By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Lafayette Police have arrested a suspect involved in a battery and kidnapping case that occurred early yesterday morning.
On Tuesday morning at about 4:25 A.M., Lafayette Police Officers were dispatched to a battery incident on the 3500 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard.
As a resident was walking towards the Lafayette BART Station, two individuals pulled up next to her in a dark colored sedan. Both of them were wearing masks. One subject got out of the vehicle and grabbed the woman, attempting to pull her towards the vehicle. She was able to break free and yell for help. The subjects then fled the area.
The suspect is identified as 19-year-old Jordan Andrew Wilson of Pittsburg. Wednesday morning at about 4:20 A.M., Wilson was in a vehicle that was stopped by Pittsburg Police in the city of Pittsburg. He was arrested and transported to Lafayette PD for an interview. Following his interview he was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on kidnapping and conspiracy charges. Wilson is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Two suspects remain outstanding. Lafayette Police Detectives are actively investigating the case and are asking anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious dur-ing that time to contact Detective Sergeant T. Rossberg at (925) 299-3234. You can also call police dispatch at (925) 646-2441 or send a tip to the Lafayette Police Department at: 94549TIP@gmail.com.
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
The Investigation Division of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff is requesting the public’s assistance in an ongoing death investigation.
On Friday, July 20, 2018, at about 10:16 AM, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to a report of a deceased body in the Contra Costa Water District canal near Driftwood Drive and Pacifica Avenue in Bay Point. A Water District employee found the body while doing a regular check of the canal. The Sheriff’s Office Dive Team removed the body, which was transported to the Coroner’s Division.
The person was later identified as 25-year-old Kreonna Smith of Pittsburg. The cause of death is pending. It is believed that Smith was in the water for several days.
Smith is described as 5’6”, approximately 175 pounds, with brown colored eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing dark pants and a white shirt with dark horizontal stripes. She was reported missing to the Pittsburg Police Department on July 16, 2018. Smith does not have a vehicle and was on foot.
Anyone who may have seen Smith or has any information on this case is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email: email@example.com or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
Female driver charged with multiple counts of felony manslaughter, DUI
By CHP – Contra Costa
Sunday morning, Aug. 12, 2018 at about 4:01am, Contra Costa CHP was advised of a solo vehicle collision that came off SR-24 and onto Boulevard Circle at Boulevard Way in Walnut Creek. Upon emergency personnel and CHP arrival, two passengers from the 2000 Silver Honda Civic were declared deceased, the driver was still alive but with major injuries, and two other passengers had also suffered major injuries. All parties were transported to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office will be handling the release of the identities of the deceased parties, please refer to them for that information.
In the initial investigation, it appears that the 18-year-old female driver from Antioch was driving the Honda on eastbound SR-24 and approaching the I-680 interchange. For reasons unknown that are still under investigation, she allowed the Honda to veer completely off SR-24 and overturned and crashed onto Boulevard Circle, which is below SR-24, causing major damage. Two male passengers, one 17 and the other 18 years old, both from Antioch, were immediately pronounced deceased upon emergency personal arrival. Two other female 18-year-old passengers from Antioch and Oakley suffered major injuries and transported to the hospital. The driver, Ramya Ramey, (DOB-1/30/2000) from Antioch, suffered major injuries as well and was also transported to the hospital where she was placed under arrest for multiple counts of felony manslaughter for killing two of her passengers and multiple counts of felony DUI causing major injuries to her other passengers.
UPDATE: The Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office released the identities of the two victims on Monday afternoon. They are 17-year-old Dakarai Rishon Fagorala a former varsity basketball player at and 2018 graduate of Deer Valley High School, and 18-year-old John Hamed Walizada, a 2017 graduate also of Deer Valley.
This is a tragic incident where alcohol and underage drinking & driving was involved. This investigation is still under investigation. If anyone witnessed this collision or the events leading up to it, please contact Contra Costa CHP in Martinez, (925) 646-4980 or 1-(800)-TELL-CHP. Thank you.
The Contra Costa County Aviation Advisory Committee is asking for the public’s assistance in answering a one question survey to gauge interest in and support for a “public viewing plaza” at the Byron Airport, similar to the one at Buchanan Field.
The commission will discuss the matter at their next meeting on Thursday, August 9, 2018, which will be held at 10:00 a.m., 550 Sally Ride Drive in Concord, and will be deciding there is demand for the viewing plaza, the location for it at the Byron Airport and the cost.
Are you interested in and would you support a public viewing plaza at the Byron Airport?
Leave your response in the comments section, below or on the Herald Facebook page. Thank you for your participation.
