ROSEMEAD — A Rosemead rock band and Rosemead High School are planning a concert Friday to benefit the families of two 19-year-old former Rosemead High students who were fatally struck by a train over the weekend.
Local rockers “Delta Rose” will headline the show, along with other bands made up of Rosemead High students, Rosemead High School teacher Brian Day.
Day used to teach Richard Haro, who died along with his friend Aaron Gallardo when the two were struck by a freight train in Rosemead Saturday.
The concert will be held at 7 p.m. at the Rosemead High School Auditorium, 9063 E. Mission Drive. The cost is $10.
The show was initially planned to raise funds for the prom for the class of 2012, but after hearing of the deaths of Haro and Gallardo, Day said, both Delta Rose and the Rosemead High class of 2012 decided to donate the proceeds to the Haro and Gallardo families.
ROSEMEAD — Investigators Sunday continued looking into how two 19-year-old best friends from Rosemead ended up on a set of railroad tracks, where they were fatally struck by a freight train.
Meanwhile, family and community members paid their respects to lifelong Rosemead residents Aaron Gallardo and Richard Haro.
Both men died about 12:30 a.m. Saturday after they were struck by a Union Pacific freight train on the tracks just north of the 8800 block of Grand Avenue, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
The train’s crew reported seeing what appeared to be one person lying across the tracks before impact, but they were unable to stop in time, sheriff’s officials said.
The deaths are believed to be accidental, though sheriff’s officials released no further information about the circumstances of the crash.
“I miss him so much,” said Haro’s mother, Kim Alenbaugh said at the crash scene Sunday. “I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from this nightmare.”
As a long freight train passed by the crash scene, which friends and family members adorned with flowers and candles, she broke down in tears.
Aaron Gallardo’s brother, 20-year-old Jeremy Gallardo, said he was also having a hard time accepting what had happened.
“It’s still kind of surreal just trying to think about it,” he said. “I’m still kind of thinking this isn’t real.”
Coroner’s officials said an autopsy was expected to be performed on the bodies Monday, and that toxicology tests would also likely be ordered. It could be weeks before an official cause of death is determined.
Haro, a culinary arts student, loved to cook and eat fine foods, Alenbaugh said. He also was fond of music, reading and cars.
“He was just a loving, loving boy,” she said. “I always got unlimited hugs and kisses from him, even at 19.”
The mother added that Haro was well-liked wherever he went.
“He just lit up the room when he walked in,” she said.
Alenbaugh said that after her son finished culinary school, he wanted to start a business in Seattle or Paris.
“He had a real zest for his future plans,” she said. He wanted to make a lot of money and travel the world and see things.”
Haro’s uncle, Ron Alenbaugh, said his nephew was “full of life.”
“He had so many dreams and inspirations,” he said.
Ron Alenbaugh fondly recalled teaching his nephew to drive a stick-shift.
The car lurched and stalled for hours as Richard Haro tried to get the hang of the clutch.
“He was just laughing,” the uncle said.
Kim Alenbaugh said since her son met Aaron Gallardo in the 6th grade, they were rarely apart afterward.
“We couldn’t separate those two,” she said.
Jeremy Gallardo said his brother, Aaron Gallardo, was a talented artist who prized his individuality.
“He made his own rules,” the brother said.
An avid weight-lifter and fan of punk rock music, Aaron Gallardo also loved to draw and was hoping to study drafting at college, family members said.
“He always had the radio on,” Jeremy Gallardo said, and his artwork was always displayed on the walls of his bedroom.
Aaron Gallardo largely kept to himself when outside the house, but could be goofy and funny at home.
Andrew Gallardo described his son as a caring young man.
“He was a really good kid,” he said. “He wasn’t a kid to cause problems or fight with anybody. He has a real mellow spirit to him.”
Richard Haro leaves behind a younger brother, while Aaron Gallardo is survived by a younger brother and an older brother, family members said.
Rosemead City Councilwoman Margaret Clark offered her condolences to the mourning families, adding that both young men appeared to have “tremendous potential.”
“I’m just so sad that this happened in our community,” she said. “Our prayers go out to the families.”
AZUSA — A man and two women were injured Sunday in a possibly alcohol-related car crash, police said.
The crash was reported about 9:20 a.m. in the 3800 block of Fish Canyon Road, Azusa police Cpl. Andy Rodriguez said in a written statement.
Eric Martinez-Montes, 19, of Pomona, was driving his car at “a high rate of speed” north bound on Fish Canyon Road when when he lost control and crashed into a rock and dirt embankment, Rodriguez said.
