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KPAY News Archives for 2020-01

A Man Charged with Fatal Boat Crash Gives His Plea

31-year-old Brandon Smith, formally of Chico, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of vehicular manslaughter in the operation of a vessel while intoxicated and and Operation of a vessel while under the influence causing great bodily injury.

The crash happened in 2018 when the speed boat Smith was said to be operating collided with the shoreline of the North Fork of Lake Oroville. According to the Butte County District Attorney's Office, 27-year-old Walter Gerken was ejected from the boat - killing him. A woman was also ejected from the boat and sustained major injuries to her leg. Park Rangers determined that Smith was intoxicated.

His sentencing is set for April 2, 2020 where he faces 7 years in state prison.

5 People Arrested in Butte County

The arrests stem from a hit and run incident in Gridley earlier this month. The prime suspect was 42 year old Jeremy Justeson of Gridley for the assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities served a warrant on the 700 block of Cowee Avenue in Gridley and apprehended three individuals for various crimes but not Justeson. He was found later with an Oroville woman in Oroville and taken into Custody. Justeson was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon along with other crimes as were the other four suspects. 

3 Sacramento Men Arrested in Butte County

Deputies responded to a report of a robbery at a residence on Happy Hollow Lane in Forbestown Monday night. The victims told deputies that three men came to their residence to purchase marijuana and that one of the men allegedly pulled a firearm -- then took a large amount of marijuana. Deputies spotted the suspected vehicle and after a brief chase, the car pulled over. Deputies searched the vehicle and reportedly found 75 pounds of marijuana along with over 50 thousand dollars. According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, three men from Sacramento were arrested on various charges.

Chico Assault and Kidnapping

Chico Police make an arrest after a two week investigation into a an attack on a woman by a bottle wielding man. 34-year-old Tommy Hazelton was arrested Wednesday for an assault and kidnapping attempt earlier this month. Police say a woman was sitting in her vehicle waiting for take out food on Mangrove Avenue after 2 am on January 15th when a man allegedly opened her driver's side door, threw a bottle at her, and pulled her out of the vehicle. According to Chico Police, the victim, however, was able to escape. During the investigation police identified the suspect as Hazelton.

A Man is Arrested After Barricading Himself into a Chico Store

Officers arrived to the 7-11 on Walnut Street after 1:30 am after employees reported a man who they say was acting erratic locked himself in the bathroom allegedly armed with an edge weapon. Authorities attempted to have the suspect, Denise Bryant peacefully exit the bathroom, but he refused to leave. After an hours long stand off officers sent in a K-9 and he surrendered to authorities. According to Chico Police, the store was flooded after Byrant damaged the bathroom.

Air Quality Index For Chico

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency says Chico has the 6th most polluted air in the country for a small city. The E.P.A. measured what's known as the Air Quality Index for small, midsize and large metropolitan areas. According to a press release, the index found Chico was 6th among small cities, and has only 152 good air quality days a year.

Bill to Help Freelancers Who Serve Vulnerable Communities

Republican lawmakers say AB 5 that went into effect this month forces independent contractors, in the state, to be put into an employee category.

According to a press release from California Senate Republicans, SB 875 co-authored by several Republicans in both the State Senate and Assembly including North State Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher would allow freelance translators and interpreters to remain as independent contractors in order to continue to serve members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

A Fatal Shooting Victim Found at a Chico Motel Has Been Identified

41 year old John David Noonan of Oroville was found Thursday afternoon lying on to floor of one of the rooms suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to the Chico Police Department, no arrests have been made at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

Chico Drug and Firearm Arrest

An officer made a traffic stop on a vehicle at the intersection of Pillsbury Road and Cohasset Road before 10:30 Sunday night. During the search of the vehicle a K-9 reportedly detected marijuana and a large amount of Oxycodone pills along with other pills. Officers also found a digital scale, drug packaging materials and a handgun. According to Chico Police, the driver, 21-year-old Kyle Silva-Larva of Chico was arrested for various drug and firearms charges.

Chico PD Investigating Allegations of Sexual Assaul

Officers responded to a report of an alleged sexual assault involving a LYFT driver the occurred Wednesday. The case has been forwarded to the Chico Police Department's Detective Bureau which is actively conducting an investigation.

Chico Police say the are not providing any additional information at this time.

Chico Fatal Shooting Investigation

Medics arrived to the Motel 6 on Manzanita Court before 12:30 Thursday afternoon where they found the victim who was suffering from gunshot wounds. According to the Chico Police Department, the unidentified victim was taken to the hospital where they were pronounced dead. Chico Police detectives have taken over the investigation. Police say no arrests have been made at this time.

