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KGET: Local News

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-More agricultural skills will soon be available to Kern County teens. The Kern High School District Regional Occupational Center has opened enrollment for a new program coming in the Fall, along with one revamped program. 

    The ROC program is now offering a food science class to teach students basic food prep and how food transitions from farm to fork.

    Students will turn this one acre dirt lot at the ROC center into a garden, as they learn how to grow vegetable crops and plant fruit trees. The will also develop a green thumb in this green house and turn the science behind growing crops into a business. Vegetables and fruits will be sold at a student-run farmer's market.

    Each student will receive a food handler certification at the end of the course, preparing them for higher education or jobs after high school.

    Now from food science to computer science, ROC is adding network training to its existing IT Teach course. In addition to computer repair and understanding operating systems, students will now learn how to set up a computer network based on Cisco systems.  

    Once done, students will receive Accent certification, which is an entry level networking certification. They'll be eligible to work at any business in town which operates on a Cisco network system. 

    25-30 students will be in each class. They are open to juniors and seniors and any other open spots will be available to the public. Students have a month left to sign up with their school counselor. 

    Also, ROC will hire an instructor for the food service class in coming months. If you'd like to apply, contact assistant principal Brian Miller at 831-3327. All ROC teachers have prior work experience in the industry in which they teach. 

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Three people were arrested for driving under the influence during a checkpoint in southwest Bakersfield According to police.

    The checkpoint was held Saturday night on Stockdale Highway just west of Highway 99.

    The checkpoint is conducted by the Kern Avoid DUI task force in an effort to reduce the number of people injured or killed in DUI crashes.

    More than 1,400 vehicles were screened according to Bakersfield Police.

    Forty-Three drivers were found without a valid driver's license and 25 vehicles were impounded.

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    TAFT, CA- A fight turned into a stabbing near Taft according to Kern County Deputies.

    It happened at a home in Ford City when a teen got into an argument with Robert Bright, 30.

    The two fought and the 17-year-old was stabbed.

    Friends rushed the teen to the Taft urgent care and he was airlifted to KMC with non life threatening wounds, according to deputies.

    Deputies located Bright at his home in Taft and arrested him. He was booked into the Kern County Jail on 1 count of assault with a deadly weapon.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A man accused of starting a house on fire over the weekend had to be pulled out of the burning home by neighbors, according to the Bakersfield Fire Department.

    The Nicolas Peraza, 32, was taken to KMC to be treated for smoke inhalation.

    After treatment he was arrested and booked into the Kern County Jail on an Arson charge.

    The fire started about 4 Sunday afternoon according to BFD.

    Before the first fire crews could arrive, neighbors pulled Peraza from a front bedroom window.

    Fire fighters were able to put out the fire in about ten minutes but not before $25,000 damage was done.

    No one else was inside the home according to BFD.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Pet owners living in the Bakersfield city limits can get low cost vaccinationsand microchips for their furry friends.

    Bakersfield City Animal Control will have a clinic at Lowell Park on Saturday April 4th from 9 a.m. to Noon. The park is at 800 4th Street.

    All dogs 3 months of age and older can receive a rabies vaccination. The vaccine cost is reduced, however; the licensing fees are regular price. Microchips will be offered FREE to dogs with a valid city license!

    We now offer reduced cost DAPP vaccines at the monthly clinics! To help ensure your puppies health, a series of vaccinations should be given. Additionally, adult dogs should receive annual boosters along with rabies vaccinations and licensing. Puppies should be 6 weeks of age or older and in good health to receive a vaccination.

    For more information, please contact the City of Bakersfield Animal Control Division at (661) 326-3436 or visit us on the web at:

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- KGET will be firing up the barbecue this week for a fundraiser supporting the Kern County Sheriff's Activities League.

    Here's a look at last year's SAL barbecue.

    The organization offers programs to help local kids develop into responsible, productive members of the community.

    The barbecue is Wednesday, April 1, from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.

