<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego https://www.nbcsandiego.com en-usSat, 18 Aug 2018 10:55:01 -0700Sat, 18 Aug 2018 10:55:01 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Timeline: Criminal Case Against San Diego County Deputy Richard Fischer ]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:30:24 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Deputy-Richard-Fischer-022218.jpg

July 20, 2015: A woman said Deputy Richard Fischer inappropriately touched her after pulling her over while she was riding a bicycle. 

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Sept. 20, 2015: One of the charges filed against Deputy Richard Fischer is connected to this date. 

Nov. 24, 2015: A woman was stopped on 2nd Street in El Cajon for not having a working license plate light. The woman, who was arrested on misdemeanor drug charges, said Fischer searched her three times. Outside the entrance to the women's jail, the woman alleges that Fischer unbuckled her seatbelt and touched her breasts. 

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Jan. 3, 2016: Lakeside woman alleges she was touched inappropriately when handcuffed in Deputy Fischer's patrol car. 

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Feb. 29, 2016: A woman claims Deputy Fischer sexually assaulted her in her van parked on the side of a road in El Cajon. In a civil lawsuit, the woman alleges Fischer asked her if she had a problem with the van's engine then searcher her from her chest to her knee as well as her van. 

Deputy Fisher was criminally charged with assault and battery by a police officer in connection with this incident.

May 4, 2016: The woman in the stop on Nov. 24, 2015, in El Cajon said she wrote a letter detailing the incident to the SDSO Internal Affairs, according to a civil lawsuit that was filed by the woman's attorney.

Sept. 1, 2016: One of the charges filed against Deputy Richard Fischer is connected to this date.

Oct. 20, 2016: A Vista woman alleges she was groped by Deputy Fischer and visited four times by the deputy after calling the sheriff's department for help. The woman worked as an on-site manager of an apartment complex and called about a trespasser. Deputy Fischer responded to the Oct 13 call and told the woman he had spoken with the man. Days later, the woman reported to the deputy that her car had been vandalized on the night she reported the trespasser. Fischer offered to stop by and "apologize in person," according to the complaint. The woman alleges she was groped and followed to her room by the deputy. She also claims Fischer two other times.

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident.

Nov. 4, 2016: A San Marcos woman called 911 for help with a domestic violence incident involving her husband. She states Deputy Fischer returned after other deputies had left, asked to come inside her home and hugged her tightly. A lawsuit filed alleges that the deputy later called her and told her “I’m down the street checking up on you.” 

Deputy Fischer was charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

A civil lawsuit filed against San Diego County was settled for $262,000 on May 1, 2018, in connection with this incident.

Nov. 26, 2016:  Deputy Fischer performed a welfare check for a San Marcos woman. According to her civil claim, the deputy entered her home, took off his coat and told her she was "hot" and that she needed a hug. The complaint described an embrace "that included fondling of her buttocks with his hands and inappropriate massaging of her breasts with his own chest.” When the deputy allegedly asked for a kiss, the woman said she refused and insisted he leave.  The complaint claims the deputy told the woman “that he would be in the neighborhood watching out for her.”

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Aug. 6, 2016: A San Marcos woman called 911 because her home had been burglarized. During the investigation, the woman had told the deputies that her husband was traveling out of the country at the time. Hours later, Deputy Fischer returned, knocked on the door and gave the woman a “different kind of hug” according to a civil suit.

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

May 3, 2017:  A woman was pulled over for a missing taillight near W. Vista and Melrose, told to fix it and released.  She said she was pulled over a second time with sirens. According to the woman, Deputy Fischer offered to escort her home to ensure she arrived safely. At her home, the woman alleges Fischer asked for a hug and then hugged her. 

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of false imprisonment in connection with this incident. 

June 18, 2017:  A woman said she was pulled over at 1:30 a.m. for a taillight that was not working. When Deputy Fischer learned her license was suspended, he asked her to step out of the vehicle, turn around and put her hands behind her back. At this point, the woman claims Deputy Fischer interlocked his hand with hers and allegedly said, “I apologize if it seems like I’m holding your hands but you’re just so hot,” according to the claim.

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Aug. 20, 2017: Two deputies performed a welfare check for a woman who later filed a claim with the county. A man in another state had called 911 concerned about his adult daughter who has been diagnosed as bipolar. The woman alleges Fischer returned later asked to use her bathroom and stayed in her home for up to 10 minutes, complimenting the woman and hugging her. The complaint adds that Fischer allegedly fondled the woman's torso, shoulders, arms, back, and buttocks.

Deputy Fischer was criminally charged with suspicion of assault and battery by an officer in connection with this incident. 

Oct. 6, 2017: A San Marcos woman called 911 to report a threat made by her boyfriend. She claims Deputy Fischer took her right hand and moved it to his erect penis and rubbed it up and down twice when he came to her home in uniform and in response to a call.

Deputy Fischer was charged on suspicion of sexual battery and assault and battery by an officer regarding this incident.

Oct. 24, 2017: The woman in the August 20th claim spoke with an SDSO lieutenant on Oct. 24 and detailed the incident, according to her attorney. 

Nov. 3, 2017: San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Ryan Keim sent the following statement to NBC 7 via email: "The Department has received a complaint and claim for damages exceeding $6,000,000, from a female adult alleging inappropriate hugging by Deputy Fischer. The employee was immediately moved to an administrative assignment upon notification of the complaint. The Sheriff's Department does not comment on pending criminal or internal investigations. However, the department holds all of our employees to the highest standards and is in the process of conducting a prompt and thorough investigation into the allegations."

Nov. 16, 2017: The woman in the Nov. 24, 2015 incident again submitted a letter to SDSO Internal affairs, according to her civil claim. 

Nov. 28, 2017: NBC 7 confirms Fischer was under criminal and internal investigations following accusations filed with the county by three women.

Dec. 21, 2017: Sheriff Bill Gore appears on NBC 7 News at 4 p.m. to answer questions about the department's treatment of the investigation into Deputy Fischer.

Jan. 22, 2018: The criminal investigation against Deputy Fischer was formally submitted for review to the District Attorney's Office.

Feb. 22, 2018: Fischer is formally charged with 14 criminal counts involving 12 victims including one count of felony sexual battery, seven felony counts and five misdemeanor counts of assault under color of authority and one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

Feb. 22, 2018: Sheriff Bill Gore issues a statement on the arrest of Deputy Fischer, saying the deputy's payroll status was changed from paid administrative leave to unpaid leave pending the outcome of the investigation. 

May 1, 2018: Two women reach settlements in their civil lawsuits filed against San Diego County.

June 6, 2018: Deputy Fischer was ordered to stand trial.

June 11, 2018: The Fischer family's 62-year-old babysitter joins the women who accuse Fischer of sexual misconduct. The woman was a former co-worker of Fischer who began babysitting for the family after she retired from the sheriff's department.

July 26, 2018: "Every night, my wife and I pray that my good name will be cleared and exonerated," Deputy Fischer said when he met with members of the media outside of a downtown courthouse. He spoke exclusively with NBC 7 about the impact of the allegations that he described as false. 

August 13, 2018: A former Mesa College student claims the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigated one of its deputies currently facing criminal charges for allegedly following her and groping her after a traffic stop in 2012. Her claim filed August 3 states two Internal Affairs detectives pressured her not to file a formal complaint.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Machete-Armed Man Attacks Ex-Wife's Boyfriend After Crashing Into His Car]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 23:29:07 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/machete+man1.jpg

A man armed with a machete threatened a Chula Vista family after he crashed into a car and then went on a violent rampage.

Police got a report just after 8 p.m. of a man swinging around a machete and jumping up and down on a car along Sipes Circle near Palomar Street.

Officers say the suspect crashed into his ex-wife's boyfriend’s car and tried to stab the boyfriend through the window several times.

The boyfriend eventually ran away but the suspect’s ex-wife came out of the house. That’s when the suspect started chasing her, police said.

An off-duty Border Patrol officer in the area and drew his weapon on the suspect and he stopped chasing her, but when Chula Vista Police Department officers arrived he ran.

Officers eventually caught up to the suspect a couple blocks away and arrested him. He was taken away in an ambulance with unknown injuries.

The sister of the ex-wife told NBC 7 the suspect has been stalking the entire family for the past two weeks. They've been very worried and were trying to get a restraining order, the sister said.

According to the sister, the suspect and his ex-wife are divorced and have four children together.

The suspect's sister was also at the scene and was seen apologizing to the other family, saying her brother is not well.

<![CDATA[Padres Drop Second Game of the Diamondbacks Series]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 23:18:56 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-1018426554.jpg

The Padres were looking to snap their four-game losing streak when they faced the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday night at Petco Park. The Diamondbacks were looking to gain ground on the National League West and they did just that with a 9-4 victory over San Diego.

In the first inning, Paul Goldschmidt sent a two-run shot to center field and gave the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead. Padres’ starter Joey Lucchesi pitched four innings and gave up five earned runs.

In the fifth inning the Diamondbacks held a three run lead over San Diego. Eric Hosmer gave us a highlight when he sent his 12th homerun of the season to left field and cut the deficit 5-3. But the Padres couldn't get any closer and dropped their fifth game in a row.

The third game of the series is on Saturday August 18 at 5:40 p.m. PST at Petco Park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Injured in School Parking Lot Crash Recovering in Hospital]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 23:34:50 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hidden+valley+crash.png

A teenage passenger injured when her grandmother accidentally accelerated, hit two kids and an adult and crashed into a school building remains in the hospital Friday night nursing facial fractures and other injuries.

Jazimin Tapia, 13, had just gotten into her grandmother's car in the parking lot of Hidden Valley Middle School Thursday when the driver became confused and sped through the parking lot.

The 75-year-old crashed through a fence and hit an 11-year-old student and her 42-year-old mother. They were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A 13-year-old boy was also hit and suffered minor injuries.

Jazimin was airlifted to Rady Children's Hospital where she could spend the weekend healing from a nasal sinus fracture and lacerations to her face, Escondido Police Lt. Lick said.

