Imperial Beach SWAT Standoff

June 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Sheriff SWAT In Imperial Beach

San Diego Sheriff and SWAT Vehicle in Imperial Beach

    Early this morning I got a text informing me that the San Diego Sheriff and a SWAT team were converging on a residence in my neighborhood, Imperial Beach. So, I checked out the scanner and found out that the location of the event was at 13th St. and Holly Ave., about 5 minutes away from my house. Awesome! I headed over there and started taking pictures.

    The entire area and Holly Ave. in particular were completely closed off. All the mainstream media was represented at 13th and Holly as well as at 14th and Holly but were all being kept a good half block away from the action. This prompted me to head 1 block south to Hemlock Ave., which was not blocked off so I could get a view of the actual apartment the suspect was holed up in.

San Diego Sheriff SWAT In Imperial Beach

San Diego SWAT Team in Imperial Beach

    After chatting up some residents of the street, one man allowed me entrance to an apartment that was on the second floor and looked right onto the porch of the apartment where the suspect was. I was a solid 300 feet closer than any of the other media outlets and since the apartment I was in as well as the apartment the suspect was in were both adjacent to each other AWAY from the street, I had the best view in town.

San Diego Sheriff SWAT In Imperial Beach

San Diego Sheriff and SWAT Prepare To Breach An Apartment

    The SWAT team did not seem to be worked up at all as they stood en masse on the porch of the apartment the suspect was in. Helicopters were constantly circling overhead so I was only able to hear snippets of what the SWAT guys were saying but what I did hear was normal conversation about guns, their wives and what they were going to do over the weekend.

San Diego Sheriff SWAT In Imperial Beach

SWAT in Imperial Beach

    I left before the suspect ultimately gave himself up, without a fight. I spent two hours on the scene and bailed about an hour before it ended. The two SWAT members you see above are the same two that you see in the video below. The apartment on the far left is where the suspect was. I was in the building the two SWAT guys are standing next to when I shot the video and photos for this post, with the obvious exception of the first one.

    Anyway, what is going to be a busy weekend for me started out with a bang so if nothing else, this thing got me all ramped up and ready to go. Cheers!


San Diego SWAT in Imperial Beach

San Diego Trolley guards: Private citizen security or real police officers?

January 29, 2012 by · 15 Comments 


San Diego Trolley Guards: Private Security or Sworn Police?

    San Diego Trolley Guards think they are real police officers. Specifically, they think they are actual sworn peace officers but they aren’t; they work for Heritage Security, a private security company. What they are doing and saying in the video above they are doing as private citizens. The two arrests you see them perform in the video are citizen’s arrests. The problem I have is that the people arrested were placed in handcuffs, one because he smelled of alcohol and the other for smoking. Both of the guards also react rather rudely to my presence; one saying he would arrest me if I stand behind him while the other walks up to me and tells me to get back, then asks to see my ticket and then says to get out of his face. Unless I was standing in a 6 inch hole, there is no way I was in that guard’s face.

    From my point of view, the short guard became annoyed when the fat guard made him aware of my presence. That’s when Biggie said he’d arrest me for standing behind him and Smalls checked my ticket and told me to get out of his face. I really didn’t move, so the little guy decided to go pick on a smoker that happened to light up as he was exiting 7-11. From my point of view, short-stuff was being a fucking bully. Watch the video below and pay attention to how the short guard talks to the guys after they are in cuffs. He’s a cast iron dick.

    I think there is a vicious cycle going on between commuters and security guards: Commuters think most guards are assholes and guards think most commuters are degenerates. They’re both right. Most people in San Diego that ride the trolley instead of driving a car do it because they can’t afford a car or because they’ve had their license suspended; in other words, because they HAVE to. I’m part of that small green minority that’s charging ahead and riding public transportation by choice so I get to bear witness to a lot of trolley guards being assholes to a lot of stinky, stupid degenerates and I’m all for that. However, I was wearing dress pants, a collared button down shirt, a tie, impeccably shined shoes and I was holding a camera when short-stack and extra-large talked to me the way they did.

