<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Fri, 09 Oct 2015 05:26:21 -0700 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 05:26:21 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[El Cajon Man Dies of West Nile Virus ]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 22:05:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TLMD-06-malaria-puerto-rico.jpg

A 73-year-old El Cajon man died of West Nile Virus on Sunday – the second death in San Diego this year.

Health officials confirmed four other cases, bringing the total in San Diego to 11 this year.

The County Department of Public Health is also waiting to confirm 13 suspected cases and two deaths possibly linked to the disease.

“These unfortunate deaths are a strong reminder that West Nile virus is a potentially deadly disease, and is active in our region,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County public health officer. “It’s important that the public continue taking precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which transmit West Nile virus.”

County officials urge people to prevent mosquito breeding by dumping still water outside the house. Mosquito fish, which are available for free from the Environmental Health Vector Control Program, can be used in backyard water sources to control mosquito breeding.

They also remind people to stay inside when mosquitos are most active – from dusk until dawn – and to wear long sleeves and pants or use repellant. Residents should report dead birds or green swimming pools to the Environmental Health Vector Control Program.

The disease reached its peak in 2008, when 37 cases were reported in the County.

Photo Credit: TELEMUNDO PR]]>
<![CDATA[Former Mrs. Orange County Jailed in Child Porn Case]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 04:49:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/230*120/10-8-15_Mrs_OC.JPG

A former Mrs. Orange County was in jail Thursday on suspicion of creating child pornography with a 4-year-old relative and selling it to a Marine stationed in Southern California, authorities said.

Meghan Breanna Alt, 25, of Irvine is accused of sending sexually explicit images of a 4-year-old girl to the Marine in exchange for cash and gifts, Hallock said.

Alt was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Alt, who was under surveillance, was arrested following a traffic stop in San Diego County on Wednesday, according to Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

Alt is also suspected of advertising unspecified services online that sometimes led to her having sex with clients in exchange for money with her children present, Hallock alleged.

Alt won the Mrs. Orange County pageant last year and competed in the Mrs. California contest in June of 2014, Hallock said.

Alt, along with her husband and children, recently moved to Irvine.

Former neighbors in San Clemente said they were surprised to learn about the child porn accusations involving Alt.

Hallock said Alt is also involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in San Clemente and Irvine, where investigators believe she worked with young children as a volunteer.

Investigators said they are concerned there may be additional victims and asked the public to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department if they have any information.

Alt is expected to appear in court Oct. 9.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement]]>
<![CDATA[Bigoted Graffiti Discovered on SDSU Parking Garage]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:41:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSU++Graffiti.jpg

San Diego State Police officials are taking steps to find the suspect who sprayed racist graffiti on a school parking garage this week.

Wednesday morning, students discovered the bigoted words and symbols scrawled across two walls near Parking Structure 1, which sits by College Avenue and Alvarado Road.

SDSU officials believe the suspect vandalized the structure Tuesday night, and a police report was filed the next day. Staff immediately removed over the spray paint.

Investigators have not identified any suspects at this point.

The SDSU Police Department sent the following statement about the discovery: 

"San Diego State University emphatically condemns and rejects these messages of hate and divisiveness.  Our facilities services staff immediately removed them. SDSU is a diverse community of people from all races, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds.  We affirm and reaffirm our commitment to providing a welcoming and supportive environment of opportunity for all students, faculty, staff and community members.  This event serves to remind our campus community of the importance of continued support for our aspirations of being One SDSU – a community that promotes diversity and inclusiveness through our shared mission of education, research and service." 

<![CDATA[Water Still Off for Residents After Wed. Pipe Break]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 22:22:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/water+main+break+crews1.JPG

More than a day and a half after a pipe ruptured, spewing water high into the air and flooding homes, 52 customers in Rancho San Diego are still without water.

Otay Water District crews hoped to fix the break at Hillsdale Road overnight Wednesday, but officials said a complication kept the repairs from happening. They have not given a new timeline on when repairs will be finished.

They are dealing with a system of small leaks across the broken 12-inch line. Armando Buelna with the water district said crews are installing a patch for the leak, but others are popping up. 

If the patch doesn't work, the workers will install a high line to pump in water temporarily, which would restore service to 38 of the 52 homes.

Meanwhile, Buelna said the district brought in four water tanks to assist the community and workers have been delivering bottles of water to homes.

Officials are in constant contact with residents, according to Buelna.

About 380,000 gallons of water flowed onto Hillsdale Road between Jamacha Road and Chase Avenue Wednesday.

A geyser, caused by the broken line, shot up well above the electrical lines and could be seen from more than a mile away.

The resulting flood rushed into at least two homes and four to five outbuildings. The worst hit home belongs to Donita Blalock, who has been running dehumidifiers and airscrubbers all day. To cut down on the spread of mold, a remediation team is keeping the house at 105 degrees.

"It's difficult," said Blalock. "I hurt my knee. I can't run around like I used to, and so I have my mom and a walker and my little dog. We're puddling right along." 

Blalock said her 15 prize koi fish did not survive the flooding. Repairs to her home will cost thousands of dollars.

On Wednesday, Otay Water crews told NBC 7 they have had problems on this stretch of road before, but nothing like this.

<![CDATA[SD Explained: SANDAG and Its Big Plans for Transit]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:56:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Trolley-Generic-Garske-July.jpg

On Friday, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, will vote on final approval of San Diego Forward, its long-term plan for $204 billion worth of mass transit and construction projects.

That's a lot of money and new infrastructure going toward the next 35 years of the region's transportation needs. Transit is something a lot of people care about, so what exactly is SANDAG and who's behind it?

On this week's San Diego Explained, NBC's Monica Dean and Voice of San Diego's Scott Lewis tell us to think of SANDAG, which has representatives from 19 municipal governments on its governing board, as the "United Nations of San Diego governments." SANDAG doesn't just do transportation planning, it's actually a hub of research on everything from crime to demographics, but with the impending vote, it's Dean and Lewis' focus.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske]]>
<![CDATA[DA Bonnie Dumanis Remembers Bill Kolender]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:29:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kolender-File-Photo-KNSD.jpg

Former Sheriff Bill Kolender, who served 13 years as Chief of the San Diego Police Department and 14 years as Sheriff of San Diego County, died Tuesday morning after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“He was just such a wonderful human being. He was a giant in law enforcement,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told NBC7 on Thursday. “One of the things he was known for saying was ‘take your job seriously not yourself.”

Kolender began his career in 1956 as a San Diego Police Officer, and in 1970, he was appointed Chief of the SDPD. Kolender was elected the 28th Sheriff of San Diego County in 1994 and was sworn into office in 1995. He was re-elected as Sheriff three times after that, in 1998, 2002 and 2006 eventually retiring in 2009.

“He was one of my mentors. I learned so much from him…He taught me a lot about leadership and compassion and people. He truly loved people.”

Dumanis said everyone who knew Kolender has a story about him. She said he had a great sense of humor and loved to poke fun at himself.

“He used to carry around those Sheriff’s pins that had the badge on it. He went to visit my dad before he died in the hospital and he took the pin and pinned it on his bathrobe and that made such a difference to my dad and to my mom and to my family,” Dumanis said. “I have nothing but wonderful memories about him…and my heart goes out to…the family.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7 Archives]]>
<![CDATA[$204B in Transportation Funds in Priority Clash]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:45:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sd+trolley+generic.JPG

A tug of war is brewing over $204 billion for countywide transportation projects that comes up for a vote Friday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Public transit activists say not enough of that money is going toward alternatives to freeway travel, especially in communities south of downtown San Diego.

"Unfortunately, our elected officials haven't quite heard that message as loudly as they need to hear it,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of Climate Action Campaign. “So we'll continue to tell them what we believe is important, and what the public wants."

On Thursday, elected officials representing National City, Lemon Grove and South Bay gathered at MTS Trolley headquarters in East Village to speak out against the $204 billion "San Diego Forward" strategy proposed by regional planners.
They said it won't get around to upgrading trolley travel and bus rapid transit in their communities for nearly two decades.
And they'd like to see the light rail lines in downtown installed underground, to separate the travel from inner-city traffic and intersection delays.
In response, SANDAG board members argue the plan balances the greater needs of the region's residents with the funding as it comes available over the years ahead.

