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    The man who prosecutors say was behind a "brazen attack on a stranger" last weekend in Little Italy made his first appearance in court Wednesday.

    Christopher Merron, 28, is accused of ambushing a restaurant worker in Cafe Italia last Sunday and trying to sexually assault her.

    Police say the victim was doing custodial work in the restaurant around 4:30 when Merron broke in. Police say the man spotted by surveillance cameras inside the restaurant at the time of the alleged crime is Merron.

    Investigators say he threatened the victim with a knife and forced her into a back room before she fought him off and ran away.

    Merron then took the victim's car keys and stole her tan SUV, police said.

    Police arrested Merron Monday afternoon on Fenton Parkway. Details of his arrest or how he was found were not released.

    Merron pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six felony counts, including kidnapping and assault with intent to commit rape, and is being held on $1 million bail. If convicted on all counts he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Prosecutors say the attack was random and that Merron didn't know the victim.

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    A man who was injured in a fire that tore through a building near the Mission Beach boardwalk Tuesday morning has died, the Medical Examiner's (ME) office confirmed.

    The man, identified Wednesday as Aaron Porter, 36, was rescued from the fire that sparked across the street from Bellmont Park and was rushed to UC San Diego Medical Center where he was treated for thermal injuries.

    The ME said Porter's health steadily declined as the day progressed and was pronounced dead by that evening.

    The fire produced a large column of thick, black smoke into the air that was visible for miles when it erupted at a second-story residence on Ventura Place.

    A second person was injured in the fire but elected not to go to the hospital in an ambulance.

    Firefighters were met with challenges when they arrived. A metal stairwell was energized from nearby electrical lines so crews put up ladders to get to the roof from the street level, SDFD Battalion Chief Ed Kinnamon said. 

    The age of the building also created a challenge for firefighters.

    “These old buildings are made out of plaster so it’s not the easy drywall. So it’s physically intense to pull the stuff just to confirm the fire is out,” Kinnamon said.

    The multiple-story building is home to Dreyer's Ice Cream and Kojack's restaurant on the first floor.

    Residences on the second floor sustained fire and water damage, fire officials said, while the businesses below suffered water damage only.

    San Diego Gas & Electric said the large fire damaged some wooden power poles and wiring. Some customers in the area were without service until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

    Five people were in the apartment when the fire broke out. 

    Mo Pope lives nearby and said she was terrified when she heard an unusual number of sirens.

    “There was a giant smoke coming out of the top of the building,” Pope said. “It was just pouring out of the side of the windows.”

    Investigators still don't have an exact cause but said the blaze started on a rooftop storage area.

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    The rights of property owners versus the struggles of renters -- the two are set to collide on the November ballot in the form of Proposition 10.

    Renters like Ignacio Hernandez, a National City resident and Prop 10 backer, are struggling to keep up and worry rent will eventually creep so high it will drive him and his family out.

    "This past summer, we got another rent increase, probably the third one in past two years,” Hernandez said.

    "If we don't do anything right now, this November 6th by voting yes on Prop 10, we aren’t going to see a change. Everything will continue, rents continue to increase, families will be displaced.”

    If passed, Prop 10 would repeal the 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a law that restricts the types of rent control policies cities can impose.

    But not everyone agrees that rent control is a bad thing.

    “So it strips away your private property rights, everything we work hard for, and people have spent decades paying off their house just to have someone else tell them what they can rent it for,” real estate broker Mark Powell said.

    Hernandez argues that the proposition doesn’t create any strict policy, and only allows cities the freedom to implement rent control policies if they feel they need to.

    To make an example of LA, where apartment units built before 1978 are subject to rent control, the yearly rent increases are capped at 3 to 8 percent.

    Opponents and supporters also disagree on the proposition’s impact California's housing crisis. Those against say it will be a disastrous blow to long-term inventory.

    "It's really hard to build affordable housing right now as it is,” Powell said. “If you impose rent control, these developers will look at other places, other states, where they can build their homes that pencil out.”

