Fugitive murder suspect fatally shot by police in Montebello


MONTEBELLO >> A fugitive suspected of killing his estranged wife died in a gunfight with police Friday afternoon.
Detectives recovered a gun believed used by the suspect.
Montebello police said no officers were injured in the shooting that took place in the 2900 block of West Via Corona, just west of Garfield Avenue, at 2:23 p.m.
• Video: Police describe the shooting
Montebello police and an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went searching for 26-year-old Christopher Diaz based on information that he was in an apartment, according to Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Lt. Derrick Alfred. Officers saw Diaz leave the apartment and get into a silver compact sport utility vehicle driven by someone else, he said.
The officers followed the SUV and tried to pull it over in the parking lot of the Super A Foods store at 2924 W. Beverly Blvd. in Montebello.
Alfred said Diaz got out of the SUV and ran, followed by two Montebello officers and the ATF agent.
The driver fled the scene.
Alfred said Diaz ran down West Via Corona, darted between two houses and tried to jump over a fence. Diaz allegedly pulled a gun.
“The suspect turned around, pointed a gun and fired at least one shot,” Alfred said.
It wasn’t clear if one officer or all three returned fire.
Diaz was hit once in the torso and died at the scene.
Diaz is the prime suspect in the Aug. 6 fatal shooting of Roxann Acosta, 28, of Alhambra in the 1200 block of West Victoria Ave. in Montebello.
Montebello police said the two argued while at the apartment of Diaz’s mother that night. Witnesses told police Diaz shot Acosta then left the apartment.
Acosta died at the scene.
Donna Arambula, who is Acosta’s aunt, found out about Friday’s officer-involved shooting.
“I don’t wish nobody death. I’m glad this animal was finally off the street,” Arambula said in an email to this publication.
“My family knew that he was going to go out shooting and get killed. I believe he took the easy way out. But I have relief in my heart. It won’t bring my Roxann back, but justice was served, and I would like to thank Montebello police.”
Detectives want to talk to the woman who gave Diaz a ride Friday. She is not deemed a suspect, Alfred said.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating the officer-involved shooting.
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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Suspect charged with murder for Duarte shooting


Detective have arrested a suspect in connection with the slaying of a 20-year-old La Puente man found who was found shot to death inside a vacant home in Duarte in April following what investigators described as a drug deal gone wrong.
Ricardo Anthony Resendez faces a murder charge for the April 1 shooting of Christian Sanchez in the 2600 block of Calle Martos, according to a criminal complaint filed against him.
He was arrested by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple City Station just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Los Angeles County booking records show.
After identifying Resendez as a suspect in the slaying, he was arrested at his home in an unincorporated county area near Duarte without a struggle, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“The motive was a drug deal gone bad,” Mendoza said.
The suspect and victim met at the home prior to the shooting, the lieutenant said. “That’s were the suspect shot the victim.”
No further details regarding the circumstances of the slaying have been released.
In addition to the murder charge, prosecutors also allege the special circumstance of murder during the commission of a robbery, as well as the special allegation that he personally discharged a firearm resulting in great bodily injury and death, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
The special circumstance makes Resendez potentially eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek capital punishment in the case.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials filed the murder charge on Wednesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records show.
He entered no plea during a court appearance in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court. An arraignment hearing was postponed until Sept. 20.
Resendez was being held without bail.

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Man shot to death while driving in South El Monte


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Detectives are seeking clues after a man was gunned down while driving through a residential neighborhood in South El Monte on Monday night, authorities said.
The shooting took place shortly after 10:30 p.m. along Fern Street, just west of Santa Anita Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Curt Messerschmidt said.
“Upon their arrival, deputies learned that the victim was driving in front of the location, when an unknown suspect shot into the vehicle,” Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
The wounded man’s car continued traveling a short distance before crashing into a parked car, the deputy said.
Officials said the victim, initially described only as a Latino man, was struck in the torso by at least one bullet. At least three bullet casings were found at the scene, according to Messerschmidt.
Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting, including a description of the attacker, were available.
Anyone with information can reach 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.