Jazimin's sister Ana said it was just a normal day until she got a call from her sister.

"She says 'Ana, come! come!' and I said 'What's wrong?' and she said "Just come! Grandma just crashed, come! I was like OK."

Her grandmother's car ended up at the bottom of a small grass hill crashed into a school building.

Ana said her sister was unrecognizable after the crash. "She looked like a zombie, not my sister. She didn't look like she was in her own body," she said.

Her grandmother complained of moderate physical pain, but Ana said the emotional pain of hurting her granddaughter will be tough for her to get over.

"She's not the same," Ana said. "She's traumatized and it's horrible because my grandma is such a strong lady and I know she didn't mean it."

Doctors are expecting to release Jazimin sometime Saturday. They're hoping the swelling goes down enough for her surgery next Friday.

Support counselors were at the school Friday morning to meet with students and staff, the Escondido Union School District said.

The Escondido Police Department is handling the investigation.

<![CDATA[Mother Posts Flyers, Pleas for Information on Missing Son's Birthday]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 23:33:58 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Wesley+billingsly+missing+person.jpg

The mother of a 25-year-old San Diego man who has been missing for nearly 10 weeks came back to her son's last known location to celebrate his birthday and make new pleas for information regarding his whereabouts.

Wesley Kieth Billingsly went missing on June 12. Before he disappeared, the then 24-year-old was couch surfing at multiple friends' houses in Pacific Beach.

No calls, texts, or social media posts have come from Wesley — something that mother, Christel Billingsly, and his friends said is far from the norm.

Desperate for information after weeks of heartbreak, Christel offered a offered a $3,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. That was two weeks ago, and still, investigators have no leads.

“I was asking people to come forward out of the goodness of their hearts but I guess that doesn’t work, so I put money on it hoping someone would want the money and just tell me where he is," Christel said Friday. “I will give you the money if you tell me where my son is or you tell me where his truck is. I need to know what happened to him. Somebody knows."

Christel said that her son graduated from San Diego State University in 2016 and moved back home to Sacramento for a short time before returning to San Diego. She said San Diego had become Wesley's home and is where his heart is.

August 17 was Wesley's 25th birthday, so Christel came to San Diego from her home in Sacramento to post and hand out missing person flyers. On the flyers are a picture of Wesley and of his black Ford Expedition, with California license plate 6HIN781, which is also gone without a trace.

Flyers have been posted in PB, near SDSU and in other parts of town. 

“I just plead, if you know, you don’t even have to say who you are. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what it is I just want to know where my son is," Christel said. I want to bring my son home. I want my son."

The San Diego Police Department is investigating. Officers are asking anyone with information to contact the department at (619) 531-2277.

<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: From Shelter Dog to Social Media Stardom]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 22:10:13 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Murphy+the+dog.png

Two years ago, a military family came to NBC 7’s Clear the Shelter event looking for a dog to fill the void left behind after one of their dogs died.

The dog they ended up adopting added an unexpected joy to their lives.

Murphy the mastiff came to the animal shelter after being rescued from a meat market in Korea. If you have been to the shelter you have seen dogs such as Murphy before. 

They cower in the corner, don't make eye contact, but this sweet boy got a second chance and he is living his best life.

“We went there and they took us to a back kennel and told us to sit and not make any sudden movements," Christy Culligan said.

Timid and afraid, that was the dog the Culligans met two years ago. What Murphy did next made them realize immediately that he was the dog for them.

“He came up to me and put his nose right on my face,” she said. “That was it. That was the final thing."

Christy and her husband Jason Culligan were still getting over the loss of one of their dogs. 

“You are giving a lost dog a new home," Jason Culligan said.

"Yeah and you are paying it forward in the memory of the dog that you lost,” Christy Culligan said.

Murphy, however, was not what they thought they were looking for. When the Culligans got him, they couldn’t even touch him. Today, Murphy is a completely different dog, thirsty for human interaction and willing to flex his big dog muscles to protect his smaller friends.

“We have a pug mix that is 18 and he is so protective of her, and then we have a Chihuahua that tries to boss him around,”  Christy Culligan said. “I couldn't imagine our world without him.”

Murphy has gone from a rescue pup to an Instagram celebrity of sorts. He keeps more than 3,000 followers updated on his journey.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Former EMT Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen in Ambulance]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 20:15:36 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/N6PF+VO+TOSS+ITEAM+PARA_KNSD68RJ.jpg

The mother of a teenage girl says a local emergency medical technician (EMT) sexually assaulted her daughter while she was riding alone in the back of an ambulance last year. 

“Mortified, I was mortified. You know, you're supposed to have your daughter feel safe when she's in an ambulance,” the mother told NBC 7 Investigates. “You don't ever think that would happen.” 

To protect the identity of the victim, NBC 7 Investigates is not identifying the victim’s mother 

David A. Carpio, a former EMT for the Balboa Ambulance Service, is now facing criminal charges for the alleged crime. 

According to the victim’s mother, the assault occurred in February 2017 while her daughter was being transported to a local hospital. During that ride, the mother said Carpio was alone with her daughter in the back of the ambulance. 

“She let us know that he had touched her inappropriately. He kissed her on her neck. He wrote on her breast and used his own saliva to wipe off what was written,” the mother told NBC 7 Investigates. “He commented on her underwear. He lifted her underwear and touched them.” 

The girl’s mother said Carpio told the driver of the ambulance to slow down in order to make the ride longer. 

After arriving at the hospital, the girl’s mother said the teen told staff about the alleged assault inside the ambulance and staff then contacted law enforcement to investigate. 

In October 2017, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office charged Carpio with one count of sexual assault and battery, three counts of lewd acts on a minor, and a single count of molestation, according to the criminal complaint

A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office said Carpio’s criminal trial is set for October 9. 

The family and their attorney believe there may be other victims, an allegation echoed in a civil lawsuit filed against Carpio and his employer, Balboa Ambulance Service. 

“We believe there can be many other victims based on the one thing he said to her which was, ‘most of my victims are either medicated or asleep,” the mother told NBC 7 Investigates. “This is what he did to a patient that was awake, I can only imagine what has happened to any other victims that may be out there.” 

According to the lawsuit, filed on July 31, Carpio had been accused of sexual misconduct prior to the incident. 

“Carpio was a known sexual offender who made it a regular practice to sexually assault and harass vulnerable female patients,” the lawsuit states. 

Jessica Pride, the attorney for the family, told NBC 7 Investigates that Balboa Ambulance Service failed to conduct adequate background checks and ensure proper policies were in place to prevent the assault. 

“There should have been policies and procedures in place to protect my client,” Pride told NBC 7 Investigates. “If a breast examination was needed then a female EMT should have been present. There needed to be someone in the room to make sure that there was no sexual misconduct.” 

In an email, Nicole Wesser, a spokesperson for Balboa Ambulance Service, told NBC 7 Investigates, “David Carpio was employed by Balboa Ambulance Service as an Emergency Medical Technician for a very short period of time and has not worked with the company since early 2017...Balboa Ambulance Service has cooperated fully with any requests from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and will continue to do so.” 

Wesser added that Carpio had passed a criminal background check and was a certified EMT. 

Alexander Fuqua, Carpio’s Criminal Defense Attorney, told NBC 7 Investigates, “The accusations being made against my client are patently false. They've been fabricated by the alleged victim...Her credibility is poor and my client is 100% innocent of these charges."

<![CDATA[Warmer Water Could Mean Big Things for SD Sport Fishing]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 20:03:37 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/New+Seaforth+Photo.JPG

At 11:30 a.m. Friday the New Seaforth pulled up to the dock at Seaforth Sportfishing in San Diego. The 85-foot ship returned 26 anglers from a half-day trip, which means they didn’t get too far out.

But they sure had success.

“Forty-six yellowtail and 35 bonito,” said deckhand Evan Sellers, who’s been on fishing boats for nearly a decade. “It made for a nice morning.”

It might, however, get even nicer. Record surface water temperatures are certainly going to have an impact on the world’s most prolific sports fishing fleet.

“It’s reaching almost 80 degrees out there,” Sellers said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

The question is that a good thing or a bad thing?

“Water temperature definitely dictates what’s available to recreational fishermen,” said Owyn Snodgrass, a research fisheries biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla. “When you have these warmer water years they sometimes cycle through and bring more tropical species within range of sports fishermen which means it can be really beneficial for the local economy and fishing.”

While there have been peaks of record temps this summer the ocean waters off San Diego have been warming for four to five years now and that means a slight change in the amount and type of marine life, he said/

“Anything is possible to show up,” Snodgrass said. “You could see blue marlin, even. A couple of years ago we had a blue marlin a couple of years ago, which was amazing.”

That blue marlin was about 600 pounds and larger sports fish is something these warmer water currents are keeping closer to the San Diego coast, especially the tuna.

“We’re seeing bigger yellowfin than we normally see,” Snodgrass said. “Some of the fish we saw last year are similar to the fish that are caught off (world-renowned Mexican tuna fishery) Guadalupe Island which is unheard of to see 200-300 pound Bluefin locally.”

As is the presence of a burrfish, which was found recently on a kelp paddy 10 miles off Mission Bay.

“Most pelagic fish, the distribution of them is highly influenced by the warmer water currents," he said. "So it’s pretty cool. They have been recorded as far north as San Pedro but not very common. Super rare, beautiful fish.”

Snodgrass collects samples of tuna for testing. When he started in 2007 his sampling season went from July to September.

“The past two or three years the sampling has begun in April and gone all the way to December for these larger, big bluefin which could be very much influenced by the water temperatures not cooling as much during the winter.”

Warmer water keeps more fish longer and that means more anglers making more trips and that means good things for San Diego sports fishers.

“Keep all the guys busy down here,” Sellers said. “Keep all the captains and deckhands working.”

<![CDATA[Fire Takes Down Phone Service in De Luz]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:31:35 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ATT+Phone+Fire+Beryl-1.jpg

Flames from the Rock Fire in Northern San Diego County were only feet from Beryl Dusenberry’s home.

