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- 12/04/18--10:51: _US Citizen Sues Fla...
- 12/04/18--13:12: _Shots Fired Near Oc...
- 12/04/18--12:42: _Foam Galore as Crew...
- 12/04/18--13:24: _Empty Toy Bin, 12 T...
- 12/04/18--13:27: _3 Accused of Defrau...
- 12/04/18--12:43: _Child Born Day Afte...
- 12/04/18--14:51: _Employees Allege “P...
- 12/04/18--14:36: _SDG&E Files to End ...
- 12/04/18--14:43: _Allegations of Sexu...
- 12/04/18--13:45: _Missing Teddy Bear ...
- 12/04/18--15:32: _'No Conscience': Sm...
- 12/04/18--16:20: _Driver Killed in Wr...
- 12/04/18--15:02: _Red Fox Room on El ...
- 12/04/18--18:04: _I-15 Hit-and-Run In...
- 12/04/18--19:49: _Police Identify Man...
- 12/04/18--19:15: _Rancho Bernardo Wom...
- 12/04/18--19:50: _$3K Reward for Info...
- 12/04/18--23:37: _Restaurant Raising ...
- 12/04/18--23:24: _Student Assaulted A...
- 12/04/18--23:40: _Lawyers Say CBS Has...
- 12/04/18--10:51: US Citizen Sues Fla. Sheriff After He Was Nearly Deported
- 12/04/18--13:12: Shots Fired Near Ocean View Boulevard
- 12/04/18--12:42: Foam Galore as Crews Battle RV Fire in Chula Vista
- 12/04/18--13:24: Empty Toy Bin, 12 Teddy Bears Inspired SD Holiday Tradition
- 12/04/18--12:43: Child Born Day After Migrant Mother Crosses Border Illegally
- 12/04/18--14:51: Employees Allege “Profit Over Care" at Migrant Youth Shelter
- 12/04/18--14:36: SDG&E Files to End High Usage Charge
- 12/04/18--14:43: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Abuse at Migrant Shelters
- 12/04/18--13:45: Missing Teddy Bear Floats Away on Balloons, May Land in SD
- 12/04/18--15:32: 'No Conscience': Small National City Sweets Shop Burglarized
- 12/04/18--16:20: Driver Killed in Wrong-Way Collision with Fire Truck Identified
- 12/04/18--15:02: Red Fox Room on El Cajon Boulevard Set to Shut Its Doors
- 12/04/18--18:04: I-15 Hit-and-Run Injures El Cajon Police Officer
- 12/04/18--19:49: Police Identify Man Found Dead in Bushes Along Silver Strand Blvd
- 12/04/18--19:15: Rancho Bernardo Woman Looks For Help With Crashing Computer
- 12/04/18--19:50: $3K Reward for Info on Anti-Semitic Poway Vandalism
- 12/04/18--23:37: Restaurant Raising Funds for Deadly Stabbing Victim's 5 Daughters
- 12/04/18--23:24: Student Assaulted After Apparent Scam Attempt in Mission Valley
- 12/04/18--23:40: Lawyers Say CBS Has Cause to Deny Moonves $120M: Report
A U.S. citizen was detained in a Florida prison and flagged for deportation despite his repeated pleas to authorities that he was American and the county’s own jail files indicating he was born in Philadelphia, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
NBC News reports Peter Sean Brown turned himself in to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for a probation violation in April, after testing positive for marijuana. The 50-year-old, who had been living in Florida for the last 10 years, was soon a fast track to deportation to Jamaica.
"Despite his repeated protests to multiple jail officers, his offer to produce proof, and the jail’s own records, the Sheriff’s Office held Mr. Brown so that ICE could deport him to Jamaica — a country where he has never lived and knows no one," the suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
After three weeks in jail, Brown was turned over to ICE, which eventually confirmed he was in fact a U.S. citizen and "hastily arranged for his release."
The lawsuit accuses the sheriff's office of "carelessly and aggressively" arresting people for ICE under what's known as a Basic Ordering Agreement between the two, where the sheriff's office receives $50 for each individual it holds at ICE's request.
Photo Credit: ACLU via YouTube
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Peter Sean Brown, a U.S. citizen born in Philadelphia, was held by local police executing ICE orders when he was almost deported to Jamaica.
Moments after shots were fired outside of a Shelltown market Tuesday, two men ran from the scene.
San Diego police were called to Lew's Market on Imperial at 33rd Street just before 11:30 a.m.
At least a dozen police patrol cars responded.
A gun was recovered in some bushes near the market, SDPD Lt. Christian Sharp said.
The community is south of State Route 94 and east of Interstate 15.
No other information was available.
Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.
Photo Credit: NBC 7
Local crews doused an RV fire in Chula Vista Tuesday morning, spraying firefighting foam into the sky.
The foam, which transformed the area into a seemingly winter wonderland, was able to put out the blaze.
