Gunman dissatisfied with amount of money in register during West Covina pharmacy robbery, tells clerk to ‘Keep it’

WEST COVINA — An armed man abandoned a pharmacy robbery Sunday morning after he was apparently disappointed by the amount of cash in the register, authorities said.
The incident, which was being investigated as an attempted robbery, took place about 9:40 a.m. at a CVS Pharmacy at 702 N. Azusa Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A man entered the store and approached a clerk with a bottle of water, as if he was about to purchase it, the lieutenant said.
He then lifted his sweatshirt to expose a black, semi-automatic handgun tucked into his waistband, Patton said. “He demanded money from the clerk.”
The employee removed placed 20-, 10- and 5-dollar bills from the register, but the would-be robber turned his nose up at the cash.
After asking if that was all the money the clerk had, he stated, “Keep it,” before leaving the store empty-handed, Patton said.
Police searched the area with help from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, but were unable to find the suspect, he said. The gunman was described as a black man with a light complexion between 25 and 30 years old, about 6 feet 1 inch tall, 180 pounds and clean-shaven. He wore a black hat with a white logo on the front, a light gray zip-up hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and black shoes.

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Elderly couple robbed in La Canada Flintridge home invasion; 2nd similar crime reported in area in two days

For the second time in two days in the same area, home-invasion robbers stormed into a La Canada Flintridge home late Thursday, authorities said.
Two armed robbers escaped with cash and jewelry after robbing an elderly couple about 10 p.m. at their home in the 5100 block of Jarvis Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Chad Sauter said.
Both robbers brandished handguns as they surprised the couple in their home and ransacked the house for valuables, the lieutenant said. No injuries were reported.
The robbers were initially described only as black men, one taller than the other, wearing all dark clothing and hooded sweat shirts, Sauter said.
A similar home-invasion robbery took place late Wednesday in the 2900 block of Los Olivos Lane in neighboring La Crescenta.
In that crime, a man was awakened and tied up by two robbers who held him at gunpoint as they ransacked his home for cash, jewelry and electronics, Lt. Elisabeth Sachs said. The robbers were described as two black men in their 20s, one of them about 6 feet 3 inches tall, wearing dark clothing.
While officials did not know for certain if the robberies were linked, investigators noted the similarities.
“Because the descriptions are so vague, we can’t really say, but it’s an interesting coincidence,” Sauter said. “It’s possible they could be the same suspects.”
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau are handling the investigation.

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Man runs from would-be robbers in Pasadena

PASADENA — A man fled from two would-be robbers who demanded his wallet late Saturday, police said.
The victim escaped unharmed following the failed crime, which took place about 9:50 p.m. along Hudson Avenue near Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“He was approached by two male blacks who were wearing all dark clothing,” the lieutenant said. One brandished a blunt instrument, though police declined to describe it, citing the ongoing investigation.
“One of the suspects demanded money and the victim’s wallet,” Clawson said.
But the victim ran from the men and over to a nearby business that was staffed with a security guard, he said. Security, in turn, notified police.
The would-be robbers were not found, and detailed descriptions were not available.

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Armed man robs Pasadena restaurant

PASADENA — A gunman fled with $60 late Friday after holding up a restaurant at gunpoint, police said.
The crime was reported about 8:30 p.m. at Tonny’s Restaurant, 843 E. Orange Grove Blvd., according to Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson.
The robber entered the store and approached the register before grabbing an employees arm, pulling a handgun and robbing the register of $60, Clawson said.
He was described as a black man between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, with a mustache, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a black hat and black clothing, Clawson added. He was last seen running west on Orange Grove Boulevard.