— Brian Day and Christopher Yee

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Norwalk man gets 50 years to life in prison for 2015 rifle slaying


NORWALK >> A man has begun serving a sentence of more than half a century in prison for gunning down his girlfriend’s brother with a rifle in 2015 at the Norwalk home hey all shared.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Jose Ramos Nunez, 46, of murder in late June, Los Angeles County Superior Court records show.
At his sentencing hearing on Thursday, a judge sentenced Nunez to 50 years to life in state prison, records show.
The charge stemmed from the Aug. 1, 2015, slaying of Joe Nava, 44, in the 11400 block of Lindale Street.
Deputies first responded to a report of a family disturbance when they found Nava suffering from gunshot wounds, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jack Jordan said at the time.
Investigators seized a rifle at the scene and took Nunez into custody for questioning, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez.
Two days later, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials filed a murder charge against Nunez.
A motive in the slaying has not been released.

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Man killed, another wounded in homeless encampment shooting in Cerritos


CERRITOS >> Two men opened fire at a riverbed homeless encampment along the San Gabriel riverbed in Cerritos on Friday night, killing one man and leaving another wounded, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 8:35 p.m. in an encampment along the riverbed near Artesia Boulevard, Deputy Joana Warren of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“According to witnesses, the suspects — two male Hispanic adults, 30-40 years-old — walked up to the encampment and started shooting at the first victim,” Warren said.
The 31-year-old man was mortally wounded, she said. A second victim, described as a 21-year-old man, was also injured by the gunfire.
Both suspects ran from the scene, officials said. No further descriptions were available.
Paramedics took both wounded men to a hospital, according to Warren. The 31-year-old succumbed to his injuries. His identity was not released.
The younger shooting victim was treated and has since been released from the hospital, authorities said.
“There is no additional information at this time and the investigation is ongoing,” Warren said.
Anyone with information is urged 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.

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UPDATED: Man killed, another wounded in Industry shooting


A car-to-car shooting on the border between Hacienda Heights and Industry left one man dead and another wounded on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The deadly gunfire was first reported about 2:20 p.m. at Clark and Ridley avenues in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Bullets were fired from one white car into another, and possibly in both directions, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The other car continued traveling just over three-quarters of a mile before it collided with another, uninvolved car at Turnbull Canyon Road and Don Julian Road in Industry, according to the lieutenant. The second car sped away and was yet to be found.
“When deputies arrived there, that’s when they saw there was a victim inside one of the vehicles,” Mendoza said. “That victim was suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the body. That person was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The identity of the victim, who had been driving the crashed white sedan, was not available pending positive identification and notification of family. He was initially described only as a man.
A second man inside the car was also found to be suffering from gunshot wounds, Mendoza said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. An update on his condition was not available.
A third person inside that vehicle fled from the scene and was detained a short distance away from where that vehicle collided,” Mendoza said.
Detectives detained the third man for questioning.
No description of the shooter or shooters was available. The vehicle being sought in connection with the shooting was described only as a white sedan.
It was not clear Wednesday whether the shooting was an attack or a two-way gun battle, Mendoza said.
Investigators said they could not confirm initial reports from the scene that casings from at least two different bullet calibers were found.
Deputies continued scouring the multiple crime scenes into Wednesday evening, bringing in a search dog to look for any discarded weapons.
Investigators determined the shooting was preceded by a “disturbance” reported just before the shooting on a residential cul-de-sac in the 15500 block of Ladysmith Street in Hacienda Heights, Mendoza said.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the incident believed to have led to the shooting were not available.
Mendoza said the shooting was believed to be gang-related.
It was not yet clear if the incident was an attack or a two-way gun battle.
A man and three young children who were riding in the car struck by the wounded driver were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Mendoza said.
Anyone with information is urged 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.

PHOTO by Leo Jarzomb

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Community mourns slain South Pasadena boy at memorial in Arcadia

