A multi-agency police chase across Kings County led to an officer-involved shooting, leaving the suspect dead and a K-9 injured.
On Sunday at about 2:34 p.m., the Lemoore Police Department responded to a shots fired call in the 600 block of Cabrillo Street.
Upon arrival, officers said they found Danielle Christina Jones, 43, dead and having been shot multiple times.
The Lemoore officers identified the suspect as 43-year-old Juan Luis Castro and also identified the vehicle Castro was driving when he left the scene.
Authorities said Castro had previously been arrested in Kings County for weapons, narcotic and traffic offenses.
At about 3:45 p.m., officers from the Hanford Police Department said they located Castro’s car in the area of Hanford-Armona Road and Irwin Street.
Officers from the Hanford Police Department attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle driver led them on a pursuit, police said.
During the pursuit, officials said Hanford officers requested assistance from California Highway Patrol Officers in the area, along with a CHP helicopter from Fresno.
This pursuit lasted about 10 minutes and Castro’s car was finally stopped on Ninth Avenue about 100 yards south of Jersey Avenue, police said. CHP officers assisted the Hanford Police Department with the pursuit.
Officials said Hanford officers requested canine assistance from the Kings County Sheriff's Office, and the officers and deputies began to give several commands to Castro ordering him to surrender.
Authorities said Castro refused to comply with the orders.
Kings County Sheriff's K-9, Dash, and his handler began to approach Castro’s vehicle in order to apprehend him, officials said. They said Castro was the only person in the car and was sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle with the door open.
As Dash and his handler approached the car and Castro, authorities said Castro raised a handgun and fired toward the deputy. The deputy, along with another deputy and a Hanford officer returned fire.
The suspect was shot and died at the scene, police said.
Officials said at least one round was fired by Castro and approximately nine shots were fired between the deputies and officer.
Dash was also struck by gunfire.
The California Highway Patrol transported both Dash and his handler to an emergency veterinarian in Fresno, officials said.
Deputies said Dash went into surgery overnight and had bullet fragments removed from his leg. He is currently recovering at this time.
Officials from the Sheriff’s Office said they would also like to extend their gratitude to the CHP and the Fresno Police Department, who helped get Dash the care he needed.
The Kings County Sheriff's Office, Hanford Police and Lemoore Police said they have been working collaboratively on this entire incident, since it transcended three different policing jurisdictions.
Authorities said the officer-involved shooting portion of the investigation is being handled by the multi-agency Critical Incident Team.
Anyone who may have witnessed a portion of the incident or who may have additional information is encouraged to contact Kings County Sheriff's Office at 584-1431 or the Hanford Police Department at 585-2540.
HANFORD — In an emergency action, the Hanford Veterans Memorial Building was closed and the fate of some events held at the building are up in the air.
At the Nov. 21 Hanford City Council meeting, Council discussed an emergency agenda item involving the Veteran’s Memorial Building, which sits next to the Hanford Civic Auditorium.
City Attorney Bob Dowd said information regarding the building’s roof was brought to light from the City’s public works department. Dowd said the roofing structure was “suspect at best” and Council unanimously decided the building would immediately close on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
“The building, of course, is owned by the County and the City will inform the County of this recent information that has come about and will see what the County wants to do with it,” Dowd said.
On Monday, City Manager Darrel Pyle said after both the Fox Theater and Kings County Bowling alley had their ceilings collapse in 2014, the Council authorized structural engineers to evaluate all of the downtown buildings that the City rents or owns and that had similar constructions to those buildings.
After the evaluation, the engineers told City officials that the Veterans Building had bowstring roof trusses similar to the theater and bowling alley and was suspect to failure, Pyle said.
He said the engineers told City officials to keep their eyes on the building; so every year the City had the building supervisor inspect the attic.
During the most recent inspection, Pyle said the building supervisor noted “something looked like it had moved.”
Fortunately, Pyle said, structural engineers were inspecting the Old Courthouse for a new heating and air system, so the supervisor asked if they could look at the Veterans Building as well.
When the structural engineers looked at the roof, Pyle said they noticed something looked wrong.
Pyle said a third engineer, considered an expert on roofs, was brought in to look at the roof that very morning of the Council meeting date on Nov. 21. He said the engineer concluded that the roof was not operating properly and was subject to failure.
Because the City didn’t want anyone to get hurt if the process to close the building took too long, the item was added to the council meeting as an emergency and all five Council members voted to close the building immediately.
The very next day, Pyle said he met with county officials, who corroborated the information with the engineers and are in the process of figuring out what to do next.
Two groups that regularly use the building are the American Legion and Hanford Senior Citizens Inc.
Senior Citizens Inc. President Gail Soto said right now, bingo has been moved to the old Goodwill on Lacey Boulevard. She said as far as she knows, board meetings and luncheons for the seniors and the American Legion will now all be held at the Goodwill building.
“It’s going pretty good,” Soto said. “It’s not too bad. We have flood lights and some generators.”
As far as other events, where those will be held is still up in the air, Gail said. She said the organizations weren’t given much notice and there are too many events going on at the same time to find a place for them all.
In fact, Senior Citizens Inc. is supposed to have an event Friday and members are scrambling to find a way to not have to cancel it, especially because the food is all paid for.
“If anyone would like to donate a space or a building, let me know,” Gail said. “We’ll take a church or a hall, as long as it’s ADA compliant.”
