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Morgan Hill
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February 25, 2020

Police rack up traffic tickets during April 26 special operation

Morgan Hill Police and agencies that participated in a morning crackdown on traffic violations earlier this week issued nearly 200 tickets in a four-hour period, according to authorities.During the special operation, which took place 7 to 11 a.m. April 26 in the city limits of Morgan Hill, officers wrote between 190 and 200 citations for various traffic violations, according to MHPD Cpl. Scott Silva. He said Thursday he is waiting for final numbers from a couple other participating agencies.Officers from Campbell, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County, Mountain View, Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara and Los Altos law enforcement agencies joined MPHD officers in the April 26 traffic enforcement crackdown. The aim of the operation was to “conduct a high-visibility traffic enforcement effort” in an effort to reduce pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle collisions, according to police.Silva said most of the citations written to motorists during the special operation were for speeding. Other common violations cited included running stop signs, and failing to stop for a school bus stop sign.Similar operations will take place monthly throughout the year in other communities, rotating through participating agencies, police said.The April 26 effort in Morgan Hill was organized by Silva, MHPD Officer John Kuhlen, Officer Sergio Pires and Sgt. Troy Hoefling.The operation was indeed highly visible as authorities planned. Comments of praise and complaint filled social media pages on the morning of April 26, as many residents left their homes to be almost immediately flooded with the sight of a blanket of police officers.Some commenters were pleased to see the active enforcement, while others thought it was an overkill of misplaced public resources.A Times reader who wanted to remain anonymous described the saturation of police as “harassment,” and said he had to “go through the gauntlet” of officers when he exited his neighborhood on the way to work April 26. He said his wife was pulled over and written up for going 5 mph over the speed limit.“I had to go through three speed traps just getting out of Morgan Hill,” the reader said.Distracted driving violations up in AprilThe month of April has been a busy one for MHPD, as the month has been declared by law enforcement agencies nationwide as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.Morgan Hill officers have written almost 300 citations for distracted driving in April so far, Silva said. These violations primarily consist of drivers using their cell phones while driving.  

UPDATE: Coroner IDs two young men who died in Sunday accident

Two young men died in an April 23 traffic accident after the Chrysler they were traveling in collided with another vehicle and caught on fire on Santa Teresa Boulevard.The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office identified the two victims as Edwin Galan Martinez, 20 of Morgan Hill, and Pablo Caloca Lara, 20. Coroner’s Office staff did not know Lara’s city of residence as of the morning of April 26.About 7:15 p.m. April 23, Morgan Hill Police responded to the area of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Native Dancer Drive on multiple reports of a collision involving major injuries, according to authorities.When officers arrived, they saw a Toyota Camry in the roadway with major front-end damage, police said. The female driver had exited the Toyota and was contacted on the east side of Santa Teresa Boulevard. She was later transported to a local trauma center with non-life threatening injuries.Also at the scene when police arrived was a Chrysler Sebring on the west shoulder of Santa Teresa Boulevard, according to authorities. Two male subjects—driver Lara and passenger Martinez—were inside the Chrysler. They were unresponsive and appeared to have significant injuries.Officers attempted to rescue the Chrysler’s driver but the vehicle was on fire, police said.Morgan Hill Fire Department personnel arrived and attempted to rescue Lara and Martinez. Despite the rescue efforts, both men were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.The coroner’s office also responded to the scene April 23 and began an investigation. MHPD continues to investigate the accident as well.So far, officers have determined that the Chrysler was traveling northbound on Santa Teresa at a high rate of speed, according to authorities. The driver lost control of the Chrysler in the area of Sunshine Street and Native Dancer Drive. The vehicle drifted sideways into oncoming traffic and struck the Toyota.Anyone with information about this collision can contact MHPD at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.

Police blotter: Purse snatching, theft of lottery tickets, fraud

Reckless vehiclePolice cited a teen driver for speed contest when a witness reported his Subaru and another vehicle speeding in the area of Main Avenue and Monterey Road. The recklessness was reported 8:17 p.m. Dec. 30.RobberyTwo suspects, described as black males, ran up to two female victims in front of Starbucks, 1041 Cochrane Road, grabbed their purses and fled the scene. The suspects fled into a gray sedan and left the area. The contents of the purses, stolen by the thieves, included a cell phone, credit cards, cash and about $500 worth of gift cards. The crime was reported 9:23 p.m. Dec. 30.Domestic violencePolice arrested a woman who was fighting with a man outside the Chevron gas station, 825 E. Dunne Ave. A witness called police to report the couple physically fighting about 10:55 p.m. Dec. 30.Petty theftSomeone stole a roll of scratcher lottery tickets from the 7-Eleven store, 295 W. Main Ave. The suspect grabbed the book of about 60 scratchers, worth $5 each, from the counter and ran out the door. The crime was reported 1:16 p.m. Dec. 31.FraudA male victim said his credit card was stolen the night he was arrested at a Morgan Hill hotel in September 2016. The man said someone charged about $730 to his Target Mastercard without his authorization. The crime was reported 1:38 p.m. Dec. 29.Auto burglaryA thief or thieves broke the door handle on a Ford Ranger and entered the vehicle before stealing about $5,000 worth of tools and clothing from inside. The vehicle was parked at a business on Butterfield Boulevard. The crime was reported 8:25 a.m. Jan. 2.DUI accidentOne driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI after causing a three-car collision at the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and Tennant Avenue. The allegedly impaired driver of a Toyota pickup rear-ended a convertible Ford Mustang, which in turn rear-ended a Honda SUV. No significant injuries were reported. The accident was reported 9:17 a.m. Jan. 2.All subjects are innocent until proven guilty. Information is compiled from public records.

