PASADENA >> Two Pasadena men suffered serious injuries in a shooting Thursday night, police said.
The victims, a man in his 20s and a man in his 30s, were both hospitalized in critical condition following the 10:43 p.m. shooting in the 100 block of Pepper Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said. An update on their condition was not available Friday.
Officers responding to a report of a shooting found the older victim at the scene, the lieutenant said. The second gunshot victim was dropped off at the hospital minutes later.
The circumstances of the shooting remained unclear, and no suspect description was available, Mercado said.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Tips from the public helped investigators identify and arrest a suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights, officials said.
Deputies arrested Carolos Montiel, 36, of Hacienda Heights about 9 p.m. at a home in the 3400 block of Glenmark Drive, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante.
Over a period spanning more than a year, he’s burglarized two churches and a Buddhist temple, making off with more than $30,000 from the collection boxes, Detective Charell Heard said.
Though he remained unidentified, investigators had his picture from surveillance cameras. Detectives released those imaged to the public Wednesday in hopes that someone would recognize and report the suspect.
Less than a day later, investigators had a name.
“Shortly after the interview and the suspect’s photograph were televised and posted on media web sites, anonymous community members identified the suspect as Hacienda Heights resident Carlos Montiel,” Infante said in a written statement.
After confirming Montiel as their suspect, deputies set up a surveillance and arrested him without a struggle Thursday evening, Infante said.
LOS ANGELES >> A jury awarded a black Montebello firefighter who sued the city nearly $940,000 Wednesday for racial harassment and retaliation, but did not find true his allegation of racial discrimination, officials said.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury sided with Vernon Creswell in two of his three accusations in the case, which was first filed in September 2013.
Creswell was awarded $750,000 for racial harassment and about $189,000 for retaliation, according to attorney Jeff Stockley, one of the lawyers representing Montebello. But the jury sided with Montebello regarding the racial discrimination claim.
“We appreciate hat they considered all the evidence,” Stockley said. It was not immediately clear whether the city would appeal the decision.
“We’re currently evaluating our options,” Stockley said.
“We want the citizens of Montebello to know that the city is dedicated to combatting discrimination,” he added.
According to the court documents, Creswell encountered hostility almost immediately after joining to the Montebello Fire Department in 2008 as the department’s only black firefighter.
Attorneys for Creswell did could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
Creswell’s lawsuit claimed that then-battalion chief Greg Mowad, who has since reportedly been terminated, repeatedly used racial slurs. Creswell also accused other members of the department of harassing him based on his race, or failing to act when he reported the behavior.
Mowad and another supervisor have, “openly told Plaintiff’s fellow firefighters to take Plaintiff ‘out back’ to teach him a lesson,” the lawsuit states.
Supervisors constantly criticized Creswell for minor issues concerning his performance and the manner in which he wore his uniform, the claim alleges.
And Creswell claimed he was denied a deserved promotion to the rank of captain, both because of his race, and because he had complained about alleged discrimination and harassment. The lawsuit claims that Creswell was given a different and more grueling test process for the captain position than three competitors, who were not black.
“Plaintiff’s supervisors have made it clear by actions that the Plaintiff will never promote to the rank of Captain in the Montebello Fire Department and that he is not welcome in the department, all on account of his race,” according to the lawsuit.
CITY OF INDUSTRY >> Deputies arrested two men and seized 950 marijuana plants from a City of Industry warehouse Wednesday, sheriff’s officials said. It was the third large indoor marijuana grow uprooted in the area in two months.
Investigators responding to an anonymous tip served a search warrant at a warehouse in the 1300 block of Darius Court, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon.
“During the search warrant, hundreds of marijuana plants in various stages of growth — estimated street value worth over $3 million — and hydroponic equipment were recovered,” Gannon said. “The hydroponic equipment was used to cultivate the plants inside an otherwise nondescript local business (and) warehouse.”
The majority of the plants were mature and nearly ready to be harvested, officials said.
Arrested were David Nguyen, 32, and Phuong Nguyen, 54, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspects told investigators they were not related, Gannon said. David Nguyen said he was from Pennsylvania, and Phuong Nguyen said she was from Canada.
Both posted $50,000 bail and were released from custody Thursday pending their court appearances, records show.
Wednesday’s bust was the third large-scale marijuana grow eradicated by sheriff’s deputies since May.
Sheriff’s Industry Station deputies teamed with U.S. Marshals June 6 to seize an estimated $1.5 million worth of pot from an area house and arrest three suspects, Gannon said. Further details regarding the June operation were not available Wednesday.
Local deputies seized about $1.2 worth of marijuana found growing May 12 inside a warehouse in the 18000 block of Railroad Court, Lt. Arthur Scott said at the time. One suspect was arrested at the indoor grow site.
Anyone with information is asked to contact she sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.
AZUSA >> An online tipster led police to discover about 850 pounds of illegal fireworks from a residential garage in Azusa Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The investigation began after a tipster reported that fireworks were being stored and sold out of the garage of a home in the 200 block of E. Azusa Lane via the city’s software application, Azusa police Sgt. Xavier Torres said in a written statement.
Police, code enforcement officers and Los Angeles County firefighters followed up on the tip and discovered the 850 or so pounds of fireworks, valued at more than $8,000, Torres said.
No arrests were made Wednesday, police said.
“The investigation is ongoing and charges against the homeowner may be filed at a later time with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for possession of destructive devices,” Torres said.
