San Francisco mass shooting: Five people shot, one fatally, in Tenderloin District

Five people were shot, and one man was killed, early Thursday morning in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, police said. 

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Yalonda M. James/The Chronicle

Police said they responded to an area near Turk and Hyde streets shortly after 2:30 a.m. where they found four men and one woman suffering from gunshot wounds.  

All five people were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and one man was later pronounced dead. 

San Francisco police officials did not respond to requests for additional information about the shooting.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the Tenderloin, said in a statement that his office was “horrified” at the shooting. 

“We are in touch with Tenderloin Station and hope this case will be solved as soon as possible. We extend our condolences to the deceased victim’s loved ones and wish for a speedy recovery for those who were injured,” Preston said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Reputed OC Mexican Mafia head cleared of Fullerton murder due to change in law

A 1994 murder conviction against the reputed head of the Orange County faction of the Mexican Mafia was vacated this week thanks to a change in state law, marking a legal victory for an accused gang leader who is still facing a high-profile federal racketeering case tied to his alleged leadership of the powerful, prison-based organization.

Nearly three decades ago, a fatal stabbing occurred during a brawl after a pickup basketball game in Fullerton, ignited by someone making a disrespectful comment about someone else’s mother. The stabbing resulted in Johnny Martinez being sentenced to 24 years to life in state prison, despite never having been accused of carrying out the actual killing of 18-year-old Ricky Michaels.

At the time, prosecutors were able to argue that the slaying was a “natural and probable consequence” of the brawl, and that Martinez and others who took part could face the same charges as the actual killer.

Lawmakers have since raised the bar for co-defendants to be charged with murder, requiring they be aware of the killer’s intent or that there be some other evidence of their direct involvement in the actual slaying.

The killer, Juan Villanueva, has since accepted sole responsibility during his own parole hearings. Martinez’s attorney has argued that Martinez was unaware that Villanueva had a knife and contended that Martinez was standing off to the side of the brawl next to another man with his back turned when the stabbing took place.

Prosecutors have countered that Martinez was actually holding that other man at bay and was therefore involved with the brawl. But, according to court records, Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson ruled this week that there isn’t enough evidence to find Martinez guilty of murder under current state law. The judge re-sentenced Martinez to 18 months in jail, but due to the time he has already served, she deemed his sentence complete, court records show.

That doesn’t mean that Martinez is being set free.

Federal and state prosecutors allege that during his time behind bars, Martinez rose to the top ranks of the Mexican Mafia, particularly following the death of longtime Santa Ana gang chieftain Peter Ojeda, who for decades led the Orange County faction of the prison gang. Martinez — who allegedly goes by the gang moniker “crow” — has been accused by prosecutors of ordering a wave of local violence, so he could take power in the void left by Ojeda’s death.

Comprised of senior members of Latino street gangs, the Mexican Mafia exerts widespread control over gang activity across Southern California by “taxing” those who deal drugs in gang-controlled territories and trafficking narcotics in and out of prisons and jails. Using smuggled phones, coded written communications or visiting female associates known as “secretaries,” imprisoned Mexican Mafia leaders can issue edicts to gang members on the streets. Those who ignore the Mexican Mafia’s rules or orders are often targeted for beatings or death.

Last year, Martinez and other alleged Mexican Mafia associates were named in a federal indictment alleging that they were involved in murders, attempted murders and a variety of drug and gun-related crimes. Martinez is awaiting trial in that federal case, and after his release from Orange County Sheriff’s custody was ordered to be turned over to federal marshals.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Newsom freed elderly and sick prisoners during COVID, but he’s grappling with risks of more mercy

David Moreland had long expected to die in prison.

But when the coronavirus nearly killed him in 2020, it was that brush with death that ended up freeing him.

“This is how God works,” Moreland, 67, said from his cozy living room at a subsidized apartment complex for seniors in Long Beach.

When Moreland contracted COVID before vaccines were available, he said his oxygen levels were so low that a doctor was preparing to hook him to a ventilator. Handcuffed to a hospital bed and hot and delusional with a fever, he feared he would not survive.

Yet as the virus ravaged California’s overcrowded prisons Moreland recovered from respiratory failure and a blood clot in his lungs. After a month in the hospital, he had to relearn to walk with shackles on his feet.

