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The Altamont Pass wind-power generators can be seen in the background of these Livermore vineyards.


Local
Law enforcement
New report on Pathway Home shooting offers insight into gunman's mind hours before the tragedy

The gunman in a March 9 shooting at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville spent the early morning hours searching the Internet for articles and videos related to murder and suicide, according to a report released Thursday.

Gunman Albert Wong, 36, was at the building where the Pathway Home Program was held the night before and propped open a basement door, according to a heavily redacted, 94-page report released by the California Highway Patrol, which oversees investigations into incidents that occur on state land. It’s unclear how he got inside the building on the night before, but he let himself in without incident the next day and took the lives of three women, one of whom was pregnant.

The report contained some new details on the incident and the hours leading up to the shooting. More than 100 officers from 16 agencies were involved in the investigation, according to the report. Twenty-three witnesses were interviewed.

The report reiterated much of the information in the Napa County District Attorney’s report released earlier this month. The DA cleared of any wrongdoing Napa County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Lombardi, a 26-year veteran of the department who responded first and alone to the scene.

Wong, who had recently been dismissed from The Pathway Home’s program for veterans with PTSD at the Veterans Home, had legally purchased in February a Stoeger Industries double barrel shotgun from Sweeney’s Sports in Napa and a JP Enterprise .308 rifle from Coyote Point 26 Armory in Burlingame.

He was at his Sacramento home when he began to search for murder and suicide-related Internet content on the morning of the shooting.

He first searched “Apple not assisting law enforcement” just before 5 a.m. and read a Washington Post article on Apple’s vows to resist FBI pressure to unlock an iPhone that belonged to a gunman in a terrorist attack, according to the report.

He searched “overcoming fear of death suicide” just before 7 a.m. and began reading an article called “Overcoming the fear of lethal injury.”

Wong began searching for “planned murder suicide” a half hour later and read Wikipedia entries on “Murder” and “Malice aforethought,” and articles titled “Murder-Suicide: When killing yourself is not enough” and “Practice makes deadly perfection,” according to the report.

He began searching for footage of suicides at 8:25 a.m. He headed to Yountville in a rental car about a half hour later.

He arrived in Yountville just before 10 a.m. He arrived at the Veterans Home at 10:18 a.m. and parked near the loading dock of Madison Hall. Wong removed from his trunk a bag holding the guns he purchased in February, plus shooting safety gear, according to the report.

He entered Madison Hall through the propped-open metal door leading into the basement, according to the report. Wong then put on clear safety glasses, ear protection muffs, additional ammunition and magazines, and slung the rifle and double barrel shotgun over his shoulders.

He kicked open a door, made his way to the first floor stairs and ascended a second-floor staircase. He immediately turned right and walked into a room where a goodbye party was being held for two staff members, according to the report.

Wong dismissed seven people in the room and took hostage Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48, Clinical Director Jennifer Golick, 42, psychologist Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, who was 32 years old and six months pregnant, according to the report.

Sheriff’s Deputy Lombardi, meanwhile, had arrived on scene. He went to the second floor alone, knowing that Wong had prior military experience, guns and ammunition, according to the report. Lombardi thought he was going to die.

Lombardi cleared other rooms in the hallway, pushed the door open and saw what he believed to be the barrel of a rifle with an attached flashlight held upright, pointed toward the ceiling. Lombardi thought things were at a standstill, then heard the rack of a rifle and a high-pitched, female scream, according to the report.

Lombardi began firing through the door, at the last place he saw Wong, at 10:32 a.m. Lombardi fired 13 shots toward Wong, who fired back 22 times, according to the report by the DA’s office.

Lombardi continued to fire and moved, believing that Wong would come out and attack him. But nothing happened for six minutes, according to the CHP report.

Then Sheriff’s deputies and Napa Police Department officers arrived and covered the hallway. Sonoma and Napa SWAT teams relieved the officers.

Closed-circuit camera footage and audio captured from Lombardi’s body camera indicated that Wong fired toward Lombardi, then turned his rifle to the three victims. Gonzales Shushereba and Glock were each shot once with his rifle and Wong struck Loeber multiple times. The women died from their injuries.

Wong then fired a 12 gauge slug from his double-barrel shotgun into his head, according to the report.

A robot from FBI SWAT entered the room hours later at 5:45 p.m. and located all four people. FBI SWAT cleared the scene and CHP took over the investigation.

The three women and Wong were found dead at 6 p.m.

CHP’s report also contained recommendations, much of which were redacted. The only unredacted recommendations directed the investigation into the women’s murders to be closed and a copy of the report be distributed to Napa County agencies.

Another four redacted pages followed.


Local
Education
Beware: Ninjas on the attack at Mt. George Elementary School

Instead of math or language arts, the 246 students at Mt. George Elementary School spent their Wednesday learning something different: the ways of the ninja.

Wearing matching T-shirts and headbands tied in the back, the mini ninjas kicked, crawled, jumped and sweated through an obstacle course created for the school’s first official Ninja Warrior Challenge.

The stations included a padded ‘dummy’ for roundhouse kicks, a crab walk, burpees, sit-ups, jumping over and under hay bales and an army crawl under “barbed” wire.

“It’s brilliant,” said Julie Tyler, the east Napa school’s principal. “The kids are having a blast.”

Jessica Valtierra is the Mt. George parent who helped organize the Ninja Warrior Challenge.

Valtierra, who has a black belt in taekwondo, said they chose the theme because “it’s something different” than a traditional jogathon where kids run circles on a track.

