Fremont police to hold gun buyback Saturday

Fremont police is scheduled to host a gun buyback event Saturday, police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said Thursday.

The event begins at 10 a.m. and will be held at the Fremont fire training facility, at 7200 Stevenson Blvd. Police said that no public funds are being spent. Anonymous donors have given $50,300 for police to spend on buying back the firearms and the event will continue until the cash is gone.

“It ends when the money runs out. We won’t be doing IOUs,” Bosques said. “If there’s no money left and people are still in line, they can either relinquish the weapon for free or they can take the weapon with them and wait for another buyback event.”

All guns received in the buyback eventually will be melted down and turned into industrial construction products, she said. All event participants must arrive in a vehicle; no walk-ups will be allowed, Bosques said.

Buyback prices will range from $100 to $300.

“The anonymous donor said we’d like to donate money if you do a gun buyback in an effort to take unwanted guns off the street, to prevent them from getting in the hands of people who would use them to conduct a crime,” Bosques said.


One Year Later: Events Saturday in Fremont & Morgan Hill for missing teen Sierra LaMar

A year ago, I was working what we call the “Breaking News Team.” That basically covers any breaking crime, fire, public safety emergency and, strangely, weather stories. The breaking crime part frequently involved missing person stories. Some journalists roll their eyes at missing person stories because the vast majority of them are found, often within hours of a press release being sent to the media.

Then there are the cases like Sierra LaMar, who grew up in Fremont. To quickly review, Sierra went missing on March 16, 2012. She was going to school on a Friday morning in Morgan Hill, where she had moved with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend a few months earlier. But Sierra has not been seen since.

This Saturday — March 16, 2013 — is a sad anniversary. It will be exactly one year since her disappearance. The LaMar family and friends will meet Saturday — as they do every week —  at the Sierra LaMar Search Center Morgan Hill. According to a colleague Julia Prodis Sulek, Balloons will be released at 9 a.m. at the Search Center, 85 Tilton Road. Volunteers are welcome to join the Saturday search. participants are encouraged to wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toed shoes.

In Fremont, a community awareness and fundraising event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at 37270 Niles Blvd. It will feature a Print-a-Thon by the KlaasKids Foundation, live music by Eddie Ramirez and Davina Joy, bounce houses, face painting and hula dancers.

Today (Thursday), I spoke with Joanna Isom, a woman whose daughters are friends with Sierra, and who is an organizer of the Fremont event.

“It seems like some have given up and moved on,” Isom said. “We can’t give up hope. She’s still out there, it’s still going on and we want to bring Sierra home.”




Threats at Fremont, Tracy and Pleasanton schools prompt concern, extra patrols

I was up in Oakland yesterday covering the trial of Abraham Hade, the 19-year-old Fremont man accused of stabbing and killing Osana Futi, a Newark Memorial High football star. But our breaking news team did this story about threats at schools throughout the East Bay.

By colleagues Kristin Bender and Daniel Jimenez:

A series of unrelated bomb and graffiti threats at several school campuses in the past week have police in three East Bay cities on alert.

On Wednesday about 2 p.m., the Fremont school district put Thornton Jr. High School on lockdown for roughly 30 minutes after district officials received a phone call about a bomb threat there, police said.

Police checked the school and lifted the lockdown at 2:35 p.m., but authorities were continuing to investigate.

Meanwhile, police in Pleasanton added extra patrols at Foothill High School this week after a graffiti threat was found in a girls bathroom.

Foothill High Principal John Dwyer sent a note to parents and staff about “a possible threat toward the school,” after the graffiti was discovered.

Pleasanton police could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

In Tracy, extra police and security were added at Kimball High School, possibly until the end of the week, after two students last week found threatening graffiti in a girls bathroom.

For the whole story, click here.


Plan to rename Alvarado Middle School sparks controversy in Union City

Remember in the early 1990s when the renaming of Army Street to Cesar Chavez Street caused a huge stir in San Francisco? Now, suggestions to rename San Francisco International after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk is also causing some controversy.

Closer to home, I got a taste of a similar dispute last week in Union City while covering the New Haven Unified School District board meeting. The board held a public hearing on the possible renaming of Alvarado Middle School and Union City’s large Filipino-American population came out in droves to urge the board to rename the school after Filipino-American farm labor leaders, Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. The meeting was crowded and contentious. Some people spoke against the name change, but the vast majority of those attending the meeting were there to support honoring the now-deceased labor leaders.

The board is expected to decide the issue at next Tuesday’s meeting (March 19).

For more of the story, click here.




