Five suspected of DUI after Covina checkpoint; more to come

COVINA — A multi-agency sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday netted five drunken driving arrests, including one driver whose blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, authorities said.
The operation was held from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday in the 700 block of South Citrus Avenue.
More than 2,500 cars passed through the checkpoint, which was stagged by officers from the Covina, Glendora, Azusa, Claremont, Irwindale and Los Angeles police department, according to Glendora police Community Service Officer Wendy Brewer, who also serves as a coordinator for an anti-DUI task force comprised of more than 100 Southland law enforcement agencies known as Avoid the 100.
Of the five drivers arrested on suspicion of drunken driving during the Covina checkpoint, one had a blood-alcohol level of more than triple the legal limit for an adult of .08 percent, Brewer said.
And Avoid the 100 plans to continue its DUI crackdown through Labor Day, Sept. 12.
More checkpoints were planned Saturday night in cities including Azusa, Arcadia, El Monte and La Mirada.
Since the task force kicked of it’s summer enforcement campaign Aug. 16, more than 975 DUI arrests have been made.

Employees bound during takeover robbery at Altadena Walmart

ALTADENA — A group of armed men bound employees and ordered a manger to open a safe during a takeover-style robbery at a Walmart store early Saturday, authorities said.
The crime took place about 3:30 a.m. at the store on Lincoln Avenue at Figueroa Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Booker Hollis said. A group of employees was outside the store taking a break when they were approached by four robbers, described only as male and wearing dark-colored hooded sweatshirts, who were carrying small-caliber handguns.
“They ordered the employees into the store,” Hollis said. “Once inside, the suspects zip-tied te employees’ hands.”
The employees were then ordered into an office where the store’s safe is stored and instructed to lie face-down on the floor, the sergeant said.
Hollis said the gunmen ordered a manager to open the safe and fled the store with $4,000 to $5,000. They were last seen running east from the store.
No injuries were reported, Hollis added.
Detectives continued following up on clues and checking surveillance cameras for evidence Saturday.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Altadena Station at 626-798-1131.

Pasadena man arrested after high-speed chase tells police he fled because he was late for work

PASADENA — A Pasadena man arrested early Saturday told police he led them on a high-speed pursuit the previous morning because he was late for work and is afraid of police, officials said.
Chilel Carlitos Lopez, 29, was arrested at his home about 3 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of felony evading of police, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. The arrest stemmed from an alleged high-speed chase Lopez led Pasadena officers on early the previous morning.
When arrested, “He admitted he fled from the officer because he was late to work,” Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said. “He also said he was afraid of the police.”
The chase took place shortly after 5:30 a.m. Friday when an officer tried to pull over Lopez’s SUV at Fair Oaks Avenue and State Street, the lieutenant said.
“The driver fled,” Clawson said. The SUV headed south in South Pasadena at high speed before police lost sight of the vehicle after it turned onto Huntington Drive. The pursuit was discontinued, however police continued working to identify the driver.
Investigators showed up at Lopez’s home early Saturday after determining he was the registered owner of the car, Clawson said. The SUV was parked out front when they arrived.
According to county booking records, Lopez was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Pasadena Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance.

Three teens suspected of Pasadena home burglary

PASADENA — Three Pasadena teens are accused of a residential break-in after they were captured fleeing from a Mentone Avenue home with stolen electronics, jewelry and cash, authorities said.
A resident of the 1900 block of Mentone Avenue called police just after 4:15 p.m. Friday to report seeing three teenagers jumping a fence into a neighbor’s backyard, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“The helicopter was almost immediately on-scene,” he said. “(Officers) observed the suspects running from the location.”
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Altadena Station who were nearby spotted the three suspects and detained them, the lieutenant said.
“Pasadena officers responded to victim residence and found a (back) door had been forced open,” Clawson said. “The three suspect in possession of stolen property from victim’s home.”
The three teens, whose names were not released due to their ages, were booked on suspicion of residential burglary, he said.

Man killed in off-duty officer-involved shooting in South Pasadena identified

SOUTH PASADENA — Coroner’s officials Friday released the name of a Los Angeles man fatally wounded by an off-duty California State University, Los Angeles police officer last weekend after allegedly shooting at the officer, authorities said.
Justo Quintero, 30, died at a hospital shortly after Sunday’s 1 a.m. shooting in the 1000 block of Arroyo Verde Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Los Angeles County homicide detectives released little information regarding the encounter between the two men, citing the ongoing investigation and concerns for the safety of the officer, whose name has not been released, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
She declined to say why the officer was in the area, and said it was unclear why Quintero was there. The men did not know each other before the encounter early Sunday.
There was no argument, however the officer and suspect did exchange words, Francisco said. She declined to discuss the nature of the conversation, but said the officer did not identify himself as an off-duty law enforcement officer during the exchange.
“The suspect ended up pointing a firearm at him,” Francisco said. “The suspect did fire at the officer.”
The officer was not struck by multiple gunshots fired by Quintero, Francisco said. The officer returned fire, striking Quintero several times in the upper body.
Quintero got into a nearby car and began driving away before crashing into a parked car nearby, sheriff’s officials said. He was detained by South Pasadena police and taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena where he died from his wounds.
The officer was treated for abrasions to his face, though it was not clear exactly how he sustained them, Francisco added.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Ex-Glendora school officials denies embezzlement

