71-year-old man struck, killed by van in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA — A 71-year-old man died early Sunday after he was struck by a van while crossing Pasadena Avenue, authorities said.
The man’s name was not released Sunday afternoon pending confirmation that his family had been notified, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said. Police described him as a Highland Park resident.
He was crossing Pasadena Avenue at Arroyo Drive, inside of the crosswalk, about 7:45 a.m. when he was struck, South Pasadena police Sgt. Mike Neff said.
As the man walked south across the street, an eastbound full-sized van failed to yield for him, the sergeant said.
Paramedics treated the injured man for about half an hour, but he was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
The van driver, a 77-year-old Highland Park man, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, Neff said. Alcohol or drugs did not initially appear to be a factor, though blood was drawn for testing.
Neff said officers issued the driver a citation for vehicular manslaughter, requiring him to appear in court, but did not arrest him.
The decision of whether to file charges against the driver will be made by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“The case will be presented to the D.A.’s office after the investigation is done,” Neff said.
The collision occurred where Arroyo Drive dead ends in a fork with Pasadena Avenue. The intersection is not regulated by any traffic signals or stop signs.
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Montebello police jail man on suspicion of ID, car theft

MONTEBELLO — Police jailed a man on suspicion of identity theft, auto theft and possession of stolen property after responding to a report he was using a fraudulent credit card to stay at a hotel.
Jiessi Abiram Alvarado, 19, was being held without bail at the Montebello Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, according to county booking records.
Officers responded to the Hilton Garden Inn, 801 Via San Clemente, shortly before 7 a.m. after employees reported he was renting a room with a fraudulent credit card, Montebello police Sgt. Ismael Navarro said.
After meeting with Alvarado, the sergeant said, officers found he also had documents related to identity theft in his possession, as well as an allegedly stolen car. Other items believed to be stolen were discovered inside the car.
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Rescuers take part in massive rescue drill in Angeles National Forest

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — About 100 rescuers including firefighters, search and rescue teams and law enforcement officers spent three days this week practicing how to deal with major car crashes involving vehicles over the side of mountain roads.
Foothill officials are no strangers to mountain rescue operations, however the large drill carried out Tuesday through Thursday gave them practice for the the type of massive, multi-injury mountain crashes that would require multiple public safety agencies to work together, according to Lt. Andy Berg of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s San Dimas Station.
“The ultimate goal of these exercises was to provide and open working relationship between county, state and federal resources to provide an efficient, unified response to incidents that occur in our local mountains, in order to provide life-saving services to the community we protect and serve,” Berg said. “By all accounts, this goal was not only met but was exceeded.”
Officials practiced coordinating with one another to perform rescues at simulated multi-vehicle, over the mountainside crashes, including ones involving buses. The simulated crashes were staged along Glendora Mountain Road and Mt. Baldy Road in the Angeles National Forest north of the San Gabriel Valley.
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Deputies and search and rescue team members from San Dimas and Sierra Madre, Los Angeles County and San Bernardino fire officials, California Highway Patrol officers and the Cole Schaefer ambulance company took part in the drill, Berg said.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
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Teens accused of graffiti vandalism in Azusa

AZUSA — Police arrested two teenagers Friday after a witness reported seeing them vandalizing a wall with graffiti along San Gabriel Avenue.
A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of vandalism, while a 16-year-old boy was suspected of delaying and obstructing a peace officer for failing to cooperate with officers’ orders, Azusa police Sgt. DeWayne Eldridge said.
Officers responded to the area of Northside Park about 4 p.m. after a witness called police to report the boys scrawling graffiti with spray paint on a brick wall in an alley to the west of the 1200 block of North San Gabriel Avenue, the sergeant said. An officer arrived within seconds and witnessed the vandalism.
A cash reward of $100 was paid to the tipster who reported the tagging crew-related vandalism, police said. Azusa police began a program early this year which offers $100 rewards to witnesses who report graffiti vandalism, leading to an arrest.
Additionally, Eldridge said, the city seeks restitution from convicted vandals or their parents to pay for the cost of repairing the damage.
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Glendora man suspected of painkiller robbery

GLENDORA — A man robbed a pharmacy of six bottles of painkillers Friday but was arrested quickly after an employee held up a “Call 9-1-1” sign at the drive-thru window.

