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    Construction crews struck a natural gas main Thursday near San Diego State University and forced the evacuation of a nearby apartment complex and houses.

    The leak started around 11:15 p.m. at the intersection of Montezuma Road and Campanile Drive after construction crews truck the service gas line, San Diego Gas and Electric spokesman Wes Jones said.

    A nearby apartment complex and three houses evacuated for safety reasons, he said.

    A nearby church, preschool and elementary school were told to shelter in place, Jones said.

    SDSU was not affected by leak as students were still on winter break, university spokeswoman Cory Marshall said. The new semester starts at the end of January.

    The leak was sealed off around 1 p.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    President Donald Trump flew to Texas Thursday to tour the southern border and make the case for his proposed border wall. This comes as the federal government entered its 20th day of a partial shutdown. President Trump has refused to sign any bill that doesn’t include $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall.


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    Power has been restored for the nearly 3,000 customers who were without power Thursday afternoon, according to the San Diego Gas & Electric power outage map.

    The outages started just before 1 p.m. affecting 2,909 customers in Mission Valley, Clairemont, Linda Vista, Kearney Mesa and Tierrasanta, according to SDG&E.

    Power was restored shortly before 3 p.m. The cause of the outage was not disclosed

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



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    A power pole in Descanso, California on Oct. 23, 2017.A power pole in Descanso, California on Oct. 23, 2017.

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    Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda/NBC 7

    Homeland Security officials were also staging in the area for the planned drill at the busy border crossing in south San Diego.Homeland Security officials were also staging in the area for the planned drill at the busy border crossing in south San Diego.

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    Two San Diego Seals lacrosse players were rescued Thursday from Ocean Beach after jumping off Sunset Cliffs, the team confirmed to NBC 7.

    The yet-to-be-identified players were the two men in their 20s who jumped from the Arches around 10:45 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said.

    The Seals spokeswoman confirmed to NBC 7 the men were their players but did not identify them.

    "Due to high surf conditions, the players were helped back to shore by city lifeguards," the team said in a statement. "We have been staying in close touch with our players and are relieved to report that everyone is safe." 

    The Arches is a popular cliff jumping spot on Sunset Cliffs despite it being illegal.

    “No sooner did they hit the water, and swells and water and washing machine and they were doing Ok for maybe 30-40 seconds,” Jim Grant said. “After that, they were done.”

    He was at the cliffs taking photos and witnessed the entire thing. Grant said one the men were struggling hard against the swells in the alcove.

    “He looked just like a bowling ball, just being pushed in the water and rolled into the rocks,” he said.

    The man made it onto a rock ledge in the alcove and firefighters had to do a cliff rescue to get the man to safety, Munoz said.

    The other man was washed out of the alcove and pushed against the cliffs, Grant said. Lifeguards dove in and pulled the man onto a jet ski, which then took him to a rescue boat that then transported to lifeguards headquarters in Ocean Beach, lifeguard Sgt. Rick Strobel said.

    "This rescue exemplifies how dangerous (cliff jumping) can be," he said.

    Cliff jumping is dangerous under normal circumstances but it’s more so when the waves are as high as they were Thursday. The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory for San Diego that was expected to expire at 10 p.m. During a high surf advisory, there are strong rip currents and dangerous swimming conditions, the NWS said.

    “I can honestly say I've never seen anybody jumped off in these kinds of condition,” Grant said. “I was flabbergasted as I stood there with my camera and looked at these guys.”

    None of the men sustain any injuries, save for minor scrapes, Munoz said.

    The Seals home opener is Saturday at Pechanga Arena San Diego.



    Photo Credit: Jim Grant

    Two men jumping off Sunset Cliffs on Jan. 10, 2019, during a high surf advisory. They both had to be rescued by lifeguards. One of the men is a San Diego Seals lacrosse player.Two men jumping off Sunset Cliffs on Jan. 10, 2019, during a high surf advisory. They both had to be rescued by lifeguards. One of the men is a San Diego Seals lacrosse player.