Then, another “miracle” happened, Moreland said: A prison guard told him he had a call from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

The governor had deemed Moreland a “high medical risk” and decided to release him from prison. After two decades behind bars for a robbery he says he did not commit, Moreland, who faced a potential life sentence, walked out in 2022.

He is among 35 prisoners Newsom has granted a “medical reprieve,” a form of clemency the Democratic governor created during the pandemic to show mercy for the sick and elderly. They were handpicked by the Newsom administration to access a new path to freedom that amounts to an experiment in California’s ongoing effort to shrink the prison population without compromising public safety.

But as the pandemic wanes and Newsom confronts the limited time he has left in office, the second-term governor is grappling with whether to extend the new form of clemency to more inmates. He’s signaling caution amid calls from advocates who want the emergency response to become a permanent policy of broader mercy for some who are hitting older age.

COVID “accelerated the consciousness” of the plight of California’s ailing and aging prisoners, Newsom told The Times in an interview last month, in which he described meticulously poring over scores of clemency applications.

“They’re 80, 90 years old. … You have deep empathy and you’re like, ‘this is crazy,’” Newsom said. “And then you read their record and you’re like ‘whoa.’”

Though Newsom has closed two prisons, enacted a new focus on rehabilitation at San Quentin and halted death row executions, he is acutely aware of the political risks involved in wading into the judicial system to free people convicted of crimes.

Newsom will be forced out of the governor’s office by term limits in early 2027 and is widely considered a potential presidential candidate in 2028. He’s mindful that he’ll be blamed for the misdeeds of any prisoners he releases.

“It’s tough. It’s your name affixed to it. … I mean literally you’re accountable for whatever those decisions are,” Newsom said. “It’s a deep responsibility. I have to think about the victims. I have to think about precedent.”

Moreland still struggles with shortness of breath and dizziness after long COVID, and takes blood thinners to prevent further blood clots. He works full time as an ambassador for L.A. Metro, assisting public transit riders.

On the weekends, he relaxes with his wife, Sherry, listening to Loretta Lynn and Sam Cooke records, and tries to make it to local jazz concerts.

In 2002, he was sentenced to 33 years-to-life in prison for carjacking and kidnapping to commit robbery — a crime he says he was wrongly accused of. According to court records, he and another man were convicted of holding a driver at gunpoint after a traffic accident and demanding that he pay for vehicle damage caused by the wreck. The victim said the men threatened to shoot him, and ultimately dropped him off at his home but stole his van.

It was not Moreland’s first run-in with police: He had been in prison before for drug possession and vehicle theft charges — crimes he said he committed while in the throes of a heroin addiction.

“When you are a heroin user and you don’t have heroin, you get sick, your body craves it. So, I was doing the crimes to go get drugs in order to, as insane as this sounds … I had to put something in my system in order just to be normal,” he said.

His long sentence for the burglary allegation included charges for ransom and making a terrorist threat, plus enhancements for use of a firearm and committing a felony with a prior prison term, records show. He maintains he was misidentified in a police lineup and had never seen the victim before “in my life.”

During his decades in prison, Moreland acted as a mentor, leading rehabilitative programs to help people reflect on their lives and choices. He still mentors people in prison, and works with a church to help those who have also recently been granted freedom.

Although Newsom’s medical reprieves affect just a tiny fraction of California’s prison population, they represent what advocates have long called for as the incarcerated get older: the opportunity for release for those who are struggling with health issues but aren’t necessarily incapacitated or near death.

Medical reprieve recipients include people in their 70s and 80s who use wheelchairs and have medical conditions that posed an “elevated risk for morbidity” during COVID. At least one grantee has died since being released, records show.

Thousands more inmates in addition to those medical reprieves were also released early at the peak of COVID to curb deaths as state prisons struggled to adequately respond to the rapidly spreading virus.

Heidi Rummel, a law professor at USC who heads the Post-Conviction Justice Project, said California considers factors such as age and health more than ever before when determining the opportunity for release, as research has shown those groups are significantly less likely to re-offend.

The state already has programs in place that allow people the opportunity for early release based on their age and health. Still, there’s a long way to go, Rummel said, and prisoners are often denied release in California despite those struggles.

“There may be some very sick people in prison who will never get out,” she said. “It’s good that [Newsom] is doing something, but it’s not a solution to the bigger problem. The aging prison population and the people trying to survive in prison with dementia and chronic illness … it’s really bad.”

In some cases, Newsom has released people during the pandemic against the wishes of his own parole board.