Glendora police Lt. Jamie Caldwell said a customer waiting for a prescription at the drive-thru saw the sign.
The robbery at Walgreens, 550 S. Grand Ave., was reported at 7:15 p.m. Caldwell said a man entered the store, jumped over the counter and pulled out what employees thought was pepper spray. He said the man demanded OxyContin.
One employee wrote, “Call 9-1-1” on a piece of paper and held it out for the driver at the drive-thru window to see, according to Caldwell.
“The driver nods and calls us,” he said.
Officers who were across the street on an unrelated incident got the call about the robbery.
“They see a guy come out wearing a zipped up sweatshirt in 85 degree (weather) with bottles bulging out of the pockets,” Caldwell said.
Officers stopped the man and later arrested him.
He allegedly told police he ran out of insurance, was out of medication and was desperate. Police didn’t buy the story.
Caldwell said the man also told officers he’d been addicted for 20 years. The suspect didn’t have pepper spray.
“He had a small black flashlight,” the lieutenant said.
Caldwell said Donald Prestwood, 50, of Glendora was arrested on suspicion of robbery. Prestwood was being held at Glendora jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
– Ruby Gonzales
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West Covina, El Monte police assist following crash of traffic reporter’s airplane in Corona

CORONA — A West Covina officer pulled two people to safety when a plane piloted by a local radio traffic reporter crashed in Corona Friday night and burst into flames, officials and the radio station said.
Radio station KFI identified the victims as “KFI in in the Sky” traffic reporter Mike Nolan and a passenger. Their injuries were described as serious but not believed to be life-threatening.
The single-engine Cessna 182 lost power, struck power lines and crashed shortly before 6:30 a.m. in a field about one and a half miles east of the Corona Municipal Airport, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer.
West Covina police Lt. Jerry Pearman said one of their flight observers, Officer Mike Weathermon, was training in the El Monte police helicopter on Friday.
The helicopter was being piloted by Fontana police Captain Dave Faulkner, who also serves as a reserve officer and pilot for the El Monte Police Department, El Monte police Lt. Dan Burlingham said.
The aircraft was flying over Corona when Weathermon and the pilot heard a mayday broadcast from a plane around 6 p.m. The helicopter got behind a Cessna. They told the plane’s pilot they will try to escort him to the airport, according to Pearman.
“The pilot said he won’t be able to make it. He said (he was) having engine problems and didn’t think he would be able to make it,” Pearman said.
Weathermon and the helicopter pilot saw the plane hit a power line with its right wing and crash nose down in an area near Lincoln Avenue and Harrington Street. A brush fire ignited around the aircraft.
The Cessna’s occupants got out. The plane erupted into flames after the occupants were clear, according to KFI.
The chopper landed about 100 yards east of the crash.
Pearman said the plane’s passenger was about 15 feet from the plane.
Weathermon pulled him and the pilot away from the plane, according to the lieutenant.
The airplane was reportedly registered to Nolan, however the FAA’s aircraft registry database was not functioning Saturday.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, with the NTSB spearheading the probe, Kenitzer said.
A preliminary report on the crash would likely be released by the NTSB within weeks, he added. A “probably cause” often takes months to determine.
– Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day
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Officials decline to prosecute Diamond Bar man with phony bomb charge

Officials Friday declined to file charges against a Diamond Bar man arrested earlier this week with what sheriff’s investigators described as bomb components.
Prosecutors did not find sufficient evidence for a charge of malicious possession of a false or facsimile bomb against 48-year-old Steven Ladd, however the parolee remained jailed due to an existing narcotics warrant, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials and county booking records.
Deputies arrested Ladd shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at his home in the 22000 block of Hilton Head Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
They had responded to a report of a family dispute when the realized Ladd was a parolee with an outstanding warrant for his arrest, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
Deputies then found a what appeared to be a pipe bomb, complete with a fuse system, but lacking any explosives, officials said. Investigators said Ladd claimed the device was a movie prop, though he had no known ties to the film industry.

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Prosecutors decline to file charge against Rosemead man in Monterey Park shooting

Prosecutors declined to file charges Friday against a Rosemead man arrested earlier this week on suspicion of shooting two men.
Originally jailed Wednesday on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. shooting in the 600 block of Rural Drive in Monterey Park, the charge against 21-year-old Geovanny Cardonalarios was declined for further investigation, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He was expected to be released from jail, Monterey Park police Sgt. Frank Duke said Friday afternoon.
Police allege he shot and wounded two Monterey Park men who are in their early 20s in a drive-by attack. Both shooting victims were expected to survive.
Investigators suspected the shooting may have been retaliation for a stabbing that occurred about an hour prior to the shooting in Rosemead.
Cardonalarios’ brother, 21, was at Garvey Park with his girlfriend when he was stabbed and seriously wounded by two to three men, police said. The stabbing victim suffered serious injuries but was expected to survive, Duke said, while his girlfriend was not hurt.