"The first five years of this plan, 75 percent (of the spending) is going to be for transit,” said Santee City Councilman Jack Dale.  “And you need to understand that every new highway lane but one is for transit. For bus, carpool lanes, vanpool lanes, that type of thing."

The money involved -- $204 billion — will be allocated over 35 years to expand transportation for a regional population that's expected to grow 25 percent to four million by 2050.

Dale explained that the allocations are made according to how state and federal agencies earmark their shares of various projects.

"The dollars that we get from the taxpayers,” he said, “we take and leverage with what we get from Sacramento and D.C. and build these projects.  And we realized, when we put our plan together, that there's a timeline when that cash is going to go."

But that timeline tests the patience of transit and climate change activists.

"In order for San Diego to compete in the 21st century, we have to create a world-class transportation system,” Capretz told NBC 7.  “We have to allow people who are moving to San Diego, living in San Diego and visiting San Diego to feel they don't need a car to get around."

<![CDATA[SeaWorld to Expand Orca Tanks]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 04:01:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/179*120/shamu_sea+world.jpg

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved a plan by SeaWorld San Diego to expand its killer whale tanks, but banned any future breeding of the whales.

The decision came as hundreds of animal welfare activists packed a meeting in Long Beach where the proposal was being considered.

The Commission decided to expand the theme park's $100 million Blue World Project, which would replace and expand two existing orca facilities with larger tanks, one containing 5.2 million gallons of water and another with 450,000 gallons.

About 420 people — both for and against the project — packed the meeting at the Long Beach Convention Center.

"SeaWorld is pure evil," said actress and project opponent Pamela Anderson outside the meeting. "It is absolutely ridiculous that it still exists and I'm hoping that every aquatic center closes down."

But SeaWorld spokesperson David Koontz said they are "disappointed" by the Coastal Commission's conditions placed on the project. It will cause them to carefully review and consider their options.

"Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane,' Koontz said in a statement.

Activists were calling on the commission to vote down the project, saying the expansion of marine-mammal exhibits would only allow for even more breeding of orcas in captivity.

"SeaWorld's tanks, regardless of size, deny these highly intelligent animals the social bonds, open space, freedom, and stimulation that they would have in their natural ocean homes," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a news release.

SeaWorld staff said the proposed changes include a new habitat for killer whales with underwater, fast-water currents.

"It's really an exciting thing for the whales and for the people that visit SeaWorld as well," said John Riley, president of SeaWorld San Diego.

According to PETA, thousands of people have written to the California Coastal Commission in opposition to SeaWorld's plan.

The California Coastal Commission issued a report recommending the plan be approved with conditions.

Gordon Tokumatsu and Jason Kandel contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: adonayrealestate.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers and Susan G. Komen Give Free Mammograms]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:28:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+breast+cancer.JPG

The Chargers and Susan G. Komen provided women in need with free mammograms at Qualcomm Stadium Thursday for breast cancer awareness month.

"We are grateful to the San Diego Chargers for continuing to drive awareness on the importance of getting mammograms," said Laura Farmer Sherman, president and CEO, Susan G. Komen San Diego. "Early detection is the key to saving lives in San Diego County, where six women are diagnosed with breast cancer and one woman dies every day."

The first NFL team in the nation to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2013, the Chargers have since inspired other teams to follow in their footsteps.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer.” Wendy Shurelds told NBC7. “I got laid off without any insurance so I really turned to Susan G. Komen and they referred me to one of their events. And that’s where I had my screening mammogram and from that I was told I had breast cancer…I’m here today because of that free mammogram.”

According to experts, women without health insurance have a 30% to 50% increased risk of dying from breast cancer.

There is good news though. Experts say if caught early enough the most common type of breast cancer is 99% survivable.

"The Chargers are proud once again to partner with Susan G. Komen San Diego to provide free, life-saving mammograms to women in our community," said Chargers president - business operations, A.G. Spanos. "This event holds a special significance to me as my mother is a breast cancer survivor."

Susan G. Komen is the country's largest provider of free breast health and free cancer services and resources. Their website has other ways to get a free exam.

Susan G. Komen encourages uninsured women to make sure they get a breast exam. Women of average risk should get a mammogram once a year starting at age 40, but it's never too early for an exam.

Photo Credit: NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[SD Short-Term Rentals Rake in Millions: Study]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:32:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Rental+study+1008-PIC_0.jpg

Under siege by some locals, San Diego’s short-term rental market is raking in millions of dollars for the city and supporting more than 1,800 jobs, a new study contends.

A study by the National University Institute of Policy Research – commissioned by AirBnb -- looked at the economic impact of such rental companies as Airbnb and VRBO.

It found that local short-term rentals, including beachfront condos, downtown condos and neighborhood spots, generate $190 million in revenue, said Erik Bruvold of the National University Institute of Policy Research. Bruvold also said these short-term rentals bring in millions of dollars in taxes for the city.

"We’ve also seen at the same time hotel occupancy rates and revenue per available room also go up dramatically, and so what seems to be happening is there's a big expanding pie going on and there's enough demand to support both kinds of industries," Bruvold said.

This comes as a local coalition is calling on the San Diego City Council to implement stricter restrictions for short-term rental users, saying they are fed up with “noise, traffic and other neighborhood nuisances.”

The group called Preserve Our Communities issued a statement last month that it wants the city of San Diego to adopt these guidelines for rentals: a minimum of 21 days in unoccupied properties and for the city to place a cap on the number of days properties that can be used as short-term rentals.

The group also wants the city to require short-term rental properties to comply with the same health and safety regulations required at hotels and motels.

The coalition also wants the city to dedicate a funding source for code compliance as well as give neighbors the authority to take legal actions against nuisance property owners.

Bruvold said he hopes the results of the study will show the value of the short-term rental market.

"The study just makes it clear, it's here to stay, we just want that common sense regulation applied," Bruvold said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[1 Charged in 2001 Cold Case Killing]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:50:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Alexander-Ceballos-SDPD-cold-case.jpg

San Diego police announced a huge break in a 14-year-old cold case Thursday: charges filed against a suspect accused of shooting and killing a man in Encanto in 2001.

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said cold case investigators have identified Enrique Palomino, 37, as one of the suspects who allegedly killed Alexander Ceballos in the 900 block of Merlin Drive on Jan. 28, 2001.

The murder has remained unsolved for nearly 15 years.

The SDPD said cold case detectives recently resumed the investigation and traced Palomino to the murder. Turns out, Palomino was already in custody at the George Bailey Detention Facility on unrelated charges.

Detectives have now added the charge of first-degree murder for Palomino’s alleged involvement in the killing of Ceballos. Palomino is scheduled to be arraigned in court on that first-degree murder charge Tuesday.

According to police, Ceballos was killed in his car while driving with a friend in Encanto. When they pulled over, Ceballos’ friend was confronted by two men – one of whom police believe was Palomino.

One of the men pulled out a gun and fired toward Ceballos’ car. Ceballos tried to drive away, but he was struck by the gunfire, causing him to crash his car into a nearby building.

Ceballos died from his wounds. His friend survived and was able to give police a description of the shooting suspects. They were described as young gang members between 15 and 18 years old, both wearing Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers. According to SDPD cold case records, the suspects allegedly yelled out the name of a gang before firing shots, adding, “This is what’s up!”

The investigation is ongoing and cold case detectives anticipate additional arrests in this murder case. Anyone with information should call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

<![CDATA[Sweet Spots for Pie in San Diego]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:43:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pie-Generic-1114.jpg

Sure, Thanksgiving may be more than a month away, but the autumn pie cravings have already set in. This week, Yelp has rounded up a list of sweet, local spots that serve scrumptious pies – whether it’s a la mode, by the slice or whole to share with the ones you love.

