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ID of pilot who crashed plane in Marin County not expected until next week

The identification of the pilot who died when his plane crashed west of Novato Monday is not expected before Aug. 25, the Marin County coroner's office said.

The coroner's office is using fingerprint and dental analysis as well as DNA testing to identify the pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza that crashed and started a 32-acre vegetation fire north of Hicks Valley, Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd said.

The plane departed Brookings, Oregon and was heading to San Carlos Airport. The male pilot reported having engine problems around 9:30 p.m. Monday and said he would try to make it to Gnoss Field Airport in Novato, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Air traffic controllers lost radio contact with the pilot shortly afterward, Gregor said.

The pilot suffered thermal burn injuries, Boyd said.

The plane was registered to Robert John Madge, 51, of Redwood City.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:47:48 -0700

Firefighters control 2-alarm kitchen fire at Carl's Jr. restaurant

Firefighters brought a two-alarm fire at a Carl's Jr. restaurant in Pittsburg under control Saturday morning, a Contra Costa County fire marshal said.

Fire officials received a call at 8:33 a.m. from an employee at the Carl's Jr. restaurant, located at 4595 Century Blvd. near Auto Center Road, reporting a grease fire in a deep fryer, Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said.

The fire was brought under control around 9:35 a.m. and no injuries were reported, Marshall said.

The fast food restaurant was open for business when the fryer caught fire and all employees and customers were able to safely exit the building, according to Marshall.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and initially attempted to control the blaze using fire extinguishers, but the fire spread through the ducts above the fryer to the structure, Marshall said.

The cause of the grease fire remains under investigation, according to the fire marshal.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:40:59 -0700

Fox too friendly to be released into the wild

While foxes are typically considered to be cunning and wily, friendly would not be a term often associated with the woodland creatures.

But one fox in England is proving that foxes can be sweet instead of sly.

According to the Daily Mail, Pudding the fox was abandoned at birth by her mother. The National Fox Welfare Society took charge of the abandoned animal, with hopes of integrating the orphan with a litter of fox cubs so she could eventually be released in the wild.

But it turns out Pudding prefers human companionship over her own kind.

Because Pudding is too tame now to survive in the wild, she will continue residing at the rescue facility, where she has become a star attraction. Pudding is gaining fans throughout the world via the rescue center’s Facebook page and global news reports.

The public should view Pudding as a rare exception. The National Fox Welfare Society wants everyone to understand that foxes are wild creatures and should remain in their natural habitat whenever possible.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:37:52 -0700

Sacramento man uses pine needles to get rescued in Sierra

A Sacramento man said pine needles helped save his life when he recently found himself lost in the Sierra for 5 days.

Mike Vilhauer said he just wanted to catch some fish when headed out to the mountains in Alpine County a week ago.

He said when nothing was biting in the lake, he set off in search of crickets in hopes they would be more tempting bait.

And that was when he got lost.

"Every time I would walk up one ridge and I would think 'There is the lake.' But there would be nothing," said Vilhauer.

Stranded in the wilderness, he made a shelter out of branches and pine needles.

Vilhauer said when he saw helicopters pass overhead he decided to write out the word "HELP" in 8-foot letters using pine needles.

On Sunday, rescuers spotted him and brought him to safety.

They also told him there were no fish in the lake where he'd gone fishing.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:13:19 -0700

All lanes reopened after fatal accident southbound Hwy 880

All lanes have reopened after a fatal traffic accident closed lanes early Saturday morning on the southbound Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The accident was initially reported at 3:18 a.m. near the Hegenberger Road off ramp, the CHP said.

The driver of the wrecked vehicle was found not breathing at 3:20 a.m., according to the CHP.

The closure was reduced to three lanes at 3:38 a.m. when a sig-alert was issued, according to the CHP.

