Category Archives: News

West Sac soldier dies in Afghanistan

SPC Manuel Vasquez (courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Defense)


A 22-year old who grew up in West Sacramento and enlisted in the Army  died on April 24 while serving in Afghanistan.

Specialist Manuel J. Vasquez was on his first deployment to the region, serving with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Blackhawk in Paktika Province.

The Defense Department declined to provide details of Vasquez’s death, which is still under investigation.

Vasquez was raised in West Sacramento before attending Mira Loma High School. He joined the Army in 2010. He is survived by his parents, Violet Castro of West Sacramento and Raymond J. Vasquez, of Citrus Heights, and by siblings and other relatives.

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‘Guilty’ in 2011 West Sac murder

NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 2, 2012 —

A Yolo County jury convicted 22-year old Charles Cameron Quillin guilty of first degree murder earlier this month, in the killing of Mathew Aleksander Smith in West Sacramento in 2011. The jury also convicted Quillin of discharging a firearm causing death.

According to the office of Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, the two men were joined by Smith’s girlfriend and two other friends in Quillin’s trailer for a social gathering on August 27, 2011.

The gathering took place in a trailer on the 600-block of West Capitol Avenue.

After midnight, Quillin wanted one of the women to leave the trailer, and this led to an argument with Smith’s girlfriend. Smith intervened.

Smith asked his girlfriend to wait outside.

“As Quillin and Smith were a few feet apart, arguing in the kitchen, Quillin pulled out a revolver from his pants pocket,” said a press release from the D.A. “Quillin shot Smith in the head five times before leaving the trailer, placing the revolver in a bush 160 feet from the trailer, and calling his dad.”

Quillin surrendered to police.

He will be sentenced by Judge Stephen Mock on May 18. He faces 50 years to life in state prison.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘Peter Pan’ show to benefit local girl


The Palamidessi family, owners of Club Pheasant restaurant in Southport, will host a poker fundraiser to benefit Virginia Mochel, a second-grader at Our Lady of Grace School who has been diagnosed with leukemia for the second time. The event is tentatively planned for early June; watch for details.

The school also plans a “Peter Pan” show and pasta dinner (courtesy of Knights of Columbus) from 6 p.m. on Sat., May 12, at Our Lady of Grace School. $20/adults, $10/kids, with proceeds to help Virginia’s family. For information, call 371-9416 or email

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RCHS kid heads to naval academy



Kai Hinton is a big step closer to fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming a naval aviator: the River City High School senior has been accepted into the United States Naval Academy.

An overachieving student and athlete for as long as he can remember, Kai has been chasing this goal from as early as age five.

KAI HINTON earned a coveted letter of acceptance to a U.S. military academy (photo by Sam Urrea)

“I used to visit my grandma in Hawaii when I was very little and I would spend hours reading naval history books and documentaries. Then, as I got older, I grew more and more interested in joining the navy. I wanted to commit forever,” said Kai.

Acceptance into the Naval Academy is no shoe-in.  According to, an educational data website, the number of applicants every year varies from 10, 000 to 20,000, with an average admission rate of only 8.4 percent in 2010. An applicant must have a  G.P.A of at least 3.5, must be in the top 10% of his or her class, and must score at least 2100 on the SAT’s — at a minimum.

Participating in a sport and doing exceptionally well at it are essential.  Performing community service and pursuing other extracurricular activities are not mandatory, but highly increase the chances of admission.

Kai met all of these requisites. He also obtained a required official nomination from a state representative — a long, difficult process to complete, Kai reports.

“I needed a total of three acceptance letters. Once I received my first letter, the second one had to be nominated and approved by a congressman. Congressman Mike Thompson was in charge of doing that, and once that was completed, I received my last letter confirming my admittance into the academy!” he said.

With that letter, his ambitious goal was finally met. Relatives from all over the country, including some who Kai claims he has rarely spoken to, called to congratulate him on his amazing achievement. His closer family members were nothing short of ecstatic.

  Kai’s current Spanish teacher, David Ionescu, was not surprised by his student’s triumph. He said, “I’ve had Kai for three years and I was not surprised at all. He understands concepts before I even start teaching them. He is always one step ahead of the game.”

Kai himself was pretty confident. “I was positive. You know, there is always that doubt of not getting in because so few people get admitted but I believed in my abilities. I have done track my whole high school career and excelled, maintained a high G.P.A and done community service.”

He does not live by any mottos, but his advice for other students is to challenge themselves and commit to something they really like, not just if it’s the military, but for whatever goal they pursue. He said, “Make sure you know what you truly want, and commit yourself to it.”

With senior year coming to an end, most students will be looking forward to getting their high school diplomas and enjoying their summer vacation until the subsequent year approaches. Kai, however, is wasting no time moving forward with his life. Life at the academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland, starts in June. He will have roughly two weeks after his graduation to prepare himself to start life as a “plebe” — an incoming freshman at the high-pressure academy.

  Graduates of the academy become commissioned officers in the Navy.

(Author Sam Urrea is an River City High School  journalism student.)

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Stranded boater rescued

Fire boat gives a tow to a boater who had been without food and water for several days (courtesy of W.S.F.D.)

NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 25, 2012 —

West Sacramento’s Fire Boat 41 gave a tow to a boater in need on the evening of April 17. The sailboat owner said he did not have any water to drink and hadn’t eaten in three days, reports the city fire department. He told local media all his belongings were on board the 20-foot boat, and he had been afraid to go ashore and leave it. Firefighters attended to him and towed his boat upstream to be secured.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Crime drama started on Harbor Blvd

Three of the owners of B&R Head & Block Repair: Bill Kutsch, Dieter Kutsch Sr., Billy Kutsch (News-Ledger photo)


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

A regional crime drama that included a huge manhunt and the six-hour closure of a major local freeway got its start when some employees of a West Sacramento repair shop arrived at work just before 6 a.m. on Friday.

B & R Head & Block Repair is a “family business,” reported Dieter Kutsch, a member of the family that runs it. The shop services big engine parts for a wide area around West Sacramento, and it’s located on an industrial stretch of Harbor Boulevard north of the freeway, where there isn’t a lot going on outside daylight hours.

Kutsch’s son, Dieter Kutsch, Jr., opened the door that morning for two employees, Keith and Robert.

  “He turned the alarm system off for the guys, and the other two went in, while he went to get coffee. They walked toward the back, hitting the lights. It was still dark inside.”

They made a turn and started heading back on the other side of the building.

“There were lights upstairs,” said Dieter Kutsch, Sr. “Robert yelled ‘what’s going on?’ At that time, the shooter opened the door and started shooting at Keith and Robert. He shot three rounds at first. The guys went down onto the ground. They weren’t hit.”

The suspect – later ID’d as 38-year old Jimmy Lee Graves of Dieppe Way, Sacramento – had a revolver with him. Kutsch’s employees were pinned down, but they had some cover from posts and engine parts inside the building.

The pair hurriedly talked to each other and agreed to make a break for it, one at a time. They did — and the gunman shot at them again.

“They ran out (of the building) and at that time, Robert called 911 and then he called me,” said Kutsch. “They also wanted to contact my son, so he wouldn’t go back into the building not knowing what was going on.”

Kutsch’s son didn’t get the message – and he returned to the building to enter it evidently just as the shooter went out a window elsewhere.

William Lee Graves: shot by deputies in Sacramento after allegedly starting a fire, refusing to surrender

Police arrived, not sure whether all the suspects were out of the building. They used tear gas to make sure it was clear.  They established a perimeter, but the shooter was gone.

Graves allegedly took a Remington rifle with a scope from the shop – but dropped it nearby.

“I had my gun there because I had been hunting the previous day,” said Kutsch.

Why the break-in?

“It was a random deal,” said Kutsch. “There was no money in the shop, all our business is through accounts.”

Then, at 6:39 a.m., police received a phone call from near a liquor store at Poplar Avenue and West Capitol: the caller reported that a man in a long coat, with a gun, had just carjacked a brown Ford Focus.

  Police spotted the vehicle and pursued at high speed. The suspect bailed on foot on the 2900-block of West Capitol, and then carjacked a white Ford F-150 pickup.

“Officers confronted the suspect, ordering him to surrender, and were fired on by the suspect,” reported Sgt. Nathan Steele of the West Sacramento Police Department.

The pickup fled west, shooting again at an officer and ramming a patrol car on West Capitol, causing the officer driving it to lose control. Then the pickup got on I-80 westbound, losing control and hitting a center divider. Law enforcement personnel set up a perimeter around this Yolo Causeway site – and entirely shut down traffic on the causeway.

The freeway wasn’t reopened until after noon. The closure by then had caused major Sacramento-area traffic trouble. Before stopped traffic was allowed to pass, vehicles were inspected by officers to make sure the suspect wasn’t hiding inside.

At this point, there were several law enforcement agencies involved – including SWAT teams, K-9 teams and helicopters, said Steele. The manhunt eventually grew to involve 12 agencies.

Now there were two “active crime scenes” – but a call came in at about 10 a.m. that there had been another carjacking, near County Road 127 and River Road. Yolo sheriff’s deputies responded, learning that somebody in a suspected-stolen tractor had approached a male victim and struck him over the head. The victim’s vehicle – a 2008 Ford F-150 – was taken.

The victim was said, in some media reports, to have been a birdwatcher. He wasn’t seriously injured.

That victim’s pickup was later found abandoned near Lenwick and Morse Avenue in Sacramento, said Steele.

Investigators followed leads, checking on “numerous potential suspect locations.”

  At about 6:55 p.m., the Sacramento sheriff’s department checked out one of those locations, an apartment at 1968 Ethan Way.

“While attempting to secure the scene in the 1900 block of Ethan Way a suspect fled from Sacramento County Deputies, barricaded himself and started a fire in the apartment,” reported Steele in a press release. “After a standoff in which the suspect was repeatedly ordered to surrender, the suspect was shot by Sacramento County deputies to allow for emergency personnel to extinguish the rapidly growing fire.”

Graves was killed.

Steele declined to discuss whether the suspect had a criminal history.

The Sacramento Bee reported that family members said the man had trouble holding a job, as well as drug problems, a failing marriage, and pending charges on a robbery.

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  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Open house, sailboat rides

Sailing action at the Port of West Sacramento (courtesy of Lake Washington Sailing Club)


Too late for publication in this week’s News-Ledger: the Lake Washington Sailing Club will hold an open house, with free sailboat rides, from 10:30 to 3:30 tomorrow (Sat., April 28).

The club is based at the Port of West Sacramento. Look for the entrance on Industrial Boulevard just west of Harbor.

For more information on the club, click here.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012