Woman Run Over and Murdered Near Natural Bridges
Last Friday afternoon around 1:30PM, a woman was run over and killed on the 100 block of Modesto avenue by a woman who can only be described as a “serial recidivist”. She was a bomb waiting to explode and she finally blew up and killed an innocent bystander. Kelsey Knoll, the woman accused of hitting and killing another woman with her car pleaded not guilty to murder charges in court Tuesday. Police said Knoll was driving on Modesto Avenue when she accelerated her car, then swerved to intentionally hit the 23 year old female victim who was walking across the street. If convicted, Knoll could face 26 years to life in prison. Knoll’s bail was set to no bail, and she’s scheduled back in court on August 16th.
The victim’s family released this public statement:
“Our daughter McKenzie Helene Gilbert was tragically struck from behind and killed one block from her home on Friday, July 20th three days before her 24th Birthday. She was a recent college graduate with a degree in Biology. We were having a graduation party next weekend but instead we are planning her funeral. McKenzie was such a vivacious, passionate, fun, sincere, loving person. Her happiest times were riding horses competitively and when she planned and completed a 220 mile hike alone on the PCT/JMT trail for her 20th Birthday. She wanted to do something epic! She was determined, loved music, tried new things, had all kinds of career/business ideas and always set goals for herself. She just recently returned from college and had only been home 10 days. She was so excited to move back to Santa Cruz to be close to family and begin the next stage in life. Tragically her hopes and dreams were snatched away from her. We will miss her beyond what words can express. Our family is in complete disbelief and distraught at the loss of McKenzie. She is loved by her mother, father, sisters, brother, stepfather and stepmother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Please say prayers for McKenzie and hug the people you love. I only wish I had many moments back with her.”
Another local tragedy, another case of a local serial recidivist criminal we’ve been coddling for years here behind it. Knoll had been arrested on drug-related charges twice in 2015 and three times in 2017. In March 2017, Knoll pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in jail, according to court documents. On July 11th, the CHP arrested Knoll AGAIN at 1:30AM on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after she drove a Mercedes through the glass doors of the CVS Pharmacy in the Felton Fair Shopping Center. This long time junkie drove her car through the front doors of a local business high as a kite, and less than 2 weeks later, she kills someone with her car. When are we going to learn here? We as a city and county failed this poor innocent victim. We failed her family. We continued to prop up this junkie for the past 3 years, probably longer. And this is the result. End the madness. End the status quo. No mas.
Shooting at Fern and Highway 9 Injures Two People
A shooting near the intersection of Highway 9 and Fern streets shut down much of the Harvey West Park area on Wednesday afternoon. Two people were shot, including a woman who was shot twice and hit in the leg. The incident began around 1:30PM when 2 vehicles were apparently turning onto Fern street from Highway 9 when some type of argument led to an occupant in a Toyota Prius (yes a Prius!) firing at the occupants of a truck. The man and woman in the truck were both injured and drove themselves to Dominican with gunshot wounds. Dominican was briefly on lockdown as well. Officers drove up Highway 9 and found the Toyota and the suspects near Felton. SCPD arrested a 16 year old teenager, who was taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle, and a minor in possession of a firearm. The other occupants of the Prius were detained, and a passenger in the Prius was also arrested for an outstanding warrant unrelated to this case. SCPD isn’t sure about a motive but thinks it might be gang related or a case of road rage. In a Prius. I can’t quit thinking of this.
“I feel like I’m literally driving around in a vagina”
Home Invasion Robbery Attempt on Bay Street
Monday afternoon around 4:30PM, a high on meth tweeker attempted to break into a home on Bay street, according to a number of witness reports. The residents reported that the man basically broke down their fence and approached a female with a pipe. Her husband, who was recovering from an injury, threatened to get a gun before SCPD arrived on scene and arrested the man. According to a pretty trusted source (the victim), the suspect was in the hospital for gall bladder surgery but he had too much meth in his system (I can’t make this stuff up). While waiting for the drugs to leave his system, his ‘girlfriend’ was sneaking him more! (like I said, I can’t make this stuff up). So Dominican finally booted him out with that drain on his abdomen. Oh look, Dominican kicked another poor, “houseless” saint (who just arrived here from West Virginia) out of the hospital with nothing but the gown on his back. Why haven’t I heard that yet? I’d love to know what happened between Dominican and his encounter with J&J. There has to be an amazing story in what happened in between the hospital boot and the arrest. Last I heard, he’s sitting in county jail on a $100,000 bond. Maybe his girlfriend can sneak him some meth into the jail now?
