working to restore power. There is no estimate on when electricity will be restored.

Verde Mesa Drive is blocked by a firetruck because first-responders say the area is unsafe until PG&E has been able to secure the lines. 

Check back for updates. 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Landlord Group Drops Suit Against Bay Area Rent Control]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 13:31:28 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rent-control.jpg

In a major coup for tenants' rights groups, The California Apartment Association — one of the largest landlord groups in the state — has dropped its legal challenges to Mountain View and Richmond's voter-approved rent control laws.

The association announced the decision Friday in a statement to members, writing that the "judicial climate" and failed attempts at injunction made it necessary to re-evaluate the suits' ability to succeed. 

"We firmly believe that Measures V and L are unconstitutional, so withdrawing these legal challenges was anything but easy,” said Chief Executive Officer Tom Bannon. “We are taking this opportunity to explore new challenges to the measures while continuing our aggressive campaigns against rent control.” 

Richmond's Measure L was approved with more than 60 percent of the vote in November. It caps annual rent increases in apartment units built after 1995 to the rate of inflation, between 2 and 3 percent. Mountain View's Measure V passed with just over 53 percent of the vote and prevents rent hikes on apartment units built after 1995 from exceeding 5 percent. Both laws included provisos protecting tenants from unfair evictions and included rollback provisions, meaning some renters actually saw a reduction in their monthly rent due to the laws.

The CAA filed suit against the cities shortly after the election, claiming that Measure L and V were "unconstitutional" and "vague." Judges in both cases shot down requests for preliminary injunctions and had allowed rent control to continue while the lawsuits worked their way through the courts. 

Leah Simon-Weisberg, a managing attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza who helped draft Measure L, said she was hopeful that the suspended suits would provide reassurance to other cities considering rent control. 

"We're glad that the CAA came to their senses," Simon-Weisberg, who also serves on the Berkeley Rent Board, said. "We really need rent control, and we don't want other cities to be afraid that they're going to have to deal with frivolous lawsuits." 

In 2015, Richmond became the first city in 30 years to pass rent control, but the CAA successfully thwarted the ordinance from taking effect via a controversial petition drive. In 2016, when rent control was once again approved as Measure L, there was concern among proponents that the landlord group would return and squash it from taking effect. 

Richmond City Councilmember Melvin Willis said Measure L supporters are finally getting a chance to celebrate a "victory" that was years in the making.

"It's a huge relief because having this court case hanging over our heads presented a small amount of uncertainty as to what the future of Measure L would be," Willis said. "You never knew what was going to happen." 

Though the lawsuits have been dropped, Simon-Weisberg and Willis said that tenants' rights groups must still be cautious moving forward. Willis noted that some renters in the city are continuing to get eviction notices and rent hikes made illegal by Measure L. 

"Right now we're focused on getting out there and letting people know what their rights are," Willis said. "There are still tenants that are not getting their rollbacks or are being evicted unfairly, so we need to make sure that rent control is implemented, and implemented the right way."

Simon-Weisberg echoed Willis. She said the dropped suit signified an "important moment" for renter protections, but cautioned city leaders and tenants' rights groups against growing complacent.

"We always need to have strong regulation," Simon-Weisberg said. "There's not going to be some final battle that ends it all, and now it's all rosy. We will continue to have to ensure that this ordinance and ordinances around the state are strong." 

She continued: "The reality is, the other side just has so much money that they can make by preventing rent control or weakening it. You can never say 'ahh, it's all over.' It's never done."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area ]]>
<![CDATA[Man Admits to Killing Castro Valley Woman, Torching House]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 18:11:12 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CastroValleyFireDacany.jpg

A 36-year-old man confessed to killing a 59-year-old woman inside her Castro Valley home before torching the house to hide the evidence, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern said Monday.

Luckie Dacany was charged with torture, homicide and arson for his role in the random crime, which occurred in the second week of December along the 1800 block of Grove Way, Ahern said.

Dacany apparently tried to burglarize the East Bay home before he was confronted by homeowner Andrea St. John, according to Ahern. Dacany then stabbed St. John, ignited a blaze and ditched the scene before emergency personnel arrived.

A subsequent investigation followed, but authorities were only able to identify a person of interest via dark and grainy video footage. That was the case until recently when Dacany, who was in custody in San Joaquin County for a sexual assault charge, confessed to the killing, according to Ahern.

"We were able to corroborate the fact that he did make statements in admission to being the suspect and provided us with information that only the suspect would know," Ahern said. 

"This is the reason people get house alarms and have to protect themselves and purchase firearms," Ahern added. "Living in fear. We’re glad we’re able to make sure this person is never going to commit any other crime outside of jail again."

There appears to be no connection between Dacany and St. John.

"We were able to look at some video from the neighborhood, and it looked like (Dacany) was walking around and just randomly picked this residence," Ahern said. "There's no connection between the suspect or the victim. It's just a terrible set of circumstances."

St. John was the mother of two daughters and a grandmother, according to officials. Just before her death, she also lost her husband.

Neighbors, who have been on edge since the brutal slaying, said they were relieved to hear the man who investigators believe is responsible is behind bars. Neighbor Patti Zierman said she’s been terrified the killer would return.

"I’ve just been waiting for them to catch the person, knowing there is a murderer maybe in the neighborhood," she said.

Dacany does have a history of committing crimes in Alameda County, according to Ahern. He was previously arrested for stealing one car in Oakland and another in Union City.

In addition to announcing charges, Ahern also noted that authorities on Thursday recovered a stolen car believed to be used by Dacany during and after the crime. An investigation is ongoing to confirm that belief.

Dacany will remain in Stockton until his sexual assault case is complete, and then he will be transferred to Alameda County to face the charges related to the Castro Valley killing.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, Alameda County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Teachers, Students to Gather in Support of Reading Clinic]]>Sun, 07 May 2017 17:23:05 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Book-Generic.jpg

Teachers, parents and students of Oakland Unified School District will gather Monday to urge district administrators to not close a district reading clinic.

According to OUSD teachers and advocates, district administrators recently announced plans to close the district's Special Education Reading Clinic at the end of this school year.

At the clinic, students can receive one-on-one instruction with experienced reading specialists who develop individually-tailored plans to match each student's needs and learning style. Students have gone from severely struggling readers to being fluent readers in only a year of receiving clinic services, according to advocates.

Teachers, students and parents will speak out against plans to close the clinic. They will meet at Cole School located at 1011 Union St. in Oakland on Monday at 5 p.m. before the school district's Community Advisory Committee meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Companies Hiring, But Not From Ivy Leagues]]>Tue, 09 May 2017 06:59:44 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-73909596.jpg

Considering shelling out big bucks on an Ivy League education? You may want to reconsider that – at least if you're eyeing a job in Silicon Valley.

The list of top 10 universities big-name Bay Area companies hire from doesn't feature any of the Ivy League universities in the country, according to artifical intelligence company HiringSolved. The analysis was based on 10,000 profiles of tech workers who were hired or promoted into new roles in 2016 as well as January and February 2017, according to the San Francisco Business Times

Leading the list were two local schools: University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

The others, however, included well-known engineering schools, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, and large public universities, including San Jose State University, UC San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, University of Texas at Austin. 

Of the Ivy League schools, Cornell University made it to rank 15.

“Our research suggests that in addition to specific skills and educational backgrounds, Silicon Valley is looking for a strong fundamental understanding of the basics of technology in their new hires” HiringSolved CEO Shon Burton said in a statement. “Often what separates say, a good engineer from a great one, is a knack for understanding the baseline ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ of how things work – the physics of the technology.”

Applicants looking to stand out must demonstrate familiarity with a number of softwares, including Python, C++, Java, Linux and Matlab, the analysis shows. 

Here are the top 10 schools favored in the past year by recruiters at top Silicon Valley companies:


  1. University of California, Berkeley
  2. Stanford University
  3. Carnegie Mellon University
  4. University of Southern California
  5. The University of Texas at Austin
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology
  7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  8. San Jose State University
  9. University of California, San Diego
  10. Arizona State University




Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Helicopter Team Rescues Injured Hiker From Mt. Diablo]]>Sun, 07 May 2017 12:34:50 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-6-7_Hiker_Rescue_1.jpg

A hiker with a severely broken ankle was rescued by a helicopter crew from a remote trail on Mt. Diablo Saturday afternoon, according to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff department's STARR 3 helicopter was called to the Donner Creek Trail and, within minutes, the rescue team plucked the woman from the trail, secured  her in a rescue bag, and handed her off to fire and paramedic crews on the ground roughly one mile away, according to the sheriff's department.

Fire crews were originally dispatched to the remote trail, but they soon realized that it would be too difficult and time consuming to rescue the hiker on foot, according to the sheriff's department. That's when the helicopter unit was called in.

The hiker was transported to a local hospital for treatment, according to the sheriff's department.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[Concord Police Officer Risks Life to Save K-9]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 05:57:26 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ConcordPoliceK9Crash.jpg

A police officer in Concord is being hailed as a hero after his quick thinking helped save his K-9's life, according to police.

Officer Coniglio was managing traffic early Saturday morning at the intersection of Leland Way and Meadow Lane when he heard a truck barrelling toward him and his patrol car, which housed his police dog named Hancock, according to police. Coniglio immediately jumped into his police cruiser and managed to move it a mere two feet.

The truck, which was driven by a person believed to be under the influence, smashed into the police car, according to police. Fortunately for Coniglio and Hancock, those 24 inches of space made a difference.

"It's with certainty that we know if Officer Coniglio was not able to move his patrol vehicle, he and K-9 Hancock would have sustained serious injury or death," police wrote on Facebook.

Coniglio and Hancock both sustained moderate injuries and were transported to respective treatment centers, according to police. Both human and pup are "resting at home and doing well."

Police were originally on scene investigating another DUI-related collision, according to police. Coniglio was standing in front of his squad car managing flares and directing traffic.

That's when the truck entered the scene and plowed into Coniglio's vehicle. The driver of the truck was arrested, treated and transported to the Martinez Detention Facility.



Photo Credit: Concord Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Fire Inspectors Lack Proper Training Certificates]]>Sun, 07 May 2017 22:15:07 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Raw_Vid_9_Killed_in_Deadly_Fire_at_Oakland_Warehouse_1200x675_823948867777.jpg

A newspaper reports that inspectors for the embattled Oakland Fire Department lack up-to-date training certificates and must complete classes within a week or face dismissal.

The East Bay Times reported Friday that it obtained letters sent by the city's acting fire chief informing several fire inspectors that they must complete the training by May 12. It appears the top inspector, fire marshal Miguel Trujillo, is also out of compliance, the paper reported.

Acting fire chief Mark Hoffman said he's confident the inspectors will complete the training and receive their certificates by the deadline.

There are no state requirements for fire inspectors, the paper reported.

The department has been criticized for failing to inspect a cluttered warehouse where 36 partygoers died when a fire broke out at an unpermitted concert.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Crawls to Safety After Crashing Into East Bay Creek]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 20:56:54 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CreekCar1.JPG

A driver managed to crawl to safety Friday night after crashing into a creek in unincorporated Alameda County, according to fire officials.

The driver was cruising along Mines Road when they somehow plowed into a creek and ended up upside down, fire officials said. The driver sustained moderate injuries in the crash but was able to squirm out of the car, which was partly submerged in water, and escape to safety.

It is unclear how the driver ended up in the creek.

The driver was transported to a local hospital, fire officials said.



Photo Credit: Alameda County Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Populations of San Francisco, Oakland Peak]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 17:35:27 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SFOAKLANDTRAFFIC.jpg

Don't be surprised if San Francisco and Oakland feel more cramped. 

It isn't a well kept secret that the Bay Area is one of the United States' most expensive places to live in.

Even so, the population of both metros has spiked, according to a recent California Department of Finance report that shows that San Francisco and Oakland are packed with more people than ever before.

San Francisco is now home to 874,227 people, gaining 9,000 residents from last year, according to Hoodline. Oakland's population has reached 426,000, up 7,000 people from 2016.

By 2030, San Francisco’s population is expected to leap to a million, the report forecasts. 

Across California, the number of housing units built in 2016 — 89,000 — was 31 percent more than in 2015. Of those, 5.75 percent or 5,114 new homes were completed were in San Francisco, the report says. The state now offers 14,071,000 homes in total — another record high.

And that's not all.

The state's population swelled by 335,000 people to an all-time high of 39.5 million. Putting that in context, the entire country of Iceland is occupied by roughly 334,000 people.

Los Angeles, the largest city in California, has crossed 4 million people with the addition of 42,000 residents in 2016. It was followed by San Diego at 1,392,000, a jump of 15,000 people from last year, according to the report.

San Jose retained the title of the Bay Area's largest city. An estimated 10,000 people moved to the Silicon Valley hub in 2016, boosting its population to 1,046,000. 

Menlo Park, where social media giant Facebook is headquartered, is the fastest-growing city, Hoodline reports. With 35,670 residents, the San Mateo County city's population is up 5 percent from the previous year and development is primarily in the form of multi-family houses, the report shows. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Mayor, Others Stress Value of Latino Community]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 16:24:51 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-542220888.jpg

The value of Latino residents and the disparities they face in Oakland compared to their white neighbors was a message Mayor Libby Schaaf tried to convey Friday morning at an event hosted at Pandora.

"Oakland will not succeed unless its Latino community succeeds," Schaaf said following her remarks at the "State of Latinos: A Cinco De Mayo Call to Action and Policy Briefing" at 9 a.m. at 2101 Webster St.

Latinos are the fastest growing population and they face insecurities in housing and income and that are"unacceptable," Schaaf said.

The largest demographic in Oakland schools are Latino children, Schaaf said, stressing the need to lift up community members, especially children.

Pandora, a music streaming technology company, hosted the event at its headquarters but not mainly because minorities are underrepresented in technology.

"It's definitely not 'the' reason," Lisa Lee, director of diversity and inclusion strategies, said after her comments to a crowd of about 40 people.

But Lee said her team exists because of that under representation and company officials want to ensure that they take a number of initiatives to increase diversity and promote inclusion.

Lee also said local hiring is important for us as a company and tapping into the power of the local talent is important at Pandora.

John Arriaga, executive director for the League of California Cities-Latino Caucus, stressed the importance of bringing community members together so others know how important Latinos are.

Getting involved can be as simple as Latino mothers making and serving pan dulce at church, Arriaga said.

Like the mayor, Arriaga emphasized the importance of Latino children. He said it's important for children to be involved in the community.

The League of California Cities advocates for Latinos, aims to improve Latinos' quality of life and develop leadership in community members.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[BART Police Arrest 3 Minors For Punching Female Passenger]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 16:16:02 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2015-generic-bart.jpg

Three female juveniles have been arrested this week for allegedly committing a battery on a passenger at the West Oakland BART station in February, BART police said Friday.

Four teenage females punched another female passenger in the head multiple times aboard a train at the West Oakland Station at 9 p.m. on Feb. 27, transit agency police said.

The victim reported the incident to BART Police the next day and the case has since been under investigation since then, authorities said.

BART police detectives were able to identify all four suspects based on the victim's account and with assistance from other witnesses, including a station agent who saw the suspects run out of the station, according to police.

Three of the four female suspects were arrested this week, the first on Wednesday, the second on Thursday and the third today, BART police said.

There is an outstanding warrant for the fourth female juvenile suspect and BART police said she is expected to be taken into custody soon.

"Our detectives are actively working these cases involving juveniles: issuing warrants and making arrests," Acting BART Police Chief Jeff Jennings said in a statement.

"We've increased patrols and police presence and we've kicked off a regional taskforce to address the increase in crimes committed by juveniles at BART and in the cities we serve," Jennings said.

The three female juveniles have been booked into Alameda County Juvenile Hall on a charge of battery resulting in great bodily injury, BART police said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Two Men Get Life in Prison For Murder of Anti-Crime Activist]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 16:31:00 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-23-2014-opd-homicide-suspects1.jpg

Two men were sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for their special circumstances murder convictions for the fatal shooting and robbery of 66-year-old anti-crime activist Judy Salamon in Oakland four years ago.

Prosecutor Butch Ford told jurors that 25-year-old Stephon Lee and 24-year-old Mario Floyd didn't like it when Salamon filmed them while they were committing a crime in their neighborhood so they killed her.

Salamon was fatally shot in the 2400 block of Fern Street in Oakland's Maxwell Park district at 1:24 p.m. on July 24, 2013.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy said, "No one can dispute or deny the barbarity of what occurred" and "to say this was beyond the pale is a gross understatement."

Murphy said, "What happened to Ms. Salamon was absolutely horrific and beyond the understanding of any civilized person."

Ford said during the trial that Salamon, who was born in Hungary to a Jewish family of Holocaust survivors and had advocated hiring a private security force to patrol the Maxwell Park area because she thought Oakland police weren't doing a good enough job, had used her cellphone to take a video of Lee and Floyd committing a crime in her neighborhood and then followed the two men in her car.

The prosecutor said at one point Lee got out of the suspects' car, grabbed rocks from a nearby cemetery and threw them at Salamon, and Floyd also argued with Salamon and threw a garbage can at her.

Ford said Floyd later followed Salamon in his car, pulled up alongside her car to give Lee the opportunity to shoot her from his car's passenger seat and Lee then shot and killed her.

Salamon, who lived about a half-mile away in the 2700 block of Best Avenue and worked as a dog walker, crashed her car into a parked car after she was shot, he said.

But defense attorneys for Lee and Floyd told jurors that the two men should be found not guilty because the evidence against them was weak and the prosecution's witnesses weren't credible.

Lee and Floyd, who both were on probation for previous crimes when Salamon was killed, were convicted in September of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of committing a murder during the course of a robbery.

Lee was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun because he has two prior felony convictions, one for second-degree robbery in 2011 and one for possession of a firearm on Sept. 25, 2012.

Prosecutors said Floyd was convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in a city on July 16, 2013, only eight days before Salamon was killed.

Floyd's lawyer, Annie Beles, argued today that Floyd should be granted a new trial based on her belief that Murphy's jury instructions were incorrect, Ford engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, the prosecution improperly coerced two witnesses to testify and one of the jurors was racially biased against Lee and Floyd, who are black.

But Murphy denied Beles' motion for a new trial, saying there's insufficient evidence to support her allegations.

Murphy said that although a female juror came forward after Lee and Floyd were convicted to allege that a male juror in the case was racially biased the female juror couldn't cite any specific statements by the male juror that clearly proved that he was biased.

Murphy said the male juror who was accused of being biased actually appeared to be the juror who was the most reluctant to convict Lee and Floyd because he asked for more time to review the evidence in the case when the other jurors indicated they were ready to find the two men guilty.



Photo Credit: The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office]]>
<![CDATA[Questions Arise After Dog Found Dead Outside Owner's Home]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 23:48:35 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MissingDogCastroValley.jpg

Days after disappearing from his Castro Valley home, a rescue mentor dog was found dead by his owner Friday morning, but some skeptics question the circumstances surrounding the dog's death and discovery.

Murfee, the 3-year-old German Shepherd, was snatched from his home near Palomares Road Sunday afternoon, according to JJ Jacobson, Murfee's owner. Five days later, the people who allegedly stole the dog placed him in the backseat of Jacobson's car located on her property, Jacobson said.

That claim generated some skepticism on a Facebook page dedicated to finding Murfee.

"Doesn't make sense at all," one person wrote on Facebook. "The owner may have accidentally left the poor pup in the car."

Jacobson, a former police officer who says she has rescued thousands of dogs over the years, vehemently denied the allegations that her pet died under her care.

"He didn't," she said. "First of all, he didn't. Anybody who has been to the house knows that Murfee wasn't in the house."

Jacobson added that her dog's disappearance, death and discovery are bizarre.

"I completely understand where somebody would say, 'Well, that's crazy,'" she said. "Yeah, it really is crazy."

Before making the grim discovery, Jacobson took to GoFundMe to raise $10,000 in reward money in hopes of generating any information about her beloved pup's whereabouts. Thanks to a search effort driven by social media, that GoFundMe account raised more than $10,000. That money is now going back to those who donated.

"Everybody's going to get their money back," Jacobson said. "I mean, everybody knows that's what was going to happen."

Alameda County Sheriff's investigators say the case is being examined as an incident of animal cruelty and not fraud.



Photo Credit: JJ Jacobson]]>
<![CDATA['Game of Thrones' Language Inventor to Teach Course at Cal]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 22:23:58 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GameofThronesCal.jpg

As fans wait in agony for the premiere of the seventh season of "Game of Thrones," students at UC Berkeley will be touching up on their Dothraki and High Valyrian vocabulary, literally.

The two invented languages dictated in HBO's hit series will be the prime focus of the university's upcoming six-week summer course coined "The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention," according to the university. None other than UC Berkeley alumnus David J. Peterson, who is the creator of the two dialects, will be leading class discussions from May 22 to June 30.

The course is designed for students with a "good handle on the basics of linguistics" and those intrigued by the quest of mimicking the style of actual dialects while shaping a language of their own, according to the university and Peterson.

Since 2009, Peterson has immersed himself in the craft of creating words used by the nomadic horse-riding warriors and unrelenting Daenerys Targaryen — the so-called "mother of dragons," among her lengthy list of titles — in "Game of Thrones."

The popular television series isn't Peterson's first jaunt with creating a fictional language. His work has been featured on the Syfy Channel's "Defiance" series, MTV's "Shannara Chronicles," the CW's "The 100," Marvel's "Thor," NBC's "Emerald City" and Showtime's "Penny Dreadful."

Before the class kicks off, students can take the following quiz to test their Dothraki vocabulary:




Photo Credit: David Peterson, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Concord Police Officer Injured in Suspected DUI Crash]]>Sat, 06 May 2017 14:04:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/police-lights-generic-crop.jpg

A man was arrested on suspicion of DUI early this morning in Concord after he crashed his truck into a police car, police said.

The crash occurred at about 2 a.m. at Meadow Lane and Leland Way as police were investigating another alleged DUI incident, Cpl. Christopher Blakely said.

As officers were waiting for a tow truck, 30-year-old Angel Carrera-Lopez allegedly ignored the cones and flares in the area and crashed a black 2002 GMC pickup into the left side of a police car.

"We make ourselves real noticeable," Blakely said because police were easily seen with their lights on and flares and cones out.

The officer whose car was struck suffered minor facial injuries. He was taken to a hospital. A K-9 with the officer was taken to a veterinarian as a precaution.

Both were released this morning, Blakely said. Carrera-Lopez is a Concord resident.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[City Officials Dismantle Most of West Oakland Homeless Camp]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 18:15:03 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/homeless+camp.jpg

City of Oakland officials on Friday dismantled most of a homeless tent encampment in West Oakland where a fire burned 12 tents and a sanitation station on Monday night, a city spokesman said.

Joe DeVries, an assistant to the city administrator who works on homelessness issues, said city officials had hoped to remove all of the tents at the encampment in the vicinity of 35th and Peralta streets, under Interstate Highway 580, but the process was slow so the city is allowing about 6 or 7 tents to remain until next week.

DeVries said, "We didn't want to interfere with traffic safety and the evening commute so we're allowing a few people to remain there this weekend."

He said Oakland police will patrol the area over the weekend to make sure that more people don't come to the site to set up tents.

DeVries said about 40 people originally set up tents at the encampment, which the city helped set up last fall and included portable toilets and wash stations.

DeVries said the city only intended to keep the encampment open until the end of March but decided to keep it open longer after a fire at an apartment building at 2551 San Pablo Ave. on March 27 left four people dead and displaced about 100 other residents.

He said city officials have referred the encampment's residents to local shelters and health resources and most of them have found alternative housing.

The fire at the tent city at 35th and Peralta streets broke out at 8:19 p.m. on Monday but was quickly contained and no one was injured, according to City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who represents that area.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Gibson McElhaney said in a statement that the fire on Monday and the fatal blaze at 2551 San Pablo Ave. on March 27 "underscore our need to do more."

She said, "I will bring forward bold proposals to secure more housing and improve safety and alleviate the public health concerns raised by unregulated campsites."

A dog died and five tents were lost in a fire at another homeless camp in the vicinity of East 12th Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues underneath Interstate Highway 880 on the morning of April 13, fire officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Port of Oakland Truckers on Alert After TSA Warning]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 00:16:31 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nice-AP_549741180287.jpg

After the federal Transportation Security Administration came out with a warning Tuesday about terrorists using trucks as weapons, truck drivers at the Port of Oakland said they're on alert.

It’s happening all over the world, and the Department of Homeland Security is asking truckers across the U.S. to be viligant. Many truckers at the port said they already take precautions and know now is not the time to be complacent or they could be the next target for terrorists.

Truck driver Sam Espinoza said he's not surprised by the warning.

"It’s the time we live in, it’s our era," he said. "You've got to expect the unexpected. You've got to be alert for something like that. It’s a reality."

The latest reality check came just last month in Stockholm, when a man stole a beer truck, drove it into a crowded shopping area and plowed into a department store.