Right of Entry Forms Deadline Extended

Those affected by the Camp Fire now have until February 21st to get in those right of entry forms to remove hazardous trees. Much like the debris removal, the forms can be for either the government tree removal or the private hazard tree removal. Of Note: even if you've had trees removed, you must be enrolled in one of the programs to be confirmed by the town of Paradise or Butte County. Forms or Access forms can be submitted at the Paradise Branch of the Butte County Library or at the processing center in Oroville at 205 Mira Loma Drive.


The Tree ROE and Inspection Access Form are available for download online at

Winter Chico Street Crimes Unit Week 5

More than a dozen arrests were made during week 5 of the Chico Police Department's Street Crimes Unit. Last week the team made 14 arrests. Most of those arrests were for drugs and active warrants.
According to Chico Police, during the Chico State and Butte College Winter Intersession the Street Crimes D Unit is deployed to address street level crime that affects the quality of life in the City Chico.

Criminal Threats Arrest

Criminal threats sends one Chico man behind bars. Officers were dispatched to Seven Eleven on Forest Avenue around 4 Sunday morning after reports of an armed robbery. Officers learned that no robbery had taken place, but that a man had allegedly made criminal threats against the employee who also reportedly saw a knife on the suspect before he fled the store.

Officers found the man, identified as 22-year-old Michael Gardenhire near the corner of East 20th and Notre Dame Blvd. and reportedly found him in possession of a knife, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, and a fake firearm. According to the Chico Police Department, Gardenhire was arrested for criminal threats and weapons charges.

Chico Bike Path Robbery

Officers arrived to the bike path near the five hundred block of Nord Avenue before 8:30 Saturday night where they found a man bleeding from the head. The victim told officers that his property had allegedly been stolen by a man armed with a handgun. The victim had also reportedly been beaten with the handgun and was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Officers found the a man they believed to be the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Kaleb Bunch nearby. According to Chico Police, officers searched him and reportedly found a B-B gun that looked like a revolver. Bunch was arrested for the robbery.

Federal Judge Tells PG&E to Hire More Tree Trimmers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge is threatening to force Pacific Gas & Electric to hire more tree trimmers to reduce the chances of its electrical grid igniting fires in Northern California. The judge notified PG&E on Thursday that he expects more precautions to be taken. It comes a day after the San Francisco company acknowledged that as many as 22,000 trees may still be creating fire hazards. The judge is overseeing requirements imposed on the nation's largest utility after its natural gas lines blew up a neighborhood a decade ago. PG&E has asserted it can safely maintain the millions of trees in its territory.  

Vehicle Stop in North Chico Leads to Arrests

Officers with the Street Crimes Unit were about to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle near the intersection of Pillsbury Road and East Avenue around 7:45 Thursday night when they learned the vehicle had been reported stolen. Officers then boxed in the driver at the Taco Bell drive thru. Officers searched the vehicle where they reportedly uncovered methamphetamine and a loaded rifle. According to the Chico Police Department, officers arrested the driver, 33-year-old Joseph Baker for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The passenger, Britteny Bell, was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Town of Paradise Weekly Update

The deadline to enroll for the Government Tree Program and the Private Tree program is tomorrow, Friday 17th. According to the Town of Paradise website, property owners must enroll in one or the other to remove hazard trees from their property that could fall in a public right of way. For more information on the program you can visit: butte county recovers dot org and then click the tree removal tab.


The council voted at Tuesday's meeting to hire an engineering firm to complete the preliminary engineering and environmental assessments for the town's sewer project.


Council members also voted to allow R-V storage on residential property with a temporary use permit. According to town officials, the permit will be issued at no charge.


730 Building Permit Applications have been received and 499 Building Permits have been issued.

32 Homes have been Rebuilt.


For a full list of updates you can visit:

A Missing Oroville Woman Has Been Found

68-year-old Paula James, who was reported missing last Thursday, was found in the Butte Meadows area around noon Wednesday. This after a Butte County Sheriff's Sergeant in a helicopter spotted a vehicle about three miles from the Bambi Inn. According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, her Toyota 4-Runner was found 150 yards off of the road covered in snow. James was transported to a local hospital and is currently in stable condition.

Chico Warming Center Activated Tonight

A forecast of High winds and significant rain in Chico has prompted the activation of the emergency warming center tonight. The warming center will be open in the dinning room space of the Jesus Center on 1297 Park Avenue. The center will be open from 5 pm this evening to 6:30 tomorrow morning. According to the Chico City Manager's office, there will be restrooms and hydration for those seeking a respite from the stormy weather.