    I didn’t look like nor was I acting like a degenerate when they were assholes to me. Therein lies the vicious cycle. Or maybe trolley guards really are assholes to everyone. What do you think?

    Below is a video I shot and blogged about in 2009 showing four guards take a guy down for smoking, so San Diego trolley guards have had a pattern of arresting people for petty things for at least a couple years, but they are not sworn peace officers. This makes me question the necessity and the legality of the arrests because as you’ll hear in the videos, they never say they are NOT the police, but, they sure talk like the police.

How To Solve The Case Of Rebecca Zahau

October 5, 2011 by · 4 Comments 


In Front Of Coronado Spreckels Mansion

    Some amateur crime solvers at referenced my blog post, photos & video taken at Coronado Spreckels Mansion on the morning of Rebecca Zahau’s death. They are also using my timing on the scene to help themselves along with their theories, so I’m posting some new photos to help them and everyone else formulate answers to any questions about how and why Rebecca Zahau died. Above is my first shot of the morning, taken at 11:34am on July 13, 2011.


Law Enforcement On The Scene Of Rebecca Zahau’s Death

    Less than a minute later I shot the photo above. The man & boy with bicycles are off frame to the right. The front door of the mansion is wide open at this point, which prompted me to shift to my left to get a look inside Spreckels Mansion.


San Diego Sheriff & Coronado Police In Front Of Spreckels Mansion

    From here you can see the white banister for the grand staircase. This is the same banister that Max Shaknai fell from 2 days before.


Civilians Inside Spreckels Mansion Police Tape?

    At 11:40am, I snapped the photo above. I don’t know who the kid or the man in the grey polo shirt are, but the man seemed to have a bit of sway with the police. It also seemed like they may have been interested in the puddle on the curb.


What’s In The Puddle?

    The same photo, cropped to show how the man in grey and the police seemed to be interested in the puddle, or perhaps the pieces of paper in the puddle. They lady detective in the center watched from afar, preferring to gaze into my lens instead.

    So there you have it, that’s what was going on at 1043 Ocean Blvd during the first 5 minutes of my arrival on the morning Rebecca Zahau died. I have a murder by suicide theory because I believe she committed the physical part of suicide, but I also believe she was under duress when she did it. I think someone murdered her by forcing her to commit suicide.

Coronado Spreckels Mansion Death: Murder By Suicide

September 2, 2011 by · 4 Comments 

Spreckels Mansion In Coronado

Spreckels Mansion On The Morning Of Rebecca Zahau’s Suicide

    Now that police have determined that Rebecca Zahau committed suicide inside the Spreckels Mansion of Coronado, we can finally talk about why she would have killed herself. Back on July 13, 2011 I stated on my blog that I thought the Spreckels Mansion death was a suicide, but I really didn’t go into the details of my theory. Since the San Diego Sheriff and other police investigators are announcing complete results of the investigation later this morning, I thought I’d float my theory, just to see I close I was.

    The short version is: I think Zahau was forced to kill herself because of her peripheral involvement in the death of Max Shaknai.

    The long version of my theory makes perfect sense from a human standpoint: There is something that connects Zahau to Shaknai’s accident inside the mansion that allows the family members of Max to point the finger of blame at Rebecca. That finger was the duress Zahau was under when she killed herself.

    If she were made an offer she couldn’t refuse and resigned herself to accepting it, she could try to make her suicide look like murder. That would explain the improbability of the physical nature of her suicide. A naked body hanging from a balcony by electrical cord seems impromptu and mean, like an unplanned crime of passion. For some reason, Zahau wanted her suicide to look and feel like murder. Whatever it is she wanted to accomplish with this final act was something she couldn’t write down. She knew she couldn’t write it down.

    So there it is. Someone made her do it. I think her own hand committed the act but I also think someone was pulling the strings. She said something without talking; she was telling us to look somewhere or at someone. That’s what I think. Below is the video I shot in front of the Spreckels Mansion on day of Rebecca Zahau’s suicide which includes San Diego Sheriff Homicide Capt. Tim Curran speaking about the Coronado death.

