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KVTA Local News

Oxnard Woman Pleads Guilty In Death Of Ventura Educator

KVTA News Wednesday April 16, 2014

The Oxnard woman charged with the fatal collision that claimed the life of a Ventura educator pleaded guilty Wednesday.

23-year-old Shante Chappell entered a guilty plea to felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Chappell struck and killed 38-year-old Chris Prewitt as he jogged alongside southbound Victoria Avenue south of Olivas Park Drive near Ventura early on the morning of Sunday April 6th.

Her attorney, Ron Bamieh, told KVTA News that his client is devastated by what happened. He says when she is sentenced on June 27th she will be facing either 4 or 6 years in state prison.

Bamieh says his client was on Xanax that morning and had been up all night.

The CHP reported she had been driving erratically for several miles before the collision.

She remains free on bail pending sentencing.

Truckload Of Strawberries Goes Up In Flames Near Oxnard

KVTA News Wednesday April 16, 2014

(Photo by Captain Mike Lindbery, Ventura County Fire)

Fire investigators were looking into what caused a fire that destroyed a big rig truck and trailer and its load of strawberries near Oxnard Wednesday morning.

The fire was reported around 10 AM at the Dole facility in the 5700 block of W. Gonzales Road just east of Harbor Boulevard.

Firefighters found the semi and trailer backed up to the loading dock.

The big rig was fully engulfed in flames and the flames were spreading to the building.

Firefighters from Ventura, Oxnard, and the county were able to knock the fire down before it spread into the building but there was damage to the outside of the building.  The rig, its trailer, and a large number of pallets loaded with cardboard boxes of strawberries wrapped in plastic were destroyed by the smoke, flames, and water damage.

No one was hurt.

VPD Looks For Man Who Burned Tent With Homeless People Inside

KVTA News Wednesday April 16, 2014

Ventura police say two people were burned when someone set their tent on fire.

It happened shortly before 8:30 AM Wednesday morning in the 200 block of Thompson Boulevard.

Ventura police say the two victims, a 39-year-old woman and a 42-year-old man, were inside a tent at a homeless encampment along the 101 Freeway when the suspect threw hot coals from a nearby campfire onto the tent. The coals burned through the tent and landed on the two victims.

Police say the victims sustained moderate burns to their backs and arms and were taken to VCMC for treatment.

Police checked the area for a possible suspect described only as a white male in his 40's but did not find anyone.

Anyone with information is asked to call VPD at (805) 339-4441.

Six People Displaced By West Ventura Apartment Fire

KVTA News Wednesday April 16, 2014

Six people were displaced by a residential structure fire in west Ventura early Wednesday morning.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 AM in the 700 block of Cedar Street. It involved one unit in a two story multi unit apartment building.

Firefighters say residents of that unit woke up to heavy smoke coming from the kitsch and living room of the apartment. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to knock the fire down. The fire was confined to that unit.

The Red Cross was called in to help three adults and three children who were displaced by the fire.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Fire officials say the apartment did not have functioning smoke alarms. No one was hurt.

Santa Paula Homicide Suspect Released From Jail

KVTA News Tuesday April 15, 2014

The latest suspect to be arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of an innocent bystander in Santa Paula last month is out of jail.

31-year-old Jesse Ruiz of Santa Paula was released from the Ventura County Jail Monday.

Ruiz was arrested last week on Sheppard Road in Santa Paula in connection with the March 29th gang shooting on High Street that claimed the life of 39-year-old Norma Elizalde.

The Ventura County District Attorney's Office told KVTA News they decided that there was not enough evidence yet against Ruiz to file charges. They say the investigation is continuing.

Two other suspects in the fatal shooting, 31-year-old Mark Martinez of Santa Paula and 21-year-old Valente Tobias of Santa Paula, remain in jail with no chance for bail.

The DA's office has filed murder and other charges against Martinez and Tobias that could bring life in prison without parole if they are convicted. Martinez could face a death sentence if convicted and if the DA decided to pursue that.

Martinez and Tobias have pleaded not guilty and denied the allegations and are due back in court May 8th.

Prosecutors told KVTA News they believe the evidence will show that Martinez fired the shot that struck Elizalde and Tobias fired another shot that did not hit anyone.

