Man gets two life terms in prison for double-fatal Pasadena boarding house arson

PASADENA >> A man received two life prison terms, plus an additional 14 years behind bars, on Wednesday for a 2012 arson fire at a Pasadena boarding home that left two of his roommates dead, authorities said.
Garth Allen Robbins, 54, will spend the rest of his life in state prison after receiving his sentence from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld at the court’s Pasadena branch, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokesman Greg Risling.
A Pasadena jury convicted him in April of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson causing great bodily injury and one count of arson of an inhabited structure for the Nov. 1, 2012, arson at the illegal boarding home at 1385 El Sereno Ave. The jury also found true the special allegations of multiple murder and murder during the commission of an arson.
Robbins was staying at the boarding home along with 17 other residents, who were asleep inside when he lit the three-story house on fire during the early-morning hours.
“Evidence presented at trial showed that Robbins started the fire at about 2 a.m. when 17 others were asleep inside the house,” Risling said in a written statement. “He doused his room with gasoline and set it ablaze.”
Residents Cliff Juan Clark, 56, and Paul Richard Boyd, 75, died in the fire, coroner’s officials said. Another 65-year-old resident of the boarding home suffered severe injuries, but survived.
At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, “Robbins was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of life without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 14 years,” Risling said.
The motive in the deadly arson was never fully explained, officials said.
Robbins stated during the trial process that, “he wanted his life to go away,” but there was no indication that he was angry with his roommates, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
The owner of the boarding home subsequently pleaded guilty to 23 Pasadena city ordinance violations. She was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $6,200 in fines.

PHOTO: Garth Allen Robbins, 54, was convicted of two counts of murder and two counts of arson on Friday, April 7, 2017, for a Nov. 1, 2012, arson fire at a Pasadena boarding home that left two men dead and another badly burned. Robbins is pictured during his preliminary hearing Tuesday, June 18, 2013, in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court. File Photo

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Pomona man fatally shot during family party


POMONA >> A Pomona man died following a shooting that erupted during a family party at his home on Friday night, authorities said.
Joseph Ellis Aguilar, 23, died at a hospital shortly after the 11:45 p.m. shooting at the corner of McKinley and Towne avenues, according to Pomona police Sgt. Bert Sanchez.
“A family party was interrupted when a fight broke out,” Sanchez said in a written statement. “During the fight, person(s) unknown produced a firearm and shot victim Aguilar fatally wounding him.”
Paramedics treated Aguilar and took him to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds shortly after arriving, officials said.
Public records indicated Aguilar lived at the home where the shooting took place.
“Homicide Investigators responded to the scene and are currently conducting the investigation,” Sanchez said. “Little is known at this time.”
Anyone with information was urged to contact Pomona police at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man stabbed to death during fight over parking space in Monterey Park, 2 detained


MONTEREY PARK >> A man died and two others were being detained for questioning after fight over a parking space escalated into a stabbing in Monterey Park early Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal stabbing took place about 12:25 a.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 1200 block of College View Drive, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the victim was involved in a verbal altercation with two other male Hispanic adults regarding a parking space,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “During the course of the argument, a physical altercation occurred in which the victim was stabbed.”
The victim, described only as a man, was stabbed multiple times in the “upper body,” according to the statement.
He succumbed to his wounds at a hospital, Schrader said.
The two men believed to have been involved in the stabbing were detained for questioning.
“No other suspects are sought at this time,” the sheriff’s department statement said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is helping Monterey Park police with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact homicide detectives 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: 16-year-old Arcadia boy shot to death near Duarte


A 16-year-old Arcadia boy died following a shooting in a residential neighborhood between Monrovia and Duarte early Sunday, authorities said.
Gabriel Shea Carlos died in the 1:40 a.m. shooting in the 400 block of Schrode Avenue in the unincorporated county area, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Jerry McKibben said.
“Detectives have learned that Temple Station deputies responded to a ‘shots fired’ call at the location,” Deputy Lisa Jansen said in a written statement. “Upon their arrival, they found a male Hispanic juvenile unconscious and suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the upper body.”
Paramedics pronounced Carlos dead at the scene.
No further details were available.
“There is no suspect information at this time and detectives believe this incident is not gang related,” Jansen said.
A memorial of flowers, candles, a rosary, a gray shirt and a baseball cap adorned with a 1970s-era Atlanta Braves logo marked the site of the shooting on Sunday afternoon. Mourners gathered there did not wish to comment.
Sunday morning’s shooting is the 5th fatal attack reported in the Duarte-Monrovia area this year.
It took place two weeks after residents of the Duarte and Monrovia areas marched through both cities to decry the recent spate of violence.
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.