The Chula Vista Fire Department arrived on scene near Broadway and Halsey Street at around 11:25 a.m., according to Deputy Chief Harry Muns.
Crews fully extinguished the fire in six minutes, Muns said.
No structures were threatened, Muns said, though some nearby palm trees caught fire.
One firefighter could be seen sitting on the ground, aiming a hose directly up at a nearby palm tree to stop any spreading.
A primary and secondary search found nothing inside the RV, Muns told NBC 7.
The vehicle was parked when the fire broke out, according to CVFD.
No injuries were reported.
No other information was available at this time.
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.
An empty toy donation bin and a trip to a department store in 1990 led a former Coronado police officer to bring law enforcement together – year after year – to deliver soft, cuddly companions to the little patients at Rady Children’s Hospital.
Twenty-eight years ago, just days before Christmas, former Coronado Police Department Officer Brian Hardy was walking through the halls of Rady Children’s Hospital. He got lost and stumbled upon a toy donation bin.
He looked inside but the bin was nearly empty.
Hardy asked a nurse why there were only a few toys in the bin and she told him toy donations for patients had really decreased that year.
That night, he went holiday shopping at Montgomery Ward. When he walked into the retailer, he noticed a stand filled with teddy bears, all on sale.
“A little light went on,” Hardy told NBC 7 on Tuesday. “I went in and bought 12 bears.”
With permission from his boss, Hardy put the teddy bears in his police car and drove the toys to the children’s hospital.
“I just thought it would be kind of neat to bring teddy bears in a police car, and let the kids see that,” he explained. “And everybody followed since then.”
Nearly three decades later, the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive has grown into an annual tradition at Rady Children’s Hospital. Today, local, state and federal law enforcement officers take part in the event.
On Tuesday, a sleigh carrying teddy bears and Santa Claus arrived at Rady Children’s Hospital. More than 100 officers lined up outside the facility, bears in hand, to distribute the toys.
Hardy was there.
He said he felt “just as inspired” as he did 28 years ago.
The retired police officer said he believes the teddy bears bring a source of comfort to young patients as they navigate the difficulties that come with being hospitalized.
“They’re not feeling well; there’s a number of things going on at the hospital. To a child, that’s scary stuff,” said Hardy. “To walk in and be able to give them a little friend to hold on to through the worst of it, it really brings me back every year for the past 28 years.”
And, as happy as that toy might make a child, Hardy said the feeling of giving a teddy bear to a little one is just as magical for him.
“It’s as close to being a superhero as you can be in a mortal body,” he said, smiling. “It’s unreal, surreal – to see the child’s face light up.”
Mia Gonzalez, 9, had a smile on her face Tuesday after receiving a small, brown plush from a police officer.
“Merry Christmas,” the officer told the girl as she happily accepted the gift.
“That’s never happened to me before,” Gonzalez told NBC 7. “It feels good.”
Gonzalez said she thinks the Teddy Bear Drive is a nice holiday tradition.
“It’s good that they do that because some kids are really sick and I think what they’re doing is really good for them, and for us,” she said. “Thank you for helping us sick kids.”
This year’s Teddy Bear Drive was hosted by the Oceanside Police Department.
Rady Children’s Hospital said the facility is typically unable to accept plush toys as donations for safety and infection control reasons, but the bears donated to the hospital through the event have been specially packaged by the manufacturer to protect patients.
Since the Teddy Bear Drive began, more than one million stuffed toys have been given to patients.
Hardy takes no credit, though.
“I was in the right place at the right time, and I’d like to give divine intervention credit completely,” he told NBC 7. “I believe all of these people you see here, in law enforcement, are all here to help people. It’s what they’re bred to do; what they’re born to do. It’s absolutely from their hearts.”
Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
With 12 little, plush bears, retired Coronado Police Department Officer Brian Hardy started the Teddy Bear Drive at Rady Children's Hospital in 1990.
Three people are accused of using an Arizona trucking company to defraud the state of California’s recycling program of $16.9 million over several years.
Investigators discovered 27,860 pounds of empty aluminum and plastic beverage containers on the property of Bustillos’ Trucking in Phoenix.
A five-month investigation led officials to believe the owner operated the company just to defraud California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program.
Investigators believe the empty containers were being packed and loaded onto trucks to be delivered to California and redeemed for the CRV value.
California pays a CRV of 5 cents for containers less than 24 ounces, 10 cents for containers 24 ounces or larger. By comparison, Arizona pays 20 cents per pound for plastic containers.
The owner Miguel Bustillos, 49, of Glendale, Arizona was arrested on Nov. 7 along with truck driver Anthony Sanchez, 57. The warrants for their arrest were issued from Los Angeles County. Both men have been extradited to California, officials said.
The following day, Amaury Avila-Medina, 56, of Sylmar, California was arrested.
All three suspects face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy. It was not clear if the suspects have retained attorneys.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery worked with the California Department of Justice and the Arizona Department of Public Safety on the case.
