Police investigate 2nd homicide of the year

Police late Thursday were investigating a homicide on Amador Avenue near City Hall, the city's second killing of 2014.

Around 3:54 p.m., police responded to reports of a fight between two men inside a home in the zero block of Amador Avenue, said Contra Costa Sheriff's Sgt. Garrett Schiro.

When officers arrived, they found a man severely injured and on the ground, Schiro said. Though police and paramedics attempted to revive him, the man was later declared dead at the scene. He has not been identified.

Police did not release the man's cause of death.

A suspect, whose name was not released, turned himself in at the Oakley Police Department at 4:09 p.m., Schiro said.

Schiro did say the two men in the fight lived together at the home and are believed to have been roommates. Police said they did not yet know what caused the fight.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff


Thief uses pepper spray in jewelry heist

A robber made off with more than $25,000 in diamond jewelry after pepper-spraying an employee at Hilltop Mall, police said.

The robbery occurred at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a woman employee was helping the man at the Sears jewelry counter, according to Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov.

The man pepper-sprayed the worker, police said, dumped more than 10 items of jewelry into a bag and ran off. The diamonds are valued between $25,000 and $50,000, Abetkov said.

The robber is described as a black man between the ages of 35 and 40, with fraying hair and a medium build and wearing dark clothing. No arrests have been made.

-- David DeBolt, Staff


County education board fills vacant seat

The Contra Costa County Board of Education has appointed retired teacher Christine Deane as a new trustee to fill the vacancy left by the death of Board President Ellen Elster.

The board interviewed five applicants for the job Wednesday, then agreed to appoint Deane.

She represents Crockett, Hercules, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Port Costa, Rodeo and parts of Alamo, Concord, Martinez, Pacheco, Pinole, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, and Walnut Creek.

Her term ends in November, when she will have the option to run for a four-year term.

Dean has a bachelor of science in family relations and child development from Syracuse University and a masters of science in correctional counseling from Chapman University, along with several credentials and certifications. She taught for 34 years, primarily in public schools in Contra Costa County.

-- Theresa Harrington, Staff


Olympic champion to lead track clinic

Olympic gold medalist Eddie Hart, along with other Olympians, will be among those coaching youths at the Eddie Hart track and field clinic Saturday.

Hart, a longtime Pittsburg resident, anchored the U.S. 400-meter relay team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and is the founder of the nonprofit Eddie Hart All-In-One Foundation, which provides athletic, educational and social activities for local youths.

Saturday's clinic, which is free, runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the stadium at Pittsburg High School, 1750 Harbor St. Parents will also be provided with information about enrolling their kids in college.

To register, go to www.eddiehartaiof.org. On-site late registration takes place from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the day of the event. For more information, call 925-518-9983.

The Olympians who participate in the track and field clinic will also attend a recognition dinner that takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Pittsburg Yacht Club, 3 Marina Blvd. Tickets are $50 per person.

-- Eve Mitchell, Staff

North Richmond

Officials: Apartment fire 'suspicious'

Investigators have deemed a fire that scorched an apartment late Wednesday "suspicious," according to fire officials.

No one was injured in the blaze that was reported around 10:14 p.m. Firefighters responded for an apartment on fire at 229 Market St., according to the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

When crews arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames showing from one of the apartment units.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control quickly. The resident was able to escape uninjured before firefighters' arrival, the district said.

Firefighters confined the fire to the involved unit and saved the adjoining two apartment units. However, the fire has been deemed suspicious and is under investigation.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff


FBI to hold exercise at Southland Mall

The FBI will hold a tactical response exercise Thursday evening at Southland Mall starting at 10 p.m.

The operation is not related to any threat at the shopping center but is a training exercise intended to give agents a chance to practice responding to a terrorist attack or a situation involving a "live active shooter," according to the agency.

"We usually train in our own venues, but we can't create a mall," said Brian Weber, an FBI spokesman.

The agency is partnering with local police, fire, emergency responders and private mall security as part of a national initiative to prepare first responders for a "complex mall attack."

Members of the public are asked to stay away from the shopping center for the duration of the exercise.

According to the FBI, the number of incidents at enclosed public venues -- including schools, businesses and entertainment venues -- have more than doubled since 2008.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff


Boxing exhibition to aid youth programs

The city's Police Activities League will hold a boxing exhibition Saturday to raise funds for its programs, which help underprivileged youths in the city.

The event is at 2 p.m. Saturday at the PAL building, 2200 Macdonald Ave. Doors open at 1 p.m.

The matches will include amateur men and women in several weight classes. The bouts include a local police officer, Savana Stewart.

REAL is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1982 to provide educational, social and recreational activities for boys and girls between 5 and 18 and serves about 3,000 kids per year.

Tickets are $15, free for kids younger than 7. For information, call 510-621-1221.

-- Robert Rogers, Staff


Man gets 40 years to life for killing teen

An East Oakland man who killed his 17-year-old girlfriend and hid her body in a vacant house has been sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison.

Adrian Blocker, 23, pleaded no contest in April to second-degree murder for shooting Onika Jones, of Oakland, execution-style on June 18, 2011, and to assault with a firearm for shooting the teen in May 2011.

Onika was a missing person for eight months before police found her body.

-- Malaika Fraley, Staff


Jury deliberations begin in murder trial

Jury deliberations began Thursday at the murder trial for 30-year-old DeShawn Reed, who is accused of fatally shooting two men in a West Oakland neighborhood in 2010 for no apparent reason.

Reed's attorney says the Oakland resident has been misidentified as the gunman who killed 29-year-old Victor Johns and 56-year-old John Jones in a brazen afternoon shooting on March 5, 2010, at 30th and Linden streets.

But the prosecution said witnesses saw Reed get out of a black Saturn and kill the two Oakland residents before fleeing.

-- Malaika Fraley, Staff