Crime Beat

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT HAS HUNDREDS OF JOBS TO FILL

Source: San Diego Sheriff’s Department

June 10, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- Are you or someone you know looking for a job? The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is hiring. 

Watch the latest recruiting video: One Agency, Multiple Career Possibilities. 

You can apply online at joinsdsheriff.net. Or you can begin the hiring process by texting the word "JOIN" to (855) 737-4374.

STATE TO APPEAL JUDGE’S RULING OVERTURNING ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN

Cajon Valley Union School District trustee James Miller is lead plaintiff in controversial case

By Miriam Raftery

June 10, 2021(Sacramento) – Last week, Judge Roger Benetiz of California’s Southern District court issued an opinion in Miller v. Bonta (previously Miller v. Becerra), holding that California’s tyrannical ban on “assault weapons” is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. However the judge issued a stay on his ruling for 30 days to allow time for an appeal. 

BOARD IMPLEMENTS STATE LAW WAIVING CRIMINAL FEES

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures.net
 
June 9, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday, June 8, to amend the County’s administrative code, the final step in fully implementing state legislation that eliminates the assessment and collection of criminal fees, prior to the law’s effective start date of July 1.
 
Also known as the “Family Over Fees Act,” State Assembly Bill 1869 was signed into law Sept. 18, 2020 by Gov. Gavin Newsom and made the state the first in the nation to repeal most criminal administrative fees and forgive associated debt.

ABC RUNS DECOY OPERATION IN ATTEMPT TO REDUCE UNDERAGE DRINKING

By Ray Sweeney, Acting Chief of Police
 
June 9, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Agents of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), along with the La  Mesa Police Department, cited 3 clerks for selling alcohol to minors on June 4, 2021. The actions were the result of a minor decoy operation in which minors, under the direct supervision of department agents, attempted to purchase alcohol from 16 retail licensees in the City of La Mesa. 
 
Those who sold to the minor face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension of the license, or the permanent revocation of the license.

ILLEGAL MARIJUANA GROW SEIZED IN WARNER SPRINGS

East County News Service
 
Photo: Marijuana plants, CC via Bing
 
June 5, 2021 (Warner Springs)  -- Nearly 4,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of nearly $1.5 million were seized Friday morning following a search of a property in the 30800 block of Chihuahua Valley Road in Warner Springs.

WANTED: ESCAPEE IN LEMON GROVE

Be on the lookout for a man who escaped custody from East County

Source: San Diego Sheriff

June 4, 2021 (Lemon Grove) -- Take a good look at this photo. The San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and San Diego County Crime Stoppers want your help in finding Jovany Gallardo (a.k.a. Giovanni Gallardo). 

RACIAL JUSTICE COALITION FOLLOW-UP: WHAT’S NEXT IN THEIR PLAN TO OUST DA SUMMER STEPHAN?

By Briana Gomez

June 3, 2021 (San Diego) - May 15 was certainly a busy day for San Diego’s minority activist groups. 

The Racial Justice Coalition held a rally in front of the Hall of Justice in Downtown San Diego as part of its campaign to demand that District Attorney Summer Stephan resign immediately. The coalition faults Stephan for not prosecuting many cases of law enforcement officers shooting unarmed people. 

INMATE FOUND DEAD IN SAN DIEGO JAIL

By Miriam Raftery

May 31, 2021 (San Diego) –Yesterday around 4 p.m., deputies at the San Diego Central Jail found an inmate unresponsive in his cell.  Deputies and medical staff immediately performed lifesaving measures, according to the Sheriff’s department, until relieved by fire department personnel but were unable to save the inmate, Daniel Marroquin. He was pronounced dead at the jail.

According to an editorial by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s editorial board on April 21, at least 150 deaths have occurred in county jails since Sheriff Bill Gore became Sheriff in 2009.  A 2019 investigation by the newspaper found this to be a higher rate of inmate deaths than in any other major county in California. The causes of death included suicides, drug overdoses, illness and acts of violence.

CAMPO ROAD DISPENSARY SHUT DOWN

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons image by NC-ND
 
May 29, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- Five people are under arrest after an illegal marijuana dispensary was shut down in the unincorporated area of Spring Valley. Felony charges will be filed with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office against four men and one woman arrested at the site.

STATE SENATE PASSES BILL TO REVOKE LICENSING FROM POLICE OFFICERS CONVICTED OF SERIOUS CRIMES OR FIRED FOR MISCONDUCT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Bill could revoke licenses from officers such as fired LMPD officer Matt Dages, who is charged with falsifying a police report after a stop involving Amaurie Johnson.