Death In Coronado Spreckels Mansion

July 13, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Spreckels Mansion In Coronado Where Rebecca Zahau Died

Spreckels Mansion On Coronado Sealed Off With Police Tape

        Update – September 2, 2011: Her death has been ruled a suicide. See my new blog post with my murder-by-suicide theory.

        Across the street from the Hotel Del Coronado at 1043 Ocean Boulevard, is Spreckels Mansion where earlier today I caught an impromptu press conference of San Diego Sheriff Homicide Capt. Tim Curran speaking about a woman that died in the mansion earlier in the day. The woman turned out to be Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of the owner, Jonah Shaknai.

        He described how paramedics and firefighters responded to a 911 call at Spreckels Mansion to find a woman in distress, attempt life saving measures with the help of firefighters and ultimately pronounce her dead. He went on to say, “The scene indicated a suspicious type of death.” This gave Coronado police cause to contact the San Diego Sheriff to investigate the scene as a homicide, which is normal procedure since Coronado PD has no standing homicide unit. He would not say what “in distress” was but he did say, “Right now I’m not going to go into details but suffice it to say it appears to be some kind of a violent death.” and later on added, “Obviously she had been injured.” He also added that whoever made the 911 call knew the deceased, that no one reported hearing anything such as screaming or gunfire and that police had no subjects of interest or suspects.

        When I take all this in and it leads me to believe that Rebecca Zahau, the dead woman inside Spreckels Mansion committed suicide. You heard it here first. The sheriff didn’t say we have to worry about a murderer running around Coronado and they have not arrested anyone, including the reporting party. That means anyone else in the mansion at the time has been cleared. Capt. Curran actually seemed to indicate that the reporting party was the only other person present anyway. I wish I would have had the presence of mind to ask Capt. Curran if there was a weapon found near the deceased.

Coronado Beach In Front Of Spreckels Mansion

The Scene In Front Of The Spreckels Mansion

        When I arrived, at about 11:30 a.m., there was still a great view of the mansion since the Coronado Police and San Diego Sheriff’s command center RV’s were parked slightly up Ocean Boulevard, as you can see in the first photo for this post. While I was there, the police filled in that space with large Coronado PD SUVs. The photo above shows the police moving their yellow tape to allow for their vehicles to park, as well as beautiful Coronado beach right across the street and Point Loma in the distance.

DUI Checkpoint In Imperial Beach

May 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

DUI Sobriety Checkpoint In Imperial Beach

San Diego Sheriff At DUI Checkpoint In Imperial Beach

        In the continuing effort to keep the streets of Imperial Beach safe and free of drunk drivers, the San Diego Sheriff had a sobriety checkpoint set up at 7th St & Palm Ave last night. I suppose you can say that Memorial Day weekend officially kicks of Friday night, so this checkpoint was well timed and positioned to remind motorists not to get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking. Try to remember that these peace officers operate these checkpoints not only to nail intoxicated drivers, but to nail people driving without or under a suspended license. Think of it as a way of keeping honest people honest. If you don’t drink & drive and your license is valid then you have nothing to worry about.

Imperial Beach Sobriety DUI Checkpoint

Vehicle Passes Through IB Sobriety Checkpoint

        According to the news release posted on the San Diego Sheriff’s website, 692 vehicles went through the checkpoint, 35 vehicles were sent through secondary screening, 11 field sobriety tests were given, 7 vehicles were impounded and 4 people were arrested for DUI. The checkpoint began actual operation at 8:15pm, not at 7:30pm as stated in the press release.

Memorial Weekend Sobriety Checkpoint In Imperial Beach

Sobriety (DUI) Checkpoint On Palm Ave In Imperial Beach

        The checkpoint seemed to be a well oiled machine and all the law enforcement personnel were in a good mood. The methodology for the checkpoint was very similar to the way rides at amusement parks are loaded up. Cars were waved forward, twelve at a time to a waiting line of twelve officers, so all cars in the line get checked for compliance simultaneously. Once all the officers were done, the cars get waved through and another twelve cars took their place. Since the checkpoint was stationed on Palm Ave. between the stoplights at 9th St. and 13th St. the flow of traffic was very well regulated and caused delays no worse than having to endure an extra stoplight. Kudos to the San Diego Sheriff!