The sig-alert was cancelled and all lanes were reopened at 5:09 a.m., the CHP said.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 08:17:54 -0700

Victim shot backstage after Wiz Khalifa concert in Mountain View dies

A 38-year-old man has died Saturday morning as a result of injuries suffered during a shooting after a Wiz Khalifa concert at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre on Friday night, police spokeswoman said.

Police are trying to identify the suspect of the shooting, who is described as a black man in his 20s with short hair, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall, Mountain View police spokeswoman Shino Tanaka said.

At the time of the shooting, the suspect was wearing a black top with perhaps white pants along with a red baseball cap, Tanaka said.

The weapon fired during the shooting was described as a black pistol with a large magazine, according to Mountain View police.

Police received multiple calls around 11:05 p.m. reporting shots fired at the popular amphitheater located at 1 Amphitheatre Parkway following the rap concert. Outside agencies also responded to Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Officers said one victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to a hospital for treatment, where he was pronounced deceased.

The identity of the victim has not yet been released. Tanaka said police were trying to determine how the individual was able to bring the weapon into the concert venue.

"We don't know that. This is an ongoing investigation. We will definitely try to determine how the individual was able to bring a firearm into Shoreline," said Tanaka.

A capacity crowd of over 22,000 fans had gathered for the concert. Police remained on the scene Saturday morning investigating the incident.

Police are looking for any witnesses who may have information leading to the arrest of any suspects involved in the shooting, Tanaka said.

Anyone with video footage, photos, or similar evidence of the shooting, or of the backstage area leading up to the shooting, is asked to contact police at (650) 903-6395.

The motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 07:39:33 -0700

Ferguson: More online donations for officer than Mike Brown

If you've been awake in the past two weeks, you likely know the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has set off a passionate response.

Scores of protesters have taken to the streets demanding justice. (Video via NBC)

SPEAKER: “What do we want?”

GROUP: “Justice!”

SPEAKER: “For who?"

GROUP: "Mike Brown."

And violence surrounding the shooting has led to the destruction of local businesses, curfews and even an appearance by the National Guard. (Video via KMOVABC

But Ferguson isn’t the only place where emotions are running high. (Video via The New York Times)

They’re also at a fever pitch online, where supporters of both Michael Brown and Darren Wilson — the Ferguson police officer authorities say shot the unarmed teen — have created fundraising campaigns.

Crowdfunding site GoFundMe is home to the two most prominent crowdfunding campaigns related to the shooting. One is a memorial fund in honor of Michael Brownthe other a fundraiser for Darren Wilson. But the one that has raised the most money might surprise you.

That would be the page for Officer Darren Wilson, which had raised more than $230,000 from more than 5,000 donors before being transferred to a new campaign reportedly run through nonprofit organization Shield of Hope. 

According to the page, all that money "will be sent directly to Darren Wilson and his family for any financial needs they may have including legal fees.”

That despite Wilson not yet being charged with anything, although grand jury hearings are ongoing.

Comments now appear to have been removed from both pages, but according to The Washington Post, most of those donating in support of Wilson were doing so out of “support for law enforcement, religious conviction, or a belief that everyone should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”

Although, as Mother Jones reports, some left derogatory and racist comments along with their donations.

Which prompted GoFundMe to take action. It wrote on Twitter, “Donors' comments posted in violation of GoFundMe's terms have been removed."

Some have called out the racist comments on the site, but others have taken issue with the website hosting the campaign at all.

Pointing to the site’s terms and conditions, which prohibit “items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime,” they argue it’s a violation of the site’s own rules.

And others still have taken issue with the fact GoFundMe collects a 5 percent fee on all donations.

One Twitter user wrote, “The Darren Wilson @gofundme campaign is now up to $200K. @gofundme's 5% take is $10K. Blood money from the murder of a child. Disgraceful”

GoFundMe isn’t the only place supporters have backed Wilson, though. A “Support Darren Wilson” Facebook page currently has more than 50,000 likes.

Custom apparel site Teespring  is selling shirts featuring a badge, Wilson’s name and the phrase “I stand by you,” with proceeds going to Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department.