May 28, 2021 (Sacramento)  -- California may soon become the 47th state to require decertification of police officers who conduct serious offenses, an action aimed at ending the option for “bad apple” officers to move to another law enforcement department and potentially reoffend.

The bill would create a new state license for police officers which could be revoked if an officer is convicted of a serious crime or is fired due to misconduct, including violating a person’s civil rights.

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT USES GENETIC TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE COLD CASE MURDER BASED ON BODY PARTS FOUND IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO DUMPSTER

By Alexa Oslowski

 

View press conference video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0OPcNHNh70

 

Photo, left: Laurie Diane Potter, murder victim 

May 25, 2021 (San Diego) - The Sheriff’s Office has solved a cold-case murder from 17 years ago, where two human legs were found in a dumpster on Hilton Head Way in Ranch San Diego. Authorities used investigative genetic genealogy to identify the victim and track down her killer. 

JUDGE BLOCKS BADGER’S PLACEMENT AT MT. HELIX; JONES BILL WOULD LIMIT STATE DUMPING OF VIOLENT SEX OFFENDERS IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

May 22, 2021 (Mt. Helix) – Residents on Horizon Hills near Mt. Helix are reveling in a ruling by Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers which blocks the state from placing Douglas Badger, a sexually violent predator (SVP) in the community. Earlier this month, another judge blocked placement of a second SVP, Merle Wakefield, at the same site.

The residents have announced a "Super Victory Party" on May 31 to celebrate keeping their neighborhood safe.

DEPUTIES AND MEDICAL STAFF SAVE OVERDOSE VICTIMS

Deputies, medical staff use Narcan to save inmates from overdosing

Source:  San Diego County Sheriff's Office

May 22, 2021 (Otay Mesa) - Deputies and medical staff assigned to the George Bailey Detention Facility in Otay Mesa used medication to save eight inmates from overdosing on fentanyl. 

LANDLORD-TENANT DISPUTE IN JAMUL RESULTS IN MURDER-SUICIDE

By Miriam Raftery 

 

May 22, 2021 (Jamul) – A tenant asked to move out of a residence on Lyons Valley Road in Jamul in February shot his landlord, then killed himself following an argument.  The landlord’s health declined and on May 7th he was readmitted to a

hospital, where he died.

 

The Medical Examiner has determined that the cause of death was homicide due to complications from the gunshot wound to his torso.

HIT-AND-RUN DRIVER SERIOUSLY INJURES PEDESTRIAN IN CASA DE ORO

East County News Service
 
May 19, 2021 (Casa De Oro) – The California Highway Patrol is asking for public help to identify a vehicle that struck a 74-year-old man this morning who was crossing Bancroft Drive in the Casa de Oro community in Spring Valley around 5:53 a.m.
 
The vehicle was driving from Bancroft Drive onto State Route 94 westbound when it struck the pedestrian, who was within the intersection. He sustained major injuries and was transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego for treatment of his injuries.

FATAL BORDER PATROL SHOOTING IN CAMPO

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 19, 2021 (Campo) – A San Diego man has died after being shot following a pursuit by U.S. Border Patrol agents. 
 
Silvestre Vargas Estrada, 26, was driving a vehicle with two men as passengers during the pursuit on May 14 shortly before 10 p.m. According to Lt. Thomas Seiver with the Sheriff’s homicide unit, “The pursuit ended in a gas station parking lot at the intersection of State Route 94 and Buckman Springs Road in Campo. A confrontation ensued, resulting in three agents discharging their firearms.”

STOLEN VALLEY CENTER ARTIFACTS RECOVERED

Sheriff's Deputies arrest suspect, recover cultural artifacts stolen from casino.
 
East County News Service
 
May 16, 2021 (Valley Center) -- A man has been arrested on suspicion of stealing priceless cultural artifacts from a historical exhibit at Harrah's Resort Southern California in Valley Center.

MAN CONVICTED OF POSSESSING EXPLOSIVE DEVICES DURING LA MESA RIOT

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 14, 2021 (La Mesa) – A federal jury in San Diego has convicted Zachary Alexander Karas, 28, of possessing incendiary devices including Molotov cocktail explosives during the riot in La Mesa following a May 30 racial justice protest. His sentencing is scheduled for August 13; the San Diego resident could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR WAKEFIELD PLACEMENT DENIED BY JUDGE HARUTUNIAN

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Merle Wakefield, via San Diego Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force

May 10, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled today that a home in unincorporated El Cajon near Mt. Helix house is not an appropriate location to place a sexually violent predator (SVP).

