Cities

SHOOTING DEATH IN SPRING VALLEY

Update 8 p.m. -- The victim has been identified as Arnolfo Quintero, 26, of Spring Valley.  The Medical Examiner has determined the death was a homicide caused by the shooting.

 

East County News Service

 

November 4, 2021 (Spring Valley) – The Sheriff’s homicide unit is investigating the  death of a man who was shot in Spring Valley late last night.  

 

Deputies responded to multiple calls around 12:22 p.m. reporting the shooting in the 8700 block of Troy Street. Deputies from the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s station arrived and learned that the victim was taken to a hospital by three concerned citizens, but despite treatment at the hospital, he did not survive. 


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CANDLELIGHT VIGIL HELD IN SANTEE FOR PLANE CRASH VICTIMS

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Oct. 19, 2021 (Santee) A candlelight vigil was held late last week in Santee near the site of the October 11 plane crash that killed an on-duty UPS driver, Steve Krueger and the pilot, Dr. Sagata Das, of Yuma. The plane crash destroyed two homes.

The vigil had hundreds of attendees including neighbors, community members, dozens of UPS employees, and city officials. 

 Jeff Krueger, Steve’s brother, spoke during the vigil, “Steve would not want anyone to be upset about his passing." He passed along an anecdote to the residents who knew his brother from his UPS route. “Every Thursday we would meet at Lakeside’s Boll Weevil,” he said. “He would tell stories.  He loved working for all you (Santee) guys.” 


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LEMON GROVE TO HOST DRIVE-THROUGH FOOD DRIVE OCTOBER 16

East County News Service

October 7, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – Are you hungry in Lemon Grove? No need to suffer in silence. Community members are invited to come to a drive-through food drive on October 16th at the Lemon Grove Recreation Center (3131 School Drive) starting at 9 a.m. while supplies last to get food, fruits, and veggies to help your family during these challenging times. Two hundred pairs of new children's shoes, hand sanitizers, and more will be given away during the food distribution.


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SUSPECT DIES AFTER GUNFIRE EXCHANGE WITH EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER

By Miriam Raftery

August 20, 2021 (El Cajon) – A suspect who reportedly shot and injured an employee inside Western Medical Training Center in El Cajon on August 19 later opened fire on an El Cajon Police officer seated in his patrol vehicle. The officer fired back, injuring the suspect who later died at a local hospital.

Officers responded to a report of the initial shooting in the 100 block of East Main Street around 2:13 p.m. yesterday. While some aided the victim, others searched for the suspect.  A person matching the shooting suspect’s description was spotted near the intersection of Ballard and Decker. 


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RALLY SATURDAY AT SDG&E'S PEAKER PLANT

East County residents and environmentalists will  rally at SDG&E’s polluting peaker plant in El Cajon  on August 21 @ 10:15 am

By East County News Service

Photo courtesy of DreamTime 

Aug. 19, 2021 (East County) Activists say this plant and SDG&E pollute surrounding environmental justice communities, harm health, and contribute to the climate crisis with fracked gas

What: Dozens of San Diego County residents will gather outside Cuyamaca Peak Power on Saturday, August 21, to demand SDG&E stop polluting East County Communities and switch to renewable alternatives.

Why: SDG&E and Sempra are polluting El Cajon and other communities of concern in San Diego County by operating dirty gas-fired “Peaker plants,” including Cuyamaca Peak Power located at 200 N Johnson Ave.  The polluting nitrogen oxides from this plant expose residents to asthma and other health impacts in a disadvantaged community. This plant also relies on dirty energy contributing to devastating climate change effects like drought and wildfires, fracking our future. El Cajon and San Diego residents call on Sempra to not renew the permit of this plant and replace peaker plants with safe, renewable local solar energy and battery storage.  

When: Saturday, August 21, 10:15 am

Where: 104 N Johnson Ave, El Cajon, CA 92020


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EL CAJON SEEKS YOUTH OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS

Source: City of El Cajon

February 3, 2021 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon Teen Coalition is accepting nominations for the 2020 “Youth of the Year” award. The award recognizes outstanding students who went above and beyond to serve the El Cajon community over the past year.

The City Council will present two awards - one to a middle school student and one to a high school student.

The award criteria includes leadership, community service, commitment, and the value and impact of the community service completed during the 2020 calendar year. To be eligible, nominees must live in El Cajon and/or attend an El Cajon school.