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    A man suspected in a triple-homicide case out of Little Rock, Arkansas, was arrested Wednesday night in San Diego, police confirmed.

    The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said Thursday that the suspect had been arrested as officers conducted proactive enforcement on the trolley. Officials with the Fugitive Task Force aided in the man’s arrest.

    According to NBC affiliate KARK in Arkansas, the suspect is Joshua Milik Williams, 22.

    Williams was booked into San Diego Central Jail and is scheduled to appear in court Friday. He is expected to be extradited to Arkansas to face charges.

    The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that Williams was wanted in connection with a shooting on West 14th Street in Little Rock on Nov. 16, 2018. The violence left three young victims dead and another wounded. The victims who died in the shooting were discovered inside a wrecked Jeep; the fourth victim was a teenager found wounded outside a home.

    Fighting tears, the father of victim Latija Lucky, 19, spoke with KARK Monday.

    "I want him to go to jail. We need justice right now, for my daughter. My daughter was murdered!" Larry Lucky Jr. told the NBC affiliate. "My daughter was murdered; three people [are] dead."

    San Diego Police are expected to soon release further details on the suspect and his arrest.

    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
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    Tatiana Perez started her 2012 Volkswagen EOS at the dealership hours after dropping it off for a routine oil change. The car began to shake. The check engine light turned on. Perez turned the car off and went to the service counter at South Bay Volkswagen in Chula Vista.

    Mechanics started the car and the same thing happened.

    “It was strange because when I picked up the keys they told me there were no issues, other than I need new tires, but that was all,” Perez told NBC 7 Responds.

    They gave Perez a loaner and said they would look under the hood.

    They did. Not long after that’s when the single mother of two was told the bad news: the tensioner on her timing chain broke. Replacing the part would set Perez back $2,000.

    “I lost it,” said Perez. “I didn’t understand how I took my car in for an oil change and this is what happened. How does this happen?”

    Perez, faced with having to borrow the money for repairs, said mechanics at South Bay Volkswagen told her about a class action lawsuit filed against the car maker for the exact same timing chain issue. She said she looked the lawsuit up and found over 450,000 cars were impacted.

    She called Volkswagen and asked if her car was included.

    It was, however, Perez’ car had surpassed the 100,000 mile mark, which means she no longer qualified for the extended warranty.

    But Perez says she needed her car back, to get to and from work and for taking her children to practices and games.

    “I said, ‘Fine, let’s do it.’ It was still way over my budget and I needed to borrow the money but I needed me car. I have two kids in two different sports and I need my car,” Perez said.

    But that wasn’t the end of it.

    Perez said she received an email shortly after from the dealership saying they had found additional problems. In all, the cost to repair her timing chain was $3,300.

    Perez said that was her breaking point.

    That’s when she called NBC 7 Responds.

    “I was sitting there crying and that’s when my uncle and my manager suggested that I contact NBC 7 Responds, and so I did.”

    Two days later Volkswagen agreed to pay for a portion of the bill and South Bay Volkswagen agreed to cover the remaining balance.

    “I just broke down into tears,” said Perez. “It’s a huge relief, and a huge stress off my shoulders.”

    In a statement to NBC 7 Responds, South Bay Volkswagen owner and president Rudy Erm says the timing chain tensioner was bad and would have broken despite the oil change. He said it was no coincidence.

    “I am a strong believer in customer satisfaction and I do not want Ms. Perez to feel we are misleading her or trying to cover any wrongdoing, as that is not the case,” writes South Bay Volkswagen owner, Rudy Erm.

    “We shared her concern with Volkswagen and managed to obtain one last Good Faith gesture towards the repairs she needed for her Eos. It did not cover the full cost of the repairs, so I agreed to cover the additional expense for her. I hope that this resolution can give her some peace of mind during this Holiday season and restore a little faith in my dealership and the employees who were doing their best to provide good customer service.”



