In Brief

In Brief


Police arrest suspect sought for double shooting in East Ventura

On Saturday, suspected shooter Brandon Ellis, 29, was arrested in Rosarito, Mexico, as he sat inside a bar. The Ventura Police Department had received a tip that Ellis was in the bar, and with the assistance of the FBI and U.S. marshalls, he was taken into custody and booked into the Ventura County jail with bail set at $3 million.


On Thursday, Dec. 17, shots rang out in an East Ventura neighborhood. At approximately 8:30 a.m., a woman called 911 and reported that she had been shot. Police arrived to a grisly scene: On the front yard, a woman with multiple gun shots; and indoors, a man was found dead.


Ellis immediately became the subject of a countywide manhunt that at one point forced the closure of the area surrounding the Motel 6 on Seaward Avenue in Ventura, but Ellis had by then already fled the county — and the country.


The Ventura Police Department immediately sealed off several streets around the 1600 block of Tapir Circle as the 20-year-old victim, whose identity has not been released, was transported to the Ventura County Medical Center where she is expected to survive. Forty-seven-year-old Douglas Blasher suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.


Ellis has a history of violent altercations, having pled guilty to second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in 2004, when he robbed a market in Oak View, beating an employee with a stick and threatening others with a gun before leaving with money. He was sentenced to four years in prison for the event.


Ellis appeared in court on Tuesday, Dec. 22, where the judge raised his bail from $3 to $5 million after it was discovered that Ellis had flooded his jail cell and was found with a key to his handcuffs. Charges filed against Ellis include murder and attempted murder, but do not include special circumstances allegations, therefore making him ineligible for the possibility of receiving the death penalty. 


Looking for Latinos/Latinas with traumatic brain injuries

Ventura County families with a member who has a traumatic brain injury are sought for a free service dubbed “Trabajadora de Salud,” a series of home visits that will assist caregivers and families in identifying resources.


Though the service is open to any family, Assistant Professor of Health Science Kriston Linton, Ph.D., at California State University, Channel Islands, says that Latinos and Latinas are less likely to receive the rehabilitation required to return to work or resume normal activities and that oftentimes Latinos are likely to experience worse disabilities than others.


“Studies have shown that Latinos are less likely to ask for help,” Linton said in a statement. “There may be barriers because of language or lack of resources. Caregivers may have more of a burden.”


Beginning in January, the three-month program will have five upper-level health science students conduct home visits. The pilot program will be used as a test of the effectiveness of this kind of program for the possibility of launching similar programs in the future.


If you are interested in participating in the lay health -orker home visit program, contact Kriston Linton at


Area arroyo toad retains endangered species classification

A little toad that has caused big issues for a proposed development on the Ventura and Los Angeles County line will retain its endangered species classification after new information showed a decrease in the population in some areas.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the reclassification from endangered (a classification given to the toad in 1994) to threatened, but new data shows that the toad still faces the threat of extinction.


The toad’s livelihood faces its biggest challenge in the looming California drought as it requires shallow, still pools of water to lay eggs and reproduce.


The proposed Newhall Ranch development, which, in November, was deemed to have an insufficient environmental review that was needed to move forward, sits in a 500,000-acre swatch of arroyo toad habitat, labeled as such by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when the toad was classified as endangered.



Foster kid toy shop open this week for the holidays

Underprivileged children looking for a little holiday spirit had an opportunity to “shop” for toys this week, an act that could bring “some holiday cheer to these children in need.”


Children and Family Services — Foster VC Kids and Children’s Services Auxiliary have teamed up to receive donations in the form of toys to be placed in the Holiday Toy Store for underprivileged children to visit with their foster families or caregivers, and to can take a few items home.


The children are able to shop for free, choosing from a wide variety of gifts that can include dolls, matching games, books, bicycles, clothes, board games, sporting equipment, movie passes and more.


“Every year we do our best to increase gift donations to these kids in need,” said President of the Children’s Services Auxiliary Board Teresa Brumit in a statement. “With the support of the VC Fire Departments, local malls, volunteers and everyone who donates, we’re able to collect and distribute a ton of wonderful gifts. Every child deserves that special holiday miracle, and we’re fortunate we have the opportunity to make their holiday wish come true.”


For more information, call 654-3220 or visit


In Brief

In Brief


Oxnard Transition center expands winter hours
Oxnard’s daily transition center, operated by Community Action of Ventura County, is extending its operating hours, now 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to offer the county’s homeless population more of an opportunity to find shelter and services during the daytime hours of the upcoming winter months.

The transition center offers various services to case-managed clients: bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities as well as access to social services, including case managers and center staff that may help lead individuals and families out of homelessness.

The center is located nearby to Oxnard’s Winter Warming Shelter, which is in operation from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly.

Thursday, Dec. 3, was the first day of operation under the new expanded hours; and Ron Irwin, director of community services with Community Action, says that the traffic was a little slow but he is expecting it to pick up particularly in advance of the strong storms predicted to be brought on by El Niño.

