CHP hosts “Start Smart” driving class for teens in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK >> As part of its ongoing efforts to keep young drivers and the motoring public at-large safe behind the wheel, the California Highway Patrol is hosting a free safe driving class for teens and their parents on Friday, officials said.
Both new and soon-to-be drivers are invited to take part in thetwo-hour “Start Smart Class,” which will be held at 6:16 p.m. Friday at the CHP’s Baldwin Park-area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The class focuses on safe habits, responsible decisions and collision avoidance.
Photos and pictures depicting the results of bad decisions behind the wheel will be displayed, and teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A driver’s license is not required to participate.
To reserve a space, or for more information, Officer Jimenez can be reached at 626-338-1164, or via email at rjimenes@chp.ca.gov.

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Pasadena gang member pleads guilty in police shooting


PASADENA >> A Pasadena gang member accused of shooting at a police officer before being wounded himself and arrested pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with the incident, authorities said Wednesday.
Francisco Flores, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of assault on a peace officer with a firearm, discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of methamphetamine while armed with a handgun, with allegations the crimes gang-related, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement. He’s expected to be sentenced to 35 years in prison when he returns to Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on March 17.
He was a passenger in a car two officers tried to pull over about 9:15 a.m. on April 8, 2016, at Buckeye Street and Los Robles Avenue. The car came to an abrupt stop at Buckeye Street and Adena Avenue, where Flores ran from the vehicle.
An officer followed Flores, according to the police statement. “While running, suspect Flores looked back at (the pursuing officer), pointed a gun at the officer and fired three rounds, fortunately missing.”
The officer returned fire, striking Flores, police said. Flores was treated for his wounds and has since recovered.
Flores was already out on bail pending an illegal gun possession case at the time of the shooting, officials said.

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El Monte man killed in stabbing identified


EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 22-year-old man who was fatally stabbed as he walked along Peck Road with his cousin on Sunday.
Alejandro Rojas died at a hospital about an hour after the stabbing, which took place about 11:40 a.m. Sunday outside a liquor store in the 4200 block of Peck Road, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He died four days after his 22nd birthday.
He was walking down the street, accompanied by his cousin, when a car heading north along Peck Road pulled up alongside them, according deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.
An attacker exited the passenger side of the car and confronted the cousins before pulling a knife and stabbing Rojas in the chest, the deputy said.
The killer returned to the vehicle, which sped away, officials said. A detailed description of the attacker and their car was not available. The motive was unclear.
Rojas was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.
His cousin was unhurt in the attack, Navarro-Suarez said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting El Monte police with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact homicide detectives ar 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Suspect in deadly Whittier police shootout still in ICU, surviving officer released from hospital

Members of the community place flowers in memory of slain Whittier Police officer Keith Boyer at the Whittier Police Department’s Police Officer Memorial in Whittier, Calif. on Tuesday February 21, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