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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA DONATES $75,000 TO REGIONAL HEALTHCARE AGENCIES

Tribe seeks to alleviate effects of pandemic

Source:  Jamul Indian Village of California

Photo:  Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village of California

January 5, 2021 (Jamul) - Today, the Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV or Tribe), owner and operator of Jamul Casino®, announced its 2020 year-end donations totaling $75,000 to local healthcare agencies, including $45,000 to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, $15,000 to Southern Indian Health Council, and $15,000 to Indian Health Council, Inc.  JIV provided these year-end healthcare donations in addition to its annual fall philanthropy and community outreach campaigns, which included contributing more than $40,000 to non-profits for breast cancer research and awareness, veterans’ programs, and other local causes. These donations reflect JIV’s desire to give back to the community in impactful ways, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that has particularly challenged front-line workers in the healthcare industry.


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EL CAJON RALLY SHOWS WHY WE ARE LOSING THE BATTLE AGAINST THE PANDEMIC

 

Story and photos by Henri Migala

Photo, left:  Maskless rally participants called for all businesses to open now, despite pandemic shutdown orders from the county and state.

December 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – A rally titled “All I Want for Christmas is Freedom” was held on Monday, Dec. 21 at El Cajon Centennial Plaza calling for a lifting of pandemic shutdowns.  The timing of the rally coincides with hospital ICU units filled to capacity across Southern California, after 18 million people in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19 and 323,000 Americans have died.

There are legitimate equity questions, such as why big-box retailers have been allowed to stay open while many small businesses have been ordered shut down, particularly after data obtained from San Diego County reveals that many outbreaks have been tied to large stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target. Although the event was promoted as an opportunity to support local small businesses adversely affected by restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, any rational discussion of those issues was largely overshadowed at the protest by speakers, including prominent elected officials, who urged attendees to openly and actively defy local and state restrictions. Some used such inflammatory words such as devil, battle, war, evil, Marxist, tyranny, socialism, 2nd Amendment, and even a reference to “killing babies like Planned Parenthood" that seemed largely out of context to a discussion of economic vs. public health concerns.

Eighteen “vendors” were set up, of which about half were small businesses selling products. The others were related to a political cause or agenda, such as recalling Governor Newsom, or opening San Diego. Approximately 150 people attended the event.


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SANTEE’S STARLIGHT CIRCLE HOLIDAY LIGHTS WILL STILL TWINKLE DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson 

(Photo, left, courtesy of the Starlight Circle Facebook page)

Nov. 13, 2020 (Santee) Santee’s Starlight Circle, a yearly holiday tradition of Christmas lights and decorations, will continue spreading holiday cheer during the pandemic.  Many might find comfort in being able to enjoy this holiday tradition in a social distanced manner – driving Glendon Circle in their cars.

“It’s been a trying year for everyone and hopefully our neighborhood will help brighten things up a bit,” said a 30-year resident of Starlight Circle Jerry Mills. “It seems that viewing from one’s car, rather than on foot, would be the way to go this year.”  

“As far as dealing with COVID-19, we would ask people to follow whatever guidelines are being given by local, state, and national authorities and be respectful of each other,” he said.

Mills noted that it is not an organized event but a “”neighborhood that for decades has decorated and drawn large crowds. So, there are no rules and no one in charge of anything.  It just happens, which is pretty special in itself.” 


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HOMICIDE DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING DEATH IN SANTEE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Nov. 11, 2020 (Santee) Homicide detectives are investigating a death at a home located on Greencastle Street in Santee tonight.

"We found a person deceased of a gunshot," Lt. G. Twyman with the San Diego County Sheriff's communication division told ECM. The initial call came in at 3:55 p.m and they arrived at the scene at 4 p.m. He added that homicide detectives were called to the scene. 

Yellow caution tape is currently blocking off the street near the scene of the investigation.


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FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents are invited to participate in community listening session on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 p.m.  Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to conduct an independent investigation into the civil unrest and rioting that occurred on May 30 wants to hear your feedback and recommendations.

The meeting will be held online via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. Click here to register. If you have any questions, email Robert Boehmer at robert.boehmer@hillardheintze.com.


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AGC-EAST COUNTY HEADQUARTERS AND APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING FACILITY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN LAKESIDE

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Sept. 24, 2020 (Lakeside) The AGC East County Headquarters and Apprenticeship Training Facility (AGC) is under construction and slated to open this year. The facility will serve as the headquarters and training center for carpentry, cement masonry, drywall finisher, drywall lather, heavy equipment operator, painter, laborer, and more trades.

