.A Saint, They Say

DeVry University arrest yields alleged kiddie porn, hand-shakers puzzle Piedmont, and a murdered teacher is remembered for geopolitical skill and scarf-dancing.

John is likely shocking the angels tonight,” writes a friend at an online memorial page for St. Mary’s College instructor John Dennis, found murdered February 9 in a car that parolee Troy Thomas — whom Dennis tutored thirty years ago — had driven from Oakland to Montara. A colleague remembers Dennis “wearing a bright blue and pink unitard and doing his scarf dance.” Dubbing him a “saint,” a student vows: “You remind me that Jesus is Real!” A pal laments: “Who am I going to call and have those long chats about politics, race.”

Dennis displayed “fits of calculated zaniness in the middle of the most serious dissections of U.S. Federal Institutions and Constitutional Law,” writes a former student known as Dave D. “Upon learning of my odd place of birth, he surprised us all by giving a quick but thorough geopolitical recap of that tiny Indian Ocean island most wouldn’t even know where to put on a map.” Then, he writes in his blog, Dennis “concluded by throwing in a couple cheerful comments in perfect Seychellois Creole.”

Dave said Dennis’ murder is “sadly not that hard to explain,” given his devotion to “helping everybody from all walks of life … he wasn’t the type to cast judgment or shun people on account of their flaws. All it takes is one asshole. … And guns, always fucking guns. As for the bitter irony that he, of all people, would be claimed a victim by violence in the community he spent so much time helping: Well, it’s merely a sign that things have really fallen way deep. … All I know is that he wasn’t the one to let the falling happen: Quite the opposite.”

Pleased to beat you

In Piedmont on January 29, according to the police log, a “caller reported two suspicious men who wanted to shake his hand.”

Oh, that kind of geek

After feds searched his DeVry University dorm room in Fremont last month and seized his computer, Chad Holste was indicted with possessing and transporting what the US Department of Justice calls “visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct” and “sexually explicit images of babies and toddlers.” An Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent filed affidavits alleging that nineteen-year-old Holste “used the ‘Google Hello’ file sharing program to transport approximately 90 images of child pornography … to an undercover special agent in Seattle.” On his Flixster profile, Holste declares: “I’m a geek, I like geeky things.” The day before his arrest, the chunky anime fan last logged onto his MySpace page, which cites as his hobbies jewelry-making and gunsmithing. On his blog, the scholarship recipient muses: “Gunfire speaks the loudest. There comes a time when the tyranny of government becomes intolerable.” And now he’s in government hands, awaiting a March 5 court date: “A single shot can change the world. Would you pull the trigger?” Last year, a MySpace friend urged him to “have a great time in Thailand.”

Council clamor

“You folks keep this up and you’re going to witness the odd sight of a very dark skinned man blushing,” Patrick McCullough wrote on a listserv to supporters of his Oakland City Council race against Jane Brunner. Facing some fifteen attackers near his 59th Street home in 2005, McCullough shot a teen, and was hence hailed as a hero for taking a stand.

Class-cutting criminals

“We are expanding our truancy sweeps,” Oakland Police Captain Anthony Toribio promises. Along with Youth and Family Services Division and patrol officers, “we are also going to have our Crime Reduction Teams and Problem Solving Officers participate” in sweeping target areas including 14th Street and Broadway, “to get truants off the streets and … assist our investigators in identifying juveniles involved in area robberies.”

The right to refuse service

Emeryville is a shopping hub, thus a stealing hub. Last month’s police logs reveal that a woman shoplifted $2,136 worth of bags from Coach. (Ten more of those irresistible Coach bags were reportedly nabbed from a Walnut Creek store on February 10.) One perp distracted an Ambercrombie & Fitch clerk as another swiped 32 bottles of perfume. A woman used counterfeit bills to buy a child restraint at Babies R Us. Later that day, a man returned the restraint for (real) cash. In the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot, someone punched a Starbucks employee in the face and stole $1,900 that he was about to deposit. When a Subway Sandwiches clerk opened the register for a man who had selected a soda, the “customer” jumped the counter, pulled a gun, emptied the register, and then fled.

Creekside curveballs

In Walnut Creek on February 8, three juveniles “defecated on a tray and gave it to the employees” of a Newell Avenue business while videotaping the caper, according to a police report. WC cops stayed busy when, the next day, they confronted a resident “who agreed to keep it down while playing Mortal Kombat 3.” On February 1, they investigated a solicitor who was “asking residents about nuclear weapons.” As in: Do you fear nuclear weapons? Or: Mind if I ignite some nuclear weapons?


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