    Powell believes landlords getting less rent revenue will be less inclined to fix up properties which could impact property values for their neighbors.

    "They may not do things like have nice lawns, they may not paint the exterior of the house, make it look nice, so some of those issues may be deferred cause they don't have the money due to this restriction on what they can charge for rent,” he said.

    Hernandez thinks Prop 10 actually has the power strengthen communities.

    "It’s going to keep families in their homes, create more of a community within a city making the value of homes go up and also ensuring we know our neighbors and who they are,” he said.

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    Thieves broke into an El Cajon staple early Wednesday morning, and the whole attack was caught on surveillance cameras. 

    Two men helped themselves to the inventory at family-owned Vey's Powersports on 2nd Street at around 2:30 a.m. after smashing a front window.

    "One really wimpy throw of a rock that missed the first time, a 20-foot window, and then the second one went through," said Robert Clay, Marketing Manager at Vey's Powersports.

    Clay said the men took two high-end Husqvarna trail motorcycles worth $13,000 each. The rock they threw through the window also damaged some other equipment on display.

    "This is a brand new bike that just came out. It's damaged here," Clay said pointing to a blemish. "The rock hit here and spun off. This is a $30,000 toy (four-wheeler) and the rock hit it and damaged the front of that."

    While the thieves may have thought they scored initially, Clay says they've probably realized by now the bikes they stole won't start.

    Clay says that's because they have technology built into them that makes it so only a dealer can unlock them before someone can take a ride.

    El Cajon police are now on the lookout for the two men, described as 6 feet tall and driving an older model white Chevy S-10 pickup.

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    Officials say White House Counsel Don McGahn left the Trump administration Wednesday, NBC News reported

    News of McGahn's departure from the White House was first reported by The New York Times, which cited two people close to him. Two White House officials confirmed to NBC News that Wednesday was McGahn's last day.

    McGahn's departure comes a day after President Donald Trump told The Associated Press in a Tuesday interview that Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone would serve as his next White House counsel.

    Trump in August said McGahn would leave the White House in the fall. 

    Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AP, File

    White House counsel Don McGahn listens as then-Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, file photo.White House counsel Don McGahn listens as then-Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, file photo.

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    The City of Oceanside voted Wednesday to take action against what city leaders and citizens are calling a homelessness crisis.

    Residents have been coming in droves to city council meetings to complain about the homeless living openly in the streets, and in more clandestine communities like along the San Luis Rey riverbed.

    An NBC 7 crew positioned on the sidewalk of Airport Drive spotted several sleeping homeless in the riverbed brush. Drone Ranger flew over the natural space and spotted multiple tent clusters and oil drums used for campfires.

    "It's a city down there,” one citizen said. “Almost totally devoid of law enforcement. Drugs, prostitution and theft are running rampant."

    Some people living along the riverbed said waitlists for shelters are too long. Others said they aren’t interested in temporary housing at all.

    Citizen after citizen pleaded at the meeting for city leaders to take action. The City Council heard the complaints and voted unanimously to declare a shelter crisis, which will allow it to apply for the state’s half-billion-dollar Homeless Emergency Aid Program.

    If it’s awarded to the city, funding could help it expand its homeless outreach program and establish new ones that can help transients find housing and get mental healthcare if needed.

    Some citizens say a shelter would only be a band-aid and will worsen the situation in the long run.

    "There's many heads to this snake and a homeless shelter is not the solution for that mindset,” a speaker said. “As much as I hate to say it, it's probably going to make the problem worse in Oceanside."

    City officials said they would find out if Oceanside is granted aid in January, but warned residents that it’s not the only city applying for help and could be passed up.

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    There was no winner in Wednesday night's Powerball drawing, leaving the jackpot swell to an estimated $430 million.

    Between that pot and the estimated $900 million Mega Millions lottery prize, there are more than $1.3 billion up for grabs in the coming drawings — though the odds of winning remain extremely long.

    The winning numbers in the Powerball drawing were 3, 57, 64, 68 and 69, with a Powerball of 15. The prize was $378 million. The next drawing is Saturday.