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UPDATED — Walnut carjacking suspect arrested after hit-and-run, burglaries in West Covina

A Walnut carjacking suspect fleeing the scene of a crash broke into two homes, startling residents, and was trying to break into a third when police arrested him Thursday, authorities said.
Joseph Zavala, 24, of North Hollywood was ultimately arrested on suspicion of carjacking, felony hit-and-run, burglary and possession of stolen property, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
The incident kicked off about 2:40 p.m. when the suspect grabbed a set of keys from a woman at a gas station at Pierre Road and Valley Boulevard in Walnut, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said. He fled with the woman’s Toyota sedan, he said. The woman was not injured.
About five minutes later, police in West Covina received a report of a hit-and-run car crash at Grand Avenue and Cortez street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said. A woman had suffered a minor injury in the collision when the suspect struck her vehicle, then ran from the scene.
Officials soon linked the car Zavala had been driving to the earlier carjacking, Patton said.
Zavala arrived at a home in the 500 block of Grand Avenue, the lieutenant said. “He removed the window screen and entered the residence, where he was confronted by the homeowners.” The residents managed to chase the intruder away, however further details of the encounter were not immediately available.
Patton said the fleeing suspect then showed up at a second home in the 600 block of Ferrari Way, “…where he broke a window of that residence. He entered into that structure, where he confronted the female resident, who feared for her safety and fled from her residence.”
Zavala helped himself to the woman’s refrigerator before continuing to run, Patton said.
Officers caught up with the man as he was breaking a window of a garage in the 600 block of Wrede Lane, Patton said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
Officials took Zavala to a hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash and the break-ins prior to booking him into jail, Patton said.
Investigators were also looking into the possibility the suspect was under the influence of methamphetamine during the incident.

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Carjacking reported in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS — Two men carjacked a man of his Ford Mustang early Wednesday before getting the car stuck and abandoning the just-stolen vehicle, authorities said.
The ill-fated carjacking took place about 1:35 a.m. in the 400 block of West 5th Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said.
A 21-year-old man was near his 1998 Ford Mustang when to men approached and demanded his car, the lieutenant said.
The victim refused, and one of the carjackers grabbed the man while the other pulled his keys from his pocket, Vega said.
One of the carjackers then entered the Mustang and began driving away, but the car became caught on a nearby gate, Vega said. Both men then fled the area on foot.
They were described as Latino men between 25 and 30, one with black hair and brown eyes, and the other only described as having brown eyes.

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Man convicted of two counts of murder in violent 2004 robbery spree spanning San Gabriel Valley, Whittier

CISNEROS

LOS ANGELES >> The last of five defendants in a violent 2004 robbery spree in Whittier and the San Gabriel Valley that left two men dead could face the death penalty after a jury convicted him Wednesday of 21 charges, including two counts of murder with special circumstances.
Leonardo Cisneros, 29, of Montebello could face the death penalty for the spree which spanned Los Angeles County cities including Whittier, San Gabriel, El Monte, Alhambra, South Pasadena and San Marino, according to prosecutors and investigators.
“The jury deliberated about two hours today before finding Leonardo Cisneros guilty of all 21 counts, including two counts of first degree murder, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
The other charges include 18 counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery, she said.
The jury also found true the special circumstances of multiple murders, murders during the course of robberies and personal use of a gun in the vast majority of the crimes. The special circumstances make him eligible for the death penalty.
“They come back on Monday to begin the penalty phase, because we are seeking death in this case,” Robison said.
Pasadena City College student Joseph Molina was working at a Whittier Subway sandwich shop on Dec. 10, 2004 when it was robbed. The 22-year-old Whittier resident was fatally shot by Cisneros.
MOLINAMolina was shot after he failed to remove money from a cash register fast enough for the robbers who had stormed into the restaurant at Beverly and Norwalk boulevards, investigators said.
The other victim slain during the spree was businessman Dianqui Wu, 50, of Rowland Heights, who was fatally shot during an Aug. 4, 2004 robbery in a San Gabriel parking lot.
Cisneros and Jose Resendez, 36, robbed Wu and a friend late at night as they arrived at the friend’s business in the 1800 block of South Del Mar Avenue in San Gabriel to use the facility’s Internet, Robison said. Cisneros robbed Wu as Resendez robbed the friend.
“Wu got scared and started running away,” Robison said. “Cisneros chased him about 40 feet, pushed him to the ground and executed him basically, shot him once in the torso.”
Cisneros grabbed Wu’s wallet before fleeing, Robison said.
Wu died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center less than an hour later, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The jury found that Cisneros pulled the trigger in both slayings, court officials said.
Four other defendants in the case took plea deals.
Resendez has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the slaying of Wu; Bernadette Corvera, 32, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery in Molina’s slaying; and Mitzie Ann Oso, 35, has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the killings of Wu and Molina. All three were due to be sentenced June 2.
Resendez and Corvera were expected to receive sentences of 15 years to life in prison, while Oso was expected to receive an eight-year prison term. They could have faced life sentences if convicted at trial, rather than accepting plea bargains.
When entering their pleas in recent years, the three defendants agreed to testify truthfully if called as witnesses in Cisneros’ trial, Robison said.
They were called as witnesses, and all three testified about their involvement in the crimes, as well as Cisneros’, Robison said.
Another defendant, 30-year-old Sara Lopez, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in Wu’s slaying and was sentenced to three years of probation.
— Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