    Photo Credit: Bob Hansen

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    Two students at Tierrasanta Elementary School were approached by strangers on their walk home Thursday, according to a letter sent by the principal.

    Principal Sally Viavada said the students were walking home from school when a man and a woman in a car asked their names and offered them a ride.

    The students didn’t recognize the man and woman and ran back to their school and reported what happened. The police were called immediately and a report was filed, Viavada said.

    “I want you to know about this so that you may use it as an opportunity to speak with your children about safety and what to do in a situation like this. Education is our best tool!” the principal’s note said.

    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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    San Diego Rep. Duncan Hunter wants President Donald Trump to intervene in the prison conditions of a decorated Navy SEAL who faces court-martial on charges in connection with the death of a young ISIS fighter in Iraq.

    Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is being held at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar on charges of premeditated murder for the May 2017 stabbing death in Mosul, Iraq of an injured ISIS fighter who they estimate was about 15 years old. He is also charged with aggravated assault for shooting Iraqi civilians.

    Gallagher pleaded not guilty to all charges on Friday. 

    The special-ops chief has been held in the Miramar Brig since Sept. 11, when he was arrested at the Camp Pendleton Intrepid Spirit Center, but Hunter says his pre-trial confinement conditions are not appropriate for "an American war hero who has served 19 years."

    In a letter to President Trump, Hunter claims that Gallagher's prison conditions are "irregularly harsh" and are affecting his right to legal representation.

    "Chief Gallagher has been forced into general population which consists mostly of convicted sex offenders and pedophiles," Hunter wrote in his letter.

    Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar is used by all four branches of the armed services and the Coast Guard as a confinement and correctional facility for both pre-trial and post-trial prisoners.

    NBC 7 has reached out to officials for Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar and are awaiting a response for comment.

    Hunter also claimed Gallagher and his lawyer "are forced to speak with their client in rooms that allegedly have cameras, guards and most likely microphones."

    Read Hunter's full letter below:

     

    Gallagher's attorneys have argued that the Naval chief should await trial at home but a judge delayed the ruling until this week. 

    Hunter has strongly defended Gallagher and last week said the chief's case should be dismissed. He said in a statement that "no credible evidence has been provided that this ISIS fighter was murdered as opposed to dying from his terrorist actions." 

    The Navy has previously outlined its evidence, including cellphone photos that show Gallagher holding up the head of the deceased fighter during a reenlistment ceremony.

    Prosecutors also presented evidence that they say shows Gallagher tried to bribe fellow SEALs to not talk about the incident to NCIS investigators.

    The defense argues Gallagher was turned in by his subordinates because he was too tough on them.

    Gallagher has served 19 years in the U.S. Navy and more than 14 years as a Navy SEAL, his attorney said.

    In 2017, Gallagher was ranked as the top SEAL chief, and his platoon was ranked as the top SEAL platoon, the website said.

    During his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal twice, an Army Commendation Medal, and nearly a dozen other decorations.

    If convicted on the most serious charge, Gallagher could face life in prison.


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    Two Paradise Hills schools were briefly placed on lockdown Thursday as San Diego police searched for two suspects believed to be involved in a burglary attempt. 

    Both Perry Elementary School and the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts were placed on lockdown at about 10:45 a.m. as police searched for two men suspected of burglarizing a home on Rising Glen Way, just streets away from both schools.

    The suspects took off when they were discovered, One fled into a canyon and another got away in a vehicle, San Diego Police Department Sgt. Michael Stirk said.

    A police helicopter was launched to search for the two men.

    The San Diego Unified School district confirmed the lockdown was called as a precaution when the suspect search announcement was made over the helicopter's loudspeaker. 

    The lockdown was lifted at about 11:30 a.m.

    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

    San Diego police lightsSan Diego police lights

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    The husband of an Oceanside Police Department dispatcher – and father of two young boys – was killed on New Year’s Day in a crash with a DUI suspect, authorities confirmed Thursday.