A new report from the TSA says that since 2014, more than 170 people have been killed in terror attacks using trucks. Hundreds more were injured in the 17 attacks, the worst of which camein Nice, France, last year when 87 people were killed.

The new advisory encourages more vigilance from the nation’s trucking industry.

"There's concern that down in the field, out in the operations, people are not paying attention," former Homeland Security official David Heyman said. "There's a complacency because there's not been trucks used as weapons here."

Among the recommendations: keep trucks locked while parked and in slow moving traffic.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[T. Gary Rogers, Former Owner of Oakland-Based Dreyer's, Dies]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 21:17:56 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rogers-dreyers.jpg

T. Gary Rogers, who co-owned the Dreyer's ice cream company for nearly 30 years, has died at his Oakland home. He was 74.

A family statement says Rogers died Tuesday at his home while playing tennis.

Rogers and his business partner, William Cronk, bought Oakland-based Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream in 1977.

Rogers became chairman and CEO. They built the company into a major ice cream brand, with 9,000 employees churning out more than 3 million gallons a year.

The company came up with new flavors, such as Cookies `N Cream, and pioneered reduced-fat ice cream.

It was sold to Nestle in 2002.

Rogers also served terms as chairman of the Safeway and Levis Strauss companies and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Getty Images file photos]]>
<![CDATA[Victims of Berkeley Balcony Fall Win Partial Settlement]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 13:30:21 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP543125309084.jpg

The victims of a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, that killed six college students have reached a settlement with some of the companies they sued in 2015.

The settlements are confidential, said lawyers for the families of the students who died and seven others who were injured.

``This settlement will never restore health or life but reflects an element of justice from the wrongdoers for the deaths and serious injuries caused by the tragedy,'' said attorney Matthew D. Davis in a statement issued Friday.

The students, largely from Ireland, were at a birthday party in June 2015 when the balcony collapsed, sending them 50 feet (15.24 meters) down to the street below. It's a tradition for Irish students to visit the San Francisco Bay Area for the summer to work at tourist spots and enjoy the break.

The deaths and injuries horrified people on both continents. Among the dead were cousins, Olivia Burke of Ireland and Ashley Donohoe of Rhonert Park, California.

Eustace de Saint Phalle, attorney for the Donohoes, said the family will continue to push for legislative changes to building codes and reporting requirements for shoddy construction work.

Lawsuits filed in Alameda County Superior Court say previous tenants reported seeing mushrooms on the balcony, but the building's manager did not close the structure off.

The mushrooms showed the balcony's wooden support beams were rotting, the lawsuits said. A city investigation revealed the wooden beams had rotted through from water damage.

Segue Construction is among the seven companies that agreed to the undisclosed settlement. The lawsuits said Segue used cheaper materials to construct the balcony, making it more susceptible to water damage.

Building manager Greystar and building owner BlackRock did not agree to settle so lawsuits against those companies continue.

A spokesman for BlackRock declined comment. Greystar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Flaring at Valero Refinery Triggers Evacuations in Benicia ]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 12:43:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/161*120/ValeroRefinery.png

Photo Credit: @space_ace3 via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Richmond City Councilmember to Run for State Assembly ]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 19:52:42 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/jOVANKA+BECKLES.jpg

Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles announced Thursday she will run for the District 15 seat in the California State Assembly. 

If elected in 2018, she would replace Rep. Tony Thurmond, who announced his campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state's top education post, back in April. 

Beckles said she will work on universal healthcare, affordable housing, and closing corporate tax loopholes if elected. She has vowed not to accept any corporate campaign contributions.

"I am running because I share the frustration of my neighbors from Hercules to Oakland in the East Bay, who are tired of broken promises on important issues," she said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. 

Assembly District 15 stretches from Hercules in Contra Costa County to a swath of Oakland in Alameda County. Voters have steadfastly and overwhelmingly appointed Democrats to the position.

Beckles, who made history in 2010 as the city's first openly-lesbian councilwoman, is the first person to announce her candidacy. 

Throughout her two terms, Beckles has been a progressive voice on the Richmond City Council. She was a vocal supporter of Richmond's controversial new rent control law and ruffled feathers last year when she verbally sparred with some council members over the issue. She also has a track record of supporting unions.

Her outspoken nature has often made her a target, as chronicled in a San Francisco Chronicle profile piece in 2014. 

"She remained strong on environmental protections for Richmond communities against Chevron, and she will continue to work for the people if elected to the Assembly," said fellow Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin in an endorsement statement.

Her other endorsements include Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington and Ericka Huggins, an activist and former Black Panther leader.



Photo Credit: City of Richmond ]]>
<![CDATA[Albany High Students Accused of Racial Posts Sue District]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 00:37:11 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/albany+high-0504.jpg

Four Albany High School students have sued the school district after they were disciplined for images posted on Instagram.

School officials called the posts racist. But the students say their actions, which occurred outside of school, fall under free speech rights.

Attorneys for the students say when school leaders marched the students in front of their peers, they were yelled at, chased and a couple of them were even beaten.

On March 30, the accused students were set to walk out to their high school peers for what the district called a restorative justice session. Instead, as the student body grew restless, administrators diverted those students to a side door. Some of their peers allegedly followed, and that's when their safety was jeopardized, attorney Darryl Yorkey said.

"All of these students have been labeled," Yorkey said. "Essentially, they've been given a scarlet letter."

Yorkey added that the students' First Amendment rights were impacted not because of what they said at school but because the school has really tried to overreach its authority to discipline the teens for things they did outside of school.

The lawsuit says that because the Instagram post was private, the Albany Unified School District has no grounds for discipline. The post depicted racial pictures of some African-American students at the school that were made public only after the district chose to do so.

Thirteen students were reprimanded for either commenting or liking the photos. Disciplinary action includes: suspension, with some facing possible expulsion. Regardless of how administrators handled the situation, Albany High students don't want the real issue to be lost in the lawsuit.

"I think that we were doing well with coping with this and trying to get over it, but as this kind of came up, a lot of people were upset that it was kind of violating, disregarding the whole situation and saying it was freedom of speech rather than hate speech," one freshman said.

Albany Unified released a statement that says in part: "The district takes great care to ensure that our students feel safe at school. and we are committed to providing an inclusive and respectful learning environment for all of our students. The district intends to defend this commitment and its conduct within the court system."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Walnut Creek School Secession Slapped as Discriminatory]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 15:57:47 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/northgate-0502.jpg

In a final public hearing before the Contra Costa County Board of Education, scores of parents and teachers on Wednesday night condemned a proposed split of the Mt. Diablo school district and slammed secession efforts as discriminatory and elitist.

The meeting wraps up what has become a battle royale between Northgate CAPS, a coalition of Walnut Creek parents pushing for five affluent schools to leave the district, and members of the broader Mt. Diablo school community, who argue the proposal is rooted in a desire to weed out low-income and minority families. The wedge issue, which gained national attention earlier this week, is fueling conversations about hidden racism lurking behind the picket fences of purportedly progressive Bay Area suburbs.

With the public hearings now concluded, the county’s education board has 120 days to render a verdict on the proposal's merits. If approved, it will be forwarded to the state's education board, which must weigh the proposal against nine specific criteria for school redistricting, including whether it would exacerbate segregation and inflict financial harm on Mt. Diablo.

The arduous redistricting process has been tried before, but it has never reached this stage. For at least two decades, parents in Walnut Creek have at one time or another proposed splitting off from Mt. Diablo, a district with 56 schools stretching from lower-income cities such as Pittsburg to the moneyed suburbs of Walnut Creek and Lafayette. With 32,000 students, it ranks among the top 14 percent of California districts in terms of size, though it's not bloated by Bay Area standards. Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and even neighboring San Ramon districts have more students.

During this week’s public hearings — arguably the most heated in a series of public forums to discuss the issue — both sides lobbed insults and accusations in four-hour sessions. Mt. Diablo was accused of being a bureaucratic mess that's financially irresponsible; Northgate CAPS was accused of having a deep-seated fear of "otherness." 

The proposed Northgate Unified School District, which includes Northgate High and its feeder schools, would be predominantly white with a median household income of $126,000. If the secession is successful, the downsized Mt. Diablo district would see its median income plummet to $76,144. And, because districts depend heavily on property taxes and parent donations as a source of funding, the dip could affect a slew of programs, including those for disabled students, according to the plan’s critics.

“You can’t look at this and not see a glaring problem with diversity,” said Hava Miner, a parent whose children attend Eagle Peak Montessori, a district charter school that is siding with Mt. Diablo. “It wouldn’t be good for the students, and it wouldn’t be good for the community.”

She said the purported goals of the secession — to create better oversight and have strong community leadership — cannot be separated from its effect: a less diverse, more affluent boutique district that excludes low-income families.

Meanwhile, secession proponents argue that the racially charged rhetoric of the district split is an attempt to appeal to the community’s worst fears. 

“From our opposition, the charges leveled at us have been horrendous,” Linda Loza, the president of Northgate CAPS, said. “We’ve been labeled as racists, bigots, and elitist. There is a lot of intimidation and fear right now; we have a lot of people that wrote letters to the county and said they would like to speak but are intimidated.”


Teachers, who recently received a nice salary bump from the district, have been vocal opponents of the split. They acknowledge district accountability problems in the past, but say the school has been improving with the help of Nellie Meyer, a new superintendent. A split would be bad for everyone, they allege.

“Our most vulnerable students are at risk,” said Northgate teacher Meg Honey. “If we move into a new district, there is no guarantee that these specialized programs will exist in these feeder schools.”

Honey also claimed Northgate CAPS made deliberate efforts to carve out Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School from the proposed district’s boundaries. Both are more diverse schools in lower-income areas of Concord. 

“Those schools were deliberately excluded from this brand new district,” Honey said. “As an educator of social studies and a parent of young children, it would be impossible for me to remain in a district that is so exclusive of students who demographically are very different from the rest of the district.”

Northgate is one of the least diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo district, according to data collected by the Department of Education. District board members testified in public hearings that the school’s slight gains in diversity over the last few years had been largely due to intra-district transfers of minority students.

However, as Loza pointed out, it would be Mt. Diablo’s choice to let those transfers continue if Northgate splits. She said the new district is committed to being inclusive and would accept as many transfers as possible from diverse backgrounds. Rumors to the contrary are the product of a misinformation campaign spearheaded by Mt. Diablo and the teacher’s union, she said.

“We are a small grassroots movement,” Loza said. “We’re up against a district with lawyers and a union that has 3,000 members it can send to public meetings.”

She also defended herself against accusations that Northgate CAPS tried to secede rather than improve the current district. Loza, along with the most prominent supporters of the new district, has been highly active in volunteer positions at various schools over the years.

“With a lot of improvement ideas, we were told no,” Loza said. “There was a French program that didn’t have a teacher to teach an AP level class, and there was an alternative to that, and we were told no by the district."

The war of words also spilled into online forums, with both sides suffering blows from keyboard activists. In community message boards, people who claim to support the proposed district referred to Mt. Diablo as “ratchet” and “ghetto.”

“They are tired of having the bad kids from other areas come to their schools,” one comment read. “I get it and support them.”

Another wrote that “ghetto culture” robbed scholarly students of opportunities.

“It’s well known that the ghetto culture prohibits an academic environment,” another comment read. “They are dumbing down your children and claiming they don’t have the grades to excel. Truth is, ghetto culture, especially the music, robs potential scholars of a desire to concentrate on classwork.”

But Loza, who called the online comments "disgusting," said her group has been harassed online at alarming levels, too. Fake Facebook profiles have been created that show pictures of her family next to Nazi symbols. Another bogus profile aligns the secession movement with President Donald Trump, using the phrase “Make Northgate Great Again.” She said people have even called her boss and threatened to boycott her employer.

Although it has undoubtedly been a bitter brawl, at least one unlikely group involved in the debate has called for civility and maturity — the teenage students. 

Several high schoolers who attended the public meetings said they were hopeful the next 120 days would provide a breather for Northgate CAPS and Mt. Diablo proponents. Sara Wheeler, a sophomore at Northgate, said she wants the school to stay with the district — but the infighting and the back-and-forth squabbling has become exhausting.

“It doesn’t represent our community well at all, and it’s not what we should be about," said Sara Wheeler. 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[East Bay Students Get Hands-On Experience in Healthcare Jobs]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 15:31:36 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kaiser-Training-photo.jpg

More than 300 high school students from across the East Bay scrubbed in to "operate" on medical dummies at Kaiser Permanente's training and innovation facility in San Leandro on Tuesday. The career day was designed to expose young people to a variety of healthcare professions.

With guidance from nurses and Kaiser staff, students took on roles in simulations of a mock operating room, coached a mannequin through labor in a pretend maternity ward, and practiced lifting immobilized patients.

The teenagers used real surgical instruments on fake patients - medical dummies rigged up to look like car accident victims or programmed to speak and groan like a woman in labor.

The groups also met therapy dogs and telemedicine robots, participated in a mindfulness exercise, learned about the danger of stimatizing mental health issues, and played with hulahoops to understand the importance of physical exercise. 

Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center in San Leandro functions as a space to experiment and train staff from across Northern California. 

Kaiser hosts the annual Youth Career Day to give young people a glimpse of real-life job opportunities in health care, beyond positions as doctors and nurses.

But Olivia Query, a sophomore at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord, couldn't help but think of Dr. Meredith Grey, a character on "Grey's Anatomy," when she walked into the simulated OR.

When a Kaiser staffer asked for volunteers to "scrub in," Query's hand shot up.

"I was like, oh my God, I gotta do this. It's crazy because I've never seen anything like this before. But I needed to volunteer," she said.

Kaiser invests the time in teaching because the giant HMO will need to hire qualified employees in its hospitals in the coming years.

Beyond MDs and RNs, Kaiser employs pharmacists, therapists, audiologists, psychologists, medical and surgical assistants, audiologists, laboratory technicians and more. 

"We're always looking for people who are passionate about these particular specialty areas. And there is a real need. As people look to retire, as patient populations expand and more people move to the area, more professionals are needed all the time," said Kaiser executive Jim D'Alfonso, a former nurse.

Other participating schools include Castlemont in Oakland, Life Academy of Health and Bioscience in Oakland, Jesse Bethel in Vallejo, Metro West in Alameda, De Anza in El Sobrante, Richmond High, Vallejo High and Pinole Valley High.

]]>
<![CDATA[Lafayette BART Station in Line for Improvements]]>Thu, 04 May 2017 11:09:57 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-4-17-parking-structure-lafayette.jpg

A busy East Bay BART station is in line for a major overhaul.

Many Contra Costa County BART stations have been upgraded and now it’s time for renovations at the Lafayette stop. Construction is due to begin mid-May.

Crews will be working on a number of improvements, including paving and landscaping. Expanded parking options will offer more spaces for motorcycles and vehicles driven by people with disabilities.

The station will also feature a rain garden and permeable pavers, which will be used to treat storm runoff.

In excess of 200 parking spaces will be affected during construction, which will span eight months and be divided into two phases.



Photo Credit: BART]]>
<![CDATA[Animals Rescued From Oakland Nature Center Recovering]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 19:19:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nature+center-0503.jpg

Some of the rescue animals that had to be rescued from alleged mistreatment at a popular Oakland nature center were put up for adoption Wednesday at a pet store in El Cerrito.

Two guinea pigs and one mouse were recovering at RabbitEARS Pet Supply, and workers there said they're doing a lot better compared to when they first arrived. A guinea pig now named Dumpling was one of the animals getting care at RabbitEARS.

"They had bald spots and bigger wounds," one volunteer said.

Some of the reptiles rescued were in the care of a veterinarian.

"Reptiles take a long time for their condition to deteriorate, so we can determine whether this was a long-term issue or short-term issue," Animal Services Director Rebecca Katz said.

Volunteers stepped in to take care of the animals from the Rotary Nature Center about a month ago after they recieved tips about abuse. The center on Lake Merritt is now closed, and Animal Services is investigating a former supervisor who was responsible for the animals' care.

Stephanie Benavides, who is homeless, faces allegations of starving the animals and having them live in their own feces. Benavides said Tuesday she worked at the nature center for 40 years and denied any wrongdoing.


Meanwhile, regular visitors to the center said they hope it will be cleaned up and reopen and receive more funding to help the animals.

"I know plenty of people who love animals that would love to show these animals some care and attention," art teacher Amaranta Colindres said. "I would love to see this place stick around because it reminds me of my childhood." 

Colindres added that she hopes the summer camp at the center will remain intact and intends to offer to paint a mural for the center.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[East Bay High School Proposes Splitting From District]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 08:02:15 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/northgate-0502.jpg

Northgate High School in Walnut Creek is the epicenter for a contentious debate over accountability and exclusion.

The school is proposing to separate from one of the largest school district’s in the state, Mt. Diablo Unified, and create its own district.

Mt. Diablo Unified currently oversees 32,000 students. The proposed Northgate District would consist of 4,600 kids.

The move is seen by critics as a form of discrimination between the haves and have nots while proponents say it's a way to gain accountability and local control. Both sides are digging in their heels.

“We see this move as being exclusionary," a Northgate teacher said at a packed meeting Tuesday night. "Our vision for our students is to be global citizens and to understand social justice issues."

Families who live in the upper middle class Northgate High area now have about 6,700 signatures favoring a secession from Mt. Diablo Unified.

"Comparing yourself to past underperformance is not the way the world works," parent Jim Mills said. "I’ve had neighbors and administrators say I’m just a bitter parent, and I need to get over it, and Mt. Diablo is making improvements."

Those improvements aren’t good enough for the Northgate community advocacy group for public schools that's at the center of the proposed new district.

Those against the move, say creating a district with only five schools in the affluent areas in and around Walnut Creek promotes segregation, pushing black and brown students out.

"It is so representative of segregation, exclusion vestiges of a time long gone," history teacher Meg Honey said.

Superintendent Nellie Meyer said Northgate has programs provided across the district, and in the event of a separation, many students won't have access to programs their families rely on.

Another public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Walnut Creek. Beyond that, the county school board will have to make its recommendation to the state.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Rising Temperatures Spark Fears About Fires in Bay Area]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 08:07:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Firefighter-generic-brush-f.jpg

It is sweltering in the Bay Area and the heat wave has prompted fears about fire danger.

Fire departments across the area are keeping a close eye on wildfires amid skyrocketing temperatures.

Places like Dinosaur Park in Pleasant Hill are seeing a good amount of grass and weeds, following the heavy rain. But firefighters worry the heat will cause the grass to turn brown in no time, posing a potential fire hazard.

To that end, Contra Costa County officials have already begun sending weed abatement notices to homes in the area. Residents are asked to comply by mid-June.

“We always encourage people to be careful of smoking materials, of parking vehicles on unabated grass and weeds like this, and to be careful using lawn mowers that aren’t designed for weed whacking because they can actually strike a rock and cause a spark and ignite a fire,” said George Laing, a spokesman for the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Investigates Possible Animal Abuse at Nature Center]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 23:58:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/nature+center-0502.jpg

A former supervisor at an Oakland rescue center was under investigation Tuesday for possibly mistreating the animals under her care, according to a city official.

The Rotary Nature Center on Lake Merritt is no longer home to 13 rescue animals after they had to be rescued themselves from mistreatment, a source told NBC Bay Area.

The animals were in terrible shape, the source said, but the former supervisor, Stephanie Benavidez, swears she's done nothing wrong.

The 13 animals include seven reptiles, two guinea pigs, three birds and a mouse. One of the reptiles is a 62-year-old California desert tortoise named Anthony.

One source said the animals were starving, some forced into cramped spaces, sitting in their own feces. They also said the center has been the focus of at least two previous investigations.

Peter Takeuchi, of Oakland, is a frequent visitor to the center with his grandchildren. He said he's not surprised.

"Unfortunately, they all died off," he said. "Within the last six months, the snake went then the spider went."

Benavidez, who is under investigation by Animal Control authorities, said she would never mistreat the animals at the center where she's worked for more than 40 years.

"I love my animals, and my animals are taken care of," she said. "I put my life on that."

Benavidez, who is homeless, said she first came to the city's attention for living in a city van without permission.

A city spokesperson confirmed the investigation and said personnel issues are being addressed. The spokesperson said they are looking at reprogramming the facility to make it more accessible to the public.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Richmond Police Locate Missing Teen With Autism]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 23:55:42 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/richmond-missing.jpg

Richmond police late Tuesday located a missing 16-year-old boy diagnosed with autism.

Ramon Garcia, who had been missing since 2:05 p.m. Tuesday, after he left from Richmond High School, where he is a special education student, was found late Tuesday night, police said.

Police did not say where the boy was found.

Police said Ramon has walked away from campus in the past. During a previous incident, he rode on an AC Transit bus to BART and went to San Francisco, where he was located. 



Photo Credit: Richmond PD]]>
<![CDATA[UC President Apologizes to Lawmakers, Disputes Audit]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 23:58:03 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-482268740.jpg

After a state audit found University of California administrators hid $175 million from the public while tuition increased, university system President Janet Napolitano apologized Tuesday for the way her office handled the investigation but disputed several of the audit's findings.

Lawmakers at a hearing Tuesday said they are deeply troubled by the state auditor's finding that the UC president's office tried to interfere with the audit.

State Auditor Elaine Howle told lawmakers she faced an unprecedented lack of cooperation from Napolitano's office while it was under audit. She detailed efforts by the president's office to edit responses from individual UC campuses to survey questions from auditors.

"We felt that the surveys didn't reflect an independent voice from those campuses," Howle said.

Napolitano said the $175 million figure was inaccurate. But she agreed her office should keep clearer budget plans and records, as the audit recommended.

She told lawmakers Tuesday the money in reserves totals $38 million, which she described as a "prudent and reasonable" amount set aside for unexpected expenses. Most of the $175 million Howle identified is already committed to important university programs, Napolitano said.

Napolitano said she coordinated with the individual campuses on their audit responses to ensure they were accurate.

"My team made the decision to work with our campuses to ensure they understood the purpose of the audit and the audit's scope," Napolitano told lawmakers. "I am sorry that we did it this way because it has created the wrong impression and detracted from the important fact that we accept the recommendations in the audit report."

Assemblyman Jose Medina said he found the auditor's description of interference by the president's office particularly concerning.

"To interfere in that process, to me, is undefendable," the Democrat from Riverside said. "I am extremely bothered that there was tampering."

UC administrators amassed $175 million in undisclosed surplus money over four years even as the university system raised tuition and asked the state for more funding, according to the audit released last week.

"They are not putting California students and families first, particularly with their budget," said Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin in the East Bay. "This is unbelievable for an institution that has in its hands the education of California students and hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money and student fees."

In the report, Howle said state lawmakers should increase oversight of Napolitano's office.

Baker and several other Republican lawmakers are asking for the Democratically controlled Legislature to subpoena financial records and communications related to the surplus money identified by the audit.

The UC Board of Regents in January voted to increase in-state tuition and fees $336 next academic year. Some lawmakers called for a reversal of the tuition hike in the wake of the audit.



Photo Credit: Getty Images file]]>
<![CDATA[Caution Urged in East Bay Parks Following Rattlesnake Bite]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 18:15:15 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/9-20-16-view-from-mission-peak-fremont.jpg

A rattlesnake bite of a hiker Monday on Mission Peak east of Fremont prompted officials with the East Bay Regional Park District to issue a statement Tuesday about safety around rattlesnakes in the parks.

"We just want the public to be aware," park district spokeswoman Carol Johnson said. "We just want to make sure everyone's safe."

A 47-year-old San Jose man was bitten at about 1 p.m. Monday on the top of Mission Peak.

The bite left him is serious condition and he was flown in a California Highway Patrol helicopter to Washington Hospital in Fremont. Johnson did not have an update on his condition Tuesday.

Park district officials are urging visitors to be careful during spring and summer when snakes are more active. Rattlesnakes are especially active in warmer weather and a warm body allows rattlesnakes to move more quickly to catch prey, parks officials said.

Caution is also advised because a rattlesnake may not warn its victim by shaking its rattle. But if they do, the rattle will sound like sizzling bacon, park officials said.

Visitors are warned to avoid trying to capture or harm a snake since all wild animals in the parks are protected by law.

Visitors are encouraged to get in touch with park staff if a rattlesnake is seen. If bitten, parks officials urge people to consider it serious.

"Any rattlesnake bite is considered a medical emergency," Johnson said.

The man Monday had his wife with him, according to Johnson.

"Always being with a friend or buddy is preferable in case something happens and someone needs to go for help," she said.

Snakebite victims are encouraged to stay calm and send someone to call 911. Victims should lie down and keep the limb that was bitten lower than the heart.

Victims should avoid wasting precious time on tourniquets, "cutting and sucking," or snakebite kits.

Anyone who is alone should walk calmly to the nearest source of help such as another person, park employee or should call 911 as soon as possible.

Anyone bitten by another kind of snake should wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and get medical attention.

Visitors unsure of what kind of bite they received should look for two puncture marks in most cases. In rare cases, rattlesnakes will leave one mark.

Anyone bitten by a rattlesnake will feel intense burning pain.