The Search Continues for a Missing Oroville Woman

68-year-old Paula James was last seen Thursday of last week at her home in Oroville. Authorities say James suffers from dementia and may have become disoriented. Search teams have been reported to be looking for her in the Megalia area.

James is described as a white female, with brown hair, and blue eyes. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds. According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, she is driving a silver 2018 Toyota 4-Runner with a license plate number: 8FCS521. Authorities say if you see James or her Toyota to call 911.


A Wanted Oroville Man Was Spotted in Chico

Robert Garcia Jr. was reportedly seen driving away in a GMC truck from the Home Depot in south Chico before 1 Tuesday afternoon. After he was spotted by officers Garcia reportedly began driving erratically in the truck, which police say was stolen out of Oroville. For safety reasons officers choose not to chase the truck. Police say, Garcia's truck allegedly struck an Toyota 4-Runner before an officer spotted it on The Esplanade near Cohassett Road. The occupants of the Toyota were not injured in the crash. Garcia was caught and arrested after a brief foot chase with officers. According to the Chico Police Department, Garcia allegedly admitted that he had consumed a quarter ounce of methamphetamine earlier that day.

Erik's Law Update

A plan by two North State Legislators to crack down on juvenile murderers was voted down Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. AB 665--known as Erik's Law--by Assemblyman James Gallagher and Senator Jim Nielsen would have reformed recently passed legislation to ensure juvenile murderers not be automatically granted a parole hearing. The legislation is named for Erik Ingebretsen who was murdered in 1997 by someone he thought was his best friend. 

PG&E Scam Calls Alert

PG&E has received reports of scammers calling customers claiming to be from the utility requesting payment on past due utility bills with gift and cash cards. Carl Schoenhofer, Senior Manager of PG&E's North Valley Division says when callers request payment with a gift card that should raise a red flag. He says PG&E will NOT ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone. According to the press release from PG&E, the scammers are using phone numbers with a caller ID that says PG&E or Pacific Gas & Electric and that some scammers know the names of the specific names of customers.

Customers with concerns are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

Erik's Law Presented Today

North State Assemblyman James Gallagher and Senator Jim Nielsen will present legislation they say keeps convicted murders in prison. Gallagher and Nielsen will present Erik's Law in front of the Assembly Public Safety Committee today that would reform recently passed legislation to ensure that juvenile murderers found to be unrehabilitated by a judge shall not be automatically granted a juvenile parole hearing. According to a press release from Assemblyman Gallagher's office, this change allows second chances and the opportunity to re-enter society for juveniles who demonstrated change and remorse, while catching those who are a irreparably sociopath by nature and are likely to victimize again.

Oroville Man Arrested For Drugs Now Faces Additional Charges

24-year-old Eric Becerril was one of three individuals arrested at a residence on V-C Road December 8th for drug sales and felony child endangerment. Two female juveniles where reportedly located at the home under the influence of heroin. During the course of the investigation sheriffs detectives determined that Becerril was having sexual contact with a minor. Three felony counts of sexual unlawful intercourse with a minor was added to his earlier charge of maintaining a residence where narcotics are used and sold. According to the Butte County Sheriffs Office, Becerril was already in custody for the original charge.

Armed Bank Robbery Suspect Arrest

The robbery happened last Monday morning at the Wells Fargo Bank on East Avenue. During the investigation Chico Police say they received critical information about the suspect and his vehicle from witnesses after the robbery occurred. Detectives used surveillance video to provide a partial license plate number which lead police to search two different locations where they say the found evidence allegedly linking the robbery to Kevin Miers. According to Chico Police, Miers was found late last week and was arrested for a single count of robbery.

The Chico Police Department thanks the initial witnesses along with the Oroville Police Department for their help with the investigation.

Chico Police Detectives are still conducting a follow-up investigation and are asking anyone with information to contact the Chico Police Department's Detective Bureau at (530) 897-5820.


Reckless Discharge of a Firearm and Animal Cruelty Arrest

Reports of yelling and gunfire send to police to a Chico neighborhood Sunday night. Officers arrived to the 16 hundred block of Filbert Avenue before 6:30 pm where they found a man being detained by a neighbor. Officers also reportedly found a firearm in the yard of one of the homes in the area. Officers learned that 52-year-old Michael Marzolf had allegedly shot and killed a dog before going to his neighbor's residence and fired several more shots into the house. Police say no one was home at the time of the incident. According to the Chico Police Department, Marzolf was in an alleged delusional state and was taken to the hospital before he was arrested for animal cruelty and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Chico Stabbing & Carjacking Arrest and Street Crimes Unit Week 4

A man is in custody after a stabbing and attempted carjacking in Chico. Officers were sent to the 29 hundred block of Burnap Avenue around 5:30 Friday night where they found the victim and he was transported to the hospital for a non-life threatening stab wound. While officers were in the area they say they heard a woman screaming. Soon after a woman drove up to officers and reported that a man matching the description of the stabbing suspect had allegedly punched her in an attempt to take her car. The suspect, 26-year-old William Castor was found and arrested for attempted carjacking. The stabbing is still under investigation.


