News briefs

Robber dies after stabbing himself with screwdriver

A man armed with a screwdriver who robbed an Alberto's restaurant early Tuesday morning died when his get-away bike crashed and he accidentally stabbed himself with the hold-up weapon, Fresno police reported.

The screwdriver severed an artery in his thigh, and he was found in his own blood. Police said he was taken to Community Regional Medical Center at 3:45 a.m. and pronounced dead there. However, the Fresno County Coroner's Office would not confirm the man's death Tuesday afternoon.

Police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said the man held up the restaurant on the east side of Cedar Avenue, near Dakota Avenue, and demanded money. He left with an undisclosed amount, but was found bleeding heavily by his crashed bicycle near Cedar and Farrin avenues.

Officers concluded that his screwdriver had apparently stabbed him in the thigh during his fall.

Dinuba drug suspect arrested

A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drug and gang-related charges during a probation search last week in Dinuba by law-enforcement officers.

David Rivera Jr. of Dinuba was taken into custody Friday night after a search on the 300 block of Dickey Street uncovered about 59 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 90 grams of marijuana, scales and packaging material, the Dinuba Police Department said.

Motorcyclist hurt in crash while merging onto Hwy. 41

A motorcyclist was seriously injured Tuesday when he lost control of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle while entering southbound Highway 41 from Friant Avenue, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The motorcycle struck a raised asphalt berm and then traveled across southbound lanes before hitting a concrete wall in the center of the highway.

The biker then fell from the overpass onto Friant Road and landed on a concrete sidewalk.

Visalia man jailed on drug-possession charges

Jose Escamilla Rodriguez, 22, of Visalia was booked into Tulare County Jail Tuesday on charges of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana for sales, the Visalia Police Department said.

The arrest followed the serving of a search warrant at 316 NE Second St.

Northeast Fresno homes hit by series of garage burglaries

Fresno police are warning the public about a rash of garage burglaries centered in northeast Fresno, and said people should make sure their vehicles, garage and side doors are locked at night.

Police said burglars have most often struck homes north of Herndon Avenue, averaging three to six per week. They have focused on bicycles and on material left inside vehicles.

Tractor stolen in Strathmore

A $12,000 Massey-Ferguson tractor was reported stolen between Friday and Monday at R&D Farms in Strathmore. Tulare County sheriff's deputies said thieves stole the equipment from an orchard near Avenue 208 and Road 224.

Madera deputies warn against 'mystery shoppers' scam

A "mystery shoppers" scam has defrauded at least one Madera County woman, and sheriff's deputies are warning people not to fall for this ruse.

Deputies said the con invites its targets by letter to become special shoppers by using bogus cashier's checks. The checks have a logo of Intercity State Bank.

One Madera County mother of two received a check and was instructed to spend the money but return a share to the company as a good-faith gesture. When she cashed the check at a store, the store personnel discovered the check to be fake and called the Madera County Sheriff's Department.

Richgrove wind machines vandalized, propane released

Vandals broke valves, releasing propane used to fuel wind machines at John Fisher Farms in Richgrove, Tulare County deputy sheriffs reported Tuesday.

The vandals also spray-painted graffiti on the tanks. Damage was estimated at $10,000 from the crime at Avenue 8 and Road 212.

Tulare Co. sex assaults reported

A woman reported a sexual assault at her home in Farmersville about 5 p.m. Monday, and another woman reported she was raped twice in the Pixley area of Tulare County, sheriff's deputies reported Tuesday.

The woman in the Pixley case told deputies she had been attacked twice in the last two weeks by men she didn't know.

Police dog helps take Bulldog gang associate into custody

Michael Brown, 26, a Bulldog gang associate and wanted parolee, was taken into custody Tuesday by Rocky the police dog after he tried to flee the Bulldog Tactical Team, Sgt. Alex Robles said. The arrest took place after officers learned that Brown, who was sought on a grand theft auto warrant, was at a friend's home on the 300 block of East Clinton Avenue.

Rocky captured Brown after Brown jumped a fence. He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center with minor injuries from the dog's bite.

Madera Co. deputies seek suspect in sexual assault

Madera County sheriff's deputies are looking for a suspect in the sexual assault of a woman at the Pilot Truck Stop in May.

Deputies said Gustavo Gonzalez, 26, approached the woman May 15 and offered to help with her disabled car. He asked her to go with him to get parts from a relative, who he said was mechanic.

Instead, deputies said, Gonzalez took the woman to a trailer parked behind a house on Avenue 18, where she was held and assaulted repeatedly. The woman escaped when Gonzalez fell asleep.

Deputies said Gonzalez is 5-foot-4 and 148 pounds, and has tattoos on his chest, arms and back, plus "TW" tattooed behind his right ear. He may have worked for Foster Farms in Fresno.

Anyone with information should call the Sheriff's Department at (559) 675-7770 or Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.


Madera man convicted of assaulting several women

A Madera man was convicted Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court of sexually assaulting several women in central Fresno.

Carlos Smith, 29, was found guilty on 12 counts, including three counts of rape and five counts of oral copulation.