    It's happening outside our KGET studios at 22nd and L Streets.

    For $5 you can get a hamburger, chips and a drink.

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    BAKERSFIELDCAA worker had to be pulled from a trench after it collapsed on top of himaccording to the Kern County Fire Department.

    It happened just after 10:00 Monday morning near the State Farm Sports Village on Ashe Road.

    The victim's coworkers said the man had been completely buried for about 5 minutes.

    Three workers went into the trench to begin digging out the man before the first rescue crews arrived.

    The man was trapped in dirt up to his chest KCFD said.

    After stabilizing the trenchcrews were able to dig the man out and take him to KMC.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Another drought emergency food distribution is scheduled for Wednesday.

    The CAPK Food Bank will continue distributing Emergency Pre-Packaged Food Boxes to families affected by the drought throughout the month of April 2015.

    Individuals that are eligible to receive a Food Box(es) will be asked to self-certify that they live in a household where drought conditions have caused their underemployment or unemployment.

    They can dial 2-1-1 for assistance on finding the nearest food assistance location.

    Please refer people to our Help/Info line “2-1-1 Kern County” (by dialing 211) for assistance with the Drought Emergency Food Distribution.

    Here is the full list of food distributions that are planned.


    Wednesday April 1, 2015
    WASCO Parks & Rec….5pm-7pm
    1280 POPLAR AVE
    WASCO, CA. 93280

    Friday-April 3 , 2015
    World of Pentecost … 5pm-7pm
    3025 Fairfax Rd
    Bakersfield, Ca 93306

    Monday April 6 , 2015
    OILDALE …Under Grace Fellowship.….. 5pm-7pm
    1705 N. CHESTER AVE
    BAKERSFIELD, CA. 93308

    Wednesday April 8, 2015
    Isaiah’s Sober living .….. 5pm-7pm
    1904 Claredon Street

    Thursday April 9, 2015
    ARVIN VFW ….4pm-6pm
    1025 S. DERBY ST
    ARVIN, CA. 93203

    Friday April 10, 2015
    CAPK Shafter Youth Center.….. 5pm-7pm
    455 E. Euclid Ave
    Shafter, CA 93263

    Saturday April 11, 2015
    9901 VELMA AVE.
    LAMONT, CA. 93241

    Tuesday April 14, 2015
    World of Pentecost … 5pm-7pm
    3025 Fairfax Rd
    Bakersfield, Ca 93306

    Wednesday April 15, 2015
    WASCO Parks & Rec….5pm-7pm
    1280 POPLAR Ave
    Wasco, CA 93280

    Thursday April 16, 2015
    New Life Center….5pm-7pm
    Old Sears Warehouse-4313 Shepard St
    Bakersfield, CA 93313

    Tuesday April 21, 2015
    Valley Faith Fellowship…5pm-7pm
    15570 County Line RD
    Delano, CA 93215

    Thursday April 23, 2015
    ARVIN VFW ….4pm-6pm
    1025 S. DERBY ST
    ARVIN, CA. 93203

    Saturday April 25, 2015
    9901 VELMA AVE.
    LAMONT, CA. 93241

    Monday April 27, 2015
    OILDALE …Under Grace Fellowship.….. 5pm-7pm
    1705 N. CHESTER AVE
    BAKERSFIELD, CA. 93308

    Tuesday April 28, 2015

    Thursday April 30, 2015
    Department of Human Services, front parking Lot….5pm-7pm
    100 E. California Ave
    Bakersfield, CA 93307

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Panama Lane was closed in both directions for more than two hours Monday morning for a crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.

    A witness told officers they saw the driver pass at a high rate of speed before the car hit the power pole.

    The driver suffered minor injuries.

    The pole was severed, only being held up by the power lines.

    CHP shut down both directions of Panama Lane near Enos Lane and Windemere so PG&E crews could repair the damage.

