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PUBLIC SAFETY: REGIONAL EDITION
Police investigating staff member at school

UNION-TRIBUNE

January 25, 2008

ESCONDIDO: Police are investigating a male staff member at Escondido High School who is accused of having an “inappropriate relationship” with a female student.

Authorities declined to release the staff member's name or his position, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police launched their investigation last week after being notified by the school district, said Escondido Lt. Bob Benton.

“We are in the initial stages of the investigation,” Benton said yesterday. “No arrests have been made and no charges filed.”

Escondido Union High School District Superintendent Ed Nelson declined to say whether the staff member was on leave or would remain on the job through the course of the investigation.

“We are taking every action we can to protect the safety and privacy of students,” said district spokeswoman Karyl O'Brien. –K.D.

Homeless man arrested in slaying of teenager

SAN DIEGO: Police arrested a homeless man yesterday in connection with the New Year's Eve slaying of a 14-year-old girl.

Orlando Duarte, 48, was identified Tuesday by police as a “person of interest” in the beating death of Ahlyja Pinson, whose body was found inside an abandoned Golden Hill home at 29th and E streets Dec. 31.

Patrol officers took Duarte into custody at about 9:40 a.m., said Lt. Manny Guaderrama. Duarte was interviewed by homicide detectives and arrested on suspicion of murder, Guaderrama said.

Another homeless man found Ahlyja's body and called police.

“We have evidence that links him to the case,” Guaderrama said yesterday afternoon. “The motive is unknown at this time.”

Duarte is the second person arrested in the slaying.

Antero Cruz, 20, of Logan Heights, was arrested Jan. 10 on suspicion of murder. –J.L.J.

Officer shoots at driver after car backs into him

LA MESA: A police sergeant investigating alleged narcotics activity inside a car fired a handgun at the car several times yesterday after the driver refused to stop and then backed into the sergeant, authorities said.

The sergeant, who was not immediately identified, was hit slightly in the leg and knocked back by the 1999 Audi A-4 sedan, but he was not injured, said police Lt. David Bond. One round hit the car.

The sergeant was responding to a call about 1 p.m. about apparent narcotics activity in a residential neighborhood. He spotted a dark gray Audi on Murray Hill Road with a man and woman inside. He approached and fired shots about 1:15 p.m. when the man began to drive away, Bond said.

The sergeant spotted the Audi parked several blocks away on Seattle Drive. Two other officers arrested a 28-year-old Vista man and a 25-year-old transient woman at gunpoint as they were climbing through a home's side yard.

Bond said the two would be booked into county jail. The man was arrested on suspicion of assault, resisting arrest and possession of heroin and a hypodermic needle. The woman was arrested on the latter two charges. –M.A.

Postal Service driver is robbed of $11,000

SAN DIEGO: A gunman held up a U.S. Postal Service truck driver and fled with $11,000 yesterday outside a postal store at the College Grove shopping mall in Oak Park, authorities said.

The driver was collecting cash, checks and money orders, Postal Inspector Hillary Smith said.

Smith said the driver had just left the closed postal service store off College Grove Drive near College Avenue and was walking to his truck when a man with a revolver confronted him.

The robber put the money and checks into his own white canvas bag and fled.

The driver notified authorities of the holdup about 7 p.m. The robber was described as black, about 25, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 170 pounds with short dreadlocks, a thin beard and mustache, and wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and black pants.

Smith said it is “very, very unusual” for postal employees to be robbed. The last one was in Chula Vista last February, when a robber took a package from a mail carrier.

–P.R.

Man who got off bus is stabbed during argument

SAN DIEGO: A man in his 20s was stabbed in the chest after he got off a bus and got into an argument with another man in Bay Park last night, police said.

The victim told officers he knew his assailant, who got out of a dark sport utility vehicle carrying two other men and a woman.

Police did not say what the fight was about.

The victim was stabbed once in the chest and suffered cuts to his hands.

He went to a nearby home on Apache Avenue for help about 8:15 p.m.

He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, police said. –P.R.

Woman unwittingly takes grenades home with her

CHULA VISTA: A woman who thought she was bringing home a bag of abandoned clothes Wednesday night found something extra in the bag – three hand grenades, police said.

A sheriff's bomb technician determined later that the grenades were real, but they had been hollowed out and posed no danger.

The woman found the bag at Third Avenue and L Street, threw it over her shoulder and carried it home to La Casa Bonita Apartments on Palomar Street near Fifth Avenue, police Lt. Scott Arsenault said.

Arsenault said that when the woman opened the bag, she found military clothes, a belt and the grenades. She called police about 8:20 p.m. –P.R.

Ex-convict ordered to trial in 1995 sexual assault

SAN DIEGO: A judge yesterday ordered an ex-convict to stand trial on five felony charges in the 1995 sexual assault of a former Ocean Beach resident.

James Michael Desanto, 36, will be tried on four counts of forcible lewd acts on a child under 14 and one count of aggravated sexual assault.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 14.

Desanto was arrested in New Jersey in what police said had been a cold case.

The woman, now 24, testified Wednesday during a preliminary hearing that she was sexually assaulted in June 1995 in her Ocean Beach home. DNA samples taken following the assault were stored in a Department of Justice database. A hit on Desanto's DNA in 2006 matched the samples taken after the assault, prosecutor Mark Skeels said.

Desanto, who had moved to New Jersey, was arrested on a probation violation for a narcotics violation.

He also faces allegations of kidnapping, tying and binding during the course of a sexual assault and residential burglary in the Ocean Beach incident.

He faces a sentence of life in prison if convicted, Skeels said. –A.M.


Staff writers Kristina Davis, Jose Luis Jiménez, Mark Arner, Pauline Repard and Angelica Martinez contributed to this report.


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