Of course, on the other side of the coin there's Mike Brown’s GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $160,000. All of those funds will reportedly go to Brown’s family.   

That along with a few smaller donation pages looking to raise money for better media coverage and scholarship funds for Brown’s siblings.

If you want to help out without choosing a side, you can do that too. This campaign on Fundly is taking donations to feed the children of Ferguson.

This video includes photos from Getty Images. 

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 06:48:59 -0700

Western U.S. drought caused Earth's crust to rise

A crippling drought in the western United States has lifted the Earth's crust by nearly a sixth of an inch in that region and just over half an inch in California's mountains.

The loss of 63 trillion gallons of groundwater—enough to cover the United States, west of the Rocky Mountains, in four inches of water—caused the shift. 

In addition to this information, a study published in the journal Science on Thursday also shows that the soil is rising due to a lack of groundwater to weigh it down.

One of the study's authors explained to LiveScience: "It's the same as if you had a block of rubber and you pushed down on it with your finger. If you take your finger off, it comes back up."

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The Scripps Institution of Oceanography conducted the research by taking measurement using GPS stations across the western United States.

The entire western U.S. has faced a severe drought over the past year and a half, with California hit particularly hard. The Los Angeles Times writes that 2013 was the state's driest in at least 119 years.

Things are pretty bad over at the nation's largest reservoir, Lake Mead, too. This report from KGET shows what locals call "the bathtub line," which is where the lake's water line used to be.

Scientists also say that even though this drought has caused tectonic plates underneath the region to rise, it does not increase the chance for earthquakes.

Published: Sat, 23 Aug 2014 00:34:29 -0700

Officer to perform in one man play about police shootings

A Bay Area law enforcement officer is taking to the stage to share his unique perspective about the deadly police shooting of an 18-year-old man in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jinho Ferreira, a native of the East Bay, wrote a play that he's now performing at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.

Ferreira goes by the stage name Piper.

Piper will play 17 characters in the one man show, “Cops and Robbers,” including a minister and a conservative radio talk show host.

The play is not specifically about Ferguson, as it was written two years ago, but will show the range of reactions to a police shooting.

"The one thing that parallels Ferguson is no one's listening to the other," said Piper.

The artist says until both the black community and the police start listening to each other, its likely officer involved shootings of young black men will continue to happen.

"I'm a rapper from West Oakland, went to Berkeley schools and wrote a play and I'm a cop," said Piper.

He was a professional rap artist when he attended a protest after Oscar Grant was killed by a Bart police officer.

It inspired him to join the Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy where he has now been serving as a deputy for three and a half years.

"I've been stopped before. I've been harassed before," said Piper.

He says being stopped by police is something most young black men have experienced, but that the police are not the only people guilty of racial profiling.

Piper says often people readily suspect young black men of crime.

"What we don't talk about is the racial profiling of American citizens because someone calls the police," said Piper.

The artist and deputy hopes his play will reach a broad audience.

"For the first time in my life, I feel like the art that I'm creating is actually reaching a demographic I want it to reach," said Piper.

The demographic Piper wants to reach is everyone who's passionate about helping to bring about change, including young people, inmates and policy makers.

This is the first play Piper has written and he credits his drama teacher Ami Zins, who taught him at Contra Costa College and her husband Lou Levinson for helping him, bring this story to the stage and directing him.

Piper will be performing "Cops and Robbers" again Saturday, August 23 and the first two weekends of September. All performances are at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley.

Tickets start at $20 per person.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 22:19:14 -0700

Oakland looks to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists

The City of Oakland has received more than $6 million from the state to develop plans to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.       

One of those improvement plans target a one-mile stretch of busy Macarthur Boulevard from busy Seminary Avenue to High Street.

The sidewalks are narrow and don't even exist on some blocks.

"It's just kind of overgrown with stuff and it’s not very wide or feels very safe. Traffic is crazy," says Zoe Bulick.

