Friday, January 31st, 2014 - 6:14am
Some frightening moments last night on Soledad & Sierra as an unidentified man was running in and out of traffic, with a "spear" or hockey stick, and threatening people. Deputies responded and fired four to six shots, killing the man. Lots of conflicting & unclear information on this story even 12 hours later. Signal:

Witnesses at the scene, Kyle Reinoso and Stephanie Szyszkowski, said they saw the man in the center divider at the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Shangri-La Drive walking and running up and down the median with a hockey stick.

They said deputies on the scene had weapons drawn.

“He was running toward the cop and they shot him,” Reinoso said.

Reinoso and Szyszkowski said the incident occurred shortly after 8 p.m. and that they heard “four to six shots.”

But CBS 2 says the man had a spear, and was suspected in an earlier stabbing yesterday evening:

Deputies located the suspect standing on a center median, holding a metal spear and behaving strangely.

Witness Priscilla Garcia said the suspect appeared to be taunting deputies and tried to break her windshield.

“[I thought], ‘Oh my God, get me out of here.’ It was a scary feeling,” Garcia said. “When he did that, I looked at the cops to do something because he was not going to stop.”
The man then charged at deputies with a knife and they opened fire.

ABC News, meanwhile, spoke with another witness who recorded footage of the man's strange behavior and the shooting. The video shows a middle aged white man in (boxer?) shorts & a t-shirt pacing up and down the street with a cast on his arm, holding what appears to be a hockey stick. 

You can see the ABC report here, which includes parts of the cell phone video. 

The man who shot the video, Jonathan Hayes, sheds some more light on sequence of the event, telling ABC 7 that the man wasn't violent, until he started hitting a brown PT Cruiser that, perhaps, was being driven by Priscilla Garcia, the woman interviewed by CBS 2 above. 

Hayes says Deputies opened fire after that

“They didn’t try to handle it any other way,” Hayes said of deputies at the scene. “They opened fire.”

Hayes said 10 rounds were fired at the suspect by deputies.

Another witness, Priscilla Garcia, told NBC4 the suspect had been using a metal rod to attack vehicles, including her own.

“He looked at me with such anger, rage,” Garcia said. She said the suspect had the pointed end of the rod directed at her window to break it. As he did so, “the sheriffs rushed him. He turned back to rush at them, and they shot and killed him.”

Garcia also told NBC 4 TV that she heard 5 or 6 gunshots, and then a final one. 

"He didn't go down right away," Garcia told an NBC 4 reporter. Patrons at the nearby Canyon Country library heard as many as 15 shots. 

NBC 4 also quotes a Detective Steve Lankford as saying that Deputies tried to use a taser on the suspct, which "had no effect on the individual." 

More on this shooting and investigation as it occurs today. 

Were you in or around the area when this occurred last night in Canyon Country? Share your experience below in the comments. 

Update, 7:05 AM: 

Official LASD press release says that essentially there were two officer involved shootings last night. The first shots fired apparently had no effect on the man, to the extent that he was able to survive them, deputies retreated to their vehicles, and then the suspect tried to attack deputies with a knife. 

The second shooting, LASD says, finally stopped and killed the man:

With additional calls to Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station, a Sheriff’s patrol unit located the male- suspect standing on the center medium near the intersection of Shangri-La Drive and Soledad Canyon Road, holding a metal spear, and behaving strangely. The deputies approached the suspect to give him the opportunity to comply with their verbal orders. The suspect ignored deputies and struck a passing vehicle with the spear. At some point during the contact a deputy involved shooting occurred. The suspect, appearing unscathed by the shooting, continued his erratic behavior. When both deputies moved back toward their vehicle, the suspect, now holding a knife in his hand, advanced at the deputies, at which point a second deputy involved shooting occurred. The suspect was struck by gunfire multiple times on the upper torso. 

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   14 Comments »
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014 - 12:23pm
Shae Rebel, missing since Thanksgiving from her home in Castaic, was found in the custody of her father in Louisiana according to Perry Smith:

The little girl, Shae Rebel, was located (Wednesday) afternoon in Mansfield, La.,” said Detective Dave Campbell of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Detective Bureau.Missing Castaic child Shae Rebel

“The girl is safe,” Campbell said, adding that the child was in the custody of Louisiana’s Department of Children & Family Services as of this morning. “The mom’s elated. She’s flying out today to get her child.”

Campbell was found after Shae Rebel’s father, Jesse Rebel, was pulled over while driving in Louisiana

When this was first reported just a couple of weeks ago, we marveled at out a 2 year old girl could go missing for so long without the entire community becoming aware and likely volunteering to help find her. 