Last year, Robert Williams, 67, was nervous and out of breath as he stood across from parole officials and explained why he was late for his hearing.

He had ridden the city bus nearly an hour from the transitional housing center where he lives in Lawndale to his parole hearing in Compton, and had fallen out of his wheelchair in the rush to make it there, according to a parole hearing transcript obtained by The Times. Strangers stopped to help him up.

Williams was also wearing a knee brace — the day before, he had fallen down some steps using a walker, he said.

Parole Commissioner Catherine Purcell, a former judge and district attorney for Kern County appointed by Newsom, acknowledged in the hearing that Williams is “essentially disabled.”

He has undergone two heart surgeries and a kidney transplant, and struggles with diabetes, chronic viral illness and breathing, nerve numbness and mobility problems, according to parole records.

Williams served 45 years in prison for murder and robbery charges, crimes he repeatedly denied in his latest parole hearing, one of many times he had sought and been denied parole.

He was 19 years old and a heroin addict when he and three co-defendants were convicted of stabbing and killing a 66-year-old woman after breaking into her home and robbing her in 1977, according to parole records. The four were also charged with robbing a man and beating him with a tire iron in 1976.

Despite Williams’ medical problems, the parole board ruled that he still posed a risk to public safety, and denied him parole last year.

“You were able to get to the bus, you’re able to function,” Purcell told him, according to a transcript of the hearing. “The report says you go to the food bank by yourself. Clearly, you are capable of engaging still in violence or in threatening someone or harming someone.”

But Williams was already living free under Newsom’s medical reprieve. The parole board’s judgment means Williams is still technically in state custody and required to wear an electronic ankle monitor.

He could be sent back to prison and his reprieve “may be nullified at any time for any reason,” Newsom wrote in his decision.

As governor, Newsom has granted more than 300 pardons, commutations and reprieves through a system that involves multiple layers of scrutiny.

His predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, also used his clemency power to free hundreds of prisoners and pardon more than 1,000 people. But most prior governors barely used their clemency power at all. Newsom said he understands why.

“They never wanted to be accountable,” he said.

Newsom said the decisions are made with extreme vetting by a team dedicated to clemency applications that he also examines himself. His critics “on the sidelines” don’t understand his position, the governor said.

“The minute there’s one mistake … then the entire process is reevaluated in a way that actually can do more harm to people than good,” Newsom said, warning that if someone released on his watch were to re-offend, it could set back the prison reform movement.

Emily Harris, co-director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said the pandemic “showed us that we can decarcerate quickly and safely,” and is proof that more can and should be done.

“We tend to think about this issue with exceptionalism, by picking a handful of people, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. We should be doing much broader swaths of the population,” Harris said.

As part of the federal coronavirus relief plan, thousands of prisoners across the country were also released, allowing them extended home confinement instead. Three years later, only 22 of the more than 13,000 people released under the program have been rearrested, and most for minor offenses, according to an analysis released by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who supported the policy.

But some critics are worried that the pandemic has been wrongly used to justify mass prison releases.

In November, Riverside County Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin objected to the early release of a 67-year-old convicted of raping a child in 1994, who is eligible for a state program that offers leniency based on age and diminished physical condition.

Hestrin has urged Newsom to reconsider the release in that case, and said that people can “still be a threat to the public” despite medical conditions or older age.

“We have to remember there’s another party involved in these crimes and that’s the victims,” Hestrin said. “Certainly there are crimes that don’t require great physical prowess.”

Lynn Beyett, too, thought he would die in prison.

The first time the 71-year-old was incarcerated, he was only 12 years old. He had fled his father’s relentless beatings the year before, and wound up “raising myself” on the streets, he said, learning how to steal to survive.

An addiction to heroin and eventually meth landed him several more stints in prison as an adult, mostly due to thefts to pay for his habit. Altogether, he has spent more than half of his life in a prison cell.

Before he was convicted of burglary in 1998, Beyett said he had been “on a binge,” awake for weeks and high on meth when he broke into a wealthy former client’s house in search of cash. He doesn’t remember stealing the homeowner’s purse or threatening to kill her if she called the cops, which she accused him of, according to parole records.

“Meth took my life. There wasn’t a second I wasn’t stealing or plotting to steal,” Beyett said, sitting at the flooring warehouse where he now works in Sonora, sleeves of faded tattoos poking through a Star Wars T-shirt that reads “best dad in the galaxy,” a gift from his daughter.