    The roadway reopened around 11 Monday morning.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- For farmers in parched California, it's water allocation time. An annual rite of spring, the state's water authority monitors winter storm runoff and sets water deliveries for customers. Those regional water allotments are cut into chunks and trickle down to small farmers like Mike DeWit, a second-generation rice farmer in Northern California. He proudly grows a medium-grain variety that once cooked is soft, sticky and holds its shape when molded—perfect for sushi rice.

    If you like sushi, there's a good chance you've eaten rice grown by DeWit or his fellow farmers in the Sacramento Valley, the northern end of the Central Valley. About 97 percent of California's entire rice crop is produced in the Sacramento Valley, where the heavy clay-like soil and long warm summer days nurture high-quality medium-grain rice.

    Rice planting will begin in earnest in April. For now DeWit is waiting for his final water allocation numbers, but he knows they will be low. California is stepping into year four of drought, and a second year of severe water restrictions for farmers. Residents can't use hoses to wash cars without shutoff nozzles. Restaurants can only serve water to customers who ask for it. Farmers are reducing acreage and installing more efficient irrigation systems to conserve water. Rice grows submerged in water, so successful rice farming boils down to savvy water management.

    In 2013, DeWit farmed about 1,050 acres. This year, he'll farm between 350 and 380 acres—that's down as much as 66.7 percent in just two years. "We know there's going to be water cutbacks," DeWit said. "I know there's going to be less acreage."
    Economists and researchers so far haven't hit the panic button, and aren't forecasting a widespread spike in consumer food prices. That's in part because of crop diversity. If there's a significant drop in California-grown rice for example, rice farmers in the South might shift some production to fill the gap.
    But everyone knows mountain snowpack levels are low, and many farmers are already hunkering down for another year of water cutbacks. Vast tracts of farmland have been fallowed, which basically means idling cropland to accumulate moisture. Some communities have been short on drinking water.
    Winter storms in December and February did help fill major state reservoirs. But most Northern California reservoirs remain below historical levels for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

    The drought's reach has gripped DeWit and other farmers, and is triggering a cascading effect in the agricultural community. Less water and acreage means "I'm not buying as much fuel, as much fertilizer," DeWit said.

    "I'm not renting another tractor. I had to lay off the driver," he said. Rice mills at the end of the supply chain might process less product. "The ripple effect is a bigger problem for the state."

    At 48, DeWit knows a lot about the land and he's eager to expand his farming skills to the next level. But without water, his hands are essentially tied. "It's frustrating," he said. "I'm almost in survival mode."

    And, oh yeah, it's barely spring. It will only get hotter and drier.

    Facing another year of extreme weather conditions, California Gov.Jerry Brown in mid-March announced a $1 billion emergency drought package. The relief includes funding for safe drinking water and water recycling efforts. Brown is calling on all Californians to cut water use by 20 percent.

    It's still early in 2015 and researchers are calculating the potential impact of this year's drought. Based on data so far, the 2015 California drought could cost roughly $3 billion, compared to $2 billion last year, said Richard Howitt, an agriculture and resource economics expert at the University of California, Davis. This year's drought could also cost more than 20,000 jobs, including in agriculture and food production, said Howitt.

    Other economists peg the state's drought impact so far at around $5 billion. Sectors that will be hit significantly include agriculture and food processing, said Troy Walters, a senior economist at IHS. Beyond those two categories, the impact will be minimal in the near term. "We're not going to see any food inflation into 2015 beyond normal as a result of the water situation," Walters said.

    Looking at some California crops specifically, 2015 regional hay prices may not soften as they are expected to in the rest of the country. There's a good chance there will be less rice acreage overall. And tree nuts, including almonds, will feel more of the drought's impact, said Brandon Kliethermes, a senior economist at IHS. Older, less efficient nut trees are being destroyed.