For those trying to retrain or hone skills because of COVID-19 economic losses, job seekers may consider enrolling.

Additionally, the state-of-art 43,600 sq. ft facility will provide construction services to the 1,100 plus AGC member firms in the County. 

Training services include continuing construction education, safety services, government affairs, labor relations, business development, and many more.


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LA MESA POLICE ISSUE WARNING ABOUT PROTEST SATURDAY, CITY BANS OBJECTS THAT CAN BE USED AS WEAPONS IN AREA AROUND PUBLIC BUILDINGS

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Department has issued a press release warning of a protest planned Saturday, August 1 starting at 3:30 p.m. by organizers who have not responded to inquiries from LMPD. In addition,  City Manager Greg Humora has issued an emergency order banning many weapons and objects that may be used as riot tools in a restricted area around civic buildings from noon tomorrow through 5:30  a.m. Sunday. Banned items including sticks on protest signs, bats, guns, knives, explosives, glass bottles, spray paint, and many more objects.

A flyer circulated online touting the protest over police use of force issues indicated that “civil disobedience” was planned and urged participants not to bring children, indicating the event is for age 18 and up. The flyer has prompted uneasiness among downtown merchants, some of whom have boarded up storefronts in anticipation of potential civil unrest once again.


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EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY ISSUE CURFEW ORDERS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2020

In a bold move to avoid a repeat of the devastation and violence in connection with Saturday night’s riots which took place in East County San Diego, several cities and the county issue curfews for tonight. Below is the full schedule.

All law enforcement, fire, medical personnel, and members of the news media are exempt from the curfew. Individuals traveling directly to and from work, seeking emergency medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or the homeless as exempted from the order.


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A MEATY CHANGE: COUNTY FAIR’S FFA MARKET ANIMALS TO BE JUDGED & AUCTIONED VIRTUALLY DUE TO COVID

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo, at left, courtesy of Taryl Townsend)

April 21, 2020 (Lakeside) – For East County kids who raise pigs, cattle, sheep or goats through the Future Farmers of America program, a highlight each year is the live auction of their animals at the San Diego County Junior Fair. But due to the fair’s cancellation  amid the COVID-19 quarantine, the Eastern San Diego County Junior Fair’s market animals auction will be held virtually on May 14.

 Don Dyer of Alpine, president of the Eastern San Diego County Jr. Fair (ESDCJF) Lakeside division says the judging, typically done in person, will be switched to online video presentations of the animals. 

Virtualstockshow.com will facilitate the judging and then the sale of the animals,” Dyer told ECM. “The exhibitors will make a 90 second video showing their market animals which will be evaluated and placed by the fair’s judges. Exhibitors will sign up and submit their videos on Saturday, May 9th.  Judging will happen on Thursday, May 14th, and the auction will be held online on Saturday May16th starting at noon.” 


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PETCO FOUNDATION PROVIDED A VALENTINE SURPRISE FOR SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY STAFF

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

February 15, 2020 (San Diego) - Petco Foundation provided a $250,000 grant valentine surprise to staff at the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street on Feb. 13.

“As part of our mission we have committed $10 million to making a difference to shelters and pets during the valentine day week,” said regional field program manager Bill Gialenes with the Petco Foundation.  The $10 million will go to animal welfare organizations across the country.

Two hundred staff, guests, and volunteers gathered for lunch followed by the presentation of an oversized check for $250,000 to Dr. Gary Weitzman, president/ceo of the San Diego Humane Society from Gialenes.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: OPEN LETTER TO SANTEE COUNCIL MEMBER LAURA KOVAL - PUBLIC INTEREST MOTIVATES PRESERVE WILD SANTEE

By Van Collinsworth, Director, Preserve Wild Santee
 
January 14, 2020 (Santee) -- At the last meeting, the new Vice-Mayor Laura Koval waited until after I had addressed the council and returned to my seat to suggest that Preserve Wild Santee and/or other environmental organizations work is financially motivated. To be clear, and as has always been the case, I will engage with any council member at the podium to address their directed remarks, as I did with the mayor. From my perspective, waiting until I cannot respond to make this suggestion of financial motivation, demonstrates the weakness of your position.
 

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WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT SHOPS?

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2019  (San Diego’s East County) – Although personal use of cannabis is legal in California, each city and county has the right to ban or restrict sales.  But closing down illegal pot shops has become a challenge for law enforcement and a headache for neighbors, since the process often takes months and once closed, illegal dispensaries often pop up again nearby or even in the same building repeatedly.