    The current estimated Powerball jackpot doesn't crack the top 10 largest in U.S. history, but Friday's Mega Million drawing offers the second largest.

    The largest was a $1.6 billion Powerball game from January 2016 that was split between three tickets purchased in California, Florida and Tennessee.

    Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File

    This Jan. 3, 2018, file photo shows Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets in San Anselmo, California.This Jan. 3, 2018, file photo shows Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets in San Anselmo, California.

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    A family dog believed to be dead after a brick wall collapsed off of a home in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood was found buried alive under rubble two days later.

    Sections of a three-story brick wall on Emerald Street collapsed into the yard of neighbor Jose Gonzalez on Monday.

    Gonzalez believed his dog Magic, a 16-year-old American Pit bull Terrier, died in the accident. The family tried digging through the rubble by hand, but couldn't locate Magic.

    Then Tuesday, construction workers cleaning up the debris found the canine under bricks.

    "They say men don't cry but I was so happy I was crying," Gonzalez said of hearing that his trusted pet was still here.

    "We are all happy about that, that nobody was hurt. That’s was the main thing. But when I found out my dog was here, it was the same thing as somebody getting hurt," Gonzales said Wednesday.

    Magic has head trauma and is dehydrated. The family is taking him to a veterinarian for a full examination.

    The city's Department of Licenses and Inspections has told renters to stay out of the neighboring building, as they investigate what happened.

    Photo Credit: NBC10
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Magic, a 16-year-old American Pit bull Terrier, awaits a trip to the vet after being rescued from under a collapsed brick wall. The dog was feared dead and went missing for two days until he was rescued by unsuspecting construction workers.Magic, a 16-year-old American Pit bull Terrier, awaits a trip to the vet after being rescued from under a collapsed brick wall. The dog was feared dead and went missing for two days until he was rescued by unsuspecting construction workers.

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    A homeowner is trying to stay positive after a vehicle slammed through a wall of his La Mesa home Wednesday night. 

    "Yeah, there might be a little structural damage," Ed Rieth said jokingly as he showed NBC 7 the inside of his living room.

    La Mesa police said the SUV or van-type vehicle came crashing through the home just off Fletcher Parkway near Parkway Middle School at about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. 

    The Rieths' television was hit and debris was sent flying into the next room. 

    It was not clear if drugs or alcohol were suspected in the crash but Rieth said the driver seemed "out of it." 

    A structural engineer and San Diego Gas & Electric were called to inspect the damage to the home, the La Mesa Police Department said. 

    Rieth and his wife were able to stay inside their homes after the crash but were without electricity and gas through Thursday morning. 

    The Rieths, who said they also suffered a fire in the back of their home earlier this year, were trying to keep their spirits up despite the damage. 

    "This is something new, so you can either laugh about it or cry," Rieth said. "So, might as well laugh."

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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    A collision on a downtown street in Chula Vista damaged a power transformer and led to an outage for customers overnight.

    The driver of a Jeep Cherokee collided with a parked car and came to rest on the top of the transformer at Broadway and D Street at 2:30 a.m.

    No one was injured.

    Officers said the incident did not involve a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Power was expected to be restored to nearby customers after 7 a.m.

    Photo Credit: SDNV/NBC 7

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    Police are searching for the driver of a truck who slammed into four parked cars in El Cajon before taking off. 

    The damaged cars were found outside a residential neighborhood along Petree Street at about 5:20 a.m., the El Cajon Police Department said. 

    The pickup truck was abandoned and witnesses told police they saw two people taking off from the scene, possibly into a nearby apartment complex. 

    ECPD has not said if any arrests have been made. 

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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    A person was arrested on multiple charges Wednesday night after a pursuit in the East County.

    San Diego County sheriff’s deputies say the driver was spotted in Santee at 10 p.m. running two red lights and refused to pull over.

    The driver ran into a deputy’s patrol car and then continued driving westbound along Mission Gorge Road, deputies said.

    The suspect drove westbound in the eastbound lanes of traffic during the pursuit and continued onto State Route 125 south, getting off at Grossmont College Drive.

