Teen allegedly stabs man during robbery attempt at Pico Rivera party

PICO RIVERA — A Pico Rivera teenager is suspected of stabbing a man at a party Saturday during a failed robbery, authorities said.
The incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. in the 9100 block of Bermudes Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Van Damme said.
The suspect, a 17-year-old boy whose name was not released due to his age, allegedly tried to rob the victim, another young man, of his cell phone, the sergeant said.
“When the victim didn’t give up his cell phone, (the suspect) slashed him in the left arm, by the shoulder blade,” Van Damme said.
The teenage suspect was arrested at the party, and the wounded man, believed to be 18 or 19 years old, was treated at a hospital and released later the same night, he said.
The suspect was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted robbery, Van Damme said, and taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.

106-year-old man rescued from house fire in Norwalk; dog, cat killed in blaze

NORWALK — Neighbors pulled a 106-year-old man from his burning house Sunday, rescuing him from a fire that killed his pet dog and cat, officials said.
The fire broke out about 1 a.m. at 12107 Lowemont Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Sterling Callahan said.
Neighbors saw smoke coming from house where the elderly man lived alone and went in to help, the captain said.
They found the man lying in bed and got him out of the burning home, he said.
When firefighters arrived only minutes later, the elderly man was outside the home, and the room where he was sleeping was “fully involved” with flames,” Callahan said.
The 106-year-old resident suffered minor burns to his legs and smoke inhalation,he said, and was taken to a hospital where he was expected to recover.
A small dog and cat that were inside the home died in the fire, Callahan said. At least two other small dogs escaped the blaze.
The fire caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage to the house and its contents, he added. It was believed to have been started by an electric floor heater in the room where the man was sleeping.

Police helicopter makes emergency landing in Industry

INDUSTRY — A Riverside Police Department helicopter made an emergency landing in an Industry parking lot early Sunday after pilots reported a mechanical problem, authorities said.
The helicopter had been assisting the California Highway Patrol in a vehicle pursuit about 1:35 a.m. when it developed the problem, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said in a written statement.
As a precaution, the pilots decided to make an emergency landing in the parking lot of Costco, 17550 Castleton Street, the lieutenant said.
Officials summoned a mechanic from the Riverside Police Department was summoned to the scene to repair the aircraft, he added.
The helicopter’s two pilots were not hurt.

Sheriff’s officials discourage medical industry from using public syringe drop boxes

A new drug and syringe drop-off program has been very successful when it comes to syringes, leading sheriff’s officials to suspect medical professionals may be using the boxes designed for residents.
The boxes were placed at nearly 20 sheriff’s stations throughout the county following the program’s unveiling Sept. 29. It’s meant to give residents a safe and anonymous way to dispose of unwanted syringes, prescription drugs and illegal drugs.
The mailbox-like boxes are at sheriff’s stations in Industry, Walnut, La Crescenta, Temple City, Pico Rivera and Norwalk.
Since the program began, nearly 32,000 syringes have been dropped off, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Often, officials find hundreds of the same type of syringe in the boxes, leading them to believe they’ve been left there by medical providers, he added.
The boxes are not meant for commercial use.
“We suspect the reason we’re getting so many needles is that hospitals or medical clinics may be dropping them off,” he said. “We can’t prove it, but we think the way it’s being packaged, it looks like it.”
Though there is no penalty for commercial medical companies dropping syringes in the boxes, he said, it was not the intended use and is creating a strain on the program.
“The deputies are pulling them (syringes) out and they’re getting poked,” he said, estimating it has occurred half a dozen times.
Though no infections have been reported because of needle pokes, “obviously we’re aware of it, and we’re concerned about it,” he said.
In addition to needles, the drop-off boxes have collected more than 1,200 pounds of unwanted prescription medications, Whitmore said.
The option to drop off illegal drugs has been less popular, with .87 grams of drugs — marijuana and methamphetamine — deposited in the boxes as of Feb. 13.
At the sheriff’s Temple Station, Lt. Tom McNeal said the drop boxes are being used by the community. In some cases, citizens bring in bags or boxes full of syringes to dispose of, he said.
“In our experience, we’ve been getting them from older folks who have been collecting them for years,” McNeal said. Now that they have a place to drop them off, he added, they’re taking advantage.
He said station officials were not aware of any medical companies using the boxes.
Whitmore said officials also want to remind people not to place syringes in the boxes labeled for drugs.
Sgt. Joe Van Damme of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station asked the public to be careful when using the boxes and to make sure syringes get into the appropriate box.
“If available, the cap for the syringe would be appreciated,” he said. “Our biggest concern is obviously the safety of the deputies and whoever’s going to be handling the syringes.”
The department now is looking at redesigning the boxes so that deputies can remove the contents without handling them, Whitmore added.
“Because it’s so successful, with the needles especially, we’re going to look for ways to protect the people who collect it,” he said.
Currently, officials from the sheriff’s Scientific Services Bureau picks up the contents of the boxes weekly and collect them in holding bins, Whitmore said. From there, they are picked up by a biohazard disposal contractor.
In a written statement, sheriff’s officials encouraged residents not to keep unneeded medication on hand, as it can fall into the hands of children or drug abusers.
Flushing drugs down the drain causes water pollution, as wastewater facilities cannot test or treat for pharmaceuticals.

