Man found bound and badly burned along 605 Freeway in Industry identified

INDUSTRY — Coroner’s officials Thursday released the identity of a man who died a day after he was found bound and badly burned along the 605 Freeway last week.
Gilbert Medina, 24, died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center early April 16, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. His city of residence was unknown.
Medina was pronounced dead a little more than 12 hours after a passer-by discovered him nude, partially bound and suffering from severe burns all over his body, including his face and hands, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators. He may have also been beaten.
But it remained unclear Thursday exactly how he died.
An autopsy had been carried out, however a cause of death was not determined pending the results of further tests, Bale said.
Lt. Steve Jauch of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said detectives found evidence of a fire near where Medina was first spotted, but declined to give further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
No further details were released.

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UPDATED: Big rig crash shuts down eastbound 210 Freeway, Gold Line service in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Officials shut down all eastbound lanes of the 210 Freeway in Pasadena for three hours Thursday after a big rig hauling a tractor smashed through the center divider, landed on the electrified Metro Gold Line tracks and caught fire.
The crash was reported just before 1 p.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway at Allen Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.
Initial investigation determined the crash, which involved the big rig an a box truck, was triggered when the big rig’s left front tire blew out, CHP Officer Juan Galvan said.
“Both vehicles were travelling eastbound at the time of the collision,” CHP Officer Juan Galvan said. “(The big rig) received a blowout, lost control and collided into the (box truck) and continued into the center divide and onto the tracks, while the other vehicle that was hit lost control, travelled to the right, and collided into the right shoulder sound barrier, ultimately overturning and sliding to a stop, block two of the slow lanes.”
After smashing through the concrete center divider, the out-of-control big rig struck the overhead wires that power the Metro Gold Line, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
“It hit a Gold Line energized pole,” she said. The truck caught fire, but firefighters extinguished the flames within a few minutes, Derderian said.
The driver of the box truck was taken to a hospital with injuries described as serious, but not believed to be life-threatening, Derderian said. The driver of the big rig that ended up on the railroad tracks suffered minor injuries.
All eastbound lanes of the 210 Freeway were shut down at the 134 Freeway interchange for about three hours, before the three right lanes of the eastbound freeway were reopened about 4 p.m.
The carpool and two left lanes of the eastbound 210 Freeway were expected to remain closed well into the evening as officials assessed the damage and made repairs, Galvan said.
“Traffic is definitely impacted in both directions,” Derderian said Thursday afternoon. “All the side streets are backed up, too.”
Gold Line services are shut down for the remainder of the day, and possibly as long as 24 hours, between the Lake and Sierra Madre Villa stations, Metro officials said in a written statement. The crash had damaged the trains power system.
“All Pasadena-bound trains will end at Lake Station and turn back to Los Angeles,” according to the Metro statement. “Bus shuttles will replace train service between Lake, Allen and Sierra Madre Villa stations through close of service. Please allow extra time to travel through the affected area.”
Pasadena ARTS buses would honor Metro fares, Metro officials said, adding that Arts Line 40 operates between Sierra Madre Villa, Allen and Memorial Park stations.
Gold line service continued to operate normally between the East Los Angeles and Lake stations, officials said.

PHOTO courtesy of Metro/Caltrans

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Woman sentenced for fatal stabbing of boyfriend in Pomona

POMONA >> A woman received a sentence of 15 years to life in prison Wednesday for the fatal stabbing of her boyfriend in a Pomona apartment just over two years ago, officials said.
Erica Artavia Campbell, 27, of Pomona received her sentenced from West Covina Superior Court Judge Peter A. Hernandez, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted her Feb. 11 of second-degree murder for the death 24-year-old Markeon Taylor.
Taylor lived in Tennessee, but was staying in Southern California to attend a murder trial for a group of men charged in the April 17, 2009, slaying of his brother, 18-year-old Marquis LeBlanc of Diamond Bar, during a Pomona house party.
Campbell and Taylor became involved in a fight April 2, 2012, while at the apartment of Campbell’s brother, officials said.
“Her brother tried to diffuse the situation, however Campbell charged at Taylor and stabbed him in the chest with a knife,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
“The prosecutor said Campbell stabbed Taylor with such force that the knife pierced his heart, causing him to bleed out,” the statement said. He succumbed to his injuries a short time later at a hospital.
Prosecutors charged Campbell with the killing April 5, 2012.