Edelweiss European Bakery (Rancho Bernardo)
Order tastes of tradition with the extensive offering of tarts and tortes, plus pies available on special order. Here, each creation is made with love…and butter, as the website proudly proclaims. Stop in and see what’s in the daily display case, or call ahead for full sizes some of our favorites like the Strawberry Rhubarb Torte – a treat truly perfected by this bakery over the last three decades.

Little George’s (Chula Vista)
When Georges Wonderful World Of Cakes closed in 2010, the owner, Gene Bartlett, saved us all from pie withdrawals by opening this mini location with limited menu options that include the famous Fresh Strawberry Pie. This is a San Diego must-have, and speaking of musts make sure to call ahead as most pies here are made to order, so pick-up or delivery arrangements must be made. Side note for all you cake fans, the Lemon Snow Cake is sublime!

Naughty Pie (Mira Mesa & Farmer’s Markets)
This tempting business can be found at the local farmers market and sweet-toothed Yelp reviewers are raving. The Key Lime pie has notoriety, and both the apple and berry options get honorable mentions. Chef Sarah puts true love into her baking and you can taste the quality. Bonus: she takes orders.

Thyme In The Ranch (Rancho Santa Fe)
This hidden gem boasts a memorable Banana Cream Pie and also serves pie by the slice. Fair warning, once you see the delicious selections you might have a tough time deciding what to eat. Apple Berry Crumb? Traditional Pecan? These are difficult choices, people. This shop is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly.

Soda and Swine (University Heights)
Some might argue the best dessert after a solid meal is a slice of pie. At Soda and Swine, you can get both. For instance, start with an entrée of meatballs and sides, followed by a slice of Classic Apple Pie (served a la mode, if you wish) or Caramel Pecan Apple Pie. Sometimes, the menu includes a seasonal special created at the chef’s whim, too.

Cane Patch Pies (Vista)
Tony and Jon Smalls bring their Southern style to San Diego, baking Southern Sweet Potato Pie and selling it a local farmers markets. If you don’t catch them at markets, the duo will ship the pie to you. While Sweet Potato Pie is the signature item here, the Barbara’s Apple Pie is certainly noteworthy, as well as the Pecan Pie.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/StockFood
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<![CDATA[County Unveils Newest Fire Helicopter]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:33:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Fire-helicopter-100815.jpg

San Diego County has a third helicopter in its firefighting fleet, officials announced Thursday.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Horn showed off the new helicopter at Gillespie Field.

Horn asked for the helicopter after the May 2014 wildfires.

His proposal was later included in a county study initiated by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, recommending more improvements in fire protection.

"Our helicopter can get to wherever the fire may be and put it out before it becomes a large configuration like the Cedar Fire or the Witch Fire," Horn said.

The new helicopter can carry hand crews or up to 375 gallons of water.

It can also carry heavy equipment and up to nine passengers and can fly up to two hours.

ASTREA, the San Diego County Sheriff Department's aviation unit will fly the aircraft.

The Erickson Skycrane "Goliath" is also stationed in the county through November. The helicopter, owned and operated by San Diego Gas and Electric, can carry 2,500 gallons of water.

“Goliath” will stay through September and October and will be restricted to operations within San Diego region, according to Cal Fire Chief Tony Mecham.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[New Surgery for Flesh-Eating Bacteria Victim]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:54:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/FLESHEATINGBACTERIA-PIC-PIC_0.jpg

A San Diego-area teenager fighting for his life against a flesh-eating bacteria is responding to his parents' voices, hospital officials confirmed Thursday. 

Giancarlo Gil, 14, a Chula Vista High School freshman will undergo his tenth surgery at Rady Children’s Hospital.

The teenager is in critical condition as he recovers from the infection that forced doctors to amputate his leg.

"He continues to make small improvements in his recovery and is starting to respond when his parents speak to him," according to hospital spokesperson Carlos Delgado.

Gil complained of pain in his calf Saturday, Sept. 26 after playing baseball.

His condition quickly changed and Gil was taken to urgent care and then the emergency room.

Doctors said a flesh-eating bacteria was causing him to vomit and his calf area started to swell up and bruise, according to a family friend.

Doctors originally amputated the teen's leg to the knee and then days later the leg had to be amputated all the way up to his groin.

On Thursday, the hospital said the teenager is making small improvements. His family also wanted to thank the community for all of prayers, love and support, Delgado said.

Photo Credit: NBC7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Verdict Reached in Fiesta Island DUI Crash]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:16:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/THeresa_Owens_pic_09302015_1200x675_535541315978.jpg

A jury reached a guilty verdict Thursday in the trial of a San Diego woman accused of driving under the influence of methamphetamine and crashing into a group of bicyclists on Fiesta Island.

Theresa Owens, 50, faced felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury for the wrong turn she made on a one-way route around Fiesta Island on Aug. 12, 2014.

With Owens nervously staring at the jury, the group declared her guilty of driving under the influence of methamphetamine causing great bodily injury to many victims and of possession of meth.

In the chaotic crash, Owens’ vehicle struck multiple cyclists, paralyzing one and injuring nine others.
Some of those victims took the stand in Owens’ trial, recounting how the crash permanently scarred them – both emotionally and physically.

One of those victims is La Jolla father Juan Carlos Vinolo, who was hit and left paralyzed when Owens ran into his cycling group. Vinolo testified that the crash wrecked his life.

"My life is destroyed, everything is different," said Vinolo.

Prosecutors said lab results showed Owens tested positive for meth at the time of the collision. Prosecutors also said that at the time of Owens’ arrest, police said they found a bag of meth in her vagina.

Over the course of her trial, Owens’ attorney has argued that although Owens had meth in her system, her driving was not impaired by the drug at the time of the crash.

After the verdict was read Thursday, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto told NBC 7 she felt justice was served.

“The jury worked very hard on this case and they came up with a just verdict,” said Coto.

The prosecutor said the decision is a "step in the right direction" toward helping the victims of the crash begin their long healing process.

Coto said the verdict also send a strong message to drivers on San Diego's roadways.

“The public will not tolerate people getting high on drugs and getting behind the wheel of a car,” said Coto. “She changed lives forever, all because she wanted to get high.”

At her sentencing, Owens faces up to 18 years in prison. She will be sentenced Nov. 19.

The crash prompted the city of San Diego to improve signs and road safety in the area to prevent another incident.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Rattlesnake Bites When Child Picks It Up]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:26:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/paxton+rattlesnake+bite+victim.JPG

A baby rattlesnake bit a 4-year-old boy in east San Diego when the child became too curious and picked it up, his mother told NBC 7.

Paxton Clark's encounter with the rattler happened just after 11 a.m. at a home on East Washington Street in Ramona. Cal Fire officials rushed to the scene to find the child suffering from a bite wound to his index finger.

Paxton was airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital, officials confirmed.

The boy's mother, Robin, told NBC 7 Paxton was playing with his cousin Reece in the backyard near a large tree when he picked up a white and black-colored baby rattlesnake, which bit him on the finger.

"They're boys, they love the snakes and reptiles, and we've had lots of those kinds of conversations about we don't pick up or touch any kind of reptile that we don't know what it is," said Robin.

Minutes later, Paxton's finger started swelling, his family said.

As of 4 p.m., Robin said as a precaution, her son is being monitored at the ICU. Doctors plan to monitor him for the next two to three days.

Paxton's cousin Reece said he learned from Paxton's mistake. "I'm not picking up a snake," he said.

The San Diego heat is notorious for bringing out rattlesnakes. At the time of the bite, the temperature in Ramona was in the upper-80s. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat advisory for parts of San Diego in effect from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

Back in May, officials with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services told NBC 7 that rattlesnake sightings and calls were on the rise across the county. At that point, Animal Services had received 385 calls reporting rattlesnakes, compared to 356 calls at the same time in 2014.

At that time, Daniel E. DeSousa, deputy director for the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, said the top ZIP code for rattlesnake calls had been 92124 — the Tierrasanta area near Mission Trails Regional Park.

According to Animal Services, other top ZIP codes for rattlesnake calls in 2015 have included: 92131 (Scripps Ranch); 92127 (4S Ranch); 92129 (Rancho Penasquitos); and 92130 (Carmel Valley).

