Man fatally shot in Hacienda Heights identified

An investigator identified the man fatally shot over the weekend as a Baldwin Park resident.

Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. John Corina said 34-year-old Gerardo Garcia was found in a lot in the 14400 block of Clark Avenue on Sunday.

Garcia is known to visit Hacienda Heights, he said.

The lieutenant said the lot is located behind a home but there is no structure on the property. The owner rents it out so people can park vehicles there, according to Corina. He said someone who came to work on a vehicle discovered Garcia lying there.

The Sheriff’s Industry Station received a call at 1:44 p.m. Sunday about a person who was lying bleeding and unconscious to the rear of the location.

Corina said Garcia had been shot in the body. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

People heard a gunshot on Saturday night, the lieutenant said. But no suspects or vehicles were seen.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

$4,700 taken in Hacienda Heights home robbery

Three men wearing bandanas over their faces tied up a couple, assaulted them and stole about $4,700 in cash and jewelry during a home invasion robbery in Hacienda Heights on Sunday.

One of the robbers was armed with a knife, said Lt. Arthur Scott of the sheriff’s Industry Station. The woman suffered a small laceration to the lip but wasn’t taken to a hospital, he said. He described the two victims as being in their 60s.

The robbery in the 2000 block of Nadula Drive started at around 7 p.m. The resident arrived home and got accosted by three men in her garage.

Scott said the woman’s husband heard the garage door open, went to help his wife and encountered the suspects. He said the suspects forced the couple into the home then used garments and a belt to tie them up. The robbers put a pillow case over the man’s head, according to the lieutenant.

“(The husband) was sprayed with a window cleaner. He was also kicked and punched,” Scott said.

Scott said the woman sustained the cut to her lip when the suspects slammed her to the floor. After the robbers left, he said the woman wriggled free of her binds and called police.

Scott couldn’t verify media reports that the victims owned or worked in the jewelry business. The suspects were only described as three black men, 25 to 30 and 6 feet tall. They may have used an older model black BMW.

Investigators haven’t yet found a link to other home invasion robberies.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Industry station at 626-330-3322. Anonymous tipsters can call LA Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text “TIPLA” plus the tip to 274637, or use the website

Man fatally shot in Hacienda Heights

Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a man found fatally shot in a Hacienda Heights backyard Sunday afternoon.

Coroner’s officials didn’t release the man’s name on Monday because his next of kin hasn’t been notified.

A neighbor called deputies about 1:45 p.m. to report seeing someone lying in the large backyard of a home in the 14400 block of Clark Avenue, Sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Thurlo said.

Deputies and paramedics discovered the victim, a 34-year-old Latino, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound, according to department spokeswoman, Deputy Crystal Hernandez.

Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene.

Hernandez said according to witnesses, a single gunshot was heard in the area but no suspects or vehicles were seen.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Hacienda Heights rallies behind family

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

For the second time in recent years, a Hacienda Heights family has been devastated by a fatal tragedy. And for the second time, the community is rallying around the family to offer compassion and support.

Bertha Rosales, 42, died in a car crash while driving two of her four sons home from school in their hometown of Hacienda Heights, according to California Highway Patrol officials and friends.

Her sons Isaac, 13, and Ramon Jr., 10, suffered serious injuries in the crash, officials said. Isaac remained unconscious at a hospital with severe head injuries Wednesday, family friend Ernie Maldonado said. Ramon Jr. was making good progress in his recovery after undergoing surgery for injuries to his shoulder and elbow.

“This past Sunday was actually Bertha’s birthday,” Maldonado said.

The same family was affected by another deadly tragedy in August of 2011, when Rosales’ sister, 49-year-old Virginia Gonzales, and Gonzales’ 3-year-old son, Johnny Crowger, died in a house fire at their home in the 1700 block of Piermont Drive in Hacienda Heights.

Gonzales died while trying to rescue her son from the burning home, officials said.

In last week’s car crash, Rosales was driving a BMW sedan north on Durazno Drive, heading from a stop sign at a T-intersection, about 2:35 p.m. when the BMW collided with a Chevrolet Camaro heading west on Halliburton Road, CHP Sgt. Charles Quijada said.

For more, read Brian Day’s story ROSALES.

Kaiser salutes Special Olympians like Hacienda Heights athlete


Kaiser Permanente salutes Special Olympics with this year’s Rose Parade float. Kaiser celebrates the 7,000 international athletes coming to Los Angeles in July for the Special Olympics World Games.

“Our float will raise awareness of the 2015 World Games and the Special Olympics mission to promote acceptance and inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities by demonstrating and celebrating the joy, courage and determination of these remarkable athletes,” said Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director for Southern California.

The float will carry some well-known personalities, including Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson. He won gold and silver medals in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics.

Johnson also served as USA team captain and flag bearer in the Rome games. In 1984, Johnson lit the Olympic cauldron to open the Olympics in Los Angeles.

But Johnson is also well known for his work with Special Olympics, beginning with the first games in California in 1969, he was on the original board of directors. Johnson served as president until July of 1992, when he was named chairman of the board of directors.



“It’s been an absolute joy to watch the Special Olympics grow over the years,” Johnson said. “I find the athletes totally inspiring, the way they embrace life and form long friendships through the Special Olympics. Their smiles seem to become broader every year I see them.”

