Entries in San Diego (33)


California Amber Alert Suspect Killed; Hannah Anderson Safe

iStockPhoto/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The suspected kidnapper of 16-year-old Hannah Anderson was killed in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness by FBI agents on Saturday afternoon, according to San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore. 

40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio had been spotted with Anderson in Idaho on Friday night, prompting a manhunt that included local and federal authorities. 

DiMaggio is also suspected of killing Anderson’s mother and brother.

The kidnapping was first reported by a state-wide Amber Alert last Sunday night.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Police Investigate Reddit Murder 'Confession'

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- California police are investigating an alleged murder, confessed anonymously on the internet and brought to the authorities' attention by citizen sleuths who believe they may have uncovered the poster's identity.

The San Diego Police Department is picking up where users of the popular website Reddit left off, working to confirm if indeed a murder actually took place and if so, who is responsible, said police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer.

"This may be a hoax and it may be real," said Mayer. "We received a tip and our Cold Case Unit is investigating it like any other tip. It may be a hoax, but it's always a good idea to report this kind of information. Sometimes it's the one thing that breaks open a case."

The confession came in an unlikely place, a caption on a photograph of a bear. Reddit users typically admit to innocuous mistakes or misdeeds by adding text to the bear picture to create a meme called Confession Bear.

But this bear had a startling confession.

"My sister had an abusive meth addict boyfriend. I killed him with his own drugs while he was unconscious and they ruled it as an overdose," a user identified only as Naratto wrote.

Within minutes, the post went viral, with thousands of Reddit users wondering if it was true. Hundreds of others began searching for information about Naratto, looking for clues to his identity – his age, location, occupation – mentioned in other comments he had left previously.

"If I had a dollar for every time someone took me… seriously on the internet, I would be able to retire from today alone," Naratto, wrote in response to the comments and questions. "If you want to catch a murderer, get out of your house, put on some f***ing tights and go fight crime."

Users believe the clues point to a 24-year-old San Diego man, and have posted his name and photograph online.

Police said there are currently no suspects because they do not even know if a crime has taken place and therefore won't name anyone as the subject of an investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Student in Custody after Email Warned of Mass School Shooting

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- A 12-year-old middle school student was taken into custody Saturday after allegedly sending an email to a school administrator threatening to shoot 23 students and a teacher, the San Diego Sheriff's Office said in a press release Sunday.

Deputies from the Poway Sheriff's Station learned Saturday morning about the email threat that had been sent to the administrator the previous night. The message made reference to 3,000 rounds of ammunition and numerous firearms and said the shooting would take place on Monday, Feb. 11. Officials from local, state and federal agencies launched an investigation and identified a 12-year-old Twin Peaks Middle School student as a possible suspect. Upon serving a search warrant at the student's residence Saturday at about 5:30 p.m., detectives seized several computers, along with numerous handguns and rifles.

The student was taken into custody and admitted to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation, according to the press release.

The case is being turned over to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


San Diego Police Shoot Armed Suspect in Movie Theater

ABC News(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- San Diego police shot and critically wounded a gunman who was hiding in a movie theater.

Police stormed into a screening of "Les Miserables" at the Reading Cinemas Carmel Mountain around 3:50 p.m. Saturday and confronted 20-year-old Tom Billodeaux of Escondido, Calif.

The suspect was initially cooperative and put his hands up, however, police said he then dropped his hand and appeared to reach for the gun on his lap. An officer fired, hitting Billodeaux in the arm and chest.

No one else was wounded in the shooting. Billodeaux was transported to Palomar Medical Center.

The incident began as a domestic dispute between Billodeaux and his girlfriend in a parking lot across the street from the theater.

The 20-year-old suspect left a suicide note at home and confronted his 19-year-old girlfriend who was in her car, taking a lunch break from work around 2 p.m., the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

When the woman tried to return to her job, Billodeaux grabbed the woman from behind and threatened witnesses who tried to intervene with a gun, police said.

Billodeaux then fled the scene, running across the street and toward the movie theater, which is attached to a busy shopping plaza.

Police secured the scene, going from store to store and searching outgoing cars from the parking lot for the suspect, as a police helicopter kept watch over the entire area.

Officers then shifted the search to the movie theater and worked to evacuate staff and customers from each theater until they located the suspect, the Union-Tribune reported.

"We were in the movie theater, and the lights turned on and… two cops came through with their guns," a witness told ABC News' San Diego affiliate KGTV. "Apparently the person they were looking for was in the theater and then gunshots started."

