Gunman holds up Pico Rivera wireless store


PICO RIVERA >> A gunman fled with money and two cellphones after robbing a Pico Rivera wireless store on Friday, authorities said.
The heist unfolded just before noon at Sela Wireless, 8535 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Noe Garcia said.
A robber entered the store, brandished a handgun and demanded all the money from the store’s cash register, the lieutenant said.
After obtaining about $350, as well as two cell phones, the robber fled and was last seen running south along Phaeton Avenue, he said.
He was described as a Latino man in his 30s, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and of medium build.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Video released in slaying of El Monte fast food worker as family pleads for justice


EL MONTE >> Homicide detectives and distraught family members sought the public’s help Thursday in finding the masked gunman who fatally shot a 25-year-old El Monte man during a failed robbery at the fast food restaurant where he worked.
Juan Manuel Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the deadly Oct. 21 shooting at Jack in the Box, 9220 Flair Drive.
He had just graduated pharmacy school and was looking forward to starting a new career and a new life with his fiancee and high school sweetheart, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators and family members.
But his life was cut short when a would-be robber jumped over the restaurant counter where he was working, demanded money from the cash register and immediately fired a gunshot, according to Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The killer remains at large.
Video: Detective Adan Torres discusses the fatal shooting
“He was my life and he’s gone now, and I don’t know why anyone would do this to him,” Vidal’s fiancee, Juliana Sasaki said through tears.
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmugHis mother, Mary Smay, said her son was a kind and loving man and urged anyone with information about the killer to come forward.
“If anybody knows who did this, who took my son from me, you need to turn him in,” she said. “He’s taken my life. He’s taken my son away,” she said.
“He left to work. I sit on the couch and I think he’s going to just come back,” Smay said.
Video: Victim’s mother pleads for help her son’s killer
Vidal’s killer remains at large, and detectives released surveillance video footage of the crime on Thursday in hopes of generating tips from the public.
Vidal was working as a cashier at the restaurant when the gunman entered wearing a mask and brandishing a revolver, Torres said.
The gunman jumped the counter, demanded money, pointed the gun at Vidal and immediately opened fire, officials said.
“It was so quick, he didn’t even have a chance to react,” the detective said.
The would-be robber then jumped back over the counter and fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The killer got into a waiting getaway car, described only as a dark-colored sedan, which drove away, Torres said. Detectives suspected he may have had an accomplice serving as a getaway driver.
The robber wore some type of mask over the top portion of his face which included a thick fake mustache and a large nose.
He also wore a light-blue long-sleeve T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts and black running shoes and a blue baseball cap with a vinyl or plastic brim.
Vidal grew up in El Monte and attended Arroyo High School, where he met his fiancee, Sasaki said.
He loved classic cars and enjoyed spending time working on his vehicles, she said.
“He was always so kind,” she said. “Everyone loved him. Even when he had nothing, he was always willing to help.”
Having recently graduated school as a pharmacy technician and receiving a job offer, “He was going to quit his job and start planning everything,” the fiancee said. The couple had yet to set a wedding date.
Vidal maintained a close relationship with his mother.
“He would be proud to say I was his mom, just like I was proud to say he was my son,” Smay said. “He was a kind, loving man. But to me, he’s always going to be by boy.”
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.
Funds to help Vidal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.

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PHOTOS [ABOVE] Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, of El Monte (courtesy). [BELOW] Family members and LASD homicide detectives ask the public for help in finding the killer of Juan Vidal on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Staff photo by Brian Day)

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Two men charged with murder in fatal shooting of Covina man during alleged robbery

