Video store robbed at gunpoint
For the second time in a month, a Lodi video store was robbed shortly after it opened Thursday morning.
Around 10:08 a.m., a man called police from Hollywood Video, 2418 W. Kettleman Lane, to report that he had just been robbed at gunpoint.
The suspect, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, ordered the employee to open the cash registers and safe, then told him to go to a back room, Lodi police Officer Mike Manetti said.
The suspect then fled from the store with an undisclosed amount of money. The victim was not injured.
The incident was nearly identical to one that happened the morning of Nov. 30 at Blockbuster Video, also located on West Kettleman Lane.
Though police initially thought the two incidents were related, they now believe the suspects were not the same person, due to a difference in accents, Detective Leo Ramirez said.
In the November incident, the suspect was wearing black and wielding a knife, police said.
The suspect in Thursday's robbery was described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s, 140 pounds and about 5-feet-5-inches tall. He was wearing a white stocking cap, black jacket, black pants and white shoes, a surveillance video viewed by police shows.
Anyone with information may call the Lodi Police Department at 333-6727.
DUI checkpoint tonight, two more scheduled
The Lodi Police Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint tonight at an undisclosed location, the first of three scheduled over the next two weeks.
The checkpoints are part of a national program called "You Drink & Drive, You Lose," and are funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
In 2001, Lodi had the highest number of DUI arrests among 92 cities with similar populations, Lodi police said. The goal of the checkpoints is to stop and arrest drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A second checkpoint will be conducted Tuesday, and the third will be held Jan. 3. Three more checkpoints will be held in June and July.
The police department encourages people who may be drinking to designate a driver. Fines, attorney fees and insurance increases can total about $10,000, according to police estimates.
No injuries in drive-by shooting
Nobody was injured Wednesday night after a drive-by shooting on School Street around 10 p.m.
Shots hit a parked vehicle and School Street Bistro, 116 N. School St., and the suspect vehicle fled before police arrived.
Police think the incident might be gang-related, though the victim is not a gang member, Lodi police Sgt. Lance Hayden said.
Council approves resolution, discusses TCE audit
In the final hours of Wednesday's regular City Council meeting, members completed the agenda, voting on several items including a resolution to support a ballot initiative.
The November 2004 measure is designed to increase local control over local tax dollars. It is being sponsored by the League of California Cities, a statewide lobbying organization.
Also at the meeting, new Mayor Larry Hansen provided council members with an update on the audit examining invoices relating to the city's ongoing contamination litigation. The city sued 15 businesses, including the News-Sentinel, and their insurance companies to force them to clean up TCE pollution in the city's groundwater.
Hansen, who placed the item on the agenda, also reinforced moving forward with the audit, City Clerk Susan Blackston said.
Before adjourning at 12:10 a.m. Thursday, the City Council also:
• Received an update on the Housing Element plan
• Approved hiring guidelines regarding employees or volunteers who perform services at a park, playground, school facility, recreational center or beach. It had inadvertently been repealed from a contract between the city and the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports
• Amended an ordinance related to the city's contamination litigation and abatement costs.
Galt homicide suspect again enters no plea
The man accused of gunning down his estranged wife and her mother inside their Galt home last month made his third appearance in court Thursday, where he again did not enter a plea.
Darrin Eric Gunder, 37, has been jailed without bail since he was arrested hours after the Nov. 18 shooting on Bay Landing Way.
Inside the home, Galt police found 35-year-old Lisa McGarrah-Gunder and her mother, Patricia Ann Hawthorne, 56, each dead of a single shot apparently fired at close range.
Darrin Gunder was arrested near his home in Stockton that night and charged with murder. Under California law, he could face the death penalty.
On Thursday, he again appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court, where his arraignment was continued for a third time, court records show. He is scheduled to return to court Jan. 29.