Sunday, January 31, 2010


With all the rain recently Alice and I decided to finish off our January waterfall hiking trilogy with a visit to Mount Tamalpais and the Cataract Falls Trail.

A slippery slope of mud and rock, the trail follows the path of Cataract Creek as it winds its way down the mountain.

The trail was filled with lots of hikers as we followed the rocky trail. It wouldn't be a hike to a waterfall if I didn't slip at least once in the slick mud.

The water was pounding the creek as it tumbled over rocks, tree branches and cliff faces frothing into small pools along the way. There were plenty of opportunities to stop and photograph the raging current.

It was a great hike and nice finish to January. I have to check out what the weather forecasting groundhog has to say as he will predict our remaining winter weather to see where we can squeeze in a few hikes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Déjà vu

So I found my self looking at an eerily similar scene today. Police officers with rifles pointed at a bank. Police officer responded to another robbery attempt this time at the Bank of Stockton on north Tracy Boulevard.

There were no shots fire at this robbery, just reports of man with scruffy hair and a green getaway car. Employees were evacuated while the bank was searched but the suspect was already gone.

I remember a couple of years ago we had a brief run of armed robberies around town as bank and cell phone stores were robbed at gunpoint. Hopefully things will calm down and we will be back to calmer stories.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shots fired

It is a bad sign when you see more than police car racing down a Tracy street with their lights and sirens on. Monday evening on my way to cover a basketball game I saw the parade of police cars and knew something was up. Turning on my police scanner I heard the call for shots fired at the Bank of America on Grant Line Road. My evening just took a more exciting path.

Two masked men in a carjacked van pulled up to the bank only to be greeted by a security guard who opened fire on them in the parking lot. The pair hopped back into their van and sped down the street ditching their getaway car a dozen yards up on Lammers Road and disappearing into a group of abandoned house near the corner. Police ringed the area and with automatic rifles trained on the buildings began a waiting game to locate the robbery suspects.

I don't think I have ever been to a news scene where that many police officers had automatic rifles out. Everyone was crouched down behind their patrol cares with their rifles trained on the buildings. Officers would run from one car to the next for cover. I could not see any movement from the dilapidated buildings, most of which were abandoned years ago. My shooting position was directly across the street standing in front of the Mongolian BBQ restaurant. I had a great vantage point to the police action just across the street and had a handy steel transformer box to hide behind in case any gunfire should erupt.

Mostly it was just a waiting game in the cold as nightfall descended. Officer stayed crouched behind their cars, weapons at the ready. As it grew dark the patrol cars were pointed to the houses and headlights and spotlights lighting up the abandoned building as they watched for any signs of the suspects. It was an odd scene-a group of heavily armed officers in front of me, me standing on a sidewalk shivering in the cold and a then all the people staring out at us through the glass window of the restaurant. I felt like a fish in an aquarium tank as people would step up to the glass and stare at the police proceedings.

Coming up to 8:00 pm and nearly three hours into this police standoff and the SWAT team cross the road to search the buildings. All lights were turned off and an eerie quiet settled around us. I could see the occasional flashlight from a SWAT officer and the sound of glass and wood breaking as they forced their way into the buildings. After about an hour search of the buildings and tree line with no one found the suspects were assumed to have escaped in a second getaway car as fresh tire tracks were found near discarded clothing.

My near four wait for action in the cold and occasional rain was over. I had some nice shots of the officers in action and the crime scene lock down. I headed home to file a few quick pictures and thaw out from my bank robbery assignment. What a way to start the work week.