Month: May 2018

Hate crime case shakes up Guerneville, long known for tolerance

The arrest of a 55-year-old Guerneville man charged with making criminal threats that constitute a hate crime has shaken sensibilities in the Russian River community residents consider a model of acceptance of people of all sexual identities.

Seven river-area residents showed up at Tuesday’s Superior Court arraignment for Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan Jr., who entered a not guilty plea. He was held on $55,000 bail set by Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite, who also ordered him to stay away from an unnamed victim and the Guerneville Safeway.

“I’m thrilled that he’s in custody and there’s not any threat to the community,” said Beth Streets, a Santa Rosa resident who grew up in Guerneville and was instrumental in adding a rainbow-colored gay pride flag to the town plaza flagpole last year.

“There’s a huge uproar over what he is and what he represents,” she said.

West County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who was not in court, said O’Sullivan’s arrest has soothed nerves in Guerneville, an unincorporated community of about 4,000.

“I think everyone’s relaxed,” she said. “You have someone who is clearly acting out of malice and hatred for the LGBTQ community.”

The community angst started with a series of thefts of the gay pride flag from the plaza at the corner of First Street and River Road.

Streets said the flag was first missing April 23, and the replacement she installed April 27 was missing the following day. On May 1, she put the original flag, which had been shoved through the mail slot at the Russian River Chamber of Commerce office, back on the pole.

Two days later, that flag was gone and six days later its replacement was too. Again, the flag was replaced. A resident found one of the missing flags tied to a rock and submerged in the river.

Sheriff’s deputies investigating the flag thefts learned of threats involving the detonation of pipe bombs at the Guerneville Safeway and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office substation in Guerneville, Lt. Eddie Engram said in a statement Saturday announcing O’Sullivan’s arrest.

O’Sullivan was jailed on suspicion of petty theft, as well as making criminal threats constituting a hate crime, but the theft allegations were sent back to the Sheriff’’s Office for more information, Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said Tuesday.

Staebell said he and other prosecutors could recall only one other hate crime case in the past year, which involved two Santa Rosa women accused of punching and shoving a woman holding a crying toddler in line at the Dollar Tree on Sebastopol Road in August. The melee stemmed from a comment by one of the female assailants who allegedly said something like “Mexican baby needs to shut up.”

Hate crimes are difficult to prosecute because they require proof the criminal acts were “directed at somebody because of their status,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said. “That’s a high bar.”

A California Department of Justice report said Sonoma County had 14 reported hate crimes in 2016, including six in the Sheriff”s Office jurisdiction, three in Petaluma, two in Windsor and one each in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma.

There were 1,190 hate crimes reported that year statewide, including 248 based on sexual orientation. More than half — 672 — were based on race, ethnicity or national origin.

Sebastopol Police and Sheriff Logs: May 7-13, 2018

The following are excerpted from Sebastopol Police Department daily log entries and the log entries of the Sonoma County Sheriff for the west county area.

The Sebastopol Police Log

TUESDAY, MAY 8

8:01 p.m. Bench warrant, misdemeanor on Petaluma Avenue and Southpoint Avenue. Arrest made.

10:00 p.m. Outside agency warrant, felony on Sebastopol Avenue and Barnes Avenue. Arrest made.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9

12:11 a.m. DUI, violation of conditional release, driving with a suspended license and outside agency warrant on Bodega Avenue and Pleasant Hill Avenue North. Arrest made.

THURSDAY, MAY 10

11:39 p.m. DUI, driving with a suspended license and obstructing or resisting an officer on South Main Street and Willow Street. Arrest made.

FRIDAY, MAY 11

8:40 a.m. Disorderly conduct and battery on person at Covert Lane and Healdsburg Avenue. Arrest made.

10:36 p.m. Possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license and violation of conditional release at Pleasant Hill Avenue North and Bodega Avenue. Arrest made.

SATURDAY, MAY 12

2:43 a.m. Possession of controlled substance paraphernalia on Sebastopol Avenue and Morris Street. Arrest made.

7:18 a.m. Outside agency warrant at Gravenstein Highway North and Twin Pine Lane. Arrest made.

10:51 a.m. Hit and run property damage at Gravenstein Highway North and Covert Lane. Pending further investigation.

7:35 p.m. Possession of controlled substance paraphernalia and outside agency warrant on North Main Street and Healdsburg Avenue. Arrest made.