Brawl erupts at Ohlone-Merritt basketball game Wednesday night

A melee occurred Wednesday night at the Ohlone College campus in Fremont, after a close playoff game between Ohlone and Merritt College. According to the YouTube video listed and linked below, the fight was pretty ugly but appears to have ended pretty quickly, with minimal damage.

I wonder if the same thing would happen if we held an annual Tri-City Beat Readers Picnic?

Anyway, here’s a link to the video:

Brawl erupts after an Ohlone-Merritt baseketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2013

By the way, Merritt won the close contest, 79-76.


American High School’s concert/dinner fundraiser scheduled March 21

From a press release from the American High School Band Parents Organization (AHS-BPO):

On March 21, American High School in Fremont is hosting its annual Pops Concert and Italian Dinner. The public is invited to enjoy a pasta dinner, followed by performances by American High School’s Choir, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Winter Percussion, and Winter Guard.

There will be a silent auction, with all proceeds benefitting the American High School Music Department.

The pasta dinner is prepared on premises by parent volunteers with thanks to American High’s Culinary Arts Department. The main course will be spaghetti — available in red or white vegetarian sauce, along with meatballs. Green salad, fruit salad, garlic bread and dessert will accompany dinner. A variety of hot and cold beverages will be served.

The evening’s main event will be the music performed by the award-winning musicians of American High School, whose selections will include “Hercules,” “Les Miserables,” and “Shrek.”  This fundraising event will help pay for the 70-plus member marching band’s new uniforms.

Although the Fremont Unified  School District supplies a classroom and the salary of American High School’s music and band instructor, Mr. Richard Wong. But all instruments, repairs, uniforms, supplies, travel expenses, and ancillary instruction are funded by donations.

Dinner starts at 6:15 p.m. American High School’s rotunda, at 36300 Fremont Blvd. The concert will start at 7:30. Admission is $10, general; students and seniors, $7; children 6 and under are free. AHS students with ASB sticker get in for $6. Please note: there is no separate admission for the concert only. No food will be served during the concert. Parking and event entrance are on the side street, Alder Avenue.

For more information, call 510-796-1776 ext. 57708, or see the AHS music department website: www.americanbandrocksit.com


Slain Newark Memorial football star’s ex-girlfriend testifies about fatal stabbing

I was assigned to go to Oakland yesterday to cover the trial of Abraham Hade, the Fremont 19-year-old accused of fatally stabbing Osana Futi, a Newark Memorial High football star.

Futi’s former girlfriend took the stand and she shed light on what exactly led to the stabbing that killed Futi. Prosecutors allege that the defendant is a Norteno gang member and he is facing a murder charge with a gang enhancement clause, which will add years to his sentence if convicted. When asked by Deputy D.A. Elgin Lowe whether there has been a “longstanding” feud between Newark Memorial football players and the Norteno gang in Newark and Fremont, Futi’s former girlfriend said those problems have been around long before she attended Newark Memorial.

So now, a star athlete who had overcome all kinds of adversity is dead and Hade is in danger of going to prison for a very, very long time. Sitting in the Oakland courthouse yesterday, senseless violence rarely seemed more senseless.

For the rest of the story, click here.




Issue: Security cameras at Fremont religious institutions

During last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, an attention-getting issue emerged in a discussion that had previously focused on traffic, parking, petty crime — the problems that had angered residents living near the Fremont Sikh Temple on Gurdwara Road, near Mission Blvd. in the Niles district. Commissioners,  temple leaders, city staff and the police hope they have addressed  those nagging issues by requiring the temple to adhere to dozens of conditions. The Planning Commission voted to approve the temple’s expansion plans.

Meanwhile, some commissioners — led by Roman Reed and  David Bonaccorsi — were far more vocal in their opposition to one of those conditions: placing security cameras in the parking lot outside the Gurdwara (or temple).  Commissioners voted down the cameras by a margin of 5-2, with Commissioners Dirk Lorenz and Rick Jones casting the dissenting votes. The majority of commissioners said they objected to the idea that Gurdwara leaders would have to keep security video for at least two weeks and would have to provide police with the video upon request, even without a search warrant, Bonaccorsi said Friday.  They also noted that there are no security cameras at other houses of religious worship in Fremont, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other, and they worried that putting the cameras at one kind of temple or church sent a wrong — perhaps even discriminatory — message.

To repeat, the temple is expanding by nearly 50 percent — that’s been approved, and that might be all that neighbors care about (with many being unhappy about it). But commissioners made sure the cameras did not make the final cut, and I suppose your view on that depends on which side of the civil liberties fence you stand.

What’s your take on this issue?