The theater remained closed while police conducted their investigation. There was no word on when it will reopen.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


SeaWorld Killer Whale Injury Spurs PETA Complaint

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(SAN DIEGO) -- A killer whale at SeaWorld in San Diego is recovering from a nasty gash to its jaw that is the subject of a dispute between the park and the animal rights group PETA.

SeaWorld says the 11-year-old killer whale named Nakai was injured during a show last month when he somehow came in contact with a portion of the pool.  The gaping hole is so big that Nakai’s jawbone was left exposed.

PETA says an anonymous whistle-blower told them that Nakai was attacked by other captive, angry orcas at the park.

“You can’t keep three young males together in what is, for them a fishpond or a fishbowl,” PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk told ABC News.  “They will have nowhere to go unless they can swim through concrete when they feel aggressive towards each other.”

The animal rights group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, saying it wants SeaWorld disciplined for not keeping the whales separated as required under the Animal Welfare Act.  The law requires incompatible marine mammals to be kept in separate enclosures, PETA said.

SeaWorld says veterinarians determined the injury was not a result of an animal bite and provided video to ABC News showing Nakai on the mend. Trainers and veterinarians say they are closely monitoring his recovery and treating him with antibiotics.

“He’s [Nakai] doing very well and interacting with all the other whales and trainers,” said Kristi Burtis, supervisor of animal training at SeaWorld.

Nakai is a killer whale with a violent family tree.  Nakai’s father, Tilikum, was the orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., two years ago.

“It’s hard to tell if they’re just playing rough or if these are just aggressive interactions between individuals,” said Robert Pitman of the National Marine Fisheries Service in San Diego.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Woman Valeria Alvarado Fatally Shot by Border Patrol Agent

(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- Authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of a 32-year-old woman in the suburban San Diego area after she allegedly hit a Border Patrol agent with her car.

Investigators said Valeria Alvarado ran down the agent with her car as border patrol agents were in a Chula Vista neighborhood to serve a felony warrant on Friday.

The agent said he had no choice but to defend himself and fired at Alvarado get her to stop the car.

Alvarado was hit by five bullets.

According to eye witnesses, the shooting left the mother of five with bullet holes in her face, arms, and chest.

"She literally ran our agent down, the agent actually was impacted, was hit by the vehicle and carried several hundred yards on the hood before fearing for his life and did discharge his weapon to get the vehicle to stop," said Border Patrol Deputy Chief Rodney Scott.

Alvarado's husband, Gilbert Alvarado said he wants the shooting investigated.

"I want justice. Yes. Whoever shot my wife, that guy whoever that is, that guy needs to get shot," he said.

Alvarado's family called the killing senseless.

"Where's the evidence that my wife threatened a trained officer? You know? He's a trained officer to use lethal force, shoot my wife like that and just not even call an ambulance?" said Gilbert Alvarado.

The FBI and Chula Vista Police are investigating the shooting. Officials have not released the name of the agent involved in the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Grizzly Bear Mauls San Diego Man to Death in Alaska's Denali National Park

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENALI, Alaska) -- A San Diego man was mauled to death by a grizzly bear in Alaska's Denali National Park after he stopped to take pictures of the animal, officials said.

Richard White, 49, had been backpacking alone for three nights when he encountered the bear on Friday near the Toklat River, according to the National Park Service.

It was the first known fatal mauling in Denali National Park.

Backpackers must undergo "Bear Aware" training in order to receive a permit to hike in the backcountry, park officials said. The training includes a 30-minute safety video and a briefing from rangers.

Friday afternoon, three day hikers found an abandoned backpack and "evidence of a violent struggle."

The hikers alerted National Park Service staff, who launched an aerial search of the park and located White's remains, however a short time later the grizzly bear returned and began to circle around the rangers, park officials said.

The rangers fired two shots at the bear, but the animal was not hit. The rangers decided to retreat until daylight, officials said in a statement.

On Saturday, rangers and state troopers returned to the site and shot the bear.

White's remains were taken to the medical examiner in Anchorage.

Investigators examined the stomach contents of the bear and photographs White had taken and were able to determine they had killed the bear responsible for mauling White, officials said.

While the portion of the park where White was mauled is closed, other areas of the park remain open, officials said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Mom Charged with Leaving Baby in Hot Car

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego mother, arrested for leaving her 4-month-old daughter in a car while shopping, was released from custody this week after posting bail.

On Tuesday at 3:10 p.m., police said a maintenance worker noticed a child locked in a sedan with the windows rolled up and called 911.  The National City police and fire departments immediately arrived at the scene -- a parking lot in front of a clothing store in a strip mall on East Plaza Boulevard.

