SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police are seeking clues in the fatal shooting of a man whose body was discovered along a set of train tracks in Santa Fe Springs early Wednesday, authorities said.
A worker at a nearby business called police about 8:30 a.m. to report a “man down” along a set of sidetracks servicing businesses near the 13700 block of Carmenita Road, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
The victim, estimated to between 20 and 25 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene, Ruiz said.
“He appears to have suffered gunshot wounds,” the lieutenant said.
His identity was not available Wednesday pending notification of his family, coroner’s officials said.
Further information regarding the circumstances of the fatal shooting, or the shooter, was not available.
No witnesses reported seeing or hearing the gunshots, Ruiz said. It was unclear exactly when the man had been shot prior to the discovery of his body early Wednesday.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man accused of shooting his girlfriend to death in 2011 and dumping her body in Turnbull Canyon in Hacienda Heights before fleeing to Mexico appeared in a Pomona courthouse this week to answer to a murder charge, authorities said.
Francisco Nila Rojas, 39, of La Puente pleaded not guilty Tuesday in connection with the February 11, 2011, slaying of Claudia Tecuautzin, 41, of La Puente, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. He’s also accused of the special allegation of personally using a gun in the crime.
“Rojas allegedly shot his girlfriend in the head and left her body near Turnbull Canyon Road and Skyline Drive in Hacienda Heights,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Tecuautzin had been reported missing by her family before her body was discovered about 10 feet down an embankment in Turnbull Canyon, near Skyline Drive, on March 2, 2011, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials said. But due to the condition of her body, identification was delayed, and she was officially listed as a Jane Doe in the weeks following the slaying.
An autopsy found that Tecuautzin died from a gunshot wound to the head, and the death was ruled a homicide, coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Rojas was quickly identified as the suspect in Tecuautzin’s slaying. Prosecutors filed a murder charge against him in April of 2011, Ardalani said.
But Rojas, a Mexican national, fled to Mexico shortly after the fatal shooting, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
He remained a fugitive for more than three years, but investigators never gave up searching for him.
Officials tracked him down in Mexico in 2014, where he was jailed for about a year before being extradited back to the Unites States to face trial in October of last year, Ardalani said.
Rojas and Tecuautzin first became acquainted about a year before the slaying, Corina said. Both worked for the same company vending snacks from push carts.
The co-workers began a romantic relationship several months before Tecuautzin vanished.
Worried family members reported her missing and began a search themselves, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. A family member searching the area discovered remains, later identified as those of Tecuautzin.
Coroner’s officials worked until the following day to carefully collect the remains.
Homicide detectives and prosecutors declined to discuss the specific motive in the killing Wednesday.
Rojas was ordered back to court June 23 for a pre-preliminary hearing, according to district attorney’s officials. If convicted as charged, he faces up to 50 years to life in state prison.
ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A man died following a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Rowland Heights Thursday night, authorities said.
Deputies responded to reports of gunfire about 11:40 p.m. in the 18400 block of Desidia Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“When they arrived, they were directed to the alley of the location where they discovered the victim had been shot,” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
“Witnesses said that the victim and two acquaintances were inside the garage of the location when two male Hispanics in their early-20’s confronted them,” she said. “During the confrontation, one suspect produced a handgun and started firing at all three individuals, striking the victim at least once in the upper torso.”
The two others inside the garage were not hurt, officials said.
The attackers were last seen running east through the alley, officials said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
A motive had yet to be determined, and it was unclear whether the shooting was gang-related.
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.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> A judge dismissed charges this week against a man and woman previously accused of murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of an Upland man in South El Monte last year.
Randall Chinchilla, 35, and Andrea Montoya, 37, both of El Monte, were arrested and charged in June in the fatal March 28, 2015, stabbing of 49-year-old Dennis Baltierra.
But during a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho of the Pomona courthouse dismissed the case against the man and woman, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
At a preliminary hearing, a judge listens to a summary of the case to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to order a defendant to stand trial.
Chinchilla and Montoya were both released from custody Tuesday after spending 11 months behind bars with bail set at $2 million each, county booking records show.