July 26, 2018, Clayton, CA – An evacuation order is still in place for Marsh Creek Road between Gill Drive and Morgan Territory Road. Marsh Creek Road between Gill Drive and Dear Valley Road is open to residents. You must show valid identification to enter. We do not have an estimated time to reopen those sections at this time. Please take alternative routes to avoid this area.
The Evacuation Centers are still open in Clayton and Brentwood:
Clayton Library Meeting Room – 6125 Clayton Road, Clayton CA
Brentwood Community Center – 35 Oak Street, Brentwood, CA
For more information on the Marsh fire, please go to http://www.cococws.us/
By Michael McKneely.
California is a large and diverse state. The landscape, social climate, and opportunities in one city may be entirely different than in another. Significant differences also exist in violent crime rates. Certain cities are more dangerous than others due to a variety of factors, such as economic opportunity, education, alcohol and drug use, availability of social and family services, gang activity, and much more.
In the most dangerous cities, you are more likely to become a victim of a violent crime. You also may be more likely to face accusations of committing an offense.
According to the FBI, since 2016, out of the 461 individual municipalities in California, four cities in Contra Costa County made the list of the 100 most dangerous cities within the state with a population of at least 50,000 residents. Richmond ranks 6th overall and 5th for murders at 18.9 per 100,000 residents; Antioch ranks 20th and 21st for murders; Pittsburg ranks 59th overall and 13th for murders; and Concord ranks 82nd overall and 87th for murders.
Richmond, a city of only 110,868 people, had a violent crime volume of 919.1 per 100,000 people. This number is made up of 18.9 homicides, 64.9 rapes, 328.2 robberies, and 506.9 aggravated assaults per 100,000 individuals.
Antioch had a violent crime volume of 678 per 100,000 people, as a result of eight homicides, 49.1 rapes, 261.4 robberies, and 359.5 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents.
Pittsburg had 9.9 homicides per 100,000 people in 2016 – a higher rate than many other cities of a similar size. The city had 59.4 rapes, 164.2 robberies, and 159.9 aggravated assaults per 100,000 individuals. The overall violent crime volume was 393.4 per 100,000 residents.
Concord reported 0.8 homicides, 23.9 rapes, 122.4 robberies, and 197.1 aggravated assaults per 100,000 people. This amounted to a violent crime volume of 344.1 offenses per 100,000 individuals.
Crime Statistics: Volume vs. Rate
One of the ways the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports on crime around the country is to provide the crime volume for certain locations. This is neither the specific number of offenses that occurred in a specific period of time nor the crime rate. Instead, crime volume is a simplified indicator of how frequently a crime occurs.
In regard to murder and non-negligent manslaughter (homicide), robbery, rape, and aggravated assault, the crime volume indicates the number of known victims. For example, Los Angeles had a volume of 58.5 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants. This means there were 58.5 known victims of rape for every 100,000 people.
The crime rate would be the number of reported crimes standardized by population. To determine the crime rate, you divide a city’s population by 100,000 to obtain X. You then divide the number of offenses by X. This gives you the city’s crime rate per 100,000 residents for a specific offense. For example, Los Angeles had a population of 4,007,905. Divide the population by 100,000, and X equals 40.079. Divide the volume of homicides in Los Angeles, 293, by 40.079, and the homicide rate is 7.31 per 100,000 residents.
It is also notable that if a city has less than 100,000 residents, the numbers still reflect a rate of incidents per 100,000 individuals. This has been calculated to maintain consistency and allow for comparison of overall crime rates. All of the cities on this list have at least 50,000 residents. This allows for more uniform comparison of crime rates.
Most Dangerous Cities in California and Contra Costa County
The following California cities considered in this study are the most dangerous when comparing total crime rate per 100,000 residents:
- Oakland, 2. Stockton; 3. San Bernardino, 4. Compton, 5. Modesto, 6. Richmond, 7. Vallejo, 8. Santa Cruz, 9. Redding, 10. Madera, 11. Huntington Park, 12. Inglewood, 13. Hawthorne, 14. Hemet, 15. Los Angeles, 16. Sacramento, 17. San Francisco, 18. South Gate, 19. Lancaster, 20. Antioch, 59. Pittsburg, 82. Concord.
To view the crime map in Richmond, visit https://www.crimemapping.com/map/agency/310. To see crime maps, statistics and calls for service for Antioch, visit http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/Police/crime-maps/. Details on Pittsburg crime statistics can be seen here, http://www.ci.pittsburg.ca.us/index.aspx?page=746. To visit the Concord Police Department webpage click here, http://www.cityofconcord.org/page.asp?pid=1026. To see more details for each city on the list, visit www.fresnocriminalattorney.com/most-dangerous-cities-california.
