The Covina Police Department honored its 2013 Volunteer of the Year this week, as well as a longtime volunteer chaplain and the department’s 25 other volunteers.
Rudy Fonseca was chosen as this year’s Volunteer of the Year Monday at the Covina Police Department’s annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the Covina Playhouse, officials said. Also singled out for special recognition was longtime volunteer chaplain Dave Truax.
“Rudy Fonseca has been a member of the Covina Police Department volunteer team since 2010 and has donated over 1,400 hours,” Lt. John Curley said in a written statement. “Rudy also works with Covina Chamber of Commerce and the Soroptimist International groups.”
Truax has served as a volunteer police chaplain since 1990, Curley said. He served as a Covina City Council member from 1999 through 2003, and as mayor from 2001 to 2003.
“Chaplain Truax has assisted victims of violent crimes as well as police officer families, most notably members of the Hanson family when Sgt. Scott Hanson was the first-ever Covina police officer killed in the line of duty,” the lieutenant said.
Covina launched it’s police volunteer program in 1982, and has since taken part in activities ranging from child registry to graffiti removal.
“The estimated savings to the city over the past 21 years has been close to $1 million,” Curley added.
And the volunteers will be expanding their role in the coming year, he explained, as the department rolls out it’s Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft (C.R.E.D.I.T.) Program.
Under the program, the volunteers will assist detectives looking into identity theft cases.
State law allows identity theft victims to report the crime in the cities in which they live, not necessarily where the crime occurred, officials said.
“Processing these reports has placed an extreme burden on many agencies,” Curley said.
“The newly-created Covina C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will utilize police volunteers who will research every case, starting with where the crimes occurred.
“They will then send the reports to the correct jurisdictions, freeing the detectives to only investigate cases that occurred within the Covina Police Department’s jurisdiction,” the lieutenant said.
The program is based on a similar program run by the Pasadena Police Department, which has had great success and the processing or investigation of more than 5,000 cases, police added.
Members of the C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will be civilian volunteers who are also graduates of the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Covina Police Department is encouraged to contact Community Services Specialist Candace Bobkiewicz at 626-384-5630.
PHOTOS: Rudy Fonseca (top); Dave Truax (below), flanked by Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and other police officials. (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)
ALTADENA — Coroner’s officials have released the name of a man whose badly burned body was found following a fire inside his unit at a senior citizens’ apartment complex.
Eldrid Sweeney, 81, of Altadena was pronounced dead at the scene of the two-alarm fire that broke out about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the 26090 block of North Lincoln Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. An autopsy had been carried out, however Sweeney’s cause of death was not yet determined pending the results of test results.
Sweeney’s identity was previously unconfirmed due to the badly burned condition in which his body was found.
The cause of the fire, which left one other person with minor injuries, was under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail.
Officials estimated the fire caused $1.05 million worth of damage to the building and its contents.
ARCADIA — An elderly West Covina man died Wednesday after being struck by an SUV while crossing Santa Anita Avenue, police said.
Hao Liang, 81, died at the scene after being struck about 5:30 p.m. on Santa Anita Avenue at La Sierra Drive, Arcadia police and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said.
He was crossing west across the avenue when he was struck in the No. 2 lane by a later-model SUV that was southbound, Lt. Tom Cullen said.
The driver of the SUV, a 36-year-old Monterey Park woman, stopped at the scene and cooperated with investigators, officials said. Nothing criminal was initially suspected.
“Arcadia paramedics treated the pedestrian at the scene, but unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries,” Lt. Mike Castro said in a statement.
There is no marked crosswalk at the intersection where the elderly man was struck, and only east and westbound traffic is regulated with stop signs.
Detectives from the Arcadia Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team are handling the investigation.
IRWINDALE — West Covina police arrested two men and fatally shot a pit bull early Wednesday while serving a search warrant to seize guns at the home of a known outlaw motorcycle gang member in Irwindale, authorities said.
“Known, dangerous Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang member” and ex-convict Ralph Rodriguez, 38, of Irwindale was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms, resisting arrest and possession of false identification, according to West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez. He was the person targeted in the search warrant.
Also arrested in the 3:30 a.m. raid at a home in the 4600 block of Nora Avenue was Robert Ghiloni, 28, of West Covina on suspicion of possession of a dagger, resisting arrest and an outstanding traffic warrant, Lopez said.
The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation by the West Covina Police Department, officials said.
After arriving at the home and ordering the occupants out via loudspeaker repeatedly, Ghiloni eventually emerged from the home and was taken into custody, Lopez said. He had a dagger on his person.
But Rodriguez remained holed-up inside the home, police said.
“After two hours of repeated announcements, SWAT then initiated an entry into the residence,” according to Lopez. “During the search, (Rodriguez) was located hiding in the attic. He surrendered to officers without further incident.
While serving the warrant, SWAT officers encountered a pit bull, which Lopez said became aggressive toward them.
“The dog began to attack, forcing officers to fire upon it,” he said. “The dog died as a result.”
The number and type of guns sized from the home was not available late Wednesday.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court. Ghiloni was being held in lieu of $10,995 pending his arraignment, also scheduled Friday in West Covina Superior Court.
A man engaged in a standoff with sheriff’s deputies for seven hours Wednesday at a business before a SWAT team ultimately forced its way in ant took him into custody, authorities said.
Alec Sayedi, 46, was booked on suspicion of domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Teresa Evers said.