Authorities alleged Chinchilla and Montoya stabbed Baltierra to death when they got into an argument while all three were hanging out at the home of a mutual friend about 11:30 p.m. on March 28 in the 11200 block of Broadmead Street in South El Monte.
Baltierra exited the home and collapsed in the yard with a stab wound to his neck, sheriff’s officials said. He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital a short time later.
Detectives identified Chinchilla and Montoya as suspects and arrested them on June 12.
Anyone with information on the fatal stabbing 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.
PHOTOS: [TOP] Photo from stabbing scene in the 11200 block of Broadmead Street in South El Monte the day after the homicide on March 29, 2016. (By Brian Day) [BELOW] Dennis Baltierra, 49, of Upland. (Courtesy)
VALINDA >> Prosecutors charged a La Puente woman with murder Tuesday for running over and killing her boyfriend with a car outside a Valinda motel over the weekend, officials said.
Sharon Kay Hood, 52, is accused of killing her boyfriend of six years, 51-year-old Randolph “Randy” John Morales of Fontana, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and coroner’s officials.
The alleged vehicular slaying took place about 2:25 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of a motel in the 500 block of North Azusa Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda.
Morales had rented a room for the couple, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Hood and Morales got into an argument, and Hood abruptly left the room, officials said.
“Morales reportedly followed the defendant out of the room to her car where the two continued to quarrel, according to the statement. “At that point, Hood allegedly ran over Morales with her car.”
The 2015 Nissan Altima backed over Morales, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Paramedics pronounced Morales dead at the scene.
An autopsy found he died from “blunt force injuries of the head,” and the death was ruled a homicide, Winter said.
Investigators formally arrested hood in connection with her boyfriend’s death about 10:45 a.m. Sunday, county booking records show. But sheriff’s officials initially declined to discuss the case, and the arrest was not made public until prosecutors filed charges Tuesday.
Hood entered no plea at her appearance in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ardalani said. Her arraignment hearing was postponed until June 8, and bail was set at $2 million.
In addition to murder, prosecutors accuse Hood of the special allegation that she personally used a deadly weapon — a car — in the attack, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Hood faces up to 26 years to life in state prison.
Morales left behind two devastated children: a daughter, 28, and son, 23, from a prior marriage of 26 years, his daughter Priscilla Morales said.
“He was my best friend,” she said.
“He was a people person. He got along with everybody,” she said.
Born in Los Angeles, Randy Morales grew up in the La Puente area, his daughter said. He then moved to Orange County before settling in Fontana about 5 years ago.
Randy Morales had a sarcastic and silly sense of humor, often quoting a line from “I Love Lucy” and telling loved one’s, “Don’t get too crazy,” Priscilla Morales said. “He was kind of a nerd.”
“He was my musical soulmate,” she added. Priscilla Morales said her father loved classic rock, such as Led Zeppelin, and classic blues such as Roger Johnson and Muddy Waters.
Randy Morales had an encyclopedic knowledge of music history and trivia, Priscilla Morales said. The father and daughter enjoyed attending concerts together, and spent countless hours at the old Tower Records store in West Covina.
Randy Morales has worked as a plumber, a contractor and recently graduated school for welding, his daughter said. He was working in a warehouse at the time of his death.
“He was a big Rams fan,” she added. “He was so excited they were coming back to L.A. We were talking about going to the games.”
But all of the family’s plans changed Sunday morning.
“He’s not going to see me get married. I don’t have kids yet,” Priscilla Morales said through tears. “He always told me he wanted me to have a big wedding.”
Family member are still watching the investigation and waiting to learn exactly what took place in Valinda on Sunday.
“It seems weird… I have no anger. I just want to know what happened.”
Randy Morales and Hood had a “tumultuous relationship,” and Priscilla Morales described the woman as “very angry,” and “possessive.”
The couple argued often, and Hood would sometimes slap her Randy Morales, his daughter said.
On one occasion several years ago, Hood slashed all four tired of his car on the day he was supposed to begin a new job, Priscilla Morales said. He lost the job as a result.
But although she said she didn’t think the relationship was healthy, she never imagined Hood was capable of the violence of which she’s now accused.
