Since last we met, Escondido-San Marcos-Valley Center has been the scene of some wild time, criminally speaking and otherwise. A bittersweet tale at best, tragedy and crime, some deadly and others of the head-scratching variety have been in the news. Here are some of the highlights and — shall we say — lowlights of the last few weeks.
Skylar Tosic still missing
Continuing to confound family and friends, Skylar Peterson “Sky” Tosic has gone missing and can’t be found. Despite numerous efforts to locate the Escondido lad, he seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth, friends and family say.
The mild-mannered 20-year-old Palomar College student disappeared on Sunday, Aug. 30. He was last believed to be near the Wild Animal Park somewhere around the San Pasqual Agricultural Preserve that features broad farms and imposing cliffs.
Before disappearing seemingly into the thin San Pasqual Valley air, Tosic reportedly engaged in a series of troubling behaviors. First, he lost a great deal of weight and went from being an attentive, engaged youth to a detached person espousing questionable religious ideology.
Just before disappearing, Tosic called a close relative whom he hadn’t spoken to in years, citing obscure scripture. Tosic told the relative he wouldn’t be talking to him again.
Tosic apparently took an Uber ride just before August 30 to a spot along the highway near the park, about six miles east of downtown Escondido on the road to Ramona. There, he got out and disappeared.
Sometime later, Tosic was found dehydrated and passed out in a bed at San Pasqual Academy, a residential education campus for foster teens about five miles from the Wild Animal Park. He was returned home where he disappeared again. That’s the last time he was seen.
Tosic is 5’11”, 100 pounds with hazel eyes and light brown hair. He has mouth braces and acne. Anybody with any information about his whereabouts or conditions is asked to contact Escondido Police at (760) 839-4722.
5-hour SD Sheriffs SWAT standoff starts with murdered turtle at San Marcos mobile home
Around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, a 27-year-old San Marcos man touched off a touchy incident at Rancho Vallecitos Mobile Estates, 3535 Linda Vista Dr., San Marcos. First, he killed his mother’s turtle. Then, he threatened to kill his mother. Nearby homes were evacuated during a five hour standoff ended by the San Marcos Sheriffs SWAT Team with tear gas.
After about a five hour standoff with the San Marcos Sheriff’s SWAT Team took suspect David Nelson into custody shortly after 3:30 p.m. Deputies used flash grenades, then had to throw tear gas into the mobile home in order to take Nelson. His mother was unharmed.
The mother was not identified by name, but was said to be in her 50s. They argued and Nelson threatened suicide by cops, according to sheriff’s Lt. Dave Schiller.
After Nelson said he was going to become famous for killing people, his mother escaped the home and called 911, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Nanette McMasters. She said her son was high on drugs and killed her small pet turtle.
Nelson told deputies they would have to shoot him, McMasters said. The SWAT team came on scene around 2 p.m., then threw tear gas canisters through Nelson’s bedroom window, officials said.
The turtle incident was just the latest for Nelson, whom authorities described as mentally disturbed. Authorities said he had caused disturbances in the past at the mobile home park.
Nelson was being held on suspicion of making terrorist threats. Further information as available.
This breaking news alert illustrated the new form of information aggregation techniques as word, and update, of the incident circulated through real-time social media.
Why steal from an ATM when you can steal the ATM? SD County sees ATM theft spree
Chito’s Taco Shop at Del Lago Boulevard and Interstate 15 near Westfield North County in the early morning hours of Dec. 17 was the latest in a new type of brazen crime wave striking San Diego County since June.
The same thing happened Nov. 6 at a Tierrasanta Chase Bank branch. And Oct. 6 at an Otay Mesa CVS Pharmacy and nearby check cashing store.
Not to mention Sept. 21 at a Carmel Valley Rite Aid, Aug. 31 at a Poway Rite Aid, June 16 at a
Santee Walgreens, June 11 at a Rancho Penasquitos CVS Pharmacy and June 3 at the same store.
Why stop there? Local thieves have figured it’s better to haul away the entire ATM machine than mess with taking the money from the ATM machine itself or robbing a customer.
Other ATM theft attempts have yielded mixed results. The November Tierrasanta Chase ATM was found later, abandoned on a flatbed truck resulting in the arrest of one man. The two Otay Mesa ATM’s went unrecovered as well as the two Rite Aid machines taken in late summer.
