UPDATED: Woman stabbed to death in South Whittier; suspect arrested

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A woman is dead and another is accused of murder after a fight escalated into a stabbing late Friday in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, authorities said.
Michelle Alexis Young, 31, of Los Angeles died following the stabbing, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
The stabbing was first reported as a “woman down” about 10:30 p.m. on a small cul-de-sac in the 11500 block of Obert Avenue, just north of Leffingwell Road, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies arrived to find paramedics already treating Young, who had been stabbed multiple times, officials said
Young was pronounced dead on the sidewalk at 11:12 p.m., Smith said.
“A male adult witness at the scene told deputies that a female approached the victim and started an argument,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The argument escalated into a physical altercation. The female suspect then produced a knife and stabbed the victim several times. The suspect fled the location.”
Soon after, deputies detained another woman who as believed to have been involved in the incident, officials said.
After hours of investigation, detectives arrested Vanessa Rebecca Cella, 28, on suspicion of murder Saturday morning, sheriff’s officials said. Her city of residence was not immediately available.
Cella was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending her scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court, according to county booking records.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

La Habra police arrest carjacking suspect following wild chase

LA HABRA >> A man carjacked a woman in La Habra before leading police on a wild chase that ended in Yorba Linda late Friday, police said.
Gerald Paul Terveer, 47, of La Habra was arrested following the pursuit, which began shortly before 7 p.m., La Habra Police Department spokeswoman Cindy Knapp said in a written statement.
Brea police notified their counterparts in La Habra that a black Ford F-150 pickup truck had been spotted heading west in the eastbound lanes of Lambert Road, Knapp said.
A short time later, the truck rear-ended a gray Ford Taurus that was pulled along the curb, she said.
“(Terveer) exited his vehicle and ordered the woman driver to get out of the car,” Knapp said. “She did so, and he took her vehicle and sped away from the scene.”
The woman was not hurt, she said.
La Habra police officers caught up with the Taurus, initiating a pursuit, Knapp said.
Terveer drove wildly at high speeds during the chase, driving on the wrong side of the road numerous times and nearly colliding with other vehicles, she said. At one point, the car became airborne as it sped off the side of an offramp of the 91 Freeway.
The chase sped through La Habra, Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Placentia and ultimately Yorba Linda.
It lasted for more than half an hour before the Taurus turned onto a Yorba Linda cul-de-sac, where officers cornered him and took him into custody.
According to Orange County booking records, Terveer was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in Santa Ana Superior Court.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Telephonic bomb threats made against Norwalk businesses

NORWALK >> Deputies responded to two simultaneous bomb threats at two Pico Rivera businesses Friday afternoon, but found the telephoned threats to be unfounded, authorities said.
Two phone calls from the same phone number reported the threats about 6:30 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Cynthia Chavez said. One of the calls claimed a bomb had been placed at a Subway sandwich shop, 15925 Pioneer Blvd., and another at Walmart, 11729 Imperial Highway, the lieutenant said.
Deputies went to both businesses and found nothing suspicious, she said. No evacuations were ordered.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Sheriff’s deputies distribute school supplies to La Puente kids

0908_NWS_SGT-L-BACKPACKS1

LA PUENTE — Sheriff’s deputies, in partnership with the City of La Puente and the National Latino Peace Officers Association, is in the process of distributing 100 backpacks full of school supplies to needs students.
The giveaway began last week at Workman Elementary School and Hurley Elementary School, and will continue next week at Sparks Elementary School and Del Valley School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. and La Puente Police Chief Pete Cacheiro said.
The backpacks and supplies were donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and were arranged by Explorers from the sheriff’s Industry Station. Sheriff’s officials worked with the schools to identify the students most in need of the supplies.
In addition to putting smiles on children’s faces, the event exemplifies the “Community Oriented Policing” strategy employed in La Puente, fostering trust between young people and law enforcement.
0908_NWS_SGT-L-BACKPACKS2La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz accompanied deputies as they distributed the backpacks at the first two schools.
“In our community, we do have students who need these services,” she said.
Students also got a chance to chat with deputies and sit in their patrol cars.
“How wonderful it is they take the time to build those relationships. They’re very present in the community,” Munoz said. ” They’re going above and beyond and making a big impact in our community by being involved.”
Cacheiro and Munoz both credited community-oriented policing with significant drops in La Puente’s crime rate this year, which is among the lowest in the county.
“The effort that they’ve made in community-oriented policing is something that’s shown a vast improvement,” Munoz said.