McKneely is a criminal defense lawyer in Fresno, California.
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) has completed the first stage of construction on the Balfour Road Interchange Project, and has opened newly constructed lanes to the public as of Saturday morning. This major project milestone is part of a $42.7 million-dollar construction project to improve safety and efficiency at this busy intersection in Brentwood.
A traffic switch will occur this weekend that will move eastbound Highway 4 drivers onto the newly built, elevated alignment over Balfour Road. Additionally, eastbound Highway 4 motorists will be able to use newly constructed on and off-ramps. A new signal will be activated at the intersection of Balfour Road and the new off-ramp, and directional signage will be in place to help inform motorists.
“This is a big deal for Brentwood”, said Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor. “Balfour Road is a major intersection, and the opening of these new lanes bring us one step closer to making this a better, safer intersection for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.”
“Our goal is to help keep Contra Costa moving”, stated CCTA Executive Director Randy Iwasaki. “The Balfour Road Interchange Project is the final piece in the modernization of Highway 4 that our agency has led over the past eight years – and we are excited to be delivering on our promise to the public by bringing improved mobility to eastern Contra Costa County.”
“We purchased the right-of-way for the four lanes of traffic and two lines of transit down the center, 20 years ago, this year,” said Allen Payton, Chairman of the State Route 4 Bypass Authority in 1998. “Half of that section, of what was known as the Highway 4 Bypass, was paid for with local developer fees. The other half was to be paid for with state funds. But that commitment took years to be fulfilled. Special thanks go to Randy Iwasaki for helping secure the money from the state and to the CCTA for getting the project completed.”
A portion of the funds to complete the project were from Measure J, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation which is allocated by the CCTA. The effort for the project began in the early 1990’s and took until 1998 to get approval from the CCTA Board of Directors, without any financial commitment at that time.
Visualizations of the new eastbound on and off-ramps, as well as eastbound through traffic can be viewed online at:
Traffic on westbound Highway 4 towards Antioch will remain on the same alignment and continue to operate without any changes at this time. The entire project is expected to be complete in late 2018 or early 2019.
About the Highway 4 Projects
The Highway 4 projects include improvements that will help modernize eastern Contra Costa County. The projects expand Highway 4 from four to eight lanes between Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to just west of State Route 160 in Antioch, from two to four lanes from Lone Tree Way to Balfour Road in Brentwood, add missing connector ramps at the State Route 160/Highway 4 interchange, and add a BART extension from Pittsburg to Antioch with a new stop in Pittsburg and Antioch. This will greatly improve transit accessibility for the region, help reduce traffic congestion, and enhance the quality of life for the more than 250,000 residents of eastern Contra Costa County. The projects have been carefully staged to keep 130,000 vehicles per day moving as major construction and demolition work continue. These projects, plus previously constructed projects in the region, bring the total investment in East County to $1.3 billion, including State, Federal, Contra Costa Transportation Authority Measures C and J, regional bridge tolls, and other funds. View the story of Highway 4 at http://4eastcounty.org/stories/
About the Contra Costa Transportation Authority
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts. With a staff of twenty people managing a multi-billion dollar suite of projects and programs, CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go. CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable. More information about CCTA is available at ccta.net.
By Allen Payton
Long-serving Antioch School Board Trustee Walter Ruehlig let it be known on Saturday, July 14 that he will not run for reelection and instead join fellow Trustee Debra Vinson and take on County School Board Vice President Jeff Belle in November’s election.
While Vinson, finishing her first and rather contentious term on the Antioch School Board, didn’t officially announce her campaign, she did ride in a car in the Antioch July 4th Parade with a sign indicating her decision to run for the county board. In 2017 Vinson was censured by her fellow board members for her interactions with district employees. (See related article). She was also passed over for the board presidency, following her year as Vice President. (See related article).
On one issue all three will most likely agree, which is approving private charter schools. Both Vinson and Ruehlig were two of the three board members who, earlier this year, voted in favor of the East Bay Tech Academy middle and high charter school petitions, and Ruehlig was one of the three who voted for the Rocketship elementary charter school petition in 2016. Belle has voted against one and approved five other charter schools while on the county board.
“I have decided definitely to run for Area 5 County Board of Education,” Ruehlig stated, following rumors of the possibility.
In his official announcement, he wrote:
I will be submitting my candidacy papers on Monday, July 16th to run for Area 5 of the County Board of Education, which covers Antioch, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Clyde, Knightsen, Oakley, and Pittsburg.
In June of 1968, I dedicated myself to public service and youth education when I taught English for the Peace Corps in Sultandag, a rural village in Turkey that had no electricity. Fifty years later, the idealism continues.
