Tuesday’s column

Matt Drudge headlined his link to an AP story about the latest freeway shooting War zone: Driver found shot in L.A. freeway wreck.

War zone. Interesting choice of words.

Ever since moving here in the early 1980s, Ive always been hyper-conscious of the possibility of encountering a gun on a freeway.

Im pretty sure that in 85 or 86 a really mad guy driving a Bimmer near the junction of the Costa Mesa and San Diego freeways waved a piece out the window at me in my beat up, air-conditionless 1974 Mustang II. It occurred right after I crossed something like three lanes of traffic to go from the south 55 to the south 405, because that interchange was pretty darned confusing and difficult to navigate back then.

In the past couple of weeks, theres been a spate of shootings on area freeways, all of which have baffled police and frightened motorists. The outcomes werent as benign as my encounter 20-plus years ago.

At least two of the recent incidents were fatal. A couple of others nearly fatal. One may have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Heres the roundup:

[BULLET]On March 12, Deborah Lynn Lepper, a 54-year-old Rancho Cucamonga chiropractor, was shot to death along a stretch of the 10 Freeway near White Avenue in Pomona. The case remains unsolved.

[BULLET]On Feb. 27, just a few miles north on the 210 Freeway between Irwindale and Grand avenues, a 46-year-old man was shot several times.

Azusa police told reporters a compact car pulled alongside the unidentified man and started shooting.

And as hes traveling eastbound at some point a vehicle opened fired on his car, striking his car several times on the passenger-side door, Lt. Paul Dennis, of the Azusa Police Department, told a KABC reporter. The vehicle was struck several times and our victim was hit a couple of times as well.

[BULLET]This past Saturday night a man driving on the northbound 710 Freeway near Del Amo Avenue was apparently shot several times by someone in another car.

[BULLET]On Sunday the alarm was sounded when a man was found shot to death on the 101 Freeway in Sherman Oaks. It turns out his death may have been a suicide.

So much for the war zone theory.

Of course the truth is there are probably people getting killed every day on the freeway just not by gunfire. So we dont notice it as much, unless it ruins our commute or its gruesome enough to make the morning news.

After a day or so of keeping up with news accounts, reading blogs and listening to radio traffic reports about the recent shootings, it dawned on me that our freeways no longer have names.

There is no San Bernardino, no Pomona, no Long Beach, no Santa Monica, no Hollywood, no Golden State, no Artesia, no San Diego, no Foothill, no Harbor, no Pasadena, no San Gabriel River.

All those places, all those evocative names, they all add up to one two-word phrase that just as aptly describes the area outside of Baghdads Green Zone.

War Zone. Thanks, Drudge.

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Mo Moe (the chimp that is)

This from night cop reporter Brian Day. The photo of the suspected thief comes from the West Covina PD The photo of Moe comes from the archive:


WEST COVINA – The former owners of “Moe” the chimp are offering a reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of a woman who stole from them Saturday.

La Donna and St. James Davis, who now uses a wheelchair after being attacked by chimps in March of 2005, were shopping at Target in the

Eastland Shopping Center when the theft occurred, West Covina police officials said.

As La Donna briefly turned away from the cart, where her purse was, a woman stole the purse containing the Davises IDs, credit cards, bank cards, and St. James medication and medical information, said a friend of the


Davises, Michael McCasland.

The thief quickly left the store and got into a waiting white dodge truck, he added.

McCasland said he believes the Davises were targeted because while La Donna was distracted, the thief hoped to take advantage of a man in a wheelchair.

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NoMo Pho(bia)


Some pointy-headed poindexter in Great Britain came up with this one, it’s called Nomophobia. Simply put it’s the fear of being without your mobile telephone for any length of time.

I apparently suffer from this disease. Although I’ll confess that when I first saw the term I assumed it applied to fantasy baseball managers thinking about drafting a certain (non) starting pitcher who’s attempting a comeback with the Kansas City Royals.

It actually had nothing to do with Hideo Nomo, so there’s still no word in the language to cover those fantasy sports sickos who will do anything to get a post draft bargain.

Nomo’s apparently hurt anyway with a pulled groin muscle that will keep him on the bench for a few weeks.

But I digress.

Here’s a snippet from the AFP about true nomophobia:


Some 58 percent of men and 48 percent of women panic when they hit a problem with their cellphone, while nine percent of people feel stressed when they turn their mobiles off, it said.

Pollsters YouGov, commissioned by the Post Office, questioned 2,163 people online earlier this month.

Stewart Fox-Mills, head of telephony at the Post Office, said “nomo-phobia” — which he used to mean a fear of being without a mobile phone — was “very real for many people in the UK”.

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A double-moded death in Pico (*UPDATED)

*Here’s what Coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said regarding the Ernesto Frayre case.

*This is a transcription of my notes from a phone conversation with Corral on Monday afternoon:

The victim suffered a “gunshot wound to the head.” The coroner’s investigator wrote his report and assigned a double mode to the case. “Suicide vs. homicide,” Corral said.

What this means Corral said is that the homicide detectives think one thing may have happened while the coroner’s investigator think it was something else.

