Cigarettes, cash stolen in Rowland Heights armed robbery

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — Three men used a handgun to rob a smoke shop of cigarettes and cash Wednesday, authorities said.
The robbery occurred about 7:30 p.m. at the Colima Smoke Shop, 19705 Colima Road, Suite 7.
About $1,500 worth of cigarettes and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken in the crime, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Mike Browne said.
Two robbers entered the store while a third acted as a getaway driver, he said. One of the robbers was armed with a chrome-colored revolver.
One of the robbers was described a black man standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, wearing a long-sleeve dark-colored shirt and dark-colored pants, Browne said.
Another robber was a Latino man standing about 6 feet tall and wore a long-sleeve green shirt and dark-colored pants, he said.
No description of the driver was released.
The robbers were last seen driving west on Colima Road in a black SUV, Browne said.
No injuries were reported.

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Woman interrupts burglary in Pasadena

PASADENA — A woman with a baby interrupted a burglary at her home Wednesday and was pushed and had her hair pulled one of the fleeing burglars, police said.
The incident occurred about 5:40 p.m. at an apartment in the 100 block of South Madison Avenue.
The woman was walking home with her baby in a stroller when she saw to burglars on the balcony of her apartment, Pasadena police Lt. Randell Taylor said.
The woman yelled out, and the men ran from the apartment toward the woman, the lieutenant said.
One of the burglars pushed the woman and pulled her hair, while the other dropped and damaged a computer they had taken from the home, Taylor said.
The woman was not injured, and the burglars are believed to have left empty-handed, he said.
Taylor added that the burglary appeared random, and the thieves likely took advantage of an unlocked door or window to enter the home.
The burglars were described as Latino men in their mid-20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of medium build, with short hair and clean shaven faces, Taylor said.

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Detectives investigate death of man at hospital

Homicide detectives were sent to a local hospital Wednesday to investigate a man’s death by unknown causes, authorities said.
The 38-year-old man’s name was not released pending notification of his family members, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
He died just after 9 a.m. at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The man was taken to Garfield Medical Center from Ingleside Hospital in Rosemead, 7500 E. Hellman Ave., according to sheriff’s officials.
The dead man was reportedly from Murrieta and a psychiatric patient being treated at the Rosemead facility, according to wire services. He was hospitalized in Monterey Park after suffering facial trauma.
Coroner’s and sheriff’s officials could not confirm those details late Wednesday.
The investigation now hinges on the results of an autopsy to be performed by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner over the next few days, Lt. Gil Carillo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.

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Missing South El Monte mother and kids found, mother arrested

EL MONTE — Officials arrested a South El Monte woman with a history of child abuse Wednesday after she went missing for 12 days with her two young daughters.
Alma Beatriz Frias, 29, was booked on suspicion of child abuse and was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the sheriff’s Temple Station, Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff’s Special Victims Unit said.

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During interviews after her arrest Wednesday, “(Frias) admitted kicking the 2-year-old and tossing the 2-month old in her crib,” Scott said.
“I think it would shock anybody,” he added.
The children were taken into protective custody and turned over to the County Department of Children and Family Services, Scott said.
“The children appeared to be in good health,” he added.
DCFS officials will determine where to place the children, whether it be with other family members or in the foster system, the sergeant said.
“It’s a relief that the children were found and they were unharmed,” Scott said.
Frias, a mother of at least seven children, had not been seen since May 15 when she ran from her home during a visit from social workers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Byron Ward said in a written statement. At the time, she was being investigated for an abuse allegation, authorities said.
When workers went inside the home, they couldn’t find the children, so they presumed to be with their mother, officials said.
The sheriff’s Special Victims Unit was asked to join the investigation Friday, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
The investigation led to a house in El Monte. Deputies didn’t find Frias, however information gleaned from that visit led officials to a second El Monte home where Frias and the 2-month-old girl were found, Scott said.
Frias then told detectives her older daughter was at her grandmother’s home in Baldwin Park, Scott said, and officials picked her up.
Investigators likely will not pursue any charges against the grandmother, he added.
Frias’ had five other children taken away and served two years in state prison following a 2003 conviction of child abuse causing great bodily injury, according to Scott and court records. Further details of the 2003 incident were not available Wednesday.
According to court records, Frias is due Friday for arraignment in El Monte Superior Court on Friday.

PHOTO of Alma Frias courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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*UPDATED: Suspected gang member jailed in videotaped El Monte attack

*EL MONTE — Police jailed a suspected local gang member Wednesday in connection with a severe beating in front of an El Monte liquor store that was caught on surveillance tape, officials said.
Juan Villegas, 23, of El Monte was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and gang enhancements shortly after 4 p.m., El Monte police Detective Ralph Batres said.