She's a student at Mills College near where the improvements are being considered.

In some stretches of Macarthur, there are no sidewalks and the traffic and freeway overpass can make it intimidating she says.

"It’s not very well lit and easy to trip,” said Mills College student Dani Towler.

Improving Macarthur Boulevard is one of two projects Oakland plans to develop with $6 million it is receiving in state transportation funds.

The plan would eliminate two lanes of traffic, add plants and trees and improve bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

"It will make it safer more inviting and hopefully encourage more people to walk," said Oakland public works director Michael Neary.

The other project focuses on fixing the sidewalks along International Boulevard and improving lighting for pedestrians at night.

The city hopes it will help make the area more inviting and boost business on the Avenue.

At Blacky's Hair Salon on International near 61st Avenue the owner says something needs to be done here.

"Right now in this area it’s really declined a lot. So we need something to make sure the businesses look appealing to attract new clients," said Tonya McKinnis.

The new money allows the city to continue to develop the plans and apply for additional funds. If all goes well city leaders say the projects could be ready in about two years.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:47:22 -0700

Days before game, new sod rolled out a Levi's Stadium

At Levi's Stadium, rolls of sod are going in - double cut and extra thick.

And Coach Jim Harbaugh says he's confident it will be ready for game time, come Sunday.

"We're refitting, retooling, regrouping and a new field is going in. So once again our organization, we can always count on them to do things at the highest level," says Harbaugh.

Just Thursday, the 49ers ripped up their entire field from side line to side line and end line to end line, after concerns it wasn't safe for players.

West Coast Turf has been handling the grass there and has been asked not to comment.

But KTVU spoke to sod expert Erin Gil, who's familiar with what they're up against.

"As I understand the sand is not holding as well as they would like it to and that's giving way underneath the turf itself," Gil says.

Gil, who runs the Grass Farm in Morgan Hill says the heavier, thicker sod being installed now will offer more stability.

"There's more to go ahead and push against so it won't give as easily. So they put more soil on it, make it heavier, that way it can go ahead and resist what's happening now," says Gil.

Sod like this can go in one day and be play-able soon after, according to experts.

In fact, on Thursday, the Eagles hosted the Steelers on grass that had been installed that Monday afternoon.

However, it's not unprecedented to have a game cancelled due to bad turf. That's what happened in this Eagles/Ravens preseason game back in 2001.

Players say they'd love to see this new field before they play on it.

"I hope to. I may have to sneak in there. But yeah I'd love to get out there and walk around on it, see it. But those guys need all the time they can get," says 49ers kicker Phil Dawson.

And this isn't necessarily a permanent fix. The team says there's a chance the new sod will get ripped up again in favor of more improvements.

The decision hasn't been made yet.

As for the impact of all these field troubles, a high school football double header that was scheduled for August 29th has now been moved to October.

However, a soccer game scheduled for September 6th is still on.

The 49ers take on the San Diego Charges in a preseason game Sunday at 1pm.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:09:01 -0700

Police: Jilted lover planted homemade bomb under ex's car

Police say a jilted lover tried to blow his ex-girlfriend up with a homemade bomb, albeit a very crude device. The county bomb squad says it would have been effective in causing damage, however.

The parts were placed in a tin can then set in a bottle full of lighter fluid. 

The would-be bomber placed it under his ex-girlfriend’s SUV. But it was her mom, though, who almost became the victim.
Sandy Beckner says when she spotted the contraption under her daughter's SUV, she had no idea her daughter's ex-boyfriend, Ryan Derose, had allegedly planted it there.

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“That’s almost like a fatal attraction because he had been harassing her. She couldn't go out of the house without him following her,” Beckner says in an exclusive interview Friday.
Authorities say Beckner is fortunate the bomb didn't go off in her hands.

