Two injured in Whittier head-on crash

WHITTIER >> Two suffered serious injuries when a car drifted into opposing traffic on Lambert Road, triggering a head-on crash, police said.
A 22-year-old Whittier man was driving a 2003 Acura Sedan west on Lambert Road just before the 2 a.m. crash, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
As he approached the intersection of Santa Fe Springs road, “he drifted into the eastbound left turn lane of Lambert Road, Ruiz said.
The Acura struck a 2001 Chevrolet pickup truck head-on, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics took the driver of the Acura to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition, he said.
The driver of the pickup truck, a 47-year-old Whittier man, suffered less-severe injuries believed to include a broken leg, Ruiz said. The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The investigation was ongoing, he said, and it was too early to tell whether intoxicated driving played a role in the crash.

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Teens arrested in Diamond Bar home burglary

DIAMOND BAR >> Deputies arrested three teenage burglary suspects Sunday afternoon after they broke into a Diamond Bar home occupied by another teenager, officials said.
The break-in occurred about 12:10 p.m. in the 800 block of Leyland Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Buckner said.
A teenage boy was home alone when the burglars knocked at the door, then forced their way into the house after receiving no response, the lieutenant said.
The victim called 9-1-1 to report the burglary while the teenage suspects were still inside the home, Buckner said. They had fled in a blue Honda Civic before deputies arrived, however.
A neighbor managed to take down the license plate number of the car, and deputies soon found it nearby and pulled it over, Buckner said.
Deputies arrested the three teens of about 17 years old and recovered several hundred dollars believed to have been stolen in the break-in, he said.

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Man accused of shooting gun inside Altadena bar

ALTADENA >> A man is accused making threats and firing a gun into the ceiling of an Altadena bar Saturday night, officials said.
Deputies arrested Freddy Flores, 51, on suspicion of making criminal threats, negligent discharge of a firearm and drunken driving following the shooting, which took place just before midnight at the Altadena Ale & Wine House, 2329 Fair Oaks Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Flores hometown was not available, however he was believed to be something of a regular at the bar, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.
Flores made threats and pulled a revolver, firing three shots into the ceiling, the lieutenant said. He then left the bar and drove off.
It was unclear what precipitated the shooting.
Deputies responding to reports of the shooting found Flores driving nearby and pulled him over, Tuinstra said. “He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.”
Deputies recovered a revolver from Flores with three fired shell casings still in the cylinder, he said.
According to county booking records, Flores was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.

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Driver killed when car slams into Industry Mediterranean restaurant


INDUSTRY >> A 23-year-old man died when his car slammed into a new Mediterranean restaurant along Valley Boulevard in Industry early Sunday, authorities said.
Edwin Molina died in the 1:45 a.m. solo-car crash in the 14500 block of Valley Boulevard, just west of Hacienda Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said. His city of residence was not clear.
His car slammed into the iGrill Mediterranean Restaurant, causing major damage.
0302_NWS_SGT-L-INDFATAL2Owner Karim Baker said although the restaurant closed for business at 11 p.m. Saturday night, he stayed late working as he usually does. He generally remains at the restaurant well beyond 2 a.m., but early Sunday morning, “I finished early,” he said. “I left 15 minutes before the crash.”
“God was watching him,” said friend, Sandra Toukan.
The violent impact damaged a cement wall, shattered the front windows on the south side of the building and ripped apart aluminum window frames. The force of the crash also caused glass doors on the east side of the structure, which the car did not strike, to shatter.
A Nissan sedan had been heading east on Valley Boulevard when it crossed westbound traffic lanes and slammed into the restaurant, Baker said.
0302_NWS_SGT-L-INDFATAL3Molina, who was the lone occupant of the car, died at the scene, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Sciacca said.
A young man who identified himself as a cousin of the driver briefly stopped and knelt beside the crash scene. Those working to clean the damage consoled him.
The crash also ruptured a natural gas line that feeds the restaurants, the sergeant said. Officials evacuated nearby, late-night businesses, such as the Spearmint Rhino Gentleman’s club.
The restaurant uses a larger-than-usual 2-inch gas line to fuel it’s many cooking appliances, Baker explained.
“Thank God there was no explosion.”
0302_NWS_SGT-L-INDFATAL4Traffic investigators from the sheriff’s Industry Station are handling the investigation. No eye-witnesses to the crash had been found, Sciacca said, and no further details regarding the circumstances of the crash were available.
Baker, Toukan and employee Daniel Negrete worked to clear shattered glass and damaged furniture from the dining area Sunday morning.
Baker said the extent of the damage was not yet clear, and he did not know how long it will take to make repairs and reopen.
0302_NWS_SGT-L-INDFATAL5“I just opened five months ago,” he said, adding that business was growing and everything seemed to be going well prior to crash.

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Police: Wanted felon arrested for ID theft in Irwindale

IRWINDALE >> Police jailed a wanted felon Friday after he tried to using a stolen credit card and identification to buy items at an Irwindale hardware store, officials said.
Daniel Garcia, 33, of Los Angeles, is accused of identity theft, false impersonation of another person and possession of drug paraphernalia, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. He’s additionally wanted by South Gate police due to an auto theft warrant and Manhattan Beach police in an identity theft case.
The arrest took place about 5:20 p.m. when the suspect tried to make purchases at Grainger Industrial Supply, 12780 Schabarum Ave., the sergeant said.
Store employees called police to report the fraud attempt, and Garcia ran from officers when they arrived at the store, Zendejas said. He was captured nearby, without a struggle.
Friday’s incident was the second time in recent days Garcia has gone shopping at the hardware store with stolen identification and credit cards, police said. He successfully bought goods at the store with fraudulent information in recent days, though the exact date was not available Saturday.
It is estimated that the suspect fraudulently purchased items totaling $3,000,” Zendejas added.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Garcia was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Former South El Monte, Arcadia Catholic school music teacher accused of molesting student in 2003, 2004

