UPDATED: Missing elderly Pasadena man found safe

PASADENA >> An elderly Pasadena man turned up safe and sound after going missing from his retirement home Saturday, police said.
The 87-year-old man was last seen about 10:30 a.m. before going missing from his home in the 500 block of E. Villa Street, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
Officials asked the public’s help in finding the man. But he returned home Friday afternoon.
Officials determined the man had gone for a walk in the heat and stopped in a nearby office building to cool down, Lt. John Luna said.
A good Samaritan offered him some water before giving the man a ride back to his retirement home, the lieutenant said.

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Man sought in attack at Central Park in Pasadena

PASADENA >> A man suffered a broken jaw when he was attacked by an acquaintance late Friday at Pasadena’s Central Park, police said.
A 43-year-old man homeless man was standing near a restroom at the park, 219 S. Fair Oaks Ave., just before 9 p.m. when he was confronted by the suspect, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said. “He’s familiar with (the attacker), but doesn’t know him by name.”
After a brief argument, “The suspect punched the victim in the face with an unknown object in his hand, breaking his jaw,” Luna said.
The suspect was last seen running east along Del Mar Boulevard, Luna said. He was described as a black man in his mid-40s, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 200 pounds.
It was not clear what the dispute was about.

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Woman bit by rattlesnake near Bridge to Nowhere in the Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Rescuers rushed a woman to the hospital Saturday after she was bit by a rattlesnake while hiking near the Bridge to Nowhere in the Angeles National Forest, authorities said.
Officials received a call reporting the snake bite shortly before 10 a.m. from someone at the Bridge to Nowhere, along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River north of San Dimas, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said.
The caller reported a woman had been bit by a rattlesnake about half a mile south of the bridge, the lieutenant said.
The sheriff’s San Dimas Search and Rescue Team headed up to help, but Los Angeles County firefighters reached the victim first via helicopter, Berg said.
She was taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for treatment.
An update on the woman’s condition was not available, Berg said, however rattlesnake bite victims generally respond well to prompt treatment with anti-venin.
The bite occurred adjacent to a portion of the forest known as Rattlesnake Canyon.
Experts have cautioned that the severe and prolonged drought California is experiencing could increase encounters between people and the venomous reptiles.
If bitten, Berg said the ideal course of action is for the victim to call for help and remain still.
“The first thing to do if bitten is to stay calm,” according to a fact sheet published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Get to a doctor as soon as possible, but stay calm. Frenetic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate. If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, keep the bite below the heart, and then try to get to the doctor as quickly as possible.”

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Baldwin Park attorney, activist arrested during park concert

BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested an attorney who has sued the city seeking the release of several public documents, according to booking records obtained Friday.
Paul Cook, 32, of Baldwin Park was booked at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail on suspicion of disturbing an assembly during Thursday’s summer concert at Morgan Park, according to Cook and Los Angeles County booking records. He was released from custody with a misdemeanor citation within three hours of his booking at the Baldwin Park Police Department.
Baldwin Park police officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Cook said he believed the arrest was retaliation for his activism.
“It’s all political,” he said.
Cook said he was handing out leaflets critical of the city’s Recreation and Community Services Department to the crowd when the agency director, Manuel Carrillo Jr. took the stage to speak.
“I only said ‘boo’ twice. I said you steal money from the community,” Cook said. “At that point, five police officers came. They said you can’t be speaking.
Two complaints filed by Cook last year and this year seek the release of city documents and accuse Carrillo of misappropriating funds of a charity Carrillo heads.
City Attorney Robert Tafoya said some of documents sought in Cook’s complaints do not exist.
“I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit that never should have been filed,” Tafoya said of the most recent lawsuit.
The most recent complaint, filed in March, also names Baldwin Park Police Chief and then-acting CEO Mike Taylor, the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation and Baldwin Park Finance Director Craig Graves as defendants.
Cook’s previous complaint, filed in October, named the city and it’s former CEO, Vijay Singhal, as defendants.
Cook said two officers grabbed him and escorted him from the park, and told him to leave.
Cook said he maintained he had a First Amendment right to speak at the park, and refused to leave. He was then arrested.
Cook said after being strip searched down to his underwear by a female officer, police rewrote his citation three times before ultimately citing him for disturbing an assembly.

— Staff Writer Melissa Masatani contributed to this report.