    With so much uncertainty and water reservoirs down, some farmers are idling land and making more money selling water than planting rice. Some are selling water to Southern California—in a modern-day twist on "Chinatown." The 1974 film, starring Jack Nicholson, depicts the struggle over lucrative water rights. Some Southern California water consumers are offering to pay as much a $700 per acre-foot this year compared to under $300 for the same amount about four years ago, NBC News has reported. (An acre-foot is roughly 325,000 gallons of water. Just imagine a swimming pool that's an acre across and a foot deep.)

    Soaring water prices are a never-ending source of gossip at virtually every local water board meeting up and down the state. "We're like eighth-grade girls," gabbing about water prices, said rice farmer DeWit.

    A land tenant, DeWit does not own the acreage he occupies, which means it's not his call to sell water. A typical rice crop requires about 3 acres and change. So if landowners sell water rights for $700 an acre-foot, for example, that means around $2,000 in their pockets. "I can't come near that in paying rent," DeWit said. "I can't blame a landowner for selling their water."

    The water market is fetching top dollar amid low inventory. The state water agency, the California Department of Water Resources, is on track this year to allocate a mere 20 percent of the requested 4.2 million acre-feet of water for its 22 million residential consumers and 700,000 agricultural customers.

    Toby Ault is a climate scientist at Cornell University. He studies infrequent but consequential weather events like major droughts. Using supercomputers, Ault and other NASA researchers including Ben Cook studied tree rings going back 1,000 years, and compared those records with soil moisture data from 17 different global climate models to peer into the future.
    Their conclusion? A drier world due to rising temperatures from human-induced climate change. By the end of the 21st century, the American Southwest and Great Plains are likely to experience longer and more severe droughts than at any other time during the past 1,000 years, according to research published in February.

    Unless greenhouse gas emissions are reined in, climate change could trigger a so-called megadrought as severe as the droughts that plagued the Southwest in the 1950s—only longer. "This just emphasizes how precious water is, and how we need to manage it on a decades horizon," said Ault, assistant professor at Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "This is a natural disaster that's slowly unfolding."

    And yes, not everyone believes in climate change. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is now a presidential candidate, has compared climate change activists to "flat-Earthers." On the flip side, California isn't going to dry up quickly and crumble like a cracker into the ocean.

    Farmer DeWit's immediate reality is less water. "A new reservoir will not solve our current situation. We would need rain to fill it," he said.

    But DeWit and others in the agricultural business remain a hopeful breed. You have to be, to survive farming's feast and famine patterns. "We will get rain again. And we will have another drought," he said. "I'm thinking of my children's future on the farm."

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Three local Albertsons are closing this week reopening as Haggen Food and Pharmacy.

    The Albertsons at 7900 White Lane, and 3500 Panama Lane will reopen later Tuesday as Haggen Food grocery stores.

    The Albertsons location at 8200 East Stockdale Highway will close Tuesday at 6 and re-open as Haggen Thursday.

    Haggen says it partners with local farmers and producers to offer locally sourced products.

    The company plans to retain current Albertsons employees.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Many local infants will now rest safer at night thanks to the generosity of a local church congregation.

    Bridge Bible Church members collected over 150 portable cribs and other safe sleeping products to help prevent sudden unexplained infant deaths.

    Monday night, they donated those items to the Kern County Network for Children.

    This after 17News aired in in depth story on this issue last month.

    SUID caused 48-percent of infant deaths in Kern County in 2013, according to the Child Death Review Team.

    "They may not have the money to purchase a crib so they may have the baby sleep with the parent or an older sibling. And that increases the chance of a baby dying about 40 times. From either the baby being rolled over on or an accident," said Kim Silva of the Kern County Network for Children.

    Experts say the best way to prevent SUID is by placing an infant on his or her back in a crib, alone.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A planned city hearing to discuss a controversial homeless encampment in central Bakersfield has been canceled.

    Richard Iger from the City of Bakersfield says the owner of the vacant lot on South Union Avenue has signed a waiver admitting to violating the land use code, which allowed a tent city.