    The truck crashed into a fence and drove into someone's yard in El Cajon.

    Soon after, deputies cornered the suspect in a cul-de-sac. 

    The driver was on suspicion of driving under the influence, assault with a deadly weapon, and felony evading, officials said.

    Deputies were not injured in the pursuit. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    Great white shark attack survivor Keane Webre-Hayes was all smiles in the national television report showing him returning to school to answer questions from his classmates. 

    "Good Morning America" followed the 13-year-old and his mother as he stopped by school Wednesday and talked about the Sept. 29 attack on an Encinitas beach.

    The teenager was diving for lobster at Beacon' Beach when an 11-foot-long shark injured his arm, ear, shoulder and back.

    “The first thing that I said when my mom walked up was ‘Can you take pictures for Instagram’,” he told GMA.

    He also said he wants to back out into the ocean to surf again soon.

    Webre-Hayes was rushed to Rady Children's Hospital in Linda Vista in critical condition after being bitten by the shark while swimming in shallow waters around 6:55 a.m. 

    His mother Ellie Hayes was watching her son from a parking lot on the bluffs above the beach and could hear her son's screams.

    He was in serious condition for several days before being released from the hospital to continue recovering at home. Doctors and his family said that he had a long road to recovery in front of him.

    GoFundMe page has been created to help with Keane's medical bills. 

    University of San Diego researchers said while shark sightings are becoming more frequent off the California coast, it is extremely rare for anyone in the world to be bitten. 

    "Great white populations are increasing in Southern California and that's because they've been legally protected for the last couple of decades," said USD marine biologist Andrew Nosal in a previous interview. "That's a good thing for our local ecosystem. At the same time, the human population has also grown here. That means more sharks at the beach but also more people at the beach."

    Read more about the shark attack in San Diego here.

    Photo Credit: Ellie Hayes

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    Weathercasters warned San Diegans to stay alert as fire weather conditions surge due to a drop in humidity, increasing temperatures and gusty winds.

    San Diego County’s inland and mountain areas will be under a fire weather watch from Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

    During the period when the watch is in effect, the combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity can cause a fire to spread rapidly if sparked.

    The most severe weather day will be Friday, NBC 7’s Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said.

    Humidity isn’t expected to be more than 15 percent on Friday and only slightly higher on Saturday, according to NWS.

    Meanwhile, winds could gust to up to 50 miles per hour in some areas while sustained winds average 30 to 40 miles per hour, Parveen said. 

    "We’re talking about breezy winds in mainly the foothills and the mountain passes but its mostly going to be places in the inland areas dealing with this," Parveen said.

    Temperatures will gradually warm through the weekend as Santa Ana winds are pushed from the northeast. 

    A more severe red flag warning was issued for the same region earlier this week. During that period, the strongest gusts reached 68 miles per hour and San Diego Gas & Electric cut power to hundreds of homes as a precaution.

    For more fire prevention tips and evacuation steps visit this website.

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    After eight years, an annual run held in honor of Chelsea King will come to an end, the teen’s family announced Monday.

    San Diegans have shown up to support the King family for years after Chelsea, a high school senior who was attacked and killed while out on a run in February 2010. The foundation created in Chelsea’s name also held an annual home run tourney and more recently, launched a golf and poker classic.

    The Kings said the foundation would no longer be organizing the events but will instead focus on advocacy.

    “As beautiful as each of these events and accomplishments are, they come with a toll,” Kelly and Brent King shared in a written statement. “There is always a balance now in our lives that has pain on one side, and joy on the other. It never goes away. It’s the paradigm of loss.”

    Chelsea’s Light Foundation will continue its Sunflower Scholarship program which has awarded more than $650,000 to students who embody the “service over self” – traits that Chelsea lived by, her family has said.

    The non-profit’s goal is to support youth and spread positive change in the community.

    NBC 7 was the television media partner for the Finished Chelsea’s Run event. Our NBC 7 team participated in the run and was there in support of participants and Chelsea’s loved ones.

