Man fatally shot while driving in Montebello identified

Coroner’s officials have released the name of a Perris man who was shot to death while driving through Montebello last week.
Justin Scott Verano, 38, died at the scene of Wednesday’s 4:40 p.m. shooting on Sycamore Street, near Montebello Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
He was driving west on Sycamore Street when he was shot by an unknown assailant near Cedar Street, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
His car continued for about three blocks before crashing into a stop sign and a utility pole at Spruce Street, where it came to rest, the Hernandez said.
An autopsy determined Verano died from a gunshot wound to the head, and the death was ruled a homicide, Corral said.
A second vehicle was seen in the area at the time of the shooting, however detectives were looking into whether it was related to the shooting. A description of the vehicle was not available.
Anyone with information was 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.

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Man fatally shot while driving car in Montebello


MONTEBELLO >> A man died Wednesday afternoon after he was shot while driving a car in Montebello, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place just after 4:40 p.m. on Sycamore Street at Spruce Street, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said.
The victim was initially described as a man in his mid 20s, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting victim was believed to have been wounded near Sycamore Street and Cedar Street before crashing his car into a utility pole several blocks to the west at Sycamore Street and Spruce Street.
“Neighbors heard two or three gunshots in the area of Sycamore and Cedar,” Hernandez said. “After hearing the gunshots they saw the victim’s vehicle, a red sedan, driving west on Sycamore Street somewhat eratically.”
The four-door sedan struck a stop sign at Spruce Street before coming to rest against a utility pole, Hernandez said. The victim appeared to have suffered both gunshot wounds and injuries from the crash.
The driver was the only person inside the car when police arrived, Hernandez said.
The motive in the slaying remained under investigation, officials said.
A second vehicle was seen in the area at the time of the shooting, however a description was not available and detectives were still looking into whether it was involved, Hernandez said.
Anyone with information was 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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Officials identify 16-year-old Norwalk boy killed in stabbing

NORWALK >> Authorities Saturday released the name of a 16-year-old Norwalk boy who died following a stabbing earlier in the week.
Micah Maurice Hatten, 16, died at St. Francis Medical Center shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, according to Los Angeles County coroner and sheriff’s officials. He was fatally wounded about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in a stabbing near Leffingwell Road and Gard Avenue.
An attacker or attackers arrived in a vehicle before the deadly confrontation, sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said. No suspect description was available, and no suspects were in custody.
The wounded teen clung to life at the hospital, and was revived by doctors multiple times after losing vital signs, before ultimately succumbing to his injuries early the following morning, officials said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

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Officials identify Glendora man killed in shooting at Covina mobile home park


COVINA >> Authorities have identified a Glendora man found fatally shot outside a mobile home in an unincorporated county area near Covina Friday.
Richard Alan Wurtz, 37, died at the scene of the shooting, which was reported shortly after 11 a.m. at the Royal Palms Mobile Homes Park, 21210 E. Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Two men were detained for questioning at the scene as deputies responded to reports of gunfire, however neither had been arrested Saturday morning, officials at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said Saturday in a written statement.
“Deputies detained two adults from the location in order to investigate their connection, if any, to the shooting,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “No arrests have been made at this time and the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.”
The names of the two men detained by deputies were not released.
Deputies investigating reports of gunshots encountered a man lying wounded outside a mobile home, and a second man leaving, sheriff’s Sgt. Nicole Davis said.
The wounded man was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other man was detained for questioning, officials said. A second man found nearby was also detained by investigators in the wake of the fatal shooting.
Neighbors said one of the men taken into custody by deputies at the shooting scene was a 32-year-old resident of the mobile home. They did not know the identity of the second person detained by deputies.
A family member of Wurtz reached by telephone Saturday did not wish to comment.
The ongoing investigating was being handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

PHOTO by Watchara Phomicinda

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1 killed, 2 detained in Covina mobile home park shooting

