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PUBLIC SAFETY: REGIONAL EDITION
Possible stabbing victim dies near San Diego River

UNION-TRIBUNE

February 23, 2008

SAN DIEGO: A transient died, possibly of stab wounds to his back, along the San Diego River bed near Friars Road and Morena Boulevard last night, police said.

The wounded man was found about 8:10 p.m. beneath a bridge. Paramedics performed CPR for more than half an hour before pronouncing him dead. A police helicopter's spotlight was used to assist the paramedics as they treated the man.

The victim reportedly had puncture wounds to his back. Police said he appeared to be a transient. Officers closed Friars Road between Sea World Drive and Napa Street for homicide investigators. –P.R.

Man in Eastlake area exits taxi, is abducted

CHULA VISTA: A man was kidnapped early yesterday by two masked men who ambushed him moments after a taxi dropped him off at his home, police said.

Officers were still trying to confirm the man's identity, police Lt. Dan Linney said.

The man had taken a taxi from Spring Valley to his home on Chateau Court near Lafayette Place in the Eastlake area. He was paying the driver about 2:20 a.m. when a vehicle, described as a white van or SUV, pulled up and blocked the taxi.

Two men wearing black ski masks quickly grabbed the man, stuffed him into their vehicle and drove off, Linney said.

“Nobody in the neighborhood heard or saw anything,” he said, adding that the cabbie was too shaken to provide much information.

The incident bore similarities to a slaying that occurred nearby Feb. 7. Joel Fonseca Jr. was shot by three masked men at a condominium on Eastshore Terrace. The assailants drove away in a white Chevrolet Astro van with the victim's younger brother, Erik.

The 17-year-old sibling was beaten but soon released. His family believes the crime was a case of mistaken identity. –G.G.

Postal worker is robbed by two masked gunmen

SAN DIEGO: Two masked gunmen robbed a postal worker of cash and checks as he unloaded his truck yesterday at the post office in City Heights, police said.

With guns drawn, the two grabbed a canvas bag from the employee at University Avenue and 42nd Street about 6:20 p.m. Witnesses told police the men might have run west on Wightman Street.

Officers combed the neighborhood, and a police helicopter crew broadcast descriptions of the robbers, who were described as black men wearing bandannas over their faces. One was about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. The other was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, 160 pounds, wearing a dark, short-sleeved shirt. –P.R.

Parolee arrested in raid at San Marcos apartment

SAN MARCOS: Sheriff's SWAT deputies served a search warrant at a San Marcos apartment yesterday as part of an investigation into several gang members who are suspected of selling drugs at Cal State San Marcos.

A 27-year-old parolee was arrested at the Prominence Apartments on Twin Oaks Valley Road after sheriff's detectives found 32 Ecstasy tablets, a small amount of marijuana, two firearms and ammunition, Sgt. Gary Floyd said.

He was arrested on several charges, including parole violation. No one else was home at the time of the search.

The investigation began last week when campus police noticed a recent increase in the number of students being cited for possession of marijuana.

Officers contacted four suspects on campus, one with marijuana on him, and focused on the group. –K.D.

Man who raped 2 women is given 50 years to life

SAN DIEGO COURTS: An Oceanside man convicted of raping two women after breaking into their homes last year was sentenced yesterday to 50 years to life in prison.

Dandre Darnell Smith, 30, pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to assaulting a 54-year-old University Heights woman on Sept. 11 and a 69-year-old Hillcrest woman on Sept. 13. Smith also admitted to burglary with intent to commit rape.

During the hearing in San Diego Superior Court, two women told Judge Robert F. O'Neill that they continue to deal with emotional damage.

“It's not the rape that's the big deal, it's what it does to you mentally,” one of the victims said. “I told him I was handicapped. He didn't care. He just kept right on going.”

The woman said she didn't think the sentence was harsh enough.

Deputy District Attorney Evan Kirvin said he agreed to the sentence to spare the victims from having to testify.

Prosecutors said Smith was arrested Sept. 13 in North Park while driving a car he had stolen from one of his victims. He has previous convictions for burglary and indecent exposure in Sacramento, and he was on probation at the time of his arrest. –D.L.

County, Vista facing wrongful-death lawsuit

VISTA: The family of an unarmed Vista man shot to death by sheriff's deputies in 2006 has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the county and the city of Vista.

The complaint was filed in San Diego federal court in October but only recently served on the defendants, according to court documents. Neither the county nor the city, which contracts with the Sheriff's Department, has filed a response yet.

The lawsuit contends that deputies used excessive and unreasonable force when they shot David Arnulfo Lopez, 27, on the porch of a mobile home on Oct. 21, 2006.

Lopez had entered his estranged wife's home in the Vista Terraces mobile home park, stabbed the wall and furniture, and then entered a stranger's trailer looking for her, according to the Sheriff's Department.

When Lopez came out of the trailer, he rushed toward three deputies, who shot him when he reached into his waistband, officials said.

“He was not armed with any weapon and did not pose any threat to the safety of himself or others,” the lawsuit contends.

Lopez's family did not specify how much money they are seeking in damages. –K.D.

Teen pleads not guilty in soccer game brawl

CHULA VISTA: An 18-year-old San Ysidro High School student pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges related to a brawl that ended a soccer match between San Ysidro and Otay Ranch high schools three weeks ago.

Sergio Felipe Perez remains in jail on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court again Friday, prosecutor Sherry Thompson said. If convicted, Perez faces up to four years in prison on charges of assault with force likely to produce serious injury and battery causing serious injury, Thompson said.

San Ysidro High School coach Eduardo Jimenez Arenas was arrested on suspicion of choking an Otay Ranch player and punching a spectator but was released from jail and has not been charged with a crime. Jimenez Arenas denies choking or punching anyone.

Alberto “Tito” Ayala, 17, has accused Arenas of punching him. By Ayala's account, the punch dropped him, and other people then kicked him. Perez is accused of kicking Ayala. –C.M.


Staff writers Pauline Repard, Greg Gross, Kristina Davis, Dana Littlefield and Chris Moran contributed to this report.


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