    Several dozen people have been living in tents on the property off Daniels Lane.

    Administrators had claimed it poses a health and sanitation risk and that city laws forbid camping in a commercial zone.

    Now, Iger says city crews will clean out the area and tear down a wall that runs against union avenue beginning in the next couple of weeks, but did not give an exact date.

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    Nearly eight years after he was convicted of killing five members of his family and sentenced to the death penalty, the case of Vincent Brothers is headed to appeal.

    Visalia attorney Phillip Cherney filed an opening brief March 19 with the State Appellate Court. All death penalty convictions are appealed by a matter of state law. The Attorney General's office, which will represent the people of California, must now file a response. A spokeswoman for the office declined to comment.

    Brothers, a former Bakersfield school principal, sits on San Quentin's death row for murdering his mother-in-law Ernestine Harper, his wife Joanie Harper, and the couple's three children on July 6, 2003. The murders were committed in cold blood, prosecutor Lisa Green told jurors, with Brothers driving cross-country in a rental car during a trip to Ohio to shoot and slay his entire family in Bakersfield. The motive, Green said, was money: Brothers hoped to start his life anew without alimony or child support payments.

    In the 451-page brief Cherney lays out a host of issues -- many raised during the trial -- to explain why Brothers' conviction should be vacated.

    Chief among them, is the lack of diversity on the jury, Cherney said. In his appellate filing, Cherny complained prosecutor Lisa Green strategically dismissed three potential African American jurors from the pool. The only African American juror who made it to the panel was later kicked off for an undisclosed reason by Judge Michael Bush.

    In the opening brief Cherney calls it systemic discrimination, noting "..the court failed to protect and ensure Brothers' rights to equal protection of the law... and to have a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community."

    "This is an area of real concern for an African American being on trial, being judged essentially by an all white jury," Cherney explained in an on-camera interview with 17 News.

    Green said the African American jurors were dismissed for legitimate reasons. At trial, she raised questions about two of the jurors' positions on the death penalty. The third, she said, was an older juror who might have had some difficulties understanding complicated issues brought up in the case.

    "I think it would be a sad state of affairs, if a jury pool has to reflect an ethnic makeup of a community," Green told 17 News in an on-camera interview. "What the goal always is from a prosecutor's perspective is that you find twelve impartial and fair jurors."

    The five-month trial included numerous biting exchanges between Green and Brothers' defense attorney Michael Gardina. It also included whithering cross examination from Green when Brothers took the stand in his own defense. Gardina died due to complications of a brain tumor in March 2011.

    "From what I have read of this record, and have tried myself, there is no question she is a very aggressive prosecutor," Cherney said. "Whether she crossed the line into misconduct is an issue in this case. I think she did."

    "An appellate attorney (like Cherney) is looking for issues to raise on appeal, he's combing the transcripts," Green said. "As I said earlier, it was a five month trial, and I said a lot of things and so did the defense attorneys."

    Putting Brothers on the stand to testify also was a mistake, Cherney said. He plans to file a separate brief indicating Brothers received inadequate legal advice.

    "This was not a case, for example, where somebody is coming at you with a knife and you have to tell the jury what it is you are experiencing, why it is you are acting in self defense," Cherney said. "I think exposing Mr. Brothers to her cross examination presented some significant problems."

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Charter Communications announced an agreement to buy Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion.

    Bright House is the sixth-largest cable operator in the country, with about two million subscribers in Florida, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and California.

    The deal will make Charter even bigger.

    Charter is involved in the pending huge merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two biggest cable operators in the country.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Kern County is welcoming around two dozen new American citizens today as part of a ceremony honoring the late Cesar Chavez.

    At 11 Tuesday morning officers from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in Fresno came to Bakersfield and performed a naturalization ceremony at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.

    Tuesday is the birthday of the civil rights icon.

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    FRESNO, CA- The Fresno Bee reports a man and woman are dead after shots were fired at a downtown Fresno medical office, Deputy Chief Pat Farmer said.

