Fire risk prompts weekend road closures in Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Authorities are planning to shut down vehicle access to Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road in the Angeles National Forest north of the San Gabriel Valley this weekend due to elevated fire danger risk.
The two mountain roads will be closed Saturday and Sunday, and are expected to reopen Monday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The closure will only affect vehicle traffic. “Bicyclists and pedestrians are allowed,” the statement added.
Officials urged forest visitors to use caution and keep aware while recreating in the forest.

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Officials: Bassett woman was strangled; death now investigated as homicide


BASSETT >> The death of a 24-year-old Bassett woman discovered unresponsive in her bed over the weekend is now being investigated as a homicide after it was determined the woman was strangled in the middle of the night as her parent slept in the same house, sheriff’s officials said Friday.
Kassandra Maricel Sandoval was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday after her mother discovered her not breathing at her home in the 13200 block of Gyna Lane in the unincorporated county area and called 911, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
No obvious signs of trauma were visible on Sandoval’s body and her cause of death was not initially clear, Deputy Crystal Hernandez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said at the time.
In the days since, “It was determined that the victim’s cause of death was asphyxiation,” Deputy Grace Medrano of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “The case was ruled a homicide.”
“Homicide investigators are continuing their investigation to seek for the person (or persons) responsible for the death of Kassandra Sandoval,” Medrano said.
Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said the circumstances surrounding Sandoval’s slaying remained largely a mystery.
Her car was missing from her home when her body was discovered, but soon recovered less than a mile from the home, parked along Workman Mill Road, Corina said.
Her parents last saw her the day before, when she went out for the evening, the lieutenant said. It was not yet clear whether she returned home alone or was accompanied by someone.
At some point during the night, an unknown attacker strangled Sandoval and escaped from the home, undetected by Sandoval’s parents, who were asleep under the same roof.
There were no signs of forced entry to the house, Corina said.
“Somebody did come in the house. Something ended up occurring. That’s what we’re trying to piece together,” he said.
Salvador was unmarried and was not believed to be involved in a committed romantic relationship at the time of her death, Corina said.
“We’re not sure what the motive is here,” he said.
Sandoval’s official cause of death remained listed as “deferred” and remained under investigation at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner pending the result of toxicology tests, coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. But case notes described the death as a likely homicide, and Corina said the evidence already available made it clear that Salvador was the victim of a homicide.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Dodger Yasiel Puig meets with wounded West Covina police officer

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LOS ANGELES >> When Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig learned that a West Covina police officer who returned to duty last month after being wounded in a gunfight in May received was among dozens of law enforcement officers honored during the Dodgers home game Wednesday during Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, he decided he needed to seek out the officer.
Officer Kenny Benitez, a Dodger fan who lists Puig among his favorite players, was part of a group of officers honored on the field for heroism.
“Puig had heard about Officer Benitez and this incident,” West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Upon hearing that the officer was taking part in the ceremony, “Puig took it upon himself to search out Benitez,” according to the lieutenant.
The officer and the player met and took photos before each returned to their respective duties. Puig would go on to hit a three-run homer and an impressive catch, run against the San Francisco Giants, helping his team achieve a 9-3 victory.
Patton said the police department appreciated Puig’s personal gesture to Officer Benitez.
Benitez was allegedly wounded during a gunfight with Jose Chavez, 47, on May 20. Chavez was also wounded in the gun battle, but managed to escape.
He was apprehended by a SWAT team following a six-day manhunt and is now awaiting trial.
Benitez was fortunate in that the bullet that penetrated his abdomen did not strike any vital organs, West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said at the time.
Benitez recovered from his injuries and returned to duty Aug. 18.