Firefighters extinguished the fire before reaching Dusenberry’s home, however, not before the fire damaged the phone lines nearby.

Dusneberry says she and her neighbors in the rural community consider those phone lines as their main source for communication.

“People depend on their landlines,” Dusenberry told NBC 7 Responds. “We’re acres and acres apart and there are groves that separate us. We need our landline.”

But that important connection was knocked out during the July 28 Rock Fire. 

Dusenberry called her telephone provider AT&T to inform them about the outage. 

“When I called them, they didn’t even know there was a fire here,” said Dusenberry.

Dusenberry says representatives from AT&T told her that crews would fix the problem, but not until September.

“This could be a matter of life and death, especially since we’ve had almost ten fires within a two-mile radius in the last two months,” says Dusenberry. “Why is the response so slow? Is it because we’re out here and there’s not a thousand customers without a landline?”

Dusenberry says shortly after speaking with AT&T she decided to call NBC 7 Responds for help.

NBC 7 Responds contacted AT&T about the disconnected line and explained the potential safety issues. Less than 24-hours later, Dusenberry says a crew arrived outside of her home.

“I have a dial tone,” wrote Dusenberry hours after crews arrived. “Wowee! thank you! That was service served up with a smile on a silver platter!

A spokesperson for AT&T confirmed that phone service was restored. The company did not provide any additional comments.

Photo Credit: Bob Hansen]]>
<![CDATA[District Attorney: Opioids surpass all other drugs for first time as number one overdose killer ]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:28:40 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cms1274.jpg

There are more opioid-related drug deaths and crime in San Diego now than ever before, the District Attorney warned Friday. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 were up nearly 7 percent from 2016. Preliminary data shows more than 72,000 Americans died last year from overdoses. 

San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan said it is no different locally, as opioid overdoses and drug-related crimes continue to spike. 

“Here in San Diego this year for the first time, the overdose deaths from opioids has surpassed every kind of drug, including methamphetamine,” said Stephan. “We’ve had over 250 overdose deaths related to opioids.” 

The DA said the spike this year is coming from an increase in consumption and addiction to legally prescribed painkillers. Stephan said it only takes five days to get addicted to pills like Vicodin and Oxycontin. 

Robberies of convenience stores that sell pharmaceutical products in San Diego, like CVS, have doubled in the last year, Stephan added. 

She said her office is working around the clock to try to keep drugs from illegally being brought over the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“Cartels will bring drugs here through tunnels, drones, by strapping them onto children who walk across the border,” said Stephan. 

Cartels will give children quick cash to do dangerous and illegal drug transportation jobs that could be deadly. More and more minors are being arrested for carrying fentanyl and heroin. 

“Lately the biggest fad has been for cartels to use young kids in high school and sometimes junior high, lacing them with fentanyl,” said Stephan. “If the protective barrier breaks it’s going to kill these kids.”

Stephan said the county has a prescription drug task force that works with the U.S. Attorney to conduct targetted operations that break down the methods the cartels are using to transport drugs. 

She adds that parents should pay attention. If kids show up with money or items of wealth they shouldn't have, such as new shoes or technology, ask questions. It is also important to safely discard any pain medications you no longer use. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF]]>
<![CDATA[Phoenix Police Call East County Teen’s Disappearance ‘Suspicious’]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 16:03:05 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/missing+Kiera+Bergman.jpg

Phoenix police now say the Aug. 4 disappearance of a woman who left her home without her money, purse or car, is suspicious.

The 19-year-old woman grew up in the unincorporated area of El Cajon but just recently relocated to Phoenix.

Family members of Kiera Bergman told NBC 7 she was last seen at her work “Progressive Leasing” in Arizona. Bergman’s aunt said the work location is about 10 minutes from her new apartment.

Police said on Aug. 9 that they were “actively and vigorously investigating the disappearance” of the 19-year-old, but at that time they said there was no evidence of any foul play.

Friday, police updated their statement

"This remains a missing person case; however, circumstances related to her disappearance are suspicious," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis

Bergman’s aunt Mindy Tarantino told NBC 7 that Bergman sent a text message to her roommate at about 12:45 p.m. on Aug. 4, the day she went missing. No one has seen or heard from her since then, according to police.

The Phoenix Police Department issued the following statement to NBC 7 on Aug. 9:

“Phoenix Police is actively and vigorously investigating this disappearance. Phoenix Police are in constant contact with the family and have been conducting interviews daily. We understand the emotions involved and wish to show empathy towards all those who are looking for Kiera.”

Anyone having information regarding this case is asked to contact the Phoenix Police Department Missing Persons Unit at (602) 534-2121 or caleb.morris@phoenix.gov. After hours: (602) 262-6141.

People can provide information anonymously by calling Silent Witness at at (480) W-I-T-N-E-S-S, or for Spanish for (480) T-E-S-T-I-G-O.  

<![CDATA[Teenager Tackled by CVPD Officer Claims She Was Attacked]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 20:17:40 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chula-Vista-Castle-Park-Teen.jpg

A 16-year-old high school student facing criminal assault charges after an altercation with Chula Vista police spoke to the media Friday and demanded the officer that she said attacked her be put on leave and investigated.

The girl, identified as Liz, was surrounded by fellow students and flanked by adults holding signs of support.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Liz said that she, her friends and other young people in her community deserve respect and justice regardless of their perceived status in the community.

Liz demanded that she and three other teens arrested on Wednesday have their records cleared, and denounced allegations made by police that they are involved in gang activity.

The Palomar high school student told NBC 7 before the news conference she was at Loma Verde Park around 4 p.m. Wednesday with her friends doing homework and playing football when the officers showed up. The park is near Castle Park High School.

A student said he asked an officer if they wanted to play catch and held up the peace sign with his fingers.

Shortly after more than a dozen officers responded and started putting kids in handcuffs. Chula Vista Police Department said Thursday the officers responded to the park because they saw someone flashing gang signs.

The commotion of the arrests attracted more teenagers, including Liz, who gathered around as officers yelled at them to get back.

"One of the cops, one of the female cops pushes me with the stick and I got mad and I had a bottle so I threw it on the floor and I cussed at her," Liz told NBC 7 before the news conference.

CVPD said the girl threw a plastic water bottle at a female officer, hitting her in the chest — a moment not captured on a video posted to social media. She was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer.

Cameras did catch the moment a male officer charged her with his baton and tackled her to the ground.

Liz reiterated at the park that she threw the empty bottle at the ground, not at the female officer, and that it bounced and hit a male officer in the leg.

“Although it was a plastic water bottle, it’s still an assault on a police officer,” CVPD Capt. Vern Sallee said. “It's something that is exceedingly serious nature when someone actually takes that proactive assaultive step to batter a police officer."

The department is now interviewing all of the officers and reviewing their body-worn camera videos as part of an internal investigation they say will take weeks.

At this point, Sallee said the department has seen nothing to warrant discipline to the officer.

“Our officer reacted as he is trained to react to protect another officer,” Sallee said. “However, what I will say is we need, in the totality of it, to look at proportionality of the reaction. If it was within training, if it was appropriate with the circumstances or not."

The officer involved has been transferred to a desk job with no field duties as of Thursday night.

Liz said Loma Verde Park will continue to be the place where she and fellow students wait for their parents, hang out and "throw up our deuces (peace sign) to anyone that comes through."

Marco Amaral, a Sweetwater Union High School District teacher, also spoke at Liz's side Friday and claimed the Chula Vista Police Department has been racially profiling young people at the park for years.

He also criticized the officer's response to the incident, saying they came ready to "attack at any moment." 

"I have students here who have said F-bombs to me. I have students here who have thrown things at me," he said. "And I can't for a second imagine putting a finger on them."

Amaral said the conversation in the wake of the incident should be about how the officers "did not act like adults." 

Check back for updates on this developing story. 

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<![CDATA[Son Watched Stabbed Mother Die Before Calling 911]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:02:50 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Robert-Burks-crop.jpg

More than a year after the brutal killing of a popular high school science teacher, the woman's son was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison. 

Joseph Robert Burks, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder after he stabbed his mother 15 times in the neck at their Clairemont home in July 2017.

Burks killed his mother after he was asked to move out of the family home and get a job, according to his grandmother.

Prosecutors said Burks used a stun gun to render his mother defenseless and then stabbed her and watched his mother die before calling 911.

Video at the scene from an officer's body-body camera shows Burks coming out with his hands up. 

He initially told police his mother had attacked him and he had to defend himself.

Angela Burks, 58, taught science at Otay Ranch High School since the school opened in 2003. 

"She worked so hard to get where she was," Burks' mother Josephine Van Atta said at Friday's sentencing hearing. "Joseph put an end to all that."

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[2 Involved in Brutal Home Invasion Series to be Sentenced]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 14:34:12 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/north+county+home+invasion.jpg

A judge denied a request Friday to declare a mistrial for two members of a group involved in a brutal home invasion series in North County.

The attorney argued Aaron Rico III and Thomas Smith Jr. should have a new trial because of a piece of evidence, a wallet, that was not disclosed by prosecution until after the jury started deliberating. 

The request was denied and both were sentenced Friday. Rico was sentenced to 35 years plus 25 years to life in prison. The judge sentenced Smith to 85 years plus another 50 years to life sentence.

Rico, Smith and three others -- Stephen Gomez, Aaron Rico V, and Robin Shawvner -- entered homes through a side door at night between Jan. 31 and Feb. 11. In some incidents, no one was home, San Diego police said.

A sixth person, Victor Harvey, may have acted as a getaway driver for the group.

In at least four homes the group tied up residents, stole valuables and in some instances sexually assaulted residents, police said.

The group faces additional robbery and burglary charges connected to incidents in the Sabre Springs and Carmel Mountain Ranch area on Feb. 11. 

According to the SDUSD spokeswoman, Smith was employed with the school district from July 2012 to September 2013, working as a workability trainee in career and translation services.