COVINA >> A man was killed and two men were detained Friday following a shooting at a mobile home park.
Sheriff’s detectives haven’t released the name of the dead man or the two people in custody.
The shooting took place shortly after 11 a.m. at Royal Palms, 21210 E. Arrow Highway, which is in the unincorporated county area near Covina.
Deputies responded to a call of shots fired at the mobile home park, said Sgt. Nicole Davis of the sheriff’s San Dimas station. She said six to eight shots were heard.
“As the units were on the way, someone was running from the location and there was a deceased person outside the mobile home,” Davis said.
Deputies took a resident of the mobile home park as well as a second man into custody, according to sheriff’s officials and other residents.
Paramedics pronounced the shooting victim dead at the scene. Davis believes the dead man didn’t live at the mobile home park.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were at the mobile home park by Friday afternoon. No further details about the shooting were released.
Full story by Ruby Gonzales…

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UPDATED — Manifesto: Mass murder suspect feared deputies would stop his planned attacks during April 30 visit

Santa Barbara mass shooting suspect Elliot Rodger wrote that he feared his violent plans were unraveling when he was visited by sheriff’s deputies less than a month before the attacks in the college community of Isla Vista, and was relieved when the officials left without discovering his weaponry and writings outlining his planned rampage.
Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies visited Rodger at his home April 30 in response to concerns over his mental health, but left without taking further action after interviewing him, officials said.
Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said during a Saturday press conference that the visit was not the result of any threat believed to be posed by Rodger to others, but rather was a “check on the welfare call, to check on his welfare, to see how he was doing out of concern for him.”
“The deputies contacted him directly at his residence, and they determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold,” the sheriff’ said. “He was, as I said, courteous and polite. He appeared timid and shy.”
“Rodger down-played the concerns for his welfare, and the deputies cleared the call,” Brown said.
Under California law, a peace officer may bring a person to a psychiatric facility to be held for evaluation and treatment for a 72-hour period, “When a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled.”
Though Rodger mentioned difficulties with his social life and told the deputies he may be quitting school when deputies encountered him in late-April, “He did not meet the criteria for 5150 of the welfare and institutions code which is what would authorize him being held temporarily for an examination,” Brown said.
In hindsight, however, having reviewed Rodger’s 141-page writing and the “particularly chilling” video posted just before the attack in which he described his deadly plans, “It’s very apparent of the severe extent of how disturbed Mr. Rodger was,” Brown said. “It’s very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed.”
Taking a person’s freedom by placing them on an involuntary hold for psychiatric evaluation is not an issue officials take lightly, Santa Barbara Department of Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services Medical Director Dr. Ole Behrendtsen said.
“The law pretty much had to walk this fine line between civil liberty and public safety,” he said. “Courts often will favor civil liberty.”
“The law is pretty strict, actually, in its definition,” he said.
For a person to be held against their will due to suspected psychiatric problems, it must be believed, from the perspective of an ordinary person, “that a mental disorder is responsible for a potential to harm themselves, or to harm another, or to prompt an inability to provide food, clothing or shelter,” Behrendtsen explained.
“This is something that has to be wrestled with every time we right a 5150,” he said.
The seven-minute Youtube video posted by Rodger just before the attack describing his plans would have provided cause for a psychiatric hold, Behrendtsen said.
But in the previous videos he posted before May 24, though Rodger spoke of being lonely and sad, did not mention violence or threats.
“The deputies who visited him that day did not have the contents of that manifesto,” Behrendtsen added.
In the rambling, autobiographical writing filled with fantasies of violence against women, Rodger wrote he had been terrified that his planned massacre was about to be thwarted when deputies showed up at his door April 30.
Videos posted on Youtube by Rodger in which he expressed his feelings of rejection, but did not outline his planned rampage, had garnered concern from at least one family member, according to sheriff’s officials and Rodger’s own writings.
“After only a week had passed since I uploaded those videos on Youtube, I heard a knock on my apartment door. I opened it to see about seven police officers asking for me,” Rodger wrote. “As soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life came over me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it. If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine a hell darker than that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, but it was so close.”
“The police told me it was my mother who called them, but my mother told me it was the health agency. My mother had watched the videos and was very disturbed by them. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know the full truth of who called the police on me,” Rodger wrote.
“The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I had suicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds, I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me. It was so scary.”
The initial evaluation to determine whether to hold someone for psychological evaluation or treatment stems from both observations by the peace officer or mental health professional interviewing the person, as well as a review of the “historical course of the person’s mental disorder,” according to state law. Information provided by family members are, among other factors, must be taken into account.
Rodger noted in his writings that the encounter with deputies had persuaded him to be more careful about concealing his plans.
“All it takes is for one person to call the police and tell them that they think I’m going to perpetrate a shooting, and the police will be coming to by door again, demanding to search my room,” Rodger wrote. “For the next few days, I felt extremely fearful that they could show up anytime.
“I kept one of my handguns with a few loaded magazines near me just in case such a thing did happen. If they showed up, I would have to try to quickly shoot them all and escape out of the back window. I would then have to perform a hasty mockery of my plans, with the police on my tail. That will ruin everything. Thankfully, all suspicion of me was dropped after I took down the videos from Youtube, and the police never came back.”
Ron Honberg, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs for the National Alliance on Mental Health, cautioned against “knee-jerk” reactions in the wake of the tragedy.
“There’s going to be a desire to come up with easy solutions,” he said. “It’s important not to just adopt knee-jerk solutions, but to really look at the circumstances and understand as best we can what was happening.”
Mental health services are in short supply throughout the nation, Honberg said. Additionally, the mental health services system tends to be “crisis-centered,” he said. “Mental health services are often not available until it’s too late. It’s a system that doesn’t really focus on preventative care.”
Regarding the deputies encounter with Rodger on April 30, Honberg said, “Hindsight is 20/20. It is sometimes very difficult to accurately assess someone in a five-minute meeting.”
“Frankly, we’re asking far too much of our police,” he said, but added he was not suggesting the outcome would have been altered even if he had been visited by mental health professionals instead of law enforcement officers.
It can be especially difficult to recognize mental issues when the prospective patient wishes to hide their true thoughts and intentions, as Rodger stated in his writings was his goal.
“This is not an uncommon phenomenon,” Honberg said. Concerned family members often lament that they can clearly see their loved one’s mental illness, but the person is able to hide their symptoms from mental health professionals or judges.
Honberg pointed out that while violent acts committed by the mentally ill garner major attention, “The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent.”
“Although these seem to be occurring with greater frequency, they’re still uncommon and unusual,” he said.
Of those suffering from mental illness, however, there is one subset of patients more likely to pose a greater risk of violent behavior than others. “Those would be young males, often when their (psychotic or delusional) symptoms are first emerging, not getting treatment, combining that with the use of illegal drugs or alcohol.”
It was not clear whether Rodger used alcohol or drugs.
In addition to highlighting the issues faced by peace officers and mental health professionals encounter with regard to involuntary psychiatric holds, Behrendtsen said Friday’s mass shooting, “Is an illustration of how humans can suffer so deeply without coming to attention.
“It’s an illustration of how much mental illness there is that foes untreated, for many reason,” he said. The reasons can include stigma, economics or lack of recognition of a problem.
An estimated two-thirds of all mental illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated, he said.
“There’s thousands of reasons these things don’t come to light,” Behrendtsen said. “Reduction of stigma is, and will be, an important mechanism for reducing suffering in our society.”