Photo Credit: California DOJ
Images of the operation from the California Department of Justice. The trash bags are believed to hold plastic containers headed to California to be recycled for cash.
A young woman who spent weeks traveling with a caravan of Central American migrants while pregnant gave birth in San Diego after crossing illegally into the U.S. to request asylum.
Maryuri was more than seven months pregnant when she left Honduras with her husband, Miguel, and their three-year-old son on Oct. 17. The family spent weeks traveling north by foot and by bus until they reached Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
"He was born here in San Diego," Maryuri said holding her eight-day-old child -- a United States citizen by birth -- in an interview with NBC 7's sister station, Telemundo 20.
The already-difficult journey to get to the United States was made even more complicated for the family because of Maryuri's pregnancy.
"Thank God she did her part, but there were times we stayed until the last [of the caravan]," Miguel said.
After spending some time in a Tijuana shelter, the couple said they did not feel safe, surrounded by some Mexicans who were hostile towards their presence, and decided to cross the border illegally.
According to the Customs and Border Protection officials, on Monday, Nov. 26, agents assigned to patrol the Imperial Beach coast spotted the pregnant woman attempting to cross.
It was about 8 p.m. when the couple asked for asylum from the United States and was taken into custody, they told NBC 7's sister station, Telemundo 20.
Maryuri said she did not know the next day she would give birth to her second son in a San Diego hospital.
"The day I came across felt a little pain, but I thought it will be because of my nerves," Maryuri said. The next morning, the pain increased and the woman was taken to a hospital in San Diego, according to CBP.
The baby was born on Nov. 27, 2018.
The mother and son spent several more days at the hospital, where she said at times, "I felt like a criminal."
Maryuri said CBP agents closed all the windows and stood guard in the doorway at all times. When hospital officials brought her and the infant food or clothes, agents checked all of it, according to Maryuri.
Miguel was allowed to visit his wife and newborn child on the third day of their stay and when Maryuri was released from the hospital, she was sent back to a detention center to finish her asylum claim.
The family on Saturday was released into the United States until their asylum claim can be seen by a judge.
They have been staying with an American woman who volunteered to house refugees. The two were put in touch by Enrique Morales, the leader of the Border Angels Foundation, a San Diego non-profit focused on migrant rights.
Maryuri credits him with giving them strength to continue fighting for asylum within the United States.
"I asked him and he asked God to give us encouragement to move on."
Her second reason -- a better life for her newborn son.
In 2018, the number of children crossing the border alone was five times higher than in 2017. This left the federal government to feed and look after thousands of children, under the age of 17.
To accomplish the task at hand, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has contracted with nonprofits across the country, including Southwest Key Programs, which operates three shelters in El Cajon, Lemon Grove, and just outside of Alpine.
But five former employees for Southwest Key tell NBC 7 Investigates that recently, it appears those contracts are not centered around care, they center around profits.
Southwest Key Programs has sheltered more than 20,000 migrant youth across the country, including more than 2,600 boys and girls here in San Diego County.
To see the locations of the local shelters, click here or look above.
Since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy was going into effect, NBC 7 has spoken with five former employees of the local shelters, all who worked at the shelters within the last three years.
The employees said they did not see the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding the nonprofit receives being put to good use.
“At first, it was a very rewarding job. You would go home and feel good about what you did,” said a former Case Manager for Southwest Key. “After that, it was in a way demoralizing because you would just see these kids and they really needed the help and they weren't really getting it.”
This former Case Manager for Southwest Key Programs agreed to speak with NBC 7 in an on-camera interview, on the condition we not show his face or use his name. He provided NBC 7 with records, proving his employment at the nonprofit before he was terminated.
In addition to the former Case Manager, two former Case Workers, an Administrative Assistant, and a Cook for the shelters said the children in these facilities were not a priority. The Case Manager feels Southwest Key “profited off the backs of these children.”
“It wasn't about helping the clients anymore, it was about getting as many clients as we could in,” said the former Case Manager. “Just like an industry producing a product in mass quantities.”
According to tax filings NBC 7 reviewed, Southwest Key is funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Over the last three years, federal funding to the nonprofit has more than doubled. Last year, Southwest Key received $626-million dollars from the ORR for all of its 26 shelters across the country.
But the five former employees said despite the increase in funding, they did not see an increase in resources at the local level.
“The bosses would have multiple phones, big monitors, luxury offices,” a former caseworker said. “How come that money isn’t used to help the kids?”
All five former employees who spoke with NBC 7 said the shelters would accept food and clothing donations for the children, despite the federal funding for these items.
“They would sometimes give the clients food that was about to spoil,” a former Case Manager said.
No representative from Southwest Key would go on-camera for this story but a spokesperson disputed the claim about spoiled food.
“The children in our care receive three meals a day and two snacks,” said Southwest Key spokesperson Jeff Eller. “And those meals are culturally appropriate.”