How concerned should residents be about an illegal marijuana operation in their neighborhood?

Unlike licensed dispensaries that are subject to inspections, state and local regulations, illegal dispensaries may sell marijuana that is adulterated with contaminants and is dangerous to customers. Some illicit dispensaries locally have also been caught selling other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines.  They may sell drugs to minors. The operators may create hazards to neighbors by tapping illegally into electricity, overloading circuits, and if manufacturing hash oil extracted from marijuana, utilize drums filled with flammable chemicals that can and have exploded, causing fires locally.

At times, illegal dispensaries  have engendered other crimes. Robberies and shootings have occurred; illegal operators tend not to report these crimes to police.  Corruption has also allegedly happened locally. Former Rancho San Diego Sheriff Captain Marco Garmo has been indicted for allegedly tipping off his cousin, an illegal dispensary owner, on raids by law enforcement, among other federal charges that he faces.


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EL CAJON PROPOSES RULES ON CITIZENS’ FREE SPEECH AT MEETINGS, DOCKLESS SCOOTER LIMITS AND FINING ILLEGAL POT SHOP OWNER

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

January 7, 2019 (El Cajon)--The El Cajon City Council is set to get back to work headfirst after nearly four weeks of holiday vacation on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Among other items, Council will be addressing free speech by citizens at open comment session, blocking the development of a previously shuttered illegal marijuana dispensary, and regulating dockless vehicles within city limits.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS HOSTS SPOOKY CAMPOVER OCT. 26-27

East County News Service

October 19, 2018 (Alpine)--Come for a wild and ghoulish night under the stars with the rescued exotic animals of Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine on Friday night, October 26th through Saturday morning, October 27th.

The annual Spooky Campover at this world renown non-profit animal sanctuary is a family favorite. Enjoy pumpkin carving, s’mores, campfire songs, special animal feedings and more.  A costume contest will be held Saturday morning, followed by a special feeding visit to watch the big cats and bears enjoy their pumpkin treats.


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KALASHO CLAIMS ON "LIES VS. FACTS" CAMPAIGN PIECE ARE DETACHED FROM REALITY



By Miriam Raftery

October 5, 2018 (El Cajon) -- In his latest campaign piece titled "The Lies vs. The Facts", El Cajon Councilman Kalasho has made claims that are so outlandish that most can best be described as detached from reality. He urges voters to "don't believe what you hear in the press," despite well documented news articles in East County Magazine, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Reader, and multilple network TV stations on his actions.

His piece derides as “fake news” reports that he is guilty of wrongdoing and fraud, faces sexual harassment claims deemed true by a judge, is accused of threatening people with an attack dog, is under investigation, and paid business fines.

Here are the actual documents from official government agencies, court records and more proving that all of these facts reported are the media are not "fake news," but provably true:


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ECM EXCLUSIVE: KALASHO VIOLATES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT, PLAINTIFF MARK LANE SAYS



 

Lane claims he and other users are still being blocked and cannot leave comments on Kalasho’s Facebook page

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

October 5, 2018 (El Cajon) -- The peaceful strains of Kumbaya between San Diego activist Mark Lane and El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho could be over.

East County Magazine has exclusively learned that Lane’s attorney, Cory M. Briggs, is planning to inform Southern California U.S. District Federal Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller that Kalasho is continuing to block Lane and others from his Facebook page in spite of a settlement agreement signed last week between Lane and Kalasho that he would stop the practice.


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SHOOTING DEATH IN LEMON GROVE

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 7, 2018 (Lemon Grove) --  Shortly after midnight, sheriff's deputies saw a man and woman inside a vehicle parked in the middle of the street  in the 7400 block of Pacific Avenue, in  Lemon Grove. When the deputies investigated, they found the man bleeding from what a witness described as a gunshot wound, says Lt. Rich Williams with the Sheriff’s homicide unit.

Deputies called for Lemon Grove Fire Department personnel to assist and began providing first aid.

“The man was seriously injured and soon stopped breathing. Deputies performed CPR until relieved by fire department personnel,” says Lt. Williams. However dDespite lifesaving efforts, the man was pronounced deceased at about 12:39 a.m.


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SYRIAN REFUGEES FIND HOME IN EL CAJON, BUT FAMILY REMAINS TORN APART

 

By Briana Gomez

August 1, 2018 (El Cajon) – Houda Al Sidnawi arrived in the United States in 2016 with both of her parents and her two younger sisters, now 16 and 10. The family left Syria in 2012 at the brink of the civil war and immigrated to Egypt where they obtained appropriate documentation to enter the United States on refugee visas.  