LOS ANGELES — A longtime Glendora Unified School District employee accused of embezzling more than $350,000 entered a not guilty plea in court Thursday, officials said.
Cynthia Lee Schlig, 57, of Upland entered the plea at an arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said. She is charged with five felony counts including forgery, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.
Schlig was ordered back to court Sept. 26 for a preliminary hearing setting, Davila-Morales said.
Glendora investigators arrested Schlig Tuesday following 19 months of investigation, Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers said.
Detectives found evidence of the embezzlement scheme going back five years, the lieutenant said.
Schlig, a former accounting specialist for the district’s finance department, had worked for the GUSD for 35 years, officials said.
She resigned her position in January of 2012, shortly after the allegations came to light, district officials said.
Schlig remained in custody Friday at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood in lieu of $140,000 bail, county booking records show.

Jury deliberating in South Whittier triple-murder case

5-4-04-3 BELL 1

A Norwalk jury is deliberating the fate of a Los Angeles man accused of murdering two San Gabriel Valley men and a Mexico man after luring them with an offer to sell a car in South Whittier nearly 10 years ago.
Briaell Lee could face the death penalty if convicted of the three counts of murder with which he has been charged.
He’s accused of the fatal Jan. 27, 2004, fatal shootings of Mario Larios, 23, of West Covina, his cousin Edgar Valles, 22, of La Puente and their friend, Fernando Pina, 25, of Mexico, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. The men were slain when they arrived at the South Whittier home of Lee’s co-defendant, Cimarron Bell, 39, to discuss purchasing a Chevrolet Monte Carlo for $8,500.
None of the three men knew Lee or Bell prior to meeting them to discuss the car sale, prosecutors said.
Following the conclusion of closing arguments in the case, the Norwalk Superior Court jury began deliberating Thursday, court officials said.
5-4-04-3 BELL 2Co-defendant Cimarron Bell of South Whittier has already been convicted of these three murders, as well as another, and sentenced to death in August of 2011. Bell was also convicted of the murder of his 22-year-old girlfriend Ineka Edmondson of Compton, whose body was found Nov. 12, 2003, in a car at a La Habra industrial park.
In addition to the murders, Lee and Bell were further accused of the special allegations multiple murders, murder for financial gain and lying in wait, allegations Bell’s jury found to be true, making him eligible for capital punishment, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The three would-be car buyers were killed solely for their money, Edmondson’s slaying also involved personal motives on the part of Bell, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks, who prosecuted Bell along with Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee.
Hanisee described the alleged murder-for-money plot as “very egregious,” targeting “particularly innocent and vulnerable victims.
In Edmondson’s slaying, Bell, who was involved in a check-cashing scheme with the woman and believed she was stealing from him, arranged a fatal ambush.
He called her to meet him at Morgan Metals, where he worked and kissed her hello before shooting her three times in the head at close range, D.A.’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Lee had been held without bail pending trial since his arrest in February of 2004.

PHOTOS of Briaell Lee, above, and Cimarrom Bell, below, by Staff Photographer Leo Jarzomb

Pasadena man jailed in connection with bike theft for second time this week

PASADENA — Police arrested a Pasadena man with an allegedly stolen bicycle early Friday for the second time this week, officials said.
Jose Carlos Maldonado, 38, is accused of receiving stolen property following his arrest shortly after 5 a.m. in the 400 block of South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
Officers spotted him riding one bicycle while pulling another along with him and approached him, the lieutenant said. He was found to have cutting shears and other burglary tools.
The officers soon discovered one of the bicycles had a sticker identifying it as belonging to someone else, Clawson said. The apparent owner could not immediately be contacted.
They took Maldonado into custody and realized that he had been arrested in Pasadena under similar circumstances earlier in the week, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“He had been arrested (Tuesday) for the charge of possession of stolen property, which was a bicycle,” the Clawson said.
Maldonado was released from custody with a citation following Tuesday’s arrest, however following his arrest Friday, he was being held in lieu og $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to booking records.

Pedestrian fatally struck by train in Montebello

MONTEBELLO — A man was hit and killed by an Amtrak train Thursday night.
The fatal collision happened at 7:26 p.m. around Sycamore Street and Carob Way.
Coroner’s officials said it was reported as a suicide.
It appears the man lay down on the tracks, according to Montebello Police Lt. Kelly Gordon.
Amtrak notified Montebello police.
Gordon said the case is being handled by Amtrak police and the coroner’s office.
The man was still unidentified as of Friday morning.

- Ruby Gonzales

CHP plans child safety seat check-up event in Pomona

POMONA — California Highway Patrol officers are planning a free child safety seat inspection event in Pomona Saturday to make sure parents know the proper way to strap their children in when out travelling.
The free Child Passenger Safety Seat Check-Up Event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mattel Toy Store, 2870 South Reservoir Avenue, CHP officials said in a written statement.
“Studies have shown child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 72 percent fir infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1-4, according tot he CHP statement.
Inspections will be done by appointment only. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact the CHP’s Southern Division office 818-240-8200.