ARCADIA >> hundreds of community members rallied around the family of a 5-year-old South Pasadena boy found dead, allegedly at the hands of his father, after going missing for two months.
At a memorial at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden provided an outlet for the community to mourn Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr. one day after the young boy’s funeral.
Concerned neighbors from near and far, many of whom had no personal connection to Andressian Jr. or his family, joined in the relentless multi-county search for “Piqui” as the days stretched into weeks, and eventually months, with no sign of the child. And news that the boy had been found dead not only devastated the family, but elicited both sorrow and anger from the community members who also remained hopeful that Andressian Jr. would be found safe.
“He touched the lives of so many people and became everybody’s child,” said his mother, Ana Estevez.“The outpouring of prayers, love kindness and support is awe-inspiring. The support received has brought my family and me great comfort, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving my son,” the mother said.
The body of Andressian Jr. was discovered June 30 near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County, where he was believed to have been taken by his father, 35-year-old Andressian Sr. The father, who was in the midst of a divorce with his son’s mother when they boy vanished under suspicious circumstances in late-April, has since been arrested in Las Vegas and pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in Los Angeles County.
Andressian Sr. is scheduled to appear Aug. 1 in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for a hearing in his case, records show. He’s being held in lieu of $10 million bail pending trial.
“I think of my son often,” Estevez said. “Piqui is the love of my life, today, tomorrow and always,” she said. “I’m so proud and honored that I was chosen to be his mama.”
Many of those gathered to mourn Andressian Jr. on Wednesday had a personal connection with the family.
Ernie and Gloria Preciado of Alhambra came to the event to show their respects. Ernie Preciado is a co-worker of Andressian Jr.’s uncle.
“We have a 5-year-old grandson that reminds me a lot of (Andressian Jr.),” he said.
A large number mourners had never known the family personally, but were nonetheless compelled to take an interest in their struggle.
Among them was Irene Carrillo of Valencia, who had a 6-year-old son.
“He just reminds me a lot of my boy,” she said. I just fell in love with the little boy, and I don’t even know him.”
Carrillo said she normally tries not to get personally involved in local news stories, but couldn’t help becoming wrapped up in Andressian Jr.’s case.
She said she made a shrine of candles at her home to pray for the little boy and his family.
In addition to sympathizing with a horrific situation affecting a local family, the University of Southern California’s National Center for School Crisis Bereavement Director Dr. David Schonfeld said there are psychological factors at play that affect the communities in the wake of tragedy.
While grief is generally considered to be a personal experience felt by those directly impacted by a loss, the community at-large can also experience a “shared experience of loss,” he said.
One phenomenon at play is that of, “the loss of the assumptive world,” he explained.
People rely on assumptions about the way the world should work in order to get through daily life, Schonfeld said. They range from assuming that other drivers will remain on the correct side of the road, to assuming that children are safe at school or with their parents.
“When we hear that one of those assumptions has been violated, even if it’s someone we don’t know, it affects us,” the doctor said. “It makes us realize that could happen to someone we care about. It makes us feel vulnerable.”
Following a tragedy that seemingly upends accepted assumptions, there’s a natural urge for community members to want to learn as much as they can about what took place, he said.
“They want to understand exactly what happened,” he said. There is often a sense that, “If I understand it better, I can protect myself and those I care about.”
Additionally, while many community members may not personally know a family affected by tragedy, it’s natural for people to identify with the pain of loss they’ve experience in their own lives.
“There is comfort in coming together as a group and as a community,” Schonfeld said.
The NCSCB, which specializes in dealing with crisis affecting students and schools, has published information to help parents and teachers speak with children about crisis and loss online at www.schoolcrisiscenter.org.
During Wednesday’s memorial service, loved ones shared happy memories of how Piqui had changed their lives for the better.
Uncle Shaun Estevez recounted his birth, his first holidays and other milestones.
“You still make my eyes water with joy and excitement, because I was blessed to be your uncle,” he said.
“In five years, you left a lifetime of memories,” the uncle said through tears. “I ask you for one favor my baby boy,” the uncle said through tears. “Please watch over my baby sister, your mama.
Other family members, family friends and Andressian Jr.’s school teachers lined up to eulogize the boy.
In addition to remembering the good times with Piqui, Ana Estevez also spoke of justice.
“His legacy is worthwhile. My son is worthwhile,” she said. “His death will not be in vain. There will be justice and accountability for Piqui, not only for the evil that caused this atrocity, but for the system and the individuals within the system that permitted this tragedy to happen. That is my promise to my son.”
She asked the community to keep her son in their thoughts, and not forget the lessons he taught.
“Please continue to love my son as I do, and always remember that one person can make a difference,” Estevez said.. “My son, a 5-year-old, made a difference in the lives of thousands. So in the spirit of Piqui, see you soon, alligator.”

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Ex-fugitive gets life in prison for slaying of neighbor in Norwalk

A former international fugitive will spend the rest of his life in prison for stabbing a 50-year-old disabled neighbor to death inside her Pico Rivera home in 2012, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Aug. 10, 2012 slaying of Denise Battey at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
He pleaded guilty to one count of murder on June 29. He also admitted to the special circumstance that the murder was done during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the slaying.
“Lemus broke into his neighbor’s Norwalk home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Ardalani said.
Diofron was also initially accused of murder during the coarse of a rape, but the rape allegation was dismissed under a negotiated plea arrangement, officials said.
The killer, a Guatemalan national, was in the United States on a work visa and living next door to Battey at the time of the slaying, sheriff’s officials said.
He attacked her as she watered here garden, then dragged her inside her home where he stabbed her to death, according to investigators.
Diofron then fled to Guatemala, where he remained for two years before being captured in late-2014 and extradited back to California to face justice.
Battey worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, family members said. A recent back surgery, as well as severe sciatica in one of her legs, left her defenseless.