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UPDATED: Woman fatally shot during attempted robbery at Alhambra motel

ALHAMBRA >> A manager at an Alhambra motel and mother of two died after she was shot during a botched robbery late Friday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting was reported shortly after 11 p.m. at the Ambassador Inn, 2720 Valley Blvd., according to Alhambra police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
A fellow worker at the motel first discovered the victim lying bleeding in the motel office and called for help, Alhambra police Sgt. Richard Aguayo said.
Police and paramedics responded and discovered the woman had been shot, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced Xiuxia Chen, 44, of Alhambra dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
“The victim was working as a clerk behind the counter of the local business when a male suspect attempted to rob her at gunpoint,” Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “During the commission of the robbery, the suspect shot the victim in the torso at least one time.”
“The male suspect fled the location in an unknown direction. It is unknown at this time if there was any property taken,” Schrader said.
No description of the gunman was available. Detectives were checking numerous area surveillance cameras for clues.
Chen’s husband, Armando Escanbdor, said his wife leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter and a son who served in the U.S. Navy.
“This devastation, I don’t know how to explain it,” he said.
Escandor said he was waiting to learn more about what happened to his wife, known to many as “Michelle.”
“The only thing I know is my wife is gone,” he said.
Chen had been working at the motel for the past six years, and served as manager the past two, according to her husband. Her shifts generally end at 11:30 p.m., when he routinely picks her up.
“I didn’t expect this to happen to her. The past six years I would always pick her up… except for last night.”
Escandor said he arrived at the motel like usual and found police swarming around the place, and yellow crime scene tape quartering off the motel’s office. He went inside to see what had happened and saw the body of his wife.
“I’m trying to explain this to my daughter,” he said.
“We don’t have any family members here in America. All our relatives are in the Philippines abd China. It’s only the four of us. They took one.”
Escandor described his wife as a “lovely, very nice person who didn’t know how to fight even for her own safety,” he said.
He hoped someone would be able to help homicide detectives find the person responsible for Chen’s slaying.
“I’m really seeking for the public to help to solve this case,” he said. “I feel like my wife is beside me, telling me two do this. This is the least I can do for her right now,”
“All I want is justice,” he said.
Officers canvassing the motel found residents who said they heard a single gunshot earlier in the night, police said. But no one reported the gunfire.
One man staying at the hotel said he spoke with Chen, who brought him linens for his room, at about 11 p.m. He said he was shocked to learn the deadly shooting was believed to have taken place minutes later.
The man said he heard no gunshot, but added that his motel room was on the opposite end of the motel as the office, where the shooting took place.
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau joined Alhambra police in the investigation.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Funds to benefit Chen’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/michelle-chens-memorial-service.


PHOTOS: [TOP] – Photo of Xiuxia Chen, 44, of Alhambra. (Courtesy) [MIDDLE] – Photo of Xiuxia Chen, 44, of Alhambra and her family. (Courtesy) [BELOW] Photo of Ambassador in, 2720 Valley Blvd. in Alhambra. (By Brian Day)

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Man fatally shot outside family gathering in West Whittier identified


WEST WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 30-year-old Whittier man who was shot to death outside a family gathering just over a week ago.
Adrian Phillip Casas died shortly after the attack, which took place just before 8 p.m. on May 13 in the 10300 block of Lock Avon Drive in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano.
Few details are known about deadly shooting, which unfolded as Casas was standing in the driveway of a home where a family gathering was taking place, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, but no description of the shooter was available, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Casas succumbed to his injuries at a hospital hours later, officials said. An autopsy determined Casas died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
A fund to help Casas’ family has been set up online at www.gofundme.com/in-loving-memory-of-adrian-p-casas.
His Facebook profile describes him as a forklift driver who went to Pioneer High School and was engaged to be married.
Anyone with information is urged 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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Duarte, Monrovia community rallies for peace in wake of shootings