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CHP plans checkpoint near Covina this weekend

COVINA >> California Highway Patrol officers are planning a sobriety checkpoint this weekend near Covina, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the unincorporated county area adjacent to Covina, CHP officials said in a written statement.
The checkpoint is being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Whittier police to collect unwanted prescription drugs

WHITTIER — Whittier police will join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation Saturday in collecting unwanted prescription drugs, officials said.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents are invited to bring unused, unwanted, expired and potentially dangerous prescription drugs to Whittier City Hall, 13230 Penn Street, for safe disposal, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” according to the police statement. Syringes will not be accepted at the event.
“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” according to the police statement. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.”
Simply throwing medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can pose safety and environmental hazards as well, officials added.
For more information, the Whittier Police Department can be reached at 562-567-9200.

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Sheriff’s checkpoint planned this weekend in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA — Deputies plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint late Friday into early Saturday, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in Pico Rivera, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Nine arrested during police sweep of homeless camps in Azusa riverbed


AZUSA — For the second time in two weeks, Azusa police visited a portion of the San Gabriel riverbed popular among transients as an illegal campground, authorities said. But while campers were merely advised that they were trespassing in the previous visit, police Wednesday made nine arrests.
Police and county officials previously visited the riverbed at the west end of Azusa April 9, Azusa police Officer Mike Bires said. Several encampments were discovered and the campers were offered services and told to clear out of the area, which is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of engineers.
One person initially accepted an offer of resources during the April 9 visit, but later refused the assistance, Bires said.
When authorities returned Wednesday,”Subjects that had been previously advised that it is illegal to trespass and camp in the riverbed were arrested,” Azusa police officials said in a written statement. Some also had pre-existing arrest warrants.
“All persons contacted during this operation were again provided information on resources for the homeless that are available to assist them in relocating out of the riverbed.”
The goal of the operations is to reduce trespassing and illegal camping in the riverbed in order to create a safer, cleaner environment for legal visitors, according to the police statement.
“Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of brushfires in the area during the last several months and reducing the illegal camping will help to reduce the wildfire danger associated with the makeshift fire pits that are found in the illegal camps,” the statement continued.
Ecological damage and ground water contamination are also a concern, officials said.
Nine men between ages 43 and 64 were arrested on suspicion of trespassing Wednesday, police said. Three of them also had outstanding arrest warrants, and one of them was also accused of providing false information to a peace officer.

PHOTO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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$20,000 reward offered in Compton slaying of Pasadena city worker


COMPTON >> Authorities offered a $20,000 reward Wednesday in connection with the fatal January shooting of a Pasadena city employee and aspiring firefighter believed to have been gunned down by gang members in a case of mistaken identity.
Tauruson McMillian, 34, of Cerritos died in a car-to-car shooting about 6:40 p.m. Jan. 4 at Wilmington and Rosecrans avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. Homicide detectives believe he may have been shot by gang members simply because of the color of his car. His car was red.
McMillian had just left a friend’s house in Compton as he was speaking with his girlfriend on the phone while en route to her home when he was shot, Sgt. John O’Brien of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. There were no signs of a confrontation before the gunfire.
“He was talking to her about what they were going to have for dinner when the phone went dead,” O’Brien said.
McMillian had no children of his own, but had helped raise his girlfriend Pamela Adel’s twin 10-year-old sons and 16-year-old daughter for the past nine years, Adel said.
He had worked as a sanitation engineer for the Pasadena Department of Public Works for a year and a half, and was also studying fire science at Santa Ana College with a goal of one day becoming a firefighter, she said.
“We remember him for the good-hearted individual he was. His smile, his good-hearted presence,” Adel said. “Let’s keep his memory alive.”
While other theories have not been ruled out, McMillian may have been targeted because he was driving a red Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS on Wilmington Avenue, just north of Rosecrans Avenue, when a car pulled up along the passenger side of his Monte Carlo and someone inside opened fire, O’Brien said.
0424_PSN-L-REWARD2McMillian was wounded several times in the upper torso, O’Brien said. His car crashed into a tree, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators suspect the red color of the car may have been mistaken for a sign of gang affiliation by his killer or killers.
“We believe it was gang members who fired on him,” Lt. John Corina said. The area where the shooting occurred is known to be inhabited by several street gangs.
But the attacker or attackers were mistaken, Corina said. “He’s not involved in gangs.”
The car from which the shots were fired has been described only as a light-colored sedan, Corina said. No description of the killer or killers was available.
Investigators have talked with some witnesses, but believe there are many others yet to come forward, O’Brien said. Other drivers in traffic were believed to have witnessed the shooting, and the street was busy with people at the time of the shooting, as a nearby church was about to hold a 7 p.m. service.
In hopes of generating new leads in the slaying, officials said, the County of Los Angeles and the city of Compton each put up $10,000 for a total reward amount of $20,000 for information leading to the conviction of his killer or killers.
0424_PSN-L-REWARD3McMillian’s colleagues in Pasadena remain saddened by his slaying, Pasadena spokesman William Boyer said.
“There were, and there continue to be, condolences expressed on his untimely death,” Boyer said. “We do hope that the reward will perhaps motivate someone to come forward and help solve the case.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTOS: Homicide victim Taurus McMillian, 34, of Cerritos (courtesy)

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UPDATE: Nurses wounded in two separate hospital stabbings in Sylmar, Torrance

Two nurses suffered stab wounds in two separate attacks at UCLA hospitals in Sylmar and Torrance early Sunday, authorities said.
The Sylmar incident took place about 2 a.m. at the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and about 9:20 a.m. at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
There was “no indication” the attacks were related, Lt. Rich Burgoyne of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s County Services Bureau said, however the motives in each remained under investigation.
Romero Carnailla, 26, of Los Angeles was arrested on suspicion of the stabbing at the Sylmar hospital, 14445 Olive View Drive, Burgoyne said.
“(Carnailla) entered the hospital, bypassed the weapons screening area, and fled into the building, away from security and law enforcement officers,” Lt. Denise Stephenson said in a written statement.
“As deputies and officers searched the hospital, they heard a woman scream and went to the source of the outcry,” Stephenson said. “They located the victim, a female adult, and found she was stabbed an unknown number of times in the upper and lower torso.”
The wounded nurse, whose age was not available, was hospitalized in critical condition, officials said.
Carnailla was taken into custody just after the stabbing, however further details of his arrested were not available Sunday afternoon, Burgoyne said.
Officials recovered a knife at the scene, Stephenson added.
A motive in the alleged attack was not known, and it remained under investigation whether the suspect and victim knew one another, Burgoyne said.
Carnailla was being held in lieu of $55,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, officials said. He was receiving medical treatment prior to booking, though officials did not say why.
A second nurse was wounded in a stabbing just over seven hours later at the Torrance hospital campus, authorities said.
0421_NWS_LDN-L-HOSPITALSTAB2Thomas Robert Fredette, 38, of Santee was jailed in connection with the alleged attack at the hospital campus at 1000 West Carson Street, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Fredette went through a weapons screening area, officials said.
“Once inside the hospital, the suspect encountered a group of nurses, grabbed one of them from behind, and stabbed the female victim in the ear with a sharp object,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“The victim was able to free herself from the suspect’s grasp and ran away,” the statement continued. The nurse, who suffered injuries not believed to be life threatening, directed deputies to her attacker.
Fredette was taken into custody, and a pencil believed to have been used as the weapon in the stabbing was recovered as evidence.
“The investigation is ongoing and there is no further information at this time, the sheriff’s statement said.
Officials said Fredette was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Torrance Superior Court.

PHOTO of Thomas Fredette courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Alleged arsonist arrested in Norwalk

NORWALK — A man was behind bars Saturday on suspicion of lighting two trees and a business on fire in a Norwalk neighborhood, authorities said.
Eli Swifteagle, 33, was arrested on suspicion of arson within an hour of the second of the two arson fires, which occurred early Friday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said. His city of residence was not available.
He’s accused of using a lighter to ignite a tree in the 12300 block of Front Street about 3:40 a.m., the lieutenant said. The fire spread to a nearby business, scorching a tarp, some pallets and the roof of an outbuilding.
A second arson fire was reported about 6:45 a.m. at Funston Avenue and Foster Road, Smitson said. The second fire remained confined to a tree.
A passer-by spotted Swifteagle lighting the second fire and called deputies, Smitson said. The suspect was found in the area and arrested.
Deputies were looking into the possibility mental health issues played a role in Swifteagle’s alleged behavior.
According to county booking records, Swifteagle was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance.

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