11:33 p.m. Bench warrant, misdemeanor and disorderly conduct on Gravenstein Highway South and Corline Court. Arrest made.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department

MONDAY, MAY 7

9:55 a.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Bohemian Highway and Fir Road, Monte Rio.

10:22 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Mesa Grande Terrance and Monte Vista Terrace, Duncans Mills.

10:29 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Highway 116 North and Morrel Avenue, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

12:48 p.m. Traffic stop at Drake Road and Guerne Hill Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

12:51 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Drake Road and Drake Road Extension, Guerneville.

2:25 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Grays Road and River Road, Forestville.

5:27 p.m. Public urination/defecation on Main Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

9:42 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Third Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Arrest made.

10:13 p.m. Disturbance at First Street and River Substation, Guerneville.

11:07 p.m. Violation of probation at Laurel Road and Old Cazadero Road, Guerneville. Arrest made.

TUESDAY, MAY 8

8:28 a.m. Civil service at Bohemian Highway, Harmony Village Circle and Occidental Camp Meeker Road, Occidental.

11:18 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Old Monte Rio Road and Santa Rosa Avenue, Guerneville.

4:04 p.m. Civil situation at Bittner Road and Westwood Lane, Occidental.

10:08 p.m. Suspicious person at Third Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

11:17 p.m. Traffic stop at Highway 116 North and Orchard Road, Forestville. Reprimand and release.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9

7:37 a.m. Search and rescue at Doran Beach Road and Jetty Campground, Bodega Bay.

8:42 a.m. Suspicious person at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

9:12 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Bohemian Highway and Fir Road, Monte Rio.

11:56 a.m. Civil situation at Cutten Court and Cutten Drive, Guerneville.

6:33 p.m. Disturbance at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

10:17 p.m. Suspicious person at Armstrong Woods Road and Woodland Drive, Guerneville.

11:38 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Orchard Road and River Road, Guerneville.

THURSDAY, MAY 10

12:23 a.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Freezeout Road and Moscow Road, Duncans Mills.

12:34 a.m. Traffic stop at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville Road. Reprimand and release.

12:52 a.m. Traffic stop at Highway 116 North and Solaridge Road, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

8:05 a.m. Traffic stop at Eagle Nest Lane and River Road, Rio Nido. Citation given.

9:35 a.m. Verbal disturbance at Third Street and Church Street, Guerneville.

10:00 a.m. Suspicious person at Brookside Lane, Highway 116 North and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

12:41 p.m. Suspicious person at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

12:54 p.m. Trespassing at Armstrong Woods Road and Laughlin Road, Guerneville. Homeless related.

10:55 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Old Monte Rio Road and Park Avenue, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

11:24 p.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

FRIDAY, MAY 11

1:05 a.m. Probation search at Laurel Road and Old Cazadero Road, Guerneville. Arrest made.

1:13 a.m. Noise disturbance at Front Street, Market Street and Mission Street, Camp Meeker

9:02 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Main Street and Tyrone Road, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

10:59 a.m. Traffic stop at River Road and Sunset Avenue, Forestville.

12:35 p.m. Domestic battery with injury at Highway 1 and Keefe Avenue. Arrest made.

5:35 p.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road.

6:33 p.m. Unwanted guest disturbance at Church Street and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

7:39 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Scanlon Road and Wildwood Lane, Cazadero.

9:34 p.m. Music disturbance at Mill Court and Mill Street, Guerneville.

SATURDAY, MAY 12

12:03 a.m. Music disturbance at Drake Road and Riverlands Road, Guerneville.

1:18 a.m. Party disturbance at Dubrava Summer Crossing and Guernewood Road, Guerneville.

3:44 a.m. Coroner’s case at Center Way and Monte Vista Terrace, Monte Rio.

11:33 a.m. Trespassing at Old River Road, River Drive and Summerhome Park Road, Forestville.4:11 p.m. Juvenile disturbance at First Street and Church Street, Guerneville.

5:24 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Highway 116North and Monte Cristo Avenue, Monte Rio. Homeless lreated.

7:00 p.m. Civil situation at Fourth Street and Mill Street, Guerneville.

11:16 p.m. Suspicious circumstances at Redwood Avenue and Sequoia Avenue, Camp Meeker.

11:57 p.m. Man down at Drake Road, Highway 116 North and Neeley Road, Guerneville. Homeless related.

SUNDAY, MAY 13

12:41 a.m. Warrant activity at First Street and River Substation, Guerneville. Arrest made.

