Graffiti at Jehovah’s Witness church deemed a hate crime

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — Authorities are investigating graffiti vandalism at a Jehovah’s Witness church as a hate crime.
The damage was first reported shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday at the Jehovah’s Witness: Rowland Heights Congregation at 19111 Killian Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Deputies were directed to graffiti that had been spray-painted on the exterior walls of the religious facility,” Sgt. Angie Wilkinson said in a written statement. “The graffiti was based on religion.”
Lt. Mike Brown described the graffiti as “offensive words, phrases and symbols,” though specific details of what was written were not released.
The graffiti was believed to have been done overnight, Wilkinson added, between 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday morning.
In addition to being a felony vandalism, with damage estimated at about $500, authorities are also considering the incident to be a felony hate crime.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station.
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Police detective shot in Long Beach

From the Associated Press:

Police searched on Sunday for as many as three men who were involved in the late-night shooting of an anti-gang detective wounded as he drove in a squad car with another officer, authorities said.
Some 60 to 70 officers spread out in the MacArthur Park area and looked for two, possibly three men, who fled in a car, spokesman Sgt. Rico Fernandez said.
Two officers were driving at about 11 p.m. Saturday near Anaheim Street and Gundry Avenue when a gunman opened fire, hitting a detective in the upper body, Fernandez said.
A patrol officer who happened to be nearby heard the shots and saw the suspects, Fernandez said. The officer fired at the suspects as they fled, he said, but it was unclear whether any was hit.
The 30-year-old detective, who is a seven-year veteran, was hospitalized in stable condition, Fernandez said.
The shooting comes less than three months after a Southern California police officer was fatally wounded. Riverside Officer
Ryan Bonaminio was shot in an ambush Nov. 7. A suspect has been charged with murder in his death.
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2 men stabbed, 4 suspects arrested after fight between tagging crews at Covina 7-Eleven

COVINA — A fight erupted between tagging crews at a convenience store Sunday, leaving two young men hospitalized with stab wounds and four young suspects behind bars, authorities said.
Alyssa Mireles, 18, of Covina, as well as thee 16-year-old Covina boys, were booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said.
“Officers responded to radio call of a fight at 7-Eleven (at Rowland Street and Barranca Avenue) and found a group of about 10 subjects fighting on Barranca,” he said.
Police stopped one vehicle leaving the area and found it contained five West Covina men in their early 20s, two of whom were suffering from stab wounds to their upper bodies, the sergeant said.
Meanwhile, Marquez said, officers stopped another car that contained Mireles, a 42-year-old Covina man and the three teenage suspects.
The man was later released without charges as detectives were not convinced he was involved in the fight, police said.
The fight was believed to be between members of two rival tagging crews, Marquez said.
One of the stabbing victims suffered injuries that were initially considered life-threatening, however both were expected to survive Sunday afternoon, he said.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Mireles was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail and was due for arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
The juvenile suspects were sent to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.
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Children, women hurt in crash on 210 Freeway

IRWINDALE — An SUV overturned and rolled off the 210 Freeway late Saturday, injuring four children and two women, authorities said.
Two of the children, and 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, were hospitalized with major injuries, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon said. The 9-year-old boy was thrown from the car in the crash.
The driver of the 2006 Kia Sorento, Jessica Rosales, 20, suffered moderate injuries along with a 24-year-old woman, a a 2-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were also passengers in the SUV, the sergeant said.
The crash took place about 9:30 p.m. as the Kia was eastbound on the 210 Freeway, just west of Irwindale Avenue, CHP officials said in a written statement.
“Rosales attempted to change lanes from the No. 3 lane to the No. 2 lane,” the statement said. “For unknown reasons, Rosales lost control of the Kia. The Kia spun out, left the roadway, overturned twice and came to rest south of the freeway on top of a set of railroad tracks.”
All those inside the Kia are San Bernardino residents, however the relationship between them was not clear, Licon said.
Neither of the two critically injured children were wearing seat belts, officials said.
While there were six passengers inside the Kia, the 2006 Kia Sorento is equipped with seating for only five.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, Licon said, however driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol was not initially suspected.
The probe remained in it’s early stages, he said, however officials would be looking into the possibility of child endangerment charges because of the lack of seat belts on the critically injured children.
“It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure the kids are properly belted in,” he said.
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Pasadena man, girl suspected of striking security guard with car while shoplifting from Arcadia mall

RCADIA — A man and teenage girl were arrested Saturday on suspicion if shoplifting from the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, then striking a security guard who tried to stop them with their car, police said.
Anthony Woodridge, 20, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon, and a 16-year-old Pasadena girl was booked on suspicion of burglary, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
Mall security guards noticed the pair stealing clothing from Zumiez, a clothing and skateboard shop, and followed them into the parking lot, the sergeant said.
The two got into a car, and a security guard on a bicycle began writing down the license plate number of the car, Crowther said.
Woodridge, who was driving, then struck the security guard with his car before both he and the teenage accomplice abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot, he said.
Police and security guards found Woodridge and the teen in the area and arrested them, Crowther said.
The security guard who was struck suffered only minor injuries in the incident, he added.
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Fatal crash reported on 210 Freeway in Duarte