    The Oceanside Police Officers’ Association (OPOA) said the tragedy involved Christopher Dean Williams, 29, the spouse of Sarah Williams, a public safety dispatcher for the police department.

    “While words cannot express the grief and pain we all feel as part of the Law Enforcement family, we all know that there will be harder days and times ahead,” the OPOA said Thursday, referring to the Williams family.

    Williams leaves behind two young boys: 8-year-old Jonathon Williams and 5-year-old Nathan Williams.

    The crash happened just before 4 a.m. on Jan. 1 on eastbound State Route 76, east of Ramona Drive, in Fallbrook. The OPOA said Williams, who worked as a member of the Security-EMT unit at the Pauma Casino, was riding his motorcycle home from work.

    According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, as Williams approached the intersection of Ramona Drive on his motorcycle, he was met head-on by a wrong-way driver traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes.

    The driver, suspected of being under the influence, crashed into Williams. Witnesses called 911 but Williams died at the scene from multiple blunt force injuries, the Medical Examiner confirmed.

    Williams would’ve turned 30 this May.

    The OPOA called the deadly accident senseless and said it was committed to helping Sarah Williams and her children get back on their feet.

    “Having a member of your family ripped from your life without warning is terrible, raising two small boys on a meager public safety paycheck will be near impossible,” the association said.

    The OPOA is raising money to help ease the financial strain for Sarah Williams and her boys. An online fundraising page has been established for the family. At last check Thursday morning, the account had raised nearly $16,000 of its $25,000 goal.

    The association will also host a pancake breakfast fundraiser this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rookies Sports Bar at 2216 S. El Camino Real, #104, in Oceanside. A $10 minimum donation per person will go directly to the family, the OPOA said.

    Meanwhile, donations by check can also be sent to this address, with “For the Sarah Williams Family” written in the memo section:

    Oceanside Police Officers’ Association
    4141 Avenida De La Plata
    Oceanside, CA 92056



    Photo Credit: Oceanside Police Officers' Association/GoFundMe
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    An undated family photo of Christopher Dean Williams, 29, and his wife, Oceanside Police Dispatcher Sarah Williams. Christopher was killed in a head-on crash with a DUI suspect in Fallbrook on Jan. 1, 2019.An undated family photo of Christopher Dean Williams, 29, and his wife, Oceanside Police Dispatcher Sarah Williams. Christopher was killed in a head-on crash with a DUI suspect in Fallbrook on Jan. 1, 2019.

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    Hundreds of TSA agents who worked through the holidays to make sure San Diego travelers boarded planes safely don’t know when their next paychecks will come.

    The message from the TSA stays the same -- security standards have been uncompromised throughout the shutdown and that wait times haven’t been that long either.

    However, that doesn’t mean that TSA employees are going to be happy about missing their first paycheck.

    Lead transportation security officer Ron Gerber remembers past shutdowns well.

    “Back in 2013, October 1st, we did end up missing a check then,” he said. Gerber remembers how the frustration surrounding when and how much he was paid continued even after the shutdown ended.

    “It took a while. Once we got back to work to even get a paycheck and most of the time it was not correct,” he said.

    Gerber is one of about 600 TSA workers at Lindbergh Field forced to work without pay during this shutdown.

    Other federal workers are furloughed and can't work at all.

    “They at least could get other jobs, they have those 40 hours. They can be [driving for Uber] or whatever,” Gerber said.

    NBC News has reported TSA officers across the country were calling out to sick to work other gigs.

    The TSA disputed that report and Gerber says agents locally haven’t been calling out in high volumes.

    “We cannot voluntarily furlough...We cannot call out sick...There is no sick leave, we were told if you call out sick, you'd be AWOL (absent without official leave). Disciplinary action,” Gerber said.

    While the shutdown continues over a debate surrounding the border and national security, Gerber points out he and his co-workers are being punished for protecting the country every day.