Gomez, Smith and the Ricos were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, sex with a foreign object, assault during a first-degree burglary, robbery and burglary.

Shawvner faces robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime charges.

On June 4, Rico was found guilty on 27 counts and Smith was found guilty on 30 counts in connection with the home invasions. 

<![CDATA[Breeders' Cup Returns to San Diego]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:39:13 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Breeders-Cup-Prep-3.JPG

The crown jewel of horse racing is coming back to Del Mar.

The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day spectacle featuring 14 races with purses in excess of $30 million.

The Breeders’ Cup announced Friday it will hold its most lucrative event at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 of 2021.

The club where the turf meets the surf got its first shot at hosting the spectacle in 2017 and impressed enough to earn an encore.

“The Breeders’ Cup World Championships had an incredibly successful debut last year at Del Mar and surpassed every expectation for both Breeders’ Cup and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Del Mar, Solana Beach and San Diego communities to once again create a world-class horse racing and entertainment experience at this remarkable location.”

The year 2021 is going to be big for San Diego when it comes to hosting major sporting events.

The U.S. Open golf tournament returns to Torrey Pines South for the first time since 2008 when Tiger Woods won his last major championship title.

Photo Credit: Todd Strain/NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Goes Through Fence, Hits 2 Students and Parent at Hidden Valley Middle School]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:43:11 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/hidden+valley+middle+school.jpg

Three children and an adult were injured after a driver accelerated and hit them in the parking lot at Hidden Valley Middle School in Escondido.

The crash happened on campus at 2700 Reed Road at around 1:52 p.m. just after dismissal, according to the Escondido Police Department.

Lt. Mike Kearney said the driver was a 75-year-old woman who was "confused" when she accelerated at a high rate of speed through the parking lot.

Escondido Fire Department Battalion Chief Andre Paredes said one student was airlifted to Rady Children's Hospital and another was taken there via ambulance. An adult pedestrian was also transported to Palomar Medical Center.

One child suffered a broken nose and cuts to the face while the other child suffered a broken knee, police said. The adult told police she was experiencing back pain following the crash.

The airlifted student was the 13-year-old granddaughter of the driver and had just gotten into her car, Kearney said.

The car jumped the curb, went through the fence and crashed into a building about 100 feet down a small slope.

On the way, the car hit an 11-year-old student and her 42-year-old mother. Both were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries

A 13-year-old boy was also hit and suffered minor injuries.

"I was looking out for my son and then out of nowhere I see this car racing through the middle," parent Joel Morales said. "It didn't stop. It just kept going."

Principal Trent Smith sent an email to the school community saying that a driver in the East Parking Lot drove through a fence and hit two students and a parent shortly after dismissal.

"Because many of our students witnesses this event, we will be sharing information with them first thing tomorrow morning during our Raider Time," the email said.

Support counselors will be at the school Friday morning to meet with students and staff, the EUSD said.

The Escondido Police Department is handling the investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Nanny Cam Catches Contractor Rifling Through Woman's Underwear Drawer]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:58:27 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Attempted_Burglar_Caught_Red-Handed_on_Nanny_Cam.jpg

A nanny camera caught a contractor red-handed as he was rifling through the underwear drawer of a San Marcos woman.

Ashley Harrell and her husband hired Abraham Avila and his brother to install new flooring downstairs in their home.

The workers were given the explicit instruction not to go upstairs, but Harrell watched via the nanny camera on her phone as Avila searched her bedroom.

“It was an immediate understanding that my worst fears had been realized,” she said.

It was not what she expected to see on her phone — live video of a stranger sifting through her underwear drawer. Harrell immediately called her husband, still shaken by what she saw.

“Oh yeah, he’s like, you know, ‘Oh expletive! I’m coming right now,’” she said.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said the man in the video walking into Harrell’s upstairs master bedroom was Avila.

He immediately started going through her dresser drawer, she said.

“Then he opens the second drawer, happens to rifle through things, which unfortunately is my undergarments,” Harrell said. “Then proceeds to pick up my perfume, smell it, put it down. That was creepy, to say the least.”

She said she is washing everything in the drawer. Avila then came back a second time, sweeping the room where there was no construction and going through Harrell’s nightstand.

“(He) makes his way around the room sweeping, sweeping, sweeping, starts going through these drawers one by one,” she said.

Harrell called 911 as she raced home. Sheriff’s deputies didn’t catch Avila in the act but the nanny cam did. That was good enough for them to charge him with burglary and petty theft.

Harrell said she was shocked when she spoke to Avila’s boss, who is also his brother. She said the brother defended Avila’s actions.

“His quote was, ‘The only thing that my brother did wrong was use the bathroom in your upstairs,’” she said.

Not willing to accept that, Harrell snapped an image of Avila in handcuffs and posted it all over social media.

“I did put him on blast,” she said. “Partially because it’s a public service announcement.”

A PSA to be aware of who you hire and to also get yourself a nanny cam.

“If I didn’t have the video, I wouldn’t have known he was here,” she said.

Harrell says the company that hired Avila was horrified and immediately covered the cost of her installation, which was completed Thursday.

<![CDATA[Restaurants Expand Into San Diego's $870M Craft Beer Market]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:10:06 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/draft+republic+brewing+co+coen.jpg

As San Diego County’s craft beer industry continues to expand into local cities, restaurant groups are looking to get into the multi-million-dollar scene.

A report last year from Cal State San Marcos and the San Diego Brewers Guild found that the craft beer industry generated about $870 million in revenue for the local economy. 

The Cohn Restaurant Group, which already operates several eateries in San Diego, will join that market when they open the Draft Republic Brewing Company in La Mesa. 

A 2-acre lot was purchased for $1.8 million for the restaurant-brewery concept that will feature their own craft brews, an open-air restaurant and a beer-centric miniature golf course. 

The concept is an expansion of the Cohn group's current Draft Republic brew houses in Carlsbad and La Jolla, which only feature other breweries' suds. 

Burger joint Hodad's and seafood spot The Brigantine will soon be crafting their own beers, too. 

The editor of a craft beer industry magazine, "West Coaster" said on top of providing jobs, these established restaurant groups can lead to an evolution in the industry as a whole. 

"I kind of like the idea of a group that’s served the public in a hospitality sense showing interest in brewing, because they can do it from a certain efficiency that we can all learn from," Brandon Hernandez said.

Smaller beer crafters are joining the multi-million dollar industry as well and two local cities -- National City and Lemon Grove -- will soon be getting their first breweries. 

The team behind SoCal Brew Shop will soon open Embarcadero Brewing in National City.

And, alumni from San Diego State University's Business of Craft Beer program are preparing to open a new brewery in Lemon Grove, 13 Point Brewing.

Craft beer is also expanding in Chula Vista. Novo Brazil will soon open a second facility in Eastlake's Otay Ranch Town Center in early 2019.

Hernandez said there is room for all of these breweries in the local market but it's important for new beer makers to distinguish themselves.

"Some businesses don't need bells and whistles. Sometimes the beer is that good," Hernandez said. "I think that some of the best breweries have just really put a lot into communicating who they are, why they do what they do and really have something behind it," Hernandez said. 

<![CDATA[Eater San Diego: Lola 55 Preview; Food Hall Update]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 10:10:26 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/samwells3453.JPG

Eater San Diego shares the top stories of the week from San Diego’s food and drink scene, including a sneak peek of a new East Village hotspot and word on North County's new food hall.

Inside Little Italy's Handsome New Restaurant and Bar 
The just-opened Nolita Hall is India Street's newest hangout, with a shuffleboard court, communal tables, and an expansive bar. The stunning spot offers a menu of salads and woodfired pizza as well as 24 beer taps and craft cocktails. 

Tacos and Cocktails Arriving Monday in the East Village
The highly anticipated Lola 55 debuts officially this Monday but Eater has an early look at the menu, which features chef-driven tacos based on local seafood and produce. The fast-casual eatery, designed by Bells + Whistles (Campfire, Starlite), also includes a full cocktail bar.

Windmill Food Hall Adds Burgers and Belgian Eats
Due this September in Carlsbad, Windmill Food Hall will include multiple vendors, indoor/outdoor seating, games, and more. Rounding out the food lineup, which also includes Korean fried chicken, pizza, tacos, are Notorious Burgers and Belgium Delights.

Mexican Bar and Eatery Lands on Coronado Waterfront
El Roy's Tequila Bar + Kitchen, which replaces Candelas on the Bay, has unveiled a new look and menu that includes a custom-drawn mural and an array of dishes that interpret classic Mexican flavors in fresh and modern ways. 

Knotty Barrel Expanding to North County
The East Village gastropub has announced that it's bringing a second location to Rancho Penasquitos. Slated for Spring 2016, the family-friendly venue will feature an outdoor beer garden, lawn games, weekend brunch, and a substantial kids menu.

Filipino Eatery and Entertainment Venue Launches on Miramar
Sarap Filipino Kitchen has soft opened on Miramar. The spacious restaurant, which seats 150, will cater to groups with beer and wine and entertainment offerings ranging from karaoke to live comedy. The still-expanding menu is stocked with traditional Filipino dishes including chicken adobo, lumpia, pancit, crispy pata and more comfort food.

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<![CDATA[Evacuated Family Thanks Firefighter Who Defended Their Home]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:11:31 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SB_RAW+SAN+MARCOS+BRUSH+FIRE+2.jpg

A young boy looked up in awe as he met one of the North County firefighters who helped protect his grandmother’s home from a small brush fire in San Marcos Friday.

The brush fire started just before 9:10 a.m. as a small spot on an embankment near State Route 78 and S. Santa Fe Road, fire dispatch officials said.

The fire climbed up the small slope towards Marilyn Moore’s home and others on De Leone Road, igniting a pine tree as it spread.

San Diego sheriff’s deputies were ready to knock on Moore’s front door and evacuate the family but she, her grandson Max and her dogs were already on their way out.

"I am so grateful that we are OK because it was so very close. There’s even burn marks on my stuff in the backyard," Moore said.

