YOLO COUNTY >> Authorities scaled back their search for a missing Alhambra man and former Harlem Globetrotter who vanished earlier this month while driving to Washington State, Yolo County sheriff’s officials said.
The search for Rick Omarr Harris, 37, began Oct. 14 after deputies noticed his Nissan sedan had been sitting for two days along State Route 16, near Rumsey, in a wilderness park in Yolo County, Yolo County sheriff’s Lt. Lance Faille said.
An investigation determined he was en route to Seattle, where he had recently moved with hid girlfriend from Alhambra, officials said. He had stopped in Alhambra Oct. 9 to pick up some belongings before heading back to Washington about 1 a.m. Oct. 10.
Harris called his mother about 9:30 a.m. Oct. 10 and said he was tired and planning on pulling over to rest, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. He have no sign of distress.
Officials scoured the area by foot, ATV and aircraft, Yolo County sheriff’s Capt. Larry Cecchettini said. Officials also called upon the public to keep an eye out for Harris.
After a full week of searching the area surrounding where Harris car was found, “The search has failed to locate Harris or provide evidence other than his vehicle and a few personal effect,” the captain said.
The physical search was scaled back Wednesday, though extra patrols were to continue in the area with both marked and unmarked patrol cars, sheriff’s officials said.
“We will not comment on the onoing investigation other than to say that no foul play is suspected,” Cecchettini said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office at 530-668-5280.
PHOTO – Courtesy
MONTEREY PARK >> Homicide detectives sought clues Wednesday into the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in the parking lot of a business.
Edward Mendoza, 35, died at a hospital after he was wounded in the stabbing about 9:10 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Portrero Grande and Arroyo drives, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. He was believed to have been staying in Monterey Park.
Few details were available regarding the stabbing. No description of the killer was known.
After being stabbed, Mendoza managed to call 9-1-1 from a cell phone to seek help, Corina said.
Responding police officers and paramedics found Mendoza collapsed at what was believed to be the scene of the stabbing in the parking lot of a business park, Corina said.
Paramedics took Mendoza to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries at 10:11 p.m., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
A friend and co-worker of the victim at the city of Alhambra, who did not want to be identified, said that the victim worked with children as a physical education coach.
“It’s a huge loss to the family. We are very close,” he said.
Alhambra city officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A second man, who identified himself as the victim’s childhood friend, believes the victim may have been leaving from the home of his mother, who lives in the area.
According to the man, the victim not drive and took public transportation to get around. He also said the victim was found with his backpack and wallet.
The motive in the fatal stabbing remained under investigation.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like he was robbed,” Corina said.
The circumstance leading up to the killing also remained unclear Wednesday. “We don’t know what he was doing there,” Corina said.
Mendoza had been staying several blocks away, but within walking distance, from the parking lot where he was stabbed, the lieutenant said.
Other than that he needed help, Corina declined to discuss what Mendoza said during his call to 9-1-1 after being stabbed, citing the ongoing investigation.
The weapon used in the killing had not been recovered Wednesday afternoon, he said.
Detectives Wednesday continued reviewing surveillance cameras at nearby businesses for clues, Corina added.
Virginia Schellberg, an employee at Southern California Funeral Service located in the business complex, said the victim’s girlfriend and best friend were at the scene at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“They said there was no reason for him to out walking (at that hour) and they don’t understand how it happened,” Schellberg said. “They stopped by because they wanted to see where it happened. They’re devastated.”
Anyone with information is asked to call LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Friends set up an online fund to collect donations to benefit Mendoza’s family at www.gofundme.com/fvoges.
– By Venusse Navid and Brian Day
PHOTO of crime scene by Venusse Navid
PHOTOS of Edward Menoza, courtesy
A day after police arrested five students from a USC fraternity on suspicion of stealing plants and statues from an Alhambra neighborhood to use as party decor, a group of fellow students announced plans to replace the allegedly pilfered ornaments.
A neighbor reported seeing young men shearing off the tops of palm trees and helping themselves to five garden statues shortly after 1 a.m. in the 300 block of South Almansor Street, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. The statues depicted ducks, a cat and Buddha, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
Police soon stopped a pickup truck containing the items, as well as five members of USC’s Sigma Nu fraternity.
Officers arrested Dylan Walter, 19, Miles Horton, 18, Graham Vines, 18, Darshan Patel, 18, and Eyobed Mesfun, 19, on suspicion of theft and conspiracy to commit theft.
A group of seven USC fraternities banded together and released a statement Thursday to denouncing the alleged theft and promising to repair the affected neighborhood.
“Right now, we all look bad. But we are going to show the families of Alhambra that this is not what we are about,” Tau Kappa Epsilon President Joe Mallick said.