Park district employees have received six rattlesnake-related reports in the past seven days.

A dog was bitten over the weekend at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. Additionally, rattlesnakes were seen recently in a park in Walnut Creek, a park in Pittsburg and at the park district's police headquarters at Lake Chabot Regional Park.

Snakebites, however, are rare in East Bay parks, according to park district officials.

"Snakes don't really want to have anything to do with humans," Johnson said.

Park staff won't kill a snake that has bitten a visitor, but they may capture it and relocate it, especially if the visitor was bitten in a more public area of the park such as a picnic area.

A rattlesnake can be recognized by its triangular head that is slightly wider than its neck, a thick body with dull skin and black and white bands on its tail. The tip of the tail has a rattle.

Most snakes are harmless to pets and humans, but snakes will bite in self-defense, park officials said.



Photo Credit: Kevin Fox ]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect in 19-Hour Standoff Charged With Wife's Murder]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 17:55:25 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-28-17-martinez-standoff-chopper.jpg

A man who allegedly killed his wife Thursday in Walnut Creek and held police at bay in Martinez until Friday afternoon was charged with murder Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Gregory Prokopowicz, 38, allegedly killed 47-year-old Roselyn Policarpio at around 1:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of First Avenue, according to police.

Prokopowicz and Policarpio were husband and wife, police said, although it was not immediately clear how long the two had been married.

After a 19-hour standoff, Prokopowicz was arrested at 2:11 p.m. in Martinez.

Prokopowicz will appear in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Martinez.

In the standoff, Prokopowicz was allegedly armed with a gun and two knives. He threatened to harm himself when he put the gun to his head, police said.

SWAT team officers tried to get Prokopowicz to surrender by firing a less-than-lethal sponge round at him, which hit him in the ribs.

Prokopowicz, however, did not give up until the SWAT team fired three rounds of tear gas into the car where he was holding authorities at bay, according to police.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Community Reacts to Oikos University Shooter’s Plea]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 17:54:37 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oaklandoikos.jpg

A man accused of killing seven people in a shooting rampage at Oikos University in Oakland in 2012 entered a no contest plea to murder charges on Tuesday, and now faces multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole, an Alameda County prosecutor said.

One Goh, 48, was found guilty of seven counts of murder, three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance allegations of committing a murder during a kidnapping and committing multiple murders for the shooting at Oikos, a Christian vocational school located near Oakland International Airport, on April 2, 2012.

Alameda County prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew told Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner of Goh's plea and said prosecutors do not plan to seek the death penalty against him.

Goh will be sentenced to seven consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 271 years to life, Pettigrew told the judge.

"This defendant will be in prison for the rest of his life and will never again be in a position to harm anyone in our community in the way he so horrendously did, five years ago," said Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. 

Oikos University students said Tuesday that the community still experiences the devastation of that one day. 

"I like this school despite what happened," said Christina Williams, who is studying to be a nurse. Her aunt was working toward the same goal when she was gunned down by Goh.

"She was a very nice person, very down to earth, helpful," she said. 

Criminal proceedings against Goh were suspended after his lawyers doubted his mental competency to stand trial, but he was recently deemed by court-appointed doctors to be restored to competency.

Williams expressed relief that Goh had finally been sentenced.

"Many people lost their lives," she said. "That's good that justice finally came to pass. I'm happy to hear that."

Prosecutors said Goh had dropped out of Oikos several months before the shooting and wanted his tuition refunded and targeted an administrator who wasn't present on the day of the shooting. 

"I think a lot of people were traumatized because of that," Daniel Lee, an Oikos student, said. 

Goh's attorney said his client suffers from a mental illness and is deeply sorry for the pain he caused.

Oikos University issued a statement, which said in part: "It's a heartbreaking memory for all of us. Justice is served, but we feel sorry for Mr. Goh's soul."



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Korea Daily]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Issue First Spare the Air Alert of Summer Season]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 12:58:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/12-24-2013-spare-the-air.jpg

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the first Spare the Air Alert of the summer season for Wednesday because of a forecast for unhealthy amounts of smog.

Even though it's still springtime, air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said that summer-like conditions will lead to hazy skies.

Unhealthy levels of ozone accumulation are anticipated because of hot weather and light winds combining with motor vehicle exhaust.

Air quality is expected to be moderate throughout much of the Bay Area, but unhealthy for sensitive groups in the air district's eastern region, which includes parts of Solano, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Cities within the eastern region include Benicia, Antioch, Concord, Walnut Creek and San Ramon.

The air district is encouraging commuters to carpool or ride public transit rather than driving alone to help reduce the impacts of smog. Other good options include biking to work or telecommuting.

Wednesday's smog alert is taking place in the middle of Air Quality Awareness Week, a nationwide advocacy campaign that ends Friday.

For more information, people can go to www.sparetheair.org or call 1 (800) HELP-AIR.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Coroner IDs Man, Child Killed in Crash on I-880 in Oakland]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 11:23:13 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-1-17-oakland-880-fatal-crash.jpg

A man and a girl killed in a collision on Interstate 880 in Oakland were identified Tuesday by the Alameda County coroner as 23-year-old Dion Christy and 5-year-old Neveah Brown, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

The collision occurred shortly after 5 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-880 just south of Fifth Avenue, the California Highway Patrol said.

A white box truck was disabled on the right shoulder with its hazard lights on and a black BMW was speeding north when it veered off the roadway and hit the truck, according to the CHP.

Immediately after the collision, the BMW re-entered the roadway and was struck by a Ford F-250, the CHP said.

Christy and Neveah, both of Oakland, were sitting in the back seat of the BMW and died in the collision, according to the CHP. It appeared that the child was not properly restrained inside the vehicle, CHP officials said.

The driver of the BMW, another child and a woman passenger of the BMW were all transported to local hospitals, according to the CHP.

Investigators do not believe that drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision, according to the CHP.

A Sig-alert was issued after the collision because all northbound Highway 880 lanes were blocked.

Christy graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 2012, according to a social media website.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Rescue Mentor Dog Stolen From Castro Valley Home]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 09:37:56 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MissingDogCastroValley.jpg

Authorities are seeking help in finding a German Shepherd rescue mentor dog who was stolen from his owner's home in Castro Valley in unincorporated Alameda County on Sunday.

Murfee, a 3-year-old black and tan German Shepherd, was stolen from his yard near Palomares Road in Castro Valley between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, authorities said.

Murfee weighs about 80 pounds and is tall and lean and was last seen wearing a lime green collar with ID tags, according to authorities. He is micro-chipped and neutered.

Authorities said Murfee has helped to mentor hundreds of rescued German Shepherd Dogs to help them learn proper social skills before they moved on to their homes.

Murfee helps teach rescued German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, many of whom are very under-socialized, how to get along nicely with other dogs and what proper dog-to-dog etiquette is, authorities said.

It's important that dogs learn those skills before moving into their new homes, dog experts said.

Authorities said Murfee's owner, JJ Jacobson, has worked with German Shepherd Rescue since 2002 and has taken in as many as 3,500 German Shepherds to be fostered and successfully placed in new homes.

Murfee was taken into police protective custody after he was being thrown against a wall during a domestic violence disturbance, authorities said.

Because Murfee was so young, animal control officials reached out to Jacobson to care for him while the case went through the court process.

A few months later, the suspect gave up all rights to the puppy, and Jacobson adopted Murfee.

Authorities are trying to raise $10,000 for a reward for Murfee's safe return and $7,000 has been raised so far.

The Go Fund Me page designed to raise money for a reward has been created. A Facebook page has also been set up to help in the search effort.



Photo Credit: JJ Jacobson]]>
<![CDATA['Not Your Enemy:' Hundreds Attend Concord May Day Protest]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 22:31:22 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SANC+CITY.jpg

Echoing dozens of protests nationwide against anti-immigrant rhetoric and exploitive work conditions, about 200 marchers took to the streets of Concord on May Day to demand the city protect its large Latino population and enact programs to help low-income residents. 

Protesters gathered at Meadow Homes Park at 4 p.m. Monday and marched to Todos Santos Plaza, a city square founded by Don Salvio Pacheco, a Mexican American settler and native Californian. Contra Costa Progressives, Tenants Together and Raise the Roof organized the permitted rally with other Bay Area social justice coalitions. 

For hours, the crowd chanted “Si, se puede!” and cheered as speakers took turns speaking out against racism and President Donald Trump. But Concord’s protest, like those in other parts of the Bay Area, wasn’t just about protecting immigrants. It was also about advocating for a national living wage, affordable housing and universal health care — issues that affect “all Americans,” according to organizers. 

Several marchers carried signs that read “health care for all.” Many others who attended the rally waved posters endorsing rent control, an issue gaining traction as rents in the city continue to rise between 8 and 15 percent each year. 

“We’re marching because we want to show public support for immigrants, low-wage workers, and renters in Concord,” said Bob Lane, an advocate with the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy. “We don’t believe their voices are being heard by people in power.”

Lane noted that all speakers at the event were community members, not politicians or professional public speakers. The goal of the Concord demonstration, he said, was to highlight marginalized voices within the community. 

In contrast to the Oakland and San Francisco demonstrations — which attracted a greater number of people but also resulted in arrests — the Concord event was family friendly and remained peaceful throughout its duration. Parents were spotted pushing strollers in the city square, and small children danced to blaring trumpets and drumlines while enjoying local cuisine.

Sandra Mercado, a Concord resident who descended from immigrants, babysat for two of her undocumented friends so they could participate in the long march. 

“They came here, and they both have two jobs and work six days a week, yet it still takes both of them and their two older sons to make ends meet,” Mercado said, as she played with the couple’s 8-year-old daughter. “They’re terrified of Trump — they’re terrified that they might one day be separated.” 

“It tears my heart,” she continued.  

Scores of young attendees came in support of their parents. 

“My parents are undocumented, and there are a lot of people in the community that have fear," said Nancy Yvarra, a Richmond resident. "I’m here because I care about the struggle and want to support my community and my family.”

Three Trump supporters who arrived with signs imploring immigrants to “speak English” were largely ignored by the throngs of demonstrators. Instead, the rally goers focused their attention on a teenager reading poetry about living in America as an immigrant. 


“We are the voices you never hear,” read Pedro Miramontes, a 17-year-old Concord resident. “You see us as aliens, people without aliases. Your homes we built, your soil we till. We love your country. We are not your enemy.”



Photo Credit: Gillian Edevane]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Engulfs Homeless Encampment Under Freeway in Oakland]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 21:54:50 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oak+fire-0501.jpg

A homeless encampment in a freeway underpass on the border of Oakland and Emeryville erupted in flames Monday night, sending billowing black smoke into the air that could be seen from miles away.

Fire crews responded about 8:20 p.m. to reports of a fire underneath Interstate 580, near Peralta and 36th streets, fire crews said.

No further details were available.



Photo Credit: Orion Parrott]]>
<![CDATA[Hiker Bit By Rattlesnake at Fremont's Mission Peak]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 00:16:48 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fremont-snake-0501-2017.jpg

A San Jose man is in serious condition following a rattlesnake bite Monday afternoon east of Fremont on Mission Peak, a California Highway Patrol flight officer and paramedic said.

The snake bit the man at about 1 p.m. on the top of Mission Peak during a hike with his wife. A CHP helicopter crew heard a call to emergency personnel, responded and landed on the peak.

The victim was given anti-venom after being transported to Washington Hospital, CHP Flight Officer and Paramedic Shaun Bouyea said. Bouyea was the one who administered the anti-venom.

The victim, 47, sat on a rock at the top of the peak, put his hand down and was bitten by the snake, Bouyea said.

When Bouyea got to him, the victim was in serious condition.

The response by emergency personnel was delayed because cellphone service is limited on the peak and a language barrier existed.

Bouyea said the only way to the peak is with a 4-wheel drive or helicopter and the quickest way to the man was by helicopter.

With all the wet weather in the Bay Area, experts say the snake population is booming, and with the warm weather now upon us, people should be on alert as the snakes come out.

"In the summer, they’re looking for water," said Anu Pareek, who added that she encountered two rattlesnakes on the Mission Peak trail during her hike.

She said if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

"I would say stay out of the grassy areas," Pareek said. "It’s better to stay on the trail, and if you have dogs, keep them on the leash."

Experts say rattlesnake bites are pretty rare. People who encounter rattlesnakes should give them space to get to their destination.

]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Take Part in Bay Area May Day Marches]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 23:38:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mainimage3.jpg

Thousands took part in peaceful yet passionate May Day marches and rallies across the Bay Area on Monday, joining demonstrations around the nation fighting for immigrants' and workers' rights.

In San Jose, a march included children who skipped school and business owners who closed up shop to show their solidarity. It began at Mexican Heritage Plaza about 3 p.m. and followed Santa Clara Street through downtown and finishing at SAP Center. Along the way, the marchers made four stops, each time knocking down a symbolic wall in the middle of the street.


Parents with schoolchildren were hoping the demonstration would be a teachable moment for their kids.

"I'm trying to bring her out here so she can learn a little bit, social stuff here that you don’t see too much in schools," parent Jamie Torres said.

The marchers walked by several businesses, many closed for the day. The owner of Mexico Bakery said he’ll lose thousands of dollars but added it’s a price he’s willing to pay to support the march. His 50 workers participated in the march.


Meanwhile, San Jose police kept a close eye on the marchers, getting an early head count so they were able to see how many officers they would need.

"Our officers have met with the organizers, and we have an operational plan in place," Sgt. Enrique Garcia said. "Our goal is to keep it a safe environment for all the participants as well as the community."

In San Francisco, the May Day march drew a bigger crowd than it has in previous years, and while it was peaceful, there was no lack of passion among the marchers, and the recurring message of resisting hate, racism and discrimination had a bit more punch.

"The people in this country support immigrants, we don’t hate," demonstrator Richard Goldstein, of San Francisco, said. "Immigrants made this country."

Fellow marcher Lisa Cassidy, of Dublin, agreed.

"We all come from immigrants," she said. "I mean all our families. And there shouldn’t be this huge ban on selective groups of people."

Among the marchers Sergio Rosales and his 14-year-old daughter Karina. He said he wanted his daughter to understand what is happening.

"I really want her to see and experience what other people are having," he said.

Twenty-seven years ago, Rosales ran across the border from Mexico. He has since become a U.S. citizen and started his own janitorial business, now with 11 employees.

"I’m not a criminal," he said. "I'm a father of two kids, you know, working hard. That’s the story of many people in here."

Karina said she got the message. It brought her to tears.

"I think that everyone should just take advantage of what they have right now because some people take that for granted," she said. "And people in a lot of countries really want what they have here."

Earlier in the day in San Francisco, roughly 20 protesters linked arms and formed a human wall in front of the entrance and exit point for deportation buses at the ICE building.


In Oakland, the latest in a series of May Day marches ended at San Antonio Park in the afternoon. At least 500 people marched down International Boulevard, some saying this year's demonstration felt a bit different because of the current political climate.

"It definitely feels different than last year," marcher Gloria Ramirez said. "I think last year was to promote workers' rights, but right now, it's to promote everybody's rights."

At an earlier rally at the Alameda County government building, four people were arrested after chaining themselves to the front doors, demanding changes in how the county deals with federal immigration officials.

"To break away from their reliance on militarized policing, break away from their ties with ICE and stop the explosion of cages," said Woods Ervin of Continual Resistance.

The Oakland rally was expected to last well into the evening.

No arrests were reported in San Jose or San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Gordon Mak]]>
<![CDATA[Pittsburg Teachers Union, District Reach Tentative Agreement]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 15:31:36 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/teachers+union+deal.jpg

The Pittsburg Unified School District on Monday announced that it reached a tentative agreement with its local teachers union, thereby putting an end to months of negotiations and heightening worries that a deal wouldn’t be brokered before the start of summer vacation. 

District officials fittingly announced the April deal on May Day, an international day of action that raises awareness for workers’ rights. The agreement, which is replete with compromises, was certified at a mid-April education board meeting and will be finalized in the coming weeks. 

Ultimately, the Pittsburg Education Association secured its union members a four percent salary bump, with retroactive payment starting from July 1. They will also control at least four Wednesdays — a short school day in the district to accommodate administrative meetings — to organize and collaborate with other teachers. No change was made to the benefits agreement; the district will continue to cover 93 percent of health benefits contributions. 

District teachers who are members of the California School Employees Association will also receive the same four percent pay bump, with retroactive payment starting from July 1.

Norma Gonzales, the assistant superintendent of human resources for the district, touted the deal and noted that Pittsburg teacher salaries rank in the top one-third of total compensation for Contra Costa County schools. Over the past three years, district teachers received an 18 percent salary hike. 

“It allows us to find and hire top talent to serve our students in the classroom and in support staff roles throughout the District,” Gonzales said in a statement. 

A representative for the Pittsburg Education Association did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Back in December, the teachers union and district leaders reached an impasse and entered a mediation process. The Pittsburg Education Association asked the district to cover 100 percent of health benefits contributions, agree to a 5.5 percent salary hike and create smaller special education class sizes, among other demands. District leaders countered by offering a three percent raise hike and no change to employee benefits. 

As part of the agreement, discussion about reducing special education class sizes will continue, with new class sizes taking effect during the 2018 to 2019 academic year, according to the tentative agreement. 

If mediation failed, the impasse would have continued to mandatory arbitration. Classes would not have been affected. 

It's not unusual for the union and the district to reach an impasse. In 2015, union President Dawn Cova described it as a routine occurrence in an interview with the East Bay Times.

"I've been in the district 12 years, and I can't recall one time that we haven't gone to impasse," Cova, a middle school teacher, said. "It just kind of becomes part of the process here." 

The Pittsburg Unified School District is comprised of more than a dozen schools and serves 11,000 students. The Pittsburg Education Association represents the district's teachers, therapists, and other school employees. 



Photo Credit: Pittsburg Unified School District ]]>
<![CDATA[Fight for Rights: Thousands March in May Day Rallies]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 17:41:49 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-1-17_May_Day_SF.jpg

Joining hundreds of thousands around the world, droves of demonstrators on Monday are gathering across the Bay Area for May Day rallies, which are drawing special attention to immigrants' rights in the wake of the Trump administration's controversial executive orders and promises.

Traditional May Day demonstrations were originally designed to propagate workers' rights and combat exploitative working conditions. But, in recent years, the annual day of action has been highlighted by a range of social issues, particularly the need for immigration reform and a living wage.  


The jam-packed day of activity started with people blocking off an intersection near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco. Standing in the street in front of cars, demonstrators overtook crosswalks and hoisted signs reading "Sanctuary For All" and "Resist Hate, Racism, Corporate Greed" into the air. Others grabbed chalk and paint to decorate the concrete with phrases such as "Resist" and "No Ban, No Wall" in large red and white letters.

Roughly 20 protesters stamped with white pieces of paper on their shirts reading "#ResistUniteProtect" or "#SanctuaryForAll" also linked arms, formed a human wall and planted themselves in front of the entrance and exit point for deportation buses at the ICE building. The move was designed to promote solidarity with immigrants, according to protester Dalia Yedidia.

"So we know that there are workers, immigrants, and immigrant workers, and we're here in solidarity with them denouncing the intense escalation of anti-immigrant racist policies coming out of the Trump administration," she said.


Demonstrators blocks away at Justin Herman Plaza waved politically-themed signs and shouted in support of immigrants' rights while simultaneously chastising the Trump administration's border wall proposals and commitment — despite a blocked executive order — to defund sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

"Folks are feeling a lot of fear right now in both with the executive orders and with we don't know what's going to come down the pipe," demonstrator My Trinh said. "I think they're feeling unsupported. There are folks who are being pushed into the shadows."


Across the Bay Bridge, motionless people — outlined by chalked silhouettes — rested on the ground outside the Alameda County Administration building while demonstrators stood over them chanting for an end to police violence, mass incarceration and immigration raids.

At least four people attending that rally were arrested for trespassing, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

Shops and restaurants across the Bay Area joined the movement behind the May Day rallies by closing their doors, students engineered school walkouts, and even major tech hubs like Facebook and Uber allowed their employees to participate in workers’ strikes without penalization.

Work at the Port of Oakland temporarily came to a halt, but it wasn't a walkout, a spokesman for the longshoremen's union told NBC Bay Area. He said it's a negotiated day off in the port workers' contract because typically hundreds of dock workers participate in May Day demonstrations. Only the day shift at the port was affected, he said.

Check below for a list of protests, rallies and demonstrations:

San Francisco: Rally and festival at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office at 8 a.m.; Chinatown community rally at Portsmouth Square from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Rally at Justin Herman Plaza with a march to Civic Center Plaza at 11 a.m.; Montgomery Bart Station rally from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mountain View: March at Rengstorff Park Community Center at 4 p.m. A rally will follow at 5:45 p.m. at City Hall.

San Jose: Rally at Mexican Heritage Plaza at 1 p.m.; March to Arena Greens at Autumn and Santa Clara Streets at 3 p.m.; May Day rally and march at Story and King Roads from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Morgan Hill: March from Galvan Park to ICE office on Vineyard Court at 4 p.m. 

Oakland: People's Climate Movement contingent march on 12th street near Citibank at 2 p.m.*; Hotel Workers contingent march at Mandela Parkway and Yerba Buena at 1:30 p.m.*; May Day Restaurant Industry contingent march on 1419 34th Avenue at 2 p.m.*; Rally at Fruitvale Plaza at 3 p.m. 

*These marches will likely feed into the rally at Fruitvale Plaza. 

Berkeley: Workers’ Day Rally at UC Berkeley at noon. 

Concord: Rally at Meadow Homes Park at 4 p.m.; Rally at Todos Santos Plaza at 6 p.m. 




Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[At Least 4 Killed on Bay Area Roadways After Major Crashes]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 06:58:46 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/5-1-17_Fatal_Crashes.jpg

At least four people died on Bay Area roadways Monday morning after a slew of major crashes, according to officials.

An adult male and a child, who police believe was not properly secured in a BMW, were killed along Interstate 880 in Oakland shortly after 5 a.m. during a violent collision with two other vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol. The crash temporarily blocked all lanes of northbound lanes of traffic and triggered major delays in the area, according to the CHP.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the black BMW veered from the roadway near 5th Avenue and slammed into a box van that was stopped on the shoulder, according to the CHP. The BMW attempted to maneuver back onto the freeway, but it was smacked by a Ford truck.

The adult male and child were sitting in the back seat of the BMW when the crash occurred, according to the CHP. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Three other people in the BMW, including the driver and another child, were injured and transported to local area hospitals, according to the CHP.

Authorities do not believe that alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, but the driver could be charged for not adequately securing the child.

A second fatal crash on northbound Interstate 880 also blocked traffic in San Leandro earlier in the morning. That crash happened just before 1 a.m. along northbound Interstate 880 near Marina Boulevard, according to authorities.

A Ford Fusion was travelling in the No. 4 lane when it rear-ended a Honda Insight, sending the Honda across four lanes of traffic and into the center divider, according to the CHP. An incoming Buick struck the Honda, launching it back into the center of the roadway. A semi-truck then side-swiped the Honda before the Honda finally came to rest.

The driver of the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver of the Buick sustained major injuries, according to the CHP.

Across the Bay Bridge, a fourth person was found dead around 3:30 a.m. on the Octavio on-ramp to southbound Highway 101, according to officials. It is not clear at this time how the person was killed, but the ramp was temporarily closed for an investigation.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Missing East Bay Man With Alzheimer's Found Safe]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2017 14:47:02 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MissingManElderlyPH.jpg

A missing elderly man was found safe and sound Sunday afternoon after walking away from his car in Pleasant Hill, police said.

Norman Spellberg, 91, was reported missing shortly before 2 p.m. before being found roughly one hour later, according to police.

Spellberg was considered "at risk" because he has Alzheimer's, police said.



Photo Credit: Pleasant Hill Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Toddler Killed After Tragic Accident in Union City: Police]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2017 22:05:04 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ambulance+GettyImages-478895016.jpg

A 23-month-old toddler in Union City was struck and killed by a car Saturday afternoon in what police said was a tragic accident.

The young boy and his mother were shopping inside a Dollar Tree located on Dakota Road around 3:15 p.m. when the child bolted out of the store's front door, according to Lt. Jeff Snell from the Union City Police Department. The boy's mother ran after him, but it was too late. A man driving roughly 5 mph in the parking lot hit the boy, leaving him with serious injuries.

The toddler was rushed to Stanford University Medical Center, but he later died, according to Snell.

No charges or citations were issued to the driver, who was fully cooperative with police after the accident, Snell said. Witnesses told police that the driver did nothing wrong, and Snell added that the driving was driving slowly and safely. The fatal collision was simply an unfortunate accident.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[BAMPFA's 'Hippie Modernism' Exhibit Goes Beyond Tie-Dye]]>Mon, 01 May 2017 00:52:08 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Hippie-Modernism-Photo.jpg

The hippies who created the Summer of Love aesthetic should get more respect for their contributions to design, architecture, technology and politics, according to the curators of an art exhibit in Berkeley.

"Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia," which runs at BAMPFA through May 21, strives to go beyond the tie-dye and jam bands to highlight the revolutionary ideas behind imagery of the late 60s.

"The stereotypes of the counterculture don't allow us to see it as a time of serious experimentation in all kinds of art forms," said Greg Castillo, the exhibit's co-curator and a professor of architecture at UC Berkeley.

While art historians focused on the conceptual art and minimalism that rocked the art world in the 60s, the San Francisco Bay Area was a hotbed of innovation in art, architecture, design, computing, and social change.

Like the intricate and colorful fabrics of textile artist and Berkeley native Frances Butler, or the cozy, hand-hewn interiors that Barry Shapiro captured in his photographs of backwoods cabins, the Bay Area's design aesthetic in the late 60s was the opposite of minimal.

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis organized the show, which features pieces from around the world. Castillo's job was to make sure that its presentation at BAMPFA had a distinct Bay Area flavor.

"We decided that if we were bringing a show on the counterculture to the epicenter of the counterculture, we needed to add more local content to it. So that's what we did," Castillo said.

While the exhibit includes everything from psychedelic and political posters, DYI buildings, and sexy happenings, spanning diverse mediums and messages, themes of ecology, technology and dramatic social and political change emerge. 

One collection of colorful screen prints was produced on reams of discarded computer paper in the basement of Berkeley's architecture department. The unsigned posters were sold for 5 cents each to raise money for anti-war efforts. This enraged then Calif. Gov. Ronald Reagan, but no one was punished because no university paper and ink were used to make the prints, Castillo said.

Another piece, a vintage computer terminal borrowed from the Computer History Museum in San Jose, shows how Berkeley-based "cyber-freaks" experimented with early computer networking to respond to the Free Speech Movement, Castillo said. The Community Memory terminals were installed at public libraries, bookstores and record shops throughout downtown. The free computers allowed people to post about ride-shares, astrology, and community events on a publicly accessible proto-BBS, or bulletin board system.

San Francisco was also home to groundbreaking gender-bending troupes of improvisational "acid drag queens" like the Cockettes, the Angeles of Light and the Diggers.

Castillo notes that these performers joyfully played with gender and sex more than 20 years before academics like Judith Butler theorized that gender is socially constructed and performed.

While pieces in the exhibit look psychedelic, some of the art actually was. Some examples of LSD blotter paper art belonging to San Francisco collector Mark McCloud showcase the designs on sheets of LSD tabs.

Castillo said the collection is worth preserving as "counterculture folk art." But whatever psychotropic chemicals are left on the framed sheets -- it's no longer LSD, which is how the museum can display them.

For more information on the Hippie Modernism exhibit, running through May1, click here

]]>
<![CDATA[UC Berkeley Named 'America's Best Value College': Forbes]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2017 11:09:06 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/UCBerkeleyGeneric.jpg

Tuition might be expensive, but attending the University of California, Berkeley provides the most bang for your buck, according to a new Forbes report.

The East Bay university topped the list of Forbes' "America's Best Value Colleges" list, which calculates what schools are worth the financial investment. Southern California's University of California, Los Angeles and the East Coast's Princeton University rounded out the top three, respectively.

UC Berkeley wasn't the only institution in the area labeled as a school worth the investment. Stanford University checked in at No. 7 on the list while University of California, Davis grabbed the No. 9 spot.

Not to be left out, Santa Clara University (No. 63), San Jose State University (No. 140), University of San Francisco (No. 176), San Francisco State University (No. 210), Saint Mary's College (No. 234), California State University, East Bay (No. 240) and Sonoma State University (No. 300) also nabbed a spot on the list.

The annual list takes into account "tuition costs, school quality, post-grad earnings, student debt and graduation success," according to Forbes.

An interesting trend noted in the report indicates that roughly 70 percent of the schools listed in the top 100 are research universities, meaning that the education is centered around science, technology and engineering. A STEM-oriented education is defined by Forbes as being increasingly valuable because that's where the jobs are in this day and age.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Young Driver Nods Off, Smashes Into Power Pole in Martinez]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2017 09:10:45 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_185887181_police_lights_generic1.jpg

A young driver smashed into a telephone and electrical pole in Martinez early Sunday, triggering a power outage for customers in the area, according to police.

The driver was travelling along the 6700 block of Alhambra Avenue around 3:15 a.m. when he likely fell asleep at the wheel before crashing into the pole, according to police.

Police do not believe alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, and the driver was not injured. He was released to his parents after an investigation was completed.

Alhambra Avenue between Devon Avenue and Virginia Hills Drive was closed for some time while crews cleared the car, picked up fallen electrical lines and restored power, according to police.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Expected to Show at Bay Area May Day Rallies]]>Sun, 30 Apr 2017 23:36:58 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/may+day-0430-2017.jpg

Hundreds of thousands of protesters on Monday are expected to gather across the country for International Workers' Day, a May 1 tradition that has gained renewed momentum as strident immigration rhetoric continues to seep out of the Trump administration.

The demonstrations, which originated with the labor movement, are marked by employee strikes against exploitative working conditions. But, in recent years, the annual day of action has highlighted a range of social issues, particularly the need for immigration reform and a living wage.  

Given that President Donald Trump's campaign platform — and a slew of his executive orders — have targeted undocumented immigrants, this year's protests are expected to be yet another pointed rebuke of the business mogul's presidency.

Shops and restaurants across the Bay Area are expected to shutter on Monday. Students are planning school walkouts. Even major tech hubs like Facebook and Uber have allowed their employees to participate in workers’ strikes without penalization.

Work at the Port of Oakland will come to a halt, but it won't be a walkout, a spokesman for the longshoremen's union told NBC Bay Area. He said it's a negotiated day off in the port workers' contract because typically hundreds of dock workers participate in May Day demonstrations. Only the day shift at the port will be affected, he said.

Also in Oakland, volunteers prepared signs for Monday's march. Among them was a high school student who helped organize hundreds of fellow Oakland students joining the march along its route.

"When you really talk to the youth, they really care about it and want to know how they can help," student organizer Reyna Jauregui said.

Another high schooler helped energize a movement at St. Elizabeth Church in Oakland, where people of faith and workers' groups will also meet to join the march.

"I think it's incredible," said Jocelyn Medina of Oakland Community Organizations. "Love of everyone."

Migrant worker rights groups are among some of the most energized. Organizers estimate more than 70 groups are involved so far. Their goal on May Day is connecting with a Latino community, which they say is living in fear of the Trump administration's new immigration policies.  

In San Jose, busy Mendoza’s restaurant is one of several businesses that plan to close Monday. Workers there will instead join thousands of others in a march through downtown.

"The workers that want to participate, we made T-shirts with our logo: 'No one is illegal' or 'Black Lives Matter or 'Love is love,'" Adilene Mendoza said.

On Sunday, faith and community leaders talked about showing solidarity in a peaceful event.

"We march because we feel that we need to stand together," said the Rev. Jon Pedigo of the Diocese of San Jose. "We have been placed together in a difficult situation with undocumented persons, with Muslim persons, with LGBTQ persons. ... We are telling Trump we are here to stay, we are here to fight and be truly represented by our government."

Check below for a list of protests, rallies and demonstrations:

San Francisco: Rally and festival at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office at 8 a.m.; Chinatown community rally at Portsmouth Square from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Rally at Justin Herman Plaza with a march to Civic Center Plaza at 11 a.m.; Montgomery Bart Station rally from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mountain View: March at Rengstorff Park Community Center at 4 p.m. A rally will follow at 5:45 p.m. at City Hall.

San Jose: Rally at Mexican Heritage Plaza at 1 p.m.; March to Arena Greens at Autumn and Santa Clara Streets at 3 p.m.; May Day rally and march at Story and King Roads from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Morgan Hill: March from Galvan Park to ICE office on Vineyard Court at 4 p.m. 

Oakland: People's Climate Movement contingent march on 12th street near Citibank at 2 p.m.*; Hotel Workers contingent march at Mandela Parkway and Yerba Buena at 1:30 p.m.*; May Day Restaurant Industry contingent march on 1419 34th Avenue at 2 p.m.*; Rally at Fruitvale Plaza at 3 p.m. 

*These marches will likely feed into the rally at Fruitvale Plaza. 

Richmond: 

Rally at Lovonya Dejean Middle School in Richmond with RYSE youth center, the Richmond progressive alliance and United Teachers of Richmond at 4 p.m. 

Berkeley: Workers’ Day Rally at UC Berkeley at noon. 

Concord: Rally at Meadow Homes Park at 4 p.m.; Rally at Todos Santos Plaza at 6 p.m. 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[3.8-Magnitude Quake Rattles East Bay: USGS]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 18:40:52 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/QuakeEastBay.jpg

A 3.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the East Bay Saturday evening, according to the USGS.

Preliminary reports indicate that the earthquake struck at 6:29 p.m. roughly eight miles southwest of Brentwood, seven miles northeast of Blackhawk and 34 miles east of San Francisco, according to the USGS.

Witnesses reported feeling the earthquake in East Bay cities such as San Ramon, Brentwood, Pleasanton and Pittsburg. Others also reportedly felt shaking in Tracy and Stockton.

Further information was not available at the time.

To keep track of earthquakes across the Bay Area in real time, keep an eye on NBC Bay Area's earthquake map.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Discovery of Body in Alameda Lagoon Deemed Suspicious]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 17:52:06 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-29-17_Alameda_Body_Water.jpg

Police in the East Bay on Saturday are investigating what they say is a suspicious death after a man's body was pulled from a lagoon in Alameda.

It is unclear how the man died or how he ended up in the water, but an investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Resident Marcela Galvez was enjoying her morning coffee on her patio around 8:30 a.m. when she spotted something strange in a nearby lagoon.

"I don't see if it's a joke of (if) it's real," she said. "I called my wife and she (told me to) call the police."

Roughly one hour later, firefighters from Alameda confirmed that the object was a young man's body before fishing it from the water.

Neighbor Katie Winton-Henry recorded the recovery effort. She said she doesn't believe foul play was a factor.

"There wasn't any wounds, or blood or anything that I could see," she said.

Winton-Henry added that she was still shocked to come across such a horrifying discovery.

"It's just really sad," she said. "This stuff doesn't happen here in Alameda."

The man's identity has not been confirmed by the coroner's office, according to police. An autopsy has also yet to be completed.

Questions regarding the case will likely be answered in the coming days, much to the relief of concerned residents.

"It's just really odd to find a dead body and, as a community, I think we just really want to know more," Winton-Henry said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[People's Climate March Draws Thousands Across Bay Area]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 14:54:38 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4292017-climate-change2.jpg

President Donald Trump on Saturday held a rally to mark his 100th day in the White House, but thousands of people around the United States marked the day by marching on behalf of climate change.

The largest People's Climate March was expected in Washington D.C., but the Bay Area refused to be left behind. 

In Oakland, crowds gathered at Lake Merritt, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. Those in attendance, including more than 75 local organizations that work in the fields of environmental, social and economic justice, urged the Trump administration to take the threat of climate change seriously.

"I feel like the science is pretty clear and we have an entire planet that's in jeopardy in essence," David Menninger of Berkeley said. "We're going to be seeing a lot of the effects of that impacting people all over the world."

During his run on the campaign trail and time in the White House, Trump has called climate change a hoax. He has also pulled back restrictions for greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants and, among other controversial environment-related decisions, signed an executive order designed to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Attendees marching around the lake in Oakland hoisted a bevvy of signs directed at Trump's environmental stance. Some of those signs read "Make Mother Nature Great Again" and "The Future is Ours But We Have to Planet."

Meanwhile, people in the South Bay decided to march for climate, jobs and justice in San Jose. The group convened at City Hall and walked to Cesar Chavez Plaza.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Two Men Sentenced to Jail for Bay Area Armed Robbery Spree]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 12:07:57 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/courtroom+generic+722.jpg

Two men have been sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms for committing armed robberies of multiple Bay Area businesses last year, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Thursday sentenced Shawan Spragans, 41, of Oakland to 23 years and Merl Simpson, 47, of Antioch to 20 years for their crimes, according to U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John Bennett.

Gonzalez Rogers also ordered Spragans and Simpson to pay $2,014 in restitution for their armed robbery spree between Feb. 1, 2016, and April 21, 2016.

Spragans and Simpson pleaded guilty on Jan. 13 to conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery and multiple robberies affecting interstate commerce.

The two men also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm in furtherance of a robbery and being felons in possession of firearms, prosecutors said.

According to their plea agreements, Spragans and a co-conspirator entered a Walgreens pharmacy in Berkeley on March 3, 2016, wearing masks, gloves and dark-colored clothing, pointed a firearm at employees and customers and stole cash from a register.

Federal prosecutors said Simpson drove the getaway vehicle.

On March 20, 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Spragans and a co-conspirator entered a barbecue restaurant in Berkeley wearing masks and dark clothing and forced three employees at gunpoint to stand still while Spragans and his co-conspirator robbed the restaurant.

They also robbed the employees of personal cash, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. They fled the restaurant with the stolen cash and Simpson drove them away in the getaway vehicle.

Prosecutors said that on April 7, 2016, Spragans and a co-conspirator entered an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley wearing masks and dark clothing, pointed revolvers at two female employees and robbed them of the restaurant's cash.

Spragans then entered the kitchen and encountered another employee who struggled with Spragans as the employee attempted to escape, authorities said.

Spragans fired a bullet at the employee from his revolver during that encounter but the bullet missed the employee, according to federal prosecutors.

Spragans and his co-conspirator then fled the restaurant with the stolen cash and Simpson drove them away in the getaway vehicle, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Simpson also admitted in his plea agreement that earlier on April 7, 2016, he and a co-conspirator robbed a pizzeria in San Francisco at gunpoint.

Federal prosecutors said that on April 21, 2016, Spragans and Simpson attempted to rob a bar in San Francisco at gunpoint but police already were in place conducting surveillance on the location and arrested them as they tried to flee. Police also arrested a co-conspirator who was waiting in the getaway car.

The prosecutions resulted from an investigation by the FBI and the Berkeley, San Francisco, San Leandro and Albany Police departments.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Police Arrest Teenager on Suspicion of Shooting at People]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 12:33:23 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/police-lights-generic-crop.jpg

A 14-year-old boy was arrested last week in Union City on suspicion of resisting arrest following a report that he ran out of a house and started shooting at a group of people, police said Friday.

The boy, whose name will not be released because he is a minor, allegedly shot at some people running toward Mann Avenue.

Officers were sent at 11 a.m. to the 34800 block of Starling Drive where the shooting allegedly occurred.

Officers who responded said the 14-year-old matched the description of the shooter, according to police.

The boy allegedly ran from officers. He was arrested, given a notice to appear in court and released to a parent.

No one was injured in the alleged shooting, police said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Memorial Pays Tribute to Children Killed in Alameda County]]>Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:10:09 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-28-17_Alameda_Death_Memorial.jpg

In a somber ceremony Friday, hundreds of young people killed in Alameda County over the last 23 years were remembered.

A total of 432 names were read aloud during the remembrance inside Hayward City Hall, marking the 432 people 17 years of age or younger who have lost their lives to violence dating back to 1994.

Former Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele started the memorial as a way to honor the victims and prevent senseless killings moving forward.

"I think it’s important to come together to say to those parents we will also remember your children every year and to also say to the community this is not OK," she said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Richmond Nonprofit Offering Students Free Trip to L.A.]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:00:52 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/231*120/JetSuiteX.jpg

A Richmond-based nonprofit is offering 20 children in grades five through eight a chance to fly in style from Concord to Los Angeles.  

The trip is part of a new day program meant to provide underserved youth with cultural and educational experiences. 

For Richmond, a nonprofit that works to improve community health, has partnered with travel company JetSuiteX to provide the day trips. The tickets will be offered once in spring and once in summer, with the first flight taking off from the Buchanan Field Airport in Concord and landing at the Burbank Bob Hope Airport in Southern California on May 23.

Local teachers will nominate students for the trip based upon academic improvement.

The program "aims to reward and encourage children who may not have performed well academically in the past, but who have worked hard to improve their grades," according to a statement from For Richmond.

The "LA for a Day" trip will include catered lunches and visits to Museums and other educational centers, completely free of charge. 

“In launching our LA for a Day program, my greatest hope is to ignite that spark in our children that spurs them to reach higher and keep flying beyond their neighborhood skylines after this trip,” said Kyra Worthy, Executive Director, For Richmond.

JetsuiteX, which launched last year, operates out of Concord and usually sells flight tickets to Los Angeles $99. 

To nominate a student, send an email to info@4richmond.org. Visit For Richmond's website for more details.



Photo Credit: JetSuiteX]]>
<![CDATA[Petrov, Alameda County Reach $5.5M Settlement Over Beating]]>Mon, 19 Dec 2016 00:27:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FBI8.jpg

A man beaten by sheriff's deputies has reached a $5.5 million settlement with Alameda County, officials said Friday.

The Nov. 12, 2015 beating of Stanislav Petrov was captured on surveillance video and two Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies involved in the incident has since been fired.

"This has been a very difficult time for all involved," Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said. "Since this incident, we have completely reviewed and revamped policies, training and other practices to make sure something similar does not ever occur again."

The deputies were caught on surveillance video striking Petrov more than 40 times with steel batons after a 38-minute car chase from Castro Valley and a foot chase into a dark alley in San Francisco.

"We said we were going to hold Alameda County and the involved deputies accountable, and we did," said Michael Haddad, a lawyer representing Petrov. "This result should serve as a deterrent to law enforcement officers who would abuse their authority and beat a man who was trying to surrender, as these deputies did."

Petrov suffered cuts to his head and broken bones in his hands and arms. His attorneys said he also endured mental anguish and fear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Arrest in Flash Mob-Style Robbery at Coliseum BART Station]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:25:06 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

Bay Area Rapid Transit officials said a suspect tied to a flash mob-style robbery over the weekend has been arrested. The suspect is a minor and officials are not releasing an identity.

More warrants for multiple identified suspects are also on the way, BART said Friday.

The violent robbery was reported Saturday after a mob of 40 to 60 young people streamed onto a train at the Coliseum station in Oakland.

Suspects jumped the fare gates at the station around 9:30 p.m. and then boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train and committed at least seven robberies while injuring at least two people, according to BART police.

The identification of some of the suspects in the case came from video surveillance footage from inside the train car where the robberies occurred, BART officials noted.

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[School Investigates 'Sexually Explicit' Instagram Photos]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 06:59:28 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/albany-racism-0322-2017.jpg

An East Bay school already reeling from a case of cyberbullying, which stemmed from students sharing racist memes, is back in hot water with the discovery of inappropriate pictures of students on Instagram.

Albany High School Interim Principal Ron Rosenbaum on Thursday sent an email to the campus community about the Instagram account that featured "sexually explicit" photographs of school-goers, the East Bay Times reported. The account was brought to school administrators' attention on Wednesday.

According to Rosenbaum, school leaders have already informed the Albany Police Department and have met with a detective. An investigation is ongoing, he wrote.

"Our counseling department and our mental health team have also been meeting with and providing support to the students who were impacted by this account," Rosenbaum's letter said.

Rosenbaum also encouraged parents to "take some time to have conversations with your children about the safe use of social media." Students with information about the case are also urged to contact him.

Albany Police Lt. John Geissberger confirmed to the East Bay Times that detectives are looking into the incident.

“We found out about it last night and we’re looking at the case,” he told the newspaper, “but I don’t have any additional information.”

In March, Albany High School was rocked by racially insensitive images posted on Instagram. Students informed school officials of pictures that singled out 11 students — 10 of whom belonged to minority groups. The memes also targeted the girl’s basketball team’s African-American coach. 

The memes, reportedly posted by three students and liked by three others, included pictures of minority students next to nooses. Other images showed students next to apes, officials said. 

The incident triggered protests and sit-ins, and demands for expulsions. Police say there is no indication that the two scandals are connected.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[CA Bill Seeks to Limit Funding for Jails with ICE Contract]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 12:45:22 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sb10062143p-001.jpg

A California Senate bill that aims to prevent jails from collecting some state grants if they have a contract with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is drawing praise from immigrants’ rights advocates and the ire of local law enforcement agencies.

Senate Bill 630, if passed, would prohibit jails that lease space to "public and private entities" from receiving money set aside for expanding and improving jail facilities. It would also require any jail receiving those funds to certify that space will not be rented out for at least 10 years after the expansion’s construction. The provisions exempt jails that rent out beds to another county or state, but it would affect facilities across California that assist ICE by detaining immigrants.

The goal, according to State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who introduced the bill, is to ensure that the state's law enforcement agencies are prioritizing local obligations. If a jail has enough room to sublet beds to an outside agency, then it casts doubt on its need for a multi-million dollar expansion, she reasoned.

“We have limited state funds,” Skinner said in a phone interview with NBC Bay Area. “We want to make sure that we’re really building capacity where it’s needed, and not where there already is existing capacity."

The senator was careful to note that the bill wouldn't abolish contracts between ICE and local law enforcement. Instead, it will simply disqualify jails that participate in them from receiving funds that were earmarked as part of the 2011 state-mandated prison realignment.

"While it does not prevent (the contracts), it is certainly sending a clear message that we want to make sure our state priorities are being met," Skinner said. "The feds can build their own facilities."

The bill has garnered support among criminal justice reform advocates in Contra Costa County, who for months have been protesting against the Sheriff’s Office for leasing out 200 beds to ICE at the Richmond jail. Sheriff David Livingston currently has a $70 million grant proposal to expand the facility before the Board of the State and Community Corrections. Livingston's critics are hoping that Skinner's bill, if passed, will torpedo the deal.

“In Contra Costa County, this is a huge thing if it passes,” said immigrants’ rights activist Claudia Jimenez, who is helping lead the #ServicesNotCells campaign against the jail expansion. “We’ve been following the bill very closely. There is a lot of fear here in the community about the tight relationship ICE has with the sheriff’s department, so we want this to pass."

 

Jimenez and other allies are advocating for the release of nonviolent offenders and severing the ICE contract. They are also pushing the county to redirect $25 million it approved for the jail expansion to community programs that would help prevent incarceration.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt also voiced his support for SB 630, issuing a public letter that called into question the use of "scarce" county and state funds to pay for the 150,000-square-foot expansion plan.

"The growing needs in communities like Richmond require that public funds be invested in advancing outcomes in education, community health and improving quality of life," Butt wrote. "We cannot afford to redirect scarce public funds for projects that counteract local public safety and community policing efforts."

If passed, the bill wouldn't go into effect until 2018, but Skinner, who wrote a letter to the County opposing the Richmond expansion, said she is hopeful the Board of State and Community Corrections will "take the intent of the legislature into account" before signing off on any current proposals.

The California Sheriff's Association, which has a history of opposing legislation that limits cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement, has come out against the bill. Association representatives testified before the Senate that it would limit the ability to perform crucial repairs. They also allege that it is too "late in the process" to "change the rules" for grant approval.

"These jail improvements are a direct benefit to the persons housed in these facilities and they demonstrate the sheriffs' commitment to providing appropriate services and treatment to our inmate populations," wrote Cory Salzillo, the legislative director for the sheriffs' association, in a letter to Skinner. 

Livingston, who was unavailable for comment, has argued that the Richmond jail expansion will provide much-needed rehabilitative and re-entry services to inmates. He also maintains that his plan will not add to the net number of beds, and will instead reduce existing overcrowding at in the Martinez and Richmond jails. 

The Board of State and Community Corrections will issue a decision on the Richmond grant in June. SB 630 passed through the State Senate's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday and is going back to the floor for a third reading. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Standoff With Walnut Creek Homicide Suspect Ends in Arrest]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:30:46 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/martinez131.jpg

An intense police standoff with a Walnut Creek homicide suspect ended after 18-plus hours on Friday afternoon when SWAT teams fired gas rounds into a car to force the man to surrender.

For a brief period around 1:30 p.m., it seemed that the standoff in Martinez had concluded. Footage from the scene near Center Avenue and Howe Road showed that the man, who was later identified as 38-year-old Gregory Prokopowicz, had climbed out of the silver sedan with his hands up, but by about 1:45 p.m., he had climbed back in and shut himself into the vehicle. 


Bystanders heard at least two shots fired, but police said that the sound emanated from a non-lethal sponge round. 

Around 2:15 p.m., officers fired at the vehicle, shattering the back window. Prokopowicz, who suffered minor injuries and smoke inhalation, then stumbled out of the car with his arms above his head. He was immediately taken into custody and will now face murder charges.

Police believe Prokopowicz, with last known addresses in Martinez and Walnut Creek, fatally shot a 47-year-old Roselyn Policarpio, with last known addresses in Martinez and Stockton. The pair had been dating, they said.


Boris Breckinridge, a neighbor of Policarpio, said this wasn't the first time Prokopowicz had been under the police's radar.

"There was always police activity," Breckinridge said. "(Prokopowicz) was always sort of coming and going. They were always apprehending him."