Boy Buried in Collapsed Hole on Seabright Beach
A 10 year old Fresno boy nearly died on Seabright beach after he was buried beneath the sand in a tunnel collapse last weekend. A couple of Good Samaritans walking the beach were able to help pull the victim from the sand and start CPR on the boy, who did not appear to be breathing at the time. Lifeguards provided more emergency care before paramedics arrived and were able to revive the boy on the beach before transporting him to Dominican. The boy has been released from the hospital with no apparent injuries. I still remember the tragedy at Natural Bridges a yew years back. I’ve never understood the tunnel mentality here. Just stop digging them. Kick back, relax, enjoy the beach! Digging is for trench workers.
Watsonville Teen Nearly Shoots Sleeping Toddler
Around 2:30AM on Sunday morning, a 17 year old boy fired his gun into an occupied home on McKenzie Avenue in Watsonville. The bullet nearly hit a 3 year old girl sleeping in the home. As officers were canvassing the neighborhood, they spotted a teen matching the suspect’s description. When they approached him, he apparently tossed a gun. Watsonville police booked the teen into Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall.
Assault With a Cattle Prod
Wednesday night around 8PM, I heard a report about a possible fight involving a gun at Los Palmas Taco Bar. When SCPD got there, the suspect was gone and no gun was actually seen. Turns out it was reportedly an assault with a cattle prod. The suspect was described as a middle aged male with a shaved head. And maybe holding a cattle prod.
Smacking Women Around in the Safeway Parking Lot
Monday night around 9PM, I heard a report about a domestic disturbance involving a man and woman in the Safeway parking lot on Morrissey. The male was apparently driving a U-Haul (or more likely living out of it) and witnesses described the female as having a cut lip (probably as a result of his hand). Both were described as transients.
Another Attempted Burglary on River Street
Around 10PM on Wednesday night, I heard a report about a possible break in at Central Home Supply on Highway 9 after a motion alarm was triggered. When SCPD arrived they confronted at least 2 people at gunpoint in the back parking lot. A possible third suspect was not located. Right across the street from the Homeless Services Center. A block from Wednesday afternoon’s shooting. War zone.
Teen Arrested With Firearm While Walking in Beach Flats
Friday night, the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force was patrolling the Beach Flats area when they stopped a teenager who was apparently jaywalking near Third Street and Holden. Apparently, the 16 year old juvenile had an unloaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun and ammunition in his backpack. Officials say there is no record of ownership for the firearm. The teen was detained and charged with carrying a concealed firearm, juvenile in possession of concealed firearm, and minor in possession of ammunition. He is now in custody and being held at juvenile hall.
Road Raging on Highway 17
This past Tuesday, two drivers got into a road rage incident on Highway 17, resulting in one pointing a rifle at the other through his passenger side window. Both drivers exited the highway onto Scotts Valley drive and officers eventually caught the driver with the gun after a short chase and attempt to evade police. They also discovered four more guns in the suspect’s car. He was arrested for felony brandishing of a firearm and DUI. I’m guessing it started with someone driving too slow in the fast lane. Or passing on the right. Those are your typical rage inducers while driving 17.
Mail Thieves Busted in Scotts Valley
The Scotts Valley Police Department busted a couple of mail thieves this week, after a nearby resident reported a suspicious car moving slowly in the area near Granite Creek and Apple Valley. When officers arrived, they found the car parked in the middle of the street with 2 men sitting inside. Both were in possession of mail and financial information for various people living in the neighborhood, as well as prescription pills and heroin. One man had an arrest warrant out of county and was on probation for prior possession of stolen property. Both men were arrested and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail on mail theft, tampering and conspiracy as well as various narcotics charges.
Praying at the Porcelain Altar
So last I heard from Chris Drury (who has apparently changed his name), he was in charge of the congregation at the Circle Church. When that got sold recently, I was curious what happened to the church members. He kind of fell off the radar after that happened. But this week, I saw something in Good Times about how he wants to turn the old empty Logos building into some kind of brewpub cafe thing. So did they use the money from the church sale to pour it into this project? Seems kind of goofy if you ask me, but hey, this is Santa Cruz! New name, new project! So apparently Chris Vanhall (his new name) has teamed up with building owner and former Logos owner John Livingston (who still has the same name). My favorite quote from the article? “Jesus drank wine and had a reputation of hanging out in places where people consumed alcohol”. Way to rationalize this! Sorry, but I just don’t see this working. Owning a successful restaurant is a LOT of hard work, and that’s just to keep it open. It’s incredibly competitive downtown, Pour is already doing it better, it’s just destined to fail in my opinion. These guys aren’t restaurateurs. They’re dreamers. I know as George Michael would say, you gotta have faith, but you gotta have a solid business plan too. I am intrigued by the old Logos space as a business possibility. The atrium provides lots of natural light and while I think it’s too big for a single restaurant, it could be pretty viable as a “food court” kind of concept much like they did at the MAH. I have no idea how successful the new Abbott Square project has been for merchants, but it seems to be doing well. I could see potential for something similar in the Logos space, kind of an incubator space for small food startups, kind of what the food lounge has been trying to stage on occasion.