Superior Court Judge Albert T. Harutunian III said that the house at 10957 Horizon Hills Drive is not appropriate to place sexually violent predator Merle Wade Wakefield. The judge indicated he will deny the placement because the neighborhood is too dense, and the house is too close to other homes with children, according to a press release issued by the Grossmont-Mount Helix Improvement Association (GMIA).

“It is not a safe placement for the community,” Harutunian said.

SUSPECTED DUI DRIVER SERIOUSLY INJURED IN ROLLOVER SANTEE CRASH

East County News Service
 
May 10, 2021 (Santee) – The driver of a white Jeep SUV was seriously injured yesterday around 11:30 p.m. when the vehicle rolled over near the Santee Costco on Town Center Parkway, just north of Mission Gorge Road, trapping the motorist inside.

FIGHT OUTSIDE ALIBI BAR IN LA MESA LEADS TO SHOOTINGS

East County News Service
 
May 9, 2021 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police officers responded to reports of gunshots heard at 1:32 a.m. near the Alibi Bar at 5286 Baltimore Drive. Officers found a man in the parking lot who had been shot in the buttocks and rendered aid until paramedics arrived and took him to a hospital.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE ANDERSON MEASURE TO IMPROVE NOTIFICATIONS TO COMMUNITIES REGARDING SEX OFFENDERS

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure to increase public notification regarding locations of registered sex offenders and proposed placements of sexually violent predators in communities. Supervisor Joel Anderson introduced the measure, which was amended at the request of Supervisor Jim Desmond to also include Native American communities.

Anderson says that existing notifications “do not provide adequate notice to communities where sex offenders will be located.” In a written statement to the board, Anderson indicated that after sending questions to the District Attorney and Sheriff regarding the placement process and notification procedures, “there are inconsistencies and omissions in the answers we received.”

SUPERVISORS SPLIT ON SUPPORT OF GEORGE FLOYD POLICE REFORM BILL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by Henri Migala:  protest in La Mesa on May 30 called for justice for George Floyd

May 7, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to endorse the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a federal police reform measure aimed at improving law enforcement accountability and addressing racial disparities. Supervisors split 3-2 on the issue, with East County Supervisors Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson opposed while Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas supported the action.

VALLEY CENTER TEACHER ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED SEX CRIMES WITH MINORS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Image via Valley Center Elementary School website
 
May 6, 2021 (Valley Center) – Kyle Puette, 37, a third and fifth grade teacher at Valley Center Elementary School, has been arrested on charges of sending harmful matter to seduce minors and communicating with minors to commit a sexual offense.
 
The alleged criminal offenses offered in Bakersfield, where Puette was formerly employed as a fifth grade teacher at Louse Sandrini Elementary School from 2013 to 2017. Two juvenile teenage victims have been identified thus far, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. 

SPRING VALLEY DISPENSARY RAID FINDS COUNTERFEIT CANDY AND CHIPS CONTAINING MARIJUANA

East County News Service
 
May 4, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- Two people are under arrest after an illegal marijuana dispensary was shut down by Sheriff's Deputies in Spring Valley. Among the items seized were candy and chips containing marijuana, with counterfeit labels resembling major brand names.

STARVED PUPPY, ABANDONED IN CRATE, DIES: HUMANE SOCIETY ASKS FOR PUBLIC HELP

Crimestoppers offers reward for information leading to arrest in felony animal cruelty case.

 

Source: San Diego Humane Society

 

May 3, 2021 (San Diego) — San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement is asking for the public’s help in a felony animal cruelty case, involving a severely emaciated puppy who was found dead in a crate on a residential sidewalk in Encanto.

SUPERVISOR ANDERSON CALLS FOR REFORMS IN PLACEMENT OF PREDATORS AND COMMUNITY NOTIFICATION

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: map shows disproportionate number of sex offenders placed in East County
 
May 1, 2021 (El Cajon) – Community members held another rally April 28 at Wells Park to oppose the proposed placement of Merle Wakefield and Joseph Badger, both sexually violent predators (SVPs), at 10957 Horizon Hills in unincorporated El Cajon.  Now Supervisor Joel Anderson has announced he will introduce a directive at next week’s County Board of supervisors meeting instruction County Council and the Chief Administrative Officer to fully investigate what he calls “inexcusable and irresponsible weaknesses in the County’s current policies for the notification and placement processes for sex offenders and Sexually Violent Offenders.”

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