Vilma Cuneo, one of Policarpio's other neighbors, said she spotted Policarpio roughly one year ago hiding in bushes.

"I said, 'Can I help you?'" Cuneo said. "She said, 'No, no, no. Stupid guy over there."

Late Thursday, Prokopowicz appeared to be holding a gun to his head with one hand while showing police his other hand as he talked with negotiators. Video from the scene showed Prokopowicz firing his weapon overnight. No one was injured.

However, by Friday morning, Prokopowicz had relinquished his firearm, turning it over to a robot that was sent to the car by a SWAT team. 

Howe Road between Vista Way and Pine Street has been closed to traffic while police investigate. Douglas Drive is also being blocked, limiting access to county offices in the area. Residents in the area have been told to avoid the area and John Muir Elementary will be closed for the day, according to the district superintendent. 

Police searched for Prokopowicz all Thursday afternoon after he allegedly shot and killed Policarpio near the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek earlier in the day. The fatal shooting occurred at about 1:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of First Avenue, police said.

At the location, officers found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and began providing "life saving measures," but Policarpio died at the scene, according to police.

Witnesses told police that Prokopowicz had opened fire, then climbed into a silver Chevy sedan and fled. He fled south on Buena Vista Avenue, witnesses said, and were able to provide officers with a partial license number.

In response, police asked residents near Buena Vista Avenue between San Luis and Geary roads in Walnut Creek to shelter in place.

Police believe Prokopowicz left his vehicle on Lynvale Lane and ran away. About one hour later, officers located the car. A team of SWAT officers, K-9s and a CHP helicopter scoured the area, and made their way to a house on San Luis Road. The multi-agency team set up a perimeter and closed San Luis Road to traffic. Investigators searched the house on San Luis for any evidence of the crime, but nothing significant was found, police said.

Prokopowicz was then picked up there or took a silver Mercedes and fled to Martinez, where he was spotted by two Walnut Creek officers just before 7 p.m., police said.

Martinez and Walnut Creek police officers conducted a traffic stop on Howe and Arnold roads at which time Prokopowicz got out of his car, and "was detained, interviewed and later released," Walnut Creek police said in a statement.

Instead of leaving, however, Prokopowicz put a gun to his head, refused to leave the vehicle and said he planned to harm himself, police said.

Negotiators from the Contra Costa County Sheriff's SWAT team and Central County SWAT team have been taking turns staying on the scene and negotiating with the man.

"The negotiations continued throughout the night and are currently occurring," Walnut Creek police said in a statement. "During the negotiations, the suspect accidentally fired his handgun through the windshield. No one was hurt due to this firing."

People with information about the case are asked to call the Walnut Creek Police Department at 925-935-6400 or Det. Greg Leonard at 925-256-3523.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle and Laura Malpert contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[New BART Train Fails, Triggers Systemwide Delays]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 07:03:14 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CHOPPER+BROKEN+DOWN+BART+-+08412916.jpg

A new four-car BART train underwent overnight testing but failed early Friday morning, triggering major systemwide delays. 

The issue was first reported before 5 a.m. at the Lake Merritt Station in Oakland. 

Officials origially said it is "too soon to say exactly why it lost propulsion." After investigation, a blown fuse was determined to be the culprit.

While the out-of-service train — that officials say was not carrying passengers — was pushed to a pocket track near the San Leandro station, BART was forced to single-track it through the area. 

BART officials said on Twitter around 6:45 a.m. that the system was "recovering," but advised commuters to expect residual delays. 

BART officials have on order 775 new train cars, which are scheduled to be delivered between now and 2022. The first 10 were delivered last year.

BART officials are aiming to eventually have 1,081 new cars running but there is no money right now for the additional 306.

Also, adding the 306 would require the train control system to be upgraded, according to Huckaby.

Measure RR, which voters passed in November, provides $3.5 billion for the construction and improvement of BART property. Some of that money could be used to upgrade the train control system, Huckaby said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Police in Standoff with Walnut Creek Homicide Suspect]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:01:32 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0427-2017-standoff.jpg

Officers who have been searching for a suspect who allegedly fatally shot a woman in Walnut CreeK were involved in an hours-long standoff with the suspect in Martinez late Thursday.

Police were seen near Howe and Old Orchard roads, surrounding a silver sedan with a man in the driver's seat. They believe he is the suspect in the fatal shooting, officials said.

Police were shining a light at the car, and the man appeared to be holding a gun to his head with one hand while showing police his other hand as he talked with negotiators.

Howe Road between Vista Way and Pine Street was closed to traffic while police investigated. Residents in the area were also told to avoid the area.

Police searched for the suspect all afternoon after he allegedly shot and killed a woman near the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek earlier in the day. The fatal shooting occurred at about 1:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of First Avenue, police said.

At the location, officers found the victim suffering from at least one gunshot wound and began providing "life saving measures," but she died at the scene, according to police.

Earlier in the day, police had asked residents near Buena Vista Avenue between San Luis and Geary roads in Walnut Creek to shelter in place.

Police believe the suspect left his vehicle on Lynvale and fled to a house on San Luis. He was then picked up there or took another vehicle and fled to Martinez, where he was spotted by a Walnut Creek officer, police said.

Investigators searched the house on San Luis for any evidence of the crime, but nothing significant was found, police said.

Police did not provide the identities of the woman killed or the suspect, and they were not certain about their relationship.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Women Report Hidden Camera in Ladies Room at Fremont Company]]>Sat, 20 May 2017 09:41:04 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Restroom+Cam1.png

Imagine being secretly recorded during a private moment by someone you work with. It’s a sickening thought that lingers in Vien Hoang’s mind after someone placed a hidden camera in the ladies room at Fremont-based Elma Electronics. Now, more than two years after she and a colleague reported the incident to police, they’ve learned the officer closed the investigation the same day of their report, after failing to interview a single person other than the two women recorded that day and the human resources director.

“It’s very stressful when I come to work because I’m so scared,” Hoang said. The quality inspector has worked at Elma for 13 years, and said she used the restroom often to change clothes after workouts. “I feel violated.”


Hoang said a colleague discovered the camera, disguised as a small hook, mounted on a paper towel dispenser. When the women viewed what was on the memory card, they saw embarrassing video showing them using the restroom. Hoang said she recalled seeing the hook in the bathroom months before, but never realized it was a camera.

“I have no idea how many times I was recorded,” Hoang said.

The women immediately called their human resources director, who reported the incident to Fremont Police.

According to the report, responding officer Paul Richards “packaged, sealed and submitted the camera and memory card to Fremont PD Property Unit as evidence.”

Fremont police said the evidence was never finger-printed because the device had already been removed and handled by employees.

But why didn’t Officer Richards conduct any interviews that might have helped him identify a suspect?

Fremont sergeant and public information officer Ricardo Cortes, speaking on behalf of the department, said it was because the human resources director told the responding officer about 100 people had “access” to that bathroom.

“We have to make sure we don’t make this into some kind of witch hunt,” Cortes said.


But Hoang says only 15 people work on her floor who would use that restroom. Anyone else using it during business hours would be unusual.

Cortes said he doesn’t know why the responding officer didn’t speak to any other employees. He defended the officer’s actions, “I think he did satisfy the basic requirements of this investigation,” but added he would review the incident with the department to discuss best practices and investigative techniques, “We always learn, and we always try to do better.”

“The message the victim gets is ‘I was violated and nobody cares,’” said Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo county.

She has a different take on the value of interviewing people at the scene of a crime.

“It’s amazing what people know if they’re asked the right questions. A lot of people may not know they have information until they’re questioned by a trained questioner,” Guidotti said.

She said prosecutors depend on police to do a thorough investigation so they can bring charges. Last year her office filed 11 cases involving peeping toms, up from just one in 2015. They involved cameras hidden in trash cans in restaurant bathrooms, clothing baskets in a store dressing room, even people recording housemates in a shared bathroom.


“The legislature has made these misdemeanors unfortunately. They’re typically punishable by only 6 months in jail but if a person has priors they can serve up to a year in jail,” Guidotti said.

Across the Bay Area, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties prosecuted a total of 29 peeping Tom cases in 2016.


In an email, Elma Electronics human resources director Valerie Bennett said the company was unable to determine who placed the camera. Bennett said the company “advised employees” and continues to “closely monitor all restrooms for any suspicious activity.”

But Hoang says, as far as she knows, no memos ever went out and no meetings were held to inform employees what happened.

“I’m feeling nobody help me at all, even police, even my company. I want to speak out and let everybody know to be careful,” Hoang said.

One piece of advice from investigators: always be aware of your surroundings and if you see a camera recording you, don’t touch it, or you’ll taint the evidence. Instead, call police. And don’t hesitate to ask about their investigation.

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email Vicky Nguyenvicky@nbcbayarea.com or you can email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

Follow Vicky Nguyen on Twitter www.twitter.com/VickyNguyenTV and Facebookwww.facebook.com/VickyNguyenTV

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<![CDATA[Mass Robbery Prompts BART Crackdown on Crime]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:03:11 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

BART officials on Thursday are cracking down on crime.

The board of directors is meeting to come up with a plan to stop fare evaders as well as how to respond to a flash mob-style robbery over the weekend.

For the first time in two years, BART leaders will gather at their Oakland headquarters in the evening. Usually meetings are held in the mornings, but this one — planned in December — is being held at 5 p.m. so as to accommodate more input from the public, officials say.

But Thursday's meeting is now even more relevent after a mob of 40 to 60 young people who streamed onto a train at the Coliseum station in Oakland on Saturday night to rob passengers.

BART board president Rebecca Saltzman said fare cheating has long been a concern.

"There are solutions, including capital investments, making the barriers higher so people can't jump over them, doing some things with the fare gate to make it harder" to evade paying fares, she said. "And then some solutions [involve] enforcement to have more officers out there."

Officials said on Wednesday that they have identified multiple suspects from the weekend's melee.

Suspects jumped the fare gates at the station around 9:30 p.m. and then boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train and committed at least seven robberies while injuring at least two people, according to BART police.

BART said Wednesday on Twitter shortly after noon that "arrest warrants are being drafted as we speak" for suspects in the robbery.

The identification of some of the suspects in the case came from video surveillance footage from inside the train car where the robberies occurred, BART officials noted.

BART committed to use working cameras on all train cars after it was revealed in the aftermath of a January 2016 fatal shooting that some cameras in train cars were decoys.

BART police have also stepped up their presence in and around the area where the robberies occurred, agency officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Protest After Coulter's Cal Visit Canceled]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:50:01 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-27-17-berkeley-protest-man+holding-flag1.jpg

Berkeley, California, known as the home of the free speech movement, was under heavy police watch on Thursday as hundreds of people waving American flags and chanting "USA" gathered in a park to protest a canceled appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

Berkeley police erected barricades and refused to let any protesters enter the campus. Five people were arrested — two for resisting arrest, one for possessing a knife, one for possessing a controlled substance and one for inciting a riot.

Coulter previously said she was forced to cancel a speaking event at the University of California, Berkeley, although she added that she might still "swing by to say hello'' to her supporters, prompting police and university officials to brace for possible trouble. She was not spotted at the rallies.


In emails to The Associated Press, Coulter confirmed Wednesday that her planned speech on illegal immigration, followed by a question-answer session, was canceled. But she remained coy about what she might do instead.

"I'm not speaking. But I'm going to be near there, so I might swing by to say hello to my supporters who have flown in from all around the country," Coulter said in an email. "I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment."

She expressed similar sentiments on Twitter, bemoaning the right to free speech being "crushed by thugs."

But Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin defended how planning the event was handled in a joint statement on Thursday: "Creating an environment that prevents violence is not censorship, rather it is protection of free speech. Ann Coulter did not take up the University’s offer to have the event held at a time where we could ensure safety."

Wilson Grafstrom, an 18-year-old high school student from Menlo Park, blamed opponents of Coulter for forcing him to gear up for problems — he wore a military grade helmet with a "Make America Great Again'' sticker across the back, goggles, gas mask and knee pads.

"It's a shame that someone can't speak in the home of the free speech movement," Grafstrom said.

Police and university officials were on alert regardless of whether Coulter followed through on her suggestion she'd swing by, citing intelligence and online chatter by groups threatening to instigate violence.

Officials at Berkeley said last week they feared renewed violence on campus if Coulter followed through with plans to speak. They cited "very specific intelligence" of threats that could endanger Coulter and students, as Berkeley becomes a platform for extremist protesters on both sides of the political spectrum.

"While we cherish our freedoms of speech and assembly, there is no freedom to silence others or to commit violence," Dirks and Arreguin wrote. 

A group called Make Orange County Great Again first gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park at 10 a.m. Although the rally itself drew only a few American-flag toting participants, social media posts showed a large number of police cars and motorcycles with an estimated 100-plus officers milling in the area. 

Around 11 a.m., protesters seemed to migrate to Berkeley, where a sign at Sproul Plaza laid out what items people were allowed to bring to the protest, what might lead to searches, and what was banned.

Berkeley police said in a statement that the first person arrested was charged with delaying or obstructing a police officer in the course of duty, providing false identification to a police officer and wearing a mask to conceal his identity and evade police. He was also carrying a sign that was larger than the permitted 30-by-30 inches.

The second person was found carrying a knife, according to police. Neither person's affiliation was confirmed by police.

The International Socialist Organization also invited students and Berkeley residents to an "Alt Right Delete" news conference at noon at the corner of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue. The event was aimed at people "who oppose racist provocateurs as much as they support freedom of speech and assembly," organizers said in an email.

People faced off with each other, chanting opposing slogans, tweets showed. Some pushed for a dialogue, others debated the teachings of Christianity, and still more shouted, "They want you to be complicit" and "Say it loud, say it clear. Refugees/immigrants are welcome here."

One man's sign summarized the opposing viewpoints succinctly. "The issue is not free speech. The issue is fascism," it read. 

A photo by Twitter user Art Tavana also indicated that Kyle Chapman, also known as Based StickMan, had arrived on the scene of the protests. Chapman has been arrested during the last two violent demonstrations in Berkeley. At "March 4 Trump," he struck an Antifa member on the head with a stick, police said. 

Last week, efforts by the university to cancel or delay the event dealt a blow to Berkeley's image as a bastion of tolerance and free speech.

Dirks sent a letter to the campus Wednesday saying the university is committed to defending free speech but also to protecting its students.

"This is a university, not a battlefield," Dirks said in the letter. "The university has two non-negotiable commitments, one to free speech, the other to the safety of our campus community."

Dirks also countered claims that police backed down when violence erupted on the campus and in Berkeley in general over the past several months.

"The strategies necessary to address these evolving threats are also evolving, but the simplistic view of some – that our police department can simply step in and stop violent confrontations whenever they occur – ignores reality," Dirks continued. "Because threats or strategic concerns may differ, so must our approach."

Even so, Dirks extended an invitation to Coulter and said the university "will assume the risks, challenges, and expenses" that accompany a future visit. He proposed May and September as alternative opportunities.

"What we will not do is allow our students, other members of the campus community, and the public to be needlessly endangered by permitting an event to be held in a venue that our police force does not believe to be protectable," he said. 

Berkeley's reputation as one of the country's most liberal universities, in one of America's most liberal cities, has made it a flashpoint for the nation's political divisions in the Trump era.

Earlier this month, a bloody brawl broke out in downtown Berkeley at a pro-Trump protest that featured speeches by members of the white nationalist right. They clashed with a group of Trump critics who called themselves anti-fascists.

Similar violent clashes also erupted at the same site, a public park, on March 4.

In February, violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who like Coulter was invited by campus Republicans.

The Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group that had helped book Coulter's campus speaking events, both pulled their support Tuesday citing fears of violence. They blamed the university for failing to ensure the protection of conservative speakers.

"Berkeley College Republicans do not want to endanger people's lives so because of the university's unwillingness to do their job we are forced to cancel the event," Troy Worden, president of the campus Republicans, said Wednesday.

Coulter echoed the blame on Twitter: "I'm very sad about Berkeley's cancellation, but my sadness is greater than that. It's a dark day for free speech in America."

Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney for Young America's Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans, also criticized the university's "unequal rules and inequitable actions."

"This is a long game that we're playing," she said of the lawsuit,

A legal team, including Dhillon, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Coulter and the Berkeley College Republicans, claiming university officials violated free speech rights by calling off Coulter's speaking visit. The University of California system University of California, Berkeley, Police Department and numerous university officials were named in the lawsuit.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[High School Fight in East Bay Leaves One Girl Seriously Hurt]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:41:13 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/granada+hs+fight-0426-2017.jpg

An East Bay teen suffered serious injuries Monday during a fight on a high school campus, and the school district is turning it into a teachable moment.

Students and parents at Granada High School in Livermore were still talking about a campus fight around lunchtime.

One student said the two involved clashed in the past, and this time it escalated.

"She had a thing against the other girl, and it got pretty bad really fast," Valeria Gutierrez said.

One of the girls allegedly started punching the other girl, then the victim hit her head on the ground and started convulsing. She was sent to the hospital with serious injuries.

The district said a large crowd formed around the fight, and many people were filming it. Gutierrez, who wasn't there, heard the announcement the next day.

"We were told how serious this was and were told not to post anything on social media," she said.

In a letter to parents, students and staff, the principal wrote in part: "While the circumstances of the incident were heinous, what is equally disturbing is the reaction some people have had about it. Far too many students were crowding around, filming the incident and discussing it on social media afterwards."

Parents were equally appalled.

"Kids should not videotape things like this," Mariana Villavicencio said. "They should be more responsible with social media."

And the district said parents should talk to their kids about that very subject.

The victim was at home recovering Wednesday. The suspect was arrested, suspended and could be expelled, school officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Police in Hayward Looking For Missing 11-Year-Old Girls]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:23:26 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/makayla-samiyah-.jpg

Police are asking for the public's help to find two missing 11-year-old girls who vanished Wednesday afternoon in Hayward.

The two girls, identified as Makayla Hayes and Samiyah White, were last seen at about 1:30 p.m. at Park Elementary School, located at 411 Larchmont Street, according to police.

The girls are considered at risk because of their age.

Police believe the girls ran away because they have already run away together in the past. In that incident, the girls were later located in Fremont, police said.

Makayla is described as a black juvenile, 4 feet, 8 inches

tall, weighing 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a multi colored beanie, a bulky jacket and dark jeans.

Samiyah is described as a black juvenile, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds, with brown shoulder length hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing multicolored pants and purple sweatshirt, according to police.



Photo Credit: Hayward PD]]>
<![CDATA[Grief Counselors at Pittsburg High After Student's Death]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:01:16 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/emergency-lights-generic-df.jpg

A 17-year-old U.S. Marine Corps recruit collapsed and died Tuesday while exercising in a Brentwood park, according to police.

At about 5:45 p.m., officers responded to Veterans Park on Balfour Road for a call about an unresponsive male.

They found Floyd Burrell, who had collapsed from "an apparent unexpected medical complication" while running with other Marine Corps recruits, according to police.

Burrell, a Pittsburg resident who was a senior at Pittsburg High School, received CPR from a bystander before emergency medical personnel arrived and took him to a hospital, where he later died, police said.

Grief counselors are on hand at the high school "to help support our students," Pittsburg Unified School District Superintendent Janet Schulze said in a statement.

"We offer our prayers and sympathy to Floyd Dupree Burrell's family, his friends, teammates and fellow students, teachers and coaches, and the entire Pittsburg High School community," Schulze said.

The Contra Costa County coroner's office will perform an autopsy to determine what led to Burrell's collapse.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[BART IDs Multiple Suspects in Mob That Robbed Passengers]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:44:14 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

BART officials said Wednesday they have identified multiple suspects among a mob of 40 to 60 young people who streamed onto a train at the Coliseum station in Oakland on Saturday night to rob passengers.

Suspects jumped the fare gates at the station around 9:30 p.m. and then boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train and committed at least seven robberies while injuring at least two people, according to BART police.

BART said Wednesday on Twitter shortly after noon that "arrest warrants are being drafted as we speak" for suspects in the robbery.

The identification of some of the suspects in the case came from video surveillance footage from inside the train car where the robberies occurred, BART officials noted.

BART committed to use working cameras on all train cars after it was revealed in the aftermath of a January 2016 fatal shooting that some cameras in train cars were decoys.

BART officials said they are still working to get more information from victims in Saturday's robberies and are collaborating with other local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify more suspects.

BART police have also stepped up their presence in and around the area where the robberies occurred, agency officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ann Coulter, UC Berkeley Clash Over Canceled Visit]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:59:42 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AnnCoulterFile.jpg

The week-long saga of Ann Coulter's planned visit to the University of California, Berkeley took yet another twist on Wednesday when the conservative commentator nixed her speech.

Coulter said in an email that her speaking event planned for Thursday is “canceled,” but implied she might still travel to the city or campus anyway.

Amid growing concerns of violence on campus whether Coulter turns up or not, the conservative pundit lost the backing of groups that had initially sponsored her appearance.

In an email to The Associated Press, Coulter wrote “Berkeley canceled” when asked to confirm if she would appear at the campus on Thursday.

She added, however, “I have my flights, so I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment.”

She expressed her chagrin on Twitter, saying the right to free speech was "crushed by thugs."

On behalf of UC Berkeley, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a message to the campus community: "The UC Berkeley administration did not cancel the Coulter event and has never prohibited Ms. Coulter from coming on campus. Instead, we received a request to provide a venue on one single day, chosen unilaterally by a student group without any prior consultation with campus administration or law enforcement."

Officials offered an alternative date — May 2 — in an effort to work with Coulter and "support our students’ desire to hold their event safely and successfully."

Coulter's announcement came less than a day after she insisted on addressing students on April 27 as initially planned. For days, Coulter had remained adamant even though university officials, citing security concerns, were pushing to reschedule her visit, and the Young America's Foundation, which had sponsored her speech as part of its nationwide lecture series, backed out.

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley officials say they are preparing for possible violence on campus even though Coulter has opted not to speak to students about immigration. 

Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said UC Berkeley officials had not heard directly from Coulter on Wednesday. But he said even if she cancels, some groups that support or oppose her could still turn out on campus on Thursday. He said police were taking necessary steps to protect the campus but he declined to elaborate.

Dirks stressed that the university's commitment to free speech is rivaled only by its concern for the safety of the campus community.

"In that context, we cannot ignore or deny what is a new reality," Dirks wrote. "Groups and individuals from the extreme ends of the political spectrum have made clear their readiness and intention to utilize violent tactics in support or in protest of certain speakers at UC Berkeley."

He also countered claims that police backed down when violence erupted on the campus and in Berkeley in general over the past several months.

"The strategies necessary to address these evolving threats are also evolving, but the simplistic view of some – that our police department can simply step in and stop violent confrontations whenever they occur – ignores reality," Dirks continued. "Because threats or strategic concerns may differ, so must our approach."

Dirks also said that "specific, significant and real" threats were made in response to Coulter being invited to UC Berkeley. 

"This is a university, not a battlefield," he said.

Even so, Dirks extended an invitation to Coulter and said the university "will assume the risks, challenges, and expenses" that accompany a future visit. He proposed May and September as alternative opportunities.

"What we will not do is allow our students, other members of the campus community, and the public to be needlessly endangered by permitting an event to be held in a venue that our police force does not believe to be protectable," he said. 

The student-run Berkeley College Republicans scheduled Coulter's visit for April 27, but the university last week called off the event citing security reasons.

One day later, the university changed course and allowed the event to go on, but penciled in her visit for May 2 instead of this upcoming Thursday. 

A legal team representing Coulter and the Berkeley College Republicans on Monday slapped the university with a lawsuit claiming officials violated free speech rights by calling off Coulter's speaking visit. The University of California system, UC Berkeley Police Department and numerous university officials were named in the lawsuit.

For their part, the Berkeley College Republicans hosted a news conference on Wednesday, denouncing the university.

"They may have won the battle, but certainly not the war," a student said.

Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney for Young America's Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans, also criticized the university's "unequal rules and unequitable actions." 

"This is a long game that we're playing," she said of the lawsuit, which is aimed at helping future generations enjoy free speech regardless of their political affiliations. 

UC Berkeley and campus police at a Wednesday afternoon news conference said they were not notified in time about Coulters' visit and would have accomodated her if they had enough time to plan.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[15 Displaced Tenants File Lawsuit Over Deadly Oakland Fire]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:01:12 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3-27-17_Oakland_Fire_Extinguish.jpg

Former residents of a rundown California apartment building that caught fire and killed four people last month sued its owners and managers Wednesday, accusing them of ignoring numerous fire code violations.

The 15 tenants of the building in Oakland allege that it lacked smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and that fire exits were blocked, hindering their escape from the flames.

The building had faced numerous safety complaints. City officials say a candle accidentally ignited the March 27 blaze, which also injured six people and displaced about 100.

The blaze occurred nearly four months after the city became the site of the deadliest U.S. structure fire in a decade when 36 people died at a warehouse known as the Ghost Ship, which had been illegally converted into living and work space for artists.