The authorities have said that gang members got into an altercation that led to a gun battle out on the street near Elizalde's home in the 1200 block of High Street March 29th.

They say it was a bullet from that gun battle that traveled through her home and struck her, killing her.

The authorities have said there is still at least one other suspect in the incident.

Rescued Sea Lion Pup Doing Great

KVTA News Tuesday April 15, 2013

(Photos courtesy Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Intitute)

The sea lion pup rescued in Ventura last Friday night is doing much better, according to Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI).

The male sea lion, estimated to be about 10 months old, was found trying to cross Harbor Boulevard at Sanjon. It was malnourished, dehydrated and emaciated. They say it weighed 22 pounds when found.

But the Institute says the sea lion is eating two pounds of fish a day and is well on the road to recovery. If the sea lion fully recovers and is in good shape, it will be taken out to sea in a several weeks and released back into the ocean.

The sea lion was spotted by citizens Friday and they called Ventura police who then called the Institute who rescued it.

The institute wanted to remind everyone that if you see a stranded marine mammal there are several things you should do and several things you should NOT do...

1) do NOT approach or touch it, stay 50 feet away

2) do NOT pour water on it

3) do NOT feed, disturb, or harass it

4) keep dogs and other animals away from it

5) call the Institute hotline (805) 567-1505 and leave a detailed message about where the mammal is and the circumstances and they will send someone out. 

Also, if it's after-hours, call the local law enforcement authority and they will call the Institute. That's what happened Friday.

For more information about the Institute http://cimwi.org/

Home Sales Still Slumping In Ventura County/So Cal

KVTA News Tuesday April 15, 2014

According to the real estate information service DataQuick, home sales in Ventura County in March were down by 22% when compared to March of last year. 

DataQuick says all six Southern California counties showed year-to-year declines in sales with Ventura County showing the highest percentage decline.

Meanwhile, DataQuick says the median price for all types of homes in Ventura County last month stood at $430,000, an increase of 6.6% compared to March of last year. 

However, among the six Southern California counties, Ventura County's percentage increase in median price was the lowest with the steepest increases 21.10% in San Bernardino County and 17.80% in Riverside County.

DataQuick says region wide, sales were at a six year low for a March and prices were at a six year high for a March. Still, because of seasonal reasons, sales actually increased from February to March.

Four Injured In 3 Stabbing Incidents In Oxnard Monday

KVTA News Tuesday April 15, 2014

Oxnard police were investigating three separate stabbing incidents that sent four people to the hospital in one day.

The latest happened around 10:20 PM Monday night in the 1400 block of South Oxnard Boulevard.

Police say two males, a 23-year-old Oxnard resident and a 24-year-old Oxnard resident were stabbed. They were both taken to VCMC, one in critical condition the other in serious but stable condition.

Those stabbings came after a 25-year-old Oxnard man was stabbed multiple times in an incident around 5:45 PM in the 1800 block of Pericles Place in the Lemonwood neighborhood.

Police say in that incident, two Hispanic males in their early to mid 20's drove up in a blue/green four door compact car and asked for the victim by name. They then stabbed the victim multiple times and fled. The victim was in stable condition at VCMC.

The first stabbing incident in Oxnard Monday happened around 1 PM in Beck Park at Kamala and C Streets. They found a 21-year-old Oxnard man who had been stabbed following an altercation with another person in the park. The victim was in critical but stable condition at VCMC.

Police were looking for suspects in all three stabbing incidents. 

They say anyone with information is asked to call the Violent Crimes Hotline at (805) 982-7070 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Ventura Bank Robbed

KVTA News Monday April 14, 2014

Ventura police and the FBI are looking for the suspect in a bank robbery Monday afternoon.

The suspect entered the Chase Bank at 7730 Telegraph Road at Kimball Road shortly after 1 PM.

He approached a teller, handed over a demand note that claimed he had a gun, although no gun was ever seen.

The teller complied with the demand for money and handed over an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect then fled the bank. Witnesses said they spotted him riding a bicycle.

Juanamaria Elementary School was placed on lockdown for about 15 minutes as a precaution to make sure everyone was safe, and they were.

There were no injuries in the incident.

The suspect was described as a white or Hispanic man in his 40’s wearing a tan hat, white shirt and orange construction vest.