“If [the menu] said shrimp and pasta, they would say no, that’s too expensive,” a former Cook for Southwest Key’s shelters said. “Just give them pasta.”
The former Cook also confirmed that the shelters would accept donated food items, such as “old pizza” from stores close to the shelters. Workers said the shelters accepted donations from nearby Vons, Dominoes, Pizza Hut and Einstein Bagel stores.
NBC 7 contacted all of the stores mentioned by the former employees but the businesses did not respond to our questions.
“It wasn't the best food, very cheap,” said a former caseworker, adding that kids would often receive “fish sticks with a lack of taste”.
Four of the employees who oversaw education and recreational activities said these activities were reduced in the last four years, due to a lack of staff.
“[The Office of Refugee Resettlement] sets our standards for the amount of time for education and recreation. We meet those standards,” Jeff Eller said. “If we didn’t, they would not allow us to continue child care.”
Four of the employees, whose job duties included minor reunification said they felt pressured to reunify children with family members or guardians in the U.S. as quickly as possible, in order to free up bed space in the local shelters.
“The program would get paid for every minor that stepped foot into the programs,” the former Case Manager said.
Southwest Key said their goal is to reunify children as quickly as possible, so that, "these children can be in a home environment." Eller added that funding has no impact on reunifications.
“These are contract facilities and something that had been relatively rare has now become, you know, a $1.3-billion dollar industry,” estimated University of San Diego Human Rights Professor Doctor Eveard Meade.
Meade said he and other immigration attorneys and child welfare advocates have started to question the nonprofit's motives. Across the country, Meade said Southwest Key has in recent years been scrutinized by state officials for its handling of migrant minors housed in their shelters, specifically in Arizona and Texas.
“If you want to fault the contractors for anything it's that they're saying ‘yes’ [to the Office of Refugee Resettlement] in some cases where they should probably say ‘hold on’,” Meade said, referring to nonprofits like Southwest Key.
Meade added that the current administration's “zero-tolerance” immigration policy has created thousands of children who, under federal law, the government now must look after. And that has created a financial opportunity behind these contracts.
“At the end of the day, if they're not able to come up with a safe bed space for these kids and provide for these kids, it's a collective failure,” Meade said.
While Southwest Key’s funding has increased for the shelters, the salaries for the nonprofit’s executives have also increased.
Southwest Key’s tax filings show salaries for Executive positions within the nonprofit more than doubled over the last three years.
In 2016, Southwest Key's President and CEO Juan Sanchez received a $1.4-million dollar salary. His wife and Southwest Key’s Vice President, Jennifer Sanchez, made at least $487,554.
Southwest Key says the annual salaries of their CEO and board members are "in line with what executives earn across comparable nonprofits."
All five former employees who spoke to NBC 7 said they felt “worked to the bone” and in some cases, NBC 7 Investigates found Southwest Key employees filed complaints with the California Department of Industrial Relations.
“The issues in these wage claims were primarily meal periods and rest periods, as well as some cases claiming overtime and vacation,” said Paola Laverde, Public Information Officer for the Department of Industrial Relations.
While not admitting wrongdoing, Southwest Key ultimately settled eight out 12 complaints filed from 2014 to 2018, paying out $48,606 to employees who filed claims. The remaining four claims have been closed after “plaintiffs either did not appear or did not respond,” said Laverde.
When asked about the settlements, Southwest Key told NBC 7, “We comply with all state and federal employment laws and do not comment on litigation settlements.”
Three former employees of San Diego County migrant youth shelters told NBC 7 Investigates their management did not properly report cases of sexual abuse and misconduct involving minors to law enforcement. A spokesperson for Southwest Key said all cases were reported properly and the safety of children is their number one priority.
To read that part of the story, click here.
Photo Credit: Department of Health and Human Services
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Migrant children housed at a Southwest Key Programs shelter in El Cajon.
San Diego Gas & Electric has filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission to end the practice of high-usage charges after thousands of customers received high electric bills over the summer.
Cate Helm of Chula Vista told NBC 7 that an average monthly bill was between $60 and $90. In the middle of last summer, her monthly bill was $455.
"I thought, ‘Maybe there was a mistake,’" Helm said to us in October. "Then once I called the company and they explained that everything was correct, I was pretty much outraged."
More than 105,000 customers were impacted by the high-usage charge, SDG&E officials said.
Customers who used more than 400 percent of their baseline allowance were charged for high-usage under a mandate by the state of California.
When the so-called “super-user” surcharge was instituted, the CPUC said it would affect fewer than 10 percent of utility customers.
The idea was to penalize customers who are trying using much more electricity than what is necessary and avoid energy waste.
NBC 7 reached out to the CPUC media team to get reaction to the motion but did not receive a response.
Three former employees of San Diego County migrant youth shelters told NBC 7 Investigates their management did not properly report cases of sexual abuse and misconduct involving minors to law enforcement.
The employees point to this example, and other instances of poor care, as evidence of how they feel the overall mission of the organization they worked for, Southwest Key Programs, changed over the last four years from focusing on the care of migrant youth to a focus on profits.