    Like many San Diegans, we were shocked by the high-profile case.

    Chelsea was running in Rancho Bernardo Community Park when she was attacked and killed. The Poway High School senior’s body was found five days later in the Lake Hodges area.

    On May 15, 2010, her killer was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Chelsea’s murder, as well as that of Escondido teenager Amber Dubois, 14, who vanished in a similar, disturbing case in February 2009.

    The following year, the King family worked to pass Chelsea’s Law in California, which enhances criminal sentences for violent sexual offenders who commit crimes against children. Brent King continues to work with other states to enact similar laws.

    “Not only do we share how California adopted it, we also share how it’s been used. And then we break it down into the metrics of what it’s going to cost their state and how much it’s going to protect their kids,” Brent told NBC 7 in an interview earlier this year. The Kings said Finish Chelsea’s Run has grown about three times in size since the event began eight years ago. In March, they said they were often overwhelmed by the love and support San Diegans display at the event.

    “You know, it is bittersweet, there’s no doubt about that,” Kelly told NBC 7. “But I see my daughter’s smile in every kid that’s out there. Our daughter was this beautiful ray of sunshine and I see that in every child’s face.”

    Thanks to the people who participate in Finish Chelsea’s Run, the Kings said they’ve been able to provide $500,000 in college scholarships via the Chelsea’s Light Foundation. Brent said 75 kids are attending college thanks to the run.

    Read the entire statement from Kelly and Brent King below:

    As we went through the shattering revelation in late February of 2010 that our little girl would never come home, you wrapped your arms and hearts around us. You helped us find the strength to draft and enact laws that now provide protection for more than 17 million kids. You helped us create the sunflower scholarship program which has awarded over $650,000 to amazing students heading off to college, as Chelsea dreamt of. You have run with us in our annual 5k, Finish Chelsea’s Run, and played baseball at our annual Home Run for Chelsea tourney. You have provided us the light and the strength to move mountains.

    As beautiful as each of these events and accomplishments are, they come with a toll. There is always a balance now in our lives that has pain on one side, and joy on the other. It never goes away. It’s the paradigm of loss. With this said, we are choosing to change the way Chelsea’s Light Foundation accomplishes its mission.

    Going forward, we have decided to sunset these “annual events” and, starting October 1st, we will shift our focus to advocacy. We will be the voice for our nation’s children---in every State Capital building, in Congress, in the Senate, and in the White House. It’s based on the concept of a membership organization much like the Sierra Club that protects trees or the Surfrider foundation that protects coastlines, but we will be legislating laws to protect our children. We’re calling it “Protect the Joy.” Both a rally cry and a mission statement in one, but most importantly it’s a reminder of childhood’s essence: joy. Finally, there will be a voice to protect it.

    Chelsea’s Light will still continue to shine bright each day through our Sunflower Scholarship program and Joie De Vivre grants and will constantly and consistently work to protect children from the harm that befell Chelsea.

    As we kick off the creation of this exciting new venture, we’ll need your support. Instead of attending Finish Chelsea’s Run or playing in Home Run for Chelsea, we ask that you channel your tremendous passion into helping build out an organization that our children desperately need and deserve. If you’d like to learn more or register your support, please visit We humbly ask for your patience as we assemble the foundational blocks and embark on this new and necessary journey to “Protect the Joy” of all children.

    Thank you for always standing with us, holding us up when we felt like falling, and hugging us when we needed it most.

    Brent and Kelly

    Photo Credit: King Family Photo
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Chelsea King.Chelsea King.

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    Knotts Berry Farm wants to give a little back to the millions of United States service members and veterans who have given their service to our country. 

    The Buena Vista amusement park's "Military Tribute Days" returns for another year of free admission for active and retired U.S. military personnel. 

    All service members and veterans need to do to enjoy Knott's thrill-inducing rides is show their military identification card or discharge form at the park's main gate, located at 8039 Beach Blvd., on any day from Nov. 1 through 15 or Nov. 26 through Dec. 21. 

