January court date next up for suspected murderer of Ventura father

Jamal Jackson

The suspect behind a murder that made national headlines in April is next expected in court on Jan. 10, 2019, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s office.

Jamal Jackson, 49, is suspected in the stabbing death of Anthony Mele, Jr., which took place at the Aloha Steakhouse in Ventura on April 18. Jackson was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after his public defender raised doubt on his competency to stand trial. Jackson had previously said during a court appearance that he had cameras in his eyes and was an FBI agent.

Jackson pleaded not guilty to the crime at arraignment in April.

In April, Jackson allegedly entered the restaurant and stabbed 35-year-old Mele in the neck as he dined with his family. He later died from his wounds. Witnesses followed Jackson out of the restaurant and waited for police to arrive. It was later revealed that Jackson had been reported to the Ventura Police Department for a disturbance earlier near the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Jackson was surveilled using cameras in the area, but police did not respond in person to the scene.

The incident sparked several demonstrations calling for City Council and the police to do something about a perceived homeless crisis in the city.

Ventura County inmate death ruled homicide

Officials say that the death of 61-year-old county jail inmate Michael Larios Torres was the result of a homicide perpetrated by his cellmate, making the second homicide at the jail in recent months.

The death, which occurred on Thursday, Oct. 26, resulted from blunt force trauma to the head and neck compression. Vu Cong Dao, 35, Torres’ cellmate at the Ventura County pre-trial detention center, was arrested on suspicion of the murder on Monday, Nov. 5. His bail has been set at $2 million.

Torres was due to appear in court on Friday, Nov. 9, over allegations of violating a domestic violence restraining order. His death marks the second homicide for the Ventura County jail of the year, and the fourth homicide while in custody in 2018.

CSUCI student attacked, forcing school lockdown

California State University, Channel Islands, students and faculty were alarmed on Wednesday, Oct. 31, when a notice was sent following an alleged attack in a bathroom on campus involving a firearm.

At approximately 11 a.m., the Ventura County Fire Department responded to an emergency and one victim was transported to a local hospital by medical emergency personnel following the incident.

The attacker was described as a 24- to 25-year-old woman of medium complexion wearing a gray shirt, black pants and gray Converse shoes. She allegedly was carrying a silver handgun as well, and was last seen fleeing the area.

University Police and local authorities are handling the criminal investigation but as of yet no suspect has been identified.

School officials came under fire on social media by students and local residents following the incident for the delay between the incident and the alert being sent at 12:10 p.m. Students were asked to stay where they were and lock their doors and told that classes would be cancelled for the remainder of the day. A follow-up notice at 3 p.m. noted that the threat no longer existed and that classes would resume the following day.

Woman arrested in Ventura for throwing bottle at ambassador

A 59-year-old woman has been arrested following an incident in Downtown Ventura on Sunday, Nov. 4.

At 3:53 p.m., a Ventura park ambassador responded to reports of a woman hurling insults and bottles at passersby at Mission Park in Downtown Ventura. The woman, identified as Lucero Luna, allegedly threw a bottle at the responding ambassador as well. Ambassadors, recognizable by their red and black uniforms, are individuals contracted by the city to patrol public areas on bicycles in Downtown Ventura.
Luna, who had been arrested four times in October according to Ventura police, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.