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23-year-old man fatally shot in East Los Angeles

EAST LOS ANGELES >> A man died at a hospital following a shooting in a commercial neighborhood early Saturday, sheriff’s officials said.
Little information was available regarding the shooting, which took place about 1:30 a.m. in the 900 block of South Kern Avenue, just south of Whittier Boulevard, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
Deputies responded to reports of gunshots and creaming when they encountered a 23-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds, Saldana said. He was taken to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His name was not released.
“Detectives have learned that the victim was walking down Kern Avenue when he was shot by unknown suspect (or suspects),” Saldana said. “The motive for the shooting is unknown.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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UPDATED: 18-year-old Whittier man shot to death in Pico Rivera


PICO RIVERA >> A man died at the scene of an early-morning shotgun attack in a residential neighborhood Sunday, according to officials and a witness.
Joseph Richard Flores, 18, of Whittier died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
Few details were available regarding the fatal shooting, which Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said occurred about 12:40 a.m. in the 9200 block of Claymore Street, near Serapis Avenue.
“Detectives have learned that deputies from Pico Rivera Sheriff’s Station responded to a gun shot victim call, and when they arrived, they found the victim lying in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds,” deputies from the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Flores died at the scene.
No suspect description was known, officials said, and no further information was released.
Friend Bryan Vargas said Flores had just been dropped off on the street to visit when he was shot.
Vargas said he saw his friend down the street and he began walking over toward Vargas’s home. The friend said he went back inside the house.
As Flores reached the sidewalk along Claymore Street, Vargas said he heard a car pull up to him and someone get out.
An attacker asked him where he was from, a common gang challenge, and there was a brief exchange of words before the shooter opened fire, Vargas said. Vargas said he emerged from the home to find his friend shot in the face with a shotgun, and did not get a view of the killer or the vehicle.
Flores was not involved with gangs, Vargas said.
“He was a very good kid. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He always had a smile on his face,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”
The young man had a good sense of humor and spent much of his time with his girlfriend, Vargas said.
Four days before the fatal shooting, Vargas said he advised his friend not to walk to a relative’s home in the middle of the night because it was dangerous, but Flores couldn’t be persuaded otherwise.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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UPDATED: Whittier man fatally shot in his front yard; suspect surrenders