But as some thought then, this was a parent vs parent case, with dad apparently travelling across the country with his daughter. 

Thank goodness she was found safe. 

Posted by Jeff Wilson   |   2 Comments »
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014 - 10:07am
It feels like every season, the tales of "He caught thaJustify Centert bug that's going around," get worse and worse. Today the Signal has an interesting report on the SCV's flu season this year that kind of confirms:

This year is worse than last year in terms of severity (of symptoms),” he said. “The rate of patients coming in for flu symptoms has remained about the same. It all just came at once in mid December.”

Sylvia West, a Facey Clinic representative, also said it’s typical that January sees a spike in influenza cases with the season starting in September when the company receives their vaccines.

Anticipating the spike in cases for January, the company gave out 7,000 more influenza vaccines than the previous year after seeing an increase in cases.

So there aren't necessarily more cases of the flu in the SCV this year, but the potency is stronger this year. Am I reading that right? 

This stuff takes on a whole new meaning when you have kids (yeah, suddenly you can't be so selfish and cocksure about everything in life, imagine that!). Something's run through my brother Scott's family in the last several weeks, and it's hitting his 3 month old son pretty hard. 

If you're a parent, what do you do? Keep your kids out of day care/school? Is that an overreaction? My son is still at home all day and I'm your standard isolated desk worker who drives alone to work now (rather than taking the bus as I used to), but the same is true of my brother and his family's not been spared. 

Posted by Jeff Wilson   |   6 Comments »
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Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - 10:14am
For a long time on this blog, I teased and had fun at the expense of several of the more exclusive neighborhoods in the SCV. I don't recall all the slams over the years, but it was all in (mostly) good fun, with some envy and some legitimate criticism tossed in.

The three I picked on most often are listed below:

Placerita Canyon: Home of the Power Posse home owners association. I would joke that the PC Power Posse could retard progress for the entire City just by showing up (or even threatening to show up) at a Council meeting on their horses. For the residents of Placerita are in one of the few areas of the City that's got "special standards" applied to it. For Placerita residents, that means they can live back there like they've always lived, ride horses to their mailboxes, get loads of money from the nearby petroleum wells, and bemoan how Newhall was developing into something new and different. But for transit/transportation geeks like me, and for many generations of Master's College students, the Power Posse was responsible for the lack of sidewalks in front of TMC (and the comical little wooden bridges built in the winter so students wouldn't be swept away) and for retarding the extension of Lyons to Sierra Highway.

West Ranch: I would joke that this is where the faux rich, those lacking loyalty or City 'o Sclarita pride and those clueless about where the real power neighborhoods were in the SCV would end up. In a valley without much of a "native" population, you could find, at least during the boom years, all the nouveau riche SCV class living in West Ranch in brand new houses made out of ticky tacky (not coincidentally West Ranch arose symbiotically with Showtime's Weeds) with Hummer's parked out front. In the space of just a few years it seemed, the all-powerful Flemings (Flemwatch!), Buck McKeon, and Hunt of the Bralys all moved to the West Side or opened up offices there. Newhall Land followed, leaving their iconic & architecturally significant Valencia Blvd HQ for a vague and lifeless office park next to the 5. Sure West Ranch had the Tournament Player's club, which is something something to someone in the golf scene, but those folks were really stuck up: they kicked old Myers out for wearing a t-shirt in 2006 at the height of the real estate boom after all. What did they think, they were the Beverly Hills of the SCV?. Oh and to top it all off, Dave Bossert was the West Side's most prominent advocate & my blogging competition. Yes indeed I felt pretty righteous about condemning the West Ranch neighborhoods back then; great fun!

Sand Canyon: If Placerita was bombastic, backwards, and regressive, and West Ranch was full of phonies or johnny-come-lately SCVers, Sand Canyon was where the real SCV power brokers lived, I theorized. Sure the place smells of horse poop all day and night, and teenagers/motorcyclists routinely turn the beautiful road into an Formula 1 race track, but you couldn't deny the soft power that having a Sand Canyon address represented. The place was rich in SCV history and lore; City Council people called it home. Some houses looked like they were straight out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. And most of all, you didn't hear them bitch too much like the other neighborhoods. Sand Canyonites were the boss of the SCV, and they knew it. They walked softly, carried a big stick. If there was a La Cosa Nostra of the SCV, the Don would have called Sand Canyon his home and thrown large wedding parties on his sprawling compound, giving rare audiences to the few influential SCVers who warranted some of his time. The place was legit.