WHITTIER >> The gang member accused of killing a Whittier police officer and another man on Monday, as well as wounding another police officer, remained hospitalized in a intensive care unit Wednesday as detectives continued gathering evidence and the community continued mourning and seeking answers.
Investigators were yet to interview Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, of Los Angeles, as he continued receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the back sustained in Monday morning’s gunfight with the Whittier, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.
The tight-knit Whittier community has rallied around the family of Officer Keith Boyer, a 53-year-old Whittier resident, 28-year lawman, father, grandfather and classic rock drummer.
Officer Patrick Hazell, who was wounded in the abdomen in the shootout, was released from the hospital and continuing his recovery at home, Corina said. His father said the wounded officer did not wish to comment at this time.
Mejia, a documented gang member who was on felony probation, or “Post-Release Community Supervision,” under the terms of AB 109, is also accused of gunning down his cousin about 5:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Volney Drive in East Los Angeles, less than three hours before the violent encounter with police in Whittier.
Family members said Mejia showed up the Torres home and confronted Torres inside the converted garage the victim used as his bedroom.
The men possibly became involved in an argument prior to the shooting, relatives said. Following the shooting, Mejia allegedly fled in Torres car, which he soon crashed in Whittier.
An autopsy determined Torres died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. The death was ruled a homicide.
No further details of the East Los Angeles slaying, including a motive, have not been released.Mejia was driving a stolen car when became involved in a minor crash with two other vehicles at Colima Road and Mar Vista Avenue about 8 a.m., Corina said.
Police arrive at the scene after the other drivers had helped Mejia push the car he was driving to the side of the road.
“They asked him to get out of the car. That’s when the shooting occurred,” Corina said.
Mejia suddenly drew a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire, striking both officers.
One of the officer managed to return fire and wound Mejia, who was taken into custody at the scene by fellow officers, officials said.
It was unclear which of the officers wounded the suspect. Corina declined to discuss whether one, or both, of the officers fired their weapons.
Mejia’s gun was recovered at the scene, Corina said.
The involved officers were not wearing body camera, and Corina said he was not aware of any video recordings of the deadly encounter between Mejia and Whittier police.
Mejia was expected to be charged in connection with the case once he’s out of the hospital, the lieutenant said.
Mejia had prior convictions for robbery, and most recently, auto theft, officials said.
He as been re-arrested for probation violations five times since being released from prison for the auto theft conviction, each time resulting in 9- or 10-day “flash incarcerations,” under the terms of AB 109, also known as the “California Public Safety Realignment” of 2011, records show.
Details regarding the circumstances of each arrest were not available, however none resulted in the filing of a new criminal case.
At least one of the arrests was for possession of methamphetamine, Corina said.
Possession of methamphetamine had traditionally been a felony in California, punishable by a year or more in prison, but was reduced to a misdemeanor by Proposition 47, passed by California voters in 2014.
Mejia’s criminal record has raised concerns of law enforcement officers, politicians and others, who are questioning whether Mejia should have been behind bars, rather than out on the street, on Monday.
A documented gang member, and an apparently proud one, Mejia bears the letters “W” and “G” tattooed prominently across his face in capital letters. The same abbreviation, which stands for an East Los Angeles street gang, is also tattooed on Mejia’s neck in lower-case letters.
Services for Boyer have not been announced.
The Whittier Police Department is accepting donations to benefit Boyer’s family. He’s survived by a fiancee, four children and two grandchildren.
Checks can be made out to “WPOA Benevolent Fund,” and reference account No. 488879. Contributions can be dropped off in person at the Whittier Police Department, 13200 Penn Street, in person at the Credit Union of Southern California at 8028 Greenleaf Ave. or mailed to the Credit Union of Southern California, WPOA Benevolent Fund, attention David Valencia, PO Box 200, Whittier, CA 90608.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, regarding Monday’s incident is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO of Michael C. Mejia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departement

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Car plows car into children’s bedroom in La Puente, driver runs away

LA PUENTE >> Two children escaped injury when a car plowed through their bedroom in La Puente early Wednesday morning, authorities said. The driver ran away and remained at-large Wednesday afternoon.
The crash took place about 1:45 a.m. at the corner of Temple and Duff avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Lang said.
A 2015-Mercedes-Benz C300 was eastbound on Temple Avenue when the driver lost control, the deputy said. The car struck the curb or wheelchair ramp, then smashed through a fence and into the side of the home.
The vehicle ended up embedded about halfway into the bedroom, in which two children were sleeping, Lang said. Neither child was injured.
The driver abandoned the wrecked Mercedes and fled the scene on foot, Lang said. He was initially described as a man between 20 and 25 years old.
The crash was caught on video by a nearby surveillance camera, Lang said. Investigators were working to obtain a copy of the recording.
Deputies continued seeking the driver, as well as the registered owner, of the car Wednesday afternoon.
Lang urged the driver to turn himself in.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.


Staff photos by Pedro F. Garcia

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UPDATED: Man fatally stabbed in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died in a stabbing outside a liquor store in El Monte on Sunday, authorities said.
The deadly stabbing was reported just before 11:45 a.m. in the 4200 block of Peck Road, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau.
“The victim and his cousin were walking south on Peck Road when a vehicle headed northbound on Peck Road pulled alongside them,” Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
A man exited the front passenger seat of the car and confronted the two men, she said.
“The suspect produced a knife and stabbed the victim in the chest,” according to Navarro-Suarez. “The suspect then re-entered the vehicle and fled away north and out of view.”
The wounded man and his cousin ran north along Peck Road before the stabbing victim collapsed, officials said. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, officials said. The cousin was not hurt.
The motive in the stabbing was unclear, and no further descriptions of the attacker or the getaway driver were available.
Investigators had yet to determine the motive in the fatal attack, and no further details were available.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is helping the El Monte Police Department with the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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.

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Montebello man arrested after bicyclist killed in hit-and-run


Authorities arrested an 18-year-old Montebello man who they say fatally struck a bicyclist with an SUV before fleeing the scene, crashing into several parked cars and ultimately being detained by neighborhood residents until police arrived.
John F. Saldivar, 18, is accused of hit-and-run in connection with the fatal collision, which took place about 7:30 p.m. on Concourse Avenue, just south of Allston Street, on the border between East Los Angeles and Montebello, according to Officer E. Anguiano of the CHP’s East Los Angeles-area office.
The bicyclist, described as a 35-year-old Los Angeles man, died at the scene, officials said. His identity was not available Sunday.
Saldivar was driving a 2002 Ford Expedition south on Concourse Avenue prior to the collision, Anguiano said. The bicyclist was also southbound, traveling ahead of the SUV.
“For unknown reasons, (Saldivar) failed to notice the bicyclist ahead and collided with the bicyclist,” Anguiano said in a written statement. The cyclist was thrown from his bicycle.
The driver allegedly fled before crashing into several parked cars a few blocks away.
“(Saldivar) was detained by local residents until CHP arrived on scene,” Anguiano said.
Intoxicated driving was not believed to a factor in the crash, he added.
Any witnesses are encouraged to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles-area office at 323-980-4600.

