RICHMOND

Suspect in drive-by charged with murder

The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office on Thursday charged a 37-year-old Richmond man with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle in the roadway slaying of an acquaintance last weekend.

William Chamberlin fatally shot 33-year-old Samuel Morales on Oct. 13 as Morales was driving at Harbour Way and Ohio Avenue, according to deputy district attorney Mary Knox.

Chamberlin told police that Morales had threatened his estranged wife and children in South San Francisco, but investigators found that the woman had never heard of any threat, Knox said.

On the day of the shooting, Morales was in the process of moving out of a residential shed in which he and Chamberlin had been paying rent to live in separate rooms.

Witnesses recalled that after a brief confrontation in which Chamberlin shouted profanities at Morales and Morales said nothing, Morales got into his vehicle and drove off, Knox said. Chamberlin got into his own car, caught up to Morales and allegedly shot him five times.

Police said Morales managed to drive another three blocks before crashing at Ohio Avenue and Seventh Street.

Chamberlin, who was arrested the following day, did not enter a plea during his arraignment in a Richmond courtroom Thursday afternoon. Bail was set at $2.25 million. He is scheduled to return to court Oct. 24.

-- Malaika Fraley, Staff

LIVERMORE

Finalist selected for Las Positas president

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District trustees have offered the job of Las Positas College president to Dr. Barry A. Russell, the district announced Thursday.

Russell is currently vice chancellor of academic affairs in the office of the chancellor of California Community Colleges in Sacramento. Previously, Russell served as vice president of instruction at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, and as dean of fine arts and communication at both Cerritos and Southwestern colleges in Southern California. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991.

If he accepts the offer, Russell would replace Dr. Kevin Walters, becoming the community college's sixth president.

The decision, reached at the board's meeting on Tuesday, comes at the recommendation of district Chancellor Dr. Jannett Jackson. Details of the contract are still being worked out. The board is scheduled to bring up the matter for final approval at its Nov. 19 meeting.

-- Jeremy Thomas, Staff

ORINDA

Healy named chief of Moraga-Orinda Fire

Interim fire Chief Stephen Healy has been named the new fire chief of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District.

Directors made the appointment Wednesday following a public workshop on staffing reductions.

Healy, 46, was named interim fire chief in July following the resignation of former Chief Randy Bradley, who left the district to head the Modesto Regional Fire Authority. Directors had previously agreed to hire a consultant to help in the search for a new chief, but did not retain a recruiter.

Healy joined MOFD in 2006 as a battalion chief and later served as division chief of operations. He began his career with the Salinas Fire Department as a firefighter-paramedic before becoming a captain.

His appointment followed a public workshop to discuss staffing reductions as the district grapples with a budget shortfall. Officials are also trying to address more than $80 million in pension and health care debt.

-- Jennifer Modenessi, Staff

DANVILLE

Philanthropist speaks about revised memoir

Philanthropist and developer Ken Behring will speak about his revised memoir at the Oct. 30 evening meeting of the Blackhawk Republican Women.

The former owner of the Seattle Seahawks football team who developed the upscale Blackhawk neighborhood will talk about his revised memoir, "Road to Leadership: Finding a Life of Purpose."

Behring founded the Global Health and Education Foundation and the Wheelchair Foundation. He recently pledged $100 million to the Smithsonian Institution and supports the Principal Leadership Institute at UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Behring released in 2004 his original memoir "Road to Purpose: One Man's Journey Bringing Hope to Millions and Finding Purpose Along the Way."

No-host cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club, 599 Blackhawk Club Drive. Tickets are $20. Reservations are accepted until noon on Oct. 28. Contact Marilyn Bradley at marebradley@aol.com or 925-828-2360.

-- Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Staff

SAN PABLO

Industrial park fire burns for four hours

An early morning fire at an industrial park burned for nearly four hours before crews were able to contain it, a fire official said.

No one was injured.

Crews with the Contra Costa County Fire District and the Richmond Fire Department responded at 11:38 p.m. Wednesday to reports of a fire at the Giant Trade Center, located at 209 Center Court, Battalion Chief Bryan Craig said.

The fire was located between building 205-B and 225 Center Court, and was threatening to spread to other structures.

In addition to the blaze, power lines that had been damaged by flames threatened firefighters' progress on containing the fire, Craig added.

The fire was contained at 3:36 a.m. Damage to structures was estimated at $150,000. A cause for the blaze has not been determined.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff

Pleasant Hill

Woman fights off purse snatchers

A woman suffered cuts to her arms after she fought off a would-be purse thief Wednesday night, police said.

The woman was approached from behind by two unidentified suspects who tried to grab her purse at 7:48 p.m. at Camelback Road and Chollo Court, according to Sgt. David Nichols of the Pleasant Hill Police Department.

The woman fought back, refusing to give up her purse, and was shoved to the ground during the scuffle, Nichols said, but the would-be thieves gave up and fled.

The woman's arms were cut as a result of her fall, but she was not seriously injured.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff

Martinez

Man driving stolen Jeep evades police

A man driving a stolen Jeep caused a pickup truck to flip over on Highway 4 before escaping from police Thursday morning.

The wreck and subsequent chase happened at 8:05 a.m. near the Morello Avenue exit, California Highway Patrol Acting Sgt. Chris Brewer said. The Jeep, which Brewer said was stolen in Walnut Creek on Wednesday, was speeding east when the driver tried to change lanes and clipped a tire on the pickup.

The driver of the pickup was not injured seriously, Brewer said, but he was taken to John Muir Medical Center in an ambulance.

The Jeep continued on the highway until the Pacheco Avenue exit, where the man abandoned it. Police searched near the Muir Trail along Pacheco Boulevard but were unable to find him, Brewer said.

Police did not have a description of the Jeep driver.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

PINOLE

Memorial services set for Dr. Joe Mariotti

A public memorial service will take place Nov. 2 for former City Councilman Dr. Joe Mariotti, who died Oct. 5 at the age of 82.

Dr. Joe, as he was popularly known, was an orthopedic surgeon for 30 years, at Brookside Hospital in San Pablo and in Pinole and also was the team physician for the Pinole Valley High School Spartans football team. A founder or member of numerous civic organizations, he was a recognized environmentalist, conservationist and human rights advocate.

Mariotti served on the City Council from 1984-88 and was the husband of former Councilwoman and Mayor Gretchen Mariotti, who died in 2000.

The memorial will be at 1 p.m. in the front yard of Mariotti's home, the historic Bernardo Fernandez mansion, 100 Tennent Ave. at Railroad Avenue.

-- Tom Lochner, Staff