“Our regular daily numbers have been about 60 people a day on average during our half-day operations,” said Irwin. “We expect that before the end of the season we’ll probably see between 100 and 120 people a day.”

Though the center is primarily funded through federal, state and local grants, Irwin says that Community Action is looking for business partners in the community.

“We’re looking for partnerships within the business communities in Ventura County that are interested in wanting to come to the table with us and figure out how to deal with homelessness as an issue,” said Irwin, who adds that donations are always welcome.

For more information, visit

Fruit donors sought for local food pantries
Oftentimes the bounty of the county can be found in our own backyard, literally. Fruit trees abound, overloaded with oranges, apples and nectarines, typically more fruit than one can eat in a year’s time.

So if that fruit is more than likely to go to waste on the branch, why not donate it to those in need? Food Forward, a nonprofit based out of Los Angeles with a branch (no pun intended) in Ventura County, is hoping to do just that, no elbow grease required.

Homeowners, renters or anyone with an abundance of fruit or vegetables can call to have food collected by a slew of volunteers, after which the collection is donated to area food pantries that support the homeless, families in need and veterans, to name a few.

“All of the produce we distribute is fresher than you can get at a grocery store,” says Ally Gialketsis, Ventura County Food Forward branch coordinator. So far in 2015, over 131,000 pounds of backyard fruit and vegetables have been donated, with 926 volunteers taking part in the picking, says Gialketsis.

For the holiday season, Gialketsis says that she hopes county residents are in the giving mood.

“We’re always looking for fruit; people are always hungry,” she says.

For more information on how to become a volunteer or to donate fruit or vegetables on your property, visit or call 630-2728.

Cyclists sought for intercity bike path study
If you’re a cyclist living in Ventura County, consider yourself wanted.

The Ventura County Transportation Commission is putting the call out to cyclists across the county to provide data needed to study the feasibility of building connecting bike paths between Ventura County cities and beyond.

The project, called the Regional Bicycle Wayfinding Program, will help the Commission understand intercity and cross-county bicycle routes to better plan for safety, access and other needs for cyclists using said routes.

“The city of Ventura has done a pretty good job of building a bike network within the city, but what we don’t have is an identified network that connects the cities and counties,” said Steve DeGeorge, Transportation Commission planning director, adding that there have been plans in the past to do that but none has been completed.

The county has created a website where cyclists can log on, take a survey and create bike routes. Cyclists who track their routes via GPS or Strava can upload their information, too.

DeGeorge says that he hopes the study will be completed by October 2016, after which the Commission will present ideas to the various city councils across the county.

“We really want as much engagement from the public as we can on this,” said DeGeorge. “We’re working very closely with bike clubs, bike advocacy groups and bike coordinators with each of the cities; we’re reaching out as much as we possibly can.”

For more information and to add your own cycling data to the project, visit

In Brief

In Brief


Supreme Court rejects Newhall Ranch project
A project that would have created a new city on the Ventura County and Los Angeles County border has been struck a severe blow by a California Supreme Court ruling that found in favor of environmental claims submitted by state wildlife officials and environmental watchdogs in the region, by a vote of 5-2.

Newhall Ranch, a project that has been in the works for two decades, would have enough homes for up to 60,000 residents with stores, golf courses, schools and more. Of contention, however, is an environmental impact report that watchdogs say was severely lacking in potential damage to endangered species in the region and in potential greenhouse gas emissions.

This week, California’s top court sided with the environmentalists, concluding that the report failed to support its conclusion that the development would not significantly affect greenhouse gas emissions and that it illegally allowed for relocation of an endangered species of fish, the unarmored threespine stickleback.

“Justice won today,” said Mati Waiya, Chumash ceremonial elder and Wishtoyo Foundation executive director, in a statement.

The original complaints were submitted by the Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper Program, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Santa Clara River, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, and the California Native Plant Society.

The project is not dead, however, with one justice saying that it may add years to the project.

Annual Coats for Kids drive seeks donations
Ventura Rotary’s annual Coats for Kids project is inviting donations of used coats, sweaters and heavy jackets as part of its drive to provide warm coats to those in need.

The annual Coats for Kids campaign has collected over 50,000 articles of clothing since 2003, which are distributed throughout the year. The campaign was created by Four Seasons Cleaner owner Sonny Shah. The Ventura Rotary distributes around 7,000 coats every year to area charities and collected around 5,000 coats last year, according to Kristin Taylor, chairperson of the Coats for Kids program.

“The program really benefits individuals in many generations,” said Taylor. “If we give one coat or one sweatshirt to a family of four, we have benefited the whole family because that’s one coat mom or dad did not have to go buy for their child.”

Four Seasons Cleaners has cleaned over 50,000 coats at no cost since the beginning of the program in 2003 and will clean donations this year as well.

Donations can be made at 45 locations around the county. For an interactive map of drop-off locations, visit or, or call 643-3800 for more information.








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