BASSETT >> A woman and a young girl believed to be her daughter died and two more girls suffered critical injuries in a solo-car crash alongside the 605 Freeway in Bassett in early Friday, authorities said.
The fatal crash took place about 7:30 a.m. on the southbound 605 Freeway, just north of the 60 Freeway, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Rich Licon said.
The identities of the victims had yet to be determined, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Their city of residence was unclear.
Though not identified, a photograph found at the scene indicated that the four victims were a mother and her three children, California Highway Patrol Officer Gina Jojola said.
The 2005 Pontiac Grand Am was heading south when it veered off the side of the road, overturned and struck a tree, she said.
“As a result of the collision, the driver and right rear passenger sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased,” CHP Officer D. Jones said in a written statement. “The two remaining passengers were transported to Los Angeles County Medical Center in critical condition.”
Firefighters had to free the two surviving girls from the wreckage.
“We had to extricate two people,” Licon said.
All four occupants of the Pontiac wore seat belts, according to the CHP.
The woman at the wheel of the Pontiac appeared to be about 30 years old, Jojola said. The girl who died in the crash was estimated to be 7 years old.
The two surviving girls were about 3 and 11 yeas old, Jojola said. They were taken to a trauma center for treatment. An update on their conditions was not available Friday afternoon.
While the investigation remained in its early stages, drugs or alcohol were not initially suspected as factors, Jones said.
“No witnesses have been found,” Jojola said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for the right-hand lane of the southbound 605 Freeway for nearly four hours as they investigated the scene.
- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
PHOTOS by Walt Mancini
INDUSTRY >> Deputies are seeking a man for questioning in connection with the molestation of a 9-year-old boy at the Puente Hills Mall in Industry earlier this month, officials said.
The crime took place about 6:45 p.m. on July 8 at the mall, 1600 S. Azusa Ave., Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“A 9-year-old old boy reported that he was inappropriately touched by a male adult while he was inside the Puente Hills Mall,” Schrader said. “The assault was reported to mall security shortly after the incident occurred.”
Investigators have since obtained a surveillance camera image of a person of interest, and asked the public’s help in tracking him down.
He’s described as a Latino man, about 35 to 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall. He was balding with black-and-gray hair, clean-shaven and wore a blue shirt.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
DIAMOND BAR >> Investigators are seeking the rightful owner of a set of allegedly stolen pearl jewelry recovered from a suspect in Diamond Bar Thursday afternoon
The jewelry was discovered, along with other suspected stolen property, inside a man’s car as it was being towed in Diamond Bar about 1 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Byron Ward said.
Investigators were able to identify the owners of some of the items, but could not track down the owners of a set of 11 pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings, Ward said. The off-white jewelry boxes were each marked with the manufacturer name, “Jakoya,” in the inner, upper portions.
Anyone who recognizes the recovered jewelry is asked to contact the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 909-595-2264.
WEST COVINA >> A La Puente woman who befriended an elderly West Covina man, stabbed him to death and set the house ablaze pleaded “no contest” to murder and arson charges Thursday, authorities said.
Brenda Armstrong, 40, is expected to be sentenced to 30 years to life in state prison when she returns to the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on Dec. 14, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
She was originally accused of the special circumstance of murder during the coarse of a burglary, but the special circumstance allegation was dismissed under the negotiated plea arrangement, Deputy District Attorney Tony Cho of the D.A.’s Elder Abuse Section said. If convicted as originally charged, Armstrong could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors previously decided not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Ralph Simonian, 82, was found dead on Nov. 15, 2012, inside his burning home in the 900 block of Holiday Drive, according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators, who assisted West Covina police in the investigation.
“His house had been set on fire and he had been stabbed multiple times,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
After a lengthy investigation, detectives determined Simonian, who lived alone at his home, had been slain by Armstrong during a burglary at his home, Sgt. Robert Gray of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
She had befriended Simonian while working at J.B. Burgers in La Puente, where Simonian was a regular customer, officials said.
On the day of the slaying, a neighbor’s security camera captured images of a car Armstrong had borrowed arriving on the victim’s street, detectives and prosecutors said. Cell phone data also linked Armstrong to the crime scene.
Detectives first arrested Armstrong in connection with the slaying about two months after it occurred. But prosecutors declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence. Armstrong promptly moved to Delaware.
Detectives continued gathering evidence and building their case. Prosecutors ultimately filed a murder charge and issued an arrest warrant for Armstrong, who was taken into custody in Delaware during a traffic stop on Sept. 13, 2013.
Deputies found no signs of forced entry at Simonian’s home. Detectives learned she had visited the victim on several occasions, Gray said.
There were no signs of forced entry at Simonian’s home, the sergeant said. The fire, which began in the master bedroom where Simonian was fatally stabbed, was believed to have been set in order to destroy evidence.
The entire incident lasted about 45 minutes, Cho said.
Many of the details surrounding the slaying remain a mystery, as there were no witnesses, and Armstrong has not detailed the crime.
Officials said theft was believed to be the motive in the murder, but it was unclear what was stolen.