Detectives suspect a former Catholic school music teacher and choir director of molesting a female student 12 years ago while working at a South El Monte Catholic school, officials said.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau jailed Elohim D’Leon, 43, of El Monte Thursday afternoon on suspicion of 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 years old, according to sheriff’s officials county booking records.
D’Leon, who more recently worked at Holy Angels school and parish in Arcadia from 2004 to 2013, is accused of committing the crimes in the 2003-04 school year while working as a music teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in South El Monte, Holy Angels school and sheriff’s officials said.
“The girl was a fifth grader. He was her music teacher,” Detective Michael Silva said.
“There was inappropriate touching that would occur after school,” Silva said. “These incidents would occur in a classroom.”
Silva said the victim, who is now an adult, first reported the crimes in early February, triggering an investigation.
D’Leon also served as the choir director for the Epiphany school and parish “and has had some involvement in other music activities in the Archdiocese over the years,” Holy Angels school Principal Ted Carroll and Holy Angels parish Pastor Michael Evans said in an email sent to parents
The suspect worked at Epiphany school and parish from 2001 to 2004.
In addition to D’Leon’s work at Epiphany and Holy Angels, he “provided music for some liturgies and regional events in the Archdiocese,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.
It was not clear how or why is employment with the Archdiocese ended in 2013.
“Law enforcement has advised that he has no prior criminal record and that they are not aware at this time of any misconduct with any other minors, but their investigation is ongoing,” the statement said. “The Archdiocese and Holy Angels continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation. We express our gratitude to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for making this case a priority.”
Holy Angels officials could not be reached for direct comment Saturday.
Holy Angels and sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information to contact Detective Silva at the Sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau at 877-710-5273. Archdiocese of Los Angeles Coordinator of Victims Assistance Ministry Suzanne Healy also is available at 213-637-7650.
“We also ask that you keep everyone impacted by this sad situation in your thoughts and prayers,” the emailed statement said.
D’Leon was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.

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UPDATED: Missing 13-year-old Arcadia boy found safe in Temple City

ARCADIA >> Detectives seeking a missing 13-year-old Arcadia boy who disappeared after school Friday afternoon found him safe Saturday in Temple City, authorities said.
The grandmother of the boy dropped him off about 8 a.m. at Dana Middle School, 1401 S. First Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. James Trabbie said.
“We have a record of him attending school,” the sergeant said. But he was not seen after.
“Just before midnight, the reporting party notified the Arcadia Police Department that his son had not returned home from school and has not been heard from,” Trabbie said. He did not have a cell phone or any money with him.
Detectives found the boy about 11:30 a.m. at the home of a friend in Temple City, Trabbie said. Police brought him back to the Arcadia Police Department to reunite him with his parents.
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Man fatally struck on 210 Freeway in Azusa

AZUSA >> An unidentified man died after he was struck by two cars while darting across traffic lanes of the 210 Freeway late Friday, authorities said.
Drivers began calling 9-1-1 at 11:50 p.m. to report a shirtless, barefoot young man was walking in and across westbound traffic lanes of the 210 Freeway, east of Citrus Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol logs. Witnesses reported the man was running back and forth between the right shoulder and the center divider, and running in lanes along with traffic.
“While CHP units from the Baldwin Park area office were responding, CHP dispatch was advised the pedestrian had been struck by numerous vehicles,” CHP Officer C. Guin said in a written statement. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at 12:11 a.m.
The man was struck five minutes after the initial 9-1-1 calls, after he had made his way west of Citrus Avenue, according to CHP logs.
The drivers of a 2007 Chevrolet and a 2014 Kia that struck the man remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, officials said. Investigators did not suspect intoxicated driving.
The man’s identity remained unknown Saturday, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said. He was listed as a “John Doe.”
Officials shut down all westbound traffic on the freeway for about 30 minutes before gradually reopening lanes, logs show.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Baldwin Park office of the CHP 626-338-1164.

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Man shot in the back in El Monte

EL MONTE >> An unknown gunman shot an El Monte man in the back Friday afternoon in a seemingly unprovoked attack along Maxson Road, authorities said.
Lt. Ben Lowry said El Monte police received a call about a shooting in the 3700 block of Maxson Road at 3:24 p.m.
Police found no victims at the scene, however a person showed up at a local emergency room with a gunshot wound a short time later, the lieutenant said. The wounded man had been taken to a hospital by private vehicle.
The man suffered a gunshot wound to his back and was being treated for injuries not considered to life-threatening, Lowry said.
The 21-year-old victim reported he was walking down the street when a Latino man of this build carrying a black handgun approached him from behind, police said.
Five or six shots were fired, but only one struck the man, Lowry said.
The motive in the shooting was not clear.
Officials briefly placed nearby Baker Elementary School and Jerry Voorhis Elementary School on lockdown following the gunfire, Lowry said.

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UPDATED with VIDEO: Gunman robs West Covina massage/acupuncture parlor

WEST COVINA >> An armed robber took $400 and a purse from a business Thursday night.
West Covina Police Officer Eddie Flores said no one was injured during the 7:42 p.m. robbery in the 1400 block of West Garvey Avenue North.
A car pulled into the parking lot of the business which Flores described as a pain management center where acupuncture is available.
Flores said a man got out of the back seat, entered the place, pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at an employee. A second employee was in the back, he added.
Flores said the employee ran to the rear and locked herself in a room with her co-worker.
The robber ransacked the counter area, took a purse, money and left.
He was described as Latino or white, 21 to 25, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing between 140 and 170 pounds. There was no description available for the getaway driver. The car they used was described as 4-door black or dark gray sedan.

- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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