A police officer and a witness forced open a rear window to retrieve the child, who was unresponsive and covered in sweat, National City Police Sgt. Julian Villagomez said.

According to Villagomez, the 25-year-old mother, Starley Geart, left the store moments later.  She appeared to be confused.  Although Geart claimed to have been in the store for a minute, surveillance tapes show Geart in the store for approximately nine minutes.

Firefighters subsequently locked the car for 10 minutes and measured the temperature at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Villagomez said.

"We all need to be very careful," he said.  "Here in California we have beautiful weather… it was 75 degrees but that temperature can nearly double in a locked car in minutes.  We need to be very careful and not leave kids or pets unattended."

According to Villagomez, Geart was arrested for felony child endangerment and booked into Las Colinas Detention Facility, while her daughter was taken to Rady Children's Hospital.  The child was released and placed in protective custody.  Since the victim is a minor, neither Rady Children's Hospital nor San Diego County Child Welfare Services could comment on the specifics of the case.

Geart was released Wednesday after posting bail.  Her arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 1.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SeaWorld Near-Fatal Whale Attack Video Released

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The just-released 2006 video of a veteran trainer at SeaWorld being grabbed by his leg and dragged under water by a 5,000-pound killer whale indicates that the animal might have been trying to send a message, the journalist who obtained the video said.

"I think she was trying to tell him, 'Hey, I got to go take care of my kid ... she's calling for me, and I don't want to perform,'" said David Kirby, who made the video public for his new book, Death at SeaWorld.

Ken Peters, then 39, was seen flailing helplessly as he is dragged underwater by Kasatka, a 30-year-old killer whale that he'd trained for years.

Kasatka, who was featured in performances at SeaWorld's San Diego theme parks, is seen rag-dolling Peters, holding him underwater as a minute passes, then bringing him up.  Then she releases him, and Peters thrashes for the edge of the pool.  Trying to run, Peters stumbles, his feet mangled.

"If she wanted to kill him, she would have killed him," former trainer Thad Lacinak said.  "We are taught to remain calm.  If you get excited, the animal will get excited."

Kirby says that Peters is incredibly lucky to be alive.

"He's kicking his legs, trying to keep her away from his body, and then she grabs him again, and down they go," Kirby said.

The video became a dramatic piece of evidence in a Florida courtroom in the fall of 2011, when federal regulators defended their decision to issue a citation against Sea World.  This came after a fatal incident at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, when 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau was pulled underwater and killed by the 11,000-pound killer whale Tilikum.

That was the whale's third fatal attack on a human.  After a year long hiatus after the incident, Tilikum returned to performing at Sea World in March 2011.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration claimed the theme park put trainers like Brancheau at risk, and that this video proves SeaWorld was aware of the dangers.

In response to the case at the time, SeaWorld asserted it was unaware the whales could be deadly, and told ABC News on Tuesday that after the 2006 incident, Peters "showed skillful execution of an emergency response plan" and "returned to work shortly after this incident and remains a member of the team at Shamu Stadium to this day."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


San Diego Fireworks Show Goes Up in Flames

ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- One of the nation’s biggest July 4th firework displays turned into a 15-second bust after a “premature ignition” caused pyrotechnics to spread across five barges in the San Diego Bay to go off all at once.

Thousands of onlookers had spent their July 4th camped out along San Diego’s beaches and parks Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the city’s 12th annual Big Bay Boom fireworks display, billed by organizers this year as being “bigger and more intense than in past years.”

The big show was expected to start at 9 p.m. and last 18 minutes but at 8:55 p.m., onlookers heard an explosion of booms and looked up to see what appeared to be a fire in the sky, but was actually the fireworks, just not in the breathtaking, coordinated display that organizers had spent months planning.

After 15 seconds the music continued, but the light show ended.  The abrupt start and stop left people wondering if that was really what they had waited hours to see.

Nearly 25 minutes later, around 9:20 p.m., when the show was expected to end, the stunned onlookers got their answer.  That 15-second display was it, organizers said.  There would be no re-do.

The Port of San Diego took to Twitter immediately after the explosion to apologize for what it called a “technical glitch” and said event producers were investigating the cause.

In a statement issued nearly three hours later, just before midnight, the port said that the mistake was caused by technicians who sent a signal “to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction.”

Garden State Fireworks, the firm hired by the city to produce the show, acknowledged the mistake.  “We will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds. We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties,” the company said in a statement posted on

No injuries were reported but the force of the fireworks exploding at once was so great that a large rumble could reportedly be felt throughout downtown San Diego just before 9 p.m.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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