    “Nothing has happened to an airliner that has left the United States. And that's because of us,” he said.

    So Gerber plans to wake up on shutdown day 21 for his 3:30 a.m. shift, but hopes people can put themselves in his and other employees’ shoes.

    “Whatever job you have -- miss one month of pay and not know if you're gonna miss next month's pay or the month after that or the month after that, when do you make a decision to leave?”

    The San Diego International Airport said it hasn’t seen an impact from the shutdown and said the FAA and TSA have been working effectively.

    Gerber said one of his colleagues has organized food and supplies like diapers to be handed out from a Chula Vista church for TSA workers struggling to get by.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    A passenger at SFO gets patted down by a TSA agent. (March 6, 2017)A passenger at SFO gets patted down by a TSA agent. (March 6, 2017)

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    A man who got into an argument with the clerk at an El Cajon motel intentionally drove his car into the building's office in retaliation Thursday night.

    The El Cajon Police Department said the suspect first got into a domestic violence altercation with his significant other at the Budget Inn Motel on Main Street.

    He allegedly left the room and came into contact with the clerk on his way out.

    The two began arguing and the suspect made threats toward the clerk before he left the property, ECPD said.

    Then at around 8 p.m. the suspect returned and crashed his car into the wall of the office. Police say he was traveling faster than 40 mph.

    The clerk, who was sitting behind the desk at the time of the crash, was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries.

    ECPD said the suspect, a 62-year-old man, was arrested and is facing attempted murder and domestic violence charges, and possibly DUI charges.

    An inspector was examining the building trying to determine if it was safe for guests to stay there.

    A guest staying in the second-floor room right above the office was in his room at the time fo the crash.

    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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    San Diego-area congresswoman Susan Davis (D-49) re-introduced a bill this week that would protect door-to-door delivery by the USPS, which would save people like Vicki Granowitz a world of trouble.

    The North Park resident recently broke her leg, suffered a concussion and lost her two front teeth when a driver ran a stop sign while she was crossing the street and hit her.

    Getting to the mailbox right outside her door is hard enough. She can’t imagine what it would take out of her if she had to trek to a locker box like some other San Diegans have to do.

    “It's part of what makes people feel like they are alive and connected to the outside world,” Granowitz said of her 6-days-a-week mail fetching routine.

    She also says getting mail delivered to your door is a necessity for people her age.

    “It may seem like it's not important to somebody in their twenties but let them get into their sixties and seventies,” she said.

    While Granowitz can’t fathom a life without a daily delivery of crispy white envelopes to her doorstep, people like Richard Rider with the San Diego Tax Fighters thinks the USPS is in over its head and delivery should be relegated to one day a week.

    “The U.S. post office raises the bar for inefficiency,” Rider said. He argues that physical mail is becoming less and less a part of our lives and says door-to-door delivery should only be available for those who really need it.

    According to Rider, the USPS is roughly $15 billion in debt mostly from pensions and benefits.

    “We should probably have mail delivery, if we're going to have it, be like trash pick-up,” argues Rider.

    Granowitz vehemently disagrees. She says postal workers are still a necessity for San Diegans.

    “Particularly for older folks who didn't grow up with the internet,” she said.


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    A 22-year-old Davis police officer, on the beat for just a few weeks and considered a rising star in her department, was shot and killed Thursday evening while responding to a traffic accident in the Northern California college town.

    Officer Natalie Corona's suspected killer was found dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a house in the area, according to the Davis Police Department.

    The shooting occurred about 6:45 p.m. in the area of Fifth and C streets near downtown, police said. Corona was responding to a three-car crash in that area, and shots were fired.

    Corona was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where she later died, police said.

    Corona first joined the Davis Police Department in 2016 as a part-time community service officer, graduated from the Sacramento Police Department Academy over the summer then completed a six-month field training just before Christmas, The Davis Enterprise reported

    "She was a rising star in the department and I've known her for a couple years," Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said in a late-night news conference. "She started as a part-time employee, volunteer. I can tell you that I've never seen anybody work harder in a part-time capacity and be more motivated to be a police officer than Natalie. She's just absolutely a star in the department and somebody that pretty much every department looked to as a close friend, a sister."