    Yep, you read that right. Knott's is offering this deal during their holiday "Knott's Merry Farm" season, which runs on select nights from November to January. 

    Service members will also be able to invite their loved ones to join in the deal. Additional discounted tickets will be available for purchase for those with proof of military service. 

    Spouses of deployed military members can gain free admission and the option to purchase up to six additional discounted tickets by providing deployment papers.

    The offering coincides with Veterans Day, which falls on Nov. 11. 

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    The nation’s largest retailer is banking on San Diego’s tech talent to stay competitive.

    Walmart’s tech arm, Walmart Labs, is expanding its local footprint.

    The company just moved into a new 30,000 square foot space at the MAKE building in Carlsbad and is looking to more than double its workforce.

    Senior Director of Engineering Claude Jones said Walmart Labs works to bridge the physical stores with the online digital experience.

    “We develop internal tools and systems that help power our online groceries site, our retail site and also power our in-store technology,” said Jones.

    Jones said the company is growing its local operation for a number of reasons, including the untapped tech talent in the area. He said the weather and proximity to the beach and other major attractions are also a big draw when it comes to recruiting top talent from other locations.

    “Walmart believes that San Diego is the next big tech hub, tech community, and we want to be able to help stimulate that job market,” Jones said.

    The company is adding 110 high-tech positions to its current staff of 70.

    “It’s the full gamut. We’re looking at front-end engineering, back-end engineering, mobile development. We’re getting into machine learning, AI, so we’re really excited about expanding the office here,” Jones said.

    To learn more about Walmart Labs and the opportunities available at the Carlsbad location, click here.

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    Netflix executives have been telling employees to brace for a Wall Street Journal investigation that takes a critical view of the company's corporate culture, people with knowledge of the matter tell NBC News

    Executives are expecting the piece to be similar to The New York Times' 2015 investigation into Amazon, which described a hyper-competitive and "bruising" workplace where employees were said to be held to “unreasonably high" standards, said the sources, who spoke on the condition anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly. 

    Such a piece threatens to sap morale at a company that has been widely portrayed as the envy of the media industry, given the lucrative six- and seven-figure salaries it offers to employees, to say nothing of the hundreds of millions it offers to showrunners. 

    A Netflix spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for The Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Photo Credit: Netflix

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    A man has been arrested in the killing of an East Village business owner, San Diego police announced Thursday. A woman who is wanted in the crime is still on the loose. 

    Kevin Eugene Cartwright, 51, was arrested in the City of El Cajon on Oct. 17 and was booked into jail for the murder, police said.

    Ghedeer Tony Radda, 49, was found dead inside Bottom Price Flooring on G Street on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

    Police said Radda wasn't breathing and had no pulse when they arrived. Firefighters arrived minutes later and performed CPR but could not resuscitate him, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from inside the store and saw a man wearing a mask resembling an older woman with grey hair.

    Investigators have not identified the woman in the video. She is described as a light-skinned female wearing a purple wig, a dark jacket and blue jeans. 

    Cartwright is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
    Anyone with information can call the homicide team at (619) 531-2293 or San Diego CrimeStoppers at (888) 580-8477.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    Ghedeer Tony Radda (L) was found dead inside his flooring business. Flowers and a note were left outside of the business honoring the owner.Ghedeer Tony Radda (L) was found dead inside his flooring business. Flowers and a note were left outside of the business honoring the owner.

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    Winning re-election while indicted is a rare feat in U.S. history.

    But San Diego Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter is attempting to do just that in November's midterm election.

    After pleading not guilty in August to federal charges, Hunter is entering the final weeks of the campaign doing what they can to lay low. He has largely avoided the media and refused to debate their opponents.

    Instead, Ducan has mostly appeared at Republican-friendly events, and run attack ads against his Democratic challenger that some say seek to exploit racial prejudice and xenophobia.

    It was the same for Rep. Chris Collins of New York, who was indicted on a separate charge.

    Both declined repeated requests to comment for this story.