Besides that, the “American Ninja Warrior” competition – where athletes attempt to complete a series of obstacles, “is big right now on TV and I wanted to give them something fun to do,” said Valtierra.

Students who ran the obstacle course competed in teams with names such as the Ninja Turtles, the Lightning Bolts and the Orange Bandits.

Even though they weren’t tallying laps, students were encouraged to sign up sponsors to make donations to support the school and its students.

“It’s really fun,” said new ninja Charlotte Panton, a third grader, as she waited her turn to try the army crawl.

Adar Yildiz, a fifth grader, said liked the army crawl obstacle the best “because I like crawling and you couldn’t touch the wires.”

“I like the kicking,” said Fiona Mitchell, a fourth grader.

Grace Geitner, a fifth grader, agreed. At one kicking obstacle, “It was a challenge for everybody to (try) and get the most kicks,” she said.

“It was more competitive and everybody worked harder” to kick as much as possible, said fifth grader Lucas Sarrow.

The Ninja Warrior course was originally planned for earlier in November, but poor air quality from the Butte County wildfires caused the event to be postponed. Then, anticipating a day of rain, the event had to be moved into the school’s small auditorium.

“This is a bit of an improvisation but the kids seem to be having fun anyway,” said parent Mollie Miller.


Local
making a difference
Warriors' Steph Curry changes shoe lineup after an appeal by Napa girl

A 9-year-old Napa girl’s request of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry lit up social media, then the news media this week.

A few weeks ago, Riley Morrison wrote a letter to Curry asking why his signature Curry 5 basketball shoes weren’t for sale on the girl’s section of the Under Armour website. The shoes, which are unisex, were listed for sale only on the boys section of the Under Armour website. Curry has a long-term sponsorship deal with Under Armour.

“I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all girls basketball camp,” the letter reads. “I hope you can work with Under Armour to change this because girls want to rock the Curry 5’s too.”

The letter impressed Curry, who has two daughters, ages 6 and 3. He got back to Riley.

“I appreciate your concern and have spent the last 2 days talking to Under Armour about how we can fix the issue,” Curry wrote in a letter, which he posted on Twitter. “Unfortunately, we have labeled smaller sizes as ‘boys’ on the website. We are correcting this now! I want to make sure you can wear my kicks proudly — so I am going to send you a pair of Curry 5’s now and you’ll be one of the first kids to get the Curry 6.”

“Lastly, we have something special in the works for International Women’s Day on March 8th, and I want you to celebrate with me! More to come on that, but plan to be in Oakland that night! All the best!”

Riley is the daughter of a Napa firefighter, Chris Morrison. She told Curry that she goes to Warriors games with her dad. A Napa Valley Language Academy student, Riley also plays for a Catholic Youth Organization basketball team in Napa.

“Every year it’s big deal what shoes she’s going to be wearing during basketball season,” said her dad.

Chris Morrison said when his daughter didn’t see the shoes for sale on the girls’ section, “She said that’s not fair. Why are they only on the boys’ page?”

Her father was the first to realize on Thursday morning that Curry had replied to his daughter’s letter.

“I woke her up and I said, ‘Riley I have a surprise for you.’ She was just happy,” he said.

“I don’t know if she truly grasps the change she’s made in the world. Which is kind of crazy that a 9-year-old can have such an effect.”


Local
Ballots
County releases uncertfied, final election results with no surprises

Napa County on Thursday released final, uncertified Nov. 6 election results that could be the last word on all of the races, among them an apparent, razor-thin defeat of the Measure H hotel tax in American Canyon.

All of the work is done except the double-checking of a sampling of ballots already tallied. Then the county can certify the election next week. Barring the unexpected, the final, uncertified results should stand, officials said.

“We don’t expect the results to change,” county Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said. “There are not more ballots to be counted. But I wanted to put these results out. Everybody’s interested to see if there are any changes in the races.”

There are no sudden turnabouts in the final, uncertified results. The close city council races in Calistoga, St. Helena and American Canyon had already been all but decided with the Nov. 20 update.

The closest race was Measure H, which would enact a 1-percent transient occupancy tax hike for American Canyon lodges to raise money for workforce and affordable housing. It needed two-thirds—or 66.6 percent—of the vote to pass and received 66.41 percent.

Similar measures to increase the lodging tax passed in the city of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga and unincorporated Napa County. Measure H would have raised an estimated $140,000 for American Canyon housing projects.

The previous Nov. 20 election result update covered 95 percent of the ballots. That was supposed to be the final release before certification, which must be done by Dec. 6.

Tuteur released this final, uncertified count on Thursday as an extra step. Cities want to start swearing in the winners to their city councils and can now do so, if the city attorneys are willing, he said.

Go to https://bit.ly/2POgy05 to see the final, uncertified count.

The manual, double-check tally will look at more than 5,000 ballots from seven precincts. The goal is to use this sample to confirm that the machine count of 57,132 ballots cast is accurate.

Checkers will print out images of ballots the machine scanned and match them to the actual paper ballots, Tuteur said. If a paper ballot has no matching image, then it wasn’t counted by the machine.

“I invite the public to observe the manual tally process,” Tuteur said.

Those who want to take him up on the offer can come to the Election Division at 1127 First St., suite E, in downtown Napa. The manual tally begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.

Among the manual tally focuses is a large American Canyon precinct with 1,200 votes, Tuteur said. The close Measure H race is on those ballots.

Tuteur before the election said he wanted Napa County to top the 54.99 percent turnout in the previous gubernatorial election of November 2014. The turnout for the Nov. 6 election is 73 percent.