Oakland

Man sets truck afire on bridge toll plaza

A 32-year-old Sacramento man set his pickup truck on fire after paying his toll Thursday morning at the Bay Bridge toll plaza, authorities said.

Romeo Cruz Bautista was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland where he was being evaluated for his minor burns and kept on an emergency psychiatric hold, said a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

About 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Bautista paid his toll at booth 5, drove about 100 feet west and stopped his 1998 Ford F-150 in a traffic lane before the metering lights. He then used gasoline to set the truck on fire, CHP Officer Michael Ferguson said.

The fire and its aftermath shut down six lanes leading to the bridge incline for about 15 minutes. Witnesses said Bautista was dancing and taunting authorities before he was detained. Flames and thick black smoke from the fire could be seen over a wide area.

Ferguson said authorities are not seeking criminal charges against Bautista.

CHP officers were assisted in their detention of Bautista by an officer with the Department of Homeland Security and a San Francisco police officer who were passing through the toll booth.

Oakland firefighters had the fire under control in a few minutes. The truck was gutted by the fire and had to be towed, Ferguson said.

-- Harry Harris and Kristin Bender, Staff


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PLEASANTON

Mom pleads not guilty in son's fatal stabbing

A 23-year-old San Jose woman accused of stabbing her infant son to death in a Livermore park pleaded not guilty to murder charges Thursday.

Authorities say that Ashley Renee Newton stabbed her 7-month-old son William Brian Sherman with a pocket knife April 26 at Del Valle Regional Park.

Livermore police Chief Michael Harris was off duty at the park with his children when Newton ran up screaming and handed him the wounded boy. "I'm sorry, I killed my baby," police quoted her saying.

Newton also cut herself and was first arraigned on her murder charges at a psychiatric hospital. She is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail.

Newton is to return to court for a pretrial conference July 17.

-- Malaika Fraley, Staff

San Ramon

Man sentenced for defrauding investors

A San Ramon resident has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for defrauding nearly a dozen investors out of an estimated $1 million, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Alfred John Schlette, 60, had promised investors to turn a profit through day trading, but instead used clients' money for personal expenses, according to the Justice Department. To cover his tracks, Schlette generated fake statements assuring his clients their assets were earning returns.

Earlier this year, Schlette was found guilty on nine counts of mail fraud. As part of his sentence, Schlette is also required to pay $1.7 million in restitution to his victims.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff

PLEASANTON

Sports Park renamed for late former mayor

A busy municipal sports park has been renamed after former Mayor Ken Mercer, who died in January.

The Pleasanton Sports and Recreation Park along Parkside Drive is now the Ken Mercer Sports Park.

The name change became official earlier this month when the City Council approved the honor on a 4-1 vote, said Susan Andrade Wax, the city's director of community services.

Councilwoman Karla Brown cast the single no vote, noting that the city has a policy to wait five years after someone's death before naming a park or other city facility after them.

Other council members said an exception from the policy was warranted because of Mercer's large contribution to developing the park.

Mercer became the city's first directly elected mayor in 1986. He died of cancer in January.

-- Denis Cuff, Staff

PLEASANTON

Snackdown seeks to choose best fair fare

The Alameda County Fair will hold its first ever Snackdown competition Tuesday to pick the most awfully wonderful fair food of the year.

Judges will choose a winner from 12 finalist chefs, who will turn out deep-fried peanut butter cups, spaghetti ice cream, pickle dogs, lobster on a stick, lobster fries and deep-fried grilled cheese sandwiches, among other treats. The competition will be at noon at the Festival Square stage at the fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave. Entrance to the competition is free with fair admission. Fair tickets range from $8 to $10 per person, parking is $10. Call 925-426-7600.

-- Kelly Gust, Staff

OAKLAND

Man killed in heavy equipment accident

Cal/OSHA is investigating the death Thursday morning of a 65-year-old man who apparently suffocated when he was pinned by a piece of heavy equipment at a West Oakland tire shop.

The Alameda County Coroner's Office identified the man as Kil Kim, of Oakland.

Kim was found dead shortly after 9 a.m. inside A&P Tire Service, 2901 San Pablo Ave.

Peter Melton, a Cal/OSHA spokesman, said the tentative cause of death is asphyxiation.

Melton said Kim was moving a compressor when it tipped onto him, pinning him against a wall.

-- Harry Harris, Staff

Pinole

Torch run to aid Special Olympics

Pinole police will team up with Hercules police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The annual event, which raises awareness and financial support for Special Olympics athletes, has gone worldwide since it started in 1981.

Pinole police will take the handoff of the torch at 1:30 p.m. at Mel's Diner, 1441 Fitzgerald Drive, and carry it to the Bear Claw Bakery, 2340 San Pablo Ave. via Fitzgerald Drive, Sarah Drive, Shea Drive, Pinole Valley Road and San Pablo Ave. At the Bear Claw, Pinole police will hand off the torch to Hercules police.

For more information, contact Michael Teem at mteem@specialolympics.org or 240-593-4949.

-- Tom Lochner, Staff

HAYWARD

Carjackers escape in high-speed chase

Officers and police searched for armed carjackers Thursday after a high-speed chase from Fremont into Hayward.

The carjacking took place at 1:37 p.m. at the Fremont BART station, transit police said.

Fremont officers noticed the stolen vehicle on Mission Boulevard and followed it into Hayward, Fremont police said.

During the pursuit, the fleeing vehicle hit another vehicle. No one was injured.

Police ended the pursuit when they lost sight of the vehicle in heavy traffic near Mission Boulevard and Jackson Street.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Staff