Since the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy went into effect, NBC 7 has been speaking with former employees of the nonprofit Southwest Key, which runs three shelters in El Cajon, Lemon Grove, and just outside of Alpine.
To see the locations of the local shelters, click here or look below.
The minors held in these facilities are ages six to 17 and were either caught trying to cross the border alone or their parents were arrested by immigration officials.
“Early on, when I began, [the children] were very well treated,” a former Case Manager for Southwest Key said. “I think the program sort of shifted down in 2014 when they started just seeing clients as a way of making, I want to say, a profit.”
This former Southwest Key Case Manager agreed to speak on the condition we not show his face or use his name. He provided records, proving his employment at the nonprofit before he was terminated.
NBC 7 Investigates also spoke with a former caseworker and former Administrative Assistant for the shelters, both who worked at the shelters for the last three years and said when cases of sexual misconduct were reported, Southwest Key’s local upper management wouldn’t treat them seriously.
“Management would say ‘we're going to take care of [these allegations]’ but they never would,” said Marisol Perez, a former Administrative Assistant for Southwest Key.
To verify the cases described by these employees, NBC 7 filed a public record request for all law enforcement calls to each of the three shelter locations since January 2010. Those requests were filed with the El Cajon Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
“From one of the instances that I clearly remember, I know the staff member was fired because of things that she did with one of the minors,” the former Case Manager said.
This case, described by the former Case Manager, was in April 2016, when staff at Southwest Key first learned about a 22-year-old female employee kissing one of the minors housed at the El Cajon shelter, according to a report prepared by the El Cajon Police Department and the accounts of all three former employees.
According to the police report, when Southwest Key was first informed about the inappropriate relationship by another child housed at the facility, staff members confronted the juvenile victim. Police notes indicate employees found a piece of paper in the juvenile male’s pocket that had the 22-year-old employee’s Snapchat account handle written on it.
In their report, El Cajon Police Officers said they were notified of the incident 12 days after Southwest Key confronted the employee involved, which led to the employee quitting. On the day the incident was reported to police, staff told police the juvenile victim was on his way to being reunited with family on the east coast.
No representative from Southwest Key Programs would go on-camera for this story. In response to written questions by email, spokesman Jeff Eller disputed what was said in the El Cajon Police report, saying staff had notified El Cajon Police of the incident the same day they learned of the allegations.
Eller said Southwest Key could not comment on specifics about this case or others, but that the nonprofit’s number one priority is to keep the children in their care safe.
“Children have access to phones at all times, in every one of our facilities,” Eller said. “These phones are pre-programmed to call 911, Child Protective Services and the Office of Refugee Resettlement so that they can report an immediate situation in which they feel uncomfortable or in danger.”
To read Southwest Key’s full statement regarding allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse in their facilities, click here.
According to El Cajon Police and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, no arrest took place nor were charges filed against the employee in 2016.
“Whenever possible, we will make arrests and/or forward those cases to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution,” Lt. Royal Bates with the El Cajon Police Department said.
When asked for more details, Bates said State law prohibited the department from doing so since the cases involved minors.
In addition to the 2016 case, NBC 7 found eight police and sheriff reports where investigators were called to investigate allegations of sexual battery or indecent exposure, taking place from January 2016 to as recently as this past April. Six of the cases involved only minors that were housed at the El Cajon shelter and resulted in no arrests or charges being filed. The other two cases involved Sheriff’s Deputies being called to the Lemon Grove shelter to investigate “sex crimes against a child” but no further details were released.
Despite these reports to police and deputies, the three employees who spoke to NBC 7 said they witnessed cases where allegations of misconduct were not reported at all.
“They actually would just kind of ignore those [cases] where the clients were talking, just because they would say, ‘Oh well, they're kids. They lie,’” said the former Case Manager.
Eller with Southwest Key said, “Southwest Key Programs does extensive work to prevent all forms of abuse. When these rare situations occur, all staff involved adhere to our strict protocols.”
On April 11, 2018, after El Cajon officers were called by a Southwest Key employee from the El Cajon shelter to report an indecent exposure had taken place between two minors, the male victim in the case told Police he “did not want to be the victim of a crime.” The case was closed with no arrest or charges filed.
NBC 7 Investigates also received records showing the number of minors who have run away from the three local shelters. To see that story, watch below or click here.
Boys and girls housed by Southwest Key currently live in separate shelters, each located in El Cajon and Lemon Grove. But last year, two former employees said boys and girls were housed under one roof, in El Cajon.
The former Case Manager and Administrative Assistant who spoke with NBC 7 said the separation of boys and girls happened as a result of allegations raised of inappropriate contact between the boys and girls housed at the facility.
In response to that claim made by the employees, a spokesperson for Southwest Key said, “We routinely have gender-specific and mixed gender shelters depending on the number and ages of children under our care.”