PHOTOS: (Top)Sheriff’s deputies, La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz and students of Workman Elementary School in La Puente pose for a photo after deputies gave them backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.  (Below) Deputy Richard  Muehlich hands out backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, to kids at Workman Elementary School in La Puente on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Courtesy)

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Former Monterey Park elementary school special education teacher sentenced for molesting four students

0906_NWS_SGT-L-MOSQUEDA

ALHAMBRA >> A former Monterey Park special education teacher convicted of molesting four students received a 16-year prison sentence Friday, authorities said.
Ex-Repetto Elementary School teacher Jose Jesus Mosqueda, 45, of Los Angeles, was sentenced by Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jared Moses, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He pleaded guilty in July to three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, she said.
“The defendant sexually molested special education students in fourth grade between 2008 and 2011,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Some of the molestations took place during class time, according to attorney’s representing the victims in pending civil lawsuits against the Alhambra Unified School District.
Mosqueda was first arrested in October of 2011 after a students reported her teacher had sexually assaulted her, according to Ardalani.
Mosqueda posted bail and was released from jail before a second girl came forward and made similar allegations, officials. Police re-arrested Mosqueda.
While still behind bars for the second time, a fourth special education student reported being molested by Mosqueda, Ardalani said.
After initially pleading not guilty to eight felony charges, Mosqueda accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to four of the charges July 29, Ardalani said. Additional charges of child molestation and dissuading a witness were dropped under the “negotiated plea.”
Mosqueda was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said. He was scheduled to appear at a restitution hearing Dec. 4.
He passed a state-mandated background check when he was hired by the AUSD five years prior to his arrest, district officials said shortly after his arrest.
Mosqueda was placed on compulsory leave once the allegations first emerged.
His employment was expected to be terminated upon conviction, however AUSD officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Two additional criminal cases alleging sexual misconduct by AUSD personnel are pending, along with civil claims filed against the district by the parents of Mosqueda’s victims.
Another AUSD teacher is awaiting trial on accusations of carrying on a seven-year-long sexual relationship with a former student.
Garfield Elementary School teacher Jeffrey Yoshitake, 43, is charged with five counts of committing lewd acts on a child for carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage formers student.
Yoshitake was arrested in February, district attorney’s officials said. Prosecutors allege he began a sexual relationship in April of 2005 with a then-15-year-old former student, who was in high school at the time.
The tenured teacher, who first joined AUSD as a substitute teacher in 1996, has denied the charges.
Yoshitake has been released from custody on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court Sept. 23 for a preliminary hearing setting, according to booking records.
Yoshitake was also placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
Meanwhile, former Alhambra High School assistant principal Andrea Cardosa, 40, is awaiting trial in Riverside County on 16 counts of child molestation that allegedly took place while she worked with the Riverside Unified School District and the Val Verde Unified School District in years past.
Cardosa resigned from her position in January after on of her two alleged victims posted a YouTube video in which Cardosa appears to admit having a sexual relationship with the now-adult woman when she was a in middle school and high school between 1997 and 2001.
A second woman came forward days later to report she was also victimized by Cardosa when she was a high school student in 2009 or 2010, officials said.
Cardosa, who is being held in lieu of $5 million bail, is scheduled to appear in Riverside Superior Court Oct. 22 for a felony settlement conference, court records show.

PHOTO of Jose Mosqueda courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man accused of using modified truck to steal diesel fuel from West Whittier gas station

WEST WHITTIER >> Deputies arrested a man Thursday for allegedly filling a modified truck with stolen diesel fuel at area gas stations, authorities said.
Ruben Harutyunyan, 33, was booked on suspicion of grand theft following his arrest just after 1 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said. His city of residence was not available.
A gas station attendant called deputies shortly before 1 p.m. to report a man with a work truck was using multiple. fraudulent credit cards to buy a large amount of diesel fuel at a 76 Station at the corner of Washington and Norwalk boulevards in an unincorporated county area west of Whittier, the lieutenant said.
The man had left when deputies arrived, but Whittier police officers soon spotted the truck in the area of Broadway and Washington Avenue, Villanueva said.
Officials discovered that Harutyunyan’s truck had been outfitted with a large tank to hold fuel, he said.
Investigators estimated Harutyunyan stole about $300 worth of diesel from the West Whittier gas station, Villanueva said. About $1,000 worth of diesel was found in the tank altogether, and officials were working to determined where it came from.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station also arrested another man in connection with a similar case last month, in which a van outfitted with a storage tank was being used to steal fuel from area gas stations, Villanueva said.
According to county booking records, Harutyunyan was being held in lieu of $50,00 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Downey Superior Court.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Officials, worried family members seek missing 71-year-old Temple City man with dementia

