Why the Low-Flying Helicopter? The First to Know Found Out on Facebook

Castro Valley residents who turned to Facebook found out faster than anyone else why unmarked police cars and a helicopter were causing alarm last Thursday evening in downtown Castro Valley.

That low-flying helicopter and those speeding police cars last Thursday evening sent many Castro Valley residents straight to their Facebook pages, where they outdid professional news organizations in pooling information about what happened. 

Did the incident make any news pages that day or the next? No, but meanwhile, residents were asking, looking and finding the answers themselves.

A 5:51 p.m. Sept. 1 post by on his CV Legends fan page on Facebook drew 72 comments, several of them hilarious, some of them about racism and a few with salient facts about the incident.

The Contra Costa Times today reported that two of the four teenagers involved were arrested—on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of weapons and evading officers.

But check out these eyewitness accounts from Castro Valley residents on Facebook. Here are highlights from those posts:

Sheila Higgins Wright White honda crashed into the curb on the corner of Redwood Rd and CV Blvd at the Chevron station. All 4 doors were left open and the cops were on pursuit. Must have been at least 8 cop cars and a helicopter too.

Jaimie DeWitt I was sitting at redwood and seven hills at about 445. I saw a white car coming down redwood from the golf course. One Sheriff and one CHP following them. As my light turned green to turn the white car with four male passengers floored it through the intersection with police cars following and helicopter over head. As I deemed safe to turn I saw another CHP coming up over the top of redwood trying to catch up.

Steve Lambert I was in the vehicle that was hit by the stolen car being chased by the CHP on redwood road. Because they shredded a tire driving down the side of my vehicle they ended up wrecking on the far side of redwood road by the chevron station. 3 of the guys fled and one was aprehended in the stolen car. There was a helecopter overhead for a long time along with about 20 police cars all around the area. I was told the situation started in the east bay parks but I don't know what started it. I only know I was part of the finish...

JoAnn Walsh Zucca ‎the one that flew over (almost next to) my house was identified as being a East Bay Parks Dept. chopper when I questioned the sheriff's dept. about it flying so low in a residential area.

There were also comments about a bank robbery, but as the discussion continued, that story faded and the stolen car story stuck. The conversation continued for six hours until almost midnight.

Sept. 6 Contra Costa Times story attributes the following details to Capt. Mark Ruppenthal of East Bay Regional Park District police:

  1. The five-mile car chase started at Willow Park Public Golf Course near Lake Chabot.
  2. The Honda Accord was stolen in Oakland.
  3. Two handguns were thrown from the vehicle as it wove in and out of traffic along Redwood Road amid rush-hour traffic.
  4. One teen was captured immediately and a resident tackled a second teen in the nearby Lucky store parking lot.
  5. One of the arrested teens had an outstanding warrant for armed robbery and is being held at Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro. The other juvenile was released to his parents.

A Castro Valley Patch call to the East Bay Regional Parks District late Tuesday has not yet been returned. An earlier call to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it was a parks district case.

Thomas Clarke September 07, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Let's see, the cops determine the car is stolen, a chargeable felony. The driver runs from the police, another felony. Guns are thrown from the car, a felony. Loaded guns are in the possession of minors, a misdemeanor. Driving at excessive speed, a couple of points on the driver's license. Outstanding felony warrant. One of these darlings is released to his folks? The other is in juvenile hall? Something is really wrong with the system. All of these darlings should be in juvenile hall while the District Attorney determines which ones are juveniles and which ones are adults. Hopefully these circumstances will change and they will all be in jail for a while. At the very least there should be an enormous amount of community service and fines of great amount based on what they did.
Joanne Montesano September 07, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Agree with Thomas Clarke, but at least they no longer have guns. That may save some lives. However, I imagine it won't be too difficult for the "little darlings" to obtain new ones.


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