Since finding the device, the family says it has also uncovered threatening text messages Derose sent his ex, promising to blow her up. The daughter’s new boyfriend says Derose warned him: "If you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night, just know it's not about you."
Thomas asked police about Derose’s intentions.
“We think it was simply to threaten his ex,” says Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Jake Smith. “He wasn't satisfied with the way things were left.”  
“As you can see from the bags under my eyes, I haven't been able to sleep,” Beckner said. “I literally have been watching this house 24/7,” Beckner said.
After a search of Derosa's house, police have charged him with terroristic threats and possessing a destructive device. 

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:24:01 -0700

Police confirm man who died in March apartment fire had killed aunt month before

A man who died in a fire at an East Oakland apartment complex in March had killed his 77-year-old aunt at the same apartment the previous month, authorities said Friday.

Richard Fang, 56, died from extensive thermal burns in the fire at the apartment in the 1800 block of 34th Avenue at about 5 a.m. on March 1, Oakland police said.

His aunt, Susan Fong, who lived with Fang at the apartment, was found dead at the apartment on Feb. 7 after an apparent home invasion robbery at the apartment on Feb. 7, police said.

Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said Friday that after an extensive investigation by Oakland police and a thorough review by her office, "It has been determined that the person responsible for the murder of Mrs. Fong is now deceased."

Drenick said, "We are certain we have identified the offender and he is no longer alive."

Oakland police weren't immediately available for comment on their investigation into the matter.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:49:32 -0700

Crews control fire at charity donation center

A fire that started behind a South Bay charity destroyed dozens of clothes and household items on Friday afternoon.

The fire broke out just after 4:00 p.m. behind the Hope Services Donation Center at 3100 Alfred  Street, according to Santa Clara Fire Department Battalion Chief Casey Potts.

Plumes of black smoke filled the sky as flames engulfed a donation bin and three donation trucks filled with items.

The Director of Development and Communications for Hope Services, Robin Doran, said the extent of the loss is unknown. The non-profit organization services six counties in the Bay Area from Half Moon Bay to Monterey and helps people with developmental disabilities.

“This means a bit of a setback, but we hope not much,” Doran said. “Most importantly no one was hurt.”

Doran said thankfully the majority of employees were not at the facility when the fire broke out, but a few staff members made heroic efforts to save other donation trucks from burning.

Ahmed Shoukr, a former Hope Services volunteer, said it was sad to see so many donated items destroyed.

“Three trucks definitely is a big loss because they use those trucks to collect items from people around the Bay Area,” he said. “We really hope we can get together and replace things for them because they do really good things for the community.”

Potts said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

“There is nothing that we would describe as suspicious,” Potts said. “It’s just under investigation until we can determine a point of origin and a cause.”

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:27:13 -0700

Juvenile considered second suspect in alleged gang-shooting to be tried as adult

San Jose police have arrested a teenaged boy considered a second suspect in the alleged gang-related slaying of a man shot multiple times in broad daylight in East San Jose on July 28, police said Friday.

Carlos Vargas, 16, was arrested Aug. 14 on suspicion of homicide with a gang enhancement while incarcerated in the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on an unrelated charge, police spokesman Office Albert Morales said.

Vargas, of San Jose, was transferred to the county's Main Jail after the District Attorney's Office decided to charge him as an adult in the alleged murder of 22-year-old David Escalera, Morales said.

Police captured and arrested another suspect in the case, German Alexis Arjona, 19, of San Jose, on July 29, the day following Escalera's death, police said.

At 3:40 p.m. on July 28, San Jose police were called to investigate a reported shooting in the 200 block of Gramercy Place, where they found a wounded man later identified as Escalera.

Escalera, a resident of San Jose, had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital, according to police.

Investigators believe that the killing was related to criminal street gang activity, according to police. 

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:11:20 -0700

Man wanted on warrants leaps from bicycle, found by police hiding in bushes

A Morgan Hill man wanted on multiple warrants was captured Thursday after jumping off his bicycle and hiding from police in the bushes of the front yard of a residence, police said.

