PASADENA >> Police arrested a Pasadena man Wednesday after they said he repeatedly shined a laser at a police helicopter, authorities said.
Brian Candido, 20, was booked on suspicion of pointing a laser at an aircraft shortly after 7 p.m., Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A Pasadena police helicopter pilot and observer reported the airship was struck repeatedly by a laser emitted from the area of Oak Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard, the lieutenant said. The officers in the helicopter directed officers on the ground to the source of the beam.
Police found and arrested Candido in the 100 block of South Oak Avenue, Luna said. A laser was found nearby.
Under California law, the offense of shining a laser at an aircraft can be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
PASADENA >> A masked man robbed a Pasadena fast food worker at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon as she left the store to deposit the business’ earnings, police said.
The heist unfolded about 4:30 p.m. when a 26-year-old employee of Del Taco, 3566 E. Foothill Blvd., left the store with a deposit envelope filled with cash in order to make the a bank deposit, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“The employee entered her car with a cash deposit in-hand, at which point the suspect approached her vehicle and demanded the loss at gunpoint,” Luna said.
Police said the victim handed over the deposit bag, which contained an undisclosed amount of money.
He was last seen fleeing the area on a motorcycle.
The robber wore a mask and all-dark clothing, Luna said. He was about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
AZUSA >> Police are seeking a man armed with a handgun robbed an Azusa 7-Eleven store early Wednesday morning, officials said.
The crime took place about 1:45 a.m. at the convenience store, 803 E. Arrow Highway, near Lark Ellen Avenue, Azusa police Detective Seth Chapman said in a written statement.
A man entered the store and demanded the clerk give him money from the cash register, the detective said.
“When the cashier refused, the suspect removed a black semi-automatic handgun from his front waistband and showed it to the cashier,” Chapman said. “Fearing for his life, the cashier turned over the money from the cash register to the suspect. The suspect proceeded to flee the store eastbound.”
The clerk suffered no injuries, he said.
Officials described the robber as a Latino man between 18 and 21 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 145 pounds,, wearing a black zippered hooded sweatshirt, light colored pants and skateboarding-style shoes.
Police released surveillance camera images of the suspect in hopes of generating tips from the public as to his identity, officials said.
Anyone with information can reach Detective Chapman at 626-812-3200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SURVEILLANCE CAMERA IMAGE courtesy of the Azusa Police Department.
LOS ANGELES >> A state appeals court panel on Tuesday overturned a man’s life prison sentence without the possibility of parole for a marijuana deal that turned violent and left a 21-year-old man dead in Pasadena in 2013.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found there was insufficient evidence against John Michael Piepoli Jr. to support the jury’s finding of a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery for the Jan. 15, 2013, shotgun murder of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein of Pasadena.
The appellate court panel ordered the case against Piepoli to be sent back to the trial court for re-sentencing, but it was not immediately clear what sentence he would now face.
Piepoli is one of five men convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Goldstein, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich. He was convicted of murder in November of 2014, and the jury found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the murder was committed during the coarse of a robbery.
The shotgun slaying occurred after the killers lured Goldstein and his brother to Holliston Avenue in Pasadena with a text message stating they wanted to buy marijuana from the brothers, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich.
Peter Parra, 39, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 29, of North Hollywood, and Raymond Frank Conchas, 27, of Covina were each convicted in February of 2015 of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy. The jury also found true the special circumstance of murder during a robbery, as well as the allegations that a shotgun was used in the crime and that the crime was gang-related.
Parra, Cabrera and Conchas each received sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus another 25 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Ricardo Santiago said at the time. Their appeals are still pending.
The Goldstein brother’s fled in their car when the suspect’s pulled a shotgun on them during their meeting, but the killers chased them and caught up with them nearby at Maple Avenue and Chester Street. Parra fired through the windshield of the Goldstein brothers’ car, mortally wounding Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
A fifth defendant, 21-year-old Ward Lacey IV of Pasadena,pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case in July of 2015 and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
In their 28-page ruling, the justices found that Piepoli “did not plan the criminal enterprise that led to Zane’s death,” had no role in supplying any firearms and was not present at the scene of the attempted robbery or the Jan. 15, 2013, shooting of Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
“Under the circumstances here, there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law that appellant was a major participant in the robbery,” the justices wrote.
Piepoli repeatedly told a police detective that he thought the plan was merely to scare Goldstein into turning over his marijuana and he wasn’t aware that Goldstein had been shot until he was informed the next morning by police, according to the ruling.
The justices, however, rejected the defense’s contention that Piepoli’s statements to police should have been excluded from his trial.
A fifth man, Ward Lacey IV, was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
During Piepoli’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich acknowledged that Piepoli was not at the crime scene, but told jurors that he was “equally guilty.”
Piepoli’s trial attorney, William Jacobson, countered that it was “a case that has nothing to do with robbery.”
The defense lawyer told jurors in his closing argument that it was “simply an attempted assassination” stemming from Goldstein’s alleged failure to pay a gang “taxes” for selling marijuana in its territory. He argued that his client was “never part of an agreement to commit a murder” and “never knew what the actual conspiracy was here.”
— By Brian Day and City News Service
DUARTE >> Detectives are seeking a man who tried to kidnap a woman as she was jogging in Duarte over the weekend, authorities said.
The woman managed to fight off her attacker and escape following the assault, which took place about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday along a running trail near Royal Oaks Drive and Oak Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
A woman in her mid-50s, was jogging on the trail, as she often does, when the would-be kidnapper approached and suddenly grabbed her, Lt. Tom McNeil said.