‘Suspicious package’ temporarily closes South County Courthouse

Court was back in session Feb. 15, one day after Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies cleared the South County Courthouse due to a “suspicious package” identified by officers.

Flores murder suspects back in court Sept. 19

The preliminary hearing for two suspects accused of murdering Morgan Hill resident Cody Flores in 2015 was delayed until late this summer.Spencer Smith and Chase Benoit—both 21-year-old Morgan Hill residents at the time of their arrest—will head back to court Sept. 19 so the judge can set a new preliminary hearing date, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Pandori. The preliminary hearing—a common criminal court procedure in which a judge determines if there is enough evidence for the defendants to face trial—was originally scheduled for June 6, but was delayed.Smith and Benoit are accused of stabbing Flores to death in a field in east Morgan Hill May 31, 2015, according to authorities. Both suspects were arrested shortly after Flores’ death, and have remained in custody on a murder charge since then.The stabbing incident happened in an empty field near the intersection of Diana Avenue and Ringel Drive, according to police.The suspects pleaded not guilty at a previous hearing.The D.A.’s office and Sheriff’s investigators have revealed few details about the late-night stabbing incident and the suspects’ possible motive. The court file on the case, which is held at the Hall of Justice in San Jose, does not contain police reports or other narrative of the incident.The file does include a judge’s order sealing police reports, witness information and other information related to the investigation from public view. A June 3, 2015 application by Sheriff’s Sgt. Julian Quinonez to deny defense attorneys’ request for witness information says, in part, “It belief and experience that violent homicide suspects and their associates are known to intimidate, threaten and possibly harm witnesses. Additionally, the ongoing investigation may reveal additional crimes and witnesses.”The Sept. 19 hearing will take place at the Hall of Justice.

DA: Gilroy School Teacher Posed as Porn Star

Former Gilroy High School science teacher Doug Le was charged with 20 felonies Monday for impersonating a female porn star and soliciting photos from high school boys, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorneys office.

MHPD: Man arrested for lewd and lascivious acts on a child

Morgan Hill Police arrested a man accused of inappropriately touching a child of a family friend.On May 19, MHPD officers responded to the 15200 block of Monterey Road to investigate a report of child abuse, according to a May 31 press release.Officers arrived at the scene and spoke to the child’s mother, who said a male friend had inappropriately touched her daughter, police said.Suspect Ronn Williams, 59 of Morgan Hill, was arrested on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, police said.Anyone who is a victim or has information about this case can contact MHPD Det. Pevehouse at (669) 253-4914 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.

Police: Stolen vehicle leads to cache of burglarized items

Two thieves were arrested with a stolen car full of burglarized items, after trying to purchase merchandise at a Morgan Hill store with a lifted credit card, according to police.A Morgan Hill Police officer identified a stolen vehicle the afternoon of Dec. 15 as it turned into Target, 1066 Cochrane Road, according to a post on the MHPD’s Facebook page. The officer followed the vehicle into the store’s parking lot.With assistance from more officers who arrived on the scene, police set up a perimeter and were able to locate the suspects and arrest them “following a high-risk felony car stop,” the post says.The investigation determined the two suspects—Luis Vasquez and Patricia Vaquera—had entered Target and tried to purchase items with a stolen credit card, police said. When that didn’t work, they walked out of the store with the items, without paying.The stolen credit cards were related to a burglary out of San Jose the previous evening, police said. Officers contacted that victim and notified him that his credit cards had been recovered.Also recovered in the stolen car was “a lot of mail” that had been stolen, according to authorities. MHPD contacted the postal inspector, who will reach out to these victims and investigate any possible federal crimes.Furthermore, the owner of the stolen vehicle, a black Honda, told police that the car was full of merchandise she had spent all day purchasing for Christmas presents, according to the Facebook post. The vehicle owner lost all those presents, as well as two car seats for kids.Vasquez and Vaquera were booked at Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of multiple felonies including car theft, possession of burglary tools, identity theft, giving false ID to police, illegal weapons and narcotics offenses.A couple of days later, MHPD posted an update that the Morgan Hill Police Officers Association contacted Target and the two parties “put together a covert operation and purchased replacement gifts” for the victimized car owner. That post includes a photo of MHPD officer with the victim, surrounding a pile of new toys and other children’s items purchased from the local store.