Crews quickly tempered flames and by 9:40 a.m. were monitoring any hot spots that remained.

After the fire was out, Moore and her grandson shook hands with a San Marcos firefighter who helped defend their home.

The firefighter told them they did everything right by self-evacuating.

But Moore credits the firefighters for saving her home.

"They were just on it or the whole block would’ve burned. It was wonderful, they were really on top of it," Moore said. "Poor California’s had enough fires without another one, especially in a residential area like this."

The cause of the fire was not known. 

<![CDATA[Border Officer Illegally Detained Relative's Accuser]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 14:00:29 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San_Diego_Federal_Courthouse.jpg

A former U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Agent pleaded guilty Thursday to using his position to repeatedly detain an innocent man at a port of entry south of San Diego, California.

The man detained was a U.S. citizen and the father of an 11-year-old boy who had accused the agent's brother-in-law of molestation.

Martin Rene Duran, 49, of Chula Vista, was arrested in 2015 at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on suspicion of eight felonies, including using his government position to create false entries in a government database and civil rights violations.

The database, known as TECS, is used by officers at the border to assist with screening individuals seeking entry into the United States.

Duran claimed his brother-in-law's accuser was “known to carry firearms” and was linked to a narcotics organization. According to the complaint, the man had no criminal history.

On five different occasions in 2013, Duran caused the man, known as "R. C." in the complaint to be sent to secondary inspection and detained for hours.

Prosecutors say on one occasion, “R.C.” and his wife were ordered out of their vehicle, handcuffed, separated from their children and put in a holding cell for almost two hours before being released.

When he submitted his guilty plea Thursday, Duran admitted he had detained "R.C." so he could question him about the allegations involving his brother-in-law.

“This agent used his significant power against someone he was sworn to protect,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman in a written release. “He targeted a law-abiding citizen because of a personal vendetta, and for that he will pay a price.”

When he's sentenced on the deprivation of rights under color of law conviction, Duran faces 12 months in custody and a $100,000 fine. 

He's also facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for an unrelated illegal transportation of firearms charge.

<![CDATA[Thousands of Water Customers Received No Bills For Months]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 19:08:51 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Water+Bill1.jpg

As many as 2,500 San Diego water customers haven’t received a bill for months, according to the Public Utilities Department. 

The announcement came a day after NBC 7 Responds contacted San Diego’s Communications Department on behalf of several customers in Allied Gardens who had not received water bills since February. 

“We've uncovered and discovered that there are a number of ratepayers and customers that over the last three to six months have not received bills," said Johnnie Perkins, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the city’s Public Works Department. 

Perkins said the water department discovered the missing bills during the city's recent effort to re-read all water meters citywide.  

It was then that the city said crews found 10,000 broken meters and replaced them with wireless smart meters. But water bills were not generated for as many as 2,500 of those newly replaced meters. 

Allied Gardens homeowner Jennifer Landers told NBC 7 Responds her water bills stopped arriving after her water meter was replaced back in February. 

Landers said she called the Public Utilities Department to ask about the missing water bills. She said she was told her water would not be shut off while the city tried to figure out “what’s going on.” 

That was months ago. 

Landers, afraid that she would end up owing a large sum at the end of the year, said she decided to pay an estimated amount every two months just to be sure. 

“Quite frankly, that is just unacceptable,” Perkins said, addressing the problem as a whole. “We want to make sure going forward that these types of errors and omissions do not occur for the customer ever again.” 

According to the city, customers who did not receive bills will be offered a “payment plan.” The city assured none of these customers will have their water shut off. 

NBC 7 Responds has been investigating complaints about the city’s water bills and new smart meter system since July 2017. 

In a recent audit report on water customer billing, the city auditor found delays in the processing of water service work orders due to the implementation of the new IAM San Diego software. 

That software is now at the center of this problem of customers not receiving water bills. 

“Meters [were] not being properly inputted into the new IAM system, creating a gap between the meters and PUD’s billing system”, according to a Thursday news release from the City of San Diego. 

“While the meters were collecting customer usage data, that information was not generating a bill for those customers,” read the news release. 

The $50 million IAM San Diego software is a program that integrates more than 30 city department applications into one system. 

According to the city audit, the “rollout” of the IAM San Diego software was not “well coordinated.”

Customers who haven’t received a water bill should call (619)515 3599 or email: sdwatersupport@sandiego.gov

<![CDATA[Driver Takes Off After Striking Skateboarder in Bay Park]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 05:37:43 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD-Generic-night-102915.jpg

Police are searching for the driver of a pickup truck that struck and seriously injured a skateboarder in Bay Park Thursday night. 

The driver and the skateboarder's paths crossed at the intersection of Cowley Way and Mt. Arcadia Boulevard, next to Tecolote Canyon Golf Course, at about 10:38 p.m.

The driver stopped at a stop sign at the intersection and as he began to make his way through struck the skateboarder, who did not stop at the sign, San Diego Police Department Officer Robert Heims said. 

The driver took off, leaving behind the seriously hurt skateboarder.

Medics arrived and took the skateboarder to a nearby hospital. The extent of his injuries were not known but they were not considered life-threatening, Heims said. 

SDPD only described the vehicle as a white or silver pickup truck. No description of the driver was available. 

No other information was available.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Help Shelter Animals Find Forever Homes]]> Sat, 18 Aug 2018 09:56:43 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Milpitas_Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

Clear the Shelters is back!

On Saturday, NBC 7 is partnering with animal shelters and rescue centers across San Diego to waive all adoption fees from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The goal is to clear the shelters by finding forever homes for as many pets as possible.

Over 53,000 pets were adopted during last year’s event, but millions more remain homeless. Every year, 7.6 million animals end up in shelters nationwide — and only 2.7 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

Dozens of local shelters will take part this year in Clear the Shelters. Click here to find one near you.

NBC 7 Meteorologist Dagmar Midcap has some tips that might help you find what you're looking for this Saturday.

First, don’t let appearance be the sole reason you take home a furry friend. The cutest animal you see this weekend may not be the best fit for your lifestyle. When you visit a shelter, have an idea of what you want in a pet before falling in love with a set of puppy, or cat or turtle eyes.

Adoption counselors will be on site to help guide you through the process so that you, and your new pet, go home happy.

And don’t be surprised if the perfect pet for you isn’t young and spry. Mature dogs, for example, are great because they’ve outgrown that rambunctious and energetic stage that some can’t keep up with. Adult cats are great, too, because they are usually already litter box trained.

If dogs and cats aren’t your thing, there are plenty of slithering, hopping, carrot-chomping, and all-around awesome animals at county shelters in need of a new home.

See you this Saturday!

<![CDATA[San Diego Union-Tribune Joins National Stand Against President's Attacks on 'Fake News']]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 18:11:22 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San+Diego+Union-Tribune.jpg

Newspapers across the country, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, joined together in support of a free and fair press.

As many as 350 newspapers published editorials in a direct response to anti-media rhetoric from President Donald Trump.

Editors say it was a coordinated effort to push back against cries of “fake news,” and suggestions from President Trump that journalists are “enemies of the American people.” The participating newspapers responded to a call from the Boston Globe for a coordinated effort to push back against the rhetoric.

“We want our audience to know that we take journalism very seriously. That we're not going to stand for someone calling us fake news when we're not, and here's why we're not fake news,” said Matthew Hall, Opinion and Editorial Editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The U-T’s editorial is titled "How We Restore Faith In Journalism.” Hall said the opinion piece was not an attack on the president's policies, but rather his rhetoric. To help restore trust, the U-T has launched a separate effort to explain its newsgathering process.

“How we use anonymous sources, how we edit photos or videos, the types of wire service reports we include. How we strive to be fair, accurate and inclusive in our reports every day,” said Hall, describing the effort.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the president denounced the national effort and continued to pour on the rhetoric in a tweet.

"The Fake news media is the opposition party. It is very bad for our great country but we are winning,” wrote President Trump.

He later tweeted, "The fact is that the press is free to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is fake news, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people.”

In San Diego, visitors at Balboa Park had mixed reaction to the editorials and how the president criticizes the news media.

“I don't think they're the enemy of the people, but I do believe they have a tendency to put more of his negative ahead of the positive,” said Jim Nelson.

Others felt the editorials would not change opinion.

“Not much, because if they support Trump, they're anti-media anyway. Do what you want, it's not going to change them,” said Fred Walker.

Several major publications, including the Los Angele Times, chose not to join the national editorial effort. They were concerned it might play into the hands of President Trump and his supporters who think the media already shows a bias against the administration.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poway Says Goodbye to Beloved Ranger Labradoodle 'Murphy']]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:07:30 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Poway_Park_Ranger_Labradoodle_to_Retire_Soon.jpg

Poway is mourning the recent loss of one very special canine that has left a hole in the heart of an entire community.

You may remember Murphy the Labradoodle, Poway’s most beloved park ranger.  

The 15-year-old dog and his human partner patrolled neighborhood parks for the past decade.

“Murphy was a celebrity in Poway,” said Mayor Steve Vaus. “Murphy just had a presence about him and I think he struck everyone the same way and he is going to be missed.”

Murphy and his partner Doug Johnston started making the rounds through city parks together as Reserve Rangers more than 11 years ago. They frequently worked rain or shine, all seven days of the week, averaging more than 20 hours a week.

“I heard it was something like 1,200 hours a year, and that was over 12 years, so that’s like 144,000 hours,” Mayor Vaus commented on the amount of work Murphy and his partner put into keeping the Poway community safe. “That’s a lot of time, but the amount of smiles that came with all that time was worth it to everyone in Poway.”

Murphy was easily the most recognizable and approachable ranger in town.

Not your typical patrol K-9, Murphy was a former hospital comfort dog, a fluffy volunteer with an olive green military style vest and a smile that made him endearing even to people caught breaking the rules.  

Over the years, Murphy sniffed out everything from marijuana bags to lost car keys.