Members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta Xi, Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Gamma Omega, Pi Kappa and Sigma Alpha Mu planned to buy plants and decorations to replace the ones involved in Wednesday’s incident and deliver them to Almansor Street, the statement said.
Tau Kappa Epsilon Educator Andrew Sanford said actions speak louder than words.
When visiting the Alhambra neighborhood, “We are going to wear USC shirts. We want everyone to know that Trojans believe in service to others. And we want to show that when some of our own make a mistake, we are there to make it right.”
All five suspects were released from jail Wednesday pending their initial court appearances after posting $20,000 bail each, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
ALHAMBRA >> Police wrote 75 tickets to drivers who allegedly failed to stop for pedestrians Tuesday during a sting at an intersection where two pedestrians have been struck and seriously injured by cars over the past two weeks.
The pedestrian “decoy” operation was held from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Valley Boulevard and 7th Street, Alhambra police Lt. Gary LaGuard said.
Police officers wearing brightly colored reflective vests crossed the street in a crosswalk as their counterparts in uniform stopped and ticketed drivers who failed to yield for the pedestrians.
A crowd of people gathered to watch the operation applauded officers at one point, police said. A 25-year-old Alhambra woman was as struck and seriously injured by a car at the intersection Sept. 16.
The woman was hospitalized with injuries, including a broken back after, she was struck by a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu about 11:30 p.m., Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. The impact threw the woman about 80 feet.
Another woman was struck and badly injured by a Honda Accord at the same intersection about 6:40 p.m. Sept. 11, Johnson said.
Neither driver was arrested or cited as Alhambra police continued their investigation, police said.
On the Alhambra Police Department’s Facebook page, motorists expressed both approval and frustration. And many said they believed the addition of signal lights or pedestrian crossing lights at the intersection would improve safety.
“Instead of giving tickets, how about improving pedestrian safety? Not by ticketing, but by improving the drivers senses and awareness to the pedestrians. Flashing lights, marked crosswalks, sound, bigger signs, crossing guards during peak hours, etc… Penalizing drivers doesn’t make them any better vs. fixing the actual problem,” Gian Carlo F. Sevilla posted on the social media site.
Tony Leu approved of the operation.
“Great job APD! Many motorists just don’t pay enough attention to pedestrians,” he wrote.
Some posters embraced both points of view.
“Good job, but the city should really invest money in creating safer streets by way of infrastructure redesign,” Andrew Fung Yip wrote.
The Alhambra Police Department’s own post announcing the decoy operation received 637 “likes.”
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested an Alhambra woman Friday afternoon after she left her 20-month-old daughter inside a car with its windows rolled up for about half an hour, authorities said.
The toddler was crying and dehydrated when removed from the car, which had reached temperatures between 111 and 124 degrees as is sat parked in the afternoon sun, Alhambra police Lt. Gabriel Ponce said. Officials took the girl to a hospital for observation.
Officers arrested Diaohong Zhen, 42, on suspicion of felony child endangerment, the lieutenant said.
A passerby noticed the young girl alone inside the car shortly before 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Park Elementary School, 301 N. Marengo Ave., Ponce said.
School officials checked on the girl and found the car door unlocked, so they took her indoors into the air conditioning and called police, he said.
“Luckily, school staff intervened and rescued the child, who was crying and suffering from dehydration,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
Police found Zhen in the school office, where she was waiting for two of her other children, Ponce said.
Officers measured temperatures ranging from 111 degrees to 124 degrees inside the parked car, the lieutenant added.
A total of five children were placed in the custody of a family friend as the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services launched an investigation, Ponce said.
Police reminded the public that leaving children or pets inside hot cars can result in death.
“Luckily, this story has a happy ending,” according to the police statement.
Information regarding Zhen’s initial court appearance was not available Friday.
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested a man Sunday on suspicion of exposing himself in a bathroom at Story Park, authorities said.
The alleged indecent exposure was reported about 3:30 p.m. at Story Park, 210 N. Chapel Ave., Alhambra police Lt. Jennifer Wiese said.
A man called police after seeing the suspect exposing and touching himself inside a bathroom, the lieutenant said.
The witness provided police with license plate of the suspects dark gray Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, she said. Officers found the vehicle and at the suspect’s San Gabriel Valley home, where he was arrested.
Detectives withheld the suspect’s name Sunday as they continued their investigation and sought any possible additional victims who may have encountered him, Wiese said. He was initially described as a man in his late-50s or early-60s.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Alhambra police at 626-570-5151.
ALHAMBRA >> A former Monterey Park special education teacher convicted of molesting four students received a 16-year prison sentence Friday, authorities said.
