UPDATED: Man who went missing in Azusa found safe

AZUSA >> An 18-year-old mentally disabled man who went missing in Azusa Saturday was found safe Sunday, police said.
Christian Jackson was reported missing after he disappeared about 11:15 a.m. from the 300 block of South Enid Avenue, Azusa police officials said in a written statement.
After reaching out to the public for help, police announced Sunday that Jackson had been found safe and sound.

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Montebello man killed in alleged street racing crash identified

MONTEBELLO >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 20-year-old Montebello man who died in a suspect street racing crash in Montebello Wednesday.
Luis Manuel Oliveras died at the scene of the crash after the 2004 Honda Accord he was driving struck a light pole about about 11:15 p.m. on San Gabriel Boulevard, just north of Plaza Drive, in an unincorporated county area near Montebello, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials.
A 19-year-old woman riding as a passenger in the Honda suffered injuries in the crash, CHP officials said. An update on her condition was not available.
Investigators believe the Honda was involved in a street race when the crash occurred, CHP Sgt. Cesar Murillo said. The car that was racing the Honda fled the scene and has not been found. No description was released.
Oliveras lost control of the car as he was driving south on San Gabriel Boulevard at high speed, CHP officials said in a written statement.
The car crossed the center median and struck a light pole along the northbound traffic lanes, officials said.
Anyone with information about the crash was asked to call theCHP’s East Los Angeles office at 323-980-4600.

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Man sought in Alhambra carjacking

ALHAMBRA >> Police are seeking a man armed with either a rifle or shotgun who carjacked a man in a residential Alhambra neighborhood earlier this week.
The victim arrived home in the 1800 block of South Stoneman Avenue about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson. He parked along the street and began removing items from the passenger side of the 2013 Nissan Altima when the carjacker approached on foot, brandishing a rifle or a shotgun.
After making a statement the victim didn’t understand, “The suspect entered the the car and started it using the ‘push to start’ button,” Johnson said.
The victim still had the car keys, so the car was only capable of driving for a short time before shutting off automatically, Johnson said. The car was found abandoned several hours later in East Los Angeles.
Police said the victim was not hurt. A detailed suspect description was not available.

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SWAT team searches for wanted parolee in South Whittier



SOUTH WHITTIER >> A SWAT team forced their way into a South Whittier apartment in search of a wanted parolee late Friday, but did not find the man, officials said.
Deputies patrolling about 7 p.m. in the 11900 block of Inez Avenue in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier spotted a man in his mid-30s who was wanted for violating his parole, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The man bolted from deputies as they approached him, running into a nearby apartment.
The deputies followed and got the resident’s permission to search the apartment, Lt. Daniel Gillespie said. The deputies cleared all but one room of the apartment, in which the suspect was believed to be hiding.
The Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, or SWAT team, responded to deal with the possibly holed-up suspect, the lieutenant said.
The SWAT deputies deployed a flash-bang grenade and forced their way into the room about 11 p.m., he said. But the suspect was not inside.

PHOTO: Courtesy, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Whittier man killed in Colima Road crash identified

WHITTIER >> Authorities Sunday identified Whittier man who died in a solo-vehicle crash on Colima Road Friday afternoon.
Peter Alan Wright, 62, of Whittier died at the scene of the 5:15 p.m. crash on southbound Colima Road, just north of Mar Vista Street, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
He was behind the wheel of an SUV that swerved off the roadway for unknown reasons and struck a tree, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said. The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
Following the fatal collision, a Whittier police officer on foot directing traffic at Colima Road and Carretera Avenue was struck by a northbound motorist, according to police and fire officials.
The officer suffered minor injuries, Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. He had been treated and released from a local hospital Saturday morning.
California Highway Patrol officers were investigating the collision involving the police officer, officials said. The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

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2nd UPDATE: Man killed in Whittier crash; police officer struck by car while directing traffic

WHITTIER >> A man died in a solo-vehicle crash and a Whittier police officer directing traffic around the scene was struck an injured by a passing vehicle Friday afternoon along Colima Road in Whittier, authorities said.
The series of events began about 5:15 p.m., when an SUV heading south on Colima Road struck a tree just north of Mar Vista Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Randall Atanay said.
“According to early reports, the driver, for unknown reasons, veered off the roadway and collided with a tree,” Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said. “As a result of the impact, he was trapped inside the vehicle and fire had to extricate him.”
Once freed from the wreckage, paramedics pronounced the driver of the SUV dead at the scene, Atanay said. He was initially described as 60 years old.
A Whittier police officer who was on foot directing traffic around the crash scene about half an hour later was struck by a passing vehicle at Colima Road and Carretera Drive, just south of the original crash, Scoggins said.
Firefighters took the officer to a hospital with injuries considered to be minor, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Todd Emrick said.
Both crashes remained under investigation, Scoggins said. Whittier police were investigating the fatal crash, while California Highway Patrol officers took charge of the investigation into the police officer being struck.
The driver who struck the officer remained and the scene, officials said.
Officials shut down both the northbound and southbound lanes of Colima Road between Whittier Boulevard and Mar Vista Street for several hours following the crashes, Scoggins said.
Traffic was expected to be affected into late Friday night, and possible into early Saturday.

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UPDATED: Police search Pasadena neighborhood for gunman

PASADENA >> Police searched a Pasadena neighborhood Thursday for an armed man who ran from officers responding to reports of gunfire, but ultimately came up empty-handed, authorities said.
Officers responded about 6 p.m. after receiving calls reporting an armed man, and at least one call reporting shots fired, in the area of Washington and Raymond avenues, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Officers spotted the armed man, who ran from them, the lieutenant said. Officials briefly chased after the man, but turned their efforts to a search perimeter after he escaped their view in the 1400 block of north Summit Avenue.
Police conducted yard-to-yard searches, Gourdikian said. Officers were confident the armed suspect was pinned down within the search perimeter.
About four hours later, “after an extensive and systematic search,” the search was called off, police said in a written statement. The suspect was not found.
There were no initial signs of anyone or anything being struck by the reported gunfire, Gourdikian said.