The incident began as deputies were investigating a report of domestic violence from the previous night, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Lang said. The woman reported the alleged attack shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“The suspect was involved in a domestic violence incident where he was armed with a weapon,” Deputy Mark Pope of the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau said in a written statement. Further details of the overnight incident were not released.
Deputies went to speak with the boyfriend at business, which had no signage posted, in an industrial area on Carrey Road, just west of Pierre Road, Sgt. Angela Becerra said. But the man, later identified as Sayedi, holed-up inside the business and refused deputies’ orders to come out. The business was believed to be his.
Deputies circled the business and summoned a SWAT team. The standoff continued for seven hours before the SWAT team ultimately forced their way into the business.
When they did, the suspect was alone and unarmed, and deputies took him into custody without a struggle, Evers said.
Initial reports from the scene indicated the suspect was asleep when deputies encountered him.
He was taken for examination at a hospital before being booked into jail at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station. His name was not immediately available.
Neighboring businesses and some homes were evacuated or blocked off by authorities as the standoff unfolded.
COMPTON — A 14-year-old girl died late Saturday after she was shot while riding her bicycle in what investigators are calling a gang-related attack.
The name of the girl was not released Sunday pending positive identification and notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Capt. John Kades said.
Deputies encountered the fatally wounded teen after responding to a report of a shooting about 10:10 p.m. at Alameda Boulevard and Elm Street, Sgt. Harry Drucker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement. She was taken to an area hospital where she succumbed to her wounds.
“According to witnesses, the victim was riding a bicycle when she was shot,” Drucker said.
No suspects were in custody Sunday, and no description of the attacker or attackers was available.
“The victim is a member of a local street gang and the shooting is believed to be gang-related,” he said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA MIRADA — Deputies arrested to driver’s accused of driving under the influence of marijuana during a DUI checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday, officials said.
Officials screened all 1,768 drivers of the vehicles that passed through the checkpoint, held on Imperial Highway just east of Valley View Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to the two DUI arrests, five drivers with suspended or revoked licenses were arrested, along with seven unlicensed drivers, officials said.
Nine vehicles were impounded for one day, five vehicles were impounded for 30 days, and 10 vehicles were released to to other drivers per checkpoint procedures, officials added.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY — Arrests for intoxicated driving were down 16 percent over last year during the first two days of the a multi-agency holiday season DUI crackdown, officials said.
Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers that make up the Los Angeles County anti-DUI task force collectively as “Avoid the 100” initially reported 351 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs between 12:01 a.m. Friday and midnight Sunday, task force organizers said in a written statement. Last year, 417 drivers were arrested during the same 48-hour period.
The DUI enforcement campaign is scheduled to continue through midnight Jan. 1.
Funding for the task force is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Anyone who spots an intoxicated driver on the road is encouraged to call 9-1-1.
PASADENA — A 16-year-old Pasadena boy suffered stab wounds and head injuries in an attack Saturday, but refused to cooperate with investigators, police said.
Authorities first learned of the incident about 10 a.m. when the victim was brought to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena by a family member, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said. He had been stabbed several times to one of his arms and legs, as well as bruising to his head, though the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Police later determined the attack likely took place at the Siesta Inn in the 2800 block of East Colorado Boulevard, the lieutenant said.
The wounded young man was “very uncooperative” when interviewed by police at the hospital, he said. “He said he was stabbed on Colorado Boulevard. He wouldn’t tell us any other circumstances.”
Officers had responded to the motel about 1:30 a.m. after receiving a report of a fight, however they found no one injured when they arrived, Clawson said. Police interviewed several people in the area, but made no arrests.
Officers returned to the motel later in the morning after learning of the stabbing and found blood in the area, he said. The time frame of the stabbing was unclear, and police were looking into any possible connection to the reported fight.
MONTEREY PARK — Officials Saturday have released the name of a 23-year-old woman found dead on suspicious circumstances inside her Monterey Park apartment and announced the arrest of her boyfriend on suspicion of her murder.
Jaqueline Alamillo was pronounced dead shortly after she was found unconscious about 4:30 a.m. Friday at her apartment in the 1700 block of College View Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
Her boyfriend, 35-year-old Daniel Hernandez, was initially detained as a person of interest in the death, sheriff’s officials said.
But he was booked on suspicion of murder shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Alamillo’s cause of death was not immediately apparent, sheriff’s investigators said, and an autopsy had not yet been carried out at the coroner’s office Saturday.
Deputies found Alamillo dead in a bedroom of her apartment after going there to check on her welfare at the request of relatives who had grown worried about her, according to Lt. Dave Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting Monterey Park police in the investigation.
The suspect’s brother had left the apartment late Thursday because Hernandez was acting strangely, the lieutenant said.
Police received reports about an hour later of a man — later identified as Hernandez — behaving bizarrely and yelling at cars several blocks away, officials said.
At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was scheduled to appear in court Dec. 18 on an unrelated case, according to Los Angeles County booking records. Details of the ongoing case were not available Friday, however Hernandez had been freed
after posting $26,000 bail, documents show.
A man of the same name and birthdate has a violent criminal history listed in Los Angeles County Superior Court records, though officials were not available Saturday to confirm whether the murder suspect was the same man.
The listed criminal history includes three 2004 convictions for possession of a loaded firearm with previous felony convictions, a 1998 conviction for robbery, a 1997 conviction for participating in a street race and a 2007 conviction for assault.
Hernandez was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance in the murder case, scheduled for Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.
— Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.