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UPDATED: Gang members sentenced for murder of Whittier father of five

A Whittier gang member received his sentence Friday for the fatal 2009 shooting of a father of five in Uptown Whittier, officials said.
Brandon Valdez, a 26-year-old documented member of the Whittier Varrio Locos street gang, will spend 50 years to life in state prison for the May 16, 2009, slaying of 27-year-old Daniel “Danny Boy” Quijada outside his home in the 6300 block of Milton Avenue, Norwalk Superior Court officials said.
A jury convicted Valdez in January of first-degree murder, along with the special allegation that the crime was carried out in connection with a criminal street gang, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
Quijada had four children, and his wife was seven months pregnant with their fifth child at the time of the shooting.
Though Quijada was a former gang member, there was no testimony presented at trial indicating he was still active with a gang, prosecutor Brock Lunsford said.
Testimony indicated Quijada was targeted by Valdez’s gang — which claims the area as its territory — for engaging in “activities” not sanctioned by the gang, Lunsford said.
Witnesses indicated that Quijada may have angered the gang by selling drugs in the area the claim as their turf, and that Quijada had a heated argument with another Whittier Varrio Locos member in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
Valdez was named in a 2008 Whittier gang injunction targeting the Whittier Varrio Locos gang.

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County law enforcement on ‘heightened alert’ following Colorado mass shooting

Though some law enforcement stations instructed officials to pay extra attention to movie theatres while on patrol in response to the mass shooting during a midnight showing of a new Batman movie in Colorado, police and sheriff’s officials in the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena and Whittier areas largely operated as usual Friday.
Preliminary reports indicated that the shooter, who allegedly killed at least twelve and wounded dozens during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, had no ties to any terrorist organization, according to the FBI.
“While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised,” according to Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau. “The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate.”
The sheriff’s department operates stations in Pico Rivera, Norwalk, Industry, Temple City, Walnut, San Dimas, Crescenta Valley and Altadena, among others throughout Los Angeles County.
In addition to extending condolences to the victims, their loved ones and first-responders affected by the shooting, Parker and other officials encouraged citizens to report any suspicious activity immediately.
“The greatest deterrent to crime is often a phone call to law enforcement by a person who sees something that just doesn’t look right,” the captain said.
Many San Gabriel Valley-area law enforcement officials said they were not particularly worried about any incidents at local movie theaters.
“It seems like such an isolated incident,” Pasadena Police Lt. Diego Torres said. “We don’t plan extra patrols at this point.”
But extra patrols may be added if appropriate, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said in a written statement.
“The Pasadena Police Department initiated proactive steps this morning by visiting movie theaters in our community to determine security level(s),” he added.
The Pasadena Police Department’s heightened diligence may include extra patrols and additional police presence as appropriate.
Torres added that as normal procedure, Pasadena police keep aware of the layouts of large gathering places, such as movie theaters, so they can quickly respond in the case of an emergency.
Police had similar views throughout the region.
“We’re actively listening and learning, just like everyone else,” Alhambra police Sgt. Sean Heckers said.
Additional patrols were not planned, he added.
“We don’t have anything that would cause us to do that,” Heckers said.
Movie theaters tend to be heavily patrolled by police officers and sheriff’s deputies in general, officials said.
“We do a pretty good job of patrolling these theaters,” West Covina police Sgt. Tony Cortina said. “We have a very high presence.”
Covina police officials said officers were advised during Friday morning’s briefing to keep an extra eye on local theaters, though no special patrol operations were planned.
Los Angeles police checked in on Hollywood movie theaters after learning of the Colorado shooting but found no security issues, Los Angeles Police officials said.
El Monte police were keeping in contact with the manager of the theater in that city to make sure everything was okay, Lt. Dan Burlingham said.
Though no special patrols were planned in West Covina, Cortina said, officers may may spend a little extra time making themselves visible near theaters, “just for the peace of mind of the public,” he said.
Pico Rivera sheriff’s Lt. John Kepley also said deputies tend to patrol the city’s movie theater, located on Whittier Boulevard, heavily.
A compliment of reserve deputies are assigned to the Pico Rivera Krikorian theater full-time, he said.
When it comes to the theater, “We try to be pro-active,” Kepley said. “We want it to be a family environment.”
Sgt. Cortina said that tragedies such as the one in Colorado serve as a somber reminder for patrol officers.
“We train for active shooter scenarios like these,” he said. “This freshens in (officers’) minds that things can happen like this anywhere at any given time.”

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