I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in sunny Palm Springs, bringing you the latest headlines from this great state of ours.
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9 dead in shooting rampage at San Jose rail yard
A gunman opened fire at a light rail yard Wednesday, killing eight people and himself in the latest shooting rampage to rock the nation in recent weeks.
Police spokesman Russell Davis said the gunman was an employee at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail hub, and other employees were among the victims. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said the gunman took his own life.
Craig Fair, the FBI special agent in charge, said the crime scene was “fairly sizable” and is “going to take a while to process.”
The suspect was identified as Samuel Cassidy, 57, who had been licensed with the Bureau of Automotive Repair as a smog check repair technician since 2003.
“These folks were heroes during COVID-19. The buses never stopped running. The VTA didn’t stop running. They just kept at work, and now we’re really calling on them to be heroes a second time — to survive such a terrible, terrible tragedy,” County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said.
The incident marks Santa Clara County’s second mass shooting in less than two years. In 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, killing three people and wounding 17.
Gov. Gavin Newsom lamented the country’s latest mass shooting.
“What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?” Newsom said at a press conference, his voice cracking at times. “When are we going to come to grips with this? When are we going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively?”
He added, “Wake up to this reality and take a little damn responsibility, all of us. … Move beyond the platitudes and the usual rhetoric that tends to mark not just these moments, but the aftermath of these moments.”
There have been 15 mass killings in 2021, each with at least four fatal victims, according to an Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University database. All cases were shootings and claimed a total of 86 lives.
Reward reaches at least $200K in search for shooter of 6-year-old boy on California freeway
The reward fund for tips leading to an arrest in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy in an apparent road rage incident last week has surged to at least $200,000.
At a Tuesday meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the allocation of $100,000 for a reward fund to help identify the shooter, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley confirmed to USA Today.
“Let’s get justice for his family and our devastated community,” Don Wagner, another county supervisor, tweeted along with his announcement of the board’s approval.
Aiden Leos, was sitting in the backseat of his mother’s car as she drove him to kindergarten when another driver shot him, authorities said. Aiden was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The $50,000 from Wagner’s office matches a $50,000 reward offered by the boy’s family, according to the tweet. Foley also pledged $50,000, according to a Tuesday statement, and that total climbed to $200,000 after an anonymous donation announced at a Tuesday vigil for Aiden. And it’s possible the fund has reached $250,000. ABC7 on Wednesday reported that a group of Orange County businessmen had offered another $50,000.
How successful has LA police reform been after George Floyd’s murder?
It’s been a year since the murder of George Floyd, and during that time police reform in Los Angeles has been a major topic for the first time since the Rodney King beating in 1991.
But what sort of changes have been implemented? LAist reports that “reformers have won major victories at the ballot box, cuts to the LAPD budget and new initiatives to remove the police from traffic stops and mental health calls.”
However, the report says the movement’s overall progress has been uneven, saying there has been some change, but no transformation. One of the reformers’ biggest challenges over the past year has been the dramatic increase in shootings and homicides, which both LAPD Chief Michel Moore and Sheriff Alex Villanueva suggest are the results of their departments’ budget cuts.
“It’s real simple,” Villanueva said recently. “You’ve got more crime, more crooks, and less cops. What could go wrong?” Read the full article here.
AP source: Biden picks LA Mayor Garcetti for ambassador to India post
President Joe Biden is expected to announce he is nominating former senior State Department official Nicholas Burns to serve as his ambassador to China and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be his ambassador to India, according to a person familiar with the matter.
With the selections, Biden is turning to a seasoned diplomat and a longtime political ally to serve in two of the country’s highest-profile diplomatic postings.
It was not clear when either nomination would be announced, according to the person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment on either Burns or Garcetti and noted that “no one is final until they’re announced.”
Garcetti, if confirmed, would be dispatched to India as it has been overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. India’s death toll is the third-highest reported in the world after the U.S. and Brazil, and true numbers are thought to be significantly greater.
Alex Comisar, a spokesperson in Garcetti’s mayoral office, declined to comment.
White shark population along California’s central coast is small but healthy
White sharks, commonly referred to as “great” white sharks, are one of nature’s apex predators. However, maintaining California’s white shark population has been a concern for decades. Since 1994, the sharp-toothed creatures have been a protected species. In 2011, California banned shark finning in state waters.
Thanks to tireless work by local researchers, the Central Coast population seems to be thriving. Recently, Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center put out a press release saying that the white shark population off California’s Central Coast is small but healthy.
Researchers spent eight years monitoring the population at Año Nuevo Island north of Santa Cruz, the Farallon Islands off of San Francisco, and Tomales Bay north, the area commonly known as the “red triangle.”
What researchers found was a stable population of sharks. Subadult sharks showed no increase in population, nor did the female adult white sharks. But male adult white sharks showed a slight increase in population over time, according to said Paul Kanive, a graduate student involved in the project.
Meet the last resident of Chino’s last Basque boarding house
If you’ve never heard of an ostatuak, a Basque boarding house, you’re not alone. But for more than 100 years, these establishments populated the American West, with as many as 30 situated in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Today, only one — Centro Basco in Chino — remains in Southern California. And Michel Bordagary is its lone tenant. The 83-year-old moved there in 1966, with only the clothes on his back and whatever belongings he could carry.
These days, the Centro’s boarding rooms, aside from the one Bordagary calls home, remain empty. And the facility operates as a restaurant and cultural institution. But there’s a whole lot that happened between 1940, when the Centro opened its doors, and now.
And lastly, on this day in history: John Wayne was born. Identified by public polls as one of the most popular film actors of all time, Wayne, who came to epitomize the American West, entered the world on this day in 1907. The star of such classic films as “Stagecoach,” “Fort Apache,” “Rio Bravo,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and “True Grit,” for which he won an Academy Award, Wayne died of cancer in Los Angeles in 1979. (history.com)
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: ABC7, history.com, LAist. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected].