Crime Beat

DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

Watch for increased impaired driving patrols this holiday weekend

Source:  San Diego Sheriff's Department

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) - This Fourth of July will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the changes to Independence Day celebrations, you should always do the responsible thing and not get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


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MEXICO OPIUM NETWORK LAUNCHED TO COMBAT GLOBAL OPIOID EPIDEMIC

UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies among the key partner institutions for the first-of–its kind, international effort

June 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- Despite being considered the world’s second largest producer of opium and heroin, little is known about poppy cultivation in Mexico. Yet, the opioid crisis remains a huge problem across much of the U.S. and Mexico and COVID-19 appears to have made matters worse: Recent lockdowns have disrupted the flow of synthetic opioids and have ostensibly increased production of heroin in Mexico.

To address the global opioid crisis, the Mexico Opium Network, a first-of-its kind international effort, was recently launched to examine the socio-political challenges posed by illicit poppy crops in Mexico.


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ILLEGAL POT SHOPS RAIDED NEAR SCHOOLS AND HOMES

East County News Service
 
June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – More than a thousand pounds of marijuana products, six firearms, and over $221,000 in cash were seized Thursday following search warrants served at six illegal dispensaries and three homes. The raids took place in Lakeside, unincorporated El Cajon and the city of San Diego, conducted by investigators from the county Sheriff’s department and San Diego Police.

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EL CAJON VOTES TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council members received hundreds of comments sent via email on the city’s proposed budget, nearly all weighing in on police funding following a nationwide wave of protests over police violence and racial injustice issues.   Many of the commenters argued for “defunding” or shifting some funds away from police into investments in the community or alternatives to handle mentally ill and homeless people, though many others voiced support for El Cajon Police and supported increasing the department’s budget.

The Council unanimously voted for a $120,000 increase for the police.

“The motivation is to keep all the citizens safe,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.


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HIT AND RUN DRIVER IN GOLD HONDA CIVIC INJURES PEDESTRIAN IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

June 24, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A 45-year-old man suffered major injuries when he was struck by a gold Honda Civic around 5:52 p.m. yesterday at Troy Street east of Central Avenue in Spring Valley. The driver fled the scene in the vehicle.

The victim was standing in the driveway of the Goodland Acres Park when the vehicle veered off course to the right, striking the pedestrian, says Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.


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DESPITE LOSING BUILDING TO ARSON, RANDALL LAMB ASSOCIATES JOINS EFFORT TO HELP OTHER BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING RIOT

The Phair Company and Lions Club of La Mesa also make major contributions

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Flames engulf Randall Lamb Associates building

June 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Among the many local companies stepping forward with donations to help businesses damaged by looting, vandalism or arson on May 30-31, one name stands out. The Randall Lamb Associates’  building burned to the ground, yet its owners have generously given $5,000 to help others rebuild their businesses and their lives.


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A PASTOR BRINGS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN NEED DURING RIOTS

By Briana Gomez

 

Photo by Jake Rose: Pastor Ferguson in La Mesa, as police guard street while firefighters battle flames at the Randall Lamb Building

 

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After being sighted praying amid the La Mesa riots the night of May 30th, Pastor Travis Ferguson has found himself in unexpected limelight as a symbol of hope for La Mesa.


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LESLIE FURCRON SAID SHE WAS ENTERING A “RIOT” AND CALLED TO “BURN” DOWN LA MESA POLICE STATION BEFORE SHE WAS SHOT WITH BEANBAG

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – The attorney for Leslie Furcron, the woman shot in the head with a beanbag projectile May 30 outside the La Mesa Police station, has characterized her as a “peaceful” protester. A police incident narration claims she threw an object at Sheriff’s officers before she was fired at from 40 yards and struck in the head with the beanbag. While it is unclear on her cell phone video whether she threw an object or not, what is clear is that she, or someone narrating the video taken on her cell phone, advocated burning down the police station while she was in the car driving to the station.


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SANTEE CARJACKING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 19, 2020 (Santee) – A suspect is in custody after reportedly threatening to kill a 77-year-old woman and her family, then forcing the victim out of her car and driving off with her purse and cell phone.  The carjacking occurred shortly before 1 p.m. today in the 9800 block of Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

Sheriff’s deputies and La Mesa Police officers found the suspect, Chris DiSalvo, 30, sitting in the stolen car in the 4600 block of Palm Drive in La Mesa. 

