Woman accused of Azusa stabbing released, no charges filed

AZUSA – A woman arrested accused of stabbing her boyfriend at an Azusa mote last week has been released from custody without charges, officials said.
Julie Helm, 46, of Azusa was initially booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after her 43-year-old boyfriend was stabbed multiple times in the upper body at the Arrow Inn Motel, 469 E. Arrow Highway, according to Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe.
But Helm was released from the Azusa Police Department’s jail the morning of June 20, prior to her scheduled arraignment, after prosecutors declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robinson said.
The man who was stabbed during the incident, Mike Cavanugh, said he was upset that Helm had been released from jail and had returned to the same motel where he is staying, though he admitted the fight was not merely one-way. He said he kicked and choked Helm during the incident, in which he also suffered a broken rib.
“This isn’t justice,” he said. “Do I have to be a corpse for them to do something?”

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Man arrested in connection with La Verne shooting released without charges

LA VERNE — A man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for the shooting of his wife earlier this week at a La Verne home was released from jail Wednesday after prosecutors declined to file a case against him, authorities said.
Michael Banda, 45, was released from custody after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file a case against him, citing “insufficient evidence,” D.A.’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Further details regarding the investigation were not available Wednesday. Handling La Verne police detectives could not be reached for comment.
Banda was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after the 3 p.m. shooting in the 4300 block of Edminster Drive, La Verne police Capt. Nick Paz said.
His wife had been shot in the neck and shoulder during an argument, police said. The wounds were not considered to be life-threatneing. A .22-caliber revolver was taken from the home.
Banda was initially held in lieu of $1 million bail, but released from the La Verna Police Department’s Jail about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after prosecutors declined to charge him.

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Teen bicyclist struck by SUV in Whittier

WHITTIER — A 14-year-old boy appeared to have avoided major injury but was flown to a trauma center as a precaution Wednesday after he was struck by a car while riding a bicycle to summer school, officials said.
Two 14-year-old boys were on their way to Whittier High School just after 8 a.m. when the collision occurred at Broadway and Citrus Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
They were riding north along Citrus Avenue and crossed Broadway when one of them was struck by an eastbound small SUV, according to police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The driver saw the boy in the lead and honked his horn, but failed to see the second boy following behind the first and collided with him, Dean said.
Fire Capt. Richard Dominguez said the boy who was struck did not appear to have suffered major injuries, however officials landed a helicopter to at Whittier High School to take him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center as a precaution.
The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, Dean said. The cause of the crash remained under investigation, however nothing criminal was initially suspected.

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Arcadia woman arrested after lengthy chase across the San Gabriel Valley

SAN GABRIEL — An Arcadia woman is accused of leading San Gabriel police and a high speed chase that traversed the San Gabriel Valley twice over more than an hour late Saturday, authorities said.
Jennifer McElhaney, 25, was booked on suspicion of auto theft and felony evading of police after she was ultimately ditched the car and was found hiding in a residential neighborhood in Covina, San Gabriel police Lt. Tony Hernandez said.
The incident began when San Gabriel police officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen parked in the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy at San Gabriel Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive, Hernandez said.
Officers watched as a woman, later identified as McElhaney, got into the car and began driving, he said.
“We attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle,” Hernandez said. “She fled.”
The chase reached speeds in excess of 100 mph at times as McElhaney led officers down the 10, 101, 110 and 210 Freeways to Pasadena, he said.
McElhaney then headed east on the 210 Freeway, exited Vernon Avenue in Azusa and continued on surface streets through Covina and West Covina, Hernandez said.
She managed to get back on the 210 Freeway and headed back to Pasadena, before again turning around and driving back into Covina, police said.
The car chase came to an end when McElhaney abandoned the car in the 200 block of Benbow Street in Covina and continued to flee on foot, Hernandez said. She was found hiding in the area a little more than 20 minutes later.
According to county booking records, McElhaney was being held in lieu of $130,500 bail pending her initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Would-be robber loses money in failed Pasadena heist

PASADENA — A gunman not only fled empty-handed following an attempted robbery at a Pasadena business Saturday, he left money behind during the ill-fated crime, police said.
The crime was reported about 8:30 a.m. at Pro Boxing, 510 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena police Sgt. Robert Tucker said.
The robber first entered the store and began to purchase some boxing tape, the sergeant said.
“The suspect gave the manager $20 to pay for the tape,” Tucker said. “When he have him the $20, he pulled out a handgun and told him to open the register.”
But the employee was unable to open the register quickly enough to satisfy the gunman, who tried unsuccessfully to open the cash register himself, he said.
Unable to get the register open, the robber stowed his gun and left the store, Tucker said. He left behind the $20 bill, though the boxing tape he took cost about $8.
A man who answered the phone at the business, but did not identify himself, said he was not impressed by the irony of the incident.
“It’s nothing funny,” the man said. “It’s terrible.”
No injuries were reported.
Police described the robber as a black man, about 20 years old, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, and about 150 pounds. He wore a burgundy hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans.

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Man suspected in at least three gas station robberies in Diamond Bar, Walnut

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man early Sunday in Diamond Bar following what authorities said was his third armed gas station robbery in the area since Thursday.
Eddie Anthony Sanders, 31, was jailed following a 5 a.m. heist at an ARCO station at Brea Canyon Road and Lycoming Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Angie Wilkinson said. He listed addresses in both Pomona and Anaheim.
The previous robberies were also reported in the early-morning hours, Wilkinson said. A Chevron station at Valley Boulevard and Pierce Road in Walnut was robbed Saturday, and an ARCO station at Diamond Bar Boulevard and Brea Canyon Road in Diamond Bar was robbed Thursday.
In the most recent crime, the 30-year-old clerk called deputies before the robbery even occurred after recognizing him in the parking lot from a photograph of the alleged serial robber shown to him by a deputy the previous night, officials said.
“(The deputy) told him to be on the lookout for Sanders,” Wilkinson said in a written statement.
“At 5 a.m. (Sunday), the clerk saw Sanders in the parking lot,” the sergeant said. “He appeared to be around, waiting for customers in the store to leave. The clerk immediately called Walnut station to report seeing him.”
“Moments after hanging up, Sanders walked in and robbed the clerk with a handgun,” Wilkinson said. “As he was walking through the parking lot, deputies arrived and arrested him.”
The semi-automatic handgun Sanders used in the robbery had been reported stolen in a home burglary, Wilkinson added. <p>Evidence found in Sander’s car, which was found parked across the street, led investigators to believe he may be responsible for additional robberies in other cities.
She said detectives were working with investigators from other nearby jurisdictions to try to link Sanders to additional crimes.
Sanders was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Baldwin Park man shot while standing in front yard with wife

BALDWIN PARK — Two male attackers shot and wounded a Baldwin Park man as he stood in front of his home with his wife late Saturday, police said.
The shooting took place shortly before 11:50 p.m. in the 4800 block of Jerry Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Darryl Kosaka said.
“We received a call of shots fired in the area,” he said. “Officers arrive. They find a 47-year-old male with multiple gunshot wounds to the (legs) in front yard.”
He was hospitalized with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, the sergeant said.
The man’s wife suffered a minor injury when she was struck by a bullet fragment, Kosaka said.
The couple was standing in front of their home when they were approached by a vehicle described only as a dark-colored, “smaller” compact car, he said. Two attackers inside were described only as male.
They asked the victim where he was from — a common gang challenge — before opening fire, the sergeant said.

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3rd UPDATE: La Puente man fatally wounded in deputy-involved shooting


LA PUENTE — A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot an armed 24-year-old La Puente man who allegedly fled from a traffic stop, authorities said Sunday.
The man was shot after reportedly twice reaching for his waistband. A silver handgun was found on the man’s body, officials said.
Cesar Mendoza died at a hospital shortly after the shooting, Sgt. Robert Gray of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The dead man was the front passenger in a Nissan sedan that deputies stopped just before 9:50 p.m. The car allegedly ran a stop sign in a residential neighborhood at Loukelton Street and Ballista Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.
About the time the Nissan pulled over, Mendoza ran, Gray said.
One of the two deputies in the patrol car that pulled over the car remained with the Nissan and two other men who were inside it while the second deputy chased after Mendoza.
“At one point during the foot-pursuit, the suspect turned, reached for his waistband and attempted to retrieve a handgun. Fearing for his safety, the deputy fired several rounds at the suspect,” Deputy Irys Alvarez of the Sheriff’ Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
It was not clear if the man was wounded by the deputy’s gunfire.
“(Mendoza) continued to run, turned around a second time reaching for his waistband,” Alvarez’s statement said. “The deputy once again fired several rounds, striking (Mendoza) in the upper torso.”
Paramedics took Mendoza to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:28 p.m., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said.
No deputies were injured, and a loaded handgun was founded tucked in Mendoza’s waistband, Gray said.
“He actually never got it all the way out,” Gray said.
Mendoza was believed to have gang ties, the sergeant said.
The shootings took place along the sidewalk of Loukelton Street, within 100 feet from the scene of the original traffic stop, Gray said.
Two “acquaintances” of Mendoza were detained and questioned, but ultimately released, the sergeant said. They were described as a man in his 30s and a man in his 60s.
A roadside memorial comprised of candles flowers, rosaries, a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and a can of Chelada on Sunday marked the spot where Mendoza was fatally shot.
Mendoza’a mother, Maria Mendoza, said he was survived by a 5-year-old son, Angel.
She and Cesar Mendoza’s brother, James Martinez, said they doubted the official account of the shooting given by sheriff’s investigators.
They said they understood that Cesar Mendoza ran from the vehicle following the traffic stop, but never turned to confront the pursuing deputy.
All of the bullets struck Mendoza from behind, family members said.
An autopsy had not yet been performed Sunday, MacWillie said.
Gray declined to identify the deputy involved in the shooting Sunday, citing an active investigation and concerns for the deputy’s safety.
In keeping with department policy, the deputy was on leave Sunday pending investigation into the shooting and psychological evaluation.
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El Monte police silent on dog shooting video

EL MONTE — El Monte police had no comment Saturday regarding the controversial shooting of a police dog in which the department’s version of events appears to contradict video of the incident captured by the residents security camera.
Police have launched an internal investigation into the incident, however the two involved officers remained on-duty, said Valerie Martinez of the city’s hired public relations agency, VMA Communications.
The video captured the arrival of two officers and the shooting of a family’s pet German shepherd which took place Wednesday at a home in the 4700 block of Maxson Road. The officers were there to meet with Cathy Luu and her husband Chi Nguyen to regarding their teenage son, whom they had reported as a runaway over the weekend.
Capt. Dan Buehler said Thursday that the police reports indicated the officers noted the “Beware of Dog” signs on the property and took precautions, such as shaking the gate to make noise, to make sure there were no dogs present in the yard before entering. Only after checking for dogs did the officers enter the yard to knock on the family’s front door.
A pit bull emerged from the back portion of the yard, followed by a German Shepherd which charged toward a female officer standing on the porch, police said. The officer then shot 2-year-old German shepherd once. It ultimately had to be euthanized.
But video footage provided by the family shows the officers walking opening the gate and entering the yard and entering the gate without taking the precautions described by Buehler.
Additionally, the family alleged that the department failed to get prompt medical treatment for the wounded animal, rescinded an offer to pay for medical treatment and treated the rudely in the wake of the incident.
Martinez said it was too early for the department to make any officials comment regarding the shooting, and the apparent discrepancies between the department’s official version of events and the video footage.
“The investigation is still underway,” she said, adding that it remained in its early stage.
Chief Steve Schuster did not return a request for comment, instead referring the request for comment to VMA.
Officials have urged patience, saying the situation is being investigated as an officer-involved shooting.
But since no people were injured, the shooting does not automatically trigger parallel investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office or the County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review, as is the case in officer-involved shooting in which a person is injured.


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Fire scorches Monterey Park home; resident treated for burns

MONTEREY PARK – A large fire Saturday damaged a house and sent a man to the hospital with burns, authorities said.
The fire was reported just after 3 p.m. in the 500 block of South Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park police Lt. Eric Kim said.
The first firefighters on-scene quickly declared the blaze a second-alarm fire and called for reinforcements, Verdugo Fire Communications Center dispatch supervisor Lynda Sims said.
Dozens of firefighters extinguished the blaze in less than half an hour, Monterey Park Fire Department Capt. Neal Martin said.
A resident estimated to be about 40 years old was taken to a hospital for treatment of first-degree burns to his face and second-degree burns to his chest, the captain said. It was not clear how he suffered the burns.
The fire was contained primarily to a back room of the home and a patio area that contained fuels such as cabinets and mattresses, Martin said.
He estimated that the fire caused more than $50,000 worth of damage.
Between seven and nine residents were displaced from the home as a result of the fire, Martin said. The Red Cross was summoned to help them find temporary lodgings.
A home just south of the one that caught fire sustained minor damage, however the residents were not displaced
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

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