SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A San Francisco judge on Thursday dismissed felony kidnapping and false imprisonment charges against a distraught Antioch man who caused a Veteran’s Day traffic snarl on the Bay Bridge.
Craig Carlos-Valentino, 52, was arrested on Nov. 11 after he stopped on the westbound upper deck of the bridge into San Francisco, just after the Treasure Island tunnel, and allegedly phoned in a bomb threat. He has been in custody on $750,000 bail since then.
He still faces felony counts of child endangerment and making a false bomb threat, as well as misdemeanor counts of brandishing a firearm and delaying or resisting police.
Following a preliminary court hearing Thursday, Judge James Collins found there was insufficient evidence to hold Carlos-Valentino for trial for allegedly kidnapping his 16-year-old daughter.
The teen was in his Ford Explorer with him when he pulled over on the bridge around 7 a.m. and allegedly called a local radio station and police, claiming he had two pipe bombs and a gun.
Carlos-Valentino allegedly brandished a handgun in front of officers who responded and threatened to kill himself, according to police. He then tossed the gun into the bay and was later taken into custody. No explosives were found in the car, but a stun gun and a replica handgun were recovered there.
Collins said Thursday that prosecutors did not present evidence that Carlos-Valentino’s daughter was being held against her will at the time or was afraid of her father.
But, Collins said, there was evidence he put her in danger as he held a gun in his lap and police had their guns drawn on him.
He is due back in court Dec. 23 for arraignment in superior court on the remaining charges. A trial date has not yet been set.
Carlos-Valentino’s daughter testified Thursday that her father had recently learned that his wife of 20 years had been cheating on him. While in the car with her that morning, he text-messaged family members that he was going to “the place” to kill himself, she said.
He then phoned the radio station and police, and stopped in the far right lane. When police arrived, he got out and showed the officers his gun, the daughter said.
“I was worried that…I didn’t want him to get shot,” she said.
Despite some of the felonies being dropped Thursday, prosecutor Leslie Cogan asked Collins not to release Carlos-Valentino, arguing he was still a public safety risk.
“It’s a horrible family situation…that escalated,” Cogan acknowledged. “This is someone who may have been acting desperately, but did it on the bridge in the middle of commute traffic. I have grave concerns for the public safety in this case.”
Carlos-Valentino’s attorney, Carmen Aguirre of the public defender’s office, told Collins the situation was “albeit obnoxiously loud, a cry for help.”
She said Carlos-Valentino, a security guard at two San Francisco clubs, had been depressed and sleeping in his car when he learned of his wife’s alleged infidelity.
Aguirre noted that several members of Carlos-Valentino’s family attended Thursday’s hearing in his support, including his estranged wife’s mother.
The woman stood up and told Collins that her son-in-law had no violent tendencies and simply “snapped” that day.
Collins said he believed Carlos-Valentino is “a productive member of society” but seemed to have reached a “breaking point.”
Collins said he still had concerns for public safety at set bail at $75,000.
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