“Upon seeing law enforcement DiSalvo took off, but crashed into a tree,” said Sergeant Michael Tingley with the Sheriff’s Department.“He then ran into an apartment complex."


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INVESTIGATORS SEEKING INFORMATION RELATED TO YELLOW CHEVROLET CAMARO

Source:  San Diego FBI

June 19, 2020 (San Diego) - The FBI is seeking information pertaining to a bright yellow Chevrolet Camaro. Individuals associated with this vehicle may have been a witness to an incident that occurred on May 31, 2020 at the Kenmore Terrace Mini Park located at 4800 Kenmore Terrace, San Diego, California.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DIVERTS GRAFFITI ARTISTS TO CREATE PUBLIC ART

By Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Officer Murphy and El Cajon Police

June 19, 2020 (El Cajon) – When El Cajon Police Officer Michael Murphy found three youths spray-painting “peace” and “BLM”, he created a teaching moment.  “I explained to them that by doing that, their message gets lost and destroys another person’s property. So I decided instead of arresting them we would work together to fix the damage and work on an area where they can post their message,” he posted on Facebook.

So he arranged to meet up with them, get plywood and find a place for them to express their views and creativity in a positive way - as well as having them lend a hand to clean up the defaced property. The result is a work of art showing talent and the power of working together for creative solutions to conflicts.


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PHARMACY ROBBERY IN ALPINE MAY BE PART OF SERIES

East County News Service

Photos via CVS

June 18, 2020 (Alpine) – An investigation is underway into a robbery at a CVS in Alpine that may be part of a series of pharmacy robberies across East County. Two juveniles were apprehended.

Shortly before 3 p.m. on June 17, deputies from the Alpine Sheriff’s station responded to the CVS Pharmacy at 1385 Tavern Road after a 9-1-1 call reported a robbery. The caller said one of two suspects, armed with a cane, jumped over the counter demanding drugs and took 13 bottles of narcotics. As he fled, he swung the cane around and smashed the glass countertop. A cell phone of one of the employees was also taken, says Lieutenant Anthony O’Boyle.

The suspects fled the scene, but due to a quick response from a Sheriff's Sergeant, deputies and detectives, the suspects were located behind the Alpine library and detained,” says Lt. O’Boyle.


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CALIFORNIA AG TO PROBE ONE OF TWO HANGINGS OF BLACK MEN

By Ben Christopher, CALmatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  activist Najee Ali, center, kneels with weekend demonstrators in front of the Palmdale Sheriff's station as protesters demand an investigation into the death of 24-year-old Robert Fuller, who was found hanging from a tree early Wednesday. On Monday, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra agreed to get the state involved. Photo by Josie Huang/KPCC/LAist via AP

June 18, 2020 (Palmdale, Calif.) - California’s Justice Department will send officers to Palmdale to investigate the hanging death of a black man — one of two similar incidents in the high desert over the last few weeks, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced this morning.


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LA MESA TASK FORCE ADOPTS AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE IN HOPES OF GETTING POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD ON BALLOT

By Kendra Sitton

Photo: Jack Shu has proposed a ballot measure to create a police oversight commission for La Mesa.

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In a meeting Wednesday, June 17, the Citizen Oversight Task Force set a plan in motion that could culminate in a November ballot initiative to bring a strong police oversight commission to La Mesa.

After missing several meetings due to the coronavirus, the group resumed meeting in the wake of mass protests and riots over the La Mesa Police Department’s mistreatment of the Black community.


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CHP STEPS UP SAFETY ENFORCEMENT ON SR 67 AKA "SLAUGHTERHOUSE ALLEY," TO PREVENT DEADLY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
 
June 17, 2020 (El Cajon) – California Highway Patrol (CHP) will deploy additional officers on State Route 67 from Interstate 8 in El Cajon to Ramona between June 21 and September 30. The goal is to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes caused by unsafe speed, following too closely, unsafe lane changes, improper turning, and other primary crash factor violations by motorcyclists and other drivers.
 
Many crashes in California end in death or injury as a result of individuals speeding or driving aggressively. From January-December 2019, provisional statistical data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) El Cajon Area database revealed 230 injury crashes involving motorcycles and 20 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in El Cajon
CHP’s boundaries.