Homicide dets are leading toward homicide, coroner’s investigator is leaning toward suicide.

Corral would not say if a gun was recovered at the scene. He also wouldn’t say if there was a note of some sort.

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Freeway death a possible suicide

This from the LADN:

SHERMAN OAKS – A man whose body was found with a gunshot wound to the head Sunday in a car on the Ventura Freeway was despondent over the suicide of his girlfriend and might have killed himself, police said this morning.

Marlon Gordillo Sical, 20, had been arguing with his girlfriend, Virginia Castillo, 19, when he disappeared and she hanged herself, police said.

“He was apparently despondent,” said Los Angeles Police Capt. James Miller, adding that police still are calling the case an undetermined death until the results of an autopsy tomorrow.

Miller would not say whether police found a gun at the scene of the accident Sunday but said no suicide note was found.

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Another freeway shooting

On Sunday a man was shot and killed on the eastbound Ventura Freeway in Sherman Oaks. The LA Daily News crime blog has details. Here’s a snippet from reporter Jason Kandel:


I went out to the scene yesterday of a freeway shooting in which a 20-year-old man was found with a bullet to his head in his crashed car. The man’s smashed up white car was found near the center divider on the eastbound Ventura Freeway between Van Nuys Boulevard and Woodman Avenue in Sherman Oaks at 8:14 a.m. yesterday.

Paramedics responding to what they thought was a crash saw the victim with the bullet and was taken to UCLA Medical Center where he died later. The man’s car struck the eastbound freeways right sound wall, crossed all five lanes and slammed into the center divider. Los Angeles Police Capt. Jim Miller said police had no witnesses and few leads. Not much was known about the victim, identified as Marlon Gordillo Sical.

This was the second deadly freeway shooting in the Fernando Valley this month. About 2 a.m. March 1, Bunthan Roeung, 26, of Sylmar died after being shot on the 101 near Barham Boulevard.

Drudge is linking to an AP story on Yahoo News with the scary headline “War Zone: Driver found shot in LA freeway wreck.”  The story makes mention of a shooting earlier this month on the 10 Freeway in Pomona. We covered the initial story but have done little follow up. Here’s a blog link and a story link.

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Monrovia officer released from hospital (*UPDATED)

A veteran Monrovia police Sergeant had been treated and released from a local hospital following a gun battle on city streets early Sunday morning.

Sgt. Dan Verna, who grew up in Monrovia and was a member of the Police Explorer program took at least one bullet to the chin and perhaps another in the shoulder.

Meanwhile, the man suspected of shooting Verna, was himself shot several times in an exchange of gunfire between Monrovia and CHP officers and the suspect.

The suspect has not been identified. He was apparently wanted in connection with some vehicle burglaries in both Monrovia and Arcadia, officials said.

*UPDATE: The Foothill Cities Blog has an entry, authored by Frazgo, devoted to the incident, including details about the suspect, who apparently has a lengthy rap sheet and was wanted in connection with a hot prowl in Arcadia.

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Married on Saturday, died on Sunday

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That was the end of Ernesto Frayre, 24, of Pico Rivera. Relatives said Fraye got married Saturday. He was found dead Sunday morning in a car parked on Sideview Drive, just north of Shadeview Lane in Pico Rivera.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives termed the case a “criminal death,” according to reporter Brian Day. The investigation is pending an autopsy from the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, officials said. 

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More traces of Ondrea


This letter comes from the mother of Ondrea Alvarez, who was killed in a fatal traffic accident on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights. The family, and police are still seeking answers in the case. THe top photo is from the family’s Bellflower backyard. The bottom from a memorial at the site of the accident. Here’s the letter:

 Thank you for following up on the story of our wonderful daughter/sister. We thought we would send you some pictures of Ondrea and of the memorial which is at the site of the accident and of the one at her home in Bellflower. If you could please post one or two of them with your “Trace” artical as well as any future updates we would be very greatful.



We know very little about what happend on the night of the accident and the CHP have said that no information would be available until they complete their investigation (which we were told could take up to 3 or more months) so we are thankful to you and the crimescene site for the comfort we have found in the information you have porvided us.

Thank you so very much!

Ondrea’s Mother – Robin Hoskins

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A plea for help in Monrovia slaying


The photo is of a memorial at the site in unincorporated Monrovia where Sammantha Salas was shot to death as she and a friend walked home to her father’s apartment from a nearby dairy on Myrtle Avenue. The case remains unsolved. I receives this letter as one of several asking that a reward be established in the case. Sheriff’s detectives and the Los Angeles County Supervisors have been reluctant to set up a reward in the case for fear that any information they receive will be suspect. Here’s the letter:

On behalf of the family of 16 year old Samantha Sales,
killed January 26, 2008 in Monrovia by two young men,
I want to urge you to encourage Monrovia Mayor Rob
Hammod and Sheriff Lee Baca to establish a monetary
reward for anyone with information leading to the
arrest of these suspects.

with best regards,

Jim Weiss  President, Council of Los Angeles Archdiocese St. Vincent DePaul Society

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