Pomona man accused of kidnapping Covina woman and her son

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COVINA — A man kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and her 4-year-old son Sunday after the woman refused to reconcile with him, police said.
Robelio Veliz, 21, of Pomona was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and child endangerment after authorities recovered the boy unharmed in Pomona, according to Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson.
The incident began around 3:30 p.m. When Veliz got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend at her home in 600 block of E. Cienega Avenue, police said.
When the woman refused Veliz’s request to reconcile, he placed her 4-year-old son into the cab of his pickup truck in an attempt to coax the woman to get in, Peterson said in a written statement.
Veliz is not the boy’s father, Sgt. Jim McDonough added.
“The female refused and the suspect began to drive away from the location,” Peterson said. “The mother, in an attempt to get her son back from the suspect, jumped into the bed of the truck.”
With the woman in the bed of the truck, and the child still in the cab with him, Veliz continued driving. He reached the intersection of Grand Avenue and Fairway Lane more than two miles away, just north of the 10 Freeway in West Covina, when the woman jumped out, Peterson said.
The woman, who suffered minor injuries, called 9-1-1 as Veliz continued driving with her son, police said.
Police went to Veliz home in the 700 block of E. Hawthorne Place in Pomona, where they spotted his truck parked outside, Peterson said.
“The child was located inside the suspect’s residence and the suspect was taken into custody as he tried to run out the back of the house,” he said. “The child appears to be uninjured.”
Veliz was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Covina Police Department’s jail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court, officials said.
Witnesses or anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Covina police Detective Anthony Zavala at 626-384-5622, or the Covina Police Department at 626-384-5656.
BOOKING PHOTO of Robelio Veliz courtesy of the Covina Police Department
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“Suspicious” fire scorches tires, pickup truck in Pasadena

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PASADENA — A “suspicious” fire behind a Lake Avenue auto shop destroyed an abandoned pickup truck and a pile of tires, sending a plume of black smoke high into the air, authorities said.
The blaze was first reported about 12:25 p.m. to the rear of an auto shop on Lake Avenue, just north of Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
A pile of tires caught fire and spread to an abandoned Ford F-150, Derderian said.
Firefighters quickly doused the blaze with water and prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings, she added.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Derderian said, however officials described it as “suspicious in nature.”
PHOTO courtesy of Chastity Baeder
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UPDATED: CHP issues Amber Alert for abducted 16-year-old girl

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The California Highway Patrol has issued an Amber Alert for a 16-year-old Monterey County girl and a father and son accused of abducting her Saturday.
Eunice Serrato was abducted from San Ardo about 9:45 p.m. Saturday by Juan Manual Salazar Jr., 19, and Juan Salazar Sr., 39, according to an Amber Alert issued by the CHP.
The father and son were reportedly linked to a double-homicide early Sunday morning in San Ardo. Authorities told a television station the suspects may be headed south toward Mexico.
The three were last seen in a white, 4-door, 1990 Acura with a California license plate number of 4SAE963.
Serrato is described as Latino, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She has a tattoo reading “3/10/10″ on her right middle finger, one that says “love” on her back and another that reads “vellen” on her upper right leg. She was last seen wearing a blue and white shirt, pink jacket, blue jeans and sandals.
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Salazar Jr. is Latino, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, officials said. He may be wearing glasses.
“(Salazar) may also have a gunshot wound and should be considered armed and dangerous,” according to the CHP alert.
Salazar Sr.’s physical description is the same as his son’s, though he does not wear glasses.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the abduction or the relationship, if any, between the alleged victim and abductors was released.
Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1 or the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office at 831-385-8312.
PHOTOS courtesy of the CHP. Top – Eunice Serrato; Center – Juan Salazar Jr.; Bottom – Juan Salazar Sr.
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Man accused of stealing wiring from Santa Fe Springs church

SANTA FE SPRINGS — Police jailed a man early Sunday on suspicion of stealing wiring from a church.
Martin Vega-Woods, 43, of Corona, was booked on suspicion of burglary, as well as an outstanding warrant in connection with the early-morning break-in at the Florence Avenue Foursquare Church, 11457 E. Florence Ave., Whittier police Lt. Randy Inman said.
A man was walking his dog about 7 a.m. at Lake Center Athletic Park, about a block west of the church on Florence Avenue, when he encountered a man later identified as Vega-Woods, the lieutenant said.
Vega-Woods was trying to strip the copper out of about 30 pounds of heavy-duty cabling and asked the dog-walker for a knife, Inman said. The man with the dog thought the situation suspicious and called police.
Officers determined that Vega-Woods had broken into the church and stolen exposed wiring from an electrical room prior to Sunday morning services, police said.
A woman who accompanied Vega-Woods was also arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs, Inman said.
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Missing 71-year-old La Habra woman sought