The June 16 Santee Walgreens ATM caper didn’t work out for the thieves who tethered a chain to the truck to try and drag out the ATM. They left without the ATM although the chain remained tied around the offending machine.
The June 11 Poway CVS ATM smash-and-grab attempt came up empty. The June 3 Rancho Penasquitos CVS attempt also went awry. Deputies later found the suspects’ truck abandoned on a freeway ramp.
Actually, this smash-and-ATM-grab crime wave has been gaining momentum since the 2007-08 recession, not only locally but across North America from Vancouver to Miami.
Thieves try twice a week on average to steal machines around Dallas, according to the Dallas Morning News. They have hit convenience stores, hotels, gas stations, pharmacies and restaurants in all sections of the city. The New York Post earlier this year reported on a gang of ATM bandits who stole 73 machines over the 12 months, netting hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Thief wigs out with Grand Avenue wig shop crime wave
A brazen young thief was caught by surveillance cameras in the act early Wednesday, Jan. 13 of robbing HQ Too Wigs on Grand Avenue. At least a half-dozen wigs valued at more than $300 were taken in the Wednesday robbery.
As shocking as that action was, it also represented the third break-in at the shop since just before Christmas. Each time, this thief, or other thieves, apparently picked and chose among the wigs, leaving some and taking others with some kind of plan in mind.
“Every two weeks since just before Christmas, the store windows have been shattered and stuff stolen,” Tim McClintic, son of wig shop owner Cathy Ketchum, said. ”The first time was two weeks before Christmas, then Christmas Eve and now around 2 a.m. Wednesday. We think it was a mentally challenged kid trying to impress his girlfriend or something.”
Making these particular thefts even more troubling is the very nature of Ketchum wig shop. She opened HQ Wigs TOO at 105 W. Grand Avenue in July. Four hundred wigs, mainly for cancer patients, later, Ketchum provides wigs with empathy, wanting to do her part in making people feel better about themselves even with hair falling out due to chemotherapy and various cancer treatments.
Escondido Police Officer Christopher Dare has been working the case. anyone with information is asked to call Dare at (760) 839-4722 or contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Terrorism Alert: Cal State University San Marcos underwent ‘active shooter drill’
In the fake is real department and better to be prepared than surprised scenario, Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) drills took place in and around the University Student Union, 333 Twin Oaks Valley Road..
Residents and motorists may have noticed emergency vehicles, including medical helicopters, ambulances, fire trucks and patrol cars on campus and in the surrounding community. Traffic control measures will be implemented throughout campus.
CSUSM University Police Department along with the San Marcos Fire Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and City of Escondido Fire and Police Departments, Palomar Hospital, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Rady Children’s Hospital were scheduled to participate.
Due to the increase of active shootings and recent tragic events such as those in San Bernardino, California.; Paris, France; Roseburg, Oregon and Colorado Springs, Colorado, CSUSM has made it a priority to ensure the campus community is well prepared for an active shooter emergency, “Margaret Chantung, CSUSM communications director said.
“The safety and welfare of our campus community is our highest priority,” said Robert McManus, CSUSM chief of police. “Conducting and planning for this exercise will allow us to assess our emergency response, interagency coordination and recovery efforts after such an event.”
Wheelchair-using man killed by truck in Palomar Medical Center parking area
Death is never far from a hospital, but in the case of James Donaldson, 63, of Oceanside, death came at a Palomar Medical Center parking area.
Donaldson died as a friend pushed him across the emergency room’s parking area’s front entrance street at 2185 Citracado Parkway, just before 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, according to Escondido police.
An 89-year-old man, later identified as John Marin of San Marcos, in a white 2000 Toyota Tacoma truck suddenly sped his vehicle forward striking Donaldson and his friend, according to Escondido police Lt. Mike Kearney.
Donaldson and his 67-year-old friend, Elena Cendejas, also of Oceanside, were just outside the medical center’s front doors when struck. Hospital staff immediately rushed to their aid. Donaldson died of his injuries while Cendejas was hospitalized in stable condition.
Marin, the driver, was examined at the scene and found uninjured, police said.
Escondido police were asking anyone with information about the crash to contact Officer Russ Gay at (760) 839-4470.