El Circo del Ayuntamiento
We apparently have some new blood this week! I noticed a couple of new names of prospective candidates. This week, we welcome Phillip J. Crawford and Craig Bush to the party!
Keep in mind my overall political views are what most people might label “moderate”. Basically, I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I try to espouse the best of both parties and temper the hard core, dumb stuff.
The Line Up (listed alphabetically)
Craig unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2014. I remember him from back then. His big thing I think was water, and of course back then desal and water were pretty hot topics. And if I remember correctly, he had this really cool beard and great baritone voice. I have no doubt he’ll break up the monotony with his presence.
Paige is a former cook for the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall who has been volunteering at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen for 10 years and counting. Known by her neighbors as the “Mayor of Seabright”, Paige is focused on improving public safety. I’m all for that! She’s not easily intimidated by people, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, she’s blunt to a level that makes certain people uncomfortable (and probably should), and she won’t be bullied by the status quo, and I don’t think she’s afraid to try to rock the boat here. I think she’s a very interesting (and rare) case of someone who has walked the “progressive” walk locally, but understands the limits and impacts of overdoing it, or doing it the wrong way.
Phillip J. Crawford
Phillip J. Crawford unsuccessfully ran for judge on the Santa Cruz Superior Court in 2010, so he’s familiar with the numbingly dysfunctional Santa Cruz political scene. Just the fact he actually ran for judge intrigues me instantly. According to some simple research on Google, Crawford has served as a police officer and sergeant, professor of law and justice, attorney, court executive officer and a justice system consultant. He sounds like my kind of guy so far! Looking forward to hearing more.
Justin is a UCSC graduate and works for UCSC. He apparently moved to Santa Cruz 11 years ago from Chicago and lives in the Beach Flats neighborhood. He worked on the rent control ballot measure and said he is interested in addressing the city’s affordable housing shortage and general city safety and security. Well, since I think rent control is an incredibly dumb, short sighted, and naive idea here, I’m guessing we don’t see eye to eye on that one. I did notice that apparently Justin and Drew won the hearts and minds of that fake “Santa Cruz for Bernie” group that doesn’t really represent the majority of former local Bernie supporters. And honestly, I think a lot of local Democrats BLAME Bernie for Trump winning the election. And let’s not forget, the guy behind the fake Bernie group? He’s the same clown behind the rent control initiative. This is what I mean by “SPECIAL INTERESTS”. We have enough of that crap going on already.
Drew lives in the Eastside/Seabright neighborhood, and his major themes include vague cliche stuff like “sustainability, a climate of compassion, inclusive representation in city politics, transparency and accountability”. Nothing tangible like public safety, balancing an out of control city budget against rising pension cost obligations, better accountability of the city manager, you know, important stuff like that. Glover ran unsuccessfully for the city council in 2016. Drew also got the endorsement from the fake Bernie group too. I’m seeing a pattern here. And there have already been multiple sightings of the Purple Shirt!
Cynthia is a psychotherapist who apparently helped organize the last two women’s marches locally in downtown Santa Cruz. She previously served on the Santa Cruz City Schools board. I still don’t know much about her. I’ve heard from numerous, unconnected people that she’s apparently “difficult to work with”. Great! Like we don’t have enough of that already. I’m not particularly inspired to learn more here.
Dave is a retired UCSC auditor who wants to cut back the police budget and reverse course on any goals for low income, high density housing. Cut back the police budget? GTFO. Next!
Michael is a Santa Cruz County assistant district attorney. He wants to help the police in prioritizing a crack down on serious crimes, as opposed to petty offenses. Aren’t we already doing that? And how well is that working? It’s not. Next!
Donna lives on the lower west side and is on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. She is apparently interested in getting housing programs working, addressing social service issues and making sure local infrastructure is ready for global warming related changes. Global warming related changes? In our lifetime? We don’t have anything that requires a bit more sense of urgency and need for attention here? She sounds like another social justice warrior that wants to change the world locally while ignoring the shit show in our own back yard. Next!