“The most common pattern of abuse is teenage unaccompanied minors abusing other teenage unaccompanied minors,” said Doctor Eveard Meade, a Human Rights Professor at the University of San Diego who has worked closely and studied immigrant youth facilities, including shelters owned by Southwest Key.
“I’m not letting the facilities off the hook, or the staff there. It’s their job to prevent that,” Meade said.
Meade had supported Southwest Key for years. In 2014, Meade worked with Southwest Key when the nonprofit pitched a new immigrant youth facility in Escondido. The plan was not approved by the City Council.
But recently, Meade said he and other immigration attorneys and child welfare advocates have started questioning Southwest Key’s motives.
“These are contract facilities and something that had been relatively rare has now become a billion-dollar industry,” Meade said.
The federal funds paid to Southwest Key come from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. According to the nonprofit’s most recent tax filings, the program as a whole accepted more than $626-million dollars in funding.
But five former employees who agreed to speak with NBC 7 said those funds were not spent properly, in some cases leading to kids receiving “spoiled” food donations for meals. Southwest Key disputes this claim.
To read that part of the story, click here.
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.
A lost teddy bear caused the National Weather Service to launch an investigation of sorts to reunite a SoCal kid with his stuffed animal.
NWS Los Angeles tweeted at 12:49 p.m. and said a user has asked for help in “tracking down an important missing teddy bear.”
The stuffed animal is a small black bear with a brown snout and paws.
The organization said the bear floated away in a cluster of balloons Sunday morning in Westchester, a neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Due to the current winds, the flying stuffed animal could have landed anywhere in San Diego or in Orange County, NWS Los Angeles said.
NWS Los Angeles created the phrase #FindHerbertBear to encourage users to spread the word and find the beloved bear.
Photo Credit: NWS Los Angeles
The owners of a small shop in National City specializing in Mexican sweets got a sour surprise this week when their business was burglarized.
“It’s sad,” said Maria Guadalupe Hurtado, owner of Raspados Michoacan. “These are people that have no conscience; they try to do harm and it’s sad that there are people out there like this.”
Hurtado, who owns the small business on Sweetwater Road with her husband, said police called them around 3:30 a.m. Monday to tell them that someone had broken into their shop. Hurtado, her husband and her son, rushed to the storefront.
When they arrived, they found the glass on the front door had been shattered. The thieves had stolen the cash register and the little bit of money that was inside.
“It wasn’t much that they took but I need my cash register,” Hurtado said.
Hurtado said a police report was filed and investigators are trying to track down the thieves. The shop isn’t equipped with security cameras but the owners are now going to put up cameras and hope something like this doesn’t happen again.
Hurtado said there is so much bad in the world right now and things like this just add to the negativity.
“God loves us all, he wants us to be united, not harm one another,” she added.
The shop will stay in business. For now, the broken front door has been boarded up with wood until it can be repaired; shattered glass lingers near the wood.
It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and offers Mexican snow cones topped with fresh fruit, plus ice cream, nachos, sandwiches and other regional treats.
Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
Raspados Michoacan on Sweetwater Road in National City was burglarized sometime between Sunday night and early Monday morning.
The man who drove against traffic and crashed head-on into a fire engine, injuring two firefighters and killing himself, has been identified.
Rodrigo Cano Martin, 41 of San Diego, was traveling the wrong way on Interstate 5 at State Route 94 Thursday morning when he slammed into San Diego Fire-Rescue engine 11.
Engine 11 was responding to a pedestrian hit-and-run crash at about 2 a.m. when Martin slammed his Toyota Carolla into it, CHP said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
CHP said four firefighters were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center and evaluated for their injuries. SDFD spokesperson Monica Munoz said that while two of their crew members suffered minor injuries, none required hospitalization.
The crew would return to duty for their next shift, Munoz said.
At the scene, the Toyota was crumpled from impact and debris was strewn across the freeway from the grisly crash.
Southbound I-5 was shut down as CHP officers investigated the crash. Lanes were reopened before 5:30 a.m.
CHP said Martin may have been stopped in traffic due to the pedestrian crash on I-5 at Imperial Avenue and decided to turn around and drive the opposite direction on the I-5.
CHP Sgt. Brent Lowrey said a wrong-way crash is one of the worst types of accidents they see on freeways. He cautioned drivers to always heed emergency personnel warnings and signals even if it means having to wait.
"Don’t be impatient. If there’s an emergency in front of you and the freeway is shut down, it’s shut down for good reason," Lowrey said. "Ultimately, slow down, stop if you have to. If the road’s blocked, the roads blocked. Just sit and wait."
No other information was available.
The popular Red Fox Room, connected to the Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park will be shutting its doors soon.
The steakhouse and piano bar has been a favorite for many in San Diego for years.
"I love that it's a family neighborhood restaurant that has great food," said Rick Roseth. He lives in Rancho Peñasquitos and makes the drive down every week to the Red Fox. "I've been coming here for 47 years ever since my grandfather brought me."