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COVINA >> A man previously arrested but released without charges in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Covina man during a robbery in Covina was re-arrested Wednesday after prosecutors filed a murder charge against him, authorities said.
Christopher Alexander Avila, 20, of Covina is accused of the Aug. 13 fatal shooting of 20-year-old Isaac Urena of Covina in the parking lot of Clearman’s North Woods Inn, at San Bernardino Road and Azusa Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
He joins co-defendant Adam David Hernandez, 21, of Covina behind bars as both await trial.
Both suspects were arrested the day after the killing.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Hernandez with being an accessory to murder, but released Avila due to insufficient evidence and requested further investigation.
Detectives continued gather clues and run forensic tests, developed new information and presented it to prosecutors, Peterson said.
“Based on the new evidence, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a murder charge (Wednesday) against Christopher Avila and amended the charge against Adam Hernandez to include murder,” according to Peterson.
Detectives found and arrested Avila at his home about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Peterson said.
Investigators also arrested a third suspect at Avila’s home on suspicion of acting as an accessory to the slaying. Further details regarding that arrest were not available Wednesday night.
Hernandez has remained in custody since his arrest in August.
Both defendants were being held without bail.
The deadly shooting took place shortly before noon on Aug. 13 after the victim, Urena, was driven by a friend to the Clearman’s parking lot in order to meet a person who had agreed to buy jewelry Urena was offering for sale on the online marketplace OfferUp.com, police said.
The transaction turned into a robbery, which escalated into a shooting, police said. Avila allegedly produced a gun and shot Urena. Hernandez is accused of driving the car used in the crime.
Following the gunfire, Urena’s friend drove across the city border to the parking lot of Faith Community Church in West Covina, where paramedics ultimately pronounced Urena dead, officials said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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PHOTOS: [TOP} – BOOKING PHOTOS of Christopher Avila (left) and Adam Hernandez (right) courtesy of the Covina Police Deparmtent. [BELOW] – Police investigate outside the Clearman’s North Woods Inn parking lot in Covina where a 20-year-old Covina man was fatally shot on Saturday August 13, 2016. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

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El Monte man shot to death during failed restaurant robbery identified

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EL MONTE >> Authorities on Wednesday formally identified an El Monte man shot to death in a botched robbery at a fast food restaurant over the weekend as detectives continue gathering clues in the senseless killing.
Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center less than 30 minutes after the shooting, which took place about 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Jack in the Box restaurant where he worked at 9220 Flair Drive, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operation at the Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The deadly failed robbery occurred very quickly, Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“It was just seconds. (The killer) was in and out,” he said.
It did not appear Vidal put up any resistance to the robbery attempt, the lieutenant said. “I don’t even think he had time.”
The gunman entered the business, jumped over the counter to the employee are of the store, brandished a handgun and announced that he was robbing the store, Rosson said.
Almost immediately, he pulled the trigger of his gun, mortally wounding Vidal.
Rosson said the gunman, who wore a Halloween mask, then fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The restaurant sits just a few hundred yards from onramps to the 10 Freeway.
The gunman was believed to have gotten into a getaway car, but investigators were continuing to sort out conflicting descriptions of the vehicle, Rosson said.
ar-161029811Detectives were also sifting through “hours and hours” of surveillance camera footage from the restaurant as well as other nearby businesses in hopes of generating a suspect description, he said.
An excerpt from surveillance footage depicting the suspect was expected to be released by investigators during a press conference on Thursday.
Two other employees were working with Vidal at the time of the fatal shooting, Rosson said. One of them was on break and outside the building. The position of the other employee within the store was unclear.
The customer dining area inside the restaurant was empty when the botched robbery and fatal shooting took place.
Detectives suspected the fatal shooting was committed by a panicked or possibly intoxicated robber, and there was no indication that Vidal was specifically targeted, Rosson said.
Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the fatal shooting.
Vidal, “had a promising future,” according to Deputy Lillian Peck of the sheriff’s Information Bureau. He was engaged to be married and had recently graduated as a pharmacy technician at the time of his slaying.
He was a Volkswagen enthusiast and member of the DubFolks SoCal car club, according to the organizations Facebook page, where fellow members memorialized him and organized fundraisers to help his family. A car wash is planned for 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at outside Carl’s Jr., 18237 Colima Road in Rowland Heights. A meet-up and memorial ride are planned for noon on Saturday,. starting at Cal State Los Angeles’s Parking Structure C.
A fund to help his family with services has been established online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.
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.

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Fast food worker shot to death during botched robbery in El Monte

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EL MONTE >> A masked gunman shot and killed a 25-year-old fast food worker during what was believed to be a botched robbery at an El Monte Jack in the Box restaurant late Friday, authorities said.
The deadly shooting took place about 7:30 p.m. at the chain restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the investigation.
The suspect, who fled empty-handed following the apparent robbery attempt, remained at large Saturday.
1023_nws_sgt-l-restaurant2Authorities withheld the identity of the victim pending positive identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
“An armed, masked male entered the business and immediately jumped over the front service counter, where the victim was standing, in an apparent armed robbery attempt,” Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The suspect turned toward the victim and fired at least one shot, which struck the victim in the upper torso. The suspect immediately jumped back over the counter and fled the location,” Rouzan said.
The gunman was last seen running north from the restaurant. No suspect description was available.
El Monte police arrived first on the scene and administered first aid before paramedics took over treatment, officials said. The wounded man was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A sign affixed to the door of the restaurant where the victim worked on Saturday indicated the businesses would be closed until Monday.
“RIP Juan. 2 Corinthians 5:8. Home with Jesus,” was handwritten on the sign.
The King James Version of the scripture reads, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Anyone with information can reach 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.