A small safe was discovered missing from Simonian’s home following the slaying and fire, Gray said.
The safe has never been recovered.
“We don’t know what was in the safe,” Cho said.
Absent of eye witnesses or DNA evidence, the case was largely “circumstantial,” Cho said.
He praised the tenacity of homicide detectives for Thursday’s conviction.
“I would jut credit with the detectives with putting together all the circumstantial evidence in the case,” Cho said.
PHOTO by Keith Birmingham
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Deputies are seeking an attacker show shot a man in the back as he walked down the street in Hacienda Heights early Thursday, officials said.
The shooting took place about 12:10 a.m. on Gale Avenue near Valencia Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Abel Moreno said.
The victim, a man in his 30s, suffered injuries not believed to be life-threatening, he said.
“He was walking on Gale. He heard what appeared to be a gunshot and felt pain to his lower back,” Moreno said.
The wounded man did not see where the shot came from and no suspect description was available, the sergeant said. The motive in the attack was unclear.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PICO RIVERA >> Deputies briefly evacuated a Pico Rivera Walmart store Wednesday evening after the business received a phone call claiming there was a bomb inside, officials said.
The phone call was received shortly after 8 p.m. at the store, 8500 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Noe Garcia said.
Officials evacuated the store and deputies searched it, Garcia said. Officials found nothing unusual, and the store was reopened about half an hour later, he said.
An investigation into who placed the anonymous, threatening phone call was ongoing.
NORWALK >> A freak explosion blew off a manhole cover along Bloomfield Avenue, tossing a passing SUV end over end, but resulting in only minor injuries to the driver Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The bizarre mishap took place just before 6 p.m. on Bloomfield Avenue, just north of Foster Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
A woman was driving a Toyota SUV north along Bloomfield when a manhole cover, apparently atop an underground electrical vault, suddenly erupted upward, driven by an underground explosion, the lieutenant said.
The force of the explosion flipped the SUV upside down, ultimately coming to a rest on its side, Limon said.
The woman at the wheel was taken to a nearby hospital for examination but appeared to have suffered only bumps and bruises, the said.
The incident resulted in a power outage in the area that initially affected more than 2,000 Southern California Edison customers, SCE spokesman Paul Netter said. Within about half an hour, however, all but 41 customers’ power had been restored, he said. Most customers were expected to have their electricity back by the early morning hours Thursday.
“We have personnel at the scene. We don’t know the cause yet, but we’re investigating,” Netter said.
PASADENA >> A jury convicted a man of murder and child abuse Wednesday for drowning his 1-year-old daughter five years ago in Pasadena, authorities said.
The jury deliberated for one day before finding Marquise Jackson, 26, of Lancaster guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in connection with the May 20, 2011, drowning of Mo’Nayjah Jackson according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
“According to the evidence presented at trial, Jackson drowned baby Mo’Nayjah Jackson at the apartment of the child’s mother, in the 100 block of West Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena while the mother was at work,” district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
Shortly after his arrest, Jackson admitted the killing, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said at the time. ”He (said he) wanted to be alleviated of his responsibilities of being a father,” she said.
Jackson later denied the charges and unsuccessfully argued he was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the crime.
Jackson faces 25 years to life in state prison when he returns to the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court on Aug. 12.
ALHAMBRA >> Police sought a group of three to four suspects after shootout in a residential neighborhood left one man wounded, authorities said.
The gun battle was first reported about 2:15 p.m. in the 700 block of Winchester Avenue, just south of Commonwealth Avenue, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. It began as a drive-by shooting.
A man was standing in front of a home when a gray pickup truck containing three to four male attackers passed by, the sergeant said.
“(Someone) in the pickup truck starts to fire… at least 8-10 rounds at the victim,” Johnson said. It was unclear whether a single gunman fired, or multiple attackers.
“The suspect starts to shoot back. How many rounds, we’re not sure,” he said.
The target of the drive-by shooting was struck by the gunfire, Johnson said. It was unclear if any of the suspects inside the pickup truck were injured.
Johnson said the pickup truck was last seen speeding north along Winchester Avenue. A detailed suspect description was not available.
A private car showed up immediately after the shooting and took the wounded man to a hospital, which notified police that a gunshot victim had arrived in the emergency room, Johnson said. Doctors immediately rushed the victim into surgery. An update in his condition was not available.
The motive in the shooting remained under investigation.
Anyone with information can reach Alhambra police at 626-570-5151. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department
PASADENA >> A group of attackers beat and robbed a man and woman in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena late Tuesday, officials said.
The crime took place about 10:15 p.m. along Fair Oaks Avenue, near Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
A 29-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, both described as transient, were walking down the street when two women pulled up in a small, green or gray SUV.
The victims became involved in an argument with the to women, Hettema said. Two men then emerged from the nearby apartments and also confronted the two victims.
“All four suspects began assaulting the victims with their hands,” the lieutenant said.
The two victims dropped their cell phones, as well as a small red purse, during the struggle, he said. The robbers snatched up the victim’s property and fled.
The victim declined to be taken to a hospital, he said.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.