    Indictments and even jail time have not always ended political careers. A few have won re-election while facing criminal charges and some ended up exonerated. Others were convicted and later resigned.

    But the Collins and Hunter contests are emerging as a fresh test of partisanship in the Trump era. Some voters may look past such a blemish this year to ensure that their preferred party remains in power.

    "If you look at the question of partisanship, it sort of makes sense to me why Republican voters would prefer a Republican under indictment to a Democrat," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan analytical newsletter at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Two decades ago, partisanship was not as strong, and (they) would have been in more trouble."

    Collins, 68, initially suspended his campaign after being charged with insider trading that prosecutors say helped his son and others avert nearly $800,000 in stock losses. But he reversed course over the difficulty in removing his name from the ballot, saying the stakes "are too high" to allow a Democrat to take the congressional seat he has held for three terms.

    Democrats are trying to pick up 23 seats nationwide to win control of the House.

    Don Lloyd, a 70-year-old retired engineer who lives in Eden, New York, said he'll vote for Collins even though he believes he should not be running.

    "But what am I really voting for? I'm voting for a Republican," Lloyd said. "And let's face it, the election isn't about Chris Collins. It's about Trump. ... I'm supporting the Republican Party."

    Collins came under fire for a TV ad that showed his Democratic opponent, Nate McMurray, speaking Korean, over a backdrop of ominous music, a portrait of the North Korean dictator and captions falsely implying he was talking about sending American jobs to Asia. McMurray has studied and taught law in South Korea and is married to a woman from South Korea.

    In California, Hunter and his wife face a 60-count indictment accusing them of using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for everything from a family trip to Italy to Costco shopping sprees and then trying to hide the illegal spending in government records as donations to charities, including for wounded warriors.

    After his last court appearance in San Diego, Hunter was swarmed by protesters, including one wearing a bunny suit in reference to claims that he used campaign funds on airfare for a pet rabbit.

    "We're still running, and we're going to win," Hunter told reporters over the chants of "lock him up!"

    Polls suggest the race has tightened between the 41-year-old former combat Marine and his opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old first-time candidate who worked in the Obama administration.

    Hunter, who is seeking his sixth term, has struck back with a YouTube ad alleging Campa-Najjar, a Latino Arab-American, is working to "infiltrate Congress." It falsely asserts he is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. It also mentions his Palestinian background. His father served in the Palestine Liberation Organization and his grandfather was a leader of the group that orchestrated the terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics that killed 11 Israeli athletes.

    Dozens of national security experts have assailed the attacks as racist. Campa-Najjar, who was raised in San Diego by his Mexican-American mother, had little to do with his Palestinian father and his Palestinian grandfather was killed before he was born. The FBI vetted his family before giving him security clearances to work in the Obama administration.

    Maria Patton, an independent, said she is still undecided about whom to vote for, but the attacks have turned her off.

    "I don't support that kind of mentality," said the 60-year-old retired educator, who lives in La Mesa, east of San Diego. "I find it unfair."

    Hunter has stepped up the attacks as donations have poured in for his opponent, who raised $1.4 million in the third quarter compared with $132,000 by the incumbent.

    "There's a high premium on truth this election year," Campa-Najjar told The Associated Press.

    McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island, also saw donations triple in the third quarter, when he raised $520,000 compared with $33,000 for Collins.

    "Both Democrats and Republicans are starting to support me and there's a reason: Because people want something better," McMurray said.

    Like Collins and Hunter, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey refused to resign after being indicted in 2015 on corruption charges. The case was dismissed after a hung jury. He is now in a tight race with his Republican opponent.

    In 2014, Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York was re-elected while under indictment but later resigned after pleading guilty to tax evasion. After serving more than seven months in prison, he ran again in the June primary but lost.


    Watson reported from San Diego. Thompson reported from Buffalo, New York.

    Photo Credit: AP

    U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in San Diego. Hunter and his wife Margaret pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 to charges they illegally used his campaign account for personal expenses. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in San Diego. Hunter and his wife Margaret pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 to charges they illegally used his campaign account for personal expenses. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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