7:50 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Benson Road and Lark Drive, Guerneville.

9:14 a.m. Trespassing at E Street and Sunnyside Way, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

9:36 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Main Street and Tyrone Road, Monte Rio. Homeless related.

1:25 p.m. Disturbance at Dubrava Way, Guernewood Lane and Highway 116 North, Guerneville.

5:00 p.m. Suspicious person at Brookside Lane, Highway 116 North and Main Street, Guerneville.

Man arrested over pipe bomb threats against LGBT people

A man in Guerneville, California has been arrested after he threatened to set off pipe bombs in the city.

Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan was arrested by police after making threats to set off pipe bombs at the Guerneville Safeway supermarket and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. 

O’Sullivan also allegedly stole two rainbow flags that were flying outside the office of the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce, throwing one in a river.

Guerneville, located north of San Francisco, is known for its large LGBT community, hosting the annual ‘Lazy Bear Weekend’ aimed at members of the gay ‘bear’ subculture.

Police records show O’Sullivan was arrested on suspicion of petty theft, making criminal threats and a hate crime, and is being held on $50,000 bail.

Lt. Eddie Engram said the suspect’s intent was to injure members of the LGBTQ community and police officers.

According to Sonoma West Times and News, the 55-year-old was taken into custody on Saturday (May 12) after calling a man a “faggot” and telling him that “you [gay people] all need to leave.”

Police said: “As they were conducting the investigation into the theft of the rainbow flags, sheriff deputies were made aware of threats to manufacture a pipe bomb for the purpose of detonating it at the Guerneville Safeway and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Guerneville substation.

“The intent was to injure members of the LGBTQ community and deputies.

“In the course of the investigation deputies from the Guerneville substation developed probable cause that Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan (55) of Guerneville was the suspect in both cases.”

Man who allegedly stole rainbow flag twice from Guerneville appears in court – KGO-TV

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (KGO) —

A man who allegedly threatened to harm the LGBTQ community with explosives and twice stole a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce made an appearance in court Tuesday.

It began with a pride flag stolen, and then tossed into the Russian River. Today, the story entered a new phase in Sonoma County Superior Court. It has been symbolic from the start. “Every time he is in court, I will be here,” said Beth Sheets, who joined several other people in watching proceedings.

RELATED: The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

The flag, symbolizing LGBTQ pride, was stolen on April 26 from the building at 16201 First Street in the unincorporated area of Guerneville in Sonoma County.

The building arranged for a replacement, but the flag was again stolen on May 5. According to Sonoma County’s website, Guerneville became a “welcoming resort area for Bay Area gay men and lesbians” in the 1970’s.

A man named Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, is seen in this undated image.

This marked the first appearance of Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan, Jr. following his arrest last weekend. He pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges Tuesday of stealing a pride flag from the county flagpole in Guerneville, and also to felony charges of a hate crime by threatening to blow up gay people, a grocery store, and sheriff’s substation with a pipe bomb.

RELATED: Arrest made after community threatened, rainbow flag stolen twice from Guerneville

“It is a terrorist threat. He did not take action to carry out that act,” said Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department spokesman, Sgt. Spencer Crum.

In open-minded and permissive Guerneville, both alleged crimes resonate disturbingly. Hence, a large group who came to court today. “We’re here to protect ourselves from people who want to blow us up,” said Guerneville resident Jennifer Wentz.

“It is about a community of people who have been discriminated against,” added Beth Streets.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

Beth Streets had lobbied with the county to place that pride flag in the town square, beneath the American and California flags. A surveillance video from last week shows two men. One of them covers the camera’s lens, and then the flag disappears. The thieves reportedly left a warning signed in the name of veterans. David Juarez told us today that the notes certainly do not speak for him. “I was leery of coming here. My husband said as a veteran and openly gay person you have to do that.”

So he did, and they did.

They will continue to be on hand as the cases move forward.

You might call it a matter of pride and principle.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Guerneville transient charged in filching LGBTQ flags, making threats

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Guerneville man on a felony terrorism charge last week after he allegedly stole two gay pride flags and threatened to set off pipe bombs in town.

Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, was taken into custody Saturday morning after a confrontation in the Guerneville Safeway where O’Sullivan called a Starbucks employee “a faggot” and said, “You all need to leave,” referring to gay people in Guerneville, said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Spencer Crum.