San Diego Trolley Visions And Vocalizations

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Alleged Homeless Man On San Diego Trolley

Sleeping (Passed Out) On The San Diego Trolley

        Today was just one of those public transportation days. Today was so off-kilter that it actually had me questioning my reasons, motivation and desire to give up driving a car to be an exclusive public transportation person. My problems started right out of the gate this morning, with the San Diego trolley showing up at my station over 20 minutes late, even though the trolley is supposed to arrive every 15 minutes. The real bitch of the situation is that my home trolley station is only a 16 minute trolley ride from the very first station on the line, which means the trolley I boarded this morning took 36 minutes to move it’s gigantic ass 5 stops down the line. Just to put that in perspective, it takes 45 minutes to cover the same distance on a bicycle. When it finally did arrive, the trolley contained the dude pictured above, drooling all over and hogging four seats to accommodate his worthless ass.

Chula Vista Police At Bayfront Trolley Station

Chula Vista Police At Bayfront Trolley Station

        I finally arrived at my transfer station and while waiting for my connecting bus, which was also 10 minutes late, a police car drove up the curb and parked right up on the wide yellow line of the trolley platform, so I started taking pictures, one of which you see above. The cop and what I think was a paramedic seemed to be waiting for the next trolley to arrive. They were talking and even laughing amongst themselves while they stood there doing whatever they were doing, and I was taking pictures the whole time. When they turned around and saw me photographing them, the laughter turned to the expression you see above, on both of their faces. Oh, law enforcement personnel… You have nothing to fear from my camera. I might even make you famous.

I-8 Crossing Sweetwater Bikeway

I-8 Crossing Sweetwater Bikeway

        What should have been a 45 minute commute took almost two hours, so I was not able to eat lunch and I arrived to work late. Pissed off and hungry is no way to start your workday, but that’s what I was. I dreamt of food and wished for the weekend all day which made it very hard to concentrate on my job. I think the hunger was what broke my camel’s back in regards to thinking about why I ride the trolley and I realized that there is an inherent barrier to making trolley and bus service anything but an abysmal chore, relative to driving: Public commuters can’t complain. Who can we tell that would actually fix the problems of SDMTS? If I were to email this post to SDMTS, some one might read it, but that’s it. My proof can be seen by clicking here. Cheers!

La Mesa Police

July 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

La Mesa Police Officer

La Mesa Police Officer Performing A Routine Traffic Stop

        La Mesa is an eastern suburb of San Diego and it is a great place to live. As the crow flies, La Mesa is about 13 miles from the coast so it is not a proverbial “beach town” like Pacific Beach Imperial Beach or even La Jolla, but to me that is a good thing. People don’t come to La Mesa to party their asses off, get drunk or cause trouble. People come to La Mesa to shop for antiques, play around Lake Murray, hike at Mission Trails, experience fine dining or attend our weekly classic car shows in the summer.

La Mesa Police Car Lights

Lights On A La Mesa Police Cruiser

        Besides location and demographics, La Mesa’s police officers do a great job of maintaining a general feeling of safety in the city. They are professional and are always quick to respond when called upon, whether there is an emergency or not. I think that most people living in or visiting La Mesa know that crime and bad behavior stick out like a sore thumb around here, and will immediately draw the attention of our boys in blue. All of these things make La Mesa, CA a great place to live.

La Mesa Police Station

March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

La Mesa Police Station Under Construction

La Mesa Police Station Construction Nears Completion – March 2010

        It’s been over two months since my last post with photos of the new La Mesa police station being constructed. During that interim, proper walls have been fabricated and windows have been installed. For this post I will be recycling photos I have taken during construction.