    Pytel added she had "been out on her own for just a couple of weeks." 

    Corona's father Merced Corona has worked as a sheriff's deputy in Colusa County for 26 years and a local newspaper there had written a story about him pinning his daughter's badge as she was sworn in as an officer, The Sacramento Bee reported.

    Police had issued a shelter in place across Davis as officers searched for the suspect and the UC campus was placed on lockdown. Later Thursday night, police were focused on a house in the same general area of the shooting where they found the suspect dead. Police haven't provided details about the suspect.

    As news spread of Corona's death, police departments and others began to pay tribute to her across social media. Some of the posts featured a photo that Corona had shared on her Facebook page that showed her holding a "thin blue line" American flag. The flag honors sacrifices made by those in law enforcement.

    Chief Pytel said the investigation would be led by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. 

    Davis is located about 20 miles west of Sacramento, California. This was the first fatal shooting of an on-duty officer in the city since 1959, according to the Enterprise. 


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    Elizabeth Smart, who was held captive for nine months as a teenager in the early 2000s, said that the discovery of missing Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs alive on Thursday left her "thrilled," NBC News reported.

    "What a miracle!!! Jayme Closs has been found!!!! I’m so thrilled to hear the news," Smart wrote on Instagram Friday morning. "What has been such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story."

    Jayme had been missing since Oct. 15, when her parents were found fatally shot at their home in Barron. The 13-year-old was found in a remote area about 70 miles away, and more details on what happened are expected at a news conference later Friday.

    Smart was taken at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in 2002 and has become an advocate against child abduction.



    Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Lifetime, File
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    This Nov. 13, 2017, file photo shows Elizabeth Smart at the Lifetime and NeueHouse Women's Forum screening of This Nov. 13, 2017, file photo shows Elizabeth Smart at the Lifetime and NeueHouse Women's Forum screening of "I Am Elizabeth Smart" at NeueHouse Madison Square in New York City.

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    A 12-year-old boy walking home from school was a victim of a child luring attempt Thursday afternoon, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

    The boy was walking home from Rio Seco School around 3:15 p.m. when a man pulled up alongside him near the 9900 block of Riverwalk Drive in Santee and told the boy his father sent him to pick the boy up from school, sheriff’s Lt. Chris Steffen said.

    The boy ran off to a nearby apartment complex and the man drove off on Riverwalk Drive, the lieutenant said.

    Both the boy’s mother and father said neither has asked anyone to pick the boy up, he said.

    The man was described as white, about 40 to 49 years of age with short blonde hair and stubble on his face. He was last seen wearing a brown Hurley baseball cap, a white, blue and baby blue short-sleeve plaid shirt.

    The truck was described as a newer model white Ford F-150 pick-up truck lifted with black rims.

    Anyone with any information about this incident was asked to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

    In San Diego, two Tierrasanta Elementary School students were approached by strangers on their walk home Thursday and were offered rides home, according to a letter sent by the principal.

    Deputies do not believe the two incidents are connected.


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    They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, but scientists are now saying it's the way to the mind too. 

    It's called the human microbiome: the billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in your body. 

    Scientists at the University of California, San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation say it is a new frontier in understanding human health. 

    "When we look at wellness and disease, focusing on the human aspect of the equation, we are missing 99 percent of the information that we should be looking at," said Dr. Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, Executive Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation. "That's what microbiome scientists are doing." 

    Here's some food for thought: there are 100 million neurons in your guts, which is why hunger can affect your mood. 

    "You can have good memories associated with certain foods," said Lindsay Clark, a sophomore at UCSD. "And it can bring back comforting feelings.” 

    And that gut feeling that you've had before? That might have more logic than we once thought. 