She managed to fight off the man as he began to drag her away, he said. The victim suffered minor injuries but declined to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
The suspect was last seen driving off in a tan, four-door sedan, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. He was described as about 5 feet 6 inches tall, 160 pounds, wearing all-black clothing. No weapons were seen during the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective N. Brenes of the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-292-3309, or via email at email@example.com. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
GARDENA >> The investigation continues into a solo-car crash on a freeway transition road in Gardena early Sunday that left three young men and a young woman dead.
The identities of the four victims of the 3:30 a.m. crash on a winding cloverleaf interchange between the 110 and 91 freeways were not released Sunday pending positive identification and notification of their families, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said.
California Highway Patrol officials described the driver of the 1991 Ford Probe as an 18-year-old Inglewood man. His passengers were an 18-year-old Compton woman, an 18-year-old man whose hometown was not available and another man whose age and city of residence were unknown.
“According to witnesses, a blue Ford Probe traveling at a high rate of speed, northbound Interstate 110, transition to westbound State Route 91, lost control and struck a support pillar,” Officer D. Howell’s of the CHP’s South Los Angeles-area office said in a written statement.
Paramedics pronounced all four occupants of the car dead at the scene just after 3:45 p.m., he said.
No further details were released. The cause of the crash is being investigated by a CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, which specializes in major collisions.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information can reach the CHP’s South Los Angeles-area office at 310-516-3355.
LA HABRA >> Police are seeking a man who robbed another man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a La Habra shopping center late Saturday, officials said.
The crime unfolded shortly after 7 p.m. as the victim was walking through a parking lot of a shopping center in the 900 block of Harbor Boulevard, just north of Whittier Boulevard, La Habra police Sgt. Jeff Baylos said.
The robber approached the victim, brandished a handgun and demanded money, the sergeant said. The gunman then patted the victim down and grabbed about $200 in cash and a cell phone from his pocket.
Baylos said the robber was last seen getting in to a pickup truck, possibly a black Ford Ranger, which sped off.
Police described the robber as a Latino man, about 5 feet 2 inches tall, with long hair and wearing a hooded sweat shirt.
Anyone with information can reach La Habra police at 562-383-4300.
MARYLAND >> A 32-year-old Altadena man died over the weekend after being shot in a suspected hunting accident in Maryland, authorities said.
Vincent Cavallo died at the scene of the shooting, which took place about just before 9:30 a.m. on Saturday on a private piece of land in the Thurmont area, near Camp David, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thompson said.
An autopsy was yet to be completed by coroner’s officials, but the initial investigation indicated Cavallo accidentally shot himself in the head with a .30-06 hunting rifle, she said.
It appeared he either tripped or dropped his rifle when the firearm discharged and struck him in the head, Thomson said.
He was on his first hunting trip with his uncle when the fatal mishap occurred, she said.
The two men had been separated for about half an hour as they searched for deer when the uncle heard a shot ring out, according to Thompson. The uncle initially thought his nephew had taken a shot at a deer.
But when the man sought out his nephew, he found him lying mortally wounded.
“It was his first hunt. He was excited,” Thompson said of Cavallo.
He had recently completed a hunter safety course in California, which his uncle insisted upon before taking him on the trip.
But “to all indications,” Cavallo was carrying the loaded rifle with the safety off, she said. Use of the rifle’s safety likely could have prevented the incident.
The suspected accidental discharge was not the only one reported Saturday, Thompson said. Another hunter suffered a gunshot wound to his leg in a similar incident.
Saturday marked the first day of Maryland’s two-week, modern firearms deer hunting season.
PASADENA >> Police investigating reports of gunfire in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena early Sunday found a car that had been struck by bullets, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 12:05 a.m. in the 600 block of Palisade Street, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
Officers found a parked car with bullet holes in it, but no injured people, he said.
No witnesses to the shooting came forward, and no suspect description was available.
LONG BEACH >> A man and woman died and two other people suffered injuries in two separate crashes reported within minutes of each on the same stretch of the 605 Freeway in Long Beach early Saturday, authorities said.
Both crashes took place shortly after 1 a.m. on the northbound 605 Freeway, just south of Carson Street, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The first collision occurred at 1:05 a.m. and allegedly involved a drunken driver, officials said.
A 21-year-old Cerritos man was driving a 1991 Honda Civic, with a 35-year-old Norwalk woman riding as a passenger, when it veered from traffic lanes, Officer C. Summers of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office said in a written statement.
“The Honda was involved in a traffic collision with the center divider before coming to a rest within the No. 2 lane,” he said. “Due to the impact, the front right passenger succumbed to her injuries.”
Officers determined the driver was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him on suspicion of DUI, Summers said. His name was not available Saturday afternoon. He was treated for injuries described as minor.
The second deadly crash was reported at 1:13 a.m. and claimed the life of 35-year-old Trevor Jacob Fike of Huntington Beach, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator David Smith said.
He was driving a 1998 Ford when he became involved in a solo-car crash that left his car disabled between the fast lane and carpool lane of the freeway, Officer C. Black of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement. He got out of his car.
“The Ford was struck by a 2006 Volkswagen traveling in the No. 1 lane of Interstate 605 northbound,” he said.
The driver was also hit and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, officials said.
A 37-year-old Bellflower man driving the Volkswagen suffered “major” injuries in the crash, Black said. A 23-year-old Bellflower woman who was riding as a passenger in the Volkswagen was treated for minor injuries.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation.
Anyone with information on either crash is urged to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.