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DEPUTY INVOLVED IN LAKESIDE SHOOTING IDENTIFIED; SUSPECT HAD FIRED MULTIPLE SHOTS AT OFFICERS AFTER ALLEGEDLY BATTERING GIRLFRIEND

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 17, 2020 (Lakeside) – The San Diego Sheriff’s department has identified Andrew Sudbury as the deputy who shot and injured Dustin Banzhof in Lakeside following a domestic violence dispute. Deputy Sudbury has worked for the Sheriff’s department for six years and is stationed at the Lakeside station.

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HELP SOUGHT TO IDENTIFY THOSE WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Dept. is asking for public help to identify suspects caught on surveillance video breaking into and looting Pierre’s Jewelers on La Mesa Blvd. the night of May 30th, when dozens of businesses were looted and others burned following protests.  


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DEPUTY SHOOTS, MAN IN LAKESIDE WHO FIRED SHOTS AMID DOMESTIC DISPUTE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of ECM  news partner 10 News

June 15, 2020 (Lakeside) – Dustin Banzhof, 39, was shot by a Sheriff’s deputy and arrested last night after Banzhof reportedly fired multiple shots during a domestic dispute.

Deputies responded at 8:30 p.m. to the 11600 block of Hi Ridge Road in Lakeside, where a woman had locked herself in a bedroom with her two children in an effort to hide from the children’s estranged father, who was inside her home.


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PEACEFUL UNITY RALLY ROARS INTO LA MESA

By Henri Migala

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson also contributed to this report.

Photo, left, by Henri Migala: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez speaks with protesters

June 14, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Before you could see them, you could hear them.  With a rumble that made the air vibrate, over 215 motorcyclists from approximately 15 motorcycle clubs rolled into the parking lot across the street from the police station in La Mesa. The riders joined another 150 protesters who were waiting at the parking lot for what was billed as a “Unity Ride Meets Unity Protest”. 

This was the very site of the now infamous clash between La Mesa police and protesters that happened on Saturday, May 30 during the national protests over police violence prompted by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer now charged with murder.


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LA MESA SETTLED SUIT WITH HELIX HIGH STUDENT IN OFFICER USE OF FORCE INCIDENT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Student walk-out at Helix Charter High School in January 2018 

June 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday that the City of La Mesa quietly signed an agreement back on Sept 5, 2019 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Helix Charter High School student over a use-of-force incident shown on a video that went viral.  


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EL CAJON FIRE KILLS TWO DOGS; THC EXTRACTION LAB FOUND ON SITE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

June 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – A fire last Wednesday that killed two dogs at 1660 Via Elisa in El Cajon started in the bedroom and back deck. The cause is “most likely accidental,” with “no evidence of a criminal cause” despite a THC butane oil extraction lab found on the premises, says Greg Hampton with the San Diego Sheriff’s department.


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LA MESA GIRDS FOR “UNITY PROTEST AND RIDE” SUNDAY, JUNE 14

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police Department has sent an alert out to inform the public of a protest planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Department.  The LMPD advisory indicates the protest is expected to be peaceful and that protesters free speech rights will be respected, but that mutual aid from law enforcement agencies across the county are prepared to respond to protect La Mesa if that situation changes.

According to a flyer posted on social media sites, the “Unity Protest” will welcome motorcyclists from clubs across the region in a “Unity Ride” starting in San Diego and ending at the LMPD station, where two weeks ago a protest against police violence that began peacefully ended in assaults tageting police and a barrage of nonlethal weapons fired at protesters, followed by a rampage of looting, vandalism, and the burning of buildings and vehicles.


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MORE ARRESTS MADE FOR CRIMES DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

 

Scroll down for images of more crimes commited during the May 31 La Mesa riot, including arsonists not yet apprehended

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: This image of looters circulated widely on social media.

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police yesterday announced new arrests related to the May 30 riot in La Mesa, the latest for looting stores at Grossmont Center and the La Mesa Springs shopping center. Though the riots occurred in the aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest over police use of force, those arrested so far include white, Hispanic and black suspects.


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LA MESA COUNCIL VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSES; HEARS HEATED COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC

By Briana Gomez

Photo by Paul Kruze: Officers guarding City Hall, where the City Clerk's office was set afire during the riot  on May 30

The City of La Mesa held a heated livestream city council meeting Tuesday with council members socially distanced via zoom,  the first public meeting since the May 30 riots that followed protests for black lives.

The Council unanimously voted to have an outside investigator review police, fire department and other city agencies’ actions during the protest and rioting that ended with multiple businesses looted, vehicles burned, two banks and a historic building burned down.  