Joining Johnson will be many Special Olympic athletes such as the intellectually disabled Charlene Jan of Hacienda Heights. Jan’s mother, Leelin Chen, is a registered nurse at Kaiser’s Medical Center in Baldwin Park.

“When I heard they were looking for special athletes, I applied for Charlene. We’re all so excited that she’s going to ride in the Rose Parade,” Chen said.

For more, read Rich Irwin’s story OLYMPICS.

$10,000 reward paid to four witnesses of St. Vianney fire

Following the successful conviction of Gregory Shiga, who was arrested in 2012 for intentionally setting fire to St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, a $10,000 reward was distributed to four witnesses who came forward with information that led to the suspected arsonist’s arrest.

“I’m thankful these individuals came forward with their critical eyewitness accounts of the fire at St. John Vianney,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “Justice has been served and the residents who chose not to stand by and let their community suffer at the hands of an arsonist are being rewarded for their information. If you witness a crime in your community, please report it immediately to law enforcement.”

Shiga was found guilty of four counts of aggravated arson and one count of burglary. He is currently serving 18 years to life in state prison, and has been ordered to pay $8,926,837.78 in restitution to the church.

Hacienda Heights Community Center has family Christmas

The new Hacienda Heights Community Center will hold a family Christmas party on Dec. 10. The holiday event is sponsored by the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation as well as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Lowes.

Beginning at 11 a.m., children will enjoy food, music, games and soccer. There will also be magic tricks by Pun and Alex Thal.

A special screeing of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” will be shown at 1 p.m. , courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.

The Make A Wish Foundation will bring 100 children to the fun. Registration begins at 10 a.m. At 3 p.m., Santa will stop by to distribute toys to the boys and girls.

The center is located at 1234 Valencia Ave. in Hacienda Heights. For more information, call 626-333-3250.

Community Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 in Hacienda Heights

The 14th Annual Community Christmas Concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 13,  at 7:30 p.m. in Hacienda Heights.

The concert will be held at Saint John Vianney Catholic Community Center at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. It will be produced by Michael Gribschaw, Director of Music at the church.

Eight choirs will perform including: St. John Vianney Adult Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; St. John VIanney Children’s Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Eric W. Bladh, Director; Saint Matthews United Methodist Church – Elaine Ono, Director; Los Altos High School – Jeffrey Fahey, Director; Wilson High School – De John Brown, Director; Mesa Robles Middle School – Amanda  C. Benavides, Director and Los Angeles Philharmonic Choir – Hui-Chen Lee, Director.

Audience will participate by singing Christmas Carols.The choirs will combine to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the “Messiah”, under the direction of Christine Leong Brydges.

The concert is free to the public and refreshments will be served after the concert.

A free will offering will be taken for the East San Gabriel Coalition for the Homeless. In 2013, $3,020 was raised for the coalition.

Pitfalls of turning Puente Hills Landfill into a park


Building a park on top of 130 million tons of Los Angeles County’s trash can be tricky.

“There is a 3 percent settlement rate per year,” said Michael Hughes, a longtime Hacienda Heights resident and Puente Hills Landfill neighbor who has been waiting for this moment for more than 30 years. “So they can’t put much in terms of permanent infrastructure, which is unfortunate.”

Last week, the county Board of Supervisors made the first move toward turning the shuttered Puente Hills Landfill near the intersection of the 605 and 60 freeways into a regional park of about 600 acres by accepting $814,000 from the county Sanitation Districts, the former operators of the landfill.

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation will use the money to hire a parks designer who will gather public input and sketch several designs as part of an overall master plan for the new Puente Hills County Regional Park, said Russ Guiney, director of county Parks and Recreation.

Most likely, the planner will take “a practical approach,” Guiney said, staying away from ball fields and buildings and instead, as Hughes puts it, focus on “trails and trees.”

That’s because for the next 25 years, the top of the landfill overlooking Whittier in the south and Hacienda Heights to the east, where as much as 13,000 tons of trash were deposited per day for 57 years, can be unstable as household garbage decomposes and the surface shifts.

“On the top-fill area of about 200 acres the landfill is sinking slowly as it compacts. It will take some time for everything to settle,” Guiney said.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story PARK.

Newton Knights show Goodwill in Hacienda Heights

From Newton Middle School

“Newton Middle School Knights DO GOOD for the Hacienda Heights community!  NMS students have a long history of high academic achievement but also of demonstrating a sense of pride and responsibility to their local community.

It’s not uncommon to see middle school kids donning Newton Knights spirit shirts marching up and down the major boulevards picking up trash on weekends, combing through nearby beaches clearing litter, and hosting canned food and toy drives near the holidays to support underprivileged families and kids.

This month, Newton has partnered with Goodwill Southern California to support the great work that the organization does to enhance the quality of life for individual with disabilities, U.S. Veterans, and local troubled youth by assisting them to become productive and self-sufficient through education, training, and job opportunities.

To promote this important purpose, students have set the goal of filling 20 large bins with donated goods to be given to the Goodwill!  Students will collect all kinds of items including artwork, bedspreads, CDs and DVDs, clothing, shoes, accessories, computers, cookware, small appliances, holiday decorations, sporting goods, and much more.

The Hacienda Heights community can help by bringing donations to Newton Middle School between November 12th-November 15th.  The last chance to make donations is Saturday, November 15th by 2:00 pm.

Come by, and turn your discards into someone’s treasure!  For more information, contact Principal Angela Lin at 626-933-2401.”