Mystery chemical odor prompts evacuation at South Pasadena adult school

SOUTH PASADENA >> A mysterious odor possibly linked to nearby sewer work prompted the evacuation of an adult school facility in South Pasadena on Wednesday after nine people reported feeling ill, authorities said.
People first reported the odor just before noon at the Almansor Transition and Adult Services/Employment Services, 211 Pasadena Ave., Verdugo Cities Fire Command Chief Mario Rueda said.
“Several people reported nausea. That triggered our response for a hazardous materials incident,” he said.
Nine people at the adult school who reported feeling sick were examined, according to the chief. Most of the patients soon reported feeling better, but two continued feeling nauseous and were taken to a hospital.
Firefighters from South Pasadena and several nearby cities thoroughly inspected the building and found no signs of anything dangerous, Rueda said.
The source of the odor, which witnesses described as reminiscent of some kind of cleaning agent, was not found, he said. But officials suspected it may have been related to some sewer work being done about a block away.
Fire officials ventilated the building and declared it safe to reenter a little over an hour after the incident began, Rueda said.

PHOTO by Walt Mancini

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Man robs Pasadena bank branch; unclear if linked to serial bandit


PASADENA >> A man carried out a robbery at a Pasadena bank branch on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place about 12:30 p.m. at Chase, at Colorado and Sierra Madre boulevards, Pasadena police Lt. William Grisafe said.
The robber entered the bank and handed a teller a note demanding money before fleeing with cash, he said. No weapon was seen during the crime, and no injuries were reported.
The robber was initially described as a white man, possibly in his 30s, with an unshaven face.
Investigators were looking into the possibility that the robber was the same bandit sought in connection with two bank robberies on Wednesday in South Pasadena and Burbank, according to the lieutenant. But Saturday’s bank heist had not been formally linked to Wednesday’s crimes.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO: Police and FBI officials are seeking the man and vehicle pictured in these surveillance photos in connection with bank robberies in Burbank and South Pasadena on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (Courtesy, Burbank Police Department)

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La Puente man killed in West Covina crash identified


WEST COVINA >> Authorities have released the identity of a La Puente man who died in a three-car crash in West Covina last weekend.
Michael Moses Saavedra, 50, died shortly after the 11:55 a.m. crash on May 13 at Lark Ellen and Puente avenues, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
He was at the wheel of a 1960s-model Chevrolet Impala that was believed to have run through a red light and crashed into two other cars, according to West Covina police Lt. Ron Allen.
Saavedra had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters, he said. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A man driving one of the vehicles struck by the Impala was treated for significant injuries, while a woman and child riding as passenger in that car suffered injuries described as minor, Allen said. The driver of the second car struck by the Impala suffered minor injuries.
The Impala was southbound on Lark Ellen avenue when it passed through a red light at Puente Avenue, Allen said.
Though the first vehicle struck by the Impala was initially described by police as being in the left-turn lane from southbound Lark Ellen avenue to Puente Avenue, it was later determined the car was struck broadside while traveling on Puente Avenue, Allen said. The Impala then continued moving and struck a second car, which was in the left-turn lane from northbound Lark Ellen Avenue to Puente Avenue.
Police suspected Saavedra may have been driving under the influence at the time of the crash, Allen said.

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Man fatally shot outside family gathering in West Whittier identified


WEST WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 30-year-old Whittier man who was shot to death outside a family gathering just over a week ago.
Adrian Phillip Casas died shortly after the attack, which took place just before 8 p.m. on May 13 in the 10300 block of Lock Avon Drive in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano.
Few details are known about deadly shooting, which unfolded as Casas was standing in the driveway of a home where a family gathering was taking place, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, but no description of the shooter was available, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Casas succumbed to his injuries at a hospital hours later, officials said. An autopsy determined Casas died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
A fund to help Casas’ family has been set up online at www.gofundme.com/in-loving-memory-of-adrian-p-casas.
His Facebook profile describes him as a forklift driver who went to Pioneer High School and was engaged to be married.
Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Officials seek missing West Covina man, last seen in Baldwin Park

Police are asking the public’s help in finding a West Covina man suffering from dementia who went missing in after leaving a hospital in Baldwin Park on Saturday morning.
Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, was last seen at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center, 1011 Baldwin Park Blvd., during the early-morning hours, West Covina police officials said in a written statement. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“(Williams) suffers from early stages of dementia and needs ongoing medical attention,” according to the statement.
Williams was driving a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck with a license plate of 84733X1. He’s described as black, 6 feet 3 inches tall, 210 pounds, with a goatee and piercing in his left ear. He was last seen wearing red and black gym shorts.
Anyone who spots the missing person is urged to call 911 or contact local police immediately.