Big rig crash causes $500,000 in damage to new cars at Ford dealership

INDUSTRY — A big rig careened off the freeway and into a car dealership late Friday, causing about $500,000 worth of damage to new cars at the lot, authorities said.
The crash was reported just after 9:30 p.m. at Puente Hills Ford, 17340 Gale Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Steven Katz said in a written statement.
A truck driver was driving a car transport truck westbound on the Pomona (60) Freeway when he lost control and the truck went off the freeway, he said.
“The tractor and trailer crashed through the south perimeter fence of the parking lot of Puente Hills Ford, striking 14 new vehicles,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
The truck was not loaded with cars, California Highway Patrol Officer Jose Nunez said.
No one at the dealership was hurt, and the truck driver suffered only minor scraped and bruises, CHP and sheriff’s officials said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation Saturday, Katz said, however the truck driver had not been cited or arrested in what appeared to be an accident.
The Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP is handling the investigation.

Longtime fugitive appears in court for alleged attack on deputies

This story comes from Whittier Daily News reporter Ruby Gonzales, about a longtime fugitive accused of shooting at two sheriff’s deputies with an AK-47 appearing in court. Shortly Emigdio Preciado fled to Mexico after attacking the deputies in Whittier, a home video surfaced of him dancing the night away at a party. A billboard displaying the name and photos of Preciado, a Southside Whittier gang member, was defaced in October of 2007 in an apparent attempt by fellow gang members to curtail the FBI’s hunt for Preciado.

WHITTIER – Before a courtroom packed with law enforcement officers, a reputed gang member and one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives on Friday pleaded not guilty to firing an AK-47 at two deputies during a 2000 traffic stop in Whittier.
One of the deputies, Michael Schaap, was shot in the forehead and had to learn how to walk and talk again. The other, Deputy David Timberlake, wasn’t injured.
Both sat in the front row and watched as Emigdio Preciado Jr., wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit and with short dark hair, was led in shackles from the lock-up to the courtroom. He was later seen smirking during the brief hearing.
Preciado, 40, spoke English as he answered several questions posed to him by Whittier Superior Court Commissioner Armando Moreno.
One of Preciado’s attorneys, John Tyre, entered the not guilty plea for him and denied special allegations.
Preciado, who is being held at Men’s Central Jail in lieu of $10 million bail, will return to court March 24 for a hearing.
Sometime after the Sept. 5, 2000 attack Preciado fled to Mexico and was arrested there last year. He’s been charged with two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, two counts of assault on a peace officer with a firearm, two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated mayhem, carrying a loaded firearm and having a concealed firearm in a vehicle.
The prosecution also alleges Preciado is an active member of the Southside Whittier street gang, that he personally and intentionally used a gun which caused great bodily injury to the two deputies and that he personally inflicted injury to Schaap, who suffered paralysis and became comatose due to brain injury.
Deputy District Attorney Frank Tavelman said the hearing is to make sure the defense has everything it needs.
‘Our case was ready 10 years ago,” Tavelman said.
Schaap and Timberlake, who declined comment, attended the arraignment along “We’re just here to support Mike and his family. It’s a very emotional time for his family,” said Norwalk Station Capt. Pat Maxwell, who came on his day off.
The shooting occurred on Gunn Avenue in the county area of Whittier after the deputies tried to pull over a 1979 Chevrolet van for a burned-out headlight.
Preciado then allegedly fired at them with an AK-47 assault rifle.
Detectives believe the four men in the van were on their way to commit a drive-by shooting. While the three other suspects were later arrested, Preciado headed to Mexico.
The American citizen was on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list when he was arrested by Mexican authorities on July 17 in Corral Piedras, a rural area near Yagos in the state of Nayarit, Mexico.
He was using the name Regalo Castaneda-Castaneda and working as a fisherman, FBI agents said.
Mexican officials sent Preciado back to the U.S. last month.
The three other suspects in the assault – Carlos Gutierrez, Jose Guardado and Omar Jimenez – were arrested, charged and convicted.

DUI suspected after pickup collides with patrol car near Whittier

A deputy and an allegedly intoxicated driver suffered minor injuries Thursday when the motorist made a left turn in front of a patrol car in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, officials said.
The motorist was expected to be booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Ralph Gama said. His name was not available late Thursday as he remained hospitalized.
The California Highway Patrol is handling the investigation, he added.
The cars collided at 3:30 p.m. at Arroyo Drive and Mystic Street in the unincorporated county area of Whittier. The deputy was responding to a call of a person with a gun, Gama said.
“He was crossing the intersection when a man made a left turn in front of the deputy and they collided,” Gama said.
The deputy, who complained of pain to his arm, shoulder and leg, was taken to Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital for observation.
Gama said the man driving the Dodge Ram pickup complained of pain to his neck and back and was taken to Whittier Hospital Medical Center.
The man with a gun turned out to be a youth with a toy gun, the sergeant said.
The pickup truck sustained moderate damage to the front while the patrol car had major damage.