When she was first informed of her father’s death, her first question was whether Hood was with him, and whether she was OK, Priscilla Morales said. The daughters said she was “shocked” to learn Hood was accused in the killing.
Fund to help the Morales’ family lay Morales, known to loved ones as Randy, to rest are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/23xmagx4.
PHOTOS: [TOP] – Randolph “Randy” Morales, pictured with daughter Priscilla Morales. (Courtesy) [BELOW] – Randy “Randolph” Morales, 51, of Fontana. (Courtesy)
SAN GABRIEL >> A jury convicted a Rosemead gang member and former fugitive of murder and conspiracy Wednesday for the mistaken-identity slaying of a Gabrielino High School senior in 2005.
The Pasadena Superior Court jury deliberated for less than one day before finding Daniel Guerrero, 29, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the April 27, 2005, shooting death of Ryan Dasalla, 17, of Rosemead, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said. The jury also found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegations that he personally used a gun in the killing, and that the murder was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Two accomplices, including Guerrero’s brother and a then-17-year-old girl, have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in the fatal shooting. Daniel Guerrero, who was 23 at the time of the killing, was the alleged gunman.
Daniel Guerrero’s brother, then-18-year-old Gabriel Guerrero, and Sarah Toledo were arrested shortly after the slaying. But Daniel Guerrero fled to Mexico, where he was captured in 2013 before being returned to the U.S. to face justice.
He was ordered back to court June 14 for sentencing, court officials said.
The Guerrero brothers were out for revenge the day of the murder after their younger brother was beaten up the night before, according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
Toledo pointed out Dasalla to the brothers, under the mistaken belief that he was a member of the tagging crew involved in the fight involving their brother, officials said.
The group then approached Dasalla about a block away from Gabrielino High School, along Gladys Avenue near Scott Avenue, according to witness testimony from Toledo’s trial. Gabriel Guerrero fought with Dasalla before Daniel Guerrero pulled out a “big gun.”
The gunman inadvertently shot and wounded his own brother before fatally shooting Dasalla, Risling said.
“Daniel accidentally shot his brother, Gabriel, while Gabriel was on the ground, holding (Dasalla)down,” Risling said. The extent of Gabriel Guerrero’s injuries were not clear.
Gabriel Guerrero has since been sentenced to 84 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him in 2010 of first-degree murder, and found true allegations the crime was for the benefit of a criminal street gang — Varrio Nueva Estrada — and involved a gun.
Toledo was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison in late 2011 after a jury convicted her of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, along with gang and gun enhancements.
IRWINDALE >> As they have done each year for more than a decade, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Friday spent 24 hours standing in silent, stoic tribute to fellow deputy David March at the site where he was murdered 14 years ago.
March, a 33-year-old deputy assigned to the sheriff’s Temple City Station, was shot to death in the line of duty on April 29, 2002, along Live Oak Avenue, just east of Peck Road. A permanent memorial to March stands at the roadside.
Deputies stood motionless in pairs in half-hour increments before ceremoniously switching positions with two other deputies. The process continued from midnight Friday morning to midnight Saturday morning.
Sheriff’s Temple Station Capt. Coronne Jacob and her husband, sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Jacob, took the first shift, Sgt. Jim Dexter said.
Visitors ranging from family members of the slain deputy to high-ranking officials from the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies stopped by to pay their respects.
March’s killer, previously convicted felon and four-time deportee Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico within 24 hours of the fatal shooting and remained a fugitive until he was arrested in 2006. Garcia was returned to the U.S. to face trial, and pleaded guilty in 2007 to murder, with the special allegations of intentionally killing a peace officer in the line of duty and using a gun in the crime. He is now serving life without parole in state prison.
When Garcia was returned to the U.S. to face justice, deputies cuffed him with March’s handcuffs.
PASADENA >> After more than two weeks of deliberations, a jury convicted to gang members Friday of murder and other charges for fatally shooting a community coach and sheriff’s employee with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member on Christmas Day, 2012.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury found Bloods gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Victor McClinton, 49, of Pasadena, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
The verdict followed a mistrial last year and came, “after 15 days of court deliberations.” Santiago said.