But now that I've moved out of my lowland, high-density, 7-Eleven adjacent condominium into a for-real single story, detached, single family resident in Calgrove (yard, attic, garage, the whole 9), I've learned I was wrong about the makeup of the SCV's best and most influential neighborhoods.

You see, Sand Canyon may have Robinson Ranch, prized ponies, and a scenic roadway, but Hidden Valley is truly the most powerful and incredible neighborhood in the SCV.

Hidden Valley. If the SCV were a community of nations, Sand Canyon might be your Switzerland, Placerita your France, and West Ranch....Las Vegas?....then Hidden Valley would be a mix of the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea and perhaps some really elite pocket EU country....your Lichentsteins Andorras or Monacos. You practically have to have formal title plus proven SCV bloodlines to pass customs and enter the place.

The place is truly deserving of its name, for until I moved to Calgrove, I didn't really realize what Hidden Valley was. I had thought Hidden Valley was anything past the halfway point on south on Apple, Valley and other streets in the SoLy district. It didn't feel much like a "valley" to me.

And I've lived here for 22 years. And blogged about it.

You know why I couldn't really tell you where Hidden Valley was, why it was such a fuzzy, ill-defined neighborhood in my highly-regimented SCV mental map?

Because that's how the Hidden Valleyites wanted it.

Their success is not in being loud, boastful and arrogant like P-Canyon, nor in flaunting their illusory wealth (West Side), or even in the soft power model deployed so effectively by Sand their success lies in the fact that they've largely disappeared as a place in the SCV. They are a valley apart.

Hidden Valley.

Consider how powerful this place is:

  • Only neighborhood in the SCV with public roads going through it that are gated off from the public. In two places. I hadn't realized this until I dared to walk through this amazing place, but yes: there are actually two gates blocking the lowlifes from entering: the one at the end of Valley and a smaller, black fence (Checkpoint Charlie anyone?) blocking access on the west end of Maple.
  • There are hidden parks, scenic walkways, and even (it's rumored) an off-leash dog park back here. All I know is I don't have the key to the locked park, which looks like it's just about the most amazing park area in all of SClarita. Towsley x 10. Hart Park -including Hart's castle- a flea-ridden dump in comparison. Hell, they probably have a lake, yacht club and horse racing track hidden somewhere back here. You see, Hidden Valleyites never complain about a lack of public parks; no, instead, they just build their own, put an impregnable fence around it, and lock it down tight, such that even faux elitists like me, living the good life in Calgrove (yet another illusion, a spell even, they've cast), can't get in. Well played Hidden Valley, well played. Respect+++
  • When the City goes and re-paints Calgrove from a four lane 50 mph highway into a much gentler two lane road with ample space for bikes, do you see Hidden Valleyites storm the gates of City Hall, complaining hypocritically that the restripe slows them down too much yet people speed all the time on Calgrove ( looking at you Decooro!)?  Nope, you never hear HIdden Valley complain like that because 1) it's not becoming of them, and 2) theirs is a soft, quiet but extremely lethal revenge. For Hidden Valley, revenge is a dish best served secretly, out of public view. If you're unfortunate enough to land in their crosshairs though, you'll know it: when the HV goons descend on you, you'll know why, and you'll wonder why you didn't respect them more as you sleep with the fishes. 
  • The Hidden Valley Way, as I'm learning, isn't well known among the SCV cognoscenti because the first rule is you don't talk about the HIdden Valley Way, and the second rule is that well, you're not going to live long if you do.
  • Newhall's Main Street back-in parking? A Hidden Valley joke on the rest of us. Mayo Hospital expansion? A result of a behind-the-scenes battle between Valencia and Hidden Valley; you don't see Valencia messing with HV anymore after that. Metrolink Holiday Toy Train cancellation? Hidden Valley was tired of the train air horns blowing all the time. Buck McKeon's retirement? That too a result of Hidden Valley. 

So my hat's off to the Hidden Valley Homeowner Association or whatever supra-regional organization, ultra-secret secret society (yes I've witnessed some strange handshakes & rituals back here) that has built this amazing place. Hidden Valley got it, they don't flaunt it, and they don't want anyone to know about it either. 

Posted by Jeff Wilson   |   12 Comments »
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Monday, January 27th, 2014 - 8:27am
It's late January now and I haven't posted to SCVTalk in several weeks. For that I apologize, but I have a good excuse this time. 

You see, almost night and day since the first week of January, I've been in a battle with identity thieves, and it's taking a toll on me. Thankfully, I've got my case mostly put together now and can sit back, survey the damage, and share this cautionary tale with you.

It's a tale that's probably repeating itself in millions of American homes, but my story begins at our local Target store, mostly the Creekside one but also likely the newer one way up Golden Valley Way.

