Southern California breaking news and trends

Credit cards cancelled in San Bernardino as bankruptcy crisis charges forward

berdoo bankrupt

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino city council.

The bankruptcy crisis in San Bernardino charges forward with the news that city credit cards have been cut off.

City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller told members of city council that credit firms had cancelled the city’s cards. Even the gas cards. 

Travis-Miller spoke with KPCC about San Bernardino’s debt, saying the deficit could grow as municipal employees flee the fiscal fiasco.

"We are now paying cash for all of our goods and services. We have had many employees come to us and indicate that they plan to leave e organization. I was told that we had upward of 25 people at Cal-PERS filing for retirement or at least investigating that possibility. So our estimates of payout values have grown exponentially."

San Bernardino city council is preparing to vote on whether to file for bankruptcy in the face of a $45 million deficit. Declaring bankruptcy would allow the city to restructure its debt. 

Read More...

Rickie Lee Fowler murder/arson trial begins in San Bernardino

Wildfires Arson Murder

Kevork Djansezian/AP

Oct. 30, 2003: A view from a burned out home showing a pine tree forest and homes which were consumed by the Old Fire as it roared through the community of Cedar Glen in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. A grand jury indicted Rickie Fowler on Tuesday Oct. 20, 2009, on five counts of murder for this 2003 wildfire in Southern California that destroyed about 1,000 homes and was linked to a half-dozen heart attack deaths.

Opening statements in the murder/arson trial of Rickie Lee Fowler -- the California man accused of lighting a deadly 2003 wildfire -- started Monday with the defendant appearing in shackles after initially refusing to come to court.

Prosecutors say Fowler ignited the blaze dubbed the "Old Fire" in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.

91,000-acres burned, 1,000 homes were destroyed and five residents suffered fatal heart attacks. Fowler is charged with five counts of murder for those deaths.

Suspected early in the fire investigation, authorities were not able to press charges until six years later. If conviced, Fowler could face the the death penalty

The defendant also faces additional felony charges of forcible sodomy in a separate case. Last summer he allegedly raped a fellow inmate at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he is currently serving a nine-year sentence for an unrelated burglary conviction. 

Read More...

San Bernardino police address public as city reels from recent uptick in violence

Photo courtesy KNBC

Police recover a revolver used in a gunfight in a San Bernardino park in which two men were killed, a woman gravely injured and another man shot in the foot.

Bullets are flying all over San Bernardino lately, and yesterday law enforcement officials held a public meeting to discuss the uptick in violence -- preceded by yet another killing that morning.

Police arrested 21-year-old Esequiel Cisneros of Rialto in connection with a Tuesday morning shooting that left one San Bernardino man dead and two others wounded. It was the city’s fifth killing this week, the 12th this month and at least the 20th this year, indicating a murder rate not seen since the 1990s, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

The victim, 19-year-old Gregorio Gonzales, was shot while visiting a memorial for his friend, 21-year-old Michael Espino, who had been shot dead 16 days prior, the Sun reports.

The shootings seem to be part of an ominous trend, with each new week bringing more bodies and more mayhem, as when a gunfight erupted in a crowded public park on May 6.

Read More...

Body found in hole in San Bernardino backyard identified as local 21-year-old man

Police say they found a decomposing body partially buried in a rental home’s backyard in San Bernardino, and have identified the person as 21-year-old Angel Cortez.

According to San Bernardino police, the body was found yesterday morning behind a home on the 200 block of East 11th Street after the landlord dropped by to fix the place up for renting and smelled a suspicious odor.

The landlord called police, who found the body in a five-foot hole in the yard covered with pieces of wood and other debris, the San Bernardino Sun reports.

Police released the victim’s identity today, according to the Sun. It is not known exactly how long Cortez, a San Bernardino resident, was dead before his body was discovered.

Although Cortez’s death has not been officially ruled a homicide, San Bernardino police homicide Sgt. Gary Robertson amusingly told the Sun, “This is not normal, finding bodies in holes.”

Read More...

Shell casings indicate at least one other shooter in deadly gunfight in San Bernardino park

Photo courtesy KNBC

Police recover a revolver possibly used in a San Bernardino gunfight in which two men were killed, a woman gravely injured and another man shot in the foot.

Authorities in San Bernardino now believe at least one other shooter was involved in Sunday night’s deadly gun battle which left two men dead, another man injured and a woman clinging to life.

The Press-Enterprise reports that police investigators believe no fewer than three firearms were in play during the 9:15 p.m. gunfight in the parking lot of the Delmann Heights Community Center. Two of the weapons belonged to the two dead men -- 35-year-old Ramiro Aguilar Jr. of San Bernardino and 31-year-old Corey Broussard of Victorville -- who apparently started the violence after getting into an argument.

More than 20 rounds were fired, police told the Press-Enterprise -- with dozens of innocent bystanders in the area. Kids were playing basketball while families enjoyed a local baseball game and a large community barbeque, complete with DJ, which Aguilar and Broussard were also attending.

Read More...