Remembering Bill Bell

I hope you’ll bear with me as I depart from the usual fare of crime and courts stories to make a personal note.  As many of you know, longtime Whittier Daily News editor and columnist Bill Bell passed away April 1 after suffering a stroke. A beautiful public memorial service was held for him Saturday at Rose Hills in Whittier. I was assigned the honor of covering the service for the Whittier Daily News. I’d like to share some thought on Mr. Bell with you.
I sat down at my computer Saturday afternoon with a lofty task: to write a story about a memorial service for former longtime Whittier Daily News Editor Bill Bell.
I’ve only been with the newspaper a handful of years, and there are many others reporters who knew him much better than myself. Nonetheless, I was resolved to make sure I did the story justice.
My first thought as I began tapping away at the keyboard was a sobering one. For a story of this magnitude and importance to the Whittier community, I sure could use Bill Bell’s advice right about now, I thought. But he’s gone, and he’s not coming back. We’re on our own now. No more “Mr. Whittier.”
Bill Bell gave me my first job at a daily newspaper when he hired me as an intern for the Whittier Daily News about six years ago.
It was clear that I was not as experienced as he would have liked. Ultimately, however, with a little coaxing from then-assistant editor Hector Gonzalez, who for some reason saw some potential in me, he decided to give me a chance.
Without Bill Bell’s willingness to take a chance on an eager, but clueless, kid, I sincerely doubt I’d be doing the work I love today.
So for your years of dedicated service to Whittier, your inspiration to new generations of writers and for starting me on my beloved career, thanks Mr. Bell. Someday, I hope to make you proud.
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Young bicyclist struck, injured, by SUV in Santa Fe Springs

SANTA FE SPRINGS — A 13-year-old boy suffered major injuries Saturday after he was struck by an SUV while crossing Florence Avenue on a bicycle, authorities said.
The collision was reported about 3:30 p.m. on Florence Avenue, near Ringwood Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Randy Inman said.
The young bicyclist, who was not wearing a helmet, was riding northbound across the street mid-block, without a crosswalk, when he was struck by the SUV, which was westbound on Florence Avenue at about 40 mph, the lieutenant said.
Officials rushed the injured boy to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center where he underwent surgery late Saturday.
The driver of the SUV, a man in his mid-60s, was not initially cited or arrested in connection with the collision, Inman said.
The investigation was ongoing.
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Woman’s body found in La Crescenta may be related to attempted suicide in Glendale

LA CRESCENTA – A woman was found shot to death along a freeway offramp Friday, and detectives believed it may be related to the attempted suicide of a man along the 2 Freeway in Glendale, authorities said.
The woman’s body was found about 5:20 p.m. at the La Crescenta Avenue offramp of the westbound 210 Freeway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Mark Pope said.
Coroner’s officials identified her Saturday as Adrine Arzumanyan, 33, of North Hollwood.
It initially appeared the body had been dropped off at the location, and it was unclear where the shooting took place, officials said.
“Detectives are also en route to the southbound 2 Freeway at Mountain Avenue (in Glendale) regarding an attempted suicide of a male white adult believed to be connected to the shooting death of the female white adult,” the deputy said.
The wounded man was taken to a hospital in unknown condition, Pope added.
Though investigators believed the man who attempted suicide was involved in Arzumanyan’s killing, deputies stopped short of calling him a suspect Friday afternoon.
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Police arrest Covina man on suspicion of annoying juveniles

COVINA — Police arrested a 24-year-old Covina man Friday on suspicion of annoying and making sexual statements to at least three underage girls and a young woman in the Covina area in recent weeks, authorities said.
Michael Allen Garner was booked on suspicion of child annoyance, Covina police Sgt. Dave Foster said in a written statement.
Covina police had received reports on April 25, 26 and 28 of a man in a sedan “contacting females on the sidewalk, offering them a ride and asking them for sexual favors,” the sergeant said.
A similar incident was also reported to sheriff’s officials patrolling an unincorporated county area near Covina, he said.
All of the victims were minors except one, who was 18 years old, Foster said.
A school police officer assigned to Charter Oak High School pulled over a car about 10:30 Friday for making an illegal U-turn in front of the school, police said.
Both the driver and vehicle matched the description of the sexual annoyance cases, Foster said, and Garner was ultimately identified by victims as the person who had approached them.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Garner was being held in lieu of $5,000 bail at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station and was due for arraignment Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.
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Armed men rob Pico Rivera video store, customer

PICO RIVERA — Two men with a handgun held a video store patron at gunpoint as they robbed both the store and the customer late Thursday, authorities said.
The robbery was reported just after 9 p.m. at Mega Video, 9425 Telegraph Road, unit 119, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Dianna Woodward said.
Two men entered the store and pretended to be customers until a real customer approached the register, the sergeant said.
“The two suspects came up from behind. They held the customer at gunpoint and they demanded money from both the clerk and customer,” Woodward said.
After receiving some cash, the robbers were last seen running east from the store, officials said. They were described only as black men between 20 and 25 years old.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station.
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Man shot to death in at Chantry Flats Campground