Martinez-Montes and one female passenger were hospitalized with moderate injuries, officials said. Another woman who was a passenger in the car was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
“Alcohol may have been a factor in the incident,” Rodriguez said.
The investigation was ongoing.
PASADENA — Police sought a man and two children who struck an ice cream vendor in the head with a baseball bat Sunday during a failed robbery in Pasadena, authorities said.
The crime took place about 3 p.m. in the 400 block of N. Chester Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Keith Jones said. The robbery was carried out by two boys of about 12 to 14 years old and a man who appeared between 18 and 20.
The ice cream vendor, an El Sereno man in his 40s, was walking with his ice cream cart when the two children approached on scooters and asked for ice cream, the lieutenant said.
“As the victim was reaching to get them what they wanted, the older suspect came from behind and struck the victim in the head with a baseball bat,” Jones said.
The vendor fell to the ground and the children tried unsuccessfully to pull his fanny pack off, he said.
“The victim was able to fight off the suspects, and they all ran northbound on Chester Avenue,” Jones said.
The young suspects left their scooters behind, he added.
The injured victim was taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Jones said, where he was treated and released later Sunday.
WHITTIER — Police released a man early Sunday who was arrested on suspicion of two robberies Saturday, authorities said.
Matthew Ortega, 22, of Whittier was arrested along with a 15-year-old Whittier boy shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of robbing two men within minutes of each other, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
Police released Ortega from jail Sunday morning due to a lack of evidence against him, pending further investigation, Dean said. The teen remained jailed at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.
The robberies occurred just after 6 p.m., police said.
A man was sprayed with pepper spray and robbed of his backpack on the Greenway Trail just east of Painter Avenue, Dean said, then a second man was robbed of his money at knifepoint on Painter Avenue, just south of the trail.
Both Ortega and the teen, whose name was not released due to his age, were arrested in the area, police said.
PICO RIVERA — Deputies took a “suspicious circumstances” report Sunday after man startled a child in a church bathroom, authorities said.
The incident occurred about 1:40 p.m. at St. Mariana De Paredes Church, 7922 Passons Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. John Adams said.
A boy under 12 years old entered a bathroom and found a man already inside, the sergeant said.
The man told the boy something to the effect of, “Your mom told me to pick you up,” at which point the boy immediately left the bathroom and told his mother, Adams said. The mother then called sheriff’s officials.
The man was described as Latino, in his mid-30s, of thin build, with a light complexion and wearing dark clothing, Adams said.
The circumstances of the event troubled deputies, Adams said, but didn’t appear to rise to the level of an attempted kidnapping.
“It’s disconcerting, but the man didn’t make any overt efforts to grab the child or persist in any way,” he said.
While deputies have received no similar calls lately, Adams said, “Obviously, if there’s been any other kids experiencing this, we want to know about it.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station.
AZUSA — Police jailed two 15-year-old Chino Hills boys late Friday on suspicion of graffiti vandalism, police said.
The incident began when witnesses reported seeing two boys spray-painting on a cinder block wall in the 600 block of S. Cerritos Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Mike Gurbada said in a written statement.
The boys fled onto the campus of nearby Center Middle School, 5500 N. Cerritos Avenue in an unincorporated county area, the sergeant said.
Officers caught the teens in the campus, and both denied scrawling the graffiti, Gurbada said.
The witnesses were able to identify them as the taggers, however, and both teens had fresh paint on their hands, he said.
Gurbada added that both teens were cited and released to their parents.
WHITTIER — Police arrested a man and teen Saturday after they allegedly robbed two people within a matter of minutes, police said.
Matthew Ortega, 22, of Whittier and a teenage boy were booked on suspicion of armed robbery, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
The incident began just after 6 p.m. on the Greenway Trail, just east of Painter Avenue, the lieutenant said.
Ortega and the teen allegedly doused a man with pepper spray and stole his backpack, Dean said.
Minutes later, he said, the man and teen are suspected of brandishing a knife at another man and robbed him of money on Painter Avenue, just south of the Greenway Trail.
With the help of a police helicopter, officers arrested both suspects in the area, Dean said.
ROSEMEAD – Two 19-year-old Rosemead men who friends and family members described as inseparable friends died early Saturday after being struck by a freight train, authorities said.
Aaron Gallardo and Richard Haro were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Kim Arnold said.
Deputies at the sheriff’s Temple Station received a call from a Union Pacific dispatch center about 12:30 a.m. reporting that a train had collided with the pedestrians on the tracks between Rosemead Boulevard and Walnut Grove Avenue, just north of the 8800 block of grand Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Diane Hecht said.
“At this point, it appears to be accidental,” she said.