In 2020, he was granted a medical reprieve by Newsom. Beyett had applied for clemency for years and participated in rehabilitation programs, where he learned about his triggers and reconciled the mental health impacts of his childhood trauma.

He forgave his dad, who died years ago, for the abuse, and has sought forgiveness from those he has stolen from, whose sense of security he says he knows he rattled.

Now, he spends his free time hanging out with his grandchildren and fishing and panning for gold in the creeks of Tuolumne County. He plans to get married next year after meeting his fiancee through her prison ministry work.

Mostly, though, Beyett, works, trying to make up for the financial setbacks that come with decades in prison. Even as he is “full of osteoarthritis” and bone spurs that make installing floors especially difficult, he works through the pain, thankful for the income and for an employer willing to see past his criminal record.

“I can barely walk at the end of every day,” said Beyett, who recently underwent knee replacement surgery but said he refuses pain medication because of his addiction history.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Jewish man dead after attack during Israel-Palestine protests in Ventura County

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Southern California authorities said an elderly Jewish man who was attacked at Palestine and Israel demonstrations in Thousand Oaks over the weekend died from his injuries.

The horrific incident happened around 3 p.m. Sunday during dueling rallies near the intersection of Westlake and Thousand Oaks boulevards. Deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office were called out to the area after reports of a battery.

When they got there, they found 69-year-old Paul Kessler had fallen to the ground and was bleeding from his head. According to deputies, Kessler had been involved in “an altercation with counter-protesters.” 

Reports on social media said Kessler was holding an Israeli flag among the group of pro-Palestine demonstrators when one demonstrator allegedly hit Kessler on the head with a megaphone. The alleged hit caused Kessler to fall down and hit his head, with video posted to social media just showing Kessler on the ground holding his head after the fall.

Kessler was taken to the hospital Sunday, and on Monday, officials said he did not survive his injuries sustained in the attack. According to the VCSO, Kessler’s autopsy determined his cause of death to be a blunt-force head injury, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

The VCSO’s Major Crimes Bureau continues to investigate the incident and the VCSO said the office has not ruled out the possibility that the incident was a hate crime.

The person wanted in the attack has not been arrested or charged.

In a statement to FOX 11 the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said it’s “devastated” by the news, saying their “hearts are with the family of the victim.”

“Violence against our people has no place in civilized society,” the statement read. “We demand safety. We will not tolerate violence against our community. We will do everything in our power to prevent it.”

LA Mayor Karen Bass issued the following statement Tuesday:

Click here to read the full artricle in FoxNews 11

1st Person Convicted in CA of Fentanyl-Related Murder Sentenced to 15 years in Prison

PLACER COUNTY, Calif. —The man who was the first person to receive a fentanyl murder conviction in California was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Placer County on Tuesday.

Nathaniel Cabacungan, 22, was convicted of second-degree murder for the fentanyl-related death of a teenage girl from Roseville.

Roseville police said the 15-year-old girl, Jewels Wolf, was found dead in June of 2022.

Cabacungan was given an “indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life” in prison, meaning he has to serve the full 15 years before he is eligible for parole.

He was also sentenced to nine “concurrent years” for distributing narcotics to a minor. Those nine years will be served at the same time as the previous 15.

Cabacungan will remain at the Placer County Jail for the next few days until he’s taken to the California Department of Corrections. It’s not clear what state prison he’ll be placed in.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta was also at the press conference with Wolf’s family after the sentencing.

His office was directly involved in the investigation and in Cabacungan’s arrest.

“If you are pedaling fentanyl and you have conscious disregard for the life of another, you can be charged, and charged and convicted for murder, as was here,” Bonta said. “The existing law provides for that and a very strong case was built here and we will come after you.”

Jewels’ mother, Regina Chavez, said that she knew obtaining a murder conviction for a fentanyl poisoning would be an uphill battle because it would be the first for California.

“However, I knew my daughter’s case was in good hands when both District Attorney Dan Wesp and the detective assured me that they were up for the challenge to hold the defendant accountable for murder,” she said.

Chavez added that although the conviction and sentencing won’t bring Jewels back, she’s honored to know that Jewels’ story could save lives moving forward.

“The game has changed for fentanyl dealers and distributors. The precedent has been set. An individual can and will be charged for murder with the act of distributing and selling deadly products containing sentinel and Placer County,” she said.

Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire said the sentencing demonstrated that “we can hold fentanyl dealers, those who knowingly sell poison in our communities. We can hold them accountable and we will.”

He said the “real strength” comes from families who have lost loved ones to the fentanyl crisis.

Click here to read the full article in KCRA

‘We’re hurting’: Murder Charge Announced in Deputy’s Slaying as Fiancée, Family Grieve

Four days after Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was fatally shot in the head, his fiancée fought back tears as she spoke publicly for the first time about the man she planned to spend the rest of her life with.

Brittany Lindsey’s fairytale engagement ended in a nightmare Saturday night when Clinkunbroomer was shot in the head while driving a marked patrol car near the sheriff’s Palmdale station.

“Ryan was the best guy I’ve ever met,” Lindsey said at a joint news conference Wednesday with Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón and Sheriff Robert Luna. “I am so happy I was able to love him. It was not long enough.”

Lindsey’s and Clinkunbroomer’s families joined the district attorney and the sheriff to announce murder charges against Kevin Cataneo Salazar of Palmdale.

Behind her, Clinkunbroomer’s family cried quietly, and solemn-faced deputies from the Palmdale station lined one side of the crowded room inside the Hall of Justice.

“We’re hurting right now,” Luna said. “The family is hurting, this department is hurting.”

Though the news conference was called to publicly announce a murder charge against Cataneo Salazar, officials were tight-lipped when it came to releasing additional details about the case.

In a courtroom in Lancaster earlier in the day, Cataneo Salazar pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in Clinkunbroomer’s fatal shooting.

The 29-year-old, whose family said he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, faces one count of murder with special circumstances of lying in wait, firing from a car and personal use of a firearm, a .22-caliber revolver, in the shooting, according to the criminal complaint.

Cataneo Salazar’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While prosecutors confirmed that the suspect had purchased a gun in the weeks before the killing, they did not clarify whether they believed he had purchased it legally. And though they acknowledged “unconfirmed” reports about his mental health history, they said the investigation was in the early stages and they were still collecting more documentation.

“We’re not being cagey; we’re simply protecting the integrity of the investigation,” Gascón said.

Though Luna said he hoped for “nothing less than the maximum punishment available under the law,” Gascón reiterated his past position on the use of the death penalty, seemingly confirming the ultimate punishment was not on the table.

“If I thought that seeking the death penalty was going to bring Ryan back to us, I would seek it without any reservation,” he said. “But it won’t.”

Gascón vowed not to seek the death penalty while running for district attorney in 2020. He made good on that campaign promise during his first day in office, when he barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in new cases.

Cataneo Salazar’s court appearance occurred as Clinkunbroomer’s body was escorted in a long procession of law enforcement motorcycles and marked patrol cars along the 10 Freeway from the county coroner’s office to a mortuary in Covina.

In Santa Clarita, Clinkunbroomer’s hometown, a memorial was set at the top of a 172-stair climb in Central Park, where a picture of the fallen deputy was being signed. The memorial was set to continue until sunset Wednesday.

A motive in the shooting is unclear, but Cataneo Salazar did not have a criminal record before his arrest Monday.

His mother, Marle Salazar, told The Times in an interview that her son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia about five years ago and the family had struggled with his illness for years. She said her son attempted suicide at least twice and was hospitalized on at least two occasions because of mental health crises.

She said she and the rest of her family were not aware that Cataneo Salazar had in the last year legally purchased a firearm, which experts said he should have been prohibited from doing considering his mental health history.

Salazar said she and her family had tried to make sure that her son was not a danger to himself or others, including safeguarding the firearms owned by her husband. But she said she was surprised to learn, after the shooting, that her son had been able to purchase a gun.

Cataneo Salazar’s most recent hospitalization was in September 2021, around the time sheriff’s deputies were called to the family’s home for a welfare check.

A law enforcement source said Cataneo Salazar’s record indicates he was barred from purchasing a firearm in California until 2026, possibly because of the 2021 hospitalization. That has raised questions as to how the 29-year-old was able to legally purchase a firearm.

Prosecutor David Ayvazian said officials were requesting records regarding Cataneo’s mental health history and previous calls to his home from sheriff’s officials.

But authorities declined to offer more details on the case, including questions about whether Clinkunbroomer was specifically targeted by Cataneo Salazar and about law enforcement’s previous encounters with him concerning his mental health.