PHOTO: Missing person Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, of West Covina. (Courtesy, West Covina Police Department)

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Duarte, Monrovia community rallies for peace in wake of shootings

Dozens of community members, including several families who have lost loved ones to violence, marched through the streets of Duarte and Monrovia on Saturday to respond to recent shootings in the area with a message of peace.
The Duarte-Monrovia Peace March, organized by the Community Mediation Team, drew demonstrators of all ages to Duarte City Hall before they made a 1.5-mile trek to the Mary Wilcox the Mary Youth Center in Monrovia. Marchers wore white clothing and carried signs reading, “Peace & Unity,” and “Love Conquers Hate.”
Monrovia police Chaplain Steve Martinez had a message for the family members of slain loved ones who took part in the event
“I know it’s been difficult for you. It could have weeks ago, months ago, years ago, but you’re here today, and we are here to support you, and show love to your family and to honor the memory of the person that you lost and that you still love,” he said.
“And this is also a sign to show people in the community that we want to do something. We want to make a change.”
The Monrovia-Duarte community has seen four people killed and four others wounded in a space of at least eight shootings reported since January.
Among them was 39-year-old Kirinda Morehead of Duarte, who was shot to death on Feb. 18 as he arrived home with his fiancee and two young children in the 2300 block of Bashor Street.
“As he got out of his truck, someone shot him 12 times,” said Diane Myrick, the mother of Morehead’s fiancee. Though the couple was not yet married, she said she already thought of Morehead as her son-in-law.
“He was a hard-working, loving, family-loving, Christian man who did not deserve to be gunned down in the street like that in front of his children and his fiancee,” she said.
“All we can do now is just hope and pray that the person who perpetrated this act this act upon this family (is caught),” Myrick said.
“And we just want to thank the city of Duarte for all that you’re doing to ensure that the these streets are safe,” she said. In 25 years living in the area, “I’ve never experienced anything like we have in the past few months.”
“It’s a struggle day-by-day,” Myrick said. “These shooters just pull up, and they have no clue what they’re leaving behind. No clue. But God is able, and we’ll get through this together.”
The family of 18-year-old Oscar Garcia, who was shot to death in his hometown of Monrovia on April 22, carried pictures of the slain Canyon Oaks High School as they marched.
Garcia was visiting with friends in a residential garage in the 100 block of West Cypress Street while visiting friends when an attacker opened fire on the group of teens. Garcia was mortally wounded and another teenage boy was seriously injured in the shooting, but survived. Investigators suspect the shooter was looking someone else when he encountered and shot the teens.
“Without any though, he just went ahead and shot my brother,” David Garcia said. “He was a good kid.”
Garcia was an avid skateboarder who loved spending time at the Monrovia Skate Park, family members said.
To honor Garcia’s memory, loved ones have begun circulating a petition to formally rename the park after him. The petition is available online at www.change.org/p/the-community-of-monrovia-naming-the-skatepark-after-oscar-garcia.
The family of 18-year-old Malcolm Mency of Duarte also added their voices to the march.
Mency, who had just become a father, was shot to death at Broderick and Felberg avenues, in an unincorporated county area between Duarte and Monrovia, as he walked home from work on Dec. 22.
“I have in my heart a long list of families impacted that have not made the headlines,” said CMT Co-Chair and former Duarte Mayor Lois Gaston, who hosted the event.
Representatives from numerous local churches, organizations and government agencies took part in the assembly.
Capt. David Flores of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Temple Station, which patrols Duarte and nearby unincorporated county areas, said he was glad to see the strong show of community involvement.
“My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone or know someone who was lost,” he said.
“It’s good that we’re here,” the captain added. “This comes down to citizenship and making a stand for what’s right and coming together for the community, so I’m so happy to see everyone here. When the community comes together and we partner together, good work can be done. And truly this a great step in that direction.”