The apartments in the building where four people died were home to recently released inmates, recovering drug addicts and others struggling to find affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Owner Keith Kim rented most of the space to the financially struggling nonprofit Urojas Community Services, which works to find homes for low-income residents.

The owner and Urojas previously disputed who was responsible for maintaining the building and paying for repairs and improvements. Kim was in the process of evicting Urojas, which leased two of the building's three floors at time of the fire.

William Kronenberg, a lawyer representing Kim, declined to comment on the lawsuit but said Kim ``had operated the building without incident for 20 years providing a much needed resource to the less fortunate members of our community.''

Kronenberg said the problems with the building began in recent years when Urojas leased most of the units to sublet to low-income residents.

``Despite this, in the weeks since the fire Mr. Kim has been unfairly criticized in the media for the actions of the current master tenants,'' Kronenberg said.

Urojas said it had asked the landlord to make necessary repairs, but founder Jasper Lowery said Kim ignored the pleas.

Steve Cook, a lawyer representing Urojas, said ``the crux of the lawsuit is against Kim,'' noting that only four of the 15 plaintiffs are suing Urojas and that none are demanding punitive damages from Urojas. All 15 plaintiffs are suing Kim and demanding punitive damages from him.

Cook also said the city of Oakland should improve its code enforcement process.

Residents complained of serious rodent infestations, plumbing and electrical problems, garbage-strewn hallways and an unusable kitchen on the first floor of the building.

An Oakland fire captain who inspected the building in January recommended that city officials shutter the building immediately ``due to the danger to life safety.''

Acting assistant Fire Marshal Maria Sabatini responded that it was appropriate to give the owner 30 days to make repairs. After the fire, Mayor Libby Schaaf said officials lacked the authority to immediately shutter the building. She has since ordered an overhaul of Oakland's fire inspection process.

Officials in December vowed to crack down on substandard housing and conduct more inspections.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Oikos University Shooter Appears in Court]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:33:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oaklandoikos.jpg

The shooter accused in the 2012 Oikos University massacre was expected to, but didn't enter a plea in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday.

One Goh is charged with seven counts of murder, three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance allegations of committing a murder during a kidnapping and committing multiple murders for the shooting at Oikos, a Christian vocational school located near Oakland International Airport, on April 2, 2012.

On April 21, Goh was restored to mental competency, his attorneys said. However, they declined to comment on what the next step will be in the long-running legal odyssey for the 48-year-old, such as whether he will now stand trial.

Speaking outside court after a brief hearing April 21 at which reports about Goh's mental health were submitted, the attorneys said the next step will be decided when Goh returns to court on Wednesday. On Wednesday, however, Goh's hearing was continued until May 2. 

Prosecutors say Goh had dropped out of Oikos several months before the shooting and wanted his $6,000 tuition refunded. He targeted an administrator who wasn't present on the day of the shooting, they said.

But criminal proceedings against him were suspended on Oct. 1, 2012, after his lawyers questioned his mental competency to stand trial. On Jan. 7, 2013, a judge ruled that he was incompetent, citing reports by two psychiatrists who examined him. He was moved to Napa State Hospital a few months later.

However, in July 2015 a forensic psychologist at the Napa facility found Goh competent to stand trial so a judge ordered that he undergo a competency hearing.

But in December 2015, at the end of a hearing that spanned eight days over two weeks, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes ruled that he was still mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Rhynes said Goh, a Korean national, suffered from schizophrenia and was unable to assist his lawyers in a rational manner.

Rhynes' ruling meant that Goh remained at a psychiatric treatment facility such as Napa State Hospital to continue getting treatment.

However, jail records indicate that Goh is now being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

At Goh's competency hearing in 2015, prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew, who's no longer involved in the case, argued that Goh "absolutely has the ability to rationally choose to assist his counsel if he wanted to, but he chooses not to do so because he views himself as guilty and wants to be punished."

But Rhynes said she believes Goh's "thinking is based on delusional beliefs so his defense strategy choice is not rational."

Rhynes cited a psychologist who testified that Goh's defense strategy is "illogical" in that he wants to plead not guilty but also wants to get the death penalty.

The judge said Goh apparently wants to have a trial so he can have "a platform" to place the blame for the shooting on the university, not himself. Goh allegedly also believes that Oikos teachers and administrators had conspired against him, bugged his house and tracked his vehicle.

When Goh opened fire, he struck 10 people, three of whom survived. Killed in the shooting were students Lydia Sim, 21, Sonam Choedon, 33, Grace Kim, 23, Doris Chibuko, 40, Judith Seymour, 53, and Tshering Bhutia, 38. Katleen Ping, 24, who worked at the school, was also killed. 



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Korea Daily]]>
<![CDATA[Apparent Drive-By Shooting Leaves Two Critical in Hayward]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 22:36:04 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sirens+police1.jpg

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office was investigating an apparent drive-by shooting in Hayward that left two males in critical condition Tuesday night.

Deputies responded to the area of Meekland and Medford avenues on reports of shots fired about 7:25 p.m., sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

When they arrived, deputies found two male victims in a parked car with gunshot wounds from what they believe was a drive-by shooting. Both victims were taken to the hospital, where they were in critical condition, Kelly said.

Investigators were still at the scene gathering information late Tuesday night, and no arrests had been made, he said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Forum to Discuss Proposal for $95M Richmond Jail Expansion]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:34:20 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jail_generic_bars.jpg

Activists opposing a $95 million plan to expand the Richmond jail will meet with supporters of the project for a question-and-answer forum on Saturday, an event that both sides hope will ease tensions between the two groups and bring clarity to a polarizing issue in the East Bay community.

The event is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Lafayette. Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen, who favors the expansion, will be taking questions, as will community activist Claudia Jimenez and immigration attorney Ali Saidi, who oppose the project. Gubernatorial Appointee AnaMarie Avila Farias will moderate the discussion. 

Topics will include the fraught relationship between the immigrant community and the Sheriff's Office, and ways in which the expansion could potentially contribute to racial disparities in the county’s justice system, according to organizers. Activists say it’s a last-ditch effort to appeal to Andersen, who has been a staunch supporter of Sheriff David Livingston’s plan to expand the jail. 

The sheriff’s plan, which the Board of Supervisors approved in a 4-to-1 vote in February, is dependent upon a $70 million state grant and adds close to 120,000 square feet to the jail. It will cost the county $25 million, and an additional $5 million per year to operate. The Board of Supervisors also signed off on a $33 million project for a new administration building for the sheriff, a move that some critics have accused of monopolizing an already tight county budget. 

“It’s going to use funds that could otherwise be used to alleviate the problems stemming from racial disparities,” said Julie Davis, who is on the planning committee for Saturday’s event. “All of that money could be better used for services in the community.” 

The Sheriff’s Office, which will not have a representative at Saturday’s event, has argued that the expansion plan will ease overcrowding and improve mental health services for jail inmates. A representative for Andersen said she continues to approve of the expansion plan on the basis of improved services, despite State Sen. Nancy Skinner putting pressure on county leaders to retract their support.

Andersen's representative also denied reports that the Sheriff's Office was using a significant portion of the county's budget for unecessary expenditures.

“(Supervisor Andersen) continues to view this as an additional way to help the mentally ill who are cycling through our jail system, and to provide enhanced services to reduce recidivism for those inmates who currently cannot be housed at the West County Detention Facility,” said Gayle Israel, the supervisor's chief of staff. 

Critics counter that overcrowding could be reduced in other ways, such as releasing nonviolent offenders or severing the sheriff’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in which 200 beds are leased to the federal immigration agency. They have also accused the sheriff of retaliating against cities that don’t support the expansion, such as El Cerrito. 

“There are already services that are missing — services for seniors, services for veterans, services for folks who were previously incarcerated,” said Tamisha Walker, a community advocate with the Safe Return Project. “True public safety is providing services for those who are in the margins of society.”

The Board of State and Community Corrections is expected to announce grant recipients in June.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UC Under Fire After Audit Uncovers $175M Secret Fund]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:25:46 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/janet-napolitano-GettyImages-173969606.jpg

University of California administrators hid $175 million from the public, its governing board and lawmakers in a secret reserve fund even as the UC raised tuition and asked the state for more funding, the state auditor said in a scathing report released Tuesday.

Auditor Elaine Howle said the office of UC President Janet Napolitano also overcharged the system's 10 campuses to fund its operations, paid its employees significantly more than state employees and interfered in the auditing process.

"Taken as a whole, these problems indicate that significant change is necessary to strengthen the public's trust in the University of California," Howle wrote in the report.

The audit found that over the course of four years, the UC's central bureaucracy amassed more than $175 million in reserve funds by spending significantly less than it budgeted for and asking for increases in future funding based on its previous years' over-estimated budgets rather than its actual expenditures.

"In effect, the Office of the President received more funds than it needed each year, and it amassed millions of dollars in reserves that it spent with little or no oversight," the report said.

Napolitano denies the audit's claim and said it unfairly mischaracterizes her office's budget processes and practices.

She said much of the $175 million Howle identified is already committed to systemwide university programs ranging from research grants to medical and academic programs, leaving just $38 million in reserves for unexpected expenses such as the need to respond to cybersecurity threats.

Napolitano argues the amount accounts for 10 percent of the operating and administrative budget. She called it "a modest amount for an organization our size."

The office argued it did not need to disclose its reserves because the regents had approved the spending in previous years' budgets.

Howle said the undisclosed funds included $32 million collected from campuses that could have been spent for other purposes.

University employees and lawmakers, who requested the audit, expressed outrage over the audit's findings.

"Today we learned that after squandering millions of public dollars on bloated management and unaccountable 'initiatives,' (the Office of the President) has effectively been operating a slush fund that shields hundreds of millions of public dollars from public scrutiny," said Kathryn Lybarger, president of UC's largest employee union, said in a statement.

She criticized the office's "skyrocketing executive pay and continued exploitation of low wage contractors," a reference to the audit's finding that the 10 executives in the office were paid a total of $3.7 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.

Lybarger, who pushed for reform and oversight, also blasted Napolitano's interference in the investigation, comparing it "keeping two sets of books" so UC leaders could sustain their "pattern of deception."

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, a member of the UC Board of Regents, said the audit calls into question the university's decision to raise this fall's tuition for the first time in six years when it has money available. The decision in January increases the cost of tuition and fees for California residents, who currently pay $12,294 a year, to $12,630.

"It is outrageous and unjust to force tuition hikes on students while the U.C. hides secret funds, and I call for the tuition decision to come back before the Board of Regents for reconsideration and reversal," he said.

Newsom also said that he hopes the "overdue moment" will serve as "as an agent for change rather than denial."

Floating the idea of a "third-party corrective action plan," Newsom continued: "The audit must serve as a wake-up call for the Board of Regents, as a catalyst for serious soul-searching within the U.C.’s administration, and demands a reboot of the relationship between the system and its governing body."

Among her recommendations for reforms, Howle suggested that state lawmakers should increase oversight of the office.

However, she said the office's attempt to interfere with the audit process by reviewing surveys auditors sent to the campuses "cast doubt on whether it will make a genuine effort to change."

In 2012, the director of the California Parks Department resigned after it came to light that the department hid $54 million in parks funding for more than a decade, at the same time the state threatened to close dozens of parks to save money amid a state budget crisis. The state auditor recommended new accounting methods, which were later adopted.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sponsor Pulls Plug on Coulter’s Scheduled Visit to Cal]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:14:37 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AnnCoulterFile.jpg

After filing a lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley, Ann Coulter continues to insist that she will speak on campus as initially planned on Thursday, although the group that sponsored her scheduled speech has pulled the plug, and university officials are pushing to reschedule her visit for May 2.

On Tuesday, the Young America's Foundation, which had sponsored Coulter's appearance as part of its nationwide lecture series, announced it was backing out of the event.

"As of 4 p.m. today, Young America’s Foundation will not be moving forward with an event at Berkeley on April 27 due to the lack of assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from unrestrained leftist agitators," the YAF said in a statement. "Berkeley should be ashamed for creating this hostile atmosphere."

However, Harmeet Dhillon, attorney for the Berkeley College Republicans, said Coulter could still show up Thursday, regardless of the Young America's Foundation's move.

Coulter later Tuesday said in tweet that she still expects UC Berkeley to provide her a space to speak.

"I haven't spoken to any Berkeley students about when and where I will speak because I'm still waiting for Berkeley to tell me," she tweeted. "... Still expect Berkeley to provide a room."

Earlier Tuesday, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said in an email, "All we know is that Coulter is saying she will come to campus and appear in Sproul Plaza in the early afternoon. We have nothing beyond that at the moment."

There is no word yet from the Coulter camp or the Berkeley College Republicans, the student group that invited the conservative provocateur to speak about illegal immigration. 

Amid the maelstrom swirling, the Berkeley Police Department on Tuesday held a public safety forum to hear about the community's concerns.

Police said that the gathering was "regularly scheduled," and it remains unclear whether the issue that is Coulter will be addressed. 

Students on Tuesday weighed in on the bedlam.

"I mean, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t like Ann Coulter, and I wasn’t a big fan of Yiannopolis, but I still think they should be allowed to speak here, and I don’t think we should resort to violence in any sort of way," Amanda Chevalier said.

Matt Flynn echoed a similar sentiment.

"I find her views repulsive, but that doesn’t mean she can’t speak," he said. "It just means no one has to listen."

A legal team representing the Berkeley College Republicans and the conservative provocateur on Monday slapped the university with a lawsuit claiming officials violated free speech rights by calling off Coulter's speaking visit. 

"This case arises from efforts by one of California’s leading public universities, UC Berkeley — once known as the 'birthplace of the Free Speech Movement' — to restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy," the lawsuit read in part.

The student group scheduled Coulter's visit for April 27, but the university last week called off the event citing security reasons.

One day later, the university changed course and allowed the event to go on, but penciled in her visit for May 2 instead of this upcoming Thursday. That decision to reschedule her speech, prompted the filing of the lawsuit

The University of California system, UC Berkeley Police Department and numerous university officials were named in the lawsuit.

UC Berkeley provided the following statement Monday in response to the lawsuit:

The University of California welcomes speakers of all political viewpoints and is committed to providing a forum to enable Ann Coulter to speak on the Berkeley campus. The allegation contained in the complaint filed by Young America’s Foundation that Ms. Coulter is being prohibited from speaking because of her conservative views is untrue. As the complaint itself notes, Young America’s Foundation has sponsored many other speaking events at UC Berkeley in past years, including that of conservative political commentator and author Ben Shapiro, and the organization’s efforts have led many notable conservatives to share their viewpoints with students and the public on campus. UC Berkeley has been working to accommodate a mutually agreeable time for Ms. Coulter’s visit – which has not yet been scheduled – and remains committed to doing so. The campus seeks to ensure that all members of the Berkeley and larger community – including Ms. Coulter herself – remain safe during such an event.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brain Parasite Sickens Bay Area Couple in Hawaii]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:07:06 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4122017-bay-area-couple.jpg

A Bay Area couple on their honeymoon and two people who drank a homemade herbal beverage are among the rising number of victims in Hawaii falling ill with a potentially deadly brain parasite.

After the newlyweds' plight with rat lungworm disease recently got attention online, the couple and some experts accused Hawaii of failing to adequately warn tourists and residents of the danger they can face. Tourism officials say the disease is rare and there's no need to cancel vacation plans.

"It never occurred to us that our honeymoon would be two weeks in paradise to return home with worms in our brains," Ben Manilla of San Francisco, a journalism professor at UC Berkeley, said in an email after spending a month in the hospital, undergoing several operations and suffering complications.

Hawaii has seen the same number of infections so far this year that it will often get annually. Eleven cases have been confirmed — six on Maui and five on the Big Island.

The reason for the "concerning increase" is not clear, said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the state health department. But it could be blamed on a recent Maui influx of a semi-slug that can carry the disease.

What to know about the disease and how the state is responding:

WHAT IS RAT LUNGWORM DISEASE?

A roundworm parasite found in rodents causes the disease affecting the brain and spinal cord. When rodents expel the larvae of the worm, they can be ingested by snails, slugs, crabs and frogs, then passed to people.

The disease is prevalent in Southeast Asia and tropical Pacific islands and has been seen in Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S. It's rare, and most people completely recover without treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms can range from mild headaches to temporary paralysis, and diagnosis is difficult, requiring a spinal tap, said William L. Gosnell, program director for the graduate certificate in tropical medicine at University of Hawaii's medical school.

Hawaii sees between one and 11 cases each year, with 11 in 2016, state health officials said. Two deaths have occurred since officials began tracking it in 2007.

HOW DO PEOPLE GET IT?

By eating food contaminated by the larvae of the parasite. They can be found in raw snails or in produce contaminated by tiny snails or slugs.

Two adults on the Big Island got the disease after consuming contaminated homemade elixir, health officials said last week.

They left homemade kava, a dietary supplement, in uncovered buckets overnight and noticed slugs after drinking it, Pressler said.

Four others who drank the same batch are suspected of being infected.

HOW DO YOU PREVENT IT?

Avoid eating raw snails or slugs and properly wash produce.

Manilla said had he and his wife, Eliza Lape, known about the disease, they would have more thoroughly cleaned fruits and vegetables. They believe they contracted it in the remote Hana area of Maui early this year.

"It's easy in the U.S. to think that we're impervious to things that occur often in the developing world and apparently in some of the remote areas of Hawaii," Manilla said in an email.

The couple declined an interview but told Hawaii News Now that the symptoms began after they returned to San Francisco.

"My symptoms started growing to feeling like somebody was taking a hot knife and just stabbing me in different parts of my body," Lape told the Honolulu news station.

Still, the couple can't wait to return to Hana, Manilla said.

"We'll do it a bit differently next time knowing what we know now about rat lungworm disease," he wrote.

WHAT IS HAWAII DOING ABOUT IT?

The state health director says the department works with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to warn visitors about risks on the islands.

Pressler pointed to "hard to miss" information about the disease on the department's website.

The tourism agency also has been meeting with members and contractors who book travel to explain the disease, and it's working on getting messages to tourists that Hawaii is safe, said George Szigeti, president and CEO. It noted a special alert on its website and a mention in its e-newsletter.

For residents, the state is holding community forums, Pressler said.

Hawaii needs to do much more, said Susan Jarvi, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Hawaii's Hilo campus.

"I think most people on the island of Hawaii feel the state hasn't done enough to help," she said.

Jarvi wants to see more funding to combat disease-transmitting pests and more education about controlling invasive species.

"The research and education on this disease is really lacking," she said.

SHOULD TOURISTS AVOID HAWAII?

The tourism authority said people should not overreact and urged visitors to keep eating at restaurants and enjoying fresh produce.

"The key facts that everyone needs to remember about rat lungworm disease is that it is very rare, it is very uncommon for people to get infected, and the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating," Szigeti said in a statement.

Ashlynn Martin, of Yuma, Arizona, has been planning a Maui vacation for two years. The October trip isn't refundable, so she and her husband aren't changing their plans.

"We're just going to take the chance," she said, adding that she will make sure to wash produce. "It worries me, but I feel like so many people travel to Hawaii. ... I think we'll be OK."

Associated Press writers Cathy Bussewitz in Honolulu and Michael Stobbe in New York and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Hawaii News Now]]>
<![CDATA[Progress Report: Commuters Grade New BART Station]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:54:08 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3-25-17_BART_Warm_Springs.jpg

Tuesday marks the one-month anniversary since BART opened its newest station, and the rider reviews appear to be mostly positive.

Ridership at the Warm Springs Station in Fremont is not up to BART's liking just yet, but commuters living in the area noted that the new transportation option reduces their stress and helps them save time.

"I can actually finish breakfast with my family in the morning and just kind of have a little bit nicer morning," Jason Mustard said.

Fellow rider Chris Metoyer also noted that his stress levels have been "drastically reduced" thanks to time being shaved off his previous commute. Metoyer also appreciates the aesthetic features that the station offers.

"It's a lot nicer station, too," he said.

During the station's first month in existence, BART recorded roughly 2,400 exits on the average weekday, meaning that roughly 2,400 BART riders exited the gates at the station. That number is below expectations, according to the transportation agency. BART hopes to increase ridership to roughly 4,700 daily riders as soon as possible.

For comparisons sake, BART's Fremont Station — the next closest station — recorded roughly 9,000 exits each day, according to data from last year. The Embarcadero Station in San Francisco tallied 48,000 daily exits.

The Warm Springs Station won't be the newest BART station for long. Later this year, two stations are expected to open in Milpitas and San Jose's Berryessa neighborhood.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Surveillance Footage Captures Attempted Robbery in East Bay]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:15:42 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-25-17-WALNUT-CREEK-ROBBERY.jpg

The search continues Tuesday for suspects involved in a brazen attempted robbery in Walnut Creek. Last week, three men dressed as construction workers walked into the OC Watch Company. One of the suspects handed a clipboard to the owner of the store. When the owner looked down at the clipboard, the suspect pepper sprayed him. Another man then broke a display case with a bat. The store owner and a nearby customer managed to scare the men off before the men escaped empty handed.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Goodbye: High Number of Residents Ditching Bay Area]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:19:23 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*160/1493076386-housing-afford.png

The Bay Area has higher numbers of people migrating elsewhere than any other region in the nation, according to a new study. New York finished in second place while Los Angeles settled in at No. 3 on the list. The study compared Redfin users in the nation's 75 largest metro areas.]]>
<![CDATA[Thank You! Bus Driver Appreciation Day]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:17:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*160/1490359848-School-bus.JPG

Mt. Diablo Unified School District marked Tuesday as "School Bus Driver Appreciation Day." Bus drivers in the district will be treated to special refreshments and a surprise.]]>
<![CDATA[Five Bay Area Schools Among Nation’s Top Public High Schools]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:52:44 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/school-class-generic-student-elementary.jpg

Five Bay Area public high schools are among the nation's top 100, according to a new annual listing. U.S. News and World Report ranks more than 22,000 public high schools each year. Coming in 23rd nationally was Kipp San Jose Collegiate, which is a South Bay charter school. San Francisco's Lowell High School ranked 59th. Another South Bay charter school, San Jose's University Preparatory Academy, ranked 72nd. Mission San Jose in Fremont was just behind that at 76th and Oakland Charter High School was 91st.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Hearing for New Dublin High School]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:57:01 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-25-17-DUBLIN-SCHOOL.jpg

Dublin school board members will hold a hearing on applying for a bond waiver request to create a second high school in the East Bay city. Classes in Dublin are already filled to the limit, and total student numbers are forecasted to climb. Frustrated parents recently launched a petition drive to prod the district into moving more quickly to build a new facility.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Six-Figure Salary in Some Bay Area Spots Dubbed Low Income]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:11:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MoneyBayAreaIncome.jpg

It's no secret. The Bay Area grows increasingly expensive by the day.

What may come as a surprise — or not really at this point anymore — is that six-figure salaries in some Bay Area locations classify families as being low income.

That's right. In Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, a family of four earning $105,350 is considered to be living at the low income limit, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That's because the median income in those regions has soared to $115,300.

A "very low" income mark in those three counties equates to a family of four earning $65,800, according to the data. "Extremely low" income means that same family is only bringing in $39,500.

Folks living in the Bay Area's six other counties aren't experiencing much of a financial break either. A family of four living in Alameda and Contra Costa counties tallying $80,400 per year is labeled as low income, according to the data. In those spots, the median income for a family of four has jumped to $97,400. A family of four in Santa Clara County is considered to be low income if they bring in $84,750. The median income in the South Bay currently sits at $113,300.

The low income line for a family of four drops slightly for those in Napa ($74,500), Solano ($64,300) and Sonoma ($70,500) counties, according to the data.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dozens of Minors Raid BART Train, Rob and Injure Riders]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 23:34:10 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

A routine ride on BART over the weekend turned into utter chaos when roughly 40 to 60 juveniles stormed a train in Oakland and committed multiple robberies, according to the transit agency.

The crime spree occurred Saturday night when the unarmed youngsters hopped fare gates at the Coliseum Station and jumped onto a train bound for Dublin, according to BART and witness accounts. Within seconds, the juveniles grabbed purses, snatched cellphones and left at least two victims with face and head injuries, according to BART.

The minors managed to escape moments after raiding passengers on the train and station platform, BART officials said.

A total of seven robberies were reported, officials said. One purse and a duffel bag were seized along with five phones. All but one of the robberies happened on the train.

"To have it happen all at once, obviously it was a coordinated (incident). They knew why they were coming to the station," BART sopeswoman Alicia Trost said.

Trost said it's become common for groups of teens to rush onto BART trains and steal what they can grab. But what's unusual about this incident is the size of the group, she said.

"It is something that occurs frequently enough that we know it’s a problem, and we are working with law enforcement," she said.

An investigation into the crime spree is ongoing. Police are reviewing surveillance footage in hopes of identifying the individuals involved.

Because the suspects are believed to be minors, BART said it won’t be releasing the surveillance video. But they will be sharing the images with all local school districts to try to identify the suspects.