WHITTIER >> A suspect turned himself in early Sunday in connection with the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Whittier man in the front yard of his Whittier home, authorities said.
Augustin Garcia, 27, of Whittier, was arrested on suspicion of murder at 1:50 a.m. after he arrived at the Whittier Police Department and surrendered, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Coroner’s officials had not officially identified the shooting victim Sunday as his body remained at the hospital, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
But his girlfriend, 22-year-old Gloria Alvarado, identified him as Richard “Richie” Mationg.
Police responded to reports of gunshots just after 9 p.m. Saturday in the 5800 block of Ben Alder Avenue, according to Whittier police Officer Brad White.
“When officers arrived, they located a 22-year-old male lying in the front yard of his residence with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to his chest,” White said in a written statement.
0512_NWS_WDN-L-WHITFATAL2The badly wounded man was rushed to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m., Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
“An unidentified male suspect was seen fleeing the location in a silver vehicle,” White said.
As the investigation continued, Garcia showed up at the police station Sunday morning and surrendered in connection with the shooting.
The suspect and victim were believed to know each other, officials said, however further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting were not available.
Alvarado and friends of Mationg gathered at a memorial of candles, flowers and photos of Mationg, along with his favorite beers and snack foods. They said they didn’t know anyone by the name of Augustin Garcia.
Mationg had lived at the Ben Alder Avenue home with his family for about 12 years, Alvarado said.
He worked at a CVS Pharmacy and was expected to make manager soon, she said. He had just purchased a new car — a 2012 Dodge Avenger — and was yet to make his first payment on it.
“There are just a lot of people that loved him,” Alvarado said.
“He was the funniest person ever. He gave good advice,” she added. “He was a really good guy.”
Friend Amber Ventura, 22, also mourned Sunday at the roadside memorial.
Ventura said Mationg “looked out for everybody. He was like a big brother.”
Garcia was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, according to booking records.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department.

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Baldwin Park murder suspect accidental released by sheriff’s officials last year re-captured in Mexico


A suspect in a fatal 2010 shooting in Baldwin Park who has been sought since he was accidentally released from sheriff’s custody last year due to a clerical error as he was awaiting trial was re-captured Wednesday in Mexico, authorities said.
Johnny Mata, 33, was awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of 34-year-old David Anthony Deanda on Christmas Eve of 2010 in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, authorities said at the time. The slaying was believed to be gang related.
Sheriff’s officials launched a manhunt and asked the public’s help to recapture Mata in the weeks following Mata’s erroneous release. And they developed leads indicating he had fled to Mexico, likely near the San Ysidro border crossing, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Burau said in a written statement.
“On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, suspect Mata was located, detained and escorted by Mexican authorities to the United States-Mexico border, San Ysidro port of entry, where LASD personnel took custody of him,” Navarro-Suarez said. “Suspect Mata was re-booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system and is being held in lieu of $2,065,000 bail.”
El Monte police initially arrested Mata in connection with the 2010 Baldwin Park slaying on May 25, 2012, after he ran from a stolen car, according to El Monte police Lt. David Vautrin.
But Mata was accidentally released from the inmate processing unit at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles on April 4, 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The mistake stemmed from a clerical error, then-sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. A clerk failed to order Mata held pending his murder trial after a charge of attempted murder was dismissed.
Wednesday arrest came after a coalition Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies, U.S. Marshals Service officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials determined Mata’s whereabouts in Mexico, according to Navarro-Suarez said.
According to county booking records, Mata was scheduled to appear Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.

PHOTO of murder suspect Johnny Mata, 33, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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