SOUTH PASADENA >> A South Pasadena liquor store was robbed late Saturday for the second time in just over a week, officials said.
The heist occurred about 11:30 p.m. at Ocean Liquor, 2005 Huntington Drive, South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo said.
Two men wearing sunglasses, gloves, hats and bandanas over their faces entered the store where two employees were working, Robledo said.
One of them pointed a handgun at the employee behind the counter and demanded cash, the corporal said.
The robbers fled after obtaining money from the register and searching behind the counter for more, Robledo said.
They were last seen heading east on Huntington Drive in a small, white or silver car.
The second employee managed to call 9-1-1 as the robbery was ongoing, however the suspects has already fled when officers arrived
Police had already added extra patrols in the area in response to another robbery at the same liquor store March 20, Robledo said.
In last week’s robbery, two men with a gun robbed the store of cash, lottery scratchers and a 12-pack of craft beer, according to Sgt. Tony Abdalla.
It appeared different robbers were responsible for the two crimes, Robledo said.
LA HABRA >> Police jailed an alleged purse-snatcher Sunday after two good Samaritans pursued the robber and retrieved the 82-year-old victim’s purse, officials said.
Alfredo Lezama, 25, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, La Habra police Lt. Clint Angle said. He had an address listed in Los Angeles, though officials believed him to be transient.
The incident began just before 2 p.m. when a an 82-year-old La Habra woman was walking home from church, Angle said.
A robber, later identified as Lezama, snatched her purse from her at the northeast corner of Beach Boulevard and Lambert Road and ran, the lieutenant said.
“Two witnesses followed the suspect in their vehicle for a short distance,” he said. “The passenger jumped out and body checked the suspect.”
Lezama dropped the purse and continued running, Angle said. “(The witnesses) were able to get the purse back and returned it to the victim.”
The witnesses left before speaking with police, he said.
A second witnesses directed police to the suspect nearby at Beach Boulevard and Toledo Place, police said. Officers arrested Lezama without a struggle.
The elderly victim was unhurt.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man died after he was found stabbed in the neck in the front yard of a South El Monte home late Saturday, authorities said.
Deputies responded to the 11200 block of Broadmead Street about 11:30 p.m. after receiving word from Los Angeles County fire officials that a 42-year-old man had been found bleeding from a stab wound, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Long said.
Coroner’s officials had not yet identified the victim Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
Paramedics rushed the man to a hospital, but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries, Long said.
“Detectives learned that evidence related to this incident was discovered in a residence in the 11200 Block of Broadmead Avenue,” Deputy Mike Barraza of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
A SWAT team was positioned in front of the involved home Sunday morning into the early afternoon.
Deputies placed a handcuffed woman in the back seat of a patrol car and quickly drove away from the scene just after noon. A second person was also placed into a squad car and driven away from the scene.
Long confirmed the SWAT team had entered the home and detained two people. Their potential connections to the slaying were unclear.”
“At approximately 12 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau assisted homicide detectives with the service of a search warrant in which several individuals were detained,” Barraza said. “Detectives are trying to ascertain what their involvement is, if any, regarding the earlier stabbing. “
No arrests had been made Sunday afternoon, and no further details were released, officials said.
Deputies shut down traffic on nearby Durfee Road as the SWAT team kept the home surrounded Sunday morning. Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off a city-block-long section of Broadmead Street.
Neighborhood residents watched over the commotion but said they did not know what had taken place, or who had been killed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PASADENA >> Police released surveillance photos this weekend of four suspects who used the credit cards of an 87-year-old man after he was assaulted and robbed near the Rose Bowl Friday morning, authorities said.
The crime took place about 5:10 a.m. at West Drive and Salvia Canyon Road, according to Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman.
The elderly man was out for his morning walk when robbers snatched a fanny pack from his waist, knocking him to the ground, police said.
The robbers fled with the man’s belongings, Goodman said. Police found the victim lying face down in the pedestrian lane of the road when they arrived on scene.
He was taken to a hospital, where he remained listed in critical but stable condition Saturday, police said.
As detectives investigated the robbery, they learned that suspects had used credit cards taken from the robbery victim at a Pasadena service station shortly after the crime.
Police released surveillance camera images of the suspects in hopes of generating leads.
Police described the one robber as a Latino man in his 20s, of medium build, with dark hair and a beard, wearing a white T-shirt, light-colored shorts and tennis shoes. The second robber was a Latino man in his late-teens to early-20s, skinny, with short black hair, wearing a dark hooded sweat shirt with a circular design on the front, light-colored shorts and black-and-white tennis shoes.
The third robber was a stocky Latino man in his 20s with thick eyebrows, police said. He wore a white T-shirt and dark pants.
The fourth and final suspects was described as a Latina teenager with long brown hair. She wore a dark hooded sweatshirt with white lettering on the front.