Commuters are hoping BART does something to increase security.

"I’m kind of scared now, how easily can that happen," BART rider Karla Nunez said. "Wasn’t it supervised at all? It concerns me."

Rider Emily Rameriz agreed, saying BART should at least have "a security guard roaming around" stations to make sure it doesn't happen again.

BART said it will be increasing patrols and working with other agencies to track down the suspects.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Backers of Coulter File Lawsuit Against UC Berkeley ]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:08:53 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AnnCoulterFile.jpg

Berkeley College Republicans and supporters of Ann Coulter are making good on their promise.

A legal team representing the student group and the conservative provocateur on Monday slapped the University of California, Berkeley with a lawsuit claiming the university violated free speech rights when it called off Coulter's speaking visit.

"This case arises from efforts by one of California’s leading public universities, UC Berkeley — once known as the “birthplace of the Free Speech Movement” — to restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy," the lawsuit read in part.

Berkeley College Republicans scheduled Coulter's visit for April 27, but the university last week called off the event for security reasons.

Days later, the university changed course and allowed the event to go on, but it penciled in her visit for May 2 instead of this upcoming Thursday. That rescheduling decision prompted the student group and Coulter's legal team to promise a lawsuit, which was fulfilled Monday.

The University of California system, UC Berkeley Police Department and numerous university officials were named in the lawsuit.

Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for Berkeley College Republicans, held a news conference in San Francisco later in the day to discuss the lawsuit.

"Ms. Coulter will pretty much never be allowed to speak at the same time, place and manner as liberal speakers on the Berkeley campus, Dhillon said. "This is unconstitutional."

Meanwhile, Coulter has announced on Twitter she is coming to Berkeley on April 27.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, said the threat of violent protest should convince any sane person to reschedule.

"I believe this is a political effort by her to sell more books, get more attention and promote Ann Coulter," Speier said. 

UC Berkeley provided the following statement Monday in response to the lawsuit:

The University of California welcomes speakers of all political viewpoints and is committed to providing a forum to enable Ann Coulter to speak on the Berkeley campus. The allegation contained in the complaint filed by Young America’s Foundation that Ms. Coulter is being prohibited from speaking because of her conservative views is untrue. As the complaint itself notes, Young America’s Foundation has sponsored many other speaking events at UC Berkeley in past years, including that of conservative political commentator and author Ben Shapiro, and the organization’s efforts have led many notable conservatives to share their viewpoints with students and the public on campus. UC Berkeley has been working to accommodate a mutually agreeable time for Ms. Coulter’s visit – which has not yet been scheduled – and remains committed to doing so. The campus seeks to ensure that all members of the Berkeley and larger community – including Ms. Coulter herself – remain safe during such an event.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mercedes Slams Into Walnut Creek House, No One Injured]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:09:36 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-24-17_Walnut_Creek_Car_House.jpg

An East Bay family received quite the wake-up call late Sunday when a Mercedes-Benz sedan slammed into their home, fire officials said.

The young driver of the Mercedes lost control of his car just before midnight along the 2500 block of San Miguel Drive in Walnut Creek before crashing into the home's office space and living room, according to Contra Costa County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dominic Ciotola.

No one inside the home was injured, but they were surprised, according to homeowner Peter Zwart.

Zwart described the crash as being "loud" and causing a "boom" that led to "shouting kids and (a) shouting wife."

The location where the vehicle plowed into the home was recently converted from a bedroom to a work space. That construction may have helped save a life.

"They were extremely lucky that nobody was sleeping in what would have been a bedroom," Ciotola said. "They were lucky"

The driver was also able to escape the scene unscathed, according to Ciotola.

Authorities do not believe that alcohol played a factor in the crash.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[BART Unveils First Bank of EV Charging Stations in Fremont]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:47:22 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-24-17_Warm_Springs_EV_Station.jpg

Bay Area commuters with a passion for sustainability now have a new option to make sure their journey from home to work releases the lowest amount of emissions possible.

The Warm Springs BART Station in Fremont on Monday officially unveiled one of the largest electric vehicle charging sites in the Bay Area, according to the transportation agency.

A total of 22 stations, which can charge up to 44 cars at once, were opened as part of a pilot program. If the program proves to be successful and generates  demand, BART may consider installing charging stations at other locations throughout its system.

As of Monday, the Warm Springs Station is the only BART station to house electric vehicle charging stations.

The cost for a single charge is included in the station's $6 parking fee, according to the agency.

Keeping with the sustainable theme, BART is using solar panels to power the charging stations.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Toddler Rescued After Falling Into Hot Tub in Concord]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:24:36 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ambulance_generic2shotTele.jpg

A 20-month-old boy was rescued after falling into a hot tub and nearly drowning in Concord on Sunday, according to the Concord Police Department.

About 6:25 p.m., officers were called to the 1700 block of Claycord Avenue on reports that a toddler had fallen into a hot tub. Family members removed the boy from the hot tub and started CPR until officers arrived, police said.

The boy was taken to a local hospital, where he was in stable condition late Sunday night.

No further details were available.

]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Stars Flash Dance Moves at Children's Hospital Proms]]>Sun, 23 Apr 2017 15:20:56 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF49ersPromChildrensHospital_1.png

Prom is a life event that many young hospital patients typically miss out on, but some professional football players in the Bay Area partnered with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital to change that Friday evening.

A number of teenagers receiving care at children's hospital in San Francisco dressed to impress before joining the dapper San Francisco 49ers players on the dance floor for a night jam-packed with dance contests and selfies.

San Francisco's Garrett Celek, Joshua Garnett, Quinton Dial and newest 49er Pierre Garcon were among those dressed to the nines.

"I'm enjoying my first event, my first community event with the team," Garcon said. "It's a prom so I couldn't ask for a better thing to dress up and meet the young kids of the community, especially at the children's hospital out here in San Francisco. It's an amazing thing. I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Across the San Francisco Bay, several members of the Oakland Raiders also flashed their best suits and ties during another prom at UCSF Children's Hospital Oakland. Young patients latched onto the players' arms as they graced the red carpet together before strutting their stuff.

"I met some amazing people," Raider's long snapper Joe Condo wrote on Twitter.



Photo Credit: San Francisco 49ers]]>
<![CDATA[Clydesdale, Trainer Reunite with Rescuers in Castro Valley]]>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 22:32:03 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-22-17_Horse_Reunited_Castro_Valley.jpg

A Clydesdale horse named Daniel was reunited Saturday with firefighters that rescued him and his trainer from a ravine in Castro Valley last summer, according to Alameda County fire officials.

During an evening ride on June 15, the 2,200-pound equine accidentally stepped off a single-track trail and lost his balance sending him and his trainer, Leah Feliz, down a steep ravine.

Fire officials said Daniel was initially trapped in the trees, with Leah being stuck on the rocks below. Both were seriously injured.

In a statement from East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, President Allison Lindquist said Leah was quickly rescued and taken to a hospital for treatment, while firefighters worked for over five hours to safely remove Daniel from the tree.

After a second rescue, Daniel was eventually taken to the University of California at Davis Large Animal Veterinary Hospital for assessment and treatment.

Daniel and Leah met with their rescuers today at Rancho De Los Amigos Ranch located at 12350 Cull Canyon Rd., where Daniel calls home.

Fire officials said both he and Leah are doing well.



Photo Credit: Alameda County Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Brentwood Teen May Have Been Seen in Pittsburg]]>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:26:23 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kamryn+Bresee.jpg

Police are looking for a Brentwood teen who went missing Wednesday evening and may have been seen more recently in Pittsburg, police said.

Kamryn Bresee, 17, was last seen in Brentwood but may have been seen more recently at a discount store in Pittsburg, Pittsburg police said Friday.

Bresee is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall, 185 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Brentwood police said she was wearing a black tank top, red shorts and black Jordan tennis shoes.

Pittsburg police said Friday that she was wearing a blue dress, a jacket, Jordan shoes and gold hoop earrings. She was carrying a Tommy Hilfiger backpack, Pittsburg police said.

Kamryn may have been seen with a boy or man at the Dollar Tree store at 690 Bailey Road in Pittsburg.

Anyone who sees Kamryn is asked to call Pittsburg police dispatchers at (925) 646-2441 or Brentwood police dispatchers at (925) 809-7911.



Photo Credit: Pittsburg Police Department]]>
<![CDATA['March for Science' Lures Massive Crowds Across the Bay Area]]>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 14:09:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4222017-sf-march-christie.jpg

Science supporters were out in droves throughout the Bay Area on Saturday, decrying President Donald Trump's policies and urging him and the rest of the U.S. to put faith in evidence-based science.

More than 500 communities around the world, including San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Pacifica, Walnut Creek, Hayward and Livermore, participated in the "March for Science."

In San Francisco, the rally began at Justin Herman Plaza and attracted hundreds of people. Social media posts indicated that trains heading into the city were jam-packed with people heading to "March for Science." It was standing-room only, one person wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, crowds toting all manner of signs — some of which read "In science we trust" and "Climate change is real" — chanted, "What do we want? Fact-based evidence! When do we want it? After peer review!"

Kishore Hari, an organizer for Saturday's event, expressed concern regarding President Trump's proposed budget cuts for scientific research.

"Cutting the (Environmental Protection Agency), not funding any kind of climate research whatsoever, eliminating stem education in our schools, those are direct threats to our education," she said.

Adam Savage, the former host of MythBusters, spoke to the teeming crowd in San Francisco and said that bias is the "enemy of science," according to Twitter.

"When we see politicians move away from the best data toward their own biases, that is not policy that benefits everyone," Savage told the crowd. "That is policy that benefits the few."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tweeted his support for "March for Science."

"Science is not alternate facts," he wrote. "#SF supports the scientists who improve our lives everyday."

President Trump, in addition to taking to Twitter, offered his own Earth Day statement.

"My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and environmental risks," his statement read.

In the East Bay, a march scheduled at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza kicked off at 4 p.m.

About 500 people had pre-registered to march across the mudflats and wetlands of the Hayward Regional Shoreline, a stretch of restored marshes beside the San Francisco Bay.

In Livermore, winemakers and researchers and administrators from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were scheduled to speak at a rally at Livermore High School. Afterward, marchers were invited to a family-friendly science fair with hands-on STEM activities for all ages.

In Walnut Creek, a march took over the pavement at Civic Park. The event was coordinated by Women’s March Contra Costa, and billed as a nonpartisan rally to promote the importance of scientific research and advancement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Christie Smith/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area, Telemundo 48 Participate in Comcast Cares Day]]>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 09:19:18 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4222017-comcast-cares-day.jpg

NBC Bay Area and Telemundo 48 employees rolled up their sleeves Saturday for the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day. 

From boxing donated food to mentoring youth, our employees volunteer year-round to make a difference in our shared communities, and Comcast Cares Day is our yearly celebration of this commitment to volunteerism.

"It was amazing just to see how many people showed up and they just descended on the projects," Stephanie Vose of Comcast said of what is now the largest single-day corporate effort in the United States.

In San Francisco on Saturday, familiar faces, including anchors Raj Mathai and Janelle Wang, were spotted at Sutro Elementary School at 235 12th Avenue. The school got some TLC in the form of a mural, an expanded learning garden, planters with fresh bark, and repainted safety lines around classroom doorways.

Myra Quadros, the principal of Sutro Elementary School, was captivated by the way Comcast employees, along with their friends and families, transformed the campus.

"It's really incredible," she said. "We were adopted through Comcast and this would never happen through the school district."

In San Jose, our team went to Glider Elementary School at 511 Cozy Drive. As part of our partnership with the school, bences were sanded, flowers were planted and a USA map was added to the playground. 

"This is a great event that's helping out the city, that's changing a school, that's helping our youth," artist Dave Young Kim said.

A slew of volunteering opportunities were also available in Oakland, Milpitas, Santa Cruz, Fremont and elsewhere. 

"The most important thing we can do is be involved locally and make positive change locally and be strong," said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener. 

Comcast Cares Day has evolved from a modest service effort with 6,100 volunteers at the time of its founding. In 2016, nearly 108,000 volunteers participated, improving more than 930 project sites throughout 540 local communities.

"Kids are going to come back, their school is going to be transformed or a garden is going to be transformed and you don't understand the impact that this has on kids who sometimes wonder -- and families sometimes wonder -- if their country is ignoring them or they've been left behind," said David Cohen, senior executive vice president of Comcast Corporation.

More information can be found online.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Accused Mass Killer Restored to Mental Competency: Attorneys]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:34:25 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oaklandoikos.jpg

The man who's charged with seven counts of murder and other charges for a shooting rampage at Oikos University in Oakland in 2012 has been restored to mental competency, the attorneys in his case said Friday.

However, the attorneys declined to comment on what the next step will be in the long-running legal odyssey for One Goh, 48, such as whether he will now stand trial.

Speaking outside court after a brief hearing at which reports about Goh's mental health were submitted, the attorneys said the next step will be decided when Goh returns to Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday. Court records indicate that he's scheduled to enter a plea at that time.

Goh is charged with seven counts of murder, three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance allegations of committing a murder during a kidnapping and committing multiple murders for the shooting at Oikos, a Christian vocational school located near Oakland International Airport, on April 2, 2012.

Prosecutors say Goh had dropped out of Oikos several months before the shooting and wanted his tuition refunded and targeted an administrator who wasn't present on the day of the shooting.

But criminal proceedings against him were suspended on Oct. 1, 2012, after his lawyers questioned his mental competency to stand trial. On Jan. 7, 2013, a judge ruled that he was incompetent, citing reports by two psychiatrists who examined him. He was moved to Napa State Hospital a few months later.

However, in July 2015 a forensic psychologist at the Napa facility found Goh competent to stand trial so a judge ordered that he undergo a competency hearing.

But in December 2015, at the end of a hearing that spanned eight days over two weeks, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes ruled that he was still mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Rhynes said Goh, a Korean national, suffered from schizophrenia and was unable to assist his lawyers in a rational manner.

Rhynes' ruling meant that Goh remained at a psychiatric treatment facility such as Napa State Hospital to continue getting treatment.

However, jail records indicate that Goh is now being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

At Goh's competency hearing in 2015, prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew, who's no longer involved in the case, argued that Goh "absolutely has the ability to rationally choose to assist his counsel if he wanted to, but he chooses not to do so because he views himself as guilty and wants to be punished."

But Rhynes said she believes Goh's "thinking is based on delusional beliefs so his defense strategy choice is not rational."

Rhynes cited a psychologist who testified that Goh's defense strategy is "illogical" in that he wants to plead not guilty but also wants to get the death penalty.

The judge said Goh apparently wants to have a trial so he can have "a platform" to place the blame for the shooting on the university, not himself.

Killed in the shooting were students Lydia Sim, 21, Sonam Choedon, 33, Grace Kim, 23, Doris Chibuko, 40, Judith Seymour, 53, and Tshering Bhutia, 38, as well as Katleen Ping, 24, who worked at the school.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Korea Daily]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Appears to be at Full Employment: Analyst]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 23:00:55 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/205*120/now+hiring1.jpg

Unemployment rates in the Bay Area were among the lowest in the state in March indicating the region is at full employment, according to a state labor market analyst and labor market data.

In San Mateo County, unemployment was at 2.7 percent, the lowest in the state, while in Marin County and in the City and County of San Francisco unemployment was at 3 percent, the second lowest level in the state.

The unemployment rate in all other counties except Solano County was below 4 percent last month.

"Many consider we are at full employment," Janice Shriver, a state labor market analyst based in the Bay Area, said.

Full employment is typically considered 4 percent unemployment, Shriver said. Four percent unemployment is considered full employment because at any time people are changing jobs while others are entering or leaving the workforce.

Full employment means that virtually everyone who is willing and able to work is working.

But Shriver cautioned that for individuals still looking for work, the numbers have less meaning. "If one person is unemployed, he's 100 percent unemployed," she said.

Employment growth in the East Bay has been particularly strong.

Last month in Alameda County unemployment was 3.9 percent while in Contra Costa County unemployment was 4.1 percent.

In March 2016, the unemployment rate in Alameda County was 4.3 percent and in Contra Costa County 4.5 percent.

The February unemployment rate in Alameda and Contra Costa counties was the same as last month.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Search for Suspects Posing as Construction Workers]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:28:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0421-2017-ConstructionSuspects.jpg

Walnut Creek police are looking for three suspects who disguised themselves as construction workers and pepper sprayed a store clerk in an elaborate, but ultimately failed, plot to steal luxury watches.

According to police, two men donning hard hats, dusk masks, and yellow construction vests entered the OC Watch Company on Cypress Street — a pre-owned store that sells high-priced brands like Cartier and Rolex wristwatches — just before noon Thursday. The report says a third suspect was spotted wearing the same garb outside, loitering near the door with a black backpack.

Once inside, police say one of the suspects approached the store owner, handed him a clipboard, and asked him to sign a release to shut off power to the building. When the store owner looked down, the suspect allegedly pepper sprayed him and a nearby customer.

The second suspect then smashed a display case with a baseball bat, according to police. The suspects were unable to skirt off with any merchandise because the store owner “scared” them away. Police did not describe what tactics the owner used to frighten them.

The suspects, all three of whom police describe as men standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, bolted into a black, late model Dodge Challenger with silver rims and black paper plates.

Police are asking anyone with information about the crime to call Detective Bill Jeha at 925-256-3518.



Photo Credit: Walnut Creek Police]]>
<![CDATA[Search for Possibly Armed Man Ends in Berkeley, Area Secure]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:04:38 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-21-17_Berkeley_Gunman.jpg

Berkeley police on Friday announced that a search for a possibly armed man  ended and that the scene was secure.

A shelter-in-place order was originally implemented around 4:45 p.m. before being called off around 7 p.m., according to Berkeley police.

Residents along the 2200 block of McKinley Avenue, 1800 block of Allston Way, 1800 block of Bancroft Way and 2200 block of Grant Street were asked to stay inside their homes, according to police. Others were asked to avoid the area.

Berkwood Hedge Elementary School was also placed on lockdown due to the police activity. Students participating in the school's after-school program were guarded by police officers.

Further information was not available at the time.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Strudent Group Threatens Lawsuit Against UC Berkeley]]>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 10:46:45 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-596737196.jpg

University of California, Berkeley officials are standing their ground.

Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter is slated to speak on the East Bay campus on May 2 — the week after regular classes formally end — despite demands from the Berkeley College Republicans to keep the originally scheduled speaking date of April 27.

A lawyer representing the group on Friday fired back against the university and promised to file a lawsuit if the event doesn't take place on Thursday.

"(Coulter's) not being allowed to speak in the same way other student groups are allowed to bring their speakers," said Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation.

UC Berkeley first canceled Coulter's speaking engagement earlier this week because of security concerns, but they later retracted that decision and allowed the event to go on. That's when the university penciled in her visit for May 2 instead of April 27.

Some students do not want Coulter on their campus at all, citing violence concerns after a Milo Yiannopoulos appearance in February sparked riot-like chaos.

"This is not a free speech issue," student Reiko Redmonde said. "She does not need an extra platform to spew her hateful stuff."

Those on Coulter's side said she deserves the right to speak freely and share her viewpoints with anyone who wants to listen.

The controversy swirling around Coulter's visit comes at the same time Yiannopoulos announced his decision to return to the campus on May 5.



Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Transported to Hospital After OIS in Hayward: Police]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:23:28 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/522458741.jpg

A person suffered non-life threatening injuries after being shot by Hayward police Friday afternoon, police said.

The person was inside a house along the 22000 block of Rockaway Lane when they were shot aroound 12:20 p.m., according to police.

The shooting victim was transported to a local hospital to be treated, police said.

An investigation into the officer-involved shooting is ongoing, according to police.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to contact Detective Robert Purnell at 510-293-7074 or email HaywardPDTips@hayward-ca.gov.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ann Coulter Declines UC Berkeley's Re-invitation to Speak ]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 07:09:26 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-596737196.jpg

Ann Coulter has rejected the University of California, Berkeley's re-invitation to speak on campus, according to Fox News.

On Thursday, a day after calling off Coulter's upcoming appearance for security reasons, university officials backtracked and paved the way for her to speak to students on May 2.

But the right-wing provocateur responded via Twitter on Thursday, indicating they've already spent money for the previously scheduled event on April 27, and she's not available to speak on the new date. Then she added: "THERE ARE NO CLASSES AT BERKELEY THE WEEK OF MAY 2!!!"

On Twitter, she also brushed off Berkeley's statement "claiming they 'rescinded' cancelation." Instead she condemned officials for adding "NEW, more burdensome" conditions on her constitution rights. 

University officials on Thursday said they've found a venue for the rescheduled event, but they did not reveal the specific location.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said they originally canceled Coulter because of student safety. But because she is vowing to speak anyway, the university found a new venue.

"As the home of the free speech movement, we fully support the right of our students to host speakers of their choice," Dirks said. "We also have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and well being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of our campus."

The university said an "expanded search" has uncovered a venue on campus that meets their security criteria.

UC Berkeley officials said Wednesday that they were "unable to find a safe and suitable" venue for the right-wing provocateur who was invited to speak by campus Republicans on April 27.

Further details about the decision reversal were not immediately available.

The hubbub sparked Tuesday when Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy sent a letter the Berkeley College Republicans, saying that university officials in consultation with campus police had determined they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event.

News organizations obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, UCPD determined that, given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully ... at any of the campus venues available on April 27th," the letter said.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said that posters went up on campus last week threatening disruption of the event and officials discovered "targeted threats" on various websites indicating the possibility of planned violence.

"We realize that this is disappointing news," Biddy's letter said, promising that campus police and officials will work the Berkeley College Republicans to find another time and date for Coulter's speech. 

UC Berkeley said it did not have enough advance notice to provide security for the Coulter event.

"We learned about the invitation to Ms. Coulter by reading about it in the newspaper," university officials said.

Berkeley College Republicans said that's not true, that they provided plenty of notice about their plans.

The cancellation comes days after violent clashes between far-right and far-left protesters Saturday at a rally supporting President Donald Trump in downtown Berkeley.

An appearance at UC Berkeley by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled after protesters rioted outside the event in February.

UC Berkeley police said there won't be a repeat of what unfolded during the Yiannopoulos melee, when people who had infiltrated the protest started smashing windows and lighting fires.

"Our approach is going to be different than the approach for the Milo event, again based on our after-action review," UC Berkeley police Capt. Alex Yao said.

Organizers of the event released their own statement Wednesday, expressing discontentment at the change in plans.

They wrote: "UC-Berkeley, a publicly-funded university, first imposed a series of ridiculous requirements on the speech allegedly in the name of 'safety.' Coulter, we were informed, would be required to deliver her speech in the afternoon; only students would be allowed to attend; and the speech location would not be announced until close to the event."

Although Berkeley College Republicans advised Coulter not to agree to those stipulations, she did, they wrote. In return, she asked the chancellor to help ensure appropriate police response to "law-breaking by rioters attempting to shut down conservative speakers," according to the statement. 

Coulter reportedly also asked Berkeley officials to warn students that "engaging in violence, mayhem or heckling" to prevent the speech would result in expulsion, the statement said. 

The Berkeley College Republicans reported Coulter as having said, "If Berkeley wants to have free speech, it can have it."

The group lashed out in its statement, accusing university officials of misusing taxpayer money for an "unconstitutional purpose" and comparing Biddy and UC President Janet Napolitano to North Korea's authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un.  

"This is as clear-cut a case as it gets that public universities are using taxpayer dollars to shut down conservative speech, while allowing liberal speech only," they wrote. 

Group members have stressed that they have "no intention of acceding to these unconstitutional acts. The Ann Coulter lecture sponsored by Young America’s Foundation will go forward."

Coulter herself said in a tweet Wednesday she's still planning on coming to Berkeley to speak and blasted the school for canceling the event.

NBC Bay Area's Kim Yonenaka contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Crash on Interstate 880 in Union City Leaves One Dead: CHP]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 23:33:23 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/chp-generic-night.jpg

The California Highway Patrol was investigating a fatal accident Thursday night on northbound Interstate 880 in Union City.

Preliminary reports indicate a motorist was involved in a crash, got out of the vehicle and was struck by another passing vehicle, the CHP said.

The crash occurred about 8:40 p.m. on I-880 near the Whipple Road off-ramp. The two left lanes were shut down, the CHP said.

No further details were available.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area to 'March for Science' on Earth Day]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:34:35 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-22-2017-SFmarchforscience.jpg

Science supporters will be out in force throughout the Bay Area this weekend.

A "March for Science" is scheduled to take place this Saturday at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza as part of a worldwide rally.

More than 500 communities around the world, including the Bay Area's San Francisco, San Jose, Pacifica, Walnut Creek, Hayward and Livermore, will participate in the demonstration, according to the East Bay Times.

The Facebook event for the Berkeley rally shows more than 450 people planning to attend.

The event on Earth Day invites attendees to bring lab coats, rally signs and "gather together to defend our planet and our institutions through civic engagement and sustained political action at the local, state, and federal level."