    UCSD researchers are hopeful learning the secrets of these neurons in the stomach and intestines will lead to better cures for mental illness. 

    Scientists are learning one of the most important things when it comes to microbiome health is variety. That means eating a diet with fruits and vegetables that are all colors of the rainbow. 

    "The more diverse your gut microbiome is the likelier you are to be healthy," said Dr. Miller-Montgomery. 

    That's because there will be a more diverse range of good bacteria to fight off bad bacteria. 

    The emerging field will not only lead to better mental health and nutrition but possible new cures for diseases like cancer. 

    "In the future we can have companion treatments to oncology drugs where the person who was not responding because they did not have the proper microbiome could be a responder to the therapies," said Dr. Miller-Montgomery. 


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    A drastically low number of western monarch butterflies have been recorded this year along the California coast, according to a volunteer agency that organizes a count of the creature each winter.  

    Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation sends a team of volunteers spanning the California coast for three weeks each Thanksgiving to collect data on western monarchs who will soon journey south for the winter before migrating back north for the spring. 

    This year, the agency noted the early results of their count were "disturbingly low." 

    While the results won't be finalized until late January, Xerces Society said the locations they had recorded so far -- which accounts for 77 percent of the total migrating monarch population -- saw an 86 percent decrease this year from last. 

    The count has been taken every Thanksgiving since 1997 at various spots along the coast between Baja, Mexico and the Bay Area.

    The World Wildlife Fund, which tracks the butterflies' populations in Mexico in coordination with the Telmex Telcel Alliance, found a 15 percent decline from 2017 to 2018 and an 86 percent in the last two decades. 

    Pat Flanagan, the director of Butterfly Farms in Encinitas, said in late July, visitors started complaining they weren’t seeing as many monarchs in their wildlife areas.

    "A lot of our historic customers were coming in and saying hey- I don't have any monarchs. I've always had monarchs, and this year, for whatever reason. We say, just wait, they're gonna show up. But in some cases, that didn't happen," Flanagan said. 

    Monarchs are some of the longest-living butterflies and they have been considered a migratory phenomenon -- the only non-bird species that travel thousands of miles in two directions each year. 

    The WWF said because the monarch butterfly's migration coincides with weather conditions, climate change threatens to disrupt their migration and colder winters and warmer summers could contribute to population decline.

    "Most people don't understand that the monarch, like so many of the insects, they have a symbiotic relationship with the plant world," Flanagan said. "They're connected to the plant world and so when we're not seeing them, we have to question what's going on in the plant world." 

    A 2014 petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) asked the agency to consider adding the monarch butterfly to the Endangered Species List.

    USFWS is in the process of evaluating whether the species should be federally protected and a decision is due by June 2019. 

    Those that want to help the monarch butterfly can help by creating monarch habitats, planting native gardens and helping scientists track the species, to name a few. More ways to help can be found on the USFWS "Save the Monarch Butterfly" website.


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    Lifeguards have reopened the Ocean Beach Pier after dangerous surf conditions that damaged the pier and swept a man away before trapping him in a jetty subsided.

    San Diego Fire-Rescue lifeguards said the surf calmed by Friday morning, allowing them to reopen the popular pier to foot traffic.

    The landmark was damaged slightly but crews made repairs and lifeguards deemed it safe, according to the agency.

    A high surf advisory was issued Wednesday and Thursday while waves from San Diego through the Los Angeles area averaged 6 to 12 feet, creating dangerous swimming conditions, according to the National Weather Service. 

    During the high surf event's peak on Wednesday afternoon, a man attempted to rescue his dogs who got caught in rough waters and was swept away himself. 

    Gregg Owens became trapped by a jetty and was slammed by waves against nearby rocks, the medical examiner's office said. 

    Owens was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. 

    SDFD lifeguards said the high surf event also slightly damaged the Ocean Beach Pier. Crews made repairs to the landmark and deemed it safe to reopen. 

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