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Police still seeking West Covina hit-and-run driver


WEST COVINA >> Police are continuing their hunt for an SUV and driver that struck and badly injured a pedestrian last week before fleeing the scene, officials said.
Emilio Simon, 50, of West Covina, has remained hospitalized in critical condition since he was struck by the SUV about 8:10 p.m. Friday in the 1200 block of West Francisquito Avenue, just west of California Avenue, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said. He has not regained consciousness since the incident.
He was pushing a bicycle across the street when he was struck by the westbound SUV, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
The SUV that struck him was described as a silver, 1997 to 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, police said. It likely sustained damage to the front, driver side.
Following the collision, the hit-and-run SUV continued west on Francisquito and drove through a parking lot before heading south on Sunset Avenue and out of sight, Lopez said.
0129_NWS_SGT-L-HITRUNFOLO2Police have released a photo of the involved SUV taken from a nearby surveillance camera in hopes of generating leads.
Anyone with information was asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour tip hotline at 626-939-8688.

PHOTO: (top) Emilio Simon, 50 , of West Covina – courtesy of the West Covina Police Department; (below) West Covina police are seeking the Jeep Grand Cherokee pictured in this surveillance photo after it struck a pedestrian on Francisquito Avenue just west of California Avenue and fled the scene on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.

(Courtesy of the West Covina Police Department)

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Man convicted of 1981 rape, killing of Whittier woman

Joseph Allen Thornton

WHITTIER >> A man arrested more than 30 years after the 1981 rape and killing of a woman inside her Whittier home pleaded “no contest” to four felony charges Tuesday, on what would have been his victim’s 55th birthday, authorities said.
Joseph Allen Thornton, 53, immediately received a sentence of 24 years to life in state prison after entering his pleas in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Initially charged with murder, Thornton pleaded “no contest” to voluntary manslaughter, rape, sodomy by force and digital penetration by force, district attorney’s officials said.
For more than 30 years, Thornton had gotten away with the June 27, 1981, slaying of 21-year-old Blanca Negrete in her home in the 7900 block of Washington Avenue.
“At the time of the slaying, detectives had exhausted all leads and the case eventually went cold,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Blanca Stella NegreteBut Whittier Police Department investigators reopened the cold case in 2010, and identified Thornton as a suspect in the crime in January of 2011 via previously unusable DNA evidence, police officials said at the time.
DNA evidence had been collected by investigators after the slaying occurred, however the technology of the time did not allow investigators to match it to a suspect, police said in a written statement. Thornton’s DNA had been entered into a law enforcement database as the result of a domestic violence conviction, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said at the time.
Once identified as a suspect, police turned their attention to locating and capturing Thornton, Miller said.
The trail led them as far away as Topeka, Kansas, where Thornton had stayed for many years after the killing, he said. Detectives ultimately tracked him down and arrested him in April, 2012, at his home in Auburn.
Negrete worked at what eventually became PIH Health Hospital at the time of her slaying, police said. What, if any, relationship that existed between her and her killer was unclear.
The conviction occurred on what would have been Negrete’s 55th birthday, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
In addition to his prison sentence, Norwalk Superior Court Judge Yvonne T. Sanchez ordered Thornton to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said.

PHOTOS of convicted killer and rapist Joseph Thornton (above) and his victim, Blanca Negrete (below) courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.

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Man accused of series of arson fires in Whittier, Santa Fe Springs

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A homeless man accused of setting at least four fires in Whittier and Santa Fe Springs over the weekend
pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four counts of arson, authorities said.
Police arrested Jesse Jesus Provencio, 27, Monday in connection with an arson fire reported the previous day in front of a Santa Fe Springs business, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. He was described as a transient known to frequent the Santa Fe Springs area.
He’s accused with igniting four arson fires in all Sunday, scorching trees and brush but no structures, according to police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
Police and firefighters responded shortly before 11:15 a.m. Sunday to a report of a palm tree on fire in the 11900 block of Burke Street, Whittier police said in a written statement.
“Upon arrival, officers found a palm tree to the front of a local business fully engulfed in flames,” according to the police statement. Santa Fe Springs firefighters quickly doused the flames.
“The business was closed at the time and there were no injuries reported,” according to the statement. The fire caused an estimated $300 worth of damage.
The suspect was gone when officials arrived, police said. But detectives obtained surveillance camera footage which had captured the image of the alleged arsonist. The description was distributed to patrol officers.
Officers spotted a man matching the description near the scene of the Burke Street fire just before 11 a.m. Monday and arrested him, police said. The suspect, later identified as Provencio, was arrested on suspicion of arson.
Investigators soon linked Provencio to at least three additional fires that occurred the same day.
In addition to the fire in the 11900 block of Burke Avenue, prosecutors also charged Provencio with lighting another small arson fire in the 11800 block of Burke Street in Santa Fe Springs, and two in the 11800 block of Grande Vista Avenue in Whittier, according to a felony complaint filed against him.
Investigators continued working to try to connect Provencio to other recent suspected arson fired, including one Saturday in the 11800 block of Washington Boulevard, near the 605 Freeway, in which eight palm trees were scorches, Scoggins said.
The officer added that is was fortunate the suspect was captured before the series of fires resulted in more serious property damage or injury.
While a motive for the alleged arsons was unclear, Scoggins said there was no indication Provencio harbored an particular animosity toward the business in front of which he lit the fire.
According to county booking records, Provencio was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. He was scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Feb. 4 for a preliminary hearing setting, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.

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