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

La Mesa Police Station – January 2010

La Mesa Police Station

La Mesa Police Station – October 2009

La Mesa Police Station

La Mesa Police Station – July 2009

The Gray Before The Storm

January 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Grossmont Palm Trees

Palm Trees Placed Under Arrest For Unknown Reasons

        My last post ended with this quote, from Albert Swearengen; “Announcing your plans is a great way to hear God laugh.” So true. You, as the reader can interpret the word “God” however you like, but for the purposes of this post, I will interpret it as the being that controls the strings of humans on planet Earth. The only thing the San Diego Chargers had to do today, January 17, 2010 was win. Since they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I had to nullify a contract that would have put me on Easy Street for at least 30 calender days. I really hate professional sports. Not a single one of those bitchy millionaire athletes has given up anything during this recession, but the fans, the people that pay to make them rich have lost more than any other single group in history. This, coupled with the immanent arrival of a storm that will bring Southern California 6 inches of rain over the next five days equals a very, very gray Sunday in San Diego. Rather than make money by photographing the inebriated smiles of 75,000 Charger fans, I have been reduced to posting some lame, boring photos taken in the wake of the Chargers loss.

Qualcomm Stadium, January 2010

Qualcomm Stadium In Vibrant Gray

        This has nothing to do with the San Diego Chargers pissing away a 7 point lead or me having to cancel a celebratory photo shoot due to the loss, but Qualcomm Stadium is a dump. Maybe I’m spoiled because I was in on the ground floor when the Denver Broncos christened their new stadium around the turn of the century, but my God… Qualcomm Stadium is a depressing place to be around, victorious or not. Concrete and gray would best describe it. I’m not kidding when I say that ANY college stadium in the country would be a better venue to host a football game.

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

        Since it was a gray day in just about every capacity, I figured some shots of the La Mesa police station, currently under construction would fit in well.

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

        This is the entrance to the underground parking area for the new La Mesa police station. Even though it is still under construction, there is an ominous feel to it. Why, one is disposed to ask, do La Mesa police have to unload prisoners underground, out of view from the public?

La Mesa Police Station Arises

January 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

La Mesa Police Station Construction

Labor For La Mesa’s New Police Station

        When a new police station is being built, right around from your house, and you are a photographer, you make plans to take pictures of the construction progress on an almost daily basis, right? Right. After over a year of construction, I have visited the construction site a a total of 6 times, and didn’t even take photos on each trip. As a 19th century saloon owner once said, “Announcing your plans is a great way to hear God laugh.”

La Mesa Police Station

La Mesa Police Station – July 2009

La Mesa Police Station

La Mesa Police Station – October 2009

La Mesa Police Station In January 2010

La Mesa Police Station – January 2010

La Mesa, CA Police Station Construction

October 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

La Mesa, CA Police Station

We Now See The True Color Of A Police Station – Yellow!

        The citizens of La Mesa finally get to see more that the perpetual, skeletal structure of a building and get to see another layer of the epidermis of our new police station in vibrant yellow. The jet black pavement was laid the very morning of this photograph. I really hope this pic will someday be a part of history.

La Mesa Police Station

The Public Is Afforded Only This View Of The Interior View Of A Police Station

        I just have to mention that during the 10-15 minutes I spent in front of this construction site that two employees of Larsen Constructors Inc. asked me what I was taking pictures of. Neither one was rude or combative, which was a breath of fresh air for me, considering my recent bouts with The San Diego Trolley Police. I would suppose that it does reflect on the general attitude towards photographers and our craft. Not in a bad way, but merely in that suspicious way of, “What is that dude doing over there?”

San Diego Trolley Police Were Wrong

September 21, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

Trolley Police Have No Right To Prohibit Photography

        The proof is in the pudding. The video above was broadcast on Friday, September 18th, 2009 on San Diego’s local NBC News affiliate 7/39 at 11pm. What more can I say other than this is a very distinct victory for photographers’ rights. We are allowed to shoot video or take pictures at trolley stations, and San Diego Trolley police have NO RIGHT to ask or make a photographer stop.

