MAN ARRESTED IN SALIDA TEEN'S HOURSLONG KIDNAP: SALIDA (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine why a man kidnapped a 16-year-old girl from her Stanislaus County home in front of her family.
Deputies eventually arrested Carlos Rodrigues early Wednesday morning after disappearing with the girl for several hours.
Sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Berjaran said that the 38-year-old broke into the Salida home around 9 p.m. Tuesday and got into a verbal confrontation with her father. The teen locked herself in the bathroom, and family members say Rodrigues forced his way into the bathroom and took her into his car.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert, but Rodrigues later returned with the girl.
Berjaran says the victim was too distraught to speak with investigators after returning.
POLICE ANNOUNCE ARRESTS IN 2008 DEATHS: LONG BEACH (AP) — Two alleged gang members were charged Wednesday with the shootings deaths of five people in a homeless encampment beneath a Los Angeles-area freeway more than three years ago, police said.
Long Beach police Chief Jim McDonnell announced the arrests Wednesday of David Ponce, 31, and Max Rafael, 25 — alleged members of the Nuthood Watts criminal street gang. Both men are charged with five special circumstance murders, one count each of kidnapping to commit another crime and conspiracy to commit a crime, along with gun and gang allegations, McDonnell said.
The mass killing in November 2008 baffled investigators after the bodies of three men and two women were found on a Sunday morning in a seedy neighborhood of warehouses and apartment buildings. A phone tip led them to the bodies, which had been there at least a day.
"I'd like to make it clear that these victims were not targeted because they were homeless," McDonnell said. "This encounter stemmed from a personal vendetta of one of the suspects as the result of an ongoing dispute with one of the victims over narcotics. The other victims were killed to ensure that there were no witnesses to this crime."
PROSECUTORS SAY VETERAN KILLED HOMELESS FOR THRILL: SANTA ANA . (AP) — An Iraq war veteran charged with stabbing to death four homeless men in a weeks-long rampage in Southern California was a thrill seeker who took pleasure in killing his victims, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters outside a jailhouse courtroom that 23-year-old suspect Itzcoatl Ocampo appeared lucid, calm and intelligent and showed no signs of mental illness.
"He gets a thrill out of it," Rackauckas said. "This is a serious, vicious killer who went out there intentionally going about killing people and terrorizing a whole area."
FEDS CONTINUE CRACKDOWN ON CA POT DISPENSARIES: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have filed four additional lawsuits against building owners as part of their crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Three of the complaints were filed Wednesday against landlords in Costa Mesa where pot clinics are located, claiming they knowingly allowed the stores to operate. Nearly two dozen warning letters were recently sent to other dispensaries located in the same Orange County city.
In October, California's four U.S. attorneys announced the crackdown on dozens of pot shops growing and selling medical pot illegally.
Medical marijuana advocates argue the collectives are protected by California law, which allows the drug to be cultivated and supplied to ill people on a nonprofit basis. Federal officials say the clinics are lucrative ventures that operate under the guise they are helping the sick.
SENATE COMMITTEE GRILLS 2 CPUC APPOINTEES: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Two appointees to the California Public Utilities Commission say regulators are considering releasing more information about natural gas pipelines to the public in the wake of the deadly San Bruno explosion.
California Gov. Jerry Brown's appointees, Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval, fielded questions about public safety issues in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules Committee Wednesday. The San Bruno blast killed eight people, injured dozens and destroyed 38 homes in September 2010.
Florio plays a key role in the commission's legal proceedings involving pipeline owner Pacific Gas & Electric Co. He says the commission is now considering posting more utility records online, rather than marking the material as classified.
The committee voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm both appointments. The full Senate is scheduled to vote on their confirmation next week.