PHOTOS: Convicted murderer Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, (left) and victim Denise Battey, 50, of Norwalk (right). [Courtesy]

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Men sentenced to life in prison for fatal shooting of Hong Kong man during robbery in West Covina


WEST COVINA >> A judge sent two men to prison for the rest of their lives on Friday for fatally shooting a man visiting the U.S. from Hong Kong during a robbery after following him and his brother to a West Covina restaurant from a downtown Los Angeles jewelry store, authorities said.
Michael Quiroga Castiblanco, 25, and Juan Alejandro Cortez, 28, each received sentenced of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Feb. 1, 2013, murder of 29-year-old Sheron Khemlani in a parking lot in the 100 block of North Barranca Avenue in West Covina, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
A jury convicted them Monday of first-degree murder and second-degree robbery, along with the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during a robbery, and the special allegation that a gun was used in the crime, Ardalani said in a written statement.
“According to evidence presented at trial, the two defendants were part of an organized criminal group that targeted jewelers and individuals who made large cash withdrawals from banks,” Ardalani said. “Moreover,the group followed the Khemlani brothers from downtown Los Angeles to West Covina with the intent to rob them.”
Khemlani and his 32-year-old brother were in the jewelry industry and visiting from Hong Kong at the time of the slaying.
They had gone just conducted some business in the jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles prior to the fatal robbery, Ardalani said.
They were on their way to Las Vegas, but decided to stop in West Covina for lunch, according to police and prosecutors.
“When the brothers returned to their vehicle, they were attacked by a group of men,” Ardalani said. “During the assault, Sheron Khemlani was fatally shot in the head before the attackers fled the scene in a vehicle.”
The victim’s brother was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Stolen was a bag containing $9,000, Ardalani said.
The case remained unsolved for more than a year until investigators identified Castiblanco and Cortez as suspects in the deadly robbery, officials said. Detectives released composite sketches of the suspects in hopes of generating leads prior to the apprehension of the killers.
Prosecutors filed charges against them in March of 2014, and they were both arrested in May of 2014, records show.
Details of the suspect’s capture were not available.
Castiblanco also has a pending case with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to booking records.
West Covina, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Torrance, Cypress and Evanston, Illinois, police took part in the investigation, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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Woman charged with murder in fatal Pasadena shooting


PASADENA >> Prosecutors filed a murder charge Wednesday against a woman accused of fatally shooting another woman during a dispute over the weekend in Pasadena, officials said.
Theretha Howard, 58, entered no plea during her appearance in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, where she was charged with one count of murder, along with the special allegation that she personally used a handgun in the killing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said. Her arraignment hearing was continued to July 20 in downtown Los Angeles.
The fatal shooting was reported about 1:30 a.m. along Peoria Street, just west of Fair Oaks Avenue.
Katoya King, 44, of Pasadena died following the shooting, according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County coroner officials.
The suspects knew each other prior to the shooting, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said, but police didn’t know what their relationship was.
Both went to a Peoria Avenue residence believed to be the home of a mutual acquaintance, the lieutenant said.
“There was a dispute that occurred that led our suspect to get agitated to the point where she pulled a gun,” he said.
Police believe Howard shot King once in the chest before fleeing the scene, Carrillo said.
The wounded woman managed to make her way out to the street, officials said. She walked south for half a block along the sidewalk before collapsing.
The wounded woman’s screams for help caught the attention of neighbors, who called 911, Carrillo said. But no one reported hearing the gunfire.
Paramedics rushed King to a hospital, where she died from her injuries at 4:31 a.m., coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Carrillo said the victim was able to give a “very limited” statement to police before losing consciousness.
Investigators found a handgun discarded in the area of the crime scene. Ballistics tests were pending to determined whether the gun was the same one involved in the deadly shooting.
Detectives remained at the shooting through Saturday afternoon.
“Subsequent detective investigation” and “information that was shared with the detectives” led investigators to identify Howard as a person of interest. Detectives found her at her Pasadena home and arrested her on suspicion of King’s murder following an interview.
According to county booking records, Howard was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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