Home struck by gunfire in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK >> A bullet struck a Baldwin Park home early Sunday, but no one was hurt, police said.
The shooting was believed to have taken place in the early-morning hours on Torch Avenue, just east of Syracuse Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joe Meister said. But it was not reported until about 9 a.m., when a resident noticed a bullet hole in a water heater attached to the front of his home.
Officers found three spent bullet casings in the street, Meister said. The man told police he recalled hearing what sounded like gunshots about 1 a.m., Meister said. But no one called police to report the shooting at the time.

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Car-to-car shooting reported in Pasadena

PASADENA >> A man and woman escaped injury when their car was struck by gunfire in a car-to-car shooting in Pasadena early Sunday, officials said.
The shooting took place about 12:20 a.m. as the victims, both Pasadena residents in their 20s, were driving eastbound on Howard Street at Mentone Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A dark blue, four-door sedan passed the victims heading the opposite direction on Howard Street before making a U-turn and catching up with them, the lieutenant said.
A passenger in the blue car fired a single shot, striking the rear, driver-side door of the victims’ car, Mercado said.
The victims sped away from their attackers, who were last seen heading north on Mentone Avenue, he said.
A motive in the seemingly unprovoked shooting was not clear.

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UPDATED: Fire guts Glendora house, kills dog

GLENDORA >> A fire caused major damage to a family’s Glendora home Saturday and killed the family’s dog, authorities said.
The fire ignited about 11:30 a.m. at a single-story house in the 1700 block of South Bender Avenue, Glendora police Lt. Rob Lamborghini said.
A young woman who was home at the time did not realize the house was on fire until her brother arrived home and discovered the smoke and flames, the lieutenant said. Both got out of the home unharmed.
Flames gutted the majority of the home, sparing only the attached garage, Lamborghini said.
A small dog died in the fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. David Lopez said.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes, he said.
A firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury during the incident, Lopez said.
It was believed to have been sparked by an electrical malfunction in a patio room at the rear of the home, Lopez said.
The fire caused an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to the home, and another $9,000 in damage to items inside of it, the captain said.
Police provided the displaced family with motel vouchers and summoned the Red Cross to assist them, Lamborghini added.

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Man carjacked outside Duarte Walmart

DUARTE >> Three men carjacked a man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Duarte Walmart store Friday evening, officials said.
The crime occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot at 1600 Mountain Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Haynes said.
The victim, a man of about 30, was approached by three men who brandished a gun and demanded his car, the sergeant said. The carjackers fled in the victim’s silver Acura sedan.
No injuries were reported. A suspect description was not available.

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Former Norwalk man extradited back to L.A. County to face trial in rape, slaying of disabled neighbor

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NORWALK >> A man accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing his disabled neighbor in Norwalk before fleeing to Guatemala returned to the U.S. Friday to face charges, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, was extradited back to Los Angeles County via LAX following his Dec. 4 arrest in San Miguel, Escuinta, Guatemala, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Diofron is suspected in the brutal stabbing death of 50-year-old Denise Battey Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials
He’s charged with murder, with the special circumstances of rape and burglary, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After Diofron allegedly fled the country, federal authorities also charged the suspect with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. But the federal case is expected to be dismissed as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the murder case.
Diofron, who was living near Battey while in the U.S. on a work visa, attacked and sexually assaulted Battery as she watered her garden, according to sheriff’s officials and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
He then dragged her inside her home and stabbed her to death, authorities allege.
0412_NWS_WDN-L-DIOFRON2Denise Battey worked as a system support analyst for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students in college preparation part time, according to her twin sister, Annese Battey. She was an avid gardener and a classic movie buff.
And the victim was defenseless against her attacker, authorities and family members said. She had just undergone back surgery and suffered from severe sciatica in her left leg.
Diofron was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.