The suspects were driving a black 2003 to 2004 Honda Accord coupe with a sunroof.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pasadena police at 626-744-4241.
PHOTOS of suspects courtesy of the Pasadena Police Department.
AVOCADO HEIGHTS >> After a burglary this week at their, there’s just one stolen item an Avocado Heights family is desperate to have returned: their 7-year-old daughter’s teacup Shih Tzu puppy.
The 12-week-old male puppy, coincidentally named Bandit, was stolen Thursday during a break-in at the Rangel family’s home in the 600 block of Reburn Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of Avocado Heights, homeowner Roman Rangel said. The burglary took place sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
While the burglar or burglars made off with various items from the home, including jewelry and cash, ““We don’t care as much about the and stuff as we do about the dog,” Rangel said.
“It just blew my mind,” he added. “Really? Take the dog?”
Sgt. Rico Sandoval of the sheriff’s Industry Station confirmed deputies responded the home Thursday and took a residential burglary report. The investigation was ongoing, he said, and no suspects were in custody.
The intruders broke into the home through a bathroom window, Rangel said.
The dog belonged to Rangel’s 7-year-old daughter, Mariah, he said. “It was a reward for doing well in school.”
The family adopted Bandit four or five weeks ago, Rangel said. “In just a few weeks, we grew really attached to it.”
Rangel asked that anyone who sees Bandit contact the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.
“We’d just really like to get the dog back,” he said. “No questions asked.”
PHOTOS of teacup S
POMONA >> A California sex offender living in Idaho is in custody in connection with the 1981 slaying of a 6-year-old Anaheim boy who disappeared while riding his bicycle before being found strangled to death the following day in Pomona, police announced Saturday.
Cold case detectives traveled to Sandpoint, Idaho, to help in Friday’s arrest of Kenneth Rasmuson on suspicion of the July, 981, strangulation death of 6-year-old Jeffrey “Jeffy” Vargo, Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vasquez said. Rasmuson was linked to the crime by DNA evidence.
He was convicted three times of violent sex crimes in California in the 1980s, according to a Bonner County, Idaho, sex offender registry.
Jeffrey Vargo was last seen alive riding his bicycle about 5:30 p.m. on July 2, 1981, near a fireworks stand at Imperial Highway and Santa Ana Road in Anaheim, Vasquez said.
“At approximately 7:20 p.m., his parents found his bike abandoned in an alley near the fireworks stand,” the lieutenant said in a written statement.
The following day, “Two construction workers found the child’s lifeless body near 34 Edgebrook Drive in the city of Pomona,” Vasquez said.
An autopsy concluded Vargo had been strangled to death, Vasquez said. “DNA evidence was confirmed and linked to Idaho resident Kenneth Rasmuson.”
The boy had reportedly been sexually assaulted.
Leads in the investigation dried up, and the case went cold for more than 30 years, Vasquez said.
DNA evidence collected during the initial investigation was not able to identify a suspect based on the technology of the time, Vasquez said.
In 2014, as technology continued to improve, Pomona police cold case investigators resubmitted the their DNA evidence. Forensic analysis was able to link the sample to Rasmuson.
Jeffrey Vargo’s mother, Connie Vargo, said the family was pleased to learn of the long-awaited arrest.
“It’s bittersweet, of course. We’re glad he has been captured and cannot hurt anyone else, but it also brings up a log of memories and things.”
“The Pomona PD never gave up on it. I really want to thank Detective (Jennifer) Turpin, who really has worked hard on this case,” the mother said.
Rasmuson was a stranger to the family, she said.
In addition to his mother, Jeffrey Vargo is survived by his father, Bob, and older brother, Michael.
Connie Vargo described Jeffrey as “brown-haired, brown-eyed, happy little boy.”
“He was only 6 years old. He had just started the first grade,” she said.
“He was a happy little guy,” Connie Vargo said. “Jeffy just liked to be outside. He loved anything with wheels. His skateboard, his big wheels.”
That’s why when she discovered Jeffrey’s bicycle abandoned while searching for him, she knew something was seriously wrong. “He wouldn’t leave that bike anyplace.”
According to Bonner County’s sex offender registry, Rasmuson was convicted of kidnapping for the purpose of committing a sexual offense in California in late-1981, as well as committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years old in 1987.
Sandpoint police, the FBI, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Bonner County District Attorney’s Office and the Anaheim Police Department took part in the investigation and subsequent arrest, police said.
Rasmuson was being held in the Bonner County Jail in Sandpoint, Idaho, pending extradition proceedings to bring him back to California to face charges, Vasquez said.