        The entire statement, made by Ken Moller of Heritage Security Services is as follows:

“We have no right to tell people they can’t shoot (video) down there. My officers were wrong in telling him that. And I put the word out as soon as I saw the video. It’s a public place and people can certainly shoot video down there if they want to.”

        So there you have it. Here is what I have learned from this experience. If an authority figure challenges you while taking photos or shooting video, be polite. Ask them if you are violating any law, and KEEP ROLLING during the transaction. As a photographer, I hate to say it, but this would not have made the evening news if I wasn’t shooting video, so make sure to switch to video mode as soon as you see an authority figure approaching you.

        Now we know why video mode is important to us photographers… Not to add a bullet to your wedding photography resume, but rather to protect yourself and to show in HD quality just how your rights are being violated.

        Below you will find the video that started it all, and above will you find the video that decided it all.

San Diego Trolley Police Prohibit Photography

September 7, 2009 by · 42 Comments 

          It would seem that San Diego Trolley Police need a few lessons in local law. The man on the ground, was smoking in the 12th & Imperial Transit Center in San Diego, CA. This happened on September 5th, 2009 at 8:20pm. Assuming that what you see the San Diego Trolley Transit Police doing is legal and assuming the transit police are keeping other public commuters safe, there should be no issue with photography taking place. If a protector of the public, whose salary is drawn from the taxes of the public is also prohibiting the public from LEGAL activities, then San Diego trolley police are breaking the law. Heritage Security has a 5 year, $25 million with San Diego which was signed in January, 2006. The hierarchy seems to be: Unarmed trolley officer, armed trolley officer, armed supervisor, armed lieutenant and armed captain. If I read the contract correctly, unarmed San Diego trolley police officers receive a 2.5% annual pay increase, while armed trolley police officers receive a 3.5% annual pay increase. There are also small pay increases every 6 months, assuming performance is satisfactory. As San Diego trolley police have constant interaction with the public, why do they prohibit photography of themselves if they are performing their job in a satisfactory manner? The contract makes no mention of a photography ban nor does it state what qualifies satisfactory performance versus unsatisfactory performance.

Some highlights from the video above are:

1) For the first 40 seconds or so, the man on the ground makes numerous requests for the officer closest to me to get his knee off of his head, and specifically, his scar which was obtained during a recent surgery to remove cancer.
2) At the 15 second mark, a female officer crosses the Trolley tracks and says, “Get away with that camera!” I can be heard to ask, “How far?” The San Diego Trolley Police Officer says, “You’re not allowed to take pictures.”
3) At the two minute mark, right after a bus passes between me and the officers and their handcuffed smoker, the same female officer from before (now on the left side of the screen) looks at me, walks to her colleagues as says something. A second later three officers turn around and look right at me. The female officer points at me, which causes a one of her own to approach me for the ensuing challenge.

        UPDATE! Read my follow-up post here. My video is featured on NBC 7/39 San Diego News. Watch my interview and read a statement made by Heritage Security regarding the situation. Suffice to say that photography at San Diego Trolley Stations is in fact 100% LEGAL!

Moving Trolley

Trolley Stations Are Public Property

          Photography is not illegal. You’ll hear me say that a half dozen times or so in the video, as well as asking if I am in violation of any law. Two of the San Diego Trolley Cops told me I was not allowed to take pictures. Interesting. We public commuters can look at them, show them our tickets, obey orders given by them, be tackled to the ground by them and placed, in handcuffs inside SUV’s with dark tinted windows, BUT WE CAN NOT PHOTOGRAPH THEM DOING ANY OF IT! Or so they say, at least in this video.

          San Diego trolley police officers that don’t want pictures taken of them while they do their job are out of luck. If they are captured on film while tackling some one to the ground, why would photography be prohibited unless they were doing something illegal? I have emailed Heritage Security asking this question but got no reply. I would appeal to visit the contact page of Heritage Security and ask them. On that page you will find and email link with text that says [email protected], but when you hover over the link it says the email is [email protected] I hope their trolley police officer selection process is not as disorganized as their website.

San Diego Trolley Police 12th & Imperial Transit Center

A Transit Station At Night Can Be Scary Enough on It’s Own