Council members reviewed their agenda before public comments, most of which criticized the La Mesa Police Department for its recent treatment of the black community, perceived mismanagement of what began as a peaceful protest, and for not preventing the city from burning down during riots that ensued.


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LA MESA POLICE SHOT LESLIE FURCRON FOR CRYING "MURDERERS," LAWYER SAYS

By Ken and Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old grandmother who was injured during a protest in front of the La Mesa Police Department, thanked her hospital caregivers but said she is still very weak and will need nursing care. Photo by Chris Stone

June 11, 2020 (La Mesa) - Leslie Furcron spoke for three minutes outside La Mesa City Hall on Wednesday — her first public remarks since being shot in the face during a La Mesa police station protest. But her lawyer said she was wounded for being heard saying “Murderers.”


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EXCLUSIVE: ECM INTERVIEWS LA MESA MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF ON PROTEST PREPARATIONS AND RIOT RESPONSES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Videography by Paul Kruze

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Hours after the city of La Mesa released a timeline and incident narrative on the May 30-31 protest over police violence and the riot that ensued, ECM editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze conducted exclusive interviews with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez yesterday at the La Mesa community center, seeking answers to questions on protest preparations and riot responses.


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CITY UNDER SIEGE: LA MESA RELEASES TIMELINE AND NARRATIVE ON NIGHT OF RIOT, VIOLENCE AND ARSON

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Henri Migala:  Officers outside LMPD station vandalized with graffiti by late afternoon, shortly before rioting began.

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The city of La Mesa has released a timeline and incident narrative of the protest and subsequent riot in La Mesa May 30-31, which reveal chilling details of an increasingly violent siege waged against police and sheriff officers as well as City Hall and businesses across the city.  Despite reinforcements pre-staged, rioting swiftly grew out of control, starting from early reports of violence starting at 4 p.m. that later escalated into hurling of bottle bombs (Molotov cocktails) at police, breaking windows on police vehicles with officers inside and attacking an armored bearcat.  Looting commenced in multiple locatoins, rocks and bottles were hurled at officers, as rioters throughout the long night and early morning hours of mayhem ignited multiple vehicles, burned down two banks and a historic building,and ignited nuermous other locations.

Police defended themselves with non-lethal weapons including tear gas, pepperballs and beanbags, striking at least two people in the head. Multiple officers were also reported injured. It remains to be seen whether the looting and burning were done by protesters or outside groups that took advantage of what began as a peaceful protest and march against police violence earlier in the day, or perhaps a combination of both.


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DEBATE RAGES ONLINE OVER YELLOW-VESTED LA MESA CIVIL DEFENSE GROUP

 

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) - Friday afternoon, several dozen people met at a boarded-up corner on La Mesa Boulevard to discuss how they might help a fledgling La Mesa CIvil Defense group. 


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MAN CHARGED WITH HAVING MOLOTOV COCKTAIL EXPLOSIVES DURING RIOT IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Zachary Karas, arrested for possession of incendiary devices

Photo, right by Paul Kruze: Vons truck burning approximately one block from where Karas was arrested

June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – The U.S. Attorneys Office has charged Zachary Alexander Karas, 28, of San Diego for possessing incendiary devices including Molotov cocktail explosive devices and fireworks In La Mesa during riots that began the night of May 30th.  Throughout that night and early in the building, multiple buildings and vehicles were set afire.

According to the complaint filed by U.S Assistant Attorney Andrew Haden, Karas and his girlfriend, Kali Braj Jonkuet, were sitting on the pavent at the corner of Allison Ave. and Spring St. in front of the trolley tracks. Officers ordered the crowd to disperse for an unlawful assembly and arrested Karas after he failed to leave. After his arrest, officers discovered that Karas possessed Molotov cocktails --two glass bottles with wicks that contained gasoline. Molotov cocktails are also known as bottle bombs or poor man’s grenades. Karas also had fireworks in his possession.

A special agent with the ATF inspected the Molotov cocktails and found them to be functioning incendiary devices.


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$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON THEFTS FROM GUN SHOP DURING RIOTS IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a man who broke into Alex Imports Shop at 7389 University Ave. in La Mesa and stole nine long guns on May 30 around 11 p.m. The burglary occurred during the rioting and looting following protests last Saturday night over racial injustice and police brutality.

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