Johnston told NBC 7 last September Murphy was trained to sniff out “anomalies in the park, so anything that’s not commonly in each park – he has a baseline scent for each park – he will be interested in taking me to.”  

Johnston and Murphy’s work highlighted a unique way for the city to keep people safe through a program made up of more than 50 volunteer rangers who supplement five full-time staff rangers.

Murphy was 15 years old, which put him somewhere near the century mark in dog years.

“It’s one thing to be a celebrity and another to be loved the way Murphy truly was,” said Vaus, adding he was considering naming the next dog park built in Poway after Murphy.  

Johnston told NBC 7 the loss of Murphy was more devastating to him than he ever imagined. He said he can’t possibly patrol Poway parks without his partner.

People in Poway can only hope Johnston finds a new partner to patrol the parks once again because right now the community is missing two friendly familiar faces.

<![CDATA[105-Year-Old SDSU Graduate Receives College Diploma ]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:09:05 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSU-Grad-105-years.jpg

It's a celebration 83 years in the making! Bill Vogt, 105, received his college diploma from San Diego State University Thursday. 

The La Mesa native graduated from the school in 1935 but did not receive his printed diploma after a credit dispute with a professor. 

"We had a lot of fun back then," said Vogt. "My favorite part of being on campus? Well, I wasn't a very good student so it was important to leave campus!" 

The Alumni Center learned that their oldest living alumnus didn't have a diploma and hosted a ceremony, presenting it to him with a special 1935 date printed on it. 

"It was just so exciting," said Sandra Cook, SDSU Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. "We found his record in our archive so we could create the diploma." 

After graduation, Vogt joined the Navy, serving in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and spent several years working on the East Coast. 

"I never thought I would see that document anywhere," Vogt laughed. 

Vogt said when he went to SDSU in the 1930's tuition was $35 a semester. 

In comparison, a new in-state student can expect to spend more than $16,000 per academic year in tuition, fees and expenses.

<![CDATA[Flash Floods Possible in SD Mountains, Beaches Get Big Waves]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 21:46:45 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/thunderstorm-sky-generic.jpg

High surf at the beaches and possible sudden thunderstorms in the mountains prompted the National Weather Service to issue weather alerts for San Diego County Thursday.

The NWS issued a Flash Flood Warning for southeastern San Diego County until 10:15 p.m. and for the northeastern region until 11:30 p.m.

The NWS said that by around 8 pm., 2.74 inches of rain had fallen over Mount Laguna in the past half hour.

Due to the heavy rainfall, Highway S2 was "very much at risk" of flooding near Agua Caliente Hot Springs and Rancho Vallecito Airport.

The NWS recommended motorists avoid evening travel along Highway S2 because flood waters can be hard to see at night.

Areas likely to experience flooding included Mount Laguna, I-8 between Pine Valley and Imperial County, State Route 78 between Highway S2 and Borrego Springs Road, Highway S2 between Shelter Valley and Canebrake, including Agua Caliente Hot Springs and Fish Creek Wash.

The NWS issued a Beach Hazards Statement through Friday evening.

Along the coastline, waves of about four to six feet could create dangerous conditions for swimmers at south-facing beaches, like in San Diego's North County.

While the statement is in effect, it is possible for rip currents to pull swimmers and surfers out to sea.

"Large breaking waves can wash people off jetties and rocks, and capsize small boats near shore," the NWS said.

NBC 7 weathercaster Llarisa Abreu said the statement may need to be extended if conditions don't die down. 

Photo Credit: File Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Cam: Officer Tackles Girl in Chula Vista Park ]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 14:31:26 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CVPD-Video_2.jpg

New video of a Chula Vista police officer tackling a teenager with his baton sparked outrage in the South Bay as students and their parents demanded a thorough investigation into the incident.

The Chula Vista Police Department is reviewing the actions of several of its officers following the altercation Wednesday near Castle Park High School.

Officers showed up at Loma Verde Park around 4 p.m. in response to someone allegedly flashing gang signs, a CVPD official said.

Students who hang out at the park, some of them waiting for their parents to pick them up after work, say there was no flashing of gang signs or any other activity that would prompt such a full-scale response.

Students said it actually started with a game of football.

“When they were passing I said 'Do you want to catch’ to the cop and then we threw the peace sign up and they left and later came back saying we were throwing up gang signs at them,” said 17-year-old Palomar High School student Logan Moreno.

Department officials said gang activity is known to occur at the park.

Manny Rubio, director of communication for the Sweetwater Union High School District, also confirmed they've asked police to keep a closer eye on the park during after school hours due to recent concerns of criminal activity.

Students said more than a dozen officers responded and started putting people in handcuffs. They said the commotion attracted more teenagers who gathered around as officers yelled at them to get back.

NBC 7 has obtained a video showing students being handcuffed on the ground as officers tell crowding students to step back. A male officer then tackles a girl onto the sidewalk.

CVPD said the girl threw a plastic water bottle at a female officer.

"We have one snippet of video that has been seen on Facebook that has a very limited viewpoint of what occurred," CVPD Captain Vern Sallee said. "It doesn't even really show the assault on the police sergeant... I can say nothing that we've seen so far would warrant changing the status of the officer's duty status."

Four minors, including three boys and one girl, were arrested and face charges related to gang affiliation and resisting arrest. The girl seen in the video being tackled was arrested for battery on a police officer.

All have since been released.

CVPD Lt. Peak said the department is reviewing the actions of those involved. No officers or students were injured, Peak said. 

No other information was available.

<![CDATA[Mexican Joint Serves Tarantula Tacos, Other 'Exotic Foods']]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 16:34:19 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Mexico+Tarantula+Photo+Courtesy+of+PROFEPA+SIZED.jpg

In Mexico City, a restaurant serves dishes advertised as pre-Hispanic and exotic offers diners “tarantula tacos” and “cockroaches of Madagascar.”

The unique dishes are getting a lot of attention on social media and have even prompted inspections by Mexico's regulatory agencies.

The “Mercado de San Juan” in the heart of Mexico City offers a "tarantula tacos" dish for about $500 Mexican pesos, the equivalent of about $26.

Investigators with the country's federal environmental protection agency inspected the restaurant after video of the exotic treats began circulating on social networks.

The online social media video promoted the tarantula tacos dish. 

PROFEPA (the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection), Mexico’s environmental protection agency, inspected the restaurant and found four dead red tarantulas. The agency confiscated the specimens when the restaurant could not provide documentation proving the legal origin of the spiders, the agency confirmed in a written statement.

The spiders are considered an endangered species.

The restaurant was advertising the “Mexican redknee tarantulas,” as being “flamed and golden” and ready for eating, the agency confirmed.

But that’s not all. The poison of the spider is also the main ingredient in a popular drink the restaurants serves.  

The eatery serves other dishes labeled as exotic, including cockroaches of Madagascar, white worms, grasshoppers, scorpions, cocopache (another type of cockroach), and chicatanas, which are flying ants long enjoyed as food in Oaxaca.

The “Mercado de San Juan” also offers guests deer, ostrich, buffalo and wild boar.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of (PROFEPA)
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<![CDATA[Arraignment of Deputy on New Criminal Charges Delayed]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 22:04:19 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Richard-Fischer-Wife-072618.jpg

The arraignment of Deputy Richard Fischer on five new felony counts was delayed, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Fischer was booked Thursday morning on three charges of assault and battery by an officer, one charge of oral copulation by force and one charge of burglary, according to prosecutors. All five are felony counts.

The prosecution revealed details of one of the latest assault allegations against Fischer, saying he allegedly went to the home of a 51-year-old woman at 9:30 p.m., forced her against her will into a bedroom and forced her to perform a sexual act.

Fischer's defense team requested the arraignment be delayed because his primary attorney, Manny Medrano, was out of town. The judge agreed to delay the hearing until August 27, but shut down some of the defense's other requests.

The defense requested the judge not the media to cover the case because the latest allegations against him are "claims of opportunity" by alleged victims who would see Fischer on TV. The prosecution argued that Medrano already put his client on display when Fischer defended himself alongside his wife in an exclusive interview with NBC 7's Artie Ojeda in July. That motion was denied.

Fischer's attorneys also asked that his cell phone be returned -- it was taken from him following his arrest on Thursday -- because it may have privileged information between Fischer and his attorney on it. That request was also denied.

The judge also kept Fischer's bail at $2 million after the defense requested a reduction. 

Prior to this, Fischer faced assault and battery under the color of authority criminal charges in connection with 13 women who have accused the six-year veteran deputy of kissing, hugging, and inappropriately touching them.

Fischer said the claims against him are false and he prays each night that his good name will be cleared and exonerated. 

“These charges are simply untrue. They are false,” Fischer said in July. “These false allegations are extremely hurtful and disheartening.”

Fischer was arrested Feb. 22 and charged with 15 criminal counts that include assault and battery under the color of authority for alleged incidents that happened between 2015 and 2017.

The new criminal charges include three separate women and cover the following dates: 

October 5 to 6, 2017: Assault and Battery by Officer

September 9, 2017: Assault and Battery by Officer

Sometime between March 27 and April 4, 2017: Assault and Battery by Officer, Burglary and Forcible Oral Copulation

Fischer is awaiting trial on charges of groping or touching women who had called 911 for help or were in custody, prosecutors said.

NBC 7 has reached out to his attorney for comment on the new charges. 

Fischer remains on unpaid leave from the sheriff's department pending the outcome of the investigation.

In addition to the criminal counts filed by the DA's office, Fischer has been named in multiple civil lawsuits and complaints. So far, more than 20 women have accused Fischer of inappropriate behavior and groping. At least 21 civil claims have been filed against the county from alleged victims.

Last week, NBC7 reported a new claim that, if true, contradicts the Sheriff Department's assertion that Sheriff Bill Gore was never notified about complaints against Fischer until late 2017.

Gore told NBC7 in December 2017 that his office opened criminal and administrative investigations as soon as they learned of the accusations against Fischer.

"There is no sweeping anything under the carpet," Gore said. "We did move quickly. We removed him from his job very quickly as soon as we heard of these allegations."