In addition to first-degree murder, the jury also found true the special circumstances that the killing was gang related, and that the shots were fired from a moving vehicle, Santiago said. The jury also found that Harris personally used a firearm in the crime, but did not find true the prosecution’s allegation that Bishop also fired a gun in the killing.
Both men were also found guilty of one count of attempted murder each, Santiago said. The jury convicted Harris of shooting at an occupied dwelling, but acquitted Bishop of the same charge.
Though the special circumstances in the murder made Bishop and Harris potentially eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors did not seek capital punishment in the case, Santiago said. They were expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to court for sentencing July 15.
McClinton, a father of two who worked as a law enforcement technician for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and founded the Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League in Pasadena, was walking down the street in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue about a 11 a.m. with a Christmas gift in-hand when the shooting occurred, according to police and prosecutors.
Harris and Bishop spotted, then opened fire on, a rival gang member, officials said. The intended target was wounded. McClinton was struck by a stray bullet and succumbed to his wounds at a hospital a short time later.
PHOTOS: [TOP]: Victor J. McClinton. Portrait photographed at memorial on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena on Dec. 27, 2012. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY) [BELOW]: Pamela Simmons, left, and Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, center, hold hands with family and friends, during a Candlelight Memorial in Remembrance of Victor J. McClinton, on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, Thursday, December 27, 2012. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY)
PASADENA >> Trial is ongoing in Pasadena for a Rosemead gang member accused of murder in the mistaken-identity murder of a 17-year-old Gabrielino High School student in San Gabriel, which occurred 11 years ago today, authorities said.
Prosecutors made their case and continued calling witnesses Wednesday in Pasadena Superior Court in the trial of Daniel Guerrero, 29, in connection with the April 27, 2005, slaying of Ryan Dasalla, court officials said.
Guerrero, who was 18 at the time of the killing, along with then-23-year-old brother Daniel Guerrero and accomplice and fellow Varrio Nueva Estrada street gang member Sarah Toledo, then 17, shot and killed Ryan Dasalla in a case of mistaken identity, prosecutors said.
Toledo helped the brothers target Dasalla under the wrong belief that he was part of a tagging crew that had beaten up the Guerreros younger brother the night before, according to prosecutors and Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives. Dasalla was shot in the back.
Gabriel Guerrero and Toledo were arrested shortly after the fatal shooting, which took place about a block away from Gabrielino High School.
But the alleged triggerman, Daniel Guerrero fled and remained a fugitive until late-2013, when he was reportedly found and captured in Tijuana, Mexico, where he was living under an assumed identity.
He now faces charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said.
Records show jury selection in the case began April 4, and opening statement began April 20th, he said.
The other two defendants have since been convicted and begun serving lengthy prison terms.
Gabriel Guerrero received a sentence of 84 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him in 2010 of first-degree murder, and found true allegations the crime was gang-related and involved a gun.
Toledo received 50 years to life in prison in late 2011 after being convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, along with gang and gun enhancements.
BASSETT >> Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating a gun battle outside a Bassett restaurant that left a man dead and a woman wounded Tuesday, authorities said.
Dominick Gonzales, 38, of Palmdale died at the scene of the shooting, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner Coroner said.
Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Gonzalez also had a home address listed in Pacoima.
The shooting took place just after 9 p.m. in the 13100 block of Valley Boulevard, in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies responding to a report of a shooting encountered a man wounded in the upper torso, and a woman who had been shot in her lower body, Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The male adult was pronounced dead at the scene,” Schrader said. “The female adult was transported to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.”
An update on the wounded woman’s condition was not available.
The victims were eating near a taco truck parked in front of the El Jalisco Cafe when the gunfire erupted, officials said.
“During the investigation, detectives learned there was a gunfight between at least two individuals at the location,” Schrader said.
The wounded woman appeared to have been an innocent bystander who got caught up in the crossfire, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
It was not clear Wednesday whether Gonzales the shooting was also a bystander, or an intended target of the gunfire.
The motive in the shooting remained under investigation, and no suspect descriptions were available.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’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 Keith Durflinger