Luna, too, said some of the information was being withheld to maintain the integrity of the case.

“There is public interest in that, but right now, our priority is to get this individual prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said. “We don’t want to put this out right now. And it’s not because we have something to hide. It’s because we need to get this individual prosecuted with the facts and evidence that we have.”

Asked about the special circumstance of lying in wait, prosecutors pointed to the video that shows a vehicle pulling up alongside Clinkunbroomer during the shooting.

“We believe the evidence is sufficient for conviction,” Ayvazian said. “If you’ve seen the video, and the way it’s been described as an ambush, that is consistent with the lying-in-wait theory of prosecution.”

Luna was asked about Cataneo Salazar’s mental health.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Palmdale Man Arrested in Ambush Killing of LASD Deputy; Suspect’s Family Blames Mental Illness

A man accused of ambushing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, killing him with a shot to the head as he sat inside his patrol vehicle, was arrested early Monday, Sept. 18, after an hours-long standoff at his home in Palmdale, Sheriff Robert Luna said.

While Luna described the suspect — Kevin Cataneo Salazar, 29 — as a “coward” who likely targeted the deputy, 30-year-old Ryan Clinkunbroomer, because he was in law enforcement, Salazar’s family said the man was suffering from mental health issues.

“My brother did have schizophrenia,” said Yessica Salazar, the suspect’s sister, outside the family’s Palmdale house on Monday. “He had paranoia. He heard voices.”

She said the family had taken Kevin Salazar to the hospital before and tried to get him help. She said while his mental health issues did not justify the shooting and that she was praying for Clinkunbroomer’s family, she said her family wanted to give their side of the suspect’s story.

“Please don’t judge him as if he was a regular person,” Yessica Salazar said. “He is sick.”

Since Clinkunbroomer was found fatally injured inside his vehicle just steps from the Palmdale sheriff’s station on Saturday, Sept. 16, Luna and other officials have been searching both for the person behind the killing as well as the reason why they attacked the deputy.

Deputies surrounded Salazar’s home in the 37600 block of Barrinson Street starting in the early morning hours of Monday. After his family went outside, Salazar barricaded himself in the home and refused to leave, Luna said. At around 5 a.m., deputies fired tear gas inside the home, prompting Salazar to finally come out.

Los Angeles County jail records show he was arrested at 5:15 a.m. He was being held without bail. A law enforcement source, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case, said Salazar would be charged sometime in the next two days and was expected to appear in an Antelope Valley courtroom by Wednesday.

After Salazar was arrested, Luna said deputies found “numerous firearms” inside the home.

Salazar allegedly pulled up alongside Clinkunbroomer at around 6 p.m. Saturday after the deputy stopped his patrol vehicle briefly just outside the Palmdale Sheriff Station. Luna said Salazar suddenly opened fire on Clinkunbroomer, hitting him in the head, then sped off.

Luna said Salazar was the only suspect. He said someone came forward to the department to identify him Sunday after Luna spoke to the media. Earlier Monday, Luna said investigators were still trying to determine what led Salazar to allegedly shoot Clinkunbroomer. The sheriff heavily implied the deputy was targeted because he was a member of law enforcement.

“He was in a marked black and white, right in front of this station,” Luna said.

Neighbors who witnessed the standoff Monday morning described the scene as chaotic, with police vehicles and deputies suddenly packing their street before the sun came up.

Wilbur Cardona, who lives next door, said deputies evacuated him and his family.

“There was a lot of police activity over here, a lot of people with guns,” Cardona said. “It was scary.”

Cardona was familiar with Kevin Salazar, describing him as “a good person.”

“I would suspect nothing like that,” he said. “I wouldn’t see him doing such a thing.”

Clinkunbroomer worked for the Sheriff’s Department for eight years, serving at the Palmdale station since July 2018.

Clinkunbroomer, who went by “Clink” at the Palmdale Sheriff’s station where he’d worked since 2018, was described as caring deeply about his community.

“I could just see this light inside him,” said Raymond Wilson, 58, at a vigil held for Clinkunbroomer on Sunday. “He held this community in such regard and you could tell he wanted to make it even better. Safer.”