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UPDATED: 5 Freeway shut down in East Los Angeles due to possible jumper


EAST LOS ANGELES >> A possibly suicidal person on an overpass today caused the complete shutdown of the 5 Freeway in East Los Angeles during rush hour Friday, wreaking havoc on the afternoon commute for nearly four hours, authorities said.
The individual, described only as male, was seen about 3:40 p.m. on a freeway traffic camera grasping a sign attached to the Downey Road overpass, just west of 710 Freeway transition, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Count sheriff’s officials.
Deputies were treating the situation as a possible suicide attempt, and crisis negotiators responded to speak with the man, Sgt. R. Laflin of the sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station said.
“Our crisis negotiation team has made contact with him,” the sergeant said. No details were available regarding what the man was saying to officials.
Northbound Santa Ana Freeway traffic was being diverted onto the northbound 710 Freeway and southbound vehicles were being diverted onto Dittman Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol. The transition road from the northbound Long Beach Freeway to the northbound Santa Ana Freeway was also closed.
Traffic backed up significantly on the 5 Freeway, as well as on the 710, as officials continued dealing with the situation three hours later. An air bag was placed on the freeway below the overpass as a precaution.
The man was safely brought down from the overpass shortly before 7:30 p.m., however further details were not available, Laflin said.
The sergeant could not confirm reports that the man may have been scrawling graffiti when first encountered by officials, and it was unclear if the man was to be arrested or taken for psychological evaluation.
The Sig Alert for the 5 Freeway was cancelled about 7:30 p.m.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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‘Quad Bandit’ sought for bank robberies in Los Angeles, Orange counties


The FBI is seeking a serial bank robbery they’ve dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” whose robbed or attempted to rob nine banks in Orange and Los Angeles counties since April, officials said Friday.
The bandit earned his moniker at the outset of his spree when he struck four Buena Park banks on March 22, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. Three of the crimes at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase branches failed, while one at a Chase bank was successful.
The robber then showed up in Cerritos March 16, where he tried unsuccessfully to rob a Wells Fargo before successfully robbing a Chase bank later the same day, officials said.
The Quad Bandit robbed a La Habra U.S. Bank branch July 3, followed by an Opus Bank branch in Anaheim on July 15 and a Union Bank branch in Anaheim Hills on Wednesday.
“During the robberies, the suspect known as the Quad Bandit typically passes a note and makes a verbal demand for cash,” Eimilller said. “In some of the robberies, the Quad Bandit has threatened a weapon, or has appeared to have gestured toward what might be a weapon, according to victims.”
0726_NWS_WDN-L-WUADBANDIT2In a bank surveillance photo released by the FBI from a Buena Park crime, the bandit is seen holding up a piece of paper toward the teller’s window with the words, “bank robbery,” written on it.
The FBI described the bandit as white, 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 to 160 grounds. he had dirty blond hair, a goatee and stubble during the crimes, during which he wore sunglasses and baseball caps.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.

PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

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Rosemead sexual predator sentenced for threatening woman in Alhambra

A 65-year-old sexual predator who cut off his GPS ankle bracelet before luring a church acquaintance to a coffee shop and pulling a gun on her last year will likely die in prison.
Frank Hernandez of Rosemead received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison Friday for making criminal threats against the young woman, who had refused his romantic advances, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Arvazian said.
Hernandez already had a lifelong criminal history which included two rape convictions and bank robbery when he met with his latest victim on Sept. 12, 2013, Ayvazian said.
“He’s a true predator,” the prosecutor said. “He is a very dangerous person.”
Hernandez’s sentence is effectively a life sentence, Ayvazian said. Hernandez will be required to serve all 40 years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, at which time he will be 105 years old, Ayvazian said.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on two additional charges of attempted kidnapping and attempted carjacking. Ayvazian said he did not pursue those counts further, as they would not have added any additional prison time to Hernandez’s sentence.
Hernandez had met a 23-year-old victim through his church and had tried to pursue a romantic relationship with her, the prosecutor said. But the woman was not interested. She was unaware of Hernandez criminal history or his status as a registered sex offender.
Ayvazian said Hernandez persuaded the woman to meet him at a Starbucks coffee shop on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra about 9:30 a.m. Sept. 12, Alhambra police Sgt. Edward Rodriguez said at the time.
But first, he removed his court-ordered GPS tracking device, Ayvazian said.
“He cut it off that morning and hid it in a supermarket by his house. It was all pre-planned.” Ayvazian said.
As soon as the woman arrived in her car, Hernandez approached her and pulled a gun.
Hernandez tried to force his way into the woman’s car while ordering her to be quiet and threatening to kill her, Ayvazian said. He also struck her with the gun.
The crime was interrupted to by good Samaritans. One woman confronted Hernandez and told him to leave the woman alone, despite hearing the terrified victim scream that he had a gun. Hernandez abandoned the crime and fled.
A second woman obtained a photograph of Hernandez’s license plate as he drove away, helping police to quickly identify him as a suspect in the crime, according to Alhambra police Sgt. Joe Flannagan.
“They’re wonderful,” Ayvazian said of the two good Samaritans. “They were amazing.”
Police arrested Hernandez at his home within a few hours.
Hernandez was paroled from prison in 2011 following a 1990 rape conviction, according to Ayvazian and court records. He was also previously convicted of rape in 1984.
Hernandez served prison time in the 1970 for bank robbery, and has other robbery convicted dating back to his youth in the 1960s, Ayvazian said.
All of Hernandez previous convictions took place prior to California’s three strikes law was enacted in 1994.

