MONTEBELLO >> A woman received a 23-year prison sentence Wednesday for her role in an ill-fated armed robbery in Montebello last year that escalated into a gunfight that led to the fatal shooting of her two accomplices and the wounding of a shopkeeper, authorities said.
Toni Danielle Lopez of Los Angeles, who served as the getaway driver in the botched Montebello robbery, pleaded “no contest” in Los Angeles County Superior Court to charges of attempted murder and robbery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said in a written statement. She also admitted the special allegations that a gun was used in the crimes, and that the crimes were gang-related.
Judge Henry Hall immediately sentenced Lopez to 23 years in state prison, Risling said.
Lopez served as the getaway driver in the double-fatal robbery attempt, which took place just after midnight on July 18, 2015, at a restaurant in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard following a spate of violent crimes.
Fellow robbers Kevin Fierro, 23, of Los Angeles and Roger Soriano, 21, of Los Angeles, entered the restaurant and carried out the robbery, Montebello police Lt. Andy Vuncannon said at the time.
Soriano shot and wounded the shopkeeper, who pulled his own gun and returned fire, police said. Soriano died in the restaurant. Fierro, who was also wounded in the gunfight, tried to flee but collapsed and died about a block away.
Just prior to the Montebello robbery attempt, Lopez, Fierro and Soriano robbed a 17-year-old boy along Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, Risling said.
And prior to that, authorities suspect Fierro and Soriano carjacked the Toyota Camry used in the other crimes in East Los Angeles.
Detectives found and arrested Lopez in connection with the crime at Eugene A. Obregon Park in East Los Angeles three days after the robbery and shootout, Vuncannon said. She was still driving the carjacked Camry.
Prosecutors initially charged Lopez with two counts of murder for the deaths of her accomplices, as well as other crimes. The complaint was later amended to include one count of attempted murder, two counts of robbery and one count of receiving stolen property.
AZUSA >> Police are seeking gunman caught on video during a robbery at an Azusa restaurant last month.
The crime unfolded about 8:40 p.m. on July 13 at a restaurant in the area of Citrus and Alosta avenues , Azusa police Detective Seth Chapman said.
•Video: Azusa armed robbery
“The suspect pointed a black handgun and demanded the cash register’s money from the employees,” according to Azusa police Officer Mike Bires.
The employees complied, and the robber fled with about $500 in cash, he said.
Investigators released surveillance camera footage Wednesday in hopes of generating lead from the public.
Police described the robber a Latino man, about 6 feet tall and 230 bounds, with a “scruffy” beard. He wore a khaki hat, a blue jacket, khaki shorts and blue shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police Detective Seth Chapman at 626-812-3252. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
VIDEO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department
SAN MARINO >> Police in San Marino are seeking two men who carried out an armed bank robbery Thursday afternoon.
The robbery took place at 1:52 p.m. at One West Bank, 900 Huntington Drive, according to San Marino police Detective Brian Wong.
The two robbers entered the bank and one of them pulled a handgun and pointed at a teller working behind the counter, Wong said in a written statement.
“The victim backed up and (the gunman) jumped over the counter and removed currency from several bank drawers,” Wong said. “(He then jumped back over the counter and both suspects fled out the same front door.”
Both robbers fled the scene in a red SUV with an undisclosed amount of cash, he said.
Police described both robbers as black men, between 20 and 30 years old.
One was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of thin build, wearing a light-colored long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap with an unknown logo on the front. The second robber was heavy-set, wearing a light-colored shirt, tan shorts and a baseball cap.
The FBI joined San Marino police in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wong at 626-300-0719. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WHITTIER >> Five young men robbed a group of young men in the drive-through of a Whittier hamburger restaurant Friday before tracked down and arrested via a stolen cell phone, authorities said.
The robbery took place shortly before 6 p.m. at Tam’s Super Burgers, 13448 Lambert Road, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
Five young men were inside of a car in the drive-through when five other young men — one armed with a handgun — approached on foot, Ruiz said.
The robbers demanded property from the victims, who turned over cell phones and other items, the lieutenant said. The robbers fled.
“One of the victims was able to track is cell phone to an address in the 9800 block of Armley (Avenue),” in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, Ruiz said.
Deputies responded to the home and detained five suspects, who were ultimately booked on suspicion of robbery, he said.
Eugene Trejo, Erick Vega and Dennis Gonzalez, all 18 and from Whittier, were arrested along with two 17-year-old boys, whose names were withheld due to their age, Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Trejo, Vega and Gonzalez were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each at the Whittier Police Department’s Jail pending their initial court appearance, Los Angeles County booking records show.
The two juvenile suspects were taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, Ellis said.
ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Two men with handguns tied up a man and woman during a home-invasion robbery in Rowland Heights late Wednesday, authorities said.
The crime unfolded about 9 p.m. in the 19200 block of Addis Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
A man and woman in their 20s answered a knock at their front door when the gunmen forced their way in, the lieutenant said.
Both robbers were armed with handguns as they tied up the two victims, he said.
The robbers stole a bag containing an undetermined amount of cash, as well as other items from the home, Saleeby said.
Sheriff’s officials described the gunmen as two Asian men wearing all black clothing.
Sheriff’s radio traffic from the scene further described one of the robbers as being in his early-20s, about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, wearing a black silk jacket. The second robber was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 160 pounds, wearing a white T-shirt. No getaway car was seen.