According to Animal Services, residents can discourage rattlers from making themselves at home by getting rid of wood piles, fallen fruit, garbage heaps and outdoor dog food bowls around homes and properties.

They attract mice and rats, which in turn attract snakes, the department said.

It’s important to remain alert and aware of your surroundings during rattlesnake season, as the critters tend to hide in tall grass, weeds and brush alongside paths.

Those who encounter a rattler should give the animal space and calmly back away from it.

The Department of Animal Services said the following rattlesnake precautions should be taken:

  • Wear sturdy hiking boots with ankle support so that your feet are protected.
  • Stay on paths and trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes may hide.
  • Make sure you can see where you are reaching and that you can see ahead of you. Look for concealed snakes before picking up rocks, sticks or wood.
  • Consider bringing a walking stick while hiking. If you encounter a snake it may strike the stick instead of you or your pet.
  • If you live in an area where rattlesnakes have been found, check your yard before letting your pets and children out to play.

There are five varieties of rattlesnakes found in San Diego County. If you’re bit, you should immediately call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories from your body, like rings or watches.

If you spot a rattlesnake on your property and you live in unincorporated areas or Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach, call County Animal Services at (619) 236-2341. Other residents should contact their local animal control departments for help.

Photo Credit: Robin Clark
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<![CDATA[Target Store to Open in Del Sur]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:49:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Del-Sur-Target.jpg

A new Target store will open in Del Sur next week as part of a large retail development within the community.

The 143,000-square-foot location is set to open Oct. 11 at Del Sur Town Center in the Black Mountain Ranch area, Shea Properties confirmed. The store – located at 17170 Camino Del Sur -- will anchor the shopping center and include general merchandise, fresh food, a pharmacy, clinic and optical department and a Starbucks.

California-based real estate company Shea Properties says the new shopping center will also soon house a to-be-announced specialty grocer, plus other retail store, dining spots and services.

The Target store joins two previously announced tenants at the center: Dr. Davey’s Family Dentistry and CurBar, an upscale nail salon. Shea Properties plans to announce additional tenants in the coming months.

By 2016, all stores at the shopping center should be up and running.

Photo Credit: Shea Properties]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Returns to San Diego by Week's End]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:38:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Made-in-America-Water-Man-Cool.jpg

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for San Diego County's inland valleys, effective Friday.

High temperatures are expected to reach dangerous levels, from 98-102 degrees in places like Escondido and El Cajon.

“A Heat Advisory is issued when the risk of heat related illnesses become elevated, and when temperatures are abnormally high,” said NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh. “It will be in effect from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.”

People are urged to limit their time outside, and reduce strenuous activities, she added.

Stay hydrated and wear light, loose fitting clothing. Air conditioning is a must, and those without it are urged to seek a cool zone.

Children, elderly and pregnant women are most susceptible to heat related illnesses.

Beach temperatures will be in the mid 80s through the weekend, while inland areas will remain in the mid 90s.

Temperatures will begin a slow decrease on Sunday. There is a possibility of rain in the forecast for the middle part of next week.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Midway District Fight Leaves 1 Dead]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:35:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Midway-District-Homicide-1008.JPG

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) launched a homicide investigation Thursday morning in the Midway District following a deadly fight between two men.

Just before 9:30 a.m., police confirmed an investigation was under way in the 3500 block of Sports Arena Boulevard, behind a Ralph's grocery store and a Target store.

SDPD Lt. Mike Hastings told NBC 7 two men were involved in an altercation in the area behind the businesses. Police officers arrived and broke up the fight, but one of the men then went into "medical distress," Lt. Hastings said.

Officers rendered aid to the man until paramedics arrived, but he died a short time later, the police department said.

The other man involved in this incident was questioned at the scene by investigators. He was not arrested, police confirmed.

Lt. Hastings said he does not believe any weapons were used in the fight.

"I believe it's just a fist fight, if you will. I don't believe there were any weapons involved in this one. Again, that might change, but I'm pretty comfortable it was a physical confrontation," he explained.

The investigation is ongoing. For now, police are interviewing witnesses and trying to figure out what led the men to fight in the first place. Anyone with information on this case should call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

The SDPD said an autopsy is scheduled in the next few days to determine the man's cause of death. His name has not yet been released by investigators, but police did say he was 47 years old.

The second man involved in the fight is in his 30s, Lt. Hastings said.

Photo Credit: Wendy Fry]]>
<![CDATA[Wife Who Killed Husband Guilty of 2nd-Degree Murder]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:49:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/julie+harper+handcuffed.JPG

A jury found a Carlsbad mother guilty of second-degree murder for shooting her husband three years ago while their children were in another room watching cartoons.

Julie Harper admitted to fatally shooting her husband, Jason Harper, in their North County home on Aug. 27, 2012, but claims she did it in self-defense, alleging that she feared Jason would kill or rape her.

At her first trial one year ago, Julie was acquitted on first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors sought to retry her on second-degree murder charges and her retrial began Sept. 14.

Julie reached for a tissue and began to cry as the verdict was read. She now faces 40 years to life in prison. The jury also found an allegation to be true: personal discharge of a firearm causing death.

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said many things were different in this retrial, including jurors who were familiar with marriage and divorce.

"They knew what their defense was and we had the opportunity to specifically disprove it," said Watanabe. "We disproved it by looking through various aspects of her journals and writings. We looked through her day planner and calendar, which disproved a lot of her lies."

But Julie’s defense attorney, Paul Pfingst, maintained that the jury made the wrong decision.

"I think we're still in a place where there are preconceptions about how a battered wife should behave, and if she doesn't behave that way, I think that's something that is difficult to explain to people still," he said.

Closing arguments in the retrial wrapped up Wednesday, and jurors began deliberations that same afternoon.

Watanabe argued the wounds suffered by Jason indicate he was shot from behind — not killed in self-defense.

He also argued there was zero history of documented abuse in the Harpers’ marriage, adding, “Julie says [Jason] was a rapist without anyone knowing.”

Meanwhile, Pfingst said in his closing argument that Julie killed Jason in self-defense and buried the gun she used in the killing out of panic, not guilt.

"Innocent people know that they may not believed and they know that their life is about to take a dramatic turn for the worse," said Pfingst.

He said Julie used bad judgment when making that decision, thinking she would turn the weapon over to police after a few days.

To this day, the gun has never been found.

Julie’s retrial has included dramatic, emotional testimony from many witnesses, including Jason’s family members, neighbors and even the couple’s two young children.

The defendant herself also took the stand for three consecutive days last week, offering graphic details of her troubled marriage and the alleged verbal and physical abuse that she says ultimately drove her to kill her husband.

Under oath, Julie claimed Jason raped her more than 30 times and that she kept a journal of those encounters, allegedly using the word “sex” and a code for “rape” in her writings.

That claim was heavily challenged by Watanabe.

Julie also claimed she never reported the abuse or rape because she was “embarrassed.” She said she feared pressing charges against Jason would lead to him lose his job as a Carlsbad high school teacher and thus impact their family’s finances, which were already in dire straits.

On the stand, Julie also recounted the chilling moment when she shot Jason to death after they got into a heated argument over finances and her filing for divorce.

“I turned around and saw him coming toward me. He said, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I told him to stop. I heard a loud noise and felt [the gun] jerk. He froze, stopped and fell forward,” she testified.

Julie said she didn’t know how to tell her children, who were in another room, that their dad was dead. She didn’t want them to see his body, so she covered Jason with a blanket and other items.

She testified that after the murder, she dropped the kids off at her sister’s house, went to a local coffee shop and visited her father at his office. She told her father her husband was dead, and he told her they needed to call police and hire a lawyer.

<![CDATA[Coastal Commission Considers SeaWorld Orca Tank Expansion]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 07:36:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/orca-exhibit-changes7.jpg The board will vote on the proposal that's earned a recommendation from several members of the Coastal Commission staff. NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment]]>
<![CDATA[Helix Water District Approves Rate Hike]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 07:27:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/helix-water-rate-meeting-2015.jpg

A proposal to drastically increase rates for Helix Water District customers was approved at a public meeting in La Mesa Wednesday night.