Arturo Arias, 36, was arrested on a number of no-bail warrants for his arrest, resisting arrest and possession of burglary tools, Morgan Hill police reported.

At 12:11 p.m. Thursday, a Morgan Hill police officer turned on his lights and siren to pull over the rider of a bicycle for traffic violations on Wright Avenue west of Monterey Road, according to officers.

The person on the bicycle then leaped off it and started running away, police said.

Other officers arrived to set up a perimeter to prevent the suspect from escaping and soon located him behind some brush in the front yard of a home on Del Monte Avenue near El Toro Court, according to police.

Arias was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail, officers reported.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:06:52 -0700

Danville teacher arrested for alleged child porn possession

A Danville middle school teacher was arrested Friday on suspicion of child pornography possession, police said.

Mitchell Wolf, 58, was arrested at his home on Bourne Lane around 7:30 a.m. after members of the Silicon Valley Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, Task Force served a search warrant, according to police.

He was taken to county jail in Martinez, where he is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Police said Wolf's arrest came after an investigation launched by the ICAC.

Danville police are investigating whether any local children may have been victimized.

Wolf is a teacher at Diablo Vista Middle School at 4100 Camino Tassajara, where he has taught math since 2002, according to San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokesman Terry Koehne.

"We're shocked and saddened by the allegations," he said. "We're going to let the investigation play itself out and we'll work with our local police department in any way we can to cooperate with the investigation."

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:13:57 -0700

Fire burns at Vallejo warehouse

For the second time this month Vallejo firefighters battled flames from a fire on Mare Island.

The three alarm fire was reported at the Alco Metal and Iron Company 3:30 p.m. Friday.

When crews arrived there was black smoke coming from several piles of recycled metal. "There's washers and dryers, there's propane tanks water heaters. It's anything and everything in the pile," says Battalion Chief Mike Brooks of Vallejo Fire.

No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported. At this time the cause is unknown although investigators say workers do a lot of welding in the lot, which means there's no telling what chemicals also went up in smoke.

"We actually did some air monitoring and picked up a couple of parts per million of chemicals in the air," says Brooks.

For that reason the Solano County Hazmat crew was called in.

As a safety precaution a shelter in place order was issued for those living in the northern part of Vallejo.

Friday's fire is the second one this month on Mare Island.

On August 10, crews battled a four alarm fire at an old abandoned military barracks near Friday's scene.

Brooks says there have been very little improvements to the buildings in the area, which makes their job of fighting fires on the island much more difficult.

"They haven't been upkeep for 15-20 years. A lot of holes in the wall a lot of holes in the floor the roof deteriorating conditions. So they're just tender boxes when they burn they burn fast,” says Brooks.

Investigators say another issue they deal with when it comes to fighting fires on the island is the low water supply, which means they have to use more lines and pull water from several sources. They also have to ask the treatment plant to boost the water supply in the area, something they had to do yet again on Friday.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:00:40 -0700

Interpol seeks clues to Thai 'baby factory'

Interpol said Friday it has launched a multinational investigation into what Thailand has dubbed the "Baby Factory" case: a 24-year-old Japanese businessman who has 16 surrogate babies and an alleged desire to father hundreds more.

Police raided a Bangkok condominium earlier this month and found nine babies and nine nannies living in a few unfurnished rooms filled with baby bottles, bouncy chairs, play pens and diapers. They have since identified Mitsutoki Shigeta as the father of those babies — and seven others.

"What I can tell you so far is that I've never seen a case like this," said Thailand's Interpol director, police Maj. Gen. Apichart Suribunya. "We are trying to understand what kind of person makes this many babies."

Apichart said that regional Interpol offices in Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong and India have been asked to probe Shigeta's background, beginning last week. Police say he appears to have registered businesses or apartments in those countries and has frequently traveled there.