Richelle Noroyan is the only incumbent candidate running, and works in community relations at UCSC. A moderate on the council, she pushed for more rigorous Cowell Beach cleanups and served on the Homelessness Coordinating Committee. Full disclosure: I know Richelle and I personally like Richelle. I voted for her last time and I’ll vote for her again. She’s good for Santa Cruz.
The Scontriano family has a long history in Santa Cruz. From 1939 until 2009, her family owned the Dolphin Restaurant at the end of the wharf. Ashley attended Westlake Elementary, Branciforte Junior High, and Harbor High School before attending UC Santa Cruz. She has worked locally with Metro Santa Cruz, Good Times, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, helping launch Santa Cruz Magazine. She has also worked in fundraising at UCSC for both the Arts and the Humanity Divisions. She is now a local small business owner and is interested in improving community safety, addressing housing shortages, and supporting business growth locally. She knows what needs to be done to get us back on the right track here as a city. I think she frightens the local political “machine” here. So in that sense, she frightens the “status quo” here. You want smart change? I want smart change. Ashley is smart change.
Free Shows From The Fixx at the Boardwalk
The Fixx are a British rock and new wave band formed in London in 1979. The band’s hits include “One Thing Leads to Another”, “Saved by Zero”, “Are We Ourselves?”, and “Secret Separation”, all of which made the U.S. Top 20, as well as early MTV Video hits “Red Skies” and “Stand or Fall”. Two free shows at 6:30 and 8:30PM.
The Weekly Seen
“Hauling Ass” – West side of Santa Cruz
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RIP McKenzie –
i dunno how long i can take this area- i ended up here by chance, and wanted to stay no matter what, but i dont think i can do this long term. i dont know how people do this. how do you get a thick skin for this? why wont the courts punish this stuff? how can the judges see stuff like this and do nothing?
I think the longer you live here, the more numb you get to it. Unfortunately, that “numb” leads to apathy. Especially, apathy about voting when the same special interest backed puppets get elected over and over. The same people that refuse to hold the city manager accountable for anything around here. Some people fight for a while and burn out eventually to the fight and settle into a more “resigned and frustrated” state. Those are the people we need to light a spark under their ass to vote this fall for change. Moderates mobilized real quick to oppose rent control locally. Why can’t we get the same reaction for public safety? Because if public safety ultimately goes to hell, EVERYTHING else does too. Thanks for commenting!
What Ben says is so true. People need to act.
Cynthia Chase and other left of left locals plans for a second homeless shelter were stopped after citizens raised holy hell. If we start demanding a an adequately staffed SCPD it may happen.
Our local police can make arrests but if judges just give a slap on the hand (or assign repeated probation, which seems worthless), we’ll continue to see innocent people victimized (whether by transients or “housed” perpetrators).
True. This is a massive problem which needs the entire community, including the courts, to step up.
What a sad state of affairs this week. It has gotten so out of hand. It also leads up to “no consequences”! As you said, we have been “propping up” for way to long. I am heartbroken and so pissed that a young girl was taken out by the “propped up” girl, All could of been avoided if she had consequences !! Like staying in jail !
Thank you again, for telling it like it is, here in Santa Cruz.
Thanks Paige. As someone who has worked first hand with these “serial recidivists”, I honestly don’t think anyone else (in this city council race) is as qualified as you are to discuss what is and isn’t working with this issue. Your life experience and your “street cred” makes you an expert in my book on this. Don’t be intimidated to point out the problems at the county level, or offer your own suggestions to improve them.
I have to confess that even after living in SCZ for 25+ years, I have no real idea of how the city government works (or doesn’t) and what gov’t positions are the real powers that get things done (or not get things done).
So, I appreciate the unvarnished info you are trying to provide here.
I’ve worked for 18 years near Costco. This area is really bad with the homeless and crazy people. It seems to me that it has gotten worse over the past 2 or 3 years, too. The area is unsafe and I’ve complained to my company but if all of this happens off campus, they don’t care. I see something similar when I hike in to pogonip. More bums, garbage and feces on the trails. I tried once to complain to the rangers and they would not even get out of their comfy truck to walk one mile to where the bums were camped out on the trail.
It’s very difficult not to be apathetic. If I did not have a sick adult child that I have to take care of, I would have left the area long time ago.
i agree, i would like to hear more of your ideas Paige- public safety is a top issue here- and even if these people are classified as mentally disabled- they are a major threat to public safety and that needs to be addressed.
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I received this message through the contact form. I’m re-posting it here because it’s obviously relevant.