Patrons enjoy the quaint, historic interior and live entertainment. The kitchen serves steaks, burgers, sandwiches, seafood and salads and there is a full bar with drinks.
"I always get the grilled ham and Swiss on sourdough," said Roseth. "I've had it around 3,000 times."
Since the year 1966, the Demos family has owned the restaurant. Jim Demos, the current owner said he could not comment much right now on why the restaurant was closing, however, he did confirm the lease was not being renewed.
"I'm bummed, added Roseth."It's an iconic part of San Diego. It's therapy for me to come here. The people are like family, everyone who works here."
Demos said he expects that the restaurant will close its doors in March 2019. But he added he is talking to the City of San Diego and working on permits to move the establishment somewhere in town.
A hit-and-run left an El Cajon police officer injured on Interstate 15 Tuesday morning.
The officer was driving southbound on the freeway just north of Hidden Meadows on a motorcycle.
At around 6:30 a.m., a silver Ford Fusion made a lane change, striking the office, according to the El Cajon Police Department.
This caused the officer to crash.
The Fusion exited the freeway at Gopher Canyon Road and then immediately re-entered southbound I-15, according to police.
ECPD said the car was made between 2010 and 2012. It had blue paper dealership plates that read “El General” in yellow letters.
The driver of the Fusion was described as a man with glasses.
The officer was in full uniform.
The extent of the injuries is unknown; however, ECPD said it was minor.
Anyone with information is asked to call the California Highway Patrol at (858) 637-3800.
The Coronado Police Department confirmed the identity of a man found dead in bushes along Silver Strand Boulevard last week.
Police say pedestrians found the body of 47-year-old Adrian Zepeda on the evening of Nov. 26.
Michelle Albanez, an employee of a 7-Eleven in Imperial Beach, told NBC 7 Zepeda was a regular customer who she described as a "great father and role model to his children."
Police said Zepeda was the victim of a suspicious death. Albanez was shocked when she learned the news.
"The poor guy," she said. "I feel bad for him, I feel bad for his family, and I wanted to at least contribute something, even though it wasn't a lot, but every little bit does help."
A man who identified himself as Zepeda's step-son set up a Go-Fund-Me page for Zepeda's children.
CPD Captain Laszlo Waczek said pedestrians noticed something strange in the bushes at around 3:30 p.m.
Police had concerns that the man's death wasn't natural and determined his death was suspicious soon after.
According to Waczek, Medical Examiner's office staff noticed there was trauma to the man's chest. Officials did not specify details of the trauma.
Some of the victim's clothes were found scattered around the area, Chief Waczek said.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department homicide investigators assisted the CPD in the death investigation.
No other information was available.
Diane Peck spent decades working on computers for her job as an IT technician, until retiring in 2009, but that hasn't kept her away from the computer.
Diane volunteers for several non-profits, helping with schedules and other data gathering. She also devotes much of her time to her photography, editing and downloading the pictures she takes on her computer.
In January of last year, Diane’s computer crashed for the last time. She went to Costco and bought a new Dell Computer for just under $800.
The computer worked great, until six months later when her operating system wasn’t operating.
Diane called Dell Computers. For the following hour and a half, Diane followed the technician’s directions to try and get the computer to boot.
“I crawled on the floor. I unplugged, replugged, restarted, shut-down, all with a bad hip and a bad knee,” Diane told NBC 7 Responds.
Diane and the technician managed to get the computer to reboot. Days later, however, other problems appeared.
“The computer wouldn’t recognize external hard-drives, and restarting it took as long as 20 minutes,” said Diane.
Diane called Dell Computers again. They told her to send the computer back to Dell and they would fix the problem.
But that was problematic for Diane.
“I can’t afford to be without a working computer,” she said. “I have my photography, I volunteer with three nonprofits.”
Diane conveyed those problems to Dell. They suggested returning the computer to Costco where she purchased it. Diane tried but Costco told her the 90-day return window had expired.
Diane says she was back on the phone with Dell, demanding that Dell refund her money.
They again told Diane to ship the computer for repair.
Diane contacted NBC 7 Responds for help.
Dell told NBC 7 Responds that the company, “offered to assist the customer per the terms and conditions of the hardware warranty but [Ms. Peck] declined to accept the assistance.”
Diane said she feels Dell should do more.
“It’s a malfunctioning product and they are not taking any responsibility for it,” said Diane.
But like so many other consumers, Diane agreed to Dell’s terms when she purchased the product. And, by purchasing the computer from a retailer, Diane is subject to not only the retailer’s return policy but also that of the manufacturer.
After a swastika was painted on the side of a Poway home with Hanukkah decorations Sunday night, a local organization said it will now give a $3,000 reward for information on the vandalism.
The Anti-Defamation League’s San Diego Regional Office (ADL) announced Tuesday that it would reward information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the any vandalism suspects.