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“Detectives spotted him walking in the area of Durfee and Rush in South El Monte,” the detective said. Villegas, who is believed to be a member of a local street gang, was was taken into custody without further incident.
The arrest stems from an apparently unprovoked attack on May 21 in which a 27-year-old El Monte man was badly beaten in front of Little Five Points Liquor, 2602 Mountain View Road, El Monte Monte police Sgt. David Vautrin said in a written statement.
The 27-year-old had his jaw broken in four places and lost several teeth in the alleged broad daylight attack, officials said.
He was recovering Wednesday with his jaw wired shut, Batres said.
A motive in the beating remained unknown Wednesday, he said.
“It appears to be an unprovoked attack, however we have two detectives still investigating it,” Batres said.
“More arrests are expected,” he added.
Investigators made use of surveillance tape from the nearby store to help identify Villegas as a suspect prior to his arrest, Batres added.
According to court records, Villegas is being held in lieu of $30,000. The date of his initial court appearance was not available Wednesday.

PHOTO of Juan Villegas courtesy of the El Monte Police Department.

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Tuesday’s column (Memorial Day)

Memorial Day got me to thinking about my grandfather Roy Hebert.

He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and earned a living as a journeyman glassblower in Ontario, Canada. Perhaps seeking adventure, as a 17-year-old he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army.

A few months later he was on the front lines in Belgium, fighting in Passchendaele, where the Allies ultimately took 300,000 casualties.

My grandpa was among the wounded. He spent more than a year in a British hospital.

While there, he wrote this six-page letter to my grandmother on stationery emblazoned with the Canadian flag. To me it’s a reminder of why it’s so important to honor our troops for the sacrifices they make:

April 3/18

Dear Friend,

Well Myrtle you asked me if I could tell you about my experience so I’ll try to tell you a little of it. You know if I were to tell all, I’d be writing for a month or so.

I’ll tell you about the Passchendaele scrap in Nov. 1917. Just before we went up to Ypres which was our horse lines we had a few week preparation in a place called bastric. We got to our horse lines about four p.m. and at 7 p.m. half of our boys had to go up to the front line (two) of them being (brothers) and they just got a few hundred yards when (one) got both of his legs blown off and and the other wounds about the body which I witnessed on the morrow when I went up top to bring them their rations. On the third day we, the other half, went up to the front line and took our positions on the left side of the village at the back of it as we had not captured the village as yet.

At 6 a.m. the next morning the barrage was to start so we fixed a few shell holes in a hurry. We pulled a few dead Fritzies in the holes to keep dry. Then got the machine guns ready. At 6:30 a.m on Nov. 6, the day of the battle, he put up a barrage on us and I’ll bet in a half hour of time there wasn’t a square yard of ground that wasn’t freshly turned over by shells.

At 6 a.m. we put up our barrage and the infantry went over the top and captured the village. After they captured it they were relieved but we had to stay and hold the line for nine days after which is the worst part of the battle. We were shelled continuously besides aeroplanes firing at us with machine guns and dropping bombs on us. But the good Man was with us for there was five duds, 9.6s, which came in our emplacement one right after the other. All I got in all that time was a slight wound on the right hip and a scratch on the back of the left hand when a big piece of shrapnel to the protector glanced off my wrist watch, beside being buried by a shell one night.

Then for a rest we came out of the line on the 10th day and pulled ourselves along in the mud from Passchendaele to Ypres, which is about six miles. We had a few hours sleep then the next morning we started on a five day march from Ypres to Mericourt.

Just before we started, while we were waiting ,Jerry dropped a bomb out of a plane into a shell hole with about five dead mules in it and half full of green water which was about 20 feet from where I was standing. It buried and covered me in rotten mule flesh and water also mud. But the mules were all that saved me and many others …

As tea is on the way, I’ll close hoping to hear from you soon and often. I am as ever. Yours truly,


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Reward offered in Arcadia sushi bar slaying

Supervisor Mike Antonovich plans to offer a $20,000 reward in the 2007 slaying of Jason Wei, owner of an Arcadia Sushi restaurant, who was slain execution-style by an armed gunmen.

Here’s some of Antonovich’s press release:


LOS ANGELES COUNTY–Supervisor Antonovich will hold a joint press conference with detectives from the City of Arcadia Police Department, offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of Mr. Jason Wei, owner of the Osaka Ya Sushi Restaurant .

On November 25, 2007, at approximately 9:24 p.m., Mr. Jason Wei (Way), owner of the Osaka Ya Sushi Restaurant, located at 815 W. Naomi Ave in Arcadia, was shot and killed by an armed robber who entered through the rear door of the restaurant.

The incident was captured on surveillance video; however, none of the leads has produced a suspect.

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