"We are looking into two motives. One is human trafficking and the other is exploitation of children," said Thai police Lt. Gen. Kokiat Wongvorachart, Thailand's lead investigator in the case. He said Shigeta made 41 trips to Thailand since 2010. On many occasions he traveled to nearby Cambodia, where he brought four of his babies.

Shigeta has not been charged with any crime. He is trying to get his children back — the 12 in Thailand are being cared for by social services — and he has proven through DNA samples sent from Japan that he is their biological father. He quickly left Thailand after the Aug. 5 raid on the condominium and has said through a lawyer that he simply wanted a large family and has the means to support it.

Kokiat said Shigeta hired 11 Thai surrogate mothers to carry his children, including four sets of twins. Police have not determined the biological mothers, Kokiat said.

The founder of a multinational fertility clinic that provided Shigeta with two surrogate mothers said she warned Interpol about him even before the first baby was born in June 2013.

"As soon as they got pregnant he requested more. He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead," said Mariam Kukunashvili, founder of the New Life clinic, which is based in Thailand and six other countries. He also inquired about equipment to freeze his sperm to have sufficient supply when he's older, she said in a telephone interview from Mexico.

As for Shigeta's motives, Kukunashvili said he told the clinic's manager that "he wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting," and that "the best thing I can do for the world is to leave many children." Kukunashvili declined The Associated Press' request to talk to the clinic manager.

Kukunashvili, who is based at the company's headquarters in the country of Georgia, said she never met Shigeta but received reports from her Thai staff.

She said that in April 2013, she sent faxes in English and French to Interpol's head office in Lyon, France, and an email through the agency's website, but they went unanswered. Apichart of Interpol in Thailand said the local office never saw the warnings. An Interpol spokesman in Lyon did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Kukunashvili also sent Shigeta an email to express suspicion, and attorney Ratpratan Tulatorn responded on his behalf in an Aug. 31, 2013, email that the clinic owner provided to the AP.

The attorney said Shigeta was involved in "no dishonesty, no illegal activities." He said his client hoped to keep using New Life, but the company then stopped working with him.

Shigeta's activities drew no attention until early this month, when an Australian couple was accused of abandoning a baby with his Thai surrogate mother — but taking his twin sister — after learning the boy had Down syndrome. Though the couple disputes the allegation, the case prompted a crackdown by Thai authorities on what had been a largely unregulated industry.

After the Australian case emerged, police received a tip that prompted the raid on Shigeta's Bangkok apartment.

Ratpratan, the lawyer, appeared during the raid to insist that Shigeta had done nothing wrong.

"These are legal babies, they all have birth certificates," Ratpratan told Thailand's Channel 3 television station. "There are assets purchased under these babies' names. There are savings accounts for these babies, and investments. If he were to sell these babies, why would he give them these benefits?"

Ratpratan is no longer Shigeta's lawyer, and his replacement has not responded to requests for comment. Shigeta's current whereabouts are unknown.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:13:04 -0700

Berkeley police searching for suspect who brandished gun during parking dispute

Berkeley police are looking for a suspect who brandished a gun at an apartment complex property manager on Thursday night.

At 11:20 p.m., the property manager confronted three people in the complex's garage at 2310 Piedmont Avenue regarding their illegally parked vehicle, police said.

In the dispute that followed, one of people brandished a revolver, police said.

The suspect and his two acquaintances then drove off, heading south on Piedmont Avenue, police said. The victim was not injured.

Officers from the Berkeley Police Department and the UC Berkeley Police Department searched the area but couldn't find the suspect or his vehicle, police said.

The suspect is described as an Asian male, around the age of 26, about 5 feet 5 inches tall with a muscular build, short hair and a mustache. He was wearing a red short-sleeved shirt and blue jeans, police said.

He was driving a back, two-door Mercedes C-Class accompanied by a man and a woman, police said.

Police urge anyone with information about the crime to call Berkeley police at (510) 981-5900.

Published: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:03:06 -0700