Connie Vargo said she was looking forward to seeing justice for her son.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a long, drawn-out process, but hopefully, justice will be served and he’ll never be able to hurt anyone ever again,” she said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pomona police detectives at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO: [TOP] Kenneth Rasmuson, 53, of Idaho. (Courtesy) [BELOW] Jeffrey “Jeffy” Vardo, 6, of Anaheim. (Courtesy)
COVINA >> Police arrested a security guard at a Downtown Covina restaurant and nightclub Friday night on charges of selling cocaine to undercover investigators at the business three times in recent months, authorities said.
Covina police and California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents arrested Christopher Rodriguez, 22, of Baldwin Park about 10:30 p.m. while he was working at the Red Lounge & Restaurant, 211 N. Citrus Avenue, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Rodriguez is a contractor employed by Whittier-based Executive Sentry Services, police said.
Covina police assisted in making the arrest, which was the result of an undercover ABC investigation, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
“They started conducting surveillances in the location,” the sergeant said. “They were able to facilitate some purchases. They were able to do it on three separate occasions.”
Peterson described the amounts of cocaine sold each transaction as smaller, “personal use” amounts.
Investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Rodriguez, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office filed three charges of drug sales against him, police said in a written statement.
“They believed this person was operating out of the business, and it wasn’t an isolated incident,” Peterson said.
It did not appear the establishment itself was linked to the alleged narcotics sales, he said.
“There’s no evidence showing that the club was associated with it whatsoever,” the sergeant said. “It appears (Rodriguez) was acting on his own behalf.”
Red owner Everett Ramos said he was shocked by the arrest of Rodriguez, one of 10 security guards contracted through Executive Sentry Services on any given business night. After about 10 ABC agents and police officers arrested Rodriguez, Ramos said they told him of the allegations.
Representatives of Sentry Executive Services could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Ramos said he saw no signs Rodriguez was up to illegal activity, and he appeared to be a good worker.
“I run a legitimate businesses,” Ramos said. “I’m always willing to do things to make it better.”
Though officials appeared friendly during their visit to Red late Friday, Ramos said he wished they could have made the arrest in a more discreet way.
“It didn’t look good,” he said.
In addition to the criminal investigation targeting Rodriguez, ABC officials planned to conduct an administrative investigation, and city officials will review the businesses’ permits, Peterson said.
Regarding the pending administrative reviews of his business, Ramos said, “I’m a little bit concerned, but I’ve done nothing wrong.”
According to county booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in West Covina Superior Court.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department
AZUSA >> A 19-year-old Azusa man suffered a gunshot wound to his nose in a drive-by shooting in a residential neighborhood Friday afternoon, officials said.
Police and firefighters first responded about 5:15 p.m. to the shooting in the 500 block of East 10th Street, Azusa police Lt. Sam Fleming said.
The young man was walking down the street when a smaller-size passenger car drove by, the lieutenant said. A single shot was fired from the car. Further descriptions of the shooter or the car were not available.
The bullet struck the victim in the nose, Fleming said. He was walking and talking when paramedics took him to a hospital for treatment, he said. The wound was not believed to be life-threatening.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.
DIAMOND BAR >> Sheriff’s officials Thursday announced the arrest of a 42-year-old San Dimas woman who was found driving in Orange County with the remains of her slain mother-in-law in an SUV Wednesday following a fire at the mother-in-law’s Diamond Bar home.
Unyoung Lee had been a “person of interest” in the investigation ever since she was found driving in Tustin early Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
After a day of questioning, detectives arrested Lee about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County booking records. She was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail pending her arraignment, scheduled Friday in Pomona Superior Court.
Orange county coroner’s officials withheld the identity of Lee’s alleged victim and 77-year-old mother-in-law.
A large fire that broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday at the victim’s house in the 1200 block of N. Diamond Bar Boulevard first drew emergency personnel to the home, according to deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Firefighters found no one inside the home.
But Tustin police soon received a tip that the resident of the home had been killed, the house had been set on fire intentionally, and the possible killer was driving in the Tustin area with the victim’s remains in the car.
Tustin police quickly found the car and detained Lee as detectives continued their investigation both in Tustin and in Diamond Bar.
A motive in the slaying has not been released.
WHITTIER >> A man shot and wounded another man during a failed robbery in a residential neighborhood Wednesday, police said.
Police arrested James Nicolas Avila, 34, in connection with the shooting, which took place just before 8 p.m. Wendesday in the 10800 block of Monte vista Drive, Whittier police officials said in a written statement. He was booked for attempted murder.
The victim was sitting in a parked car when an attacker, later identified as Avila, approached on foot, police said.
The would-be robber pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded his wallet, according to the police statement.
“The victim immediately exited the driver’s door and began running,” the statement said. “The suspect fired one shot, which struck the victim in the lower back.”
Paramedics took the wounded man to a hospital for treatment, officials said. An update on his condition was not available.
Investigators gathered clues at the scene which led them to identify Avila as a suspect, police said.
Police arrested him about 10 a.m. Thursday, according to county booking records. He was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Bellflower Superior Court.