The water board passed the proposed 5-year rate hike in a 3 to 2 vote. 

The rate increase between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 is 9 percent or approximately $6 per month for the average customer, said Jennifer Bryant, Helix District Assistant Director of Administrative Services.

The average customer uses 95 gallons per capita per day, officials said.

Officials said the rates proposed for the following four years will be a rate ceiling dependent on other factors forecasted by the district. 

Officials say they will adjust those rates annually based on performance.

"We take a balanced and conservative approach to forecasting. It’s not an aggressive approach to forecasting. It’s not a worst case scenario,” Bryant said.

Read the board's agenda including a study of the rate increase here.

A packed audience of customers seemed to accept next year's rate hike but were outraged at the board's plan to increase rates over several years without lowering costs for salaries or employee benefits.

Under a mandate from Governor Jerry Brown, the State Water Resources Control Board required that the district reduce its water use over 2013 levels by 20 percent. The district said that through August 2015, its customers have reduced water use by 28 percent over the first three months.

The district said an expected 13.7 percent rate increase on wholesale water from the San Diego County Water Authority for 2015-2106 is reflected in the rate increase. An estimated SDCWA rate increase for 2016-17 through fiscal year 2019-20 will be 8 percent per year. 

Helix Water District serves approximately 267,000 customers in La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley, and various unincorporated areas near El Cajon. The district owns Lake Jennings and Lake Cuyamaca. It also stores water in El Capitan Reservoir.

Less than 20 percent of water is local runoff, according to the district's website. The rest is a blend of imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California.

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<![CDATA[2 Suspects Wanted in Emerald Hills Shooting]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 22:49:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/emerald_hills_shooting_.jpg

Police are looking for two suspects after one opened fire on a man and woman in Emerald Hills Wednesday night.

San Diego Police Sgt. Elias Estrada said at about 9:30 p.m., officers received reports of gunshots in the 5400 block of Geneva Street.

When they arrived, they found a 38-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg. They also saw a silver Mercedes-Benz in the middle of the road with bullet holes and casings around it.

Estrada said before the shooting, a vehicle drove by the victim as he stood by the Mercedes, where a woman sat.

The vehicle turned from Geneva Street onto Hanover Street and disappeared from view. But just seconds later, two men emerged on foot at the intersection.

One raised a gun and started shooting at the man and woman. The man was hit, and the woman, out of panic and fear, accelerated the car. She ended up on the middle of Geneva Street, uninjured. 

The suspects are described as dark-skinned men, one of whom may have dreadlocks. The car they were in is described as a silver Honda Accord, possibly 2005 model, according to Estrada.

The victim was taken to the hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries.

Estrada said it is too early to say if this was a random shooting. The incident is under investigation.

<![CDATA[Waterfront Park Closes for Music Festival ]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 22:50:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CRSSD+3_1420090705_0241.jpg

The county’s Waterfront Park, a popular spot for families to cool down on the Embarcadero, will be closed to the public as it hosts an electronic music festival this weekend.

On Wednesday, crews began preparations for the CRSSD Festival, a two-day event filled with electronic and EDM acts. Access to the park and metered parking in the area will be limited through Friday as the promoter puts up fencing and the stage for the event.

However, the playground and restroom at the park’s southeast corner will remain open until 10 p.m. Friday.

Up to 13,000 fans are expected each day of the 21-and-up festival. It runs noon to 11 p.m. Saturday  and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

County officials plan to reopen the Waterfront Park at 6 a.m. Monday, except for the civic greens and West Plaza, where operators will be breaking down equipment.

At its debut in March, CRSSD drew 15,000 people into the park, where fans did more than $64,000 in damage to the grounds, according to San Diego County. The company that hosted the festival was required to pay for the fixes.

Photo Credit: John Audley]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly 2 Tons of Pot Stashed in Furniture Drawers]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 21:20:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/16003+--+Furnituire+with+empty+drawers+aftter+marijuana+extracted+III.jpg Images of smuggling attempts at their finest.

Photo Credit: CBP]]>
<![CDATA[USD's Bryant Heads to NLDS]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:50:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-491744336.jpg

Chicago Cubs rookie Kris Bryant did not have his best game at the plate Wednesday.

The former San Diego Torero went 0-for-3 with a walk in four plate appearances against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But he still contributed in a key moment of the National League wildcard game.

With the Cubs leading 4-0 in the bottom of the 7th with one out and a runner on 1st, the Pirates were threatening to get back in the contest.

Former Cub Aramis Ramirez belted a shot to the hot corner. Bryant reeled it in sharply off the hop and immediately fired to second base to get Francisco Cervelli. Chicago second baseman Starlin Castro then threw a laser to Rizzo to complete the twin killing.

The Pirates never threatened again.

At the dish, Bryant grounded into a double play in the first inning. He later worked a walk in the 3rd only to get doubled off 1st base when he strayed too far on a fly out to center by former Padre Anthony Rizzo.

He also struck out and lined out. But his playoff debut will still be a great memory for the young slugger – especially his defensive gem.

Fellow rookie Kyle Schwarber and outfielder Dexter Fowler were a 2-man wrecking crew at the plate. Fowler finished with 2 singles and a solo shot while Schwarber provided a RBI single in the 1st inning and smashed a moonshot to right for a 2-run homer in the 3rd. They combined for 5 of the Cubs 7 hits.

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta continued to befuddle the Pirates as he has all season. He brought a mind-boggling 0.75 ERA versus Pittsburgh to the table – and wound up striking out 11 batters during a complete game virtuoso performance.

Bryant and the Cubs visit St. Louis this weekend with game one of the NLDS set for Friday at 3:30 PT.

11 more wins for Chicago and the Back to the Future 2 movie prediction could come true in 2015. But that’s still a long way away.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mall Security Guard Plants Fake Bomb, Reports False Threats: PD]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:27:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carlsbad+mall+westfield+security.jpg

A mall security guard has been arrested after police said he planted a fake bomb and called in multiple bomb hoaxes to two San Diego County malls.

Security guard Abraham Nava, 21, called 911 on Sept. 12 to say he had found what he believed to be a bomb inside a bathroom at the Carlsbad Westfield Mall, according to Carlsbad police.

Several stores evacuated while a sheriff’s bomb team investigated. Investigators eventually determined the device was not a threat.

But as Carlsbad detectives looked into the case, they discovered Nava has made many similar reports in the past. Nava has called the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department three times since 2012, saying he found suspicious devices outside his apartment, according to investigators.

He also called 911 to report a suspected pipe bomb while working at Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego, according to Carlsbad police. Detectives tied Nava to reports of graffiti at Horton Plaza that described where explosives were placed and when they were set to go off.

Nava reported finding graffiti on Sept. 18 at the Carlsbad mall that threatened a shooting would happen that day, police said.

All the reports turned out to be unfounded.

On Wednesday, a Carlsbad detective questioned Nava, who confessed to planting the fake bomb and reporting the hoax on Sept. 12. He also admitted to writing the graffiti at both malls, according to police.

When Nava gave his consent, officers searched his home, but they did not discover any explosives. Nava complained of chest pain while at the police department, so officers took him to the hospital for an evaluation.

He will later be booked into Vista Jail on suspicion of placing a false bomb, criminal threats and commercial burglary. 

Photo Credit: Dave Summers]]>
<![CDATA[Man Interrupts, Chases 4 Burglars at Del Mar Home]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:28:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kristian+anderson.JPG

A man woke up early Tuesday morning to find four suspects, including a minor, burglarizing his Del Mar house, according to San Diego Police.

At about 2:30 a.m., Kristian Armstrong said he and his family were asleep in the 2500 block of Lozana Road when a noise startled him awake.

He says the burglar got in through a window which they had left open because the weather was warm and everyone was home, including three adults and a child. 

"I felt a light in my eye and I felt some rumbling in the house," Armstrong said.

When he walked out of his room, he found four suspects going through his things. He yelled, "What's going on here?"

The suspects, he said, started cursing and immediately ran out the wide-open front door and window.

But Armstrong was not going to let them go.