Saturday's Berkeley march will be held from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, about 500 people pre-registered to march across the mudflats and wetlands of the Hayward Regional Shoreline, a stretch of restored marshes beside the San Francisco Bay.

"Climate change and the March for Science is so important for the Hayward community because our shoreline is predicted to be under water by 2050," said organizer Sally Thomas, who is also a librarian at the local public library. "The recent king tides in Jan almost flooded the interpretive center. That's a prediction of what's coming."

In Livermore, winemakers and researchers and administrators from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will speak at a rally at Livermore High School. Afterward, marchers are invited to a family-friendly science fair with hands-on STEM activities for all ages.

Megan Cohen, a former National Forest Service archaeologist who organized the interactive educational event, said she hopes to "encourage science literacy and get kids interested and excited about engineering and understanding the world through science and facts."

"Science is a huge part of what makes Livermore who we are," she said. "With the national lab here, we care a lot about science. But for people who are farther out in the East Bay, San Francisco is a long way to go."

In Walnut Creek, a march is planned for 10 a.m. at Civic Park. The event is coordinated by Women’s March Contra Costa, and is billed as a nonpartisan rally to promote the importance of scientific research and advancement.

"These are serious times that require honest and forthright conversations regardless of political party,” said speaker Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, a cancer epidemiologist and assistant professor at Stanford University. “Scientists and supporters of science have realized that we need to step up as a community that believes in evidence-based policy.

Other speakers included Dr. Andrew Gunther, Executive Coordinator of the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium, Claudia Polsky, Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley Law, and Margo Schueler, a civil engineer and Standing Rock activist who builds and maintains the EBMUD drinking water distribution system.



Photo Credit: Christie Smith/NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Walnut Creek Police Secure Budget for Body Camera Program]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:55:17 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/body+camera+police+GettyImages-456026858.jpg

Walnut Creek police officers will soon be equipped with body-worn cameras, a program that will roll out over the course of the next year and cost $566,719. 

The budget, first discussed in November but approved on Tuesday, includes money for the purchase of 100 cameras and cloud storage, and the hiring of three police service officers, a part-time records technician and a program manager. It also includes two cars for the service officers. 

The small, lightweight VieVu cameras will roll out in phases, but Chief Tom Chaplin said the goal is to have all 84 officers — from those in field training to investigations to reserve officers — wearing the cameras by next year. The remaining cameras will be stored in the event one malfunctions or breaks. 

VieVu, a large manufacturer of body cameras, markets the devices as “made by cops for cops.” The police department has been authorized to enter a three-year contract with the company, with operating and equipment costs estimated to run about $55 per month, per camera. 

Body cameras have been hailed nationwide as a key tool to improve police oversight and rebuild waning community trust after a slew of high profile police shootings raised questions about use of force. For the most part, police have also embraced the technology, believing the recordings can exonerate innocent officers from misconduct allegations.

In Walnut Creek, where there have been relatively few conduct complaints, 92 percent of residents surveyed at a 2015 town hall said they approved of a body camera program. About 86 percent of polled residents agreed the technology would make police more accountable, while 82 percent said it would improve public trust, according to a staff report. 

Research shows the deployment of body cameras has reduced the number of complaints against officer conduct. A study from the University of South Florida also found devices contributed to significant reductions in the number of civilian injures, and of injuries to officers.

Sgt. Andy Brown said the cameras could also be used for training purposes, evidence collection and crime scene investigations. He touted the relationship between the community and its police. 

“We get tremendous support from the public here in Walnut Creek,” Brown said. “That’s a great position to be in, but we feel like body worn cameras can only strengthen or at least maintain that level of trust for our police department...we value the fact that we can show our officers doing the job, and we’re not afraid to put out there how we perform our duties.” 

Some national advocacy groups have questioned whether the use of cameras, which are clipped to an officer’s uniform at the chest, constitute an invasion of privacy. Others have taken issue with the fact that most cameras can be turned on or off at an officer's discretion. 

In Walnut Creek, the guidelines stipulating camera use are more of a recommendation or “should, not shall” policy, Brown said. Generally speaking, an officer is advised to turn on the camera when interacting with the public.

“Any time an officer reasonably believes that the recording will be beneficial for evidence in a criminal investigation, or any other interaction with the public where it could be of use, then the officer should go ahead and turn it on,” Brown said. 

The release of footage will follow the California Public Records Act. Law enforcement agencies can — and often do — claim exemption from the public records law by arguing that videos are criminal evidence, but Brown said the department would consider releasing video footage in situations where it could potentially “provide some clarity of an incident" or assist in an investigation. 

The camera program, he said, was ultimately to help sustain what is already a collaborative relationship between the public and the department.

“We are getting great support, and it’s not an issue — people are not clamoring for it — but we recognize that there’s value in having the program for positive community relations," he said. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Airbnbs in Richmond Will Soon Be Subject to Hotel Tax]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:16:29 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AIRBNB5.jpg

Those who stay at an Airbnb in Richmond will be required to pay a 10-percent occupancy tax starting on June 1.

The occupancy tax, which passed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, will be added and collected based on the listing price of the Airbnb rental. 

Hosts will not lose money as a result of the fee, but they may have to add the “special offer” to add occupancy tax to the cost of a rental when it goes into effect in June. Airbnb will remit the taxes back to the city on the host’s behalf. 

In a statement, Airbnb notes that the company entered the tax agreement voluntarily. Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and San Mateo already have imposed occupancy tax — sometimes called “hotel tax” or “tourism tax” — on rentals. 

“Our community of hosts want to pay their fair share,” Jasmine Mora, a press secretary with Airbnb, said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. “We have worked with 275 governments around the world to help hosts pay taxes."

The company did not respond when asked if the hotel tax discouraged renters or hosts from using the service. 

Historically, cities have charged occupancy taxes on hotels that operate in the city, but Airbnb’s popularity with tourists and business professionals has led to increased calls for regulation by cities and the hotel industry. 

The average rental price for a Richmond Airbnb in March was $161. According to AirDNA, an analytics firm that tracks Airbnb transactions, the city has more than 75 active airbnb hosts, and Airbnb collected about $30,000 in revenue from rentals in the city.



Photo Credit: File image]]>
<![CDATA[WB I-580 Lanes Reopen Following Gravel Spill in Richmond]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:25:58 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/chp-generic-pursuit-1.jpg

All lanes of westbound Interstate Highway 580 were shut down in Richmond Thursday afternoon due to a gravel spill, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The spill is just east of Canal Boulevard and lanes were closed for several hours while crews worked to clear the freeway. Vehicles were also getting through by using the emergency lane, CHP said.

Lanes started to reopen shortly after 3:30 p.m.

]]>
<![CDATA[UC Berkeley Backpedals, Reschedules Ann Coulter’s Talk]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:51 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-596737196.jpg

A day after calling off Ann Coulter's upcoming appearance for security reasons, University of California, Berkeley officials backtracked and paved the way for her to speak on campus May 2.

But Coulter responded via Twitter on Thursday, indicating they've already spent money for the previously scheduled event on April 27, and she's not available to speak on the new date. Then she added: "THERE ARE NO CLASSES AT BERKELEY THE WEEK OF MAY 2!!!"

University officials on Thursday said they've found a venue for the rescheduled event, but they did not reveal the specific location.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said they originally canceled Coulter because of student safety. But because she is vowing to speak anyway, the university found a new venue.

"As the home of the free speech movement, we fully support the right of our students to host speakers of their choice," Dirks said. "We also have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and well being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of our campus."

The university said an "expanded search" has uncovered a venue on campus that meets their security criteria.

UC Berkeley officials said Wednesday that they were "unable to find a safe and suitable" venue for the right-wing provocateur who was invited to speak by campus Republicans on April 27.

Further details about the decision reversal were not immediately available.

The hubbub sparked Tuesday when Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy sent a letter the Berkeley College Republicans, saying that university officials in consultation with campus police had determined they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event.

News organizations obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, UCPD determined that, given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully ... at any of the campus venues available on April 27th," the letter said.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said that posters went up on campus last week threatening disruption of the event and officials discovered "targeted threats" on various websites indicating the possibility of planned violence.

"We realize that this is disappointing news," Biddy's letter said, promising that campus police and officials will work the Berkeley College Republicans to find another time and date for Coulter's speech. 

UC Berkeley said it did not have enough advance notice to provide security for the Coulter event.

"We learned about the invitation to Ms. Coulter by reading about it in the newspaper," university officials said.

Berkeley College Republicans said that's not true, that they provided plenty of notice about their plans.

The cancellation comes days after violent clashes between far-right and far-left protesters Saturday at a rally supporting President Donald Trump in downtown Berkeley.

An appearance at UC Berkeley by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled after protesters rioted outside the event in February.

UC Berkeley police said there won't be a repeat of what unfolded during the Yiannopoulos melee, when people who had infiltrated the protest started smashing windows and lighting fires.

"Our approach is going to be different than the approach for the Milo event, again based on our after-action review," UC Berkeley police Capt. Alex Yao said.

Organizers of the event released their own statement Wednesday, expressing discontentment at the change in plans.

They wrote: "UC-Berkeley, a publicly-funded university, first imposed a series of ridiculous requirements on the speech allegedly in the name of 'safety.' Coulter, we were informed, would be required to deliver her speech in the afternoon; only students would be allowed to attend; and the speech location would not be announced until close to the event."

Although Berkeley College Republicans advised Coulter not to agree to those stipulations, she did, they wrote. In return, she asked the chancellor to help ensure appropriate police response to "law-breaking by rioters attempting to shut down conservative speakers," according to the statement. 

Coulter reportedly also asked Berkeley officials to warn students that "engaging in violence, mayhem or heckling" to prevent the speech would result in expulsion, the statement said. 

The Berkeley College Republicans reported Coulter as having said, "If Berkeley wants to have free speech, it can have it."

The group lashed out in its statement, accusing university officials of misusing taxpayer money for an "unconstitutional purpose" and comparing Biddy and UC President Janet Napolitano to North Korea's authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un.  

"This is as clear-cut a case as it gets that public universities are using taxpayer dollars to shut down conservative speech, while allowing liberal speech only," they wrote. 

Group members have stressed that they have "no intention of acceding to these unconstitutional acts. The Ann Coulter lecture sponsored by Young America’s Foundation will go forward."

Coulter herself said in a tweet Wednesday she's still planning on coming to Berkeley to speak and blasted the school for canceling the event.

NBC Bay Area's Kim Yonenaka contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Bay Area



Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Two Arrests in San Leandro Attempted Killing of 11-Month-Old]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:02:01 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/brooks-ibe-0420-2017.jpg

San Leandro police have arrested two suspects for allegedly shooting and attempting to kill an 11-month-old boy in a McDonald's restaurant on Monday, just the latest of multiple attempts to take the boy's life, according to prosecutors.

Marcel Brooks, 28, and Adanna Ibe, 27, both of Antioch, were taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy and attempted murder. They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a crime and four counts of premeditated murder for a series of alleged attacks on the boy and his mother.

No one was struck in the Monday shooting, which occurred around 2:30 p.m. in the McDonald's at the downtown San Leandro Plaza at 1287 Washington Ave. Investigators determined that Brooks is the boy's father and was supposed to meet the boy's mother at the restaurant Monday, police said.

Brooks never entered the restaurant, police said, though they believe he may have been waiting nearby. Ibe allegedly went in, confirmed with Brooks via text that the mother and baby were inside, and he allegedly responded to go through with the plan. Ibe then approached and fired at the toddler, police said.

San Leandro police Lt. Isaac Benabou said it’s a miracle that the baby boy wasn’t hurt by the bullet that broke through a window at the fast food restaurant.

"I've never investigated a case where the intended murder victim is an infant," he said. "It's very disturbing."

Investigators did not release surveillance video but said it shows Ibe pull out a gun and fire at the child from a foot away. Somehow, the bullet missed the baby and the mother, who was holding him.

Prosecutors said that in late March, Ibe "tried to strike and kill" the boy and his mother with her car.

Brooks' family believes he’s innocent.

"He's a great father; he's an active father," said Nina Clark, a relative. "He would never ever, I'm saying ever be involved in nothing like this."

Brooks and Ibe are the parents of a 5-year-old child who was placed with other relatives after they were arrested, police said.

Investigators found Brooks at a location outside San Leandro late Monday night and arrested him at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Benabou said. Ibe was with Brooks and also was arrested at that time, police said.

Once they were both arrested, Brooks claimed he had no part in the plan. Ibe confessed but claimed it was all Brooks’ idea, police said.

Police aren’t saying why Brooks may have plotted to kill his own son.



Photo Credit: San Leandro PD]]>
<![CDATA[Police Arrest Two on Suspicion of Stabbing Danville Teen]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:46:54 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/shootinfPilsen1.jpg

A teenager from Antioch and 22-year-old man from Brentwood have been arrested in connection with a stabbing a Danville teen late Wednesday night.

Police responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon around 11:30 p.m. on the 500 block of Mikado Place. At the scene, officers located an 18-year-old who had sustained a stab wound.

The teenager was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. The victim is listed in stable condition and was able to describe for police the suspect and vehicle he was driving.

Police said the suspect also stole the teenager’s money and other belongings.

The investigation led police to a 17-year-old, whose identity has not been disclosed because of his or her age, and Luc Foglizzo. Foglizzo is in custody at the Martinez Detention Facility. It is unclear where the teenage suspect is being held.

The suspect face charges including assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and armed robbery, according to police.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Shells Out Big Bucks to Mend Storm-Battered Roads]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 07:03:03 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/potholes8.jpg

Anyone driving around the Bay Area knows our roads have taken a beating during this winter’s heavy rain. Now the question remains: How much will it cost to fix potholes and other pockmarks?

NBC Bay Area reached out to the public works departments in five major counties and found that four have experienced significant increases in the taxpayer dollars needed for road repairs. Moreover, their expenditure does not factor in money spent by individual cities and Caltrans, officials say.

Public works officials say Alameda County was forced to spend: $143,757 during the first quarter of 2017, which is a staggering 51.5 percent increase over the $69,585 spent in the same time frame in 2016.

Meanwhile, San Francisco city and county public works officials spent the most, shelling out $759,836 to fix over 10,000 potholes. Officials say that expense is 35.5 percent more than the $490,188 spent during 2016’s first quarter.

In Contra Costa County, the Public Works Department reported spending $124,215 to fix potholes in the 2017’s first quarter. That’s a 32.6 percent jump from last year’s $83,766, according to officials.

A similar situation unfurled in Santa Clara County where $217,715 was required to fix roads in the South Bay versus $168,248 in 2016. That’s a 22.7 percent increase, officials say.

Alternately, the San Mateo County public works officials say this year’s pothole-related expenses didn’t fluctuate much from 2016. Why? Because potholes took a backseat to their problem with mudslides.

California’s lawmakers recently approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s $5-billion-a-year plan to boost gas and vehicle taxes to pay for major road repairs.

It will raise gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon — a 43 percent increase — and diesel taxes from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents. Drivers will also face a new annual fee to be paid with their vehicle registration, ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the value of their vehicle. The taxes and fees will rise each year with inflation.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area in Top 10 for Worst Air Pollution Nationwide]]>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:03:44 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-19-17-state-of-the-air-report.jpg

The San Francisco Bay Area ranks among the top 10 most polluted regions in the country, according to a report issued Wednesday by the American Lung Association.

State of the Air 2017 is based on air quality monitoring from 2013 to 2015, and includes San Benito and San Joaquin counties in the greater Bay Area.

San Joaquin County has the highest level of year-round particle pollution levels in the region. The county suffered its worst period ever for pollution from diesel exhaust, wood burning devices, wildfires and other sources of soot, a situation exacerbated by climate change and recent drought conditions, according to the American Lung Association.

Overall, the Bay Area's particle pollution ranked sixth nationwide for the number of unhealthy days and fourth nationwide for year-round levels. This puts area residents at risk for health problems like asthma and lung cancer.

"I run cross-country and compete in track and field, so I always need to be aware of my surroundings," Jaxin Woodward, a 15-year-old high school athlete from Vacaville, said in a statement. "Exhaust from cars triggers asthma attacks a lot for me."

There was a reduction in the number of days with unhealthy levels of ozone. San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties all had zero unhealthy ozone days during the period monitored.

The report also indicates that the number of unhealthy ozone days have dropped throughout the state and nationwide, which the American Lung Association attributes to the federal Clean Air Act.

Air quality laws and policies to combat climate change save lives, according to the American Lung Association, and need to be protected in Congress.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Man Shot in His Kitchen by Burglar: Police]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 23:41:30 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/oakland+shooting-0419-2017.jpg

A 30-year-old Oakland man was shot while standing in his kitchen Wednesday evening, according to Oakland police.

Just before 6 p.m., a burglar entered a home on Chimney Rock, near Elysian Fields Drive, in the Oakland hills. The victim reportedly was wearing headphones and did not hear the burglar inside the home. He was shot in the chest, according to his aunt.

"He was able to call police and say he was shot," Michelle Brown said. "They broke into his bedroom window; that's how they got in."

Brown doesn't know why the burglar shot her nephew. But she knows her nephew's house wasn't the only one on Chimney Rock that was burglarized.

"They went to a house and took a soda and another and took a sandwich," she said. "Left them there, left evidence."

Neighbors say the suspect got into at least two other homes on Chimney Rock. John Adam said his wife was home when the thief came in an open door.

"Heard dogs, she ignored the dogs," Adam said. "Guy came in the back door, went out the front. He looked around, went into her purse, took two 20s left two 1s."

Oakland police searched the area but did not locate a suspect.

The victim is recovering at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

People in the neighborhood were rattled Wednesday night but relieved their neighbor is expected to be OK.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Walnut Creek City Council Strikes Blow to MDUSD Supporters]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 21:08:48 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dallas+county+schools+bus.jpg

Walnut Creek’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution of support for a proposal that would result in five affluent Walnut Creek schools leaving the Mt. Diablo school district to form a new district.

About 150 people piled into City Hall to hear the council weigh in on the proposed Northgate Unified School District, a secession movement spurring contentious debates within both Walnut Creek and the broader Mt. Diablo school community. Council members said they were inundated with more than 200 emails asking them to take a stand on the proposal, despite it being the county and state education boards that ultimately have authority to bring the issue to the ballot before voters. 

Yet, after hearing four hours worth of testimony from both sides of the debate, council members still avoided taking a definitive stance on the merits of the proposed secession. Instead, they struck a blow to Mt. Diablo supporters by passing a resolution stating that, should the proposal get the green light from state and county boards, the issue should be voted on only by those who live within the proposed boundaries of the new district, not the school community at large. 

Superintendent Nellie Meyer conceded that the city council's decision was a disappointment, but expressed confidence that the county and state boards would not approve the proposal. 

"While we believe the issue unlikely to go before the community for a vote, we are dismayed that the council approved a resolution that would restrict the voice of the people to some specific zip codes when the impacts would be felt by families and staff throughout the district," Meyer said in a statement. 

Council members also chastised district leaders for failing to adequately communicate with Northgate families, who make up 13 percent of the district. Unanswered emails and phone calls may have inadvertently shrouded the district's workings in secrecy, Silva said.  

“I am supportive of the resolution because I am supportive of a transparent process,” Councilwoman Cindy Silva said. “I’m confident that if the county decides to move it forward, and subsequently if the state board of education decides to move it forward, it’ll be because they’ve decided it will not damage the Mt. Diablo school district.” 

The proposed district would include Northgate High and its feeder schools, Bancroft, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools and also Foothill Middle. As critics of the proposal pointed out, those schools are all located in the wealthier neighborhoods of Mt. Diablo's current district, which includes huge swaths of Contra Costa County, including schools in Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Lafayette, and, at least for now, Walnut Creek. 

Northgate PACS, the action committee behind the proposal, argued that Mt. Diablo, the largest district in the county, has been slow to respond to complaints from Northgate families. Its supporters also point to low-ranking test scores as evidence that the district is simply too large to oversee all of its 56 schools and 32,000 students. 

“Our district is so big. Our voices are often not being heard,” said resident Sara Shelley. “People are leaving in droves, because they just don’t want to deal with it.” 

The Tuesday meeting drew scores of teachers and students who rebuffed those assertions, many donning red “MDUSD PROUD” buttons. They noted that the boundaries for the new district would essentially create one, uber-affluent and predominantly white district and warned that the secession was rooted in elitism. Others expressed fears that the secession would ruin special education programs at the school, many of which rely on district support. 

“I sat in a room that lacked in diversity and heard arguments about how much better the schools would be if they excluded kids from outside of their neighborhood,” said Tina Segrove, president of the board of directors for the Eagle Peak Montessori.  “Of course, words like race, income and segregation were not spoken, but it was clear their goal was to create their own small, exclusive school district.”

Critics also accused Northgate PACS of using dishonest methods to garner signatures for a petition they submitted to the county board, including making false promises about the proposed new district. 

The same arguments are expected to unfold on May 2 and 3, when the county Board of Education will hold two public hearings on the proposal. Once there, the merits for forming a new district will be evaluated on nine criteria, including whether severing the district would cause financial woes for Mt. Diablo or exacerbate segregation. 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sheriff Seeks More Possible Child Molestation Victims]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:43:08 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jb+yancy-0419-2017.jpg

The Contra Costa County sheriff's office is seeking possible additional victims in a child molestation case involving a 26-year-old man.

JB Yancy was arrested earlier this year after a three-month investigation, sheriff's officials said.

Alleged acts of molestation against a minor victim in North Richmond were brought to the attention of the sheriff's office late last year, according to authorities.

Detectives then launched an investigation and confirmed the allegations, sheriff's officials said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Yancy, and he was booked on multiple counts of child molestation into the Martinez Detention Facility, where he's being held in lieu of $1 million bail, according to authorities.

Detectives believe there may be additional victims in the case and would like to talk to anyone with information.

Yancy has lived in Vallejo, Richmond and Fairfield and approached the North Richmond victim in a public place, the sheriff's office said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's sexual assault unit at (925) 313-2625 or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voicemail message.



Photo Credit: Contra Costa Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Law Publisher Nolo Press to Close Its Berkeley Bookstore]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:33:24 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Nolo-Press-Bookstore-PHOTO.jpg

Trusted DYI law publisher Nolo Press plans to close its brick-and-mortar store in West Berkeley on April 28. 

Nolo's self-help guides to the American legal system will continue to be available online and by phone. 

"Nolo is doing great. They just decided that this space should be used for something else," said bookstore employee Michael Gurule. "Especially with the online boom, a lot of publishers are stepping back from storefronts and physical media and going online."

Nolo Press was founded in Berkeley in 1971 by two legal aid lawyers, Ralph Warner and Charles Sherman. The publishing house's mission is to help find answers to legal and business problems by explaining procedures and forms in plain English and sparing low-income people from paying attorney fees. 

Its titles include advice on immigration, family and employment law, tenant and landlord issues, wills, trusts and intellectual property. 

Nolo's first book was called "How to Do Your Own Divorce in California."

The publisher moved to an old clock factory in West Berkeley in 1980 and now has offices in Pleasanton as well. 

The company will stay at the location on Parker Street. Gurule said he's been promoted to a job in customer service. 

Everything in the store is on sale for half off until closing day. 



Photo Credit: NBCBayArea.com]]>
<![CDATA[Walnut Creek BART Station Reopens After Man Comes Down Ledge]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 23:44:08 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0419-2017-BARTman.jpg

The Walnut Creek BART station was shut down for several hours Wednesday and impacted the evening commute while police negotiated with an unstable man hanging from a ledge.

Emergency crews were able to get the man to come down after 5:15 p.m.

Authorities said the incident started at about 1:30 p.m. and prompted BART officials to halt service at the Walnut Creek station.

Pittsburg/Bay Point trains were turned around at Lafayette and SFO-bound trains at Pleasant Hill until the situation was resolved.

The transit agency also set up a bus service between Pleasant Hill and Lafayette for passengers.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Police Seek Man Suspected of Robbing Pizza Hut in Pinole]]>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:45:12 -0700http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0419-2017-PinolePiza.jpg

A pizza restaurant in Pinole was robbed Monday afternoon by a man pretending to have a gun, a police sergeant said.

Police responded to a call from the Pizza Hut restaurant at 1211 Tara Hills Drive at around 4:20 p.m., Pinole police Sgt. Matt Avery said.

The clerk at the restaurant told police a man had demanded money while his right hand was in a bag in a manner suggesting he had a firearm.

The suspect ordered the clerk to lie on the ground, Avery said.

The suspect told the clerk not to call police for at least 10 minutes after he left, Avery said. After taking money from the cash register, the suspect fled on foot, heading westbound on Tara Hills Drive.

The suspect is a black man in his 20s or 30s with a goatee, possibly a beard, about six feet tall with a medium build, Avery said. He was wearing a dark black or gray hooded zip-up sweatshirt, white sneakers and dark blue or black jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call Pinole police at 510-724-8950.



Photo Credit: Pinole Police Department]]>