“Last Friday, before Ms Knolls killed the girl on Modesto ave, she was involved in an accident on upper Market street between Stoney Creek and Avalon. She was traveling south bound from Goss avenue and swerved into oncoming traffic, took out 3 Chevron signs, just missed a cyclist then over corrected and smashed her Mercedes into the guard rail at the Branciforte Creek bridge. She was not taken into custody. Had she been, the death on Modesto might have never happened. SCPD is doing an investigation there this afternoon around 1pm.”
Well that’s interesting. This happened earlier on THE SAME DAY SHE KILLED THAT POOR GIRL. Nothing about in the media, or from the Sheriffs Office, or from SCPD. Why the hell wasn’t she arrested hours earlier for the mayhem described above? Anyone?
How is it she has a Mercedes, and then a Lexus, at her disposal to wreak her havoc? Is she a local rich girl who keeps getting off from these charges because her family has money?
Ben, I really appreciate your weekly dumps and your perspective; it’s true we can only effect change if we vote. I just spent 2 months on jury duty in SC and it really opened my eyes to a lot of the nefarious things going on here. I grew up here, moved away and came back and now I’m nervous to walk anywhere downtown or go to Costco. People do need to participate in the local politics and get our own swamp cleaned up.
Well Hello Kitty! (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Thanks for reading and commenting.
equally important, we must have the knowledge of events so that we can decide if we want change. i still don’t think i have read in the sentinel anything of the burglary with people in the home on bay street. we don’t get any “news” of the really serious stuff going on because, if it wasn’t for ben, we wouldn’t know about it. change isn’t always good, especially just change for change, but in regards to our safety and being overwhelmed by transients and crime and the mentally unstable and the overbuilding in santa cruz, change is warranted.
Imagine burying your 24 year old daughter who was killed walking down the street. There are not words to describe this sadness. A preventable slaughter. If this was my daughter I’d be in jail for my reaction considering that the murderer was repeatedly allowed to roam free despite a concious, clear, and blatant disregard for the people around her. If you are a human being your heart hurts and your mind craves understanding as to how this can happen given the system we pay into, abide by, and trust. I’m livid.
do u guys know if people end up with lenient sentences here because of the probation officers? that high profile case in palo alto- where a stanford professor ended up getting a judge recalled- the judge followed the sentence recommended by the probation officer. the kid committed rape and the probation officer recommended barely any punishment. is that happening here? is it the probation officers, the courts, or both?
is there no room in the local jails to hold these people until they get a trial? if its a problem of the system being too small and over taxed, there has to be some way to reach out to nearby counties and partner up. this is a free for all.
ok i spent most of yesterday reading through all of your 2016 posts. thanks for doing this blog. it gave me more of a sense of empowerment. i feel like i can make daily informed choices that will keep this place livable. i have been freaking out more than i needed to- i can see there is a little more of a pattern of people getting into trouble – as opposed to random targets (at least for a lot of the violence, not ALL of it). the burglary is a nightmare, but a little less inimidating when you see the general patterns.
it is really sad the local media tries to hide what is going on here. this is basically the only cool amusement park beach in northern california. there is SO much money in the bay area. if there were more publicity, people would rally around this place to save it. it is sad to see the local powers that be are afraid people would just abandon this place and let it fall into a downward spiral. they are doing everyone a disservice by trying to sweep this under the rug.
its also seems like even before these propositions passed (and i agree those propositions are a nightmare!), the far left here refused to punish crime. seeing the amount of crime allowed downtown, i have been unwilling to shop there for over a year. as a visitor it was always less intimidating- as a female resident – it feels too creepy. and it really puts females, seniors and kids at a disadvantage- it is much less safe for them to work, shop and hang out downtown.
this city is a cross between a battered wife who wont speak up, and a battered wife who turns around takes it out on the kids (locals). or an honor student kid with a stellar report card and resume, who still hasnt solved the problem of the gang of bullies dumping him head first into a garbage can every day. the powers that be obviously have book smarts, but the lack of street smarts is killing this place. i cant believe even the example of the hit and run murder by violeta- people had to rally to make sure a high bail was set?!
i dont know all the answers- but i know all my friends told me this place was violent for over a decade- and i was so stubborn i kept visiting. i was also so stubborn i ultimately made the decision to live here. im not the only stubborn person like that. there are millions of people just over hwy 17 who love this place.
people in the bay area know santa cruz is an amazing gem- and the people i know refuse to let it go. i wish there were some way to fix this so the thugs would get what they deserve, and so the people who call this place home could get what they deserve too- a basic level of public safety.
anyway thanks again for this blog. really helps with my anxiety.