FILE PHOTOS: Top: Murder and robbery spree convict Leonardo Cisneros; Below: Slaying victim Joseph Molina, 22, of Whittier.

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Teen robbed of skateboard, cell phone in Covina

COVINA >> Two armed robbed a teen of his skateboard and cell phone late Friday, police said.
The boy was approached about 9:20 p.m. in the 200 block of East Rowland Street by two robbers, one brandishing a handgun and the other with a knife, Covina police Sgt. Rob Bobkiewicz said.
They demanded the teen’s cell phone and skateboard, and he turned the items over before the suspects ran off, the sergeant said. The victim was not hurt.
The robbers were described as a Latino man with a red bandanna over his face, armed with a handgun, and a black man wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and a red bandanna over his face, armed with a knife.
Police searched the area but were unable to find the robbers, Bobkiewicz said.

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Nanny bound at knifepoint during San Marino home-invasion robbery; suspect jailed

SAN MARINO >> A San Gabriel man stormed into a San Marino home Friday and tied up a woman at knifepoint during a daytime home-invasion robbery, authorities said.
Yongheng Huang, 24, was arrested on suspicion of charges including robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment shortly after the incident, which was reported just before 1 p.m. at a home in the 2500 block of Lombardy Road, San Marino police officials said in a written statement.
A woman who was working as a nanny at the home told police that a man, clad in a black jacket and mask, had entered the home through a back door and demanded money, San Marino Police Sgt. Robert Matthews said. But no money was found.
“The victim was threatened with a knife and tied,” according to the police statement. “(Huang) detained the victim until the homeowner arrived. Upon arrival, the suspect confronted the homeowner and again demanded money.
Police said the homeowner complied, and Huang fled with both U.S. and Chinese currency.
The woman was bound for more than an hour before the homeowner arrived home, Matthews said. Neither victim was hurt.
A San Marino police officer searching the area spotted Huang on foot just around the corner at California Boulevard and Alegria Place, officials said. He was detained and ultimately identified as the suspect in the home-invasion robbery.
Huang had a fixed-blade knife with him when arrested, as well as the money believed to have been stolen in the crime, police said.
The amount of money stolen was not available Friday.
Police had not discovered any link between the suspect and victims or a reason he may have targeted the Lombardy Road home, Matthews said, however detectives continued interviewing Huang Friday night.
Huang was booked on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, brandishing a knife, burglary, receiving stolen property, providing false information to a peace police officer and wearing a mask during the commission of a crime.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Huang was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Man beaten and robbed in Pasadena

PASADENA — A group of young men beat and robbed another man early Sunday, police said.
The victim, a 37-year-old man, was walking about 2 a.m. at Orange Grove Boulevard and Worcester Avenue when a white sedan containing five to six attacker described only as black men in their 20s pulled up, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said. The group exited the car.
“They got out and accused him of being a rival gang member, which he’s not,” Clawson said.
The victim ran, chased by the group of young men, the lieutenant said.
When the fleeing victim tripped and fell, “the suspects began to punch and kick him several times,” he said. They then helped themselves to the items in the man’s pockets before fleeing in the white car they arrived in.
Police said the victim declined to be taken to a hospital.

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