    The shooting occurred at a pediatrics medical office at S and Mariposa streets in downtown Fresno.

    An armed Asian man entered the office at Sang Pediatrics and shot an employee who police believe was a receptionist, Farmer said.

    The female victim was 33, and the shooter was identified as Moua Neng, 43, of Clovis, Farmer said. The woman’s name was not immediately released pending notification of family.

    Witnesses told police the victim was shot several times at close range. Arriving officers heard a later shot, which apparently was the man taking his own life, Farmer said.

    Police investigated a domestic violence case involving the couple 11 years ago, police said. The couple had several children. Employees told police there was a dispute over child custody, and that a hearing was scheduled for May.

    Medical staff could be seen running down the street after a report of multiple shots fired. Police rescued several people through an office window. Eight patients and eight employees fled the building, police said.

    One witness said she was in the medical office with family members when a man entered, carrying a large shotgun, and began speaking with an employee who was behind the desk.

    After threatening the employee, the man dragged her to the ground, hit her, unwrapped the shotgun “and I guess he was going to shoot,” the witness said. At that point, she fled the office.

    The SWAT team replaced officers in the building, and then police received a call that a woman was trapped inside with three children. They were told to remain inside a locked room.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Bakersfield police released the names of the officers involved in a deadly shooting Friday night involving a man they say raped a woman then set the house on fire.

    Police say Adrian Hernandez, 22, sexually assaulted the woman, who was reportedly his roommate, in the home on Tungsten Street in southwest Bakersfield Friday morning.

    Police said the suspect also tied the woman's hands, tried to drown her in a bathtub, then poured a flammable liquid on her and set her on fire.  The woman was able to free herself and run away. Hernandez then reportedly set the house on fire.

    Around 10 p.m. Friday, officers said they spotted Hernandez driving in Hart Park.  Police said they followed him to Panorama Drive and Union Avenue, where he crashed his vehicle and got out with a gun.  That's when officers shot and killed him. 

    Detectives said they found a BB gun at the scene, which they said resembled a semi-automatic handgun.

    Police identified the officers involved in the shooting Tuesday afternoon as Senior Officer Rick Wimbish, who has 23 years of experience, Officer Edgar Aguilera with three years of experience, Officer Jaime Hayes and Officer Michael Malley, both with eight years experience, and Officer Damian Romero with one and one half years of experience.

    The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, and review by the Critical Incident Review Board.

    This is the third time in less than two years that Senior Officer Wimbish has been involved in a fatal shooting. 
    He was part of the shooting that killed a police informant outside the Sheraton Hotel on California Avenue in September 2013.   

    He was also involved in the shooting on Mt. Vernon and Highway 178 that ended with the death of Ramiro Villegas in November.  However, Wimbish was not among the officers that shot Villegas, but he did deploy a taser.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The officers involved in the officer involved shooting on Thursday, March 19, 2015, have been identified as Detective Kelly Williams, with 7 years of experience, and Senior Officer Daniel Champness with 8 years of experience, both members of SWAT. The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the officer involved shooting investigation and review by the Critical Incident Review Board.

    The two SWAT members shot Robert Burdge during a standoff at a Motel on I-5 and Stockdale Highway.

    Police say Burdge had shot a man at a home on Copa Cabana Court earlier that morning then holed up at the motel.

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    An FBI investigation took place Tuesday afternoon in central Bakersfield at the PG&E substation on Truxtun Avenue.

    PG&E spokesperson Katie Allen said there was a break-in early Monday morning at the facility west of Oak Street but did not say why the FBI was investigating. She did say no service was lost to any customers.

    An FBI spokesperson said she could not comment why officials were at the facility, only that there was an active investigation Tuesday.

    Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Grubbs said police responded to the area for a possible homeless encampment set up in that area, but later declined to comment because it was turned over to the FBI for investigation.

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