Dozens of community members, including several families who have lost loved ones to violence, marched through the streets of Duarte and Monrovia on Saturday to respond to recent shootings in the area with a message of peace.
The Duarte-Monrovia Peace March, organized by the Community Mediation Team, drew demonstrators of all ages to Duarte City Hall before they made a 1.5-mile trek to the Mary Wilcox the Mary Youth Center in Monrovia. Marchers wore white clothing and carried signs reading, “Peace & Unity,” and “Love Conquers Hate.”
Monrovia police Chaplain Steve Martinez had a message for the family members of slain loved ones who took part in the event
“I know it’s been difficult for you. It could have weeks ago, months ago, years ago, but you’re here today, and we are here to support you, and show love to your family and to honor the memory of the person that you lost and that you still love,” he said.
“And this is also a sign to show people in the community that we want to do something. We want to make a change.”
The Monrovia-Duarte community has seen four people killed and four others wounded in a space of at least eight shootings reported since January.
Among them was 39-year-old Kirinda Morehead of Duarte, who was shot to death on Feb. 18 as he arrived home with his fiancee and two young children in the 2300 block of Bashor Street.
“As he got out of his truck, someone shot him 12 times,” said Diane Myrick, the mother of Morehead’s fiancee. Though the couple was not yet married, she said she already thought of Morehead as her son-in-law.
“He was a hard-working, loving, family-loving, Christian man who did not deserve to be gunned down in the street like that in front of his children and his fiancee,” she said.
“All we can do now is just hope and pray that the person who perpetrated this act this act upon this family (is caught),” Myrick said.
“And we just want to thank the city of Duarte for all that you’re doing to ensure that the these streets are safe,” she said. In 25 years living in the area, “I’ve never experienced anything like we have in the past few months.”
“It’s a struggle day-by-day,” Myrick said. “These shooters just pull up, and they have no clue what they’re leaving behind. No clue. But God is able, and we’ll get through this together.”
The family of 18-year-old Oscar Garcia, who was shot to death in his hometown of Monrovia on April 22, carried pictures of the slain Canyon Oaks High School as they marched.
Garcia was visiting with friends in a residential garage in the 100 block of West Cypress Street while visiting friends when an attacker opened fire on the group of teens. Garcia was mortally wounded and another teenage boy was seriously injured in the shooting, but survived. Investigators suspect the shooter was looking someone else when he encountered and shot the teens.
“Without any though, he just went ahead and shot my brother,” David Garcia said. “He was a good kid.”
Garcia was an avid skateboarder who loved spending time at the Monrovia Skate Park, family members said.
To honor Garcia’s memory, loved ones have begun circulating a petition to formally rename the park after him. The petition is available online at www.change.org/p/the-community-of-monrovia-naming-the-skatepark-after-oscar-garcia.
The family of 18-year-old Malcolm Mency of Duarte also added their voices to the march.
Mency, who had just become a father, was shot to death at Broderick and Felberg avenues, in an unincorporated county area between Duarte and Monrovia, as he walked home from work on Dec. 22.
“I have in my heart a long list of families impacted that have not made the headlines,” said CMT Co-Chair and former Duarte Mayor Lois Gaston, who hosted the event.
Representatives from numerous local churches, organizations and government agencies took part in the assembly.
Capt. David Flores of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Temple Station, which patrols Duarte and nearby unincorporated county areas, said he was glad to see the strong show of community involvement.
“My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone or know someone who was lost,” he said.
“It’s good that we’re here,” the captain added. “This comes down to citizenship and making a stand for what’s right and coming together for the community, so I’m so happy to see everyone here. When the community comes together and we partner together, good work can be done. And truly this a great step in that direction.”

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UDPATE: Man fatally shot outside family gathering in West Whittier


WEST WHITTIER >> A man died after he was shot outside a family gathering in West Whittier on Saturday night, authorities said.
The deadly shooting was reported about 7:55 p.m. in the 10300 block of Lock Avon Drive in the unincorporated county area, according to Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
The victim, described as a 30-year-old man, was attending a family gathering when the shooting took place, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
“The victim was standing in the front driveway of the residence when he was shot in the upper torso by an unknown assailant,” she said.
He succumbed to his injuries several hours later at a hospital, officials said.
“Although witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, there is no suspect description at this time,” Navarro-Suarez said.
No further details were available.
The victim’s identity was not released Sunday pending positive identification and notification of family by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Anyone with information is urged 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 sketch released in Monrovia shooting that left one teen dead, another wounded