Check back for updates on this developing story. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Brush Fire on SR-52 Near Mission Trails Regional Park]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 16:28:25 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Santee-Fire-081618.jpg

San Diego Fire-Rescue officials called for air support when a car fire spread to a hillside Thursday along State Route 52 in Santee. 

A vehicle's engine caught fire while the driver was towing a second car on a trailer. 

The fire burned a small area along eastbound SR-52 near Mast Boulevard. 

SDFD Copter 2 did a few water drops, according to an NBC 7 photojournalist at the scene.

As of 1:35 p.m., the forward rate of spread was stopped, officials said. 

A SigAlert was issued for the eastbound SR-52 through 4:30 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said.

No other information was available.

Photo Credit: Scott Baird, NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Start Diamondbacks Series With a Loss]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:43:33 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1017873662.jpg

In his MLB debut against the Philadelphia Phillies less than a week ago, rookie pitcher Jacob Nix held his own in the big show when he threw for six innings of scoreless ball. But Thursday night was a totally different story against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. The righty didn't make out of the first inning and allowed five runs.

In the first inning Nix faced David Peralta who launched a three-run homer to center field. His 22nd homerun of the season gave the Diamondbacks a 3-0 lead and set the tone for a quick outing for Nix.

Arizona added two more thanks to an RBI single by Alex Avila and that was all skipper Andy Green needed to see. Nix left with the bases loaded after pitching just 2/3 of an inning. The Diamondbacks lead the way 5-0 by the end of the first inning.

The Friars got on the board in the eighth inning thanks to Hunter Renfroe and a towering solo shot to center field. However, the outfielder’s 13th homer of the season wasn't nearly enough to dig his team out of the hole.

The Padres dropped the first game of the set 5-1. The second game of the series is on Friday August 17 at 7:10 p.m. PST at Petco Park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Who Crashed Into Poway Home Arrested After Search]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:07:29 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD-Generic-police-lights-101917.jpg

A man who was wanted for crashing his car into a mobile home was arrested after an hour-long search through Poway Thursday. 

San Diego Sheriff's Deputies initially responded at about 8 a.m. to a call about a crash at the Poway Royal Estates Mobile Home Park near Community and Poway roads. 

A car had crashed into a home in the community but the driver had taken off, SDSO Lt. Karla Menzies said. 

The sheriff's department requested a helicopter to aid in the search for the suspect.

With the help of witnesses, he was located about four miles away in the 1200 block of Poway Road about an hour later, Menzies said. 

It was not clear whether drugs or alcohol were suspected in the crash. 

No other information was available.

Details may change as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Suspicious-Looking Pipe in Oak Park Deemed Harmless]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:08:19 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SLE_RAW+OAK+PARK+SUSPICIOUS+DEVICE.jpg

A suspicious device in Oak Park forced the closure of several roadways in San Diego Friday. 

SDPD received a report of a suspicious-looking silver pipe lying in the gutter near 54th and Krenning streets at about 11 a.m.

A large police presence, including San Diego Fire-Rescue Bomb Squad crews, could be seen in the area. 

SDFD Bomb Squad Capt. Jeff Ring said the devices turned out to be harmless.  

Southbound 54th Street at Redwood, northbound 54th Street at Olive and eastbound Krenning at 53rd Street were closed as police responded. 

No other information was available.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

<![CDATA[Failed City Council Candidate Appeals Term Limit Loophole]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 16:28:20 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ballots-San-Diego-2016-Generic.jpg

If successful, a legal challenge to a loophole in San Diego’s term-limits could make Councilwoman Lorie Zapf ineligible to run for a third term in office, according to court filings.

In 2011, the Bay Ho home where Zapf and her family live shifted from District 6 to District 2 during her first term in office. The city re-drew council district boundary lines that year, after the U.S. Census.

Zapf, a Republican, contends she’s eligible for a third term because the term limits started when her chair moved from District 6 to District 2.

However, Bryan Pease, an attorney who finished third in last month’s District 2 primary, has filed a challenge to Zapf’s reelection bid. He is arguing his challenge Thursday in front of a three-justice panel in the fourth appellate court of appeals.

Pease’s challenge says the November runoff should be between him and Jen Campbell, a doctor and a fellow Democrat.

In his 24-page appeal, Pease wrote: “the term limit law is not concerned with what district a councilmember purports to represent.”

“Defendant/Respondent Councilmember Lori Zapf, in clear contravention of the will of over 75% of San Diego voters who enacted term limits in 1992, is attempting to do what no council member has done since then, which is to run for a third consecutive term,” the court filing states.

If he wins the appeal, Zapf will not be able to run on the November ballot.
Currently, the council make-up is one Democrat shy of being able to override vetoes by the Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

If successful, the November runoff would be between Campbell and Pease, also a Democrat.

The 5-4 council majority for Democrats would shift to 6-3, giving the City Council power to override mayoral vetoes.

Attorneys for Zapf responded to Pease’s appeal challenge, calling the action “frivolous.”

“Councilmember Zapf garnered 43 percent of the vote, twice as many votes as second place finisher Dr. Jennifer Campbell, who will face Councilmember Zapf in the November 2018 general election,” the response for Zapf states.

“Contestant Pease is hyper-focused on a single word in Charter section 12(c), and even more fixated on a single limited interpretation of that word which would switch him from being a losing to a winning candidate … He claims there is confusion in the law when there is none, all in an effort to gain access to the general election ballot after the electors of District 2 rejected him at the primary election.”

Meanwhile, an effort to close the term-limits loophole may appear on the November ballot.

The full City Council will consider next month putting a ballot measure before voters that would prohibit council members from serving longer than eight years even if they shift districts.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Who Swerved, Killed Cyclist Was High on Meth: DA]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 11:53:53 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San-Diego-Court-generic-031.jpg

A man who swerved into the bike lane and killed a well-known endurance cyclist a year ago has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, prosecutors said Thursday.

Felix Ruiz Bazan, 26, will spend 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Paul Cornish, 70, was struck and killed on August 31 while riding in the designated bike lane on westbound State Route 76, police said. 

Bazan was behind the wheel of a 2001 Honda Accord and was driving on a suspended license at the time, police said. 

Officers later discovered that Ruiz Bazan’s car was an unreported stolen vehicle.

Prosecutors said he was driving under the influence of methamphetamine when the collision occurred. 

When he's sentenced, Bazan faces a stipulated sentence of 10 years, prosecutors said.

Cornish was well-known in the cycling community and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1973 for cycling 13 days, 5 hours and 20 minutes.

<![CDATA[Vista Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal Collision on State Route 78]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 11:26:10 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CLIP-STRINGER+OSV+SAN+MARCOS+FATAL+3.jpg

A Vista man pleaded guilty last week to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the State Route 78 crash that killed a woman riding in his car. 

Ricardo Vargas, 33, faces six years in prison when he's sentenced for his role in the March collision on westbound SR-78 in San Marcos.

Vargas was behind the wheel of a white 2006 Scion when the car lost control and slid to the right near the Barham Drive exit. The car crashed into a row of yellow attenuators along the right shoulder of the freeway.

When emergency personnel arrived, they found the vehicle up off the ground which created a dangerous scenario for firefighters, officials said.

The passenger of the car, a woman in her 30s, died in the crash, CHP Officer Mark Latulippe said.

Vargas was treated for injuries he suffered in the crash.

Photo Credit: OnScene.TV]]>
<![CDATA[Program Helps Military Vets With Service Dogs Find Jobs]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:14:20 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Training_Program_Helps_Vets_With_Service_Dogs_Find_Jobs.jpg

Marine veteran John Tipton found it difficult to find a job with his service dog, Daisy, who was issued to help with post-traumatic stress.

"I think it's due to a lack of education on a lot of people's part, employer’s part, what the dog does for me and what the dog does for the total work environment," Tipton said.

With the help of Next Step, a training program for servicemembers and veterans with service dogs and a pilot career program at Pechanga Resort and Casino, Tipton and Daisy have started working as a six-legged security unit.

The pair interacts with guests, patrols the perimeter of the resort and ensures everything is as it should be, Pechanga Resort Vice President Robert Krauss said.

"I really hope that other employers take a look at this and see the program and see all the positive benefits that it does have for them," Krauss said. 

Pechanga hopes to get 10 canine-veteran units on their staff within the next year. Visit here to apply. 

The four-year-old Labrador retriever-mix and the 22- year Marine have been together for most of the young dog’s life and the Marine says she has changed his demeanor completely.

"She's opened me up to be myself again -- to be John again, not the 'grumpy grandpa' like my kids used to call me."

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Man Pleads Guilty in Tow Truck Driver's Death]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 11:35:28 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gray-Guilty-Plea.jpg

A man faces 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for crashing his car into a tow truck driver, killing him.

Michael Gilbert Gray, 50, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with two serious felony priors, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office. 

He drove with a .24 percent blood-alcohol level when he drove off State Route 52 and onto the shoulder, colliding with a tow truck driver who was on the side of the highway.

Fred Griffith, 55, an employee of RoadOne San Diego, was struck and killed in the collision on Feb. 23, 2017.

After Gray struck Griffith, he fled the scene, prosecutors say, but an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer saw the crash and pulled him over. 

Several days after Griffith's death, more than 100 tow truck and flatbed carriers from across San Diego County created a tow truck and emergency vehicle procession.

Trucks rolled out of the lot with headlights, four-way flashers and amber lights on as they headed down Ruffin Road toward State Route 52 eastbound. 

The procession continued up over the Mission Trails Summit, past the crash site, and mid-way up the summit between Santos Road and Mast Boulevard. 

Griffith, a single father of three boys and beloved tow truck driver, was loved by many in the community during his more than 20 years in the industry. 

Gray faces a stipulated sentence of 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[Tijuana's Mayor Evades Question on Spike in Violence, Homicides]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:18:41 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gastelum__No_es_momento_de_hablar_de_inseguridad.jpg

When pressed about the increasing number of homicides in his city, the mayor of Tijuana said there are good things happening in his city that should be highlighted.

Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro made the statement as he visited San Diego Tuesday to mark the opening of the pedestrian bridge in San Ysidro.

Tijuana residents have witnessed the bloodiest wave of violence in the history of the city with more than 1,500 people killed in eight months.

After refusing to speak with T20 for several months, Gastélum was confronted by the Telemundo 20 cameras to ask him the questions that all of Tijuana is asking.

When asked about security, Gastélum evaded the question.

"With all due respect, right now we are seeing the good things and that is what should be highlighted," Gastélum said.

Gastélum has refused numerous times to speak with the media about the violence that prevails in Tijuana.

See the video on T20 here. 

Photo Credit: Telemundo 20]]>
<![CDATA['That's Not Him': Mother of Man Charged in Double Killing]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 08:13:05 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/juan+carlos+ortega.PNG

The mother of the Escondido man accused of killing his estranged wife and her sister refuses to believe her son confessed to double murder, she said in an exclusive interview with Telemundo 20 and NBC 7.

Prosecutors say Juan Carlos Ortega confessed to killing his estranged wife Veronica and her sister Ana Soto.

On August 9 after 4 a.m., Ana Gabriela Soto, 26, was found inside a burned-out SUV. The plates on the SUV led investigators to a home a few miles away,  where Veronica Soto Ortega, 30, Ortega’s wife, was found dead.

In a phone call from jail recorded by his family, Ortega said he never confessed to the killings.

He said his words were manipulated and possibly misunderstood, Carolina Soria Ortega said, because her son has a speech impediment.

“Mr. Ortega confessed,” said Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton. “There were some qualifiers in his confession but he essentially admitted to being there, admitting to killing both of the women.”

The tragedy involves two families, struggling to understand how and why two sisters were killed.

In the conversation from jail Tuesday night, Ortega admitted that he was at Veronica's home on West 11th street on the night of the murders.

Court records revealed he and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce. The couple's two daughters were upstairs in bed when officers discovered their mother’s body. The girls were unharmed and were taken into protective custody.

Ortega told his family that he had been drinking and the couple had fought but said he left without incident.

Prosecutors say a witness saw Ortega going back and forth between the home and the SUV.

Ortega's mother, who now lives in New Mexico said she does not know a lot about the couple's marital problems but said her son does not have a history of being violent and is grieving the loss of her daughter-in-law.

“I feel a lot of pain at everything that’s going on,” the defendant’s mother said in Spanish. “Veronica's death really hurts me because it was a relationship that we had. And I cannot imagine Juan Carlos doing that. I cannot imagine that, because that's not him.”

Ortega has been charged with two counts of murder, with a special circumstance of lying in wait. He faces life in prison, but he could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted. 

The father of Veronica and Ana Gabriela Soto said the women were hard workers and always happy. He also said he does not support the death penalty and would rather leave Ortega's punishment up to God. 

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for some time in October. That's when we'll learn more about this case including how the sisters were killed and a possible motive.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Facyson Looks to Make Squad]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 06:27:57 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Facyson.jpg

There has been a certain trend at the cornerback position and it is all due to the Los Angeles Chargers' defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. When he was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks he changed up the game by starting 6-foot, 4-inch Brandon Browner and 6-foot, 3-inch Richard Sherman at cornerback.

At the time, it was crazy to see tall cornerbacks play, but a couple of years later and the trend has turned into a norm. For the Chargers, one player hoping to make the best 53 man roster is 6-foot, 2-inch cornerback Brandon Facyson.

The Virginia Tech product was not drafted, but he said he didn’t question it because he knew God had a plan for him. So he took a deep breath and analyzed which team would be the best situation for him. Facyson decided to join the Chargers because he knew Bradley loved tall and lengthy cornerbacks.

“He (Bradley) is teaching me how to use my length the best way possible,” explained Facyson. “He teaches us things we can not only use in football, but in life as well, which I am very appreciative of.”

Last weekend was his first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. In the third quarter, a ball was deflected and Facyson dug deep into the ground and fished it out for his first interception.

“Brandon has done an excellent job,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn. “He’s getting better and better every day. He’s a prototypical type corner that Gus [Bradley] likes in his system. I thought he played very well last week.”

According to ProFootballFocus, Facyson had a 90.3 cornerback rating, which was the fifth best for the first weekend of the preseason.

“He’s one of those guys where his length is showing up,” explained Bradley. “I thought he had a pretty good game against Arizona. I think that length on the edge and now he’s learning technique. Out there you have to play with a certain sense of poise and we’re starting to see that more in practice. He’s developing so we will see where that turns out.”

It was the first time that rookies got to feel what it is like to play in the NFL. There are no “throw away” games like in college football.

“It is certainly different,” explained Facyson. “Feeling comfortable was my main focus. When you get to the NFL it’s the best of the best and you want to compete no matter what.”

The competition at cornerback is wide open because of injuries to Jason Verrett, who suffered a torn Achilles during a conditioning drill, and Trevor Williams, who injured his leg the first week of training camp.

Thanks to that, Facyson has seen more action against quarterback Philip Rivers and receiver Keenan Allen, who the rookie cornerback says can only help him get better.

“Those guys are some of the best in the league. Lining up against Keenan (Allen) I know he is crafty so he shifts his body one way, but goes another. It’s truly has been a learning experience.”

Facyson says he is only focused on what he can control, which is going out there and playing his tail off. He just wants to be another player added to the Chargers long list of greats that went undrafted and made a difference.


The kicking battle continued on Wednesday between Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo. The competition ranged from 33 to 52 yards. Sturgis went a perfect 7/7 on the day, while Aguayo struggled missing from 40, 50 and 52 yards. His 50-yarder had the leg, but it hit the right side of the crossbar. Anthony Lynn said he really hasn’t seen much separation from either kicker and said this weekend’s game against the Seattle Seahawks could be very telling.

Photo Credit: Fernando Ramirez]]>
<![CDATA[Voters Will Decide Marijuana's Fate in Encinitas in 2020]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 23:28:37 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Whats_Holding_Up_Sales_of_Recreational_Marijuana_in_Mas.jpg

The Encinitas City Council decided Wednesday to let voters have the final say on whether recreational marijuana sales should be legal within city limits, but they won’t be deciding this year.

After a petition to get the ordinance on this November's ballot just missed the deadline, the council’s unanimous vote made sure it would go before voters in 2020.

The ballot measure includes limits on retail operations. The city manager will only issue four licenses to retail shops which must have 24-hour security and won't be allowed near daycares, playgrounds or schools.

There will also be zoning restrictions on cultivation sites, manufacturing facilities, cannabis kitchens and distribution centers.

The City Council commissioned an impact report that councilmembers hope will offer a detailed understanding of where in Encinitas cultivation and retail areas might go.

<![CDATA[Padres Drop Series Finale vs. Angels ]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 22:51:54 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-1017376924.jpg

The Padres dropped the third and final game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday night at Petco Park. The Angels pulled out their brooms after completing the series sweep.

There were some bright spots in the series finale for the Friars, like when Cory Spangenberg sent his seventh home run of the season to left field in the seventh inning. The solo shot knotted up the scoreboard at two runs apiece.

But the visitors responded in the ninth inning with a towering homerun courtesy of Rene Rivera. His fourth homer of the year went 416 feet into left field and sealed the 3-2 victory for the Angels.

The Padres start the final leg of their homestand with the first of four games against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday August 16 at 7:10 p.m. PST at Petco Park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Priest Named in Grand Jury Report Volunteered at 2 San Diego Parishes]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 22:00:17 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Priest_in_Catholic_Abuse_Report_Has_Ties_in_San_Diego.jpg

A priest who once presided and taught in San Diego is among hundreds of clergymen accused in a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children.

Father Ernest Paone volunteered at least two San Diego County parishes while on loan from the Pittsburgh Diocese.

The San Diego Diocese told NBC 7 Paone lived in the San Diego area from the 60s to at least the 90s, and volunteered at Mary Star of the Sea in Oceanside and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Encinitas during that time.

NBC 7 obtained a Confirmation mass bulletin from 2015 that listed him as one of the class member’s Baptismal priest at Saint John’s.

The local Diocese said that he pushed for an assignment in San Diego but was never given one.

According to page 218 of the 1,356-page report, on May 1, 1962, a fellow priest at a Pennsylvania parish "interceded to prevent Paone from being arrested for 'molesting young boys of the parish and the illegal use of guns with even younger parishioners.'"

Search "Paone" in the upper-right corner of the report below to see more accusations against Paone.

The report also stated "There is no indication that the [Pittsburgh] Diocese provided any interested parties information that Paone had sexually abused children or that the Diocese had played a role in preventing his prosecution for that conduct."

Records also show Paone worked as a junior high teacher for two decades in at Potter Junior High School in Fallbrook.

The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District has not responded to NBC 7's request for comment.

Paone, who died in 2012, is just one of more than 300 priests accused of abuse in the state of Pennsylvania. The allegations go back decades and include six diocese in the state. Only two have been charged. Under Pennsylvania law, time has run out to bring charges against most of the others.

<![CDATA[San Diego City Auditor Heading to Beverly Hills]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 18:12:34 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/eduardo+Luna+at+a+water+news+conference.PNG

San Diego’s City Auditor Eduardo Luna has taken another job and will be out by September 28, according to a letter he sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the city council.

Luna said he is leaving to become the city of Beverly Hills’ first independent auditor, effective October 1.

In 2009, San Diego’s City Council established the Independent Auditor as a “watchdog that finds ways to make city operations more efficient,” according to Faulconer.

The auditor is responsible for performance and financial audits along with special investigations.

Last month, Luna’s office released their first report looking into hundreds of customers who complained of high water bills. Another report on the smart water meter system is expected to be released by September.

The auditor position carries a 10-year term which, for Luna, was due to come to an end in April 2019.

In a news release, Faulconer said the city has already started a “nationwide search” to find Luna’s replacement.