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LA HABRA — Police and worried family members asked the public’s help Saturday in locating a 71-year-old with suffering from dementia who went missing Friday.
Eulalaia “Lolly” Ynzunza, 71, was last seen about 1:30 p.m. Friday at her home near Lambert Road and Walnut Street, according to La Habra police and the missing woman’s daughter. A family member came home from work and discovered both she and her small dog, “Rusty,” were missing.
“Ms. Ynzunza has Dementia and gets lost very easily when she is by herself,” police said in a written statement.
She’s described as Latino, about 4 feet 11 inches tall and 130 pounds. She has gray hair, brown eyes and wears glasses. She was last seen wearing a green jacket, beige shorts and gray and blue shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact La Habra police at 562-905-9750.
PHOTO: courtesy
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Tree trimmer apparently electrocuted while working in palm tree in Arcadia

ARCADIA — A 31-year-old tree trimmer died after apparently being electrocuted and falling from a palm tree Saturday, authorities said.
The name of the worker was not released pending positive identification and notification of his family members, according to Arcadia police and fire officials.
The incident was reported just before 11 a.m. in the 1400 block of Orlando Drive, according to Arcadia Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner.
“Upon arrival, firefighters witnessed a palm tree fire with a tree trimmer, who appeared to have been electrocuted, harnessed approximately 20 feet up in the blazing tree,” Stogner said in a written statement.
“Within moments of arrival, the fire burned through the harness and the tree trimmer fell to the ground,” she said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighters extinguished a small spot fire that ignited in an adjacent backyard because of the incident, which also caused power lines to arc in the area, officials said.
Authorities shut down power to the block as the investigation continued Saturday afternoon.
No foul play was initially suspected, Arcadia police Lt. Bob Anderson said.
In addition to the Arcadia Police Department, Southern California Edison and the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety are also investigating the fatal mishap.
Saturday’s incident was the second time a worker died while trimming a palm tree in the San Gabriel Valley in the past two months.
Roberto Garcia, 24, of Glendora died June 9 after a group of fronds fell on him as he worked high up in a palm tree in the 200 block of West Bennett Avenue in Glendora, apparently crushing or suffocating him, Glendora police and fire officials said at the time.
Roque Valdez, 48, of Monrovia was also killed while trimming a tree in the 2100 block of South Goodall Avenue in Duarte on April 19, 2011.
In that case, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide investigators, Valdez was fatally jolted after a large branch he had cut struck power line, causing the line to bounce back in his direction and electrocute him.
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Inmate escapes from conservation camp north of Azusa

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A minimum-security inmate incarcerated for possession of a gun by an ex-felon went missing Friday from a conservation camp in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa, authorities said.
Rafael Ortega was last seen at his assigned bed about 5:10 p.m. Friday during a mandatory count at the Julius Klein Conservation Camp, 22550 E. East Fork Road, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Lt. Alyce von Savoye said in a written statement.
“Camp staff searched the inmate dormitory area, surrounding buildings and the camp perimeter after he was discovered missing,” von Savoye said.
“All local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol have been notified and are assisting in the search for Ortega,” she added.
Ortega began serving a three year, eight month prison sentence in October of 2011 following a conviction for possession of a firearm by an ex-felon, authorities said. He was scheduled to be paroled in May of 2013.
Officials described Ortega as Latino, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Julius Klein Conservation Camp commander at 626-910-1213, or the Sierra Conservation Center watch commander at (209) 984-5291, ext. 5439.
PHOTO of Rafael Ortega, 20, courtesy of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
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South El Monte man convicted of ex-girlfriend’s murder

LOS ANGELES – A South El Monte man faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a former girlfriend two years ago, authorities said Thursday.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Tuesday convicted 40-year-old Toan Phan of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced Sept. 11.

Phan shot Hong Nguyen and himself in the 11400 block of Thienes Avenue in South El Monte on July 17, 2010.

He claimed the shooting was accidental.

But Deputy District Attorney Terrie Tengelsen said Phan killed Nguyen in a murder-suicide attempt.

The 34-year-old Nguyen, who lived in Orange County, was Phan’s former girlfriend. Phan married someone else.

Phan wrote a suicide note saying he still loved Nguyen and hoped they could be husband and wife in the next life, according to Tengelsen.