You see, like most SCVers, I Thought SCV and hit up most of the major retail establishments in town after Black Friday and before Christmas. I especially shopped at Target because, well, who doesn't like Target, or Tar-jay as my mom calls it? 

Since this was my first Christmas in a real suburban, detached, Single Family Home, I went all out and bought string after string of Christmas lights from Target. Blinking ones. Icicle styles, nets, strings, you name it! I went Tim the Tool Man Taylor on my home Christmas display and I totally geeked out on building a nice display so I could show it off to my boy. 

Of course, little did I know that during those frantic, last-minute, gotta-finish-the-lights-before-dusk trips to Target in the weeks leading up to Christmas that all those card swipes at the checkout machine were being harvested by two Russian teenagers organized criminal group who the hell knows. 

But my swipes -and apparently a whole lot more- were being harvested. And in short order, the thieves began chipping away at my finances.

January 9: Received a call at work from GE Capital Bank asking me to confirm some details about my application for a JC Penny credit card. Did I really live in Texas, GE Capital Bank asked. No I did not; this was fraudulent, I told them. I then quizzed the person on the phone for every piece of information about the applicant. Did he have my name? Social? DOB? Mother's Maiden Name? Yes to all those, the person told me. I was sufficiently spooked by this that I immediately issued a 90 day Fraud Alert with the three credit reporting agencies. 

PS: GE Capital Bank is the banking corporation behind some 70 retail credit cards, including many that you are probably familiar with: Old Navy, Gap, Lowes, JC Penny, etc. 

January 12: Sunday morning, hanging out with my boy and relaxing. Home phone rings and I answer. Another call from GE Capital Bank, this time for my wife. The woman on the other end of the phone (they call from Dayton Ohio) refuses to tell me anything so I hand the phone over to my wife. 

It seems someone in Texas was able to call up GE Capital bank as my wife, report to the bank that they lost their Old Navy card, and get a replacement card sent -overnight- to Dallas Texas. GE Capital was simply confirming whether or not my wife 1) was in Texas and 2) had spent nearly $4,000 on the card since receiving it. 

By now I'm in full state panic mode. Not only does someone have my essentials (For in America, social security + mother's maiden name + date of birth = keys to the kingdom), they have my wife's too. Not only that, they have both our addresses, including the one we've lived at for only two months. 

So I insist on speaking with the GE Capital agent and we chat for a good half hour. I learn the following:

  • The thieves couldn't identify my wife's mother's maiden name and thus failed GE Capital Bank's internal security tests
  • Yet that didn't stop GE Capital from sending a replacement card; indeed, they changed Mother's Maiden Name to match my wife's married last name, Wilson. 

Read that last part again. Let it sink in. The fraudsters failed the test, so the bank changed the rules of the test and let them pass go and collect ~$4,000. 

But a larger question is this: How many times has your Mother's Maiden name changed? 

I asked the woman on the phone the same question, and she was speechless. Why would someone's mother's maiden name change? I insisted. 

During this phone call, the call waiting line beeped. Another call from Dayton. I ignored as I was in the process of getting escalated to a supervisor at GE Capital. (one hour later, I picked up the voice mail: another GE Capital Bank, another fraudulent card application, this time for Lowes under my name). 

I dilligently recorded all the details I could get from the woman and supervisor I spoke with. Citing my own safety, GE Capital refused to give me any specifics about the Texas thieves who were attempting to impersonate me and my wife. I ended the call with a reminder that all names of the representatives I was speaking to would go into my affidavit which I planned to submit to law enforcement authorities in California and Texas. 

January 15: Another notice, but his time at work. American Express sends me an email informing me that my replacement AmEx card (I'm an American Express fan and cardholder for 10+ years) is on its way overnight to Dallas Texas. 

I call American Express as quickly as I can, inform them that this is a fraudelent request that didn't come to me, then spend 35 minutes on the phone grilling the helpful but ultimately useless guy on the other end as to how someone successfully impersonated me. 

"Well sir, whoever this is has your social, your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, and current/former addresses. What do you expect?" is essentially how it went. 

Sensing bullpoop, I ask him what's on file for my Mother's Maiden Name. He says he can't tell me. A strange game of cat 'n mouse commences in which I don't trust him and he doesn't trust me; ryhymes with _______ I hint; no he says. 

Eventually I get him to confess that, again, whoever these thieves are, they've managed somehow to flunk telephone security tests and successfully changed my mother's maiden name to Wilson. 

But no worries, the AmEx guy says. We've already canceled the card. 