Clinkunbroomer was a third-generation member of law enforcement — both his father and grandfather also were deputies with the Sheriff’s Department. Family and coworkers said Clinkunbroomer had gotten engaged just four days before his death.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

‘Targeted and isolated’ Mass Shooting in S.F.’s Mission District Wounds 9

San Francisco police were seeking answers Saturday to a “targeted and isolated” shooting in the Mission District the night before in which nine people were injured during a community block party.

The victims of the mass shooting, which occurred just after 9 p.m. Friday near 24th Street and Treat Avenue, were transported to local hospitals.

“We can confirm there are 9 shooting victims — all are expected to survive their injuries,” SFPD said on social media. “At this time, the incident appears to be targeted and isolated. There is no known threat to the public at this time.”

At a news conference at the scene, police spokesperson Eve Laokwansathitaya said the shooting occurred during a street party. She said no arrests had been made. She said she could not comment on whether there was more than one shooter or whether the shooting occurred from a car. 

Three blocks on 24th Street were cordoned off with crime scene tape as investigators scoured the scene. A large group of investigators stood in front of a tent set up outside the Dying Breed clothing store, which had the block party Friday night at the time of the shooting. The store specializes in local clothing designs, graffiti supplies and parties and events.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Davis Killings Renew Focus on Death Penalty

In Yolo County, just west of Sacramento, the decision on whether to pursue the death penalty rests with one man, Dist. Atty. Jeff Reisig.

Of course, the same is true in California’s other 57 counties, where district attorneys ultimately make the call. But, as Reisig told me when I sat down with him recently, “It’s absolutely fair to say that in 58 counties in California, every D.A. probably does it differently.”

Reisig may soon be facing that decision yet again, for about the 30th time in his more than 16 years in office, in the case of the young man accused in a series of stabbings that terrorized the nearby college town of Davis. Over the course of a few days in April, two men were killed and a woman was knifed through the fabric of her tent, leaving her alive but in critical condition.

The suspect in the unexplained spate of violence is 21-year-old Carlos Reales Dominguez, a former UC Davis student who has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody in the Yolo County jail.

It’s the kind of frightening and inexplicable case that leaves many of us split on what justice could look like if Dominguez is eventually found competent to stand trial — especially in a state where the death penalty remains on the books but is impossible in practice since Gov. Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on it with an executive order in 2019 and shuttered the state’s death chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

So I asked Reisig how he’ll decide — and why.

Reisig can’t speak in specific terms about the Dominguez case, of course, but he was willing to walk me through the process he uses in general, and how both the law and the sentiments of Yolo residents weigh into it.

First off, he told me he doesn’t care about Newsom’s executive freeze.

In fact, Reisig said he considers it an authoritarian overreach for the governor to insert himself into the death penalty debate after voters in both 2012 and 2016 decided to keep the option on the books.

He points out that another governor could reverse Newsom’s order, though in dark-blue California, that is unlikely.

The moratorium “has no basis, no influence on whether or not I’m going to do my job,” Reisig said. “If the voters, you know, are given another chance on an initiative and they reject [the death penalty], so be it. That’s democracy. But what we’re living through right now, with the governor’s self-imposed moratorium, I think, is really not democracy.”

Reisig pointed out that only a few types of cases qualify for the death penalty — most commonly first-degree capital murder cases with a narrow set of special circumstances such as lying in wait or killing a police officer. So the first part of his decision is just running though the law to see if a case qualifies.

On the surface, this case could, given the charges. But at a recent hearing, a judge ordered a mental competency evaluation for Dominguez, who unsuccessfully asked to represent himself. That first competency hearing is set for June 20 and will likely begin a lengthy process of determining his fitness for trial.

For Reisig, if a suspect is determined to have a mental illness that played a significant role in the commission of the crime, he won’t pursue capital punishment.

He considers it “profoundly” wrong to seek the death penalty for someone who can’t understand their actions, which seems obvious.

But I promise you some D.A.s would contest a finding of mental incompetency no matter what.

If the mental competency is there and the case qualifies legally, Reisig begins his own internal investigation that looks not just at the crime, but circumstances that make it worse than the average capital murder (aggravating factors), as well as mitigating factors such as whether the person was under duress that may offer some explanation.

He also considers the “special K” evidence, named after its position in the applicable penal code, that’s basically a catch-all for anything else that’s relevant.

“And for that, you literally go back to birth,” he said. “You look at, has this person demonstrated violence throughout their life? Are they a Charles Manson kind of guy? Or is it just like a one and done?”