Anyone with information is urged to call VPD at (805) 339-4441. You can also call Crime Stoppers, remain anonymous and received a reward if your information leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. The number of Crime Stoppers is 1-800-222-8477.

Vehicle Over The Side In Ventura's Grant Park

KVTA News Monday April 14, 2014

Two people suffered only minor injuries after their vehicle reportedly went over the side of Brakey Road in Ventura's Grant Park Monday night.

It was reported around 8 PM Monday.

By the time police and fire had arrived on scene, the two males in the vehicle had gotten out on their own and were helped back up to the roadway by firefighters.

Their vehicle had plunged about 75 to 100 feet over the side of the road.

Police were investigating and did not release any other information.

Four Alarm Fire In Oxnard Medical Building

KVTA News Sunday April 13, 2014

(Photo by Timozilla Gonzales)

(Photo by Thomas Meagher)

Updated--Monday morning Oxnard fire investigators will return to the two story medical building that suffered major damage in a four alarm fire Sunday.

They will be working to determine what started the blaze which was reported shortly before 11 AM Sunday.

When the first firefighters arrived on scene Sunday they found a large amount of flame and smoke coming from the second floor and attic at the east end of the building.

The fire quickly spread throughout the attic and second floor, forcing firefighters to get off of the roof and back out of the structure.

They spent several hours in what's known as "defensive mode", pouring large amounts of water and foam on the fire from above on aerial ladders and on the ground outside the building.

The fire was knocked down around 1 PM but not before it had destroyed the roof and most of the second floor.

The first floor suffered significant water damage.

Damage estimates will likely be in the millions of dollars to both the structure and its contents.

More than 60 firefighters from Oxnard City, Ventura City, the county, and Navy base battled the fire.

No one was hurt.

The building is 11 thousand square feet on each floor and it served 15 tenants, all medically related businesses.

Gonzales Road between H Street and Ventura Road, and, Lantana at Gonzales Road were closed for much of the day Sunday.

Simi Man Arrested After 3 County Vehicle Pursuit

KVTA News Sunday April 13, 2014

(Photo courtesy SVPD)

The suspect that led the authorities on a vehicle pursuit from Orange County to Ventura County Saturday night is a Simi Valley resident.

Simi Valley police say 43-year-old William Smalling of Simi Valley refused to pull over around 9:50 PM Saturday night when Huntington Beach police tried to stop him for a traffic violation.

The pursuit traveled from Orange County into LA County going northbound on the 405 with the CHP. Smalling then went westbound on the 118 into Simi Valley.

The suspect got off the 118 at Yosemite and traveled on several surface streets north of the 118 before finally traveling south on Erringer Road where Simi PD took over from the CHP.

As Smalling traveled southbound on Erringer, a spike strip was deployed, flattening his tires. He finally stopped in the parking lot at the Von's at Erringer and Cochran and was taken into custody at gunpoint by Simi PD. Police say Smalling was uncooperative with officers but they took him into custody without using force.

Police say in Smalling's pickup truck they found five empty "Coor's Light" beer cans and one full can that was still cold.

No one was hurt in the incident.

Simi PD says they had been alerted by the CHP as the pursuit was in LA County that the suspect they were pursuing was a 

Simi resident and to be ready if the chase reached Simi Valley, which it did.

He was booked into the Ventura County Jail on $55,000 bail and is charged with felony evading and misdemeanor DUI. According to Ventura County court records, Smalling pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher in April of last year.

Ventura Police Catch An Unusual Jaywalker

KVTA News Saturday April 12, 2014

(Photo by VPD and courtesy Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute)

The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) says Ventura police gave them an emergency call late Friday night for help with a suspect they caught jaywalking near the San Buenaventura State Beach Park.

It was a male sea lion pup that was trying to cross Harbor Boulevard and Sanjon Road before police rescued it.

The Institute says the sea lion is about 10 months old and was malnourished, dehydrated, and emaciated. They say the little guy is responding well to initial treatment and is already chomping on whole fish.

(Photo was taken by VPD and is courtesy of CIMWI)

http://cimwi.org/

Ventura Pursuit Suspect Arrested In Stolen Vehicle

KVTA News Saturday April 12, 2014

Ventura police say they arrested a man following a pursuit in what turned out to be a stolen vehicle.

Police say that around 11 AM Saturday a patrol officer tried to pull over a vehicle for a traffic violation in west Ventura. 