I believe that that my twelve-year service, with three years as President, on the Antioch School Board, and my experience with the Pittsburg Unified School District as a California Department of Rehabilitation Workability Program Director for adults with disabilities and as a career counselor, have given me useful insight into County Trustee duties. I am excited by the challenge of overseeing career training programs, special education, community day schools, and facilities for incarcerated juveniles.
I was a late-bloomer myself but, fortunately, had teachers who didn’t give up on me. I eventually caught fire and worked my way through college. My passion for sharing opportunity and persisting with high-risk, disadvantaged or under motivated students is my way of returning thanks.
Aside from counseling, teaching and administrative background, I feel I have the proven temperament and intangible skill sets requisite for good governance.
I enjoy communication and transparency. I am open, creative and innovative but believe in sober budgeting, no-nonsense classroom behavior standards and back to the basics core curriculum. I am pragmatic and put my ego at the door to focus on getting the task at hand done one building block at a time. In this age of divisiveness, I am proud to say that I can get along without always going along. I am a consensus-builder but no pushover. I cannot be bullied or bought.
I look forward to meeting the voters of Area 5, hearing their concerns, and presenting my vision. I welcome their scrutiny and would be honored by their support. I pledge not to let them, or their kids, down.
Candidate, Area 5
Contra Costa County Board of Education
Incumbent Jeff Belle
Elected in 2014, Belle has faced a variety of controversies before and during his term on the County School Board. In January 2016, Belle admitted to claiming he was a respiratory care practitioner even though he didn’t have a license and was fined $8,200 by the state. (See related article).
In December 2016, facing prosecution by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for lying on his ballot statement, Belle admitted in court that he didn’t have a college degree which he claimed. He agreed to community service to avoid a trial and possible fine of up to $1,000. (See related article)
He and his wife had to move from their home in Antioch in spring of 2015 for failure to pay rent, due to a loss of his wife’s job and Belle not earning enough through his consulting business. They separated and Mrs. Belle moved to Sacramento. As a result, questions have arisen about Belle’s residency. He rented rooms in other people’s homes in the district. The two have since reconciled and Belle now splits his time between his wife’s place and a home in the district.
In 2017 Belle suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Recently, he posted a fundraising effort on his Facebook page to help him pay off his medical bills. The total raised was $50 from former County School Board Trustee Richard Asadoorian.
Recently, Belle has served as a producer for a TV show entitled Modern Ageless Beauty for women over age 40.
Filing opens on July 16th and closes August 10th if Belle decides to seek reelection, which is expected. If not, the filing period will be extended to August 15th. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 6th.
By Luke Johnson
The XO Music Festival wasted an estimated $500,000, according to Director Sami “Styles” Habib.
The three-day event was canceled because World Class Entertainment did not provide proper insurance by this morning’s deadline, according to Joe Brengle, CEO of Contra Costa Event Park.
“We are the ones who are victimized here,” Habib said.
He added that his party supplied multiple sources for insurance, but they were rejected by Contra Costa Event Park. However, Brengle said those insurance agreements did not fulfill the park’s requirements.
The XO Music Festival faced several allegations online of being a scam over the past few weeks.
However, Brengle disagrees with those accusations and said the event’s management team was guilty of being too ambitious.
“I believe it wasn’t a scam,” he said. “I think they bit off more than they could chew.”
Brengle added that the negative media attention toward the event had nothing to do with its discontinuation.
The event organizers billed 100-plus artists — with marquee names such as T.I., Ludacris, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and the Bay Area’s own Mistah F.A.B. — to perform on seven different stages throughout the park. It also advertised stand-up comedy, carnival rides, roller skating and a foam pit, among other activities.
Habib said ticket sales were much lower than expected, but buyers were instantly refunded through the ticket agency, GrowTix.
Initially, Habib said the music festival lost approximately $750,000, but later said $500,000 was a more accurate number. He then said the financial loss was “definitely” in the six figures. He declined to comment when asked who provided those funds.
Brengle confirmed that Contra Costa Event Park kept $27,500 from the full rental agreement. He explained that money was already spent in preparation for this festival and it was too late to book another event for this weekend.
Habib is facing real estate fraud charges under the name Habidulla Qidar, according to CBS. He and his brother were identified by Fremont Police for being arrested in February involving a fraudulent home rental scheme.
Regarding the event’s authenticity, many people expressed concerns online about some artists’ performing schedules. Both Ludacris and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are promoted for the Chalice Festival in Southern California this weekend. However, Habib said musicians often book two shows in one day and it was requested by their agencies.
Habib said he plans to eventually produce the XO Music Festival, but at a new location.