 
MONROVIA >> Determined homicide investigators and devastated family members reached out to the public on Thursday to help find the gunman who killed one teenager and wounded another in an attack inside a Monrovia garage last month.
Eighteen-year-old Canyon Oaks High School senior Oscar Andrew Garcia died in the late-night shooting on April 22 in the detached garage of a back house in the 100 block of West Cypress Street, just west of Myrtle Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
A 17-year-old boy was wounded in the shooting, and a teenage girl escaped injury.
Garcia and the other shooting victim did not live at the home, but were visiting the girl when the shooting took place, officials said.
“All three entered the garage and were hanging out as most teenagers do,” Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “Suddenly, and without provocation, the suspect appeared at the garage door and pointed a handgun toward them. A brief verbal exchange occurred and the suspect opened fire.”
Detectives declined to discuss what words were spoken in the moments before the shooting.
Paramedics pronounced Garcia dead at the scene. “His male friend was struck by gunfire but miraculously survived his injuries,” Mendoza said.
Following the shooting, the gunman fled through an alley running behind the property, according to officials.
In hopes of generating leads in the investigation, authorities released a composite sketch of the suspect.
The killer is described as a Latino man between 20 and 25 years old, about 6 feet tall, of medium build, Mendoza said. He had a light complexion, brown eyes, short black hair and a goatee, and he wore a black baseball cap with an unknown logo emblazoned on it.
The motive in the shooting remained a mystery, and detectives knew of no reason anyone would target Garcia or his friends, Mendoza said.
While it appeared the garage in which the victims were hanging out was targeted by the shooter, “We don’t believe the victims were the targets of the assault,” Mendoza said. Investigators had not ruled out the possibility of mistaken identity.
Garcia was scheduled to graduate high school in June, Mendoza said. He then planned to study photography at Pasadena City College.
The young man was a lifelong Monrovia resident.
“He enjoyed skateboarding, taking photos, attending church with family and he played soccer for his high school team,” the lieutenant said.
Garcia was often seen holding up two fingers in a “peace” sign, his mother, Guadalupe Castaneda said.
“It’s been so hard for me and my family. We miss Oscar,” she said. “He loved his family, loved his friends. He would always go to extra mile to help others. He didn’t deserve to end this way, or any other way.”
“My son was an excellent kid. He loved skateboarding. That was his passion. That’s how he met a lot of friends,” Castaneda said. “He touched everyone in the community.”
Castaneda and Mendoza both implored anyone with information on the case, or anyone who recognized the composite sketch of the suspect, to come forward.
“No family deserved to go through this,” Castaneda said. “Please, please, someone knows something… don’t be afraid. Love has to overcome all of this. No violence please.”
In addition to his mother, Garcia is survived by five siblings, nieces and a nephew.
Donations to benefit Garcia’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/oscar-garcia-funeral-memorial.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

SUSPECT SKETCH/VICTIM PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Reward renewed in ‘savage’ slaying of Diamond Bar couple during home-invasion

DIAMOND BAR >> County officials renewed a $20,000 reward this week for information leading to the capture and conviction of the person or people who “savagely” stabbed a Diamond Bar couple to death during an apparent home-invasion robbery last year.
A family friend who went to check on Chen “David” Long Wang, 60, and Mei “Marian” Chu Chung, 57, found them stabbed to death on Oct. 20, 2016, at their house in the 3300 block of Bent Twig Lane, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
Between $10,000 and $15,000 in cash was believed to have been stolen from the couple’s home during the crime, Lt. Steve Katz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said. He described the double-slaying as “savage” and “brutal.”
The case remains unsolved.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $20,000 reward for information on the slaying in March. The reward west set to expire this week, prompting Supervisor Janice Hahn and the Board of Supervisors to renew the reward on Tuesday for another 90 days.
The $20,000 in reward money offered by the county is complimented by another $10,000 in reward money offered in the case by the City of Diamond Bar, for a total available reward of $30,000.
Wang was described by family and investigators as a retired computer programmer, and Chung was a retired teacher and art instructor. They are survived by two children, who are both medical doctors, and several grandchildren.
“If you have any information pertaining to the murder of Marian and David, I urge you to come forward. They deserve justice. Their children and grandchildren deserve answers,” Hahn said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted
Anyone with information related to the murder should call sheriff’s homicide Detectives Margarita Barron or Dameron Peyton at (323) 890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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