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A man was fatally shot at the Chantry Flats Campground Thursday, authorities said.
The name of the man was not released pending positive identification an notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said. He was described as a 55-year-old Arcadia man.
The shooting was reported about 5:40 p.m. at the campground in the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“A passer-by discovered the man lying on the side of the road,” Deputy Mark Pope said. “When he saw the man was injured, he contacted Temple Sheriff’s Station deputies, who responded to the location.”
“The victim was suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper body and was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead,” Pope said.
Detectives searched for the victim’s car Friday, which was described as a silver, 4-door 1993 BMW 740, with a California license plate of 3XKB366.
Harvey said the man’s injury were initially described as a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. He died at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena shortly after he was found.
“Witnesses heard gunshots (and) found him lying on the ground,” he said.
No further information was released.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
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El Monte woman conned out of $28,000 in Lottery scam

From City News Service:

EL MONTE — Police Friday sought the public help to find three people who defrauded an El Monte woman out of $28,000 in a lottery scam.
On April 4, the suspects befriended the 52-year-old woman, who speaks only Spanish, and convinced her that they had a $1.7-million lottery ticket, El Monte police Detective Tim Siedentopp said.
They told the woman they needed money to help them cash the ticket, and they would give her a $15,000 payment, Siedentopp said.
The suspects drove her to two Bank of America branches in El Monte, and she withdrew $20,000 from one bank and
$8,000 from another, Siedentopp said.
She gave the suspects the money, and they drove her to a market, where they asked her to buy them some water “while a suspect made a photocopy of the lottery ticket prior to responding to a lottery office in Temple City to collect their winnings,” Siedentopp said.
When the woman lost sight of the suspects, they fled.
Police released security photos of one suspect, a woman described as Hispanic, about 30-35, 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a medium build. She had brown hair and brown eyes.
She was accompanied by a Hispanic man of about the same age and height. A description of the third suspect was not released.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call police. 
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80-year-old store clerk injured during beer run

WHITTIER — Police sought four robbers who injured an 80-year-old market owner during a beer run late Thursday.
The crime took place about 7 p.m. at Helen’s Market, 8843 Santa Fe Springs Road, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Four crooks grabbed several containers of beer and and left without paying, police said.
The owner of the market confronted the thieves in the parking lot and was struck in the face by the door of the robbers’ car, Lt. Carlos Solorza said.
The robbers then fled the area in their white Ford Taurus.
The elderly market owner was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, authorities added.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9200.
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Man accused of taking inappropriate pictures of girl at Arcadia shopping mall

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ARCADIA — Police jailed a man Wednesday on suspicion of snapping photographs up a young girl’s skirt at the Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Center, authorities said Friday.
Aaron D. Koniak, 35, of Encino, was booked on suspicion of a misdemeanor charge of invasion of privacy with a camera after being captured by a good Samaritan, Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said in a written statement.
An 11-year-old girl was shopping with her mother at a kiosk inside the mall about 6:30 p.m. when the incident occurred, the sergeant said.
“A witness noticed the suspect standing very close to the victim and watched the suspect lean over and hold what appeared to be a camera below the girl’s skirt line,” he said.
The witness immediately told the mother what was going on, and the mother confronted Koniak, who tried to run away, police said.
“The mother yelled and chased after the suspect where another bystander detained him,” Le Veque said.
Police arrived and detained Koniak, he said. A “smartphone” was recovered. “Evidence was found on the phone supporting witness accounts of the incident.”
“Based on evidence and suspect statements, we believe that there are potentially additional victims at other area shopping centers,” the sergeant said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Arcadia Police detectives at 626-574-5160.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Koniak was released from jail late Wednesday after posting $25,000 bail.
*PHOTO of Aaron Koniak courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department
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Woman robbed at knifepoint in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA — Two men threatened and robbed a 60-year-old woman of her purse and jewelry at knifepoint Thursday, police said.
The victim was walking with another woman, 78, near Magnolia Street and Forest Avenue about 2:30 p.m. when they were approached by the robbers, South Pasadena police Sgt. Craig Cooper said.
One of the men brandished a knife and demanded property from the 60-year-old woman, saying, “Give me your purse and chains or I’m going to stab you,” the sergeant said.
The woman handed over her purse and necklaces and the men fled the area on foot, he said.
Police described both robbers as Latino men in their early 20s. One was about 5 feet 5 inches tall and heavy set, while the other was about 5 feet tall, thin and brandished a folding knife.
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