The investigation is ongoing, officials said, and coroner’s investigators will likely examine the bodies Sunday.
Lt. Kerry Carter of the sheriff’s Temple Station said the conductor applied the train’s brakes but was unable to stop in time.
Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said the engineer and conductor on the westbound freight train initially believed they struck one person, but responding sheriff’s officials discovered to bodies.
The train crew was unhurt in the crash and will meet with counselors to discuss the incident.
“This can be a pretty severe experience for our crew,” he said.
The railroad track was reopened about 7 a.m., he added.
Family members said Gallardo and Haro had been friends since they met at Rosemead High School. Both were life-long Rosemead residents.
“They were just inseparable,” said Gallardo’s father, Andrew Gallardo. “No matter what one did, the other did it, too.”
Aaron Gallardo loved lifting weights, punk rock music and drawing, his father said.
Under his well-built frame and 12-inch Mohawk hairstyle, Andrew Gallardo said his son had a peaceful and caring spirit.
“He was a loving kid,” the father said. “We’re going to miss him. It’s just a shock right now.”
Aaron Gallardo was planning on studying drafting at college, he added.
Haro was a former Explorer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and was studying to be a chef at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, his aunt, Irma Haro said. He often cooked meals he had just learned to make at school for his family.
“He was just a real fun-loving, good-natured kid,” she said. Richard Haro has recently taken time off school to help take care of his ailing grandfather, Irma Haro said.
Friends of Gallardo and Haro visited the crash scene Saturday afternoon to pay their respects.
Jeremiah Grizzelle of Rosemead said he was friends with both young men, but described Gallardo as his best friend.
Both young men often spent evenings at his house listening to music and playing video games, he said.
“They liked to have fun,” Grizzelle said.
“(Gallardo) was a good guy. He was hilarious,” the friend added. “(Haro) was fun to be around.”
Jeremiah Grizzelle’s brother, Joshua Grizzelle of Rosemead, said he would also miss Aaron Gallardo and Richard Haro.
“To know that I personally will not hear them laugh as they walk to my home once more brings me to tears,” he wrote in a letter. “In high school we were all in the the same niche, we shared the same moments, we’ve shared almost all our adolescent years together.”,
Jeremiah and Joshua Grizzelle’s mother, Darlene Grizzelle, said she remembered Gallardo and Haro visiting often with her son.
“They were two good kids,” she said. “I just can’t believe it.”
Gallardo was interesting and full of information, she said, adding that both young men were “adventurous.”
The portion of train track where the crash occurred is easily accessible by foot both from Muscatel and Grand avenues, and Darlene Grizzelle said many area residents walk on it daily.
Hunt said Union Pacific discourages trespassing on train tracks and works hard to, “make sure the public is very aware that railroad right of way is a very unsafe place to be.”
PASADENA — Twenty-three years after Vincent Mejia was fatally shot in a robbery at his Pasadena grocery store, prosecutors Friday charged a man with the killing, authorities said.
Richard Curtis Morris Jr., 56, of Pearl City, Hawaii, and a second man who has never been identified, are accused of shooting the 64-year-old Mejia during a May 15, 1987, robbery at his store, the Manor Market, 2540 E. Colorado Blvd., Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said in a written statement.
“Morris and his accomplice are accused of demanding money from a clerk standing near the cash register,” Emami said. “When store owner Vincent Mejia tried to intervene, Morris and the second man are accused of murdering him by shooting him in the chest.”
The robbers held a knife to the throat of Mejia’s sister-in-law and were beating his brother with a pistol when he stepped in, witnesses said at the time.
Mejia died at a hospital 18 days after the shooting — six months before he was expecting to retire at age 65, according to officials and family members.
More than 1,500 people attended Mejia’s funeral.
Morris was jailed 10 days after the shooting but later released due to lack of evidence, police said in 1987.
He was convicted in 1988 of a weapons charge for possessing the gun believed to have been used in Mejia’s killing, Emami said, but murder charges were never filed.
His arrest in the Pasadena case came after Morris was charged in 2008 with the 1987 Buena Park murder of strip club owner James Stockwell, also known as Jimmy Casino, she said.
He was linked to the Stockwell case via the national DNA database after he submitted a DNA sample in Hawaii in connection with an unrelated case in that state.
“After filing charges against Morris for the murder of Stockwell, the OCDA began re-investigating the murder of Mejia,” Emami said. “The amended complaint charging Morris with that murder was lodged (Friday).”
Mejia began working at the Manor Market in 1951. He bought the store from his boss in 1967.
Friends and family members said in 1987 that he was known for giving generous credit to customers and for delivering groceries to the sick and elderly at no charge.