“We hope this reward encourages people to report whatever they may know about whomever is behind this hateful act of vandalism,” said ADL Regional Director Tammy Gillies. “We cannot allow such acts of hate, or the prejudice which underlies them, to take place in San Diego County or anywhere else.”
The incident is being investigated by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department as a hate crime.
Hours after Debbie Seibert put up decorations to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday, the Poway resident found a swastika spray-painted on her home and a liquid that smelled like kerosene on her son’s car.
“I feel defiled,” Seibert, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years, said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever decorated for Hanukkah, and it was a very bad result.”
Seibert’s seasonal decorations include a Star of David hanging on a front yard tree and a series of colorful dreidels projected by a lamp.
She said she will now install year-round security cameras.
An impromptu vigil, with ADL staff, popped up Monday near Poway and Community Roads in support for Seibert, her family, and many others who have faced similar acts of hatred.
Seibert said the show of support was, "overwhelming" and, though she is shaken, she will continue to display her Hanukkah decorations.
Anyone with information is asked to call the San Diego Sheriff’s Department in Poway at (858) 513-2800.
Five girls left without a father after a violent road rage incident are being offered help from a small business owner in their community.
Horace Williams, 36, was stabbed to death on Nov. 27 during a suspected road rage confrontation in Chula Vista.
Victor Lopez, the owner of El Pollo Grill in Bonita, heard about Williams’ death via Facebook and decided to lend a helping hand. Lopez will be donating 30 percent of Saturday's sales to Williams’ five daughters.
“We don't need to know them to try to help somebody in need,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have extra funds that I can share with them.”
The mother of the victim's oldest daughter, who is only 9 years old, said her daughter is still trying to process the loss of her father.
“He gave everything for his daughters,” Williams’ ex-wife Jessica Grande said. “He didn't have much, but whatever he did, it was all for his daughters. Such a great father.”
Grande said Williams stayed home and dedicated his life to raising his five girls.
She knows the donations won’t take away any of his daughters’ pain, but it might help them with things down the road their father may have taken care of.
“It is not something that we can say is going to help us with our feelings, but it is going to help with everything else the girls are going to need,” Grande said.
If you want to contribute to Saturday’s fundraiser, all you have to do is mention it when you are purchasing food at the grill. The offer is valid from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The defendant in this case, Rickey Smith, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges last week.
A college student told NBC 7 a woman tried to scam her out of cash before assaulting her and leaving her with a bloodied and blackened eye in the parking lot of a popular Mission Valley shopping center.
The attack happened on Nov. 25 after the 19-year-old San Diego State University student, who wished not to be identified, picked up her food from her favorite restaurant, Pei-Wei.
She was inching out of the parking lot onto Camino De La Reina when she noticed a couple walking towards her car. Moments later, she saw what she believed was the woman intentionally falling and slamming into the front end of her car.
“She like looked at me in the eyes and slowly fell down and I rolled down my window and I was like, ‘Are you OK?” the student said.
Apparently the woman was fine because that's when the SDSU sophomore said the money grab began.
“She walks up to my window and she's like, ‘How much cash do you have on you right now?’ I said ‘I don’t have my purse,’” she said.
Though she offered to pay via the Venmo app or bring back cash from home, that’s when she says the violence erupted and she was punched in the eye.
The violent episode rattled the 19-year-old’s sense of safety. She says she’ll take a break from going to the Mission Valley Pei-Wei.
“I used to walk home from parties by myself thinking I’ll be fine. I haven’t done that at all. I always call someone or an Uber. I just hate going places by myself,” she said.
The victim says the attack is an unfortunate reminder to always be on alert because people can try and take advantage of you.
Police say they’re looking for surveillance video, but for now, they believe this was an isolated incident.
There’s only a vague description of the attacker at this time.
She's about 5 feet tall and overweight, and had her hair in two French braids.
Lawyers hired by CBS to investigate the conduct of Leslie Moonves, the former CBS chief executive who left the company after he was accused of sexual misconduct, are preparing to tell the company that it has reason to deny the former executive $120 million in severance payments, according to a report from The New York Times.
The Times said that it had acquired a draft report that found Moonves had destroyed evidence and lied to investigators, providing the company with cause to deny Moonves the payments that were part of his employment contract, NBC News reported.
“Based on the facts developed to date, we believe that the board would have multiple bases upon which to conclude that the company was entitled to terminate Moonves for cause,” the report states, according to the Times.
In a statement provided to NBC News on Tuesday night, outside investigators hired by the board said, "No findings have been reported to the Board. The Board has reached no conclusions on this matter. The investigators and the Board are committed to a thorough and fair process. No draft of the investigators’ ongoing work product has been shared with the Board or the Company. Our work is still in progress and there are bound to be many facts and assessments that evolve and change as the work is completed."
Moonves' lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached by NBC News. A spokesman for CBS declined comment.
Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File
In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation, poses at the premiere of the new television series "Star Trek: Discovery" in Los Angeles.