PHOTOS: TOP: Murder suspect Luis Fernando Diofron (courtesy). BELOW: Homicide victim Denise Battey (courtesy)

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Police seize 700 marijuana plants from Arcadia home

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ARCADIA >> A water leak led to the discovery of about 700 marijuana plants growing inside an Arcadia home Friday, police said.
The out-of-town owner of a home in the 200 block of East Newman Avenue received a call from a neighbor about 7 a.m. to let him know about a water leak at his house, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said in a written statement. The homeowner’s realtor checked on the home and discovered it was being used to grow marijuana.
0412_NWS_PSN-L-MJHOUSE2After obtaining a warrant, “Detectives searched the home and found the majority of the residence being used as a sophisticated, indoor marijuana grow operation,” Flores said. “Approximately 700 marijuana plants were being grown in various rooms throughout the house. The grow consisted of multiple rooms with lighting, ventilation, electrical wiring, irrigation and drying bins strewn throughout the residence.”
The home’s electrical system had been rewired to bypass the electrical meter, allowing the growers to steal their electricity, officials added.
Police saw no evidence the grow was medicinal, Flores said.
No one was inside the home when police arrived, and no arrests had been made Saturday, police said.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

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UPDATED: CHP chase ends in head-on crash on Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena; 4 people hurt

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PASADENA >> An allegedly intoxicated driver being chased by the California Highway Patrol collided head-on with another car on the Colorado Street bridge late Friday, injuring four people, officials said.
Delfino Eddie Rey, 58, of Lancaster suffered serious injuries in the crash and was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and evading police in connection with the 8:10 p.m. crash on the bridge, which spans the Arroyo Seco, CHP officials said.
CHP Officers were chasing a possibly intoxicated driver eastbound on Colorado Boulevard when the suspects Toyota Corolla collided head-on with a westbound Nissan Maxima, Officer Patrick Kimball said. Paramedics treated four patients, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Rey suffered serious injuries, while two adults in the Maxima suffered injuries described as moderate, Derderian said. A child who was riding in the Maxima suffered injuries described as minor.
Firefighters had to free the three adults from the wreckage, she added.
Prior to the chase, a witness reported seeing the Corolla driving erratically and swerving in lanes at 7:52 p.m., Kimball said. CHP officers caught up with the suspect on Colorado Boulevard near San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena at 8:09 p.m.
Officers briefly chased the suspect as he fled at speeds of up to 70 mph, weaving in and out of lanes and occasionally crossed into oncoming traffic just before the collision, CHP officials said in a written statement.
Officials shut down the Colorado Street Bridge as they conducted an investigation Friday night.
*PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department

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Montebello doctor sentenced for molesting patients

MONTEBELLO >> A judge sentenced a Montebello doctor to five years in prison Friday for sexually molesting four female patients in his care, officials said.
Arturo Vargas, 44, pleaded “no contest” Friday to two counts of felony sexual battery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted Vargas in February of two counts of sexual exploitation by a physician for molesting two additional patients, but acquitted him of seven charges involving four other alleged victims, officials said. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury failed to reach verdicts on more than a dozen additional charges.
Vargas entered Friday’s “no contest” pleas during what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing on the remaining charges.
In addition to being sentenced to five years in state prison, Judge Curtis Rappe also ordered Vargas to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Montebello police first arrested Vargas in Jan. 2012 after a woman reported being molested by him at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices on Towne Center Drive, authorities said. Seven additional women subsequently came forward and made similar allegations of molestation at the Baldwin Park facility, as well as at other medical facilities in Los Angeles County.

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Men attack, rob elderly coin store clerk in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Two men attacked and robbed an elderly coin shop clerk Thursday, fleeing with a loaded revolver and about $15,000 worth of cash and collectible coins, police said.
The crime occurred about 5:50 p.m. at Universal Coin Galleries, 1190 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Two robbers entered the store and one of the distracted the clerk, an 81-year-old man, Luna said.
“The second suspect wrestled the victim over the counter and onto the floor,” the lieutenant said.
Luna said the victim was wearing a handgun, which the robbers stole. They also helped themselves to cash and coins before fleeing the store on foot.
The robbers were last seen running east along Walnut Avenue toward Hill Avenue, Luna said. No getaway car was seen.
Police said the elderly victim, a Glendora man, suffered injuries including cuts and bruises, but declined to be taken to a hospital. Officers conducted an “extensive search,” but did not find the suspects, Luna said.
Both robbers were described as white or possibly Russian men in their early-20s, Luna said. They had a backpack with them. One stood about 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall and was of slender, muscular build. The other stood 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall.

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Pasadena police to crack down on distracted driving

PASADENA >> Police plan to field extra officers next week to crack down on distracted drivers throughout Pasadena, officials said.
The extra enforcement campaign will take place April 17, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said in a written statement.
While most people know that using a cell phone or electronic device is dangerous, “Many drivers see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but do not recognize how their own driving deteriorates,” Hettema said.
“Pasadena Police Department is focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through enforcement, public awareness and education — the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use,” the lieutenant said.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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