They say the suspect sped off at a high rate of speed, at times not yielding for pedestrians in crosswalks, failing to stop at intersections and uncontrollably turning down residential and commercial streets.

Police say the pursuit ended at Center Street and Sheridan Way when the driver and an unknown passenger jumped out of the vehicle and fled on foot, leaving the still moving vehicle to crash into a parked car.

The driver, 31-year-old Larry Zapata of Ventura, was caught and taken into custody. Police say the 2007 Chevy Malibu turned out to be a vehicle stolen in Ventura.

Zapata was booked into the Ventura County Jail on a variety of charges. No one was injured in the incident.

OPD Arrests Five At DUI/DL Checkpoint

KVTA News Saturday April 12, 2014

The Oxnard Police Department says five motorists were arrested for DUI at a checkpoint held Friday night and early Saturday morning.

The checkpoint was located in the northbound lanes of Oxnard Boulevard and Second Street. It ran from 7 PM to 2 AM.

Police say 821 drivers were screened. Four were arrested for misdemeanor DUI and a 5th driver was arrested for drunk driving while under the age of 21.

There were 25 drivers cited for various vehicle code violations. One driver was cited for driving with a suspended license while nine were issued citations for driving without a valid license. Five vehicles were towed and impounded.

VPD Arrests Bicyclist Suspected In Burglaries

KVTA News Saturday April 12, 2014

Ventura police say they arrested a man for possession of burglary tools after they found him in possession of several credit cards and a driver's license that did not belong to him.

They say that around 3 AM Saturday, a patrol officer spotted the suspect riding a bicycle through a residential neighborhood in the 300 block of S. Santa Cruz Street.

Because the bicycle was not properly lighted, the officer stopped the individual and ran his name through a records check. Police say that check indicated that the individual, 47-year-old Bryan McNeil of Ventura, was on probation and under the terms of that probation he could be searched.

Police say when the officer searched McNeil's backpack, he reportedly found cutting tools, marijuana, and the credit cards and driver's license that did not belong to him.

Police say the area where this happened had several recently reported burglaries and thefts that could have been carried out using the cutting tool they found so McNeil was taken into custody and brought to the station.

Police tried to track down the names on the credit cards and license by phone but had no luck. They say they had Oxnard PD check out the address on the license but no one was home. And they say McNeil refused to say where or how he came into possession of the items. So they booked him into jail for possession of burglary tools.

Former SB Jail Deputies Indicted In Inmate Assault Case

KVTA News Saturday April 12, 2014

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department says two former custody deputies at their jail have been indicted by a federal grand jury for assaulting an inmate.

The department says former deputy Christopher Johnson was indicted for depravation of rights under the color of law, obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting. Former custody deputy Robert Kirsch was indicted for depravation of rights under color of law and aiding and abetting.

The department says the case involved Charles Owens, who was an inmate at the time awaiting trial on murder, rape and gang enhancement charges. He was later convicted and is now serving life without parole at Folsom State Prison.

The allegations against Johnson and Kirsch were brought to the attention of the sheriff's department by the Santa Barbara County Public Defenders Office in August of 2013. Both Johnson and Kirsch were immediately placed on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted and they were ultimately fired in March of this year.

Sheriff Bill Brown said of the indictments, "It's a somber day for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. This agency does not tolerate the excessive or unnecessary use of force. The alleged actions are disturbing and not reflective of the professional work carried out each and every day by 99.9% of the men and women of the Sheriff's Office."

According to Ventura County Jail records, the man arrested for the shooting death of an innocent bystander in Santa Paula last weekend has been released from jail.
32-year-old Mark Martinez of Santa Paula was arrested earlier this week in connection with the Saturday shooting death of 39-year-old Norma Elizalde. She was killed by a stray bullet as she stood in the carport of her home in the 1200 block of High Street in Santa Paula. The bullet was fired during an altercation between suspected gang members out on the street nearby.
Santa Paula police said Martinez was a documented gang member. They did not identify him as the shooter but claimed he was involved in the incident. The other three suspects were not arrested.
According to jail records, Martinez was released Thursday. His bail had been set at $1 million, but it's uncertain if he made bail or was released without having to post bail. According to court records, the DA's office never filed charges against him and his arraignment which was scheduled for Thursday never happened.