PHOTO: courtesy

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Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography

SIERRA MADRE >> Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.
After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.
Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.
He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Suspected gang member with gun jailed following chase through La Puente in stolen car

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LA PUENTE >> Deputies arrested a suspected gang member with a handgun following a pursuit through La Puente in a stolen car on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
A deputy patrolling in the area of Valley Boulevard and Ferrero Lane spotted a Toyota Camry which had been reported stolen in Baldwin Park earlier this month driving down the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said.
The driver refused to pull over, initiating a short chase along surface streets that ended when the driver abandoned the car and ran on nearby Wegman Drive, the lieutenant said.
Deputies nabbed the suspect as he fled through a residential neighborhood, he added. He was arrested without further struggle.
Retracing the suspect steps, deputies found a handgun, as well as a shirt and baseball cap the fleeing suspect had apparently discarded in an attempt to change his appearance, Cacheiro said.
The identity of the suspect, a man estimated to be in his early-30s, was not released Thursday as detectives continued their investigation into the man, he added. The suspect was believed to have gang ties.

PHOTO – courtesy

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Wife of TV weatherman accused of attack on adult daughter in La Canada Flintridge

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE >> The wife of KABC-TV chief meteorologist Dallas Raines pleaded not guilty Wednesday to allegations she beat and tried to strangle her 25-year-old daughter last month, officials said.
Danielle Raines, 58, of Pasadena is charged with a single felony count of assault by means likely to to produce great bodily injury, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
The alleged assault took place on Aug. 31 in La Canada Flintridge, officials said.
Danielle Raines had been drinking wine with her 25-year-old daughter at a country club prior to the incident, Santiago said in a written statement.
“(Raines) she became belligerent and struck and pushed her daughter as she prepared to drive her mother home,” according to the statement.
The alleged assault continued as the daughter drove, prompting her to pull over, Santiago said.
“Once on the side of the road, Raines allegedly continued beating the victim and attempted to strangle her before she managed to escape,” the statement said.
If convicted as charged, Raines faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.
The motive in the alleged assault was unclear.
Deputy District Attorney Jodi Taksar, who is prosecuting the case, deferred comment to the district attorney’s media relations office.
Raines remains free pending the legal process on $35,000 bail, which she posted the day of her arrest, records show.
Bail was set at $30,000. If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of four years in state prison.

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Montebello man admits murder of wife in 2014

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MONTBELLO >> A Montebello man who beat and strangled his wife before stashing her body in the trunk of the family car and fleeing with the couple’s four children in late-2014 admitted charges of murder and child abuse Thursday, prosecutors said.
Daniel Diego Perez was charged with murder and other crimes for the slaying of 39-year-old Erica Perez, whose body was discovered on the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2014, in the trunk of the family’s 2010 Honda Accord, parked at 2nd Street and Harding Avenue, Montebello police Capt. Luis Lopez said at the time. The family of six was reported missing Dec. 9 after a relative reported they had not been seen since Dec. 5.
Police arrested Daniel Perez and recovered the four boys — then-ages 6, 8, 9 and 11 — following a pursuit that ended with a standoff near Santee.
During what was scheduled to be a pre-trial hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, “Daniel Diego Perez, 45, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of of his 39-year-old wife, Erica,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in written statement.
He also admitted two counts of child abuse for endangering his two younger sons during the pursuit and standoff leading up to his arrest. The search for the father and sons resulting in a statewide Amber Alert.
Judge Leslie Swain sentenced Perez to 15 years to life in prison for the murder, plus seven years and four months for the child abuse.
Daniel Perez previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which originally included kidnapping as well.
An autopsy determined Erica Perez died from probably asphyxia and strangulation, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records. Investigators also noted multiple blunt force traumatic injuries as an additional significant cause of the death. The death was ruled a homicide.
When police were first seeking the missing couple, prior to the discovery of Erica Perez’s body, police relayed that family members had reported the couple’s marriage was “unstable” and there was a history of domestic violence.
The couple’s four children have since been placed in the care of family members.

PHOTOS; Erica Perez, left. Daniel Perez, right. (Courtesy)

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UPDATED: Two women arrested in connection with Pasadena vehicle arson


PASADENA >> Police and fire officials arrested the second of two suspects Thursday connected to the torching of a car in Pasadena six months ago, authorities said.
Police found and arrested Artesha Daniels, 39, of Pasadena in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, according to Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo and Los Angeles County booking records.
Fellow suspect Alejandra Martinez, 25, of Pasdena turned herself into authorities Tuesday, records show.
The suspects’ identities had been known to investigators since the days following the March 19 arson fire at La Tierra Street and Daisy Avenue, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
“(Fire investigators) had been actively searching for the suspects with the police department,” she said.
An arrest warrant was issued months ago, but the two suspects eluded authorities until this week.
The alleged arson, which destroyed the victim’s 2002 Volvo as it was parked on the street, was believed to have been motivated by personal dispute between the suspects and victim, Derderian said. Further details regarding the motive were not available.
Investigators found the Volvo had been doused with flammable liquid and set ablaze, she said.

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Pasadena man accused of stealing can of soda at knifepoint


PASADENA >> A Pasadena man is accused of armed robbery over can of soda after he pulled a knife on a store employee who confronted him about the alleged theft Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Lorenzo Amado Matson, 22, was jailed immediately following the 12:45 p.m. incident at the 99 Cents Only Store, 442 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
He stole a can of soda from the store, and the employee confronted him, the lieutent said. Matson pulled a knife and threatened the employee before fleeing.
The worker followed after Matson and directed police to him, Luna said. Officers arrested him without a struggle.
According to county booking records, Matson was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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El Monte launches ‘Service Area Policing’ program

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EL MONTE >> The El Monte police department launched its “Service Area Policing” program this week, dividing the city into four separate quadrants, in an effort to streamline communication between the city and the community and more efficiently address specific problems and issues within the city.
Under the Service Area Policing program, which began Wednesday, the city has been divided into four geographical area, with police services for each overseen by a dedicated service area lieutenant, El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso said.
“Service area policing is becoming the industry standard for many police departments in the region,” the chief said. “It’s another tool to help us communicate with the public, learn their concerns and provide the best service we can.”
The program does not replace the traditional 9-1-1 system for emergencies, but it designed to help residents and business people deal with “chronic” quality of life issues, ranging from graffiti and speeding vehicles to code violations and public health issues.
The program helps police make more efficient use of resources to place them where they be the most effective, police said in a written statement.
“The Service Area Commanders have all of the resources of the police department available to them to address the needs of the community. Streamlining and utilizing resources in such a manner is a way to bypass our limitations,” according to the statement.
Even if the issue is not a police matter, police can work with citizens to notify the proper agency about their concerns, Reynoso said.
“Any community concern is our concern,” he added. And serice area commanders will work closely with other local agencies, such as public works, parks and recreation and the city council.
“Each entity offers its own distinct perspective toward the accomplishment of a solution towards the betterment of our city,” the polcie statement said. “This cultural change must migrate to all areas of the city and become part of the cultural norm our residents and businesses expect to be successful.
Under the program, the city of more than 115,000 people is divided into four areas, with the 10 Freeway serving as the boundary between the north and south, and Peck Road serving as the boundary between east and west.
Service Area 1, the northwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Richard Cassetta, who can be reached at area1@empd.org. Service Area 2, consisting of the city’s northeast quadrant, is supervised by Lt. Ben Lowry, who can be reached at area2@empd.org. Service Area 3, made up of the city’s southwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Ernie Cramer, who can be reached at area3@empd.org. Service Area 4, at the southeast corner of the city, is supervised by Lt. Peter Rasic, who can be reached at area4@empd.org.
All of the Service Area commanders can be reached by telephone at 626-580-2109.
“The program is built around a partnership between police and the community, Reynoso said.
“The success of this program depends on our cooperation,” he said.

PHOTOS: [Left to right] El Monte police Service Area 1 Lt. Richard Cassetta; El Monte police Service Area 2 Lt. Ben Lowry; El Monte police Service Area 3 Lt. Ernie Cramer; El Monte police Service Area 4 Lt. Pete Rasic. (Courtesy)

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