"Got one of the guys," he said. "Got the driver, tried to pull him through the window. That's when the other guy came from the back of the car, came through the window, hit me." 

Hoping to get some evidence, Armstrong, a former college football and professional rugby player, tried ripping off the car's side view mirror. But in the end, all he could get was their license plate number.

The suspects got away with mostly electronics, police say.

With the license plate information, officers were able to track one of the suspects — a 17-year-old — to a location on Mount Ada Street near Cannington Drive.

The minor was arrested on burglary-related charges, but the other three suspects are still at large.

SDPD detectives are investigating if the suspects are tied to a rash of burglaries in San Diego areas and the North County, stretching from Carmel Valley to Scripps Ranch.

Within two miles of Armstrong's home, there have been 73 burglaries since January, according to the city of San Diego's crime map.

While not surprised burglars chose his house, Armstrong was surprised about how brazen the invasion was.

"All the cars were here. They had to know people were here," he said. "Very brazen, or they think they're invincible because they've done it possibly a lot." 

<![CDATA[Upcoming El Nino Will Soak SoCal Into 2016: Scripps]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:28:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/el+nino+flooding+map+1006+NUSIPR.jpg

There is a 95 percent chance the upcoming El Nino will soak San Diego and the rest of Southern California through spring 2016, weather experts told San Diego city leaders at a preparation hearing Wednesday.

The El Nino, predicted to be one of the strongest compared to the 1997 event, will dump heavy rains on Southern California and bring an especially wet winter to the region.

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography joined officials from the City’s Transportation and Storm Water Department and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department at a storm preparations hearing Wednesday, talking to members of San Diego City Council’s Committee on the Environment about the expected weather. 

Scientists from Scripps told the committee their models predict a very wet winter with heavy rains. 

Kris McFadden, the transportation and storm water direction with the city of San Diego, said the city has to be prepared for anything.

“We’re seeing maybe the same amunt of rain over a shorter period of time, that’s a big thing we have to remember,” said McFadden. “Even an inch of rain over an hour can cause damage and flood affects.”

Flooding was a concern addressed by both scientists and city officials at the meeting Wednesday. Scientists cautioned that San Diego could see tides up to six inches higher than usual, which may lead to damaging storm surges and flooding all along the coast.

A recent study by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR) found that approximately 55,000 residents across San Diego County live in ‘unique’ 100-year flood zones that are susceptible to damage during the upcoming El Nino and approximately 5,000 businesses are located in areas susceptible to flooding.

The study also found that past El Ninos have left millions of dollars in economic losses and have had a widespread physical impact on the county.

Heading into the El Nino season, officials said they have a new prioritization process on how to tackle the expected reffects.

When the storms come, the city’s stormwater division said they will have more than 200 field staff members on patrol and will expand staffing after hours to assist residents.

Those staffers will have mobile pumps ready for low lying areas, especially the ones affected by high tides, they said.

“While we put forth an unprecedented effort to manage flood risk, there is no guarantee there will not be flooding this year,” McFadden said. “I cannot emphasize that enough.”

SDFD officials said they would also prepare for the upcoming season by having mobile pumps ready for low-lying areas, especially the ones affected by high tides.

Lifeguards and firefighters will form a 19 member team that specializes in swiftwater rescues.

Photo Credit: NUSIPR
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<![CDATA[Husband Guilty of Murder in Escondido Cop's Death ]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:36:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LAURA-PEREZ3.jpg

The man on trial for killing his wife, a rookie Escondido police officer, has been found guilty of second-degree murder and arson.

A Riverside County jury convicted Freddy Perez-Rodas in the death of 25-year-old Officer Laura Perez, whose body was found in a Moreno Valley storage locker last July.

At his Dec. 4 sentencing, Perez-Rodas faces 49 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, arson of an inhabited dwelling and an allegation of use of a gun causing death, which the jury found was true.

On July 24, 2015, Perez-Rodas set their Murrieta house on fire and told firefighters his wife was inside, according to prosecutors. However, no bodies were found in the home, and the cause of the fire was soon determined to be arson.

Perez-Rodas was taken into custody. Murrieta police said the suspect told them his wife Laura had been shot in the chest three times.

With information gleaned from the husband, investigators discovered Laura’s body, alongside at least $85,000 in cash, in a unit at the Moreno Valley All-Size Storage.

Perez-Rodas and Laura have a daughter together, Suzeth, who attended a memorial for her mother one year after her death. The Escondido Police Department has vowed to be involved in the life of their fallen colleague’s child, raising more than $12,000 to create a trust fund in Suzeth’s name.

Laura joined the force just months before she was shot to death. She was described by superiors as a “rising star” in the ranks.

Since her murder, the department has put a greater focus on domestic violence prevention to stop such incidents in other homes.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: What Makes Antonio Gates Tick?]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:29:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Antonio+Gates+Salutes+Fans.jpg

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates returned to the practice field at Chargers Park on Wednesday. There were hugs and laughs and jokes as he got back in to the rhythm of life in the NFL.

But there was also something else. Something bubbling under the surface as Gates addressed the media for the first time since his four-game PED suspension ended:

Antonio Gates is mad.

I know, he's such an even-keel, likable guy it's hard to imagine him being really upset. He'd never say it outright but he had an edge about him that is not seen very often.

Gates talked about how he kept himself in shape during the suspension (a lot of running) and whether or not he watched the Chargers games on TV (he did but not with the sound up).

He also said he felt like he had to "re-establish" himself. It sounded like the way an undrafted rookie from Kent St. in 2003 would have referred to himself. So I asked him if he has that old motivation back, that desire to re-claim his place among the greats of the game and prove any doubters wrong. Boy, is he ever:

By the way, that former Broncos tight end he was referring to is Shannon Sharpe, who said Gates cheated the game and now his entire career has to be questioned. Don't think that's not driving Gates, too.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California to Make Cheerleading an Official High School Sport]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:43:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pom-poms.gif

Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation to make competitive cheerleading an official high school sport in California.

The governor on Wednesday announced signing a bill requiring the California Interscholastic Federation to oversee competitive cheerleading as it does other high school sports.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego says at least eight other states treat competitive cheerleading as a sport. She says the formal recognition will give the sport the respect and safety standards that athletes deserve.

Her bill, AB949, requires the change by the 2017-18 school year.

Gonzalez is a former high school and college cheerleader.

The Democratic governor previously signed a bill by Gonzalez requiring minimum wage pay and overtime for cheerleaders of professional sports teams.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Target Opens in South Park Despite Controversy]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:15:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/South+Park+opening-PIC_0.jpg

A Target Express store opened Wednesday in South Park despite concerns from residents and business owners who say the opening will detract from the quaint neighborhood’s appeal.

The 1,900-square-foot store, considered a “mini store,” opened at Grape and Fern streets. It will offer a pharmacy and California-grown produce.

The store, however, will not include a Starbucks after company officials decided to nix that plan because a number of locals are concerned it would hurt business for neighborhood coffee shops.

“By occupying the largest building in the heart of South Park, Target would define our neighborhood, permanently altering its unique and charming personality,” a group called Care About South Park stated on its website.

The statement goes on to argue that the arrival of big-box stores “drives up rent and pushes independent stores out.”

“There are plenty of Targets, but there’s only one South Park,” the statement concluded.

In response, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria posted on his Facebook page that the property owner of the Target’s site believes “this was the best opportunity for the community and better met the needs of his current customers.”

This is one of two Target opening this month in San Diego. The other one is opening Oct. 11 at Del Sur Town Center in the Black Mountain Ranch area.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[President Obama to Visit San Diego Saturday]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:48:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/454510990.jpg

 President Obama will make a stop in San Diego Saturday for what may be one of his last visits as commander-in-chief. 

The President will arrive Saturday and stay in the city overnight with no public events planned. 

He will return to Washington, D.C. on Monday. 

The last time Obama visited San Diego was in May 2014.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Husband Pleads Guilty to Wife's Murder Outside Counseling Office]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 06:02:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tressa+and+jeremy+green.JPG

A San Diego man pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting and killing his wife outside their marriage counselor’s office in Scripps Ranch.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Jeremy Green, 40, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the June 6 slaying of his wife, Tressa Green, 37.

Jeremy Green is accused of shooting Tressa in the parking lot of a business complex following a marriage counseling session he had suggested the couple attend together.

After shooting his wife three times and mortally wounding her, Jeremy Green escaped in a silver 2007 Corvette and headed for the U.S.-Mexico border, prosecutors said.

The shooting sparked a statewide manhunt for Jeremy Green, considered armed and dangerous by law enforcement. Investigators soon found his Corvette abandoned in the parking lot of a Jack-in-the-Box in San Ysidro, just a short walk away from the pedestrian crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities said.

Surveillance video captured in the parking lot showed a man in a blue shirt parking the Corvette on June 6 around 3 p.m., less than an hour after police said Jeremy Green shot his wife. Prosecutors said Jeremy Green parked his car and put on a black hat and black shirt before crossing the border.

Authorities were able to track him to Cancun, Mexico, and, for several days, negotiated his surrender. Jeremy Green turned himself over to officials three days later.

At his arraignment on June 15, Jeremy Green pleaded not guilty to murder charges. A judge set his bail at $5 million and called him a flight risk, given his decision to flee to Mexico following Tressa Green’s killing.

Jeremy Green has been jailed at the George Bailey Detention Facility since June 12, awaiting further proceedings.

With his guilty plea, his sentencing is now set for Dec. 11. He faces 35 years to life in prison.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Man Has Trouble Speaking: SDPD]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:59:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ricky-Page-photo.jpg

A man who knows little more than his first name has been missing for more than 24 hours, according to San Diego Police.

Ricky Page, 62, walks with a limp and has memory loss. Officers say Page has difficulty speaking and is not carrying any money or identification.

Page was last seen at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Jacobs Center. He was wearing a blue Chargers shirt with dark sweat pants.

San Diego Police want anyone who thinks they may have seen Page to call them at (619) 531-2000.

<![CDATA[Protest Calls for End to Gun Violence]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:22:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gun-Violence-Protest-San-Diego-1007.jpg

Dozens of people formed a human chain Wednesday in Mission Hills in an effort to call for an end to gun violence.

The group gathered at Pioneer Park to demand changes to current gun laws.

The event, organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in San Diego, included several people who brought their children along to participate.

“We are trying to bring attention to the public to lawmakers that gun violence needs to stop, especially in schools,” said chapter Co-President Carol Landale.

Organizers say there needs to be more done with background checks to prevent guns getting into the wrong hands.

Landale said the group wants more strict regulations at gun shows and online gun sales nationwide.

<![CDATA[1 Dead in Shooting Near Trolley Stop]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:35:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Encanto-Shooting-1007.jpg

One man was killed and another was wounded after shots were fired near a pawnshop and trolley stop in San Diego's Encanto community Wednesday, police confirmed.

The deadly shooting was reported around 1:35 p.m. in front of the CashCo Pawn Shop in the 6200 block of Imperial Avenue, across the street from the Encanto Trolley Station at 62nd and Akins streets.

Police and fire crews were called to the scene to tend to two patients. Just before 2 p.m., officials confirmed the men had been taken to local hospitals, both with at least one gunshot to their upper torsos.

By 2:50 p.m., the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) confirmed a 25-year-old man had died, and said the department's homicide lieutenant would now be taking over the investigation.

The second shooting victim was listed in fair condition.

According to investigators, a blue or gray, 4-door sedan, which may have been driven by the suspect, was seen leaving the scene.

The victims' identities will not be released until police notify family.

Aerial footage showed several police cars, officers, a fire engine and an ambulance converging at the scene following the shooting. There appeared to be dozens of witnesses in the area, some speaking with investigators.

No further details, including a motive for the shooting, were immediately released.

At around 2:25 p.m., SDPD officers pulled over a vehicle at 5th Avenue and Grape Street in Bankers Hill that had been spotted leaving the scene of the shooting in Encanto and following an ambulance. When police determined those in the vehicle were a victim's family, officers escorted them to the hospital.

As of 8 p.m., no arrests had been made.

NBC 7 spoke with one witness who said she heard the gunshots ring out.

"I walked down there, I [saw] the one guy dead, with blood all over him. And the other guy suffering with blood all over him," the witness said. "I think it's absolutely horrible. It's terrible."

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Attorney: Meth Didn't Impair Client's Driving]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:06:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Theresa-Owens-Closing-100715_2.jpg

A San Diego woman accused of driving into a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island did have methamphetamine in her system at the time of the crash but was not impaired, her attorney argued in court Wednesday.

Theresa Owens faces felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury for the wrong turn on a one-way route around Fiesta Island on August 12, 2014.

Owens’ vehicle struck the cyclists, paralyzing one and injuring nine others.

Prosecutors said lab results show Owens tested positive for meth.

At the time of Owens’ arrest, officers say they found a bag of meth in the defendant’s vagina, prosecutors allege.

The defense argues that even though Owens had meth in her system, her driving was not impaired at the time of the crash.

If convicted, Owens faces up to 18 years in prison.

The crash prompted the city of San Diego to improve signs and road safety in the area to prevent another incident.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Homes Flooded by Broken Water Pipe]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:11:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*160/ezgif.com-gif-maker+%281%29.gif

At least two homes were flooded when a water pipe burst in Rancho San Diego early Wednesday.

Otay Water District crews were responding to Hillsdale Road between Jamacha Road and Chase Avenue after flooding was reported around 8:30 a.m.

The geyser could be seen from more than a mile away. It shot up well above the electrical lines.

It took crews about an hour to get the rush of water shut off. In that time, water flooded onto the property of nearby homeowners.

Donita Blalock watched nearly a foot of water carry her prized koi out of the backyard pond.

She said construction crews were out in the neighborhood a few months back working on pipes in the same area.

This time she heard the water main break before she saw it. She said it sounded like Niagara Falls.

Cal Fire officials said at least two homes were flooded. Four to five outbuildings were also flooded.

Otay Water District crews say they've had problems on this same street before, but never anything quite like this.

<![CDATA[Emotions Run High at FAA Flight Path Public Meeting]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 07:29:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/faa-flight-path-meeting-1006.jpg

It was standing room only for the unveiling of the FAA's proposed flight path changes in and out of San Diego International Airport.

Emotions ran high for those that oppose the changes at the public meeting held Tuesday evening in Liberty Station.

Planes flying over Point Loma is not new, but what the FAA is currently proposing by most accounts would double eastbound traffic.

The Metroplex proposal, which encompasses several Southern California airports, is meant to increase the efficiency of the way planes come in to those airports primarily by switching them over to the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, NextGen.

Those who oppose it say the new route would add noise, pollution and risks to the population around the airport that's known to locals as Lindbergh Field.

The FAA and Airport Authority were expecting a lively discussion but not this.

“You work for us,” one Point Loma resident said.

Locals call it the "Point Loma pause", that moment when all conversation is drowned out by the jet engines overhead.

Those at the public hearing with comments felt that same deaf ear moment in front of the blank stare from FAA and Airport Authority representatives.

“We're here for a meeting to give comments but none of our comments are being recorded. None of our questions are being answered,” another resident said.

There were chairs for 400, but the opposition to the FAA's SoCal Metroplex plan was nearly twice that.

The current departing eastbound flight path takes planes north over Point Loma cutting back east at Waypoint Loma.

The proposed plan calls for a sharper turn and cut back through the center of the peninsula.

See proposed departure plan here

Opponents say the FAA's environmental study indicates only a slight increase in the noise level.

“There are pigeons on the noise monitors in Sunset Cliffs. You can't even keep birds off of them,” a Sunset Cliff’s resident said.

FAA Regional administrator Glen Martin says while public comment is part of the process, the meeting format was not his call.

“This is an airport meeting. I didn't set up the format. I didn't set up how it was going to be conducted. So we'll accept the blame for that,” Martin said.

The FAA and its opposition encouraged those who attended Tuesday, to make comments and questions part of the official record through the government website.

When asked whether Martin regrets not recording this hearing, he said, "I don't know that I want to relive this to be honest with you but we heard the folks tonight. That is why we were here,” Martin said.