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UPDATED: Two women killed, toddler wounded in Covina shooting; parolee jailed

COVINA >> A parolee is suspected of killing two women and seriously wounding a toddler in a shooting at a Covina home early Sunday, authorities said.
The incident was first reported just after midnight, when Lucas Doi Fick, 36, of Covina knocked on a door of a home in the 700 block of Rancho Sinaloa Drive, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said. He had an injured 2-year-old boy with him.
“(He) said that ‘something bad’ had happened, and to call the police,” the lieutenant said.
“Responding officers went into residence and discovered two adult females decease from apparent gunshot wounds,” Walczak said. Their identities were not available.
Officials also discovered that the young boy had been shot in the back, he said.
“The child underwent emergency surgery,” Walczak said. His injuries were serious, but he was expected to survive.
Police recovered several guns from the scene, he said.
Fick, a parolee fitted with a GPS ankle monitor due to a lengthy prior criminal record, was taken into custody, police said.
He was initially booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms and violating his parole as the investigation continued, Walczak said. But investigators considered him a suspect in the double-slaying of the two women and the attempted murder of the boy.
No further details, including the relationships between the suspect and victims and the motive, were available Sunday afternoon.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Fick was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Los Angeles County Superior Court records show Fick’s extensive rap sheet includes convictions for attempted possession of ammunition by a felon in 2016; burglary and resisting or obstructing police in 2015; possession of a gun by felon, possession of ammunition by a felon and theft in 2014; theft in 2013; dissuading a witness in 2012; possession of drugs for sales in 2009; drug possession in 2008; possession of methamphetamine in 2007; assault with a deadly weapon in 2004; possession of an illegal knife on a college campus in 2002; and criminal threats in 2001.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5612. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.


PHOTO of Lucas Fick courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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UPDATED: Duarte man gunned down in front of home


DUARTE >> A man died after he was shot as he arrived home with his wife and children in Duarte on Saturday night, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 8:20 p.m. in the 2300 block of Bashor Street, according to Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau.
Kirinda Lavar Morehead died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
“Detectives have learned that the victim, a 39-year-old man, parked his car behind his wife’s car at the location. The victim and his wife exited their cars and were preparing to walk to their residence on Mount Olive Drive,” Moody said in a written statement.
“A white vehicle driving westbound on Bashor Street pulled up alongside the victim,” the deputy said. “An occupant opened fire striking the victim multiple times. The victim’s wife was uninjured.”
The car was last seen heading north on Mount Olive Drive, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced Morehead dead at the scene.
No further details, including a description of the attacker or attackers, were available.
A neighbor, who asked that his name be withheld, said he was inside his home with his mother and teenage sister when eight to nine shots rang out in rapid succession.
“We hurried into the back room of our house,” he said.
He said he then heard the sound of a woman’s anguished voice calling out for help.
“Call 911,” she exclaimed, according to the neighbor. “My baby. I can’t live without him. His two kids need him.”
The neighbor said he emerged to look around after he could hear that police had arrived in the neighborhood.
He saw the victim lying next to his truck, which was parked on the street and pierced with at least three bullet holes.
The two children, who were with their mother only yards away when the shooting occurred, were asking where their father was, he said.
The motive in the fatal attack was not yet clear.
Anyone with information is urged to contact 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.

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Candidate forum for South El Monte mayoral special election planned Tuesday

SOUTH EL MONTE >> The League of Women Voters of the East San Gabriel Valley is planning a candidate’s forum Tuesday with the two candidates vying to replace former South El Monte mayor Luis Aguinaga, who resigned and pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case last year.
The forum will be held at 7 p.m. at the South El Monte Senior Services Center, 1556 Central Ave., organizers said.
The two candidates on the March 7 special election will be Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Olmos and City Councilman Joseph Gonzales.
Former City Councilman Raul Pardo will not appear on the ballot, as the required signatures were not approved by the city, but will be running as a write-in candidate.
They are competing to replace Aguinaga, who resigned in August, a month before he pleaded guilty to accepting at least $45,000 in bribes from a contractor over the course of seven years.
Aguinaga faces up to 10 years in federal prison at his scheduled sentencing on March 2.
For more information on the candidate forum, the League of Women Voters of the San Gabriel Valley can be reached at 626-967-8055.

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