The victims suffered no significant injuries, Saleeby said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 909-595-2264. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested a Norwalk man after he robbed a grocery store pharmacy of painkillers Sunday, officials said.
Albert Eloy Keil, 23, was booked on suspicion of robbery and burglary shortly after the crime, which took place about noon inside an Albertsons store, 2400 W. Commonwealth Ave., according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Keil verbally threatened employees at the pharmacy before hopping over the counter and helping himself to about $900 worth of codeine pills, Alhambra police Sgt. Ruben Soriano said.
But store security guards immediately captured the robber, who was not armed, and held him until police arrived, the sergeant said.
Keil was believed to have been accompanied by an accomplice who acted as a lookout, Soriano said. The second suspect, described only as male, was not found Saturday.
Keil was being held in lieu of $120,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, scheduled Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court, records show.
RIVERSIDE >> A suspected serial bank robber the FBI is calling the “We’re Listening Bandit,” accused of six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, is behind bars after police in Riverside found and arrested him this week, authorities said.
Jeffery Tuli, 33, of San Bernardino is suspected in six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout the region, as well as two additional robberies in Moreno Valley since late-June, according to Moreno Valley police and FBI officials.
Moreno Valley police tracked him down and arrested him about 3 p.m. Thursday in a parking lot in the 8900 block of Trautwein Road, Moreno Valley police Sgt. Aaron Kent said in a written statement.
“Several items of evidence were located in Tuli’s vehicle,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Tuli began his alleged crime spree in on June 21 with a failed robbery at a Wells Fargo branch in Highland, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
He then robbed a Fontana U.S. Bank on July 9 and a Moreno Valley Chase bank on July 12, Eimiller said.
The “We’re Listening Bandit” then tried, but failed, to rob a Whittier Wells Fargo branch on July 13 before successfully robbing a Wells Fargo in Moreno Valley on July 14, and a Riverside Union Bank on the same say, she said.
The one-man crime wave continued Wednesday, when Tuli robbed two people at gunpoint as they sat in a car in Moreno Valley, Kent said. Twenty minutes later, he robbed a Moreno Valley business at gunpoint.
Moreno Valley police identified Tuli as a suspect in the crimes in their jurisdiction and learned that the same man was sought in connection with other robberies throughout Southern California, Kent said.
The “We’re Listening Bandit” earned his moniker due to demand notes passed to tellers during the bank robberies, threatening that he or “others” will be watching the victims, Eimiller said.
According to Riverside County booking records, Tuli was being held in lieu of $1 million pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Riverside Hall of Justice.
PHOTOS: [TOP] Booking mug of Jeffery Tuli, 33, of San Bernardino, courtesy of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. [BELOW] Bank surveillance photo courtesy of the FBI.
SAN DIMAS >> Two gunmen fled with more than $30,000 worth of cell phones following a takeover robbery at a San Dimas cell phone store Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime unfolded just after 1 p.m. at a Sprint store, 875 W. Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Omar Carbajal said.
Two robbers both brandished handguns when they entered the store and confronted two employees in the front of the business, the sergeant said.
The robbers ordered the two employees to the back of the store, where two other employees were working, he said.
Carbajal said the robbers ordered an employee to open up a locked case containing cell phones. They helped grabbed 47 Samsung and Apple phones, values at $32,600.
The robbers locked the four employees in a bathroom at the store and fled, Carbajal said. No injuries were reported.
The gunman were last seen fleeing west along Arrow Highway in a black pickup truck, he added.
Detailed descriptions of the robbers were not available.
No injuries were reported as a result of the robbery.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
The FBI is hunting a new serial bank robber who’s embarked on a spate of six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in recent weeks.
The “We’re Listening Bandit,” as he’s been christened by the FBI, has showed up at bank Whittier, Fontana, Highland, Moreno Valley and Riverside since late-June, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The serial robber generally passes a note to bank tellers demanding money and stating that he and others may be “listening” and following them, Eimiller said.
He claims to be armed with a bomb or a gun, and was seen carrying one in an envelope during at least once of the crimes, officials said.
The robber’s notes also make statements such as, “Dot not move, be quick and quiet,” she said.
Crimes linked to the unidentified suspect include a July 14 robbery at a Union Bank in Riverside; another robbery at a Moreno Valley Wells Fargo the same day; a failed robbery at a Whittier Wells Fargo branch on July 13; a robbery at a Moreno Valley Chase bank on July 12; a robbery at a Fontana U.S. Bank branch on July 9; and a failed heist at a Highland Wells Fargo branch on June 21.
Investigators described the bandit as a black or Latino man in his 30s, of average to heavy build, with a scruffy beard. He wore sunglasses and various hats during the crimes.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
PASADENA >> A group of attackers beat and robbed a man and woman in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena late Tuesday, officials said.
The crime took place about 10:15 p.m. along Fair Oaks Avenue, near Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
A 29-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, both described as transient, were walking down the street when two women pulled up in a small, green or gray SUV.
The victims became involved in an argument with the to women, Hettema said. Two men then emerged from the nearby apartments and also confronted the two victims.
“All four suspects began assaulting the victims with their hands,” the lieutenant said.
The two victims dropped their cell phones, as well as a small red purse, during the struggle, he said. The robbers snatched up the victim’s property and fled.
The victim declined to be taken to a hospital, he said.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.