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DEVELOPING: Man fatally shot during possible restaurant robbery in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died after being shot during what was initially reported as a robbery at an El Monte fast food restaurant on Friday night, authorities said.
The fatal shooting was first reported as a robbery with a person down just before 8 p.m. at a Jack in the Box restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the homicide investigation.
A victim, described only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No suspects were in custody, and no further details were available as detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau continued their investigation late Friday, officials said.
Anyone with information can reach 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.

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Online transaction ends with robbery in Monrovia


MONROVIA >> A man arranged to sell a gold necklace online before being robbed of the jewelry by a group of men outside a Monrovia Taco Bell late Thursday, police said.
The crime took place just before 10:30 p.m. outside the restaurant, 140 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Heath Harvey said.
The victim had used the online marketplace “OfferUp” to advertise a gold necklace for sale and a purported buyer responded to the ad, the lieutenant said. Both parties agreed to meet outside the restaurant to complete the transaction.
“The buyer looked at the necklace, asked the victims some questions and negotiated a price,” the lieutenant said. They settled on $100.
But before any money changed hands, three accomplices of the purported buyer then approached and joined in the conversation, Harvey said.
One of the accomplices pulled what the victim believed to be a shotgun-shaped pellet gun from his coat and all four ran off together with the necklace, Harvey said. The victim suffered no injuries.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.

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Woman pistol-whipped, robbed in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Police are seeking three men who pistol-whipped and robbed a woman in Pasadena on Saturday, officials said.
A 20-year-old Pasadena woman went to the 100 block of East Orange Grove Boulevard to meet a friend about 11:45 a.m., Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
“Upon arrival, she was confronted by all three suspects,” he said.
One of the robbers pulled a handgun, ordered her out of her car and struck her in the back of the head with the pistol, according to the lieutenant.
The gunman then robbed the woman of her purse before one of the other two men rifled through her car and stole additional items, he said.
The woman’s cell phone was among the items stolen, Goodman said. Following the robber, she drove to a nearby store to call the police.
The victim did not wish to be taken to a hospital. Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man robbed in Pasadena after making online arrangement to buy jewelry


PASADENA >> A man who drove to Pasadena to buy some jewelry after arranging a meeting with a prospective seller ended up being robbed at gunpoint, police said.
The crime unfolded about 10:15 a.m. after the victim, a 28-year-old Los Angeles man, arranged to sell some jewelry via the online marketplace, “OfferUp,” and met the purported buyer near Colorado Boulevard and Oakland Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said. A man and women met him.
“Upon meeting the suspects, one produces a handgun, the female, produced a handgun,” Goodman said.
Her male accomplice assaulted the victim and stole his money, as well as some jewelry he happened to be wearing, the lieutenant said. Police did not disclose the amount of money stolen. The victim declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police described the robbers a black woman between 21 and 23 years old, of thin build, with black hair and wearing dark gray clothes. The second robber was described only as a Latino man between 18 and 20.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man in ‘Jason’ mask robs West Covina restaurant


WEST COVINA >> A gunman wearing a Halloween mask carried out an armed robbery at a West Covina Chinese food restaurant, police said.
The heist took place shortly after 2 p.m. at the Silver Dragon Restaurant at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, 1129 West Covina Parkway, West Covina police Lt. David Lee said.
A robber entered the store, brandished a handgun and demanded money from the cash register, he said. He fled with between $100 and $200.
The gunman wore a white, plastic Halloween mask similar to that of “Jason” in the “Friday the 13th” horror movie series.
He was in his late-30s to early-40s, heavy set, about 6 feet tall, with a tattoo on the right side of his neck.
Anyone with information can reach the West Covina Police Department at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour tip hotline at 626-939-8688.

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