Interestingly, while a D.A. can consider age in the final decision, age isn’t considered a mitigating factor — meaning suspects don’t get a break just because they’re youthful.

“Just the fact that somebody is young, in their 20s or whatever, does not mean by law that [they’re] not eligible for or not appropriate for the death penalty,” he said.

Once all that evidence is gathered, he brings together his top advisors and they hash it out. “We talk about it, we debate it,” he told me. “We dig, we ask more questions. Sometimes those conversations can take hours, sometimes it’s days, sometimes we’re thinking about it over, you know, weeks.”

But once that team makes a recommendation, “I make the decision,” he said.

Part of that final call is whether he thinks he can win at trial.

Reisig calls Yolo “the most liberal county from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.”

That’s one of the reasons that in his nearly two decades as its top prosecutor he has chosen to pursue the death penalty only one time: in the 2008 murder of Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Antonio Diaz (though he inherited a death penalty case from his predecessor too).

“That’s come up a lot, where the case on its face, we all can look at it and say, ‘Yeah, this guy is really the extreme. Like he’s a psychopath. This is terrible. He meets all the statutory elements.’ But will a jury of Yolo County folks go for that? And that, I mean, that changes county to county, right?”

Reisig said that because “people have such entrenched views” on the death penalty, it can be hard to even seat a jury on a capital case.

He points out that, legally, a juror has to be willing to consider either life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. “Well, good luck,” he said of finding jurors open to weighing both.

“People come in and they’re like, ‘No, I will never vote for the death penalty,’ or ‘This guy, this person should always get the death penalty,’” he said. “And so I don’t want to pursue a death sentence on somebody that I know, based on my experience, I have no chance of getting 12 people to agree.”

In the case of Diaz’s murder, Reisig won a death penalty conviction in 2011 against Marco Topete after a jury deliberated for days. Reisig said he and the defense team screened more than 600 jurors before seating their panel — a tough task in a county of about 200,000 people.

In the case he inherited from a previous district attorney, the 2005 killing of CHP Officer Andy Stevens, the jury took only two days to decide on death for Brendt Anthony Volarvich, then 22 and a member of a white pride gang called the Peckerwoods.

Before I left, I asked Reisig if he is for or against the death penalty, and he told me it’s not about his personal beliefs, though “if the people voted to do away with the death penalty, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

Personally, I am against it precisely because there’s so much discretion in how it is applied. How can we ever feel confident it’s fair, regardless of the moral debate?

Support for the death penalty has fallen dramatically across the country, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, as have the number of executions and death sentence convictions.

In 1999, executions reached their highest annual number with 98 people put to death.

Death sentences peaked a few years earlier in 1996, with 315.

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

California Bill Will Release Death Sentenced Murderers After 20 Years

These are murderers who killed multiple victims or killed in concert with a rape, robbery, kidnapping or torture

The California Senate Public Safety Committee voted on a bill Tuesday to give the state’s worst murderers, who have been sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), the opportunity to have their sentences invalidated and make them eligible for parole.

Senate Bill 94, authored by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Santa Clara), specifies that criminals convicted of murder with special circumstances before June 5, 1990, and sentenced to death or LWOP would be provided with a public defender to petition for recall and resentencing. The bill would authorize the court to modify the murderer’s sentence to impose a lesser sentence and apply any changes in law that reduce sentences or provide for judicial discretion, or to vacate the murderer’s conviction and impose judgment on a lesser included offense.

Among the murderers who could apply for a sentence reduction and possible release is Tiequon Cox, who in 1984, went to the wrong Los Angeles home for a gang-revenge killing and murdered a mother, her daughter and two of her grandchildren. Cox was sentenced to death for these crimes. In 2004, while on death row, Cox stabbed another condemned murderer and, along with three other murderers, cut a hole in the San Quentin fence and nearly escaped.

Co-authors of SB94 include Democrat Senators Josh Becker (D-San Mateo), Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Assemblywoman Corrie Jackson (D-Riverside) and Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego).

The beneficiaries of this measure, if passed, will be criminals convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances. These are murderers who killed multiple victims or killed in concert with a rape, robbery, kidnapping or torture. While it would seem unthinkable for any legislator, let alone a group of them, to want their names on a bill that would allow murderers like these to go free, bear in mind that Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, Alameda County DA Pamela Price and California Attorney General Rob Bonta all support setting murderers free after 15-20 years in prison.

Click here for the full article in California Globe