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UPDATED: USC graduate student found dead in apartment after beating

LOS ANGELES >> A 24-year-old USC engineering graduate student from China was found dead in his apartment after he was beaten while walking home from a study group early Thursday, police said.
LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said the student, identified by USC officials as electrical engineering student Xinran Ji, was attacked about 12:45 a.m. out on the street along 29th Street, near Orchard Avenue.
“The victim was somehow able to get back to his residence, where he was discovered this morning,” Neiman said.
A trail of blood was visible leading up the street and into the City Park Apartments in the 1200 block of 30th Street, where the young man lived. “It’s safe to assume it’s the student’s (blood trail),” Neiman said.
Ji was pronounced dead at the scene.
While a specific suspect description was not available, “we do have information that leads us to believe that at least three subjects were involved in this assault,” Neiman said. A dark-colored vehicle was also possibly connected to the crime.
“It’s believed a blunt force object was used. It’s not known what that object was,” Neiman said.
The motive in the attack was unknown. It was not clear if anything of Ji’s had been stolen.
He was apparently involved in a study group and had just walked home a friend,” Neiman said.


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Ex-Baldwin Park police officer pleads ‘no contest’ to filing false police report during drug arrest

A former Baldwin Park police officer pleaded “no contest” Thursday to an accusation of filing a false police report in connection with a 20013 drug arrest.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Judge Rand S. Rubin immediately sentenced the former police officer to three years of formal probation and 300 hours of community service, Robison said.
The plea came just as a jury trial in DeHoog’s case was scheduled to begin, she said.
If convicted by a jury, DeHoog could have faced up to three years in state prison.
The false police report was related to a July 31, 2013, arrest the officer made for the alleged crime of possessing methamphetamine, authorities said.
Police and prosecutors released few details were released about the accusation against DeHoog prior to his trial, and the handling prosecutor could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog’s employment with the Baldwin Park Police Department ended in January of 2014, about a month before he was formally charged.
Baldwin Park Police Chief Mike Taylor declined to say whether DeHoog resigned or was terminated, citing privacy laws.
The chief could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog remained free on his own recognizance leading up to his trial date,

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Covina police raid marijuana grow inside South El Monte commercial building


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Officers arrested two people and discovered more than 700 marijuana plants growing in a vacant business on Thursday.
Covina Police Sgt. Jim McDonough said officers served a search warrant about 1 p.m. at the secluded, seemingly vacant business in 2600 block of Chico Avenue in South El Monte.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT1George Almaguer, 26, Pico Rivera and Jenny Ly, 31, of Rosemead were arrested at the scene, he said. They were booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and theft of electricity, as the sophisticated hydroponic grow operation was wired to bypass the electrical meter and steal its power directly from the Southern California Edison grid, the sergeant said.
Police estimated the grow operation had stolen at least $10,000 worth of electricity from the utility over the past year.
“There were three different rooms, each for different stages of growth,” the sergeant said. In all, police seized 733 pot plants from the buidling.
Investigators seized about $2,000 in suspected drug money that Almaguer was carrying, McDonough added.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT2The building where the pot grow was uprooted Thursday was situated at the rear of a lot that was secured with a padlocked gate, McDonough said.
Thursday’s bust was related to another investigation where a grow house was found in Covina on May 26, police said.
In the May incident, officers responding to call of several downed power lines smelled marijuana coming from a house in the 200 block of North Larkin Drive. More than 200 marijuana plants were found on the Larkin Drive residence.
That investigation led to Thursday’s search and arrests in South El Monte, though McDonough declined to say exactly how detectives identified the South El Monte address as a suspected grow operation. The investigation was ongoing.
A suspect has been identified in connection with the Larkin Drive grow house, however no arrests have been made, McDonough said.

- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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