Meanwhile, Castor was one of multiple people arrested by the Street Crimes Unit last week. The Street Crimes Unit made 36 arrests during week 4 since being activated during Chico State and Butte College's Winter Intersession. Many of those arrests for drugs and outstanding arrest warrants. According to Chico Police, the Street Crimes Unit focuses on Quality of Life Crimes that affect residents of Chico.

Chico Burglary Arrest

A 45 year old man is in custody on burglary and other charges. A security guard reported Friday morning that a man had allegedly broken into a club house at an apartment complex on 1661 Forest Avenue. After refusing to come out a K-9 was used to apprehend the suspect, identified as David Markoe. According to Chico Police, Markoe was bitten by the K-9 but sustained only minor injuries. He was arrested for burglary, resisting a peace officer and assaulting a Police K-9.

Herbicide Spraying to Begin Today in Butte County

The annual spraying covers a 6 to 8 foot area along roadsides to keep the road edges and ditches free of noxious weeds which, also reduces fire risks and keeps drainage ditches clear to prevent future flooding. According to county officials, trained and licensed operators will do all spraying in strict compliance with the Butte County Agricultural Commissioner requirements.

If you'd rather not have the County perform roadside spraying adjacent to your property, you are urged to contact the Butte County Department of Public Works to arrange for a "no spray" agreement. For a list of roads being treated you can go to butte county dot net.

Butte County Murder Investigation and Drug Trafficking Organization

While Butte Sheriffs Detectives were looking into the shooting death of Jacob MacArthur in Oroville, back in December. Upon a follow up investigation detectives learned that the death was connected to the illegal sales of marijuana. It was also learned that 39 year old Shiana Burnette of Chico was the alleged head of a drug trafficking organization and their investigation also led them to find child pornography. Detectives served multiple search warrants where they found 33 hundred pounds of packaged marijuana, 10 guns, over a hundred thousand dollars in cash and other items. 6 Butte County residents: 4 from Chico, 1 from Oroville, and 1 from Concow were arrested on various charges.


Chico Bank Armed Robbery

Chico Police received a report of an armed robbery that had occurred at Wells Fargo Bank on East Avenue around 11 am. Officers arrived and learned that a masked man had entered the bank, allegedly armed with a handgun and demanded cash from multiple bank tellers. The suspect then left with undisclosed amount of money. Witnesses said they saw the man running east bound on East Avenue. According to Chico Police, the suspect is described as a male with a medium build. Not much else is known about the suspect as he was wearing a mask, sunglasses, and a cap.

Chico Police Department's Winter Street Crimes Unit Week 3

Chico Police find a wanted man out of Sutter County. 56-year-old Melvin Mikell was arrested Sunday after officers conducted surveillance in Chico Sunday. Mikell was wanted for a felony warrant for terrorist threats in Yuba City. Mikell was one of 24 people arrested this week by the Chico Police Department's Chico Police say the Street Crimes Unit has been reactivated during Chico State's and Butte College's winter intersession.

A Suspect Assaults a Chico Police Officer Saturday Night

An officer attempted to stop a man on a bicycle in the area of East 9th and Oleander avenues after 8:30 PM, but the man reportedly fled away on the bike. After a brief pursuit the officer caught up to the suspect, identified as 31-year-old Juan Orr. He then allegedly punched the officer and attempted to pull the officer's gun from his holster. Another officer arrived and prevented Orr from pulling the gun. According to Chico Police, Orr was taken to the hospital where he allegedly tried to escape forcing an officer to use his baton on him.

A Witness to a DUI Ends Up Getting Arrested

Chico Police officers were dispatched to the parking lot of Winco Foods arround 4:30 Wednesday afternoon where they found multiple witnesses who directed them to a white sedan that had been driven by 71-year-old Roy Shields. He was taken to the hospital for a preexisting medical condition. Shields was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence.

An officer spotted one of the witnesses, identified as 36-year-old Johnathan Ryan in his pickup reportedly injecting what appeared to be heroin into his arm. According to Chico Police, 6 grams of heroin was allegedly found and Ryan was arrested for drug possession.


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