O’Sullivan, a local transient, had been under investigation since last month in connection with the theft of rainbow flags in the Guerneville town plaza when Saturday’s arrest occurred, said Crum.

A rainbow flag was stolen on April 26 from the flagpole in the Guerneville town plaza, said a sheriff’s office media report on Saturday’s arrest of O’Sullivan.

A deputy from the Guerneville substation took the report and began an investigation into the theft. Then on May 5 a replacement rainbow flag was again stolen from the plaza area.

“As they were conducting the investigation into the theft of the rainbow flags, sheriff deputies were made aware of threats to manufacture a pipe bomb for the purpose of detonating it at the Guerneville Safeway and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Guerneville substation. The intent was to injure members of the LGBTQ community and deputies,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Engram in the sheriff’s media statement.

“In the course of the investigation deputies from the Guerneville substation developed probable cause that Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan (55) of Guerneville was the suspect in both cases,” said Engram.

O’Sullivan was arrested Saturday morning on charges of making terrorist threats and theft. He remained in custody at the Sonoma County Jail this week in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Members of Guerneville’s GLBTQ community said they planned to attend O’Sullivan’s first court hearing scheduled for May 15.

The case is now being monitored by GLBTQ groups elsewhere because of the nature of the threats in a normally GLBTQ-friendly town like Guerneville, said Guerneville resident Jeniffer Wertz.

“It’s really important that the LGBT community isn’t complacent about this,” said Wertz. “This kind of thing brings back some old wounds.”

O’Sullivan has been a familiar presence around town for a couple of years, usually living in a battered full-size American pickup truck filled with junk. The truck was frequently parked in the Guerneville park-and-ride commuter lot on Highway 116 and in the Dubrava beach parking area on Highway 116 in Guernewood Park.

“He had a chip on his shoulder,” said Wertz, who is also a founding member of the Guerneville Community Alliance that has been active in homelessness outreach efforts in town.

The gay pride flag flying the town plaza below the American flag “is not meant to alienate anyone, or give anyone special rights,” said Wertz. “It just makes LGBT people feel safe and accepted in a world where we don’t always know that.”

Anyone with additional information on the O’Sullivan case is asked to call the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department at 565-2

SLIDESHOW: Stumptown on Parade

The 72nd annual Stumptown Parade filled Guerneville’s Main Street last weekend with the river community’s colorful present, touches of yesterday and nostalgia and symbols of future hope in the faces and talent of young musicians, festival princesses, rodeo queens and a bevy of costumed “super heroes.” El Molino sports booster Skip Cassidy was honored as the parade’s grand marshall. The Russian River volunteer firemen offered an all-day barbecue. The parade was sponsored and coordinated by the Russian River Chamber of Commerce.

Mugshot of man accused of stealing rainbow flags in Guerneville released

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. —

A mugshot of a man who was arrested on suspicion of stealing rainbow flags and making threats in the North Bay has been released.

Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, was taken into custody Saturday in Guerneville.

O’Sullivan allegedly threatened to harm the LGBTQ community with explosives and twice stole a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce.

RELATED: The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

The flag, symbolizing LGBTQ pride, was stolen on April 26 from the building at 16201 First Street in the unincorporated area of Guerneville in Sonoma County. Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies began investigating the theft.

The building arranged for a replacement, but the flag was again stolen on May 5. According to Sonoma County’s website, Guerneville became a “welcoming resort area for Bay Area gay men and lesbians” in the 1970’s.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

During the investigation, deputies learnt of a suspect making threats to detonate a pipe bomb at the Guerneville Safeway.

Deputies said the suspect’s intent was to injure deputies and members of the LGBTQ community.

He could face charges including making criminal threats, along with hate-crime enhancements.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

ABC7 News contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2018 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, re-transmission or reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. Is prohibited.)

Mug shot of man accused of stealing flag in Guerneville released

GUERNEVILLE, Calif. —

A mug shot of a man who was arrested on suspicion of stealing rainbow flags and making threats in the North Bay has been released.

Vincent O’Sullivan, 55, was taken into custody Saturday in Guerneville.

O’Sullivan allegedly threatened to harm the LGBTQ community with explosives and twice stole a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Chamber of Commerce.

RELATED: The mysterious case of the Guerneville disappearing rainbow flag

The flag, symbolizing LGBTQ pride, was stolen on April 26 from the building at 16201 First Street in the unincorporated area of Guerneville in Sonoma County. Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies began investigating the theft.