Residents can weigh in on the Metroplex plan until October 8. The email address for public comment is 9-ANM-SoCalOAPM@faa.gov.

Comments can be sent via mail to:
SoCal Metroplex EA
Federal Aviation Administration
Western Service Center - Operations Support Group
1601 Lind Avenue SW
Renton, WA 98057

Changes to the flight route are scheduled to go into effect November 2016.

<![CDATA[Property Manager: Unfinished Roof Led to Rain Damage]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 13:03:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flooding-el-cajon-apartment-1006.jpg

Residents of an El Cajon apartment complex are demanding answers after unfinished work on the complex roof allowed the recent rain to damage their units.

Families, including many with small children, live at the Courtyard Villas apartment complex near Jefferson and East Camden avenues. After Monday’s storm, the ceiling of the complex had gaping holes, due to an unfinished construction project.

“They woke up [Tuesday] to just leaking everywhere on the roof. Basically, this morning things were collapsing,” said Nancy Moreno, whose mother lives in the complex. “No one even got notice they were going to do roof work.”

Tuesday afternoon, bags of clothes and other property piled up along walkways. One unit didn’t have electricity for a time.

The complex’s property manager, Eduardo, declined an on-camera interview, but later came out in front of our camera telling tenants, “I’m telling you right now, if you want to get a room at the hotel you can. Don’t complain later that I didn’t offer.”

Eduardo said he’s trying all he can to fix this situation and it’s a process. He said he’s offering affected tenants at least two nights at a hotel. When asked, he would not provide the name or contact information of the property owner. He said he did not know the name of the company hired to do construction.

“It makes me feel taken advantage of, but mostly my mom. She’s the one that worries me, as well as everyone here with kids,” Moreno said. “Where are they going to sleep? They have nowhere to sleep.”

Monica Zech, a spokesperson for the City of El Cajon, says tenants are encouraged to report these kinds of issues to the City’s 24 hour Inspection Request Line at (619) 441-6210. This way, a professional inspector can come out and make sure workers are qualified and licensed and the property is safe.

NBC 7 spoke to one construction worker who said the workers at the complex Thursday were not part of an organized construction company. Rather, they were there picking up side jobs.

<![CDATA[Stricter Rules Coming for Disabled Placard Abuse]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:53:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2+-+Paula+puts+up+the+placard+parking+cheaters.JPG

Under a new ordinance, parking enforcement officers, as well as police officers, will be able to cite those misusing disabled parking placards.

The change was approved by the San Diego City Council Tuesday as they discussed ways to crack down on people who abuse the placards.

Offenders will also face a $740 fine, the council determined, and an additional 10 percent penalty mandated by state law.

The DMV requires if a disabled sign is used to park in a reserved spot, the person in whose name the placard is registered must be present.

But a city staff report says about 60 percent of disabled placards are abused. People are flagrantly misusing the signs to park in preferred spaces.

According to the report, police issue an average of 400 placard abuse annually.

An NBC 7 investigation earlier this year caught a state employee, a city employee and others who were using relatives’ placards to get free parking downtown.

<![CDATA[$500,000 Stolen in Armored Car Heist Found Buried in Yard]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:08:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/10-07-2015-fbi-cash-armored-car.JPG

Investigators searching a home in connection with the 2014 robbery of an armored car in Southern California found a half-million dollars buried in a bin in the yard.

Property records show the San Bernardino County home was occupied by Cesar Yanez, a former Loomis armored truck driver who is serving time for the nearly million-dollar heist. Investigators had only recovered about $85,000 in cash stolen from the armored car until Wednesday, when FBI agents searched his Fontana residence after receiving a tip, the agency said.

They found about $500,000 buried in the home's yard and are still searching for about $300,000 in connection with the robbery. Video from outside the home showed agents carrying blue bins of cash and bags of other items from the property.

In November 2014, Yanez and another Loomis employee were arrested on federal charges related to the heist involving part of a multimillion load of cash that was being transported to a Los Angeles-area Bank of America location. The two men stopped in a parking lot, removed cash from the truck's storage area and placed it in a trash bin, according to federal investigators.

The bin was later picked up and delivered to the robbers by a third co-conspirator, according to a federal indictment.

Yanez pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and bank larceny in the June 2014 robbery. He was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.

NBC4 is attempting to confirm the legal fate of the two other individuals arrested in the case.

NBC News' Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Small Plane Lands in Yard]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:36:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/10-7-15-Small_Plane_Crash.JPG

A pilot was hospitalized Wednesday when his single-engine plane made a hard landing in a backyard in Compton in southern Los Angeles, fire officials said.

The plane experienced engine failure and went down in the 1900 block of Reeves Street minutes after taking off from nearby Compton/Woodley Airport about 2:20 p.m., according to Compton Fire Department Interim Chief Brian Batiste.

"The pilot attempted to land the plane on Central Avenue but was unable to," Batiste said. Pilots have that discretion in case of an emergency, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot was able to get out of the plane on his own before paramedics arrived and treated him at the scene for a deep laceration above the left eye, Batiste said. He was taken to a hospital for further treatment of the non-life-threatening injury.

No one else was injured and no homes were damaged. Only a fence broke.

The plane sustained major damage to its prop, passenger compartment, and right wing.

The pilot was the only person aboard the single-engine Piper PA28, said Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration, which will investigate the crash along with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane was registered to Compton-based Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, according to a check of the aircraft's N number. The registration expired on Sept. 30, according to the FAA registry.

Witnesses were surprised no one on the ground was hurt.

"Everybody was standing outside the store and could see it," said Paul Perry. "He got about halfway up in the air. It started puttering. It puttered, puttered and went down and started going sideways and it came down sideways and went down right here."

Rosa Ordaz and City News Service contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Snakes, Tarantula Discovered During House Fire ]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:31:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/college+area+fire.jpeg

A house fire became more dangerous for firefighters when they discovered poisonous snakes inside, San Diego Fire-Rescue officials said Monday.

The flames broke out at 10:50 a.m. on the 6800 block of Julie Street at a single-story College Area home. The person who lives there reported smelling smoke and found an active fire in the garage.

When firefighters arrived, heavy white smoke and flames poured from the garage. 

As crews worked to protect the adjoining home, they came across caged reptiles and spiders, including several snakes, rattlesnakes and a tarantula.

No injuries were reported, and all the animals and occupants safely got out.

The Red Cross is helping those displaced by the fire. Fire officials say damages are an estimated $300,000.

The cause is still under investigation.

Photo Credit: SDFD
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<![CDATA[Commission Approves Storing Nuclear Waste at San Onofre]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 23:01:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San-Onofre-Power-plant-092215.jpg

The California Coastal Commission met Tuesday in Long Beach and voted to allow the storage of nuclear waste at the now-inoperative San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in San Diego County.

In December 2014, Southern California Edison proposed the construction of an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), a dry underground storage facility for San Onofre's used nuclear waste, sparking protest from activists and residents.

The nuclear waste will stay there for 20 years until a more permanent solution can be found.

Anti-nuclear activists at Tuesday's meeting wanted the waste permanently moved to the desert, away from populated areas. They said there are concerns that the storage at San Onofre will turn into a permanent situation.

"They have not attempted to do anything except the path of least resistance, which results in nuclear waste being stored right on the coast in an area where no one would choose to put it," said Ray Lutz, coordinator at Citizens' Oversight Projects. "Construction of the ISFSI at this location will likely mean it will stay right here for hundreds of years."

According to the Decommissioning San Onofre report, Edison has selected Holtec International to design and build the ISFSI. Nuclear waste will be stored in stainless steel modules in a concrete-filled monolith. Approximately one-third of the waste is already in storage, and Holtec plants to transfer the rest of the waste by mid-2019.

In April, Southern California taxpayers were left with paying $3.3 billion for SONGS' closure in 2013 that followed radiation leak damage to hundreds of the plant's tubes. State energy regulators came under fire for secretly negotiating that settlement in a foreign country.

The California Coastal Commission plans and regulates land and water use and public access in California's coastline.