DUARTE — A 33-year-old La Verne man died early Saturday on the 210 Freeway when his car rear-ended a pickup truck at high speed, authorities said.
Jerry Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene of the 6:35 a.m. crash on the eastbound freeway, just east of Buena Vista Street, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials.
Ruiz was driving his 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLK 500 sedan about 95 mph in the fast lane prior to the crash, CHP Sgt. Kurt Stormes said in a written statement.
A 2003 GMC utility truck driven by a 66-year-old Sierra Madre man was ahead of him in the fast lane, traveling at about 65 mph, the sergeant said.
“Due to traveling at an unsafe speed for the slower moving traffic ahead, the Mercedes rear-ended the GMC,” Stormes said. 
Ruiz died at the scene, he said, while the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries to his neck and back.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
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Man allegedly sent poison-laced letters to DCFS offices, children’s court

Authorities jailed a Claremont man Friday on suspicion of sending poison-laced letters to county children’s services offices and a children’s courthouse throughout Los Angeles County.
FBI agents and federal postal inspectors arrested Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr., 48, at his home without a struggle after being indicted Tuesday on suspicion of 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes, U.S. Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
He pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said. He was released on a $25,000 bond.
The letters were sent to Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services offices in Santa Fe Springs, Covina, El Monte, Pomona, Chatsworth, Los Angeles and Lancaster, as well as the Edmund G. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park between November 2008 and May 2010, officials said.
“Each letter contained either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that was later determined to be a chemical poison,” according to statement.
The white powder that was tested was determined to be boric acid, a common insecticide, and the bluish grains were determined to be warfarin, a common ingredient in rat poison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherilyn Peace Garnett said.
When the envelopes were opened at the facilities, they prompted evacuations and heavy responses from numerous local and federal authorities, officials said.
“Using threatening letters and hoax powders to convey discontent is a serious crime, and as evidenced with the arrest of Mr. Yarbrough, has significant consequences,” said Steven Martinez, assistant director of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The major law enforcement response generated each time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of… taxpayers.”
Garnett said it was not clear what Yarbrough’s intentions were in sending the letters.
“I could only speculate on what the motive was at this time,” she said.
She also declined to say what, if any, threatening text accompanied the powder-filled envelopes.
The Covina, Lancaster, El Monte, Chatsworth and Los Angeles DCFS offices received their letter on or around Nov. 17, 2008, Garnett said. The Santa Fe Springs office received its threatening delivery on Nov. 19, 2008.
Envelopes were sent to the Pomona DCFS office on or around Aug. 7, 2009, April 9, 2010, and May 19, 2010, Garnett said.
Two envelopes arrived at the Edmund G. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park around Aug. 25, 2009, she added, and the Lancaster office received an additional envelope around April 12, 2010.
If convicted as charged, Yarbrough faces up to 65 years in federal prison.
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Ex-adult day care worker in El Monte pleads no contest to molesting mentally disabled women

EL MONTE — A former employee of an El Monte adult day care center pleaded no contest Thursday to sexually assaulting three mentally disabled women, authorities said.
Jose Fernando Flores, 43, of Los Angeles, faces up to eight years in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court for sentencing Feb. 17, police and court officials said.
He sexually assaulted three mentally disabled women between 24 and 54 years old after going to work as a cook and bus driver at the Health Start adult day care center in January of 2009, El Monte Police Detective Ralph Batres said.
“It was a very difficult case, because the victims were defenseless,” the detective said.
Flores was arrested May 7 of 2010, and confessed to the crimes, police said.
Adult day care centers are regulated and licensed by the California Department of Social Services, officials said, and all employees are required to undergo background checks.
PHOTO of Juan Flores comes courtesy of the El Monte Police Department.
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UPDATED: Teen wounded in Pomona shooting, 2 13-year-olds arrested

From our counterparts at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

POMONA — Two 13-year-old boys were arrested for allegedly shooting another teen outside an elementary school Thursday.

The boys, whose names were not released because of their age, were identified and arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon about six hours after a 15-year-old Pomona boy was shot in a park near Philadelphia Elementary School in the 600 block of E. Philadelphia Street.

One of the arrested teens was identified as the shooter, according to a Pomona police news release. A third person has been identified but not yet been arrested.

The three suspects are documented gang members or associates of gang members, police said.

About 3 p.m. Thursday, police found the 15-year-old boy on the sidewalk east of the school with a gunshot wound to his lower body, according to a written statement from police.

The school was placed on lock down for about 15 to 20 minutes following the shooting.

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Woman in wheelchair fatally struck by car in Pasadena

PASADENA — A woman in an electric wheelchair died Thursday after she was struck and pinned against a wall by a car, authorities said.
The woman was believed to be a 52-year-old resident of a nearby convalescent home, police said.
The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. on Fair Oaks Avenue, just north of Howard Street, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Officials responded to a report of a vehicle that had crashed into a wall and found an elderly woman in an electric wheelchair pinned between the car and a wall, Derderian said. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
“After hitting the pedestrian in the wheelchair, the vehicle took the pedestrian with the vehicle up a driveway and into a small retaining wall,” Pasadena police Lt. Tom Delgado said.
Investigators determined the Jaguar that struck the woman swerved to avoid hitting a dark sedan that was backing out of a driveway, he said.
Officials wanted to speak with the driver of that car.
“Obviously, it’s a vehicle of interest, so we are seeking information about the driver and vehicle,” Delgado said.
A 28-year-old man who as driving the car, a Jaguar sedan, was not injured, officials added. Nothing criminal was initially suspected on his part.
The car came to rest on top of a gas meter, rupturing a gas line, officials said. Utility workers were summoned to handle the leak.
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