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LEMON GROVE SETTLES SUIT ALLEGING RETALIATION AND FREE SPEECH VIOLATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated March 31 with Councilman Jones' comments.

March 26, 2018 (Lemon Grove) -- Last week, many Lemon Grove residents were surprised to hear a citizen speaking during public comment at a City Council meeting reveal that the city had settled a case  filed by a former contracted city worker.  The worker alleged that Councilman Jerry Jones and City Manager Lydia Romero violated his free speech rights and retaliated against him for comments he’d posted on social media criticizing Jones.

East County Magazine has obtained a copy of the settlement and release agreement from the city in response to a public records request.


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SEE SMOKE? FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING AT VALHALLA HIGH SCHOOL THIS WEEKEND



By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2017 (Rancho San Diego)--San Miguel Fire District along with Heartland Fire Rescue and Santee Fire Department will be conducting fire and rescue training this weekend at Vahalla High School, located at 1725 Hillsdale Road in the Rancho San Diego area of unincorporated El Cajon.

The fire rescue drill will be Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19 from 9am to 3pm.  Smoke machines will be used during training - neighbors might see smoke coming from the school during these training events.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER TO STILL FACE CIVIL COMPLAINT IN ALFRED OLANGO CASE; CITY OF EL CAJON DISMISSED FROM LAWSUIT

 

By Paul Kruze

August 29, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year will still have to face a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Richard Olango Abuka, the father of the shooting victim, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article published on August 25. At the same time, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant dismissed the City of El Cajon from the case, saying that there was not enough evidence to argue that the department’s policies or decisions may have in some way contributed to Alfred Olango’s death.


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HELIX WATER SETS SPECIAL MEETING JAN. 18 TO FILLL BOARD VACANCY AND VOTE ON MOVING MEETINGS TO EVENINGS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Directors Mark Gracyk and DeAna Verbecke offered opposing views on how board vacancy should be filled

January 5, 2016 (La Mesa) – At a packed meeting yesterday,  Helix Water Board members aired differing views on how to fill a vacancy left by the resignation last week of newly elected member Lu Tejeda. Tejeda cited conflicts of interest raised by his job with a contractor. 

The new board majority pushed to appoint Dan McMillan, whom Tejeda narrowly edged out by just 185 votes in the four-man race. Both ran on a platform of reigning in rising water rates. 

Director DeAna Verbecke dissented, calling for the district to accept applications and conduct interviews with all interested parties in an open meeting before making an appointment. 


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EL CAJON POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT FOR SPECIAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT AND CRASH PREVENTION

Source:  City of El Cajon

October 31,2016 (El Cajon)--The El Cajon Police Department has been awarded a $170,000.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries.  The El Cajon Police Department will use the funding as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to keep roadways safe and improve the quality of life through both enforcement and education, according to a release issued today.

“The El Cajon Police Department is looking forward to working with OTS, our partners in Law Enforcement, and our community stakeholders to reduce injury and death related to traffic collisions,” stated El Cajon Police Lieutenant Randy Soulard. “With an emphasis on the prevention of pedestrian and bicycle-related collisions, we will work collaboratively using a multi-pronged approach in addressing education and enforcement aspects of collision reduction.”


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DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE OVERNIGHT IN EL CAJON: TEAR GAS DEPLOYED AS PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT

 

2 men wanted for stealing photojournalist’s $15,000 camera Wednesday night

By Miriam Raftery

September 30, 2016 (El Cajon)--Demonstrations continued overnight in El Cajon over the killing of Alfred Olango Tuesday by police.

  After receiving several 911 calls of 50-70 protesters blocking cars and breaking car windows, police declared an unlawful assembly. 10 News reports that tear gas and pepper balls were deployed by police. The station posted video of the incident and reported that protesters also knocked a motorcyclist off a motorcycle. Glass bottles were also thrown at officers. Two arrests were made, according to police.

 “A large group of demonstrators marched through the streets throughout the evening and into the early morning hours,”said Lieutenant Rob Ransweiler.

Police are also investigating theft of a $15,000 camera taken forcibly from a photojournalist.   A video viewed by 250,000 people on social media has led to identification one suspect, San Diego News Video reports.  Public help is requested to identify a second subject shown at the end of a video here: https://www.facebook.com/SDNVtv/videos/918156954956981/


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