The building arranged for a replacement, but the flag was again stolen on May 5. According to Sonoma County’s website, Guerneville became a “welcoming resort area for Bay Area gay men and lesbians” in the 1970’s.

RELATED: Man who created rainbow flag for gay rights has died

During the investigation, deputies learnt of a suspect making threats to detonate a pipe bomb at the Guerneville Safeway.

Deputies said the suspect’s intent was to injure deputies and members of the LGBTQ community.

He could face charges including making criminal threats, along with hate-crime enhancements.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on LGBTQ rights.

ABC7 News contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2018 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, re-transmission or reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. Is prohibited.)

California Man Arrested After Stealing Rainbow Flags, Threatening To Hurt LGBT People With Pipe Bombs

A California man has been arrested after stealing rainbow flags and threatening to detonate pipe bombs at a local supermarket. Sheriffs say Vincent Joseph O’Sullivan, 55, planned to set off bombs at the Guerneville Safeway and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office substation in order to injure deputies and members of the LGBT community,

On Saturday O’Sullivan was booked on suspicion of petty theft, making criminal threats and a hate crime. He is being held on $50,000 bail.

He first stole a flag from a public square outside the chamber of commerce on April 26 and then took a replacement flag several days later.

Elise VanDyne, executive director of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, told the Press-Democrat that the flag wasn’t actually the chambers, but had been put in the square by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

The flag has been restored again, along with a U.S. flag and California state flag, with a new locking mechanism.

Guerneville and the Russian River area have been known as a vacation destination since the 1960s, with numerous gay bars, LGBT-friendly resorts and a large local Pride parade.

Editor in Chief of NewNowNext. Comic book enthusiast. Bounder and cad.

@ItsDanAvery

Youth in prison camp: their time in photographer's lens

When freelance photojournalist Brian L. Frank decided to document the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp, he arrived with the only credential that would be accepted by the boys serving time.

He’d served time himself and knew the slang and the body language — as well as having a willingness to spend all day and night at the camp — that earned him an exceptionally honest series of images that made its debut last week at SF Camerawork.

“I had my own altercations with the criminal justice system when I was younger,” said Frank, now 38. “So I had a connection with these guys.”

The exhibition, titled “Focal Points,” is a group show featuring Tomas van Houtryve, Sarah Blesener and Frank, all of whom were funded by CatchLight, a Bay Area nonprofit promoting photography about social issues.

Frank got a $30,000 grant that defrayed the costs of driving from his home in Guerneville to the Amador County camp in the Sierra foothills, plus his hotel charges in Placerville. He would have preferred to stay overnight at the camp with the boys, but it’s against regulations.

“I wanted to show what happens when the camera isn’t there,” he says, “and the only way to get that is to just blend in. Eventually, they get bored with you being there for so long, and then you see the true moments.”

Frank learned the language from the inside of San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall, the lockup infamously known as juvie. He spent a lot of time there when he was younger, for fighting and a variety of other crimes he declines to list. The only thing good about his juvie experience was its location on the west side of Twin Peaks, convenient to the Sunset District where Frank grew up.

While in and out of trouble, Frank also managed to get himself into Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory school, where he graduated in 1997. But it took one more trip to a prison camp for adults, to serve a six-month sentence for felony assault, before Frank finally straightened himself out.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State University in 2007, and 10 years later had an assignment from a big national magazine to shoot inmate firefighters. One of the camps he visited turned out to be Pine Grove, the last remaining camp in California that trains juvenile felons to be firefighters. He finished the inmate firefighter story, then returned on his own to the juvenile camp.

“I was really interested in continuing there because I had a connection with the guys and wanted to continue working with them,” he says.

But it did not end there. When one of the boys was released, Frank followed him home to Salinas and photographed his re-entry into the chaotic street life there. This teen made it through the transition, but many relapse into gang life and end up back in custody. Frank has shot that side of post-juvie life, too, as a before-and-after study.

In all there are 15 of his images among 46 pictures in the group show.

“Through spending time with the boys, I was able to find the bonds of brotherhood, which is what I was looking for,” he says. “I didn’t want to just show scary-guys-in-jail pictures.”

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: swhiting@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SamWhitingSF Instagram: @sfchronicle_art

Focal Points: CatchLight Fellows and Everyday Bay Area Collective: Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Through June 30. Free. SF Camerawork, 1011 Market St., S.F. (415) 487-1011. www.sfcamerawork.org