0905_NWS_PDN-L-MISSINGMAN

TEMPLE CITY >> Officials sought the public’s help Thursday in finding a 71-year-old Temple City man who suffers from dementia and went missing from his home Wednesday.
Sarwat Zaki Gad was last seen at his home in the 5300 block of El Monte Avenue about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Mr. Gad suffers from dementia and becomes easily confused,” the statement said.
He left his home in a silver, 2003 Toyota 4Runner with a California vanity license plate reading “AMARG,” officials said. He was last seen wearing a blue and green shirt and blue pants.
“His family is very concerned and is asking for the public’s assistance,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau’s Missing Person Unit at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously though L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of Sarwat Gad courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

LAPD motorcycle officer injured in hit-and-run on 10 Freeway in Rosemead

ROSEMEAD >> A Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer suffered minor injuries in a collision with a car, which fled the scene, on the 10 Freeway Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The crash took place at 4:43 p.m. on the eastbound Metro ExpressLanes of the 10 Freeway near Del Mar Avenue in Rosemead, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.
The car that struck the officer was described as a black Honda Civic or Toyota Camry, officials said. It was lowered, with custom rims, tinted windows and white lettering on the rear windshield.
The hit-and-run car was last seen exiting the 10 Freeway at Walnut Grove Avenue, just east of the crash scene, according to the CHP.
The Metro ExpressLanes of the eastbound 10 Freeway were briefly shut down following the collision, however the regular traffic lanes remained open, Rubio said.
The crash was being investigated by the East Los Angeles office of the CHP.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Whittier gang members convicted of fatal shooting of teen in South Whittier

SOTO_MICHAEL

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A jury convicted two Whittier gang members Thursday for the execution of a Whittier teen in broad daylight at a strip mall in 2012.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury deliberated for less than a day before finding Eudiel Eddie Lopez, 21, and Daniel Cesar Stopani, 20, guilty of the March 26, 2012, slaying of 17-year-old Michael Soto of Whittier, at a strip mall at the coroner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue, in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
“It was a gang hit; orchestrated, planned,” Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said.
The killers approached the murder scene together before splitting up, the prosecutor said. Stopani approached Soto from the front and waited until Lopez took a position just behind the teen. Portions of the incident were captured by a surveillance camera mounted on a nearby bus.
Stopani suddenly shouted out “Whittier 13,” the name of a local street gang,” and punched the Soto
Lopez then pulled a .357 Magnum handgun and opened fire, Lunsford said.
The first two gunshots struck Soto in the face and back, knocking him to the ground, Lunsford said.
“Once he was down, it appears (Lopez” shot him twice more,” the prosecutor said. “He shot him four times in total.”
The jury convicted Lopez of first-degree murder and found true the special allegations that he personally used a gun in the crime, and that the crime was gang-related, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Stopani was convicted of second-degree murder, and the jury found true the special allegations that a gun was used in the crime, and that the crime was gang-related, she said.
The shooting took place shortly after noon at busy strip mall, just across the street from a continuation school that had just let out for the day.
Lunsford said the fatal ambush stemmed from a brief exchange of words between Lopez and Soto about a month prior to the killing, Lunsford said.
Lopez had issued a gang challenge to Soto and told the teen that he was from Whittier 13. Soto responded they he didn’t care what gang Lopez belonged to.
Lopez told investigators the perceived slight was the reason he targeted Soto, Lunsford added.
Soto died at a hospital shortly after he was shot,
Relatives said Soto was not a gang member, and described him as a smart young man who hoped to join the U.S. Marines when he turned 18.
Following the shooting, Lopez and Soto split up, officials said.
Lopez fled north. He ran across a set of train tracks that were muddy due to rain the previous day, Lunsford said. Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators were able to follow Lopez’s muddy footprint to a nearby mobile home park, where he was quickly found and arrested hiding inside a trailer that belonged to a friend.
“He was leaving footprints that led right to the back door of the trailer where he was hiding,” Lunsford said.
Officials found Lopez, the muddy shoes and the gun that was used in the shooting inside, he added.
Stopani fled south from the shooting scene and was found and interviewed by investigators the same day, Lunsford said.
But Stopani was not arrested until February of 2013, after investigators had gathered evidence of his culpability in the killing, according to Lunsford and county booking records.
Lopez and Stopani are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18 in Norwalk Superior Court. Lopez faces a maximum sentenced of 50 years to life in prison, while Stopani could face up to 40 years to life in prison.

PHOTO of Michael Soto, 17, of Whittier, taken at memorial to Soto in the wake of his fatal shooting on March 26, 2012, at the corner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue in South Whittier. (By Keith Durflinger)

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Police plan checkpoint in El Monte Wednesday

EL MONTE — Police plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint late Wednesday, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at an undisclosed location within El Monte, El Monte police Officer Bryan Tromp said in a written statement.
Funding for the operation is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email