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Driver carjacked at knifepoint in Rowland Heights

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A “heavily tattooed” knife-wielding carjacker forced a man to drive him a short distance before fleeing in the victim’s car in Rowland Heights on Thursday, officials said.
The unfolded about 7 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Buckner said. The victim, a man in his mid-40s, was uncertain where exactly he was in Rowland Heights when the carjacker climbed into his car and brandished a knife, but it was in the vicinity of La Cueva Drive.
Buckner said the carjacker ordered the victim to drive to a residential neighborhood in the 1800 block of Camino Viejo in Rowland Heights.
Once there, the man ordered the victim out of the white, 2000 Mitsubishi Galant and drove away, Buckner said. No injuries were reported.
Officials described the carjacker as a Latino man of about 40 years old, “heavily tattooed,” of a heavy build, with a shaved head.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 626-913-1715. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Woman fatally struck by SUV alongside 605 Freeway in Norwalk


NORWALK >> A 71-year-old pedestrian died after an SUV veered off the side of the 605 Freeway in Norwalk and struck her as she sat on a dirt median on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Pauline M. Widuschek died in the 4:22 p.m. crash along the southbound 605 Freeway at Firestone Boulevard, Officer J. Farner of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement.
A 62-year-old Lynwood man was traveling south in the right-hand lane, at an unknown speed, when his 1998 Toyota 4-Runner veered toward the right side of the roadway, the officer said.
The 4-Runner went over an asphalt berm along the right shoulder, then struck a tree before striking Widuschek, who was sitting on a dirt median separating 605 Freeway traffic lanes from the Firestone Boulevard offramp, according to Farner. The woman died at the scene.
The SUV continued until it plowed through a chain-link fence at the bottom of the Firestone Boulevard offramp, then collided with a 1999 GMC Yukon heading west on Firestone Boulevard, Farner said.
The driver of the 4-Runner was treated for injuries described as “moderate,” Farner said. A Lynwood woman who was at the wheel of the Yukon was unhurt.
No arrests had been made as the investigation continued.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.

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San Gabriel man killed in fiery Rosemead SUV crash identified


ROSEMEAD >> Coroner’s officials have identified a 24-year-old man who died in a fiery solo-vehicle crash along Rosemead Boulevard in Rosemead last week.
Eric Salazar Cruz of San Gabriel died in the 12:40 a.m. crash on May 12 in the 4500 block of Rosemead Boulevard, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records.
He was believed to be driving an SUV at “a high rate of speed” when he lost control and the SUV struck a wall, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John McClure said. The vehicle burst into flames and was fully engulfed when first responders arrived at the scene.
The crash remains under investigation, and Cruz’s cause of death was yet to be determined.

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12-year-old boy shocks another child with stun gun in San Marino; police investigating Arcadia store that sold the device

SAN MARINO >> Police are investigating after a 12-year-old boy bought a stun gun at an Arcadia store, then used it to shock another child at a San Marino school campus last weekend, officials said.
Police learned of the situation Saturday evening, when a parent reported that a 12-year-old boy had shocked another child with a stun gun about 2:30 p.m. Saturday near the lunch tables near the basketball courts at Henry E. Huntington Middle School in San Marino, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
“Officers contacted the parents of all the involved juveniles,” Tebbetts said. “Officers learned the juvenile who possessed the stun gun used it on another juvenile in a joking manner with no threatening intent.”
Meanwhile, the father of the boy who had the stun gun called police in Arcadia the following day to report his son had been sold the self-defense device, which are illegal for juveniles to possess, at a business in Arcadia.
The stun gun was purchased at As Seen On TV Products in the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, authorities said.
Police met with the store owner, who admitted selling stun gun, which was disguised as a cell phone, to the child,” according to Tebbetts. “However, she stated she stated she did not realize it was illegal to sell the stun gun to a minor.”
The investigation was ongoing, the sergeant said. “Appropriate charges, if any, against the juvenile and store owner will be determined after the case is reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Stun guns are generally legal for adults to possess in California, but prohibited for juveniles.

PHOTOS courtesy of the San Marino Police Department

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