Police reminded residents that only fireworks designated “Safe and Sane” are permitted in Azusa. The use of illegal fireworks carries a $1,000 fine.
PASADENA >> A man tried unsuccessfully to rob and kidnap a woman inside a parking structure at the Paseo Colorado shopping mall in Pasadena Wednesday, officials said.
Joshua Brandon McKnight, 19, of Pasadena was arrested in connection with alleged crimes, which took place about 10:50 a,m. in the parking structure of the mall in the 200 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
A 35-year-old Pasadena woman exited her car when a man approached, the lieutenant said.
“The suspect simulated a weapon in his pants pocket and told the victim she was being robbed and demanded she get back into the car,” Luna said.
The woman offered the man her purse, but he again ordered her to get back into her car, he said.
When the would-be robber was momentarily distracted by a passing vehicle, the woman took the opportunity to run to the mall’s security office, Luna said. Mall security then notified police.
Officers detained McKnight nearby, but released him when the victim was unable to identify him as her as the suspect, Luna said.
But police later found surveillance camera images of the suspect, whom they were able to identify as the man they had previously detained.
Officer found and arrested McKnight shortly after 3 p.m. at the Jackie Robinson Community Center, 1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave., according to police and Los Angeles County booking records. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
Detectives are asking the public’s help in identifying a serial burglary suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from two churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights over the past two years.
The burglar has targeted collection boxes in each of the capers, Detective Charell Heard. She declined to discuss the specific dates and locations of the crimes as the investigation continued, but said that more than $30,000 in cash had been stolen in all.
The burglaries took place during daytime hours while the houses of worship were open to the public, officials said.
Officials described the burglar as a Latino man with “tribal band” tattoos on both of his legs and large tattoos on both his arms.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Heard at 626-330-3322.
PHOTOS courtesy if the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
PASADENA >> Paramedics took a Pasadena police officer to a hospital with moderate injuries after his patrol car collided with another car while responding to aid other officers in a pursuit Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The collision took place shortly after 5:30 p.m. at Walnut Street and Euclid Avenue, just outside Pasadena Superior Court, Pasadena police and fire department officials said.
The officer was taken to a hospital after complaining of pain, police Lt. John Luna said.
A man who was driving a gray, two-door car that collided with the police car declined to be taken to a hospital, Derderian said.
The involved officer was heading east on Walnut Street to assist fellow officers who were in pursuit of a man accused of making criminal threats against another man, Luna said. It was not clear whether the officer had his lights and sirens activated.
The other involved car was southbound on Euclid Avenue, Luna said.
The suspect being pursued by other officers was ultimately apprehended, Luna said.
ALHAMBRA >> Officials responding to a report of a man passed out in a car in front of a convenience store early Wednesday ended up discovering a large amount of drugs, cash and a handgun in his car, officials said.
Police ultimately jailed Eric Lin, 22, of Los Angeles, on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales after taking him to a hospital for medical examination, Alhambra police Lt. Gabriel Ponce said.
Paramedics first found Lin just before 8 a.m., unconscious behind the wheel of a running Volvo parked in front of 7-Eleven, 601 S. Fremont Ave., the lieutenant said.
While removing him from the car to treat him for an apparent medical emergency, paramedics summoned police after finding a bag of powdered Ecstasy, also known as Molly, in the car, Ponce said. Police also found $1,700 in $100 bills in the car, as well as a handgun locked in the car’s trunk.
After being checked out at a hospital, Lin was booked into the Alhambra Police Department jail shortly after 3 p.m., according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Alhambra Superior Court.
BAKERSFIELD >> All three of the West Covina’s Police Department’s K-9 teams brought back awards, including the “Top Dog Overall” award, in a statewide competition hosted by Bakersfield police over the weekend.
Officer Matt Bowman and K-9 partner Rec earned the Top Dog honor for the department, while Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko won first place in patrol protection and Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky won fourth place in overall best, according to West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez.
“I am very proud of the professionalism our K-9 teams showed, the time and preparation they invested in training and their overall performance,” West Covina Police Chief Dave Faulkner said. “Their success is attributed to discipline and ongoing training within the unit.”
Forty-two police dog teams from throughout California competed in a series of categories, including agility, obedience, searches, protection, narcotics detection and explosives detection, Lopez explained.
It was the West Covina Police Department’s first time joining the Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials, hosted by the Bakersfield Police Department, and they were up against much more experienced teams, Lopez said. Bowman has about eight months experience as a dog handler, while Miller has been a K-9 handler for about five months, and Rodriguez had been teamed with Reiko for 10 months.
And Reiko has recovered from being shot while apprehending a murder suspect who was ultimately killed by police.
It’s not always certain how a police dog will react to such a trauma, Lopez said. Some become more timid after such an experience.
But as evidenced by his performance over the weekend, Lopez said, “This dog became an even sharper dog.”
The West Covina police K-9 program is supported by the Friends of the West Covina Police Department K-9s. For more information, visit www.friendsofwcpdk9s.org.
In addition to commending the winning K-9 teams, Faulkner thanks the organization for their past and continued support.
“I also want to recognize and thank the Friends of WCPD K9s nonprofit group for their continued support in assisting us in our pursuit of adding a 4th Police K-9 to the Department,” the chief said.
The annual Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials is open to the public, with proceeds benefitting the Bakersfield-based charity, the Society for Disabled Children.
PHOTOS courtesy of the West Covina Police Department. From left to right (top photo): Officer Matt Bowman and Rec: Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko; Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky.