PASADENA — Police arrested four men Saturday in Los Angeles on suspicion of posing as city workers to burglarize a house in Pasadena, authorities said.
George Peres, 33, of Texas, Frank Marks, 51, of Texas, Paul Mitchell, 44, of Arizona and Geno John, an Ohio man whose age was not available due to medical issues that delayed booking, were arrested Saturday by Los Angeles police officers in the LAPD’s Southwest Division, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
They’re accused of posing as Pasadena city workers when they went to a home in the 300 block of Castano Avenue about 3 p.m. May 2, the lieutenant said. At least one of the suspects wore a uniform as he approached a resident claimed to be a city representative wanting to talk about the construction of a new fence.
While the resident was distracted, accomplices ransacked the home and helped themselves to items, Clawson said. Police refer to the tactic as a “distraction burglary.”
While detained by LAPD officers during a traffic stop Saturday, “They discovered evidence inside the vehicle linking the subjects to the original crime,” Clawson said. Uniforms were also found in the car.
The three suspects who had been booked into jail — Peres, Marks and Mitchell — were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearance, county booking records show.
Clawson reminded residents to take active steps to secure their homes, businesses and vehicles from opportunistic thieves looking for an easy target.
Side gates, windows and doggy doors should be locked when residents leave, he said, and any suspicious activity should be reported to police immediately.
PASADENA — Police Saturday tracked down a burglary suspect with the help of a Pasadena woman who walked in on an intruder, then managed to take a picture of his car before he fled, officials said.
Hamlet Tavanian, 44, of Glendale is suspected of burglarizing the woman’s home in the 00 block of South Grand Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Friday, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
A woman walked in on the break-in, causing the burglar to flee, he said. The suspect jumped into a nearby car, but the woman managed to take a photograph of the vehicle before it sped away, which included the license plate number.
Investigators went to the home of the registered owner Saturday and identified Tavanian as a suspect in the burglary, Clawson said. He wasn’t hard to find, as investigators found he was already in the custody of Burbank police after being arrested on suspicion of drug possession in their city.
The car involved in the burglary was recovered, and contained “items consistent with stolen property,” Clawson said.
According to county booking records, Tavanian was being held without bail pending an appearance Monday in Burbank Superior Court.
He has several prior drug- and theft-related convictions, court records show, as well as a drug-related case pending against him in Glendale Superior Court.
LA VERNE — A 25-year-old La Verne man is accused of drunken driving after crashing his car in a constuction zone on the 210 Freeway, injuring two California Highway Patrol officers, authorities said.
Thomas Lapatka was treated for minor injuries and booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station following the crash, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said.
Two CHP officers suffered minor injuries, and their patrol car was significantly damaged in the collision, which took place just before 1 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway at Foothill Boulevard, the sergeant said.
They were assisting workers with a construction closure in which all lanes of westbound traffic were being gradually directed to the carpool lane by cones and sign boards, Hamilton said.
They were stopped within the closure, with the patrol car’s overhead lights activated, he said.
“According to witness statements, they see him fly by through the cones and pass them,” Hamilton said. “Their statements put him well over the 65 mph speed limit. Some witnesses put him at over 80 mph.”
Lapatka’s 2010 Mercedes E350 struck an electronic board that was displaying an arrow, ushering traffic toward the carpool lane, the sergeant said. The sign board then struck the patrol car, causing significant damage and injuring the two officers inside.
Officials at first were uncertain of the extent of the officers’ injuries, and they were taken to a hospital for treatment, Hamilton said.
“Thank goodness, once they got there, the doctors evaluated them and within a few hours they were released with minor injuries,” he said.
Lapatka was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, Hamilton said.
He was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court, according to county booking records.
LA HABRA — Los Angeles police investigating a triple-fatal shooting in Harbor Gateway arrested a man at his La Habra apartment on suspicion of the crime late Friday, officials confirmed Saturday.
Narada Brooks, 28, was booked on suspicion of murder, LAPD Officer Sara Faden said.
Though the investigation was ongoing, “detectives believe he was the sole individual responsible,” Faden said.
Killed in the shooting were Dwayne Damion Cover, 33, of Torrance, Laurent Kenroy Latty, 33, of Joneboro, Georgia and a third man whose identity was not released Saturday pending confirmation that his family had been notified, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
LAPD investigators arrived in La Habra about 6 p.m. Friday and took a suspect — later identified as Brooks — into custody without a struggle about 8:30 p.m. at an apartment in the 900 block of North Euclid Street, La Habra police Sgt. Jeff Bayloss said.
The LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division detectives were following up on an early-morning shooting in the Harbor Gateway portion of Los Angeles that left three men dead and a fourth wounded.
The shooting took place about 5:30 a.m. in an apartment in the 1600 block of West 205th Street, Faden said.
Three men appearing to be in their 20s were found fatally shot, Faden said.
A fourth shooting wounded man, who appeared to be in his 30s, was found shot a few blocks away and hospitalized, she said. An update on his condition was not available.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting were released.
According to county booking records, Brooks was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.
COVINA — After more than a year of fundraising and preparations, officials this month plan to unveil Covina’s new Police Officer Memorial.
The memorial is to be dedicated at 10 a.m. May 15 at the Covina Police Department, 444 N. Citrus Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said in a written statement.
Though dedicated to all law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, it was inspired by the Covina Police Department’s lone fallen officer, Sgt. Scott Hanson, who died July 3, 2006, from injuries suffered in an August, 2003, on-duty car crash, officials said.
That year, Hanson’s memory was honored at the county, state and federal levels.
“However, the community where Scott grew up and worked as a law enforcement officer was left with an obvious void,” according to Marquez. “The Covina Police Department quickly recognized a need for for its own police officer memorial to not only honor Sergeant Scott Hanson, but to also honor and provide a place for the community to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices made by law enforcement professionals in the United States.”
The Covina Police Department Police Officer Memorial Committee was formed, which partnered with Pasadena architect Douglas Ewing to create the design for the monument, officials said.
A fundraising campaign began in May of 2012, and about $50,000 in donations poured in from private citizens, businesses, other law enforcement agencies, retired police officers and others, Marquez said. A golf tournament co-hosted by the Covina Chamber of Commerce was also instrumental in making the memorial a reality.
In addition to money, in-kind donations were also received, Marquez said. Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries, for example, donated cash, as well as a bronze, three-dimensional art piece that will be incorporated into the design.
“All members of the Covina Police Department are proud for what this monument represents and we hope the public shared the same sentiment,” the sergeant added.
For more information, the Covina Police Department can be reached at 626-384-5595.
A teacher from an El Monte high school accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old student pleaded not guilty Friday to 17 felony charges, officials said.
Mountain View High School music teacher Abel Heriberto Acosta, 40, was charged Friday with five counts of unlawful sex with a minor, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, four counts of lewd acts on a minor and three counts of oral copulation of a minor, according to a felony complaint filed in Pomona Superior Court.
He entered a not guilty plea and was ordered to return to court May 23 for a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said
The alleged molestation took place between December of 2012 and April of 2013, according to the complaint.
El Monte police arrested Acosta Tuesday after several days of investigation, police and El Monte Union High School District officials said. The allegations against the teacher first came to light four days earlier.
Acosta has been an employee of the school district for nearly two years, officials said.
ALTADENA — A woman encountered a large burgling bear inside the kitchen of her home at the northern end of Altadena Friday, officials said.
The four-legged intruder was reported about 11:10 a.m. at a house in the 1300 block of Sunny Oaks Circle, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Booker Hollis said.
A woman walked into her kitchen to find a bear helping itself to her food, the sergeant said.
“She screamed,” he said. “The bear went out, did some rummaging in a trash can, then left prior to deputies’ arrival.”
Fish and game officials were also notified, Hollis added, but the bears were gone before they arrived, Hollis said.
The bear was seen heading back into the woods, accompanied by two cubs, officials said.
A murder trial is underway for a Rancho Cucamonga man accused of fatally striking another man with his car following a fight in Pico Rivera, officials said.
Opening statement were heard Friday in Norwalk Superior Court in the case of Alfred Campos, 39, court officials said.
He’s charged with murder in connection with the Oct. 29, 2011, death of 38-year-old Richard Quintana Becerra of Pico Rivera, which occurred about 1:20 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Passons Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Thomas said shortly after the incident.
The men were believed to have been involved in a fight nearby before Campos got into his vehicle and intentionally ran over Becerra as he was in the street, Thomas said.
Paramedics pronounced Becerra dead at the scene, officials said.
Witnesses helped apprehend the suspect by flagging down a patrol deputy who happened to be in the area and directing the deputy toward Campos’ fleeing vehicle, according to Thomas.
Deputies caught up with Becerra and arrested him at Slauson Avenue and Boer Street in an unincorporated county area west of Whittier, officials added.
The investigation was handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
PASADENA — The Pasadena Fire Department will present demonstrations, entertainment and refreshments Saturday as it joins other fire departments throughout the region in taking part in Fire Service Day.
Fire Station 33, 515 N. Lake Ave., will be the hub of activities in Pasadena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring demonstrations of fire fighting and life saving techniques including the Jaws of Life and aerial ladders, fire officials said in a written statement.
Fire engines and other equipment will be on display, officials added. Hot dogs and other refreshments are planned, along with entertainment.
Parking for the festivities at Fire Station 33 will be available in lots C and D at Lake Avenue Church, one block south of the fire station.
Pasadena’s other six fire stations will also hold open houses for the public to meet with firefighters and see the firefighters’ apparatus. They include Fire Station 31, 135 S. Fair Oaks Ave.; Fire Station 32, 2424 E. Villa Street; Fire Station 34, 1138 E. Del Mar Blvd.; Fire Station 36, 1140 N. Fair Oaks Ave.; Fire Station 37, 3430 E. Foothill Blvd.; and Fire Station 38, 1150 E. Linda Vista Ave.
PASADENA – Police officers checking a call about gunfire in a neighborhood later discovered a man with a gunshot wound to the leg at a hospital Thursday, officials said.
Pasadena police Sgt. Paul Carpenter said shots were heard around 6 p.m. on Tremont Street between Summit Avenue and Marengo Avenue.
The injured man, an Altadena resident in his 20s, drove himself to the hospital, Lt. Jason Clawson said.
The circumstances of the shooting, as well as a description of the shooter, were not available as the wounded man was not cooperating with investigators, police said. Police continued seeking witnesses Friday.
- Staff report