Before the shooting, Tengelsen said Phan went to Greater El Monte Community Hospital with chest pains. Either the hospital or Phan then called Nguyen to pick him up.

She drove him home.

At 4:45 a.m. on July 17, 2010, deputies went to the Thienes Avenue home on a call about a shooting.

They found a wounded Phan in the doorway. They also discovered Nguyen who was pronounced dead at the scene. Both were shot in the upper body.

- Ruby Gonzales
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Whittier, Montebello police plan National Night Out events

Police in Whittier and Montebello are preparing to host their annual “National Night Out” events next month.
National Night Out, a national campaign now in it’s 29th year, brings community members and local police officials together in annual meetings to raise crime awareness, foster crime prevention, strengthen neighborhood spirit and send a message that communities are organized against crime and fighting back, according to Whittier police Officer Brad White.
Citizens are also asked to lock their doors, leave their porch lights on and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. More than 35 million Americans are expected to take part in this year’s National Night Out on Aug. 7, organizers said.
The Whittier Police Department’s event will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Michigan Park, 8228 Michigan Avenue, officials said.
It will include free food and drinks, demonstrations by K-9 and tactical entry teams, a bounce house for kids, raffles, giveaways, ride-a-longs, a rock wall, music and more, White said. Los Angeles County Fire Department equipment is also scheduled to be on display.
In Montebello, the public is invited to join officers from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Montebello Police Department, 1600 West Beverly Blvd., officials said.
Station tours, child fingerprinting, K-9 demonstrations and a display of Montebello Fire Department apparatus are scheduled for the gathering, police said.
For more information on the Whittier National Night Out event, contact Officer Brad White at 562-567-9208.
For more information on Montebello’s National Night Out, contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313.
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Gang member sentenced for murder of young La Habra man at 2009 Halloween party

SANTA ANA — A judge sentenced a La Habra gang member to 15 years to life in prison Friday for the fatal beating and stabbing of an 18-year-old son of two Los Angeles police detectives at a Halloween Party.
Steven Salvador Hernandez, 20, was convicted in May of second-degree murder and street terrorism for the Oct. 31, 2009 death of 18-year-old Joshua Mora-Rodriguez in the 1000 block of East Francis Avenue in La Habra.
The Orange County Superior Court jury also found true the special allegation that the crime was carried out for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
The victim, however, had no gang ties, authorities said. He had only recently graduated high school and was preparing to join the Army when he was killed.
“During the sentencing (Friday), Mora-Rodriguez’s mother, step-father and uncle gave victim impact statements to the court describing the heartbreaking loss of Mora-Rodriguez,” Orange County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“The victim’s mother tearfully explained that, despite working as a police detective and frequently working with murder victims, she never expected to be the one losing her son,” the statement said. “She also said that she felt sorry for the defendant’s parents because they didn’t look after their son and raise him to be a better man instead of a murderer.”
Two other young men are still awaiting trial in connection with the slaying, officials said.
Rene Antonio Lobos, 17, of La Habra and Jose Francisco Nuno, 22, of La Habra face the same charges as Hernandez, district attorney’s officials said. They were due in court Nov. 9 for a pre-trial conference.
Mora-Rodriguez was attending a party shortly before midnight with about 40 other people that was being hosted by a female friend of one of the suspects, according to Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Duff, who prosecuted the case.
Two of the victim’s friends had been beaten up by several other young men during the party, the prosecutor said. As Mora-Rodriguez and his friends left the party, they were confronted again by some of the young men they had fought with.
Nuno started a verbal argument with one of Mora-Rodriguez’s friends before more than a half-dozen gang members jumped into the fray, Duff said, adding that witnesses had described the attack as an “ambush.”
Nuno is accused of punching the victim as Lobos allegedly beat him with a baseball bat and Hernandez cut his throat with a knife, Duff said.
Mora-Rodriguez’s carotid artery was severed by the knife, causing him to bleed to death within minutes, officials said.
A knife found wrapped in bloody clothing and hidden at a neighboring home was determined to be the murder weapon through DNA analysis, Duff said. Additionally, DNA tests showed that the clothing the knife was wrapped in belonged to Hernandez.
Nuno and Lobos were arrested shortly after the killing after police noticed blood — later found to be Mora-Rodriguez’s — on their clothing, investigators said. Hernandez was arrested several weeks later as the investigation continued.
Though Hernandez was 17 at the time of the killing, and Lobos was 15, both were charged as adults. If convicted as charged, both co-defendants also face up to 15 years to life in prison.
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