Seniors Citizens Inc. has around 150 members and is expecting around 100 people for the Friday luncheon, which will also double as a board meeting and election, Soto said. She said she doesn’t want to let anyone down because it is one of the favorite events of the year.
She said the organization holds 81 events yearly and is a little worried about all next year’s events.
“I don’t know where I’m going to place everybody,” Soto asked. “It’s hard to schedule.”
All the organization’s planned dances will be moved to the old Goodwill building; except the dance that will take place on Wednesday, which will be at the Civic Auditorium.
Because the building gets used a lot for various events, Pyle said it was important to find new venues for those events. He said one solution is opening up the Longfield Center in the morning to be used when necessary.
As of right now, Pyle said the ball is in the County’s court to decide what course to take from here.
As far as he knows, Pyle said he believes a solution can be found to fix the roof. However, even if everything goes smoothly, he said it would be at least a year before the Veterans Building is inhabitable again because of the time involved in the design, bid and contract process.
“I figure we won’t be back in the building in 2018,” Pyle said, adding he’s hopeful for a 2019 return.
HANFORD — Two men were arrested Monday after trying to rob people at a gas station and stabbing one victim, police said.
Hanford police officials said Bradley France, 30, and Angel Silva, 27, tried to rob two other men in the parking lot of Chevron, 1680 W Hanford Armona Road, and one of the victims ended up being stabbed.
On Monday just after midnight, Hanford Police said they received a call regarding a physical fight in the parking lot of the Chevron and that one of the people in the fight had been stabbed.
Upon arriving in the area, officers said they spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle leaving the area, traveling eastbound on Hanford Armona Road.
An officer was able to get behind the suspect vehicle, which turned onto Ogden Street, police said. The vehicle pulled over to the side of the road at Ogden and Arthur streets and France and Silva jumped out of the car and ran southbound through the neighborhood.
Officers said they were told which way the two men were running and so the suspects were quickly apprehended by officers arriving in the area.
Upon further investigation, police said they determined that France and Silva attempted to rob two males in the parking lot of Chevron, and when the two victims would not give France and Silva what they wanted, a fight broke out.
During the fight, a knife was pulled out and one of the victims was stabbed, police said.
Officers said France and Silva then got into a car and left the area. Both France and Silva were positively identified at the scene by the victims and other witnesses.
Authorities said both France and Silva were booked at the Kings County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted robbery.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court handed a victory Monday to organized farm labor in the state in a lawsuit that pitted the union launched by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez against one of the largest U.S. fruit farms.
In a unanimous ruling, the highest court in the nation's leading agricultural state upheld a law that allows California to impose labor contracts for farmworkers whose unions and employers do not agree on wages or other working conditions.
The decision maintains the power of farmworker unions by ensuring contracts that guarantee pay, hours and other terms that could otherwise be decided by employers.
Labor activists say the 2002 law is key to helping farmworkers improve working conditions by preventing employers from stalling contract talks to avoid a deal.
Opponents called the law government overreach that deprived agricultural employers and workers of any say over the terms of employment.
Gerawan Farming, which hires thousands of workers for its nectarine, peach and plum farms in California's Central Valley, challenged the law in a fight with the United Farm Workers of America, co-founded by Chavez.
"We believe that coerced contracts are constitutionally at odds with free choice," Dan Gerawan, who runs the company, said in an email after the ruling.
Gerawan Farming plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The United Farm Workers said in a statement that the court had rejected Gerawan's arguments, and it accused the company of violating its workers' right to a union contract.
The law in question allows the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board to order mediation to achieve a contract and gives mediators the authority to set the terms of the agreement if there is an impasse. The board can then force those conditions on companies and unions.
The California justices said the law did not violate the state Constitution because it provided enough guidance to mediators on how to decide contract disputes and furthered lawmakers' goal of "ensuring that collective bargaining agreements are tailored to the unique circumstances of each employer."
Unions can seek mediation 90 days after demanding to bargain on behalf of workers — even if the vote to unionize occurred decades earlier in some cases.
"The argument when it was enacted was that workers would get all fired up about having a union to represent them, and they would vote for the union, but then the employer would delay, and the workers would lose their enthusiasm," said Philip Martin, a farm labor expert at the University of California, Davis.
He said 50 to 100 other farms throughout California may find themselves in the same position as Gerawan.
In court documents, the UFW said a previous law had failed to achieve California's goal of providing millions of farmworkers the right to collective bargaining.
At the time the law was enacted in 2002, fewer than half of farm employers whose workers voted to join a union since 1975 had agreed to a labor contract, according to the UFW.
The union won the right to represent Gerawan Farming workers in 1990, but the sides did not agree to a contract. At UFW's request, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board in 2013 ordered Gerawan and the union into mediation, and the mediator eventually crafted a contract approved by the board.
An appeals court ruled two years ago that the law was unconstitutional because it failed to provide mediators with policy goals or standards and would result in a different set of rules for different employers.
The state Supreme Court said the possibility that mediators could treat farmers arbitrarily was not enough to make the law unconstitutional.
Complicating the fight is a vote Gerawan workers took in 2013 to decide whether to keep UFW as its union. The state labor relations board impounded the ballots over allegations of election misconduct, and they have not been counted. A separate legal challenge over the ballots is pending.