La Puente’s Mayor Louie Lujan arraigned — pleads not guilty

From the District Attorney’s Office:

La Puente Mayor Louie Lujan was arraigned and pleaded not guilty today to one count of perjury stemming from an allegedly false report he filed in February 2009 regarding campaign funds, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman of the Public Integrity Division said that in the event that Lujan, 33 (dob 6/06/76), is convicted the defendant would be removed from office. Lujan, who was first elected to the La Puente City Council in 2001, would also be barred from holding future elective office.

Deputy District Attorney Huntsman filed the felony complaint for arrest warrant on Feb. 16. The defendant is next due in court on Feb. 25.

Lujan allegedly received and spent dozens of campaign contributions in 2008 but failed to report the contributions and expenditures.

Sheriff announces new policy, releases new crime statistics

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Wednesday announced a new department policy for pursuing armed suspects.
Baca also announced that violent crime dropped more than 12 percent county-wide last year, and that crime decreased in the service areas of all San Gabriel Valley sheriff’s stations except Altadena.
Experts said Baca’s new policy on foot chases would lead to a decrease in deputy-involved shootings. The policy advises deputies that it may often be safer to chase an armed suspect for the purpose of trapping him or her in a search perimeter rather than always trying to immediately take a suspect into custody.
“We don’t want to have our deputies unnecessarily put themselves in harm’s way,” Baca said.
The wording of the mandate tells deputies to be “cautiously persistent.”
Baca said he wants deputies to consider all of their options when chasing after an armed suspect, such as calling for backup, calling for helicopter or dog, firing warning shots or using less-than-lethal weapons.
“We are talking about a very difficult part of policing,” Baca said.
Deciding whether or not to use deadly force is “a one- to two-second decision-making process,” he said, calling the task the “ultimate challenging decision of any deputy, period.”
Baca said he hopes the policy will make deputies less likely to shoot people.
“You don’t have to go barreling in in any case, and put yourself in a position where you have to use your gun,” he said.
Michael Gennaco, head of the Office of Independent Review civilian oversight group, helped draft the language of the new policy.
Gennaco said the policy “allows for better decision-making, because you have time on your side.”
“I think it will increase deputy safety, reduce the use of deadly force and help change the culture,” Gennaco said. “Instead of chasing bad guys, what the department is trying to do is not let the suspect dictate the outcome but let deputies use tactics and resources to dictate the outcome.”
While Baca said the new policy was not in response to any specific deputy-involved shootings, Gennaco said he believed the change was likely triggered by community outrage over deputy-involved shootings of unarmed suspects in recent years.
In September of last year, Darrick Collins — a 26-year-old man who was not armed — was shot in the Athens neighborhood near South Los Angeles as sheriff’s deputies were pursuing him during an armed robbery investigation. His family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.
There were 42 deputy-involved shootings in 2009 compared with 37 the previous year, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
Sixteen of last year’s deputy-involved shootings were fatal, she said. In 2008, nine were fatal.
The department had 40 deputy-involved shootings in 2007, 48 in 2006, 48 in 2005 and 57 in 2004, Nishida said.
In addition to announcing the new policy, Baca presented crime statistics showing a 12.36 percent decrease in violent crime county-wide between 2008 and 2009, as well as an 11.09 percent decrease in property crime.
Data revealed that every San Gabriel Valley sheriff’s station except Altadena showed a decrease in major crimes, such as homicide, robbery, rape, burglary and auto theft.
The sheriff’s Altadena Station handled 7.6 percent more Part I crimes in 2009 than the previous year, and 21.2 percent more than in 2004.
The increases were due to more reports of assaults, burglaries and arsons.
Major crimes dropped in 2009 by 7.5 percent at the Temple Station, 11.9 percent at the Industry Station, 17.6 percent at the Norwalk Station, 10 percent at the Pico Rivera Station, 0.7 percent at the San Dimas Station and 14.5 percent at the Walnut Station.
Other significant crime trends included a doubling of homicides handled by the Pico Rivera Station from four in 2008 to eight in 2009.
Rapes in San Dimas increased from 11 incidents in 2008 to 17 in 2009.
At the sheriff’s Industry Station, the only major crime showing an increase was arson, rising from 25 incidents in 2008 to 40 incidents last year.

Suspected burglar jailed in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS — Officials jailed a parolee Tuesday after he allegedly tried to break into a woman’s house, authorities said.
Chaz Jackson, 23, of Ontario was booked on suspicion of attempted burglary, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Kirk Smith said.
The incident began about 9:15 a.m. when a woman reported she was in her home on Calle Frondosa, in the Via Verde area of San Dimas, when a man tried to force his way inside, the sergeant said.
“Apparently, he knocked at the door numerous times, and the person inside did not answer,” Smith said. Jackson then allegedly began trying to pry the door open with a crowbar
The woman screamed, which frightened the would-be burglar away, Smith said, and deputies spotted him trying to drive away from the area a short time later.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Jackson is being held without bail and is due in Pomona Superior Court Friday for arraignment.