January 16: I receive a UPS email noting that my replacement AmEx card is set to arrive today in Dallas Texas. From the UPS tracking log, I get the thieves address. I call a PI in Dallas, ask him whether he'd stake out the address for me, snap photos of the perpetrators, and send me a report with photographs. He wants $60/hour for an unknown number of hours. I hesitate at the cost, and the card -hopefully canceled- gets delivered to a woman at 6:15pm central time. 

January 20: Chase sends me a note. I have one Chase card I use for miscellaneous items. The email is preemptive, the bank is simply notifying me that my Chase card, along with my identity, was harvested in the Target retail theft of 2013. They're canceling my card and sending a new one. 

Here's a few things I've learned from this process:

  • The three credit agencies do report fraud flags to each other. But their assurances that a fraud flag will result in a cessation of credit card offers via US mail aren't true, or at least haven't become true yet
  • It's truly frightening how easy it is to impersonate someone on the phone. I work in IT and have become a fan of dual factor authentication, which I use for my Google, Microsoft, and other accounts (pretty much any service provider who offers it, I use it). The way dual factor authentication works is this: knowing a password is only half the equation. If I try to login to Gmail from a computer I've never used before, Google won't let me in until I verify I'm actually Jeff Wilson by receiving a text message over SMS. 
  • There is no such thinking or even a concept of dual factor authentication over the phone. I asked all these banks if they had any beta programs or increased security programs for card holders; none of them did. GE Capital told me the steepest challenge they issue to callers is "What's your mother's maiden name?" Yet that's a meaningless test when their CSR offer to reset it to whatever the caller requests for it. And I'd argue changing a mother's maiden name on file is a fleetingly small possibility; I can't imagine why it's an option in the first place. 
  • Law Enforcement: Though I haven't completed the affidavit yet, I did call and talk to a Deputy at the SCV Sheriff's station who was very helpful and encouraged me to bring my case down to the Station or he could even arrange for a Deputy to visit me. 

I'll be visiting the station this week with my case. I have phone numbers, addresses, property ownership records (Thanks Dallas County assessor's office!), notes from phone conversations, and more. My goal is to at least get a good copy of a law enforcement report outlining the ID theft against my wife and I, so that I can present it in the future. 

Meanwhile, I'm left gawking at the simple security measures my UK colleague has to go through with his credit cards. Each credit card he has has some form of dual factor authentication: possessing the card is not enough. If he tries to swipe a credit card, he has to enter a pin. Stealing & replicating the magnetic signatures on his card wouldn't be enough either; the card has a special chip in it that's more difficult to imitate. 

I guess American banks simply haven't lost enough money yet to implement a sane system like this. Until they do, know that even if you practice good security with your online accounts, it doesn't take much to impersonate you on the phone and, even worse, huge corporations like Target aren't able to safeguard your data. 

Posted by Jeff Wilson   |   10 Comments »
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Friday, January 24th, 2014 - 11:16am
Tony Strickland, as you probably know, is the Republican former Assemblyman and state Senator who at times represented portions of the SCV. He recently canceled a planned run for Ventura County's 26th CD to run for our 25th CD, which also includes much of the Antelope and Simi Valleys, plus a few thousand people in the northern San Fernando Valley.

This morning, he appeared on KHTS's Hometown Morning Show and was interviewed by host George Cummings. George kept a friendly tone, but asked some pointed questions, including one about this commercial*. You can read Perry Smith's writeup and/or listen here:

Strickland is running the support of outgoing Congressman Buck McKeon, though most of the local GOP support is going to his opponent in the primary, state Senator Steve Knight of Palmdale. Because the 26th was seen as a battleground race (Strickland lost narrowly to Julia Brownley in 2012) he had raised a lot of money in anticipation of a rematch, so there's a lot of money to be spent between now and June.

*It's worth pointing out that Julia Brownley didn't live in the city of LA, but Santa Monica (which, like Santa Clarita, is an LA County suburb that borders LA), and the 25th District actually includes part of the city of LA.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   2 Comments »
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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 - 10:17pm
Photo credit: Ryan Drake, I'm guessing.

As golden shovels lead way to giant novelty scissors, the city's brand new Newhall Ave./Main Street roundabout will get its ribbon cut on Thursday morning.

No oak trees or statues of silent cowboys will rest in its core, but I think it looks pretty nice anyway. Count me as a fan. It looks nice, it ties that part of the neighborhood together well, and science proves all you naysayers wrong.

As though to troll the haters, the city has mixed three caustic elements— roundabouts, video cameras, and drones into one awesome video. Score one for Newhall.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   25 Comments »
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