CALIFORNIA DROUGHT NOURISHES FAKE GRASS SALES: TORRANCE (AP) — Businesses that sell artificial grass are making some serious green in drought-stricken Southern California.
The Torrance Daily Breeze says the synthetic turf industry is booming as folks look for ways to reduce water consumption.
Chris Hayman of Earth Design Landscape in Redondo Beach — which sells synthetic lawns — says his annual revenues have jumped from less than $300,000 two years ago to $2.5 million this year.
DuraTurf says it sold about 625,000 square feet of artificial grass in Southern California last year and could double those sales this year.
Some areas offer rebates for people who tear out their lawns. And the water savings can be large. One estimate says the average lawn needs 34,000 gallons a year.
SWAT OFFICER SHOT WHILE SERVING A SEARCH WARRANT: SAN GABRIEL (AP) — Police say a Pomona SWAT officer has been shot and seriously wounded while serving a search warrant at a residence in San Gabriel, and a suspect has been arrested.
Officer Shaun Diamond, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, was reported in critical condition Tuesday following surgery for a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida says officers took the suspect into custody without returning fire.
He was identified as 36-year-old David Martinez of San Gabriel. He is jailed with bail set at $4 million.
Nishida says the shooting occurred as a multi-agency task force entered the home about 4 a.m.
Pomona police Lt. Mike Keltner says the search warrant was related to a case involving a motorcycle gang. He did not elaborate.
TEENS DIE WHEN CAR IS SWEPT AWAY CROSSING CREEK: SHINGLETOWN (AP) — Authorities say two teenagers died when the vehicle they were in was swept away as they tried to cross a rain-swollen creek in Northern California.
The bodies of Tristan Mitchell and his girlfriend, Darian Powner, were found Monday around the Shasta County city of Shingletown. Shingletown is about 150 miles north of Sacramento.
The Record Searchlight of Redding reports the 19-year-olds had been missing since Saturday night after leaving the home of family friends they had visited for dinner. They were in a Ford Focus when a heavy storm came through.
California Highway Patrol Officer Matt Clark says the car was swept away as it tried to cross a bridge over Lack Creek. It came to rest about a half-mile downstream.
The bodies were found a few hundred yards away.
REPUTED GANG MEMBER SHOOTS SELF WITH OWN GUN: FRESNO (AP) — Fresno police say a reputed gang member shot himself with his own gun — the second such shooting in as many days.
Police tell the Fresno Bee that officers answering a report of shots fired early Sunday found 28-year-old Randy Mcbride with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Sgt. Tony Bustos says it appears that Mcbride was in a home when he heard gunshots, put a sawed-off shotgun in his pants and went outside to investigate. Bustos says when Mcbride tried to draw the gun, he pulled the trigger and shot himself.
He was treated at a hospital.
Police say Mcbride could face charges of being a felon in possession of a gun.
Police say Saturday night, another gang member accidentally wounded himself while threatening someone with a revolver.
MAN ACCUSED OF GOING OVERSEAS FOR UNDERAGE SEX: SANTA ANA (AP) — A former Orange County teacher has been arrested on suspicion of having traveled to the Philippines to have sex with a 14-year-old girl and videotaping the encounter.
The United States Attorney’s Office said Monday that 63-year-old Robert Ruben Ornelas is charged with engaging in sexual conduct in a foreign place, producing child pornography and possessing child pornography. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 80 years in federal prison.
He was taken into custody Friday and ordered held without bond.
The federal indictment says that after the trip to the Philippines in March 2012, Ornelas brought video images of the sexual encounter back to the United States.
Authorities say Ornelas worked as a teacher in the Santa Ana Unified School District from 1992 to 2003, and coached a local girls’ softball team.