Ex-Repetto Elementary School teacher Jose Jesus Mosqueda, 45, of Los Angeles, was sentenced by Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jared Moses, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He pleaded guilty in July to three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, she said.
“The defendant sexually molested special education students in fourth grade between 2008 and 2011,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Some of the molestations took place during class time, according to attorney’s representing the victims in pending civil lawsuits against the Alhambra Unified School District.
Mosqueda was first arrested in October of 2011 after a students reported her teacher had sexually assaulted her, according to Ardalani.
Mosqueda posted bail and was released from jail before a second girl came forward and made similar allegations, officials. Police re-arrested Mosqueda.
While still behind bars for the second time, a fourth special education student reported being molested by Mosqueda, Ardalani said.
After initially pleading not guilty to eight felony charges, Mosqueda accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to four of the charges July 29, Ardalani said. Additional charges of child molestation and dissuading a witness were dropped under the “negotiated plea.”
Mosqueda was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said. He was scheduled to appear at a restitution hearing Dec. 4.
He passed a state-mandated background check when he was hired by the AUSD five years prior to his arrest, district officials said shortly after his arrest.
Mosqueda was placed on compulsory leave once the allegations first emerged.
His employment was expected to be terminated upon conviction, however AUSD officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Two additional criminal cases alleging sexual misconduct by AUSD personnel are pending, along with civil claims filed against the district by the parents of Mosqueda’s victims.
Another AUSD teacher is awaiting trial on accusations of carrying on a seven-year-long sexual relationship with a former student.
Garfield Elementary School teacher Jeffrey Yoshitake, 43, is charged with five counts of committing lewd acts on a child for carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage formers student.
Yoshitake was arrested in February, district attorney’s officials said. Prosecutors allege he began a sexual relationship in April of 2005 with a then-15-year-old former student, who was in high school at the time.
The tenured teacher, who first joined AUSD as a substitute teacher in 1996, has denied the charges.
Yoshitake has been released from custody on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court Sept. 23 for a preliminary hearing setting, according to booking records.
Yoshitake was also placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
Meanwhile, former Alhambra High School assistant principal Andrea Cardosa, 40, is awaiting trial in Riverside County on 16 counts of child molestation that allegedly took place while she worked with the Riverside Unified School District and the Val Verde Unified School District in years past.
Cardosa resigned from her position in January after on of her two alleged victims posted a YouTube video in which Cardosa appears to admit having a sexual relationship with the now-adult woman when she was a in middle school and high school between 1997 and 2001.
A second woman came forward days later to report she was also victimized by Cardosa when she was a high school student in 2009 or 2010, officials said.
Cardosa, who is being held in lieu of $5 million bail, is scheduled to appear in Riverside Superior Court Oct. 22 for a felony settlement conference, court records show.
PHOTO of Jose Mosqueda courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.
ALHAMBRA — Two people were hospitalized following a stabbing during a house party in Alhambra late Friday, authorities said.
Police first learned of the stabbing just before midnight when the two victims sought help by driving to a police checkpoint at Fremont Avenue and Orange Street, Alhambra police Sgt. Esther Rodriguez said.
Officers determined the stabbing had taken place at or near a house party in the 3200 block of West Montezuma Avenue, she said.
The victims were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Rodriguez said.
The ages and genders of the stabbing victims were not available, nor was any suspect description.
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested a man Wednesday after he allegedly tried to take photos of a 10-year-old girl as she changed clothing in the changing room of an Alhambra department store.
Fu Sheng Situ, 22, of Los Angeles, was booked on suspicion of child annoyance, Alhambra police Lt. Gary LaGuard said.
The incident took place Wednesday afternoon at Kohl’s, 1201 S Fremont Ave., Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
“A male subject entered the women’s changing room at Kohl’s department store this afternoon and tried to use his cell phone to take pictures of a 10-year-old girl trying on clothes,” according to the police statement.
Police responded to the store and detained Situ without a struggle, LaGuard said.
Detectives were looking into whether the suspect had victimized others, police said.
Situ was expected to be released from custody with a misdemeanor citation, LaGuard said.
According to county booking records, Situ was scheduled to appear for arraignment Oct. 6 in Alhambra Superior Court. Police reminded residents to, “Be sure to always keep an eye on your kids and be aware of their surroundings, especially at public restrooms and changing rooms.”
Anyone with information can reach Alhambra police at 626-570-5151.
ALHAMBRA >> A massive tortoise found wandering through the streets of Alhambra Saturday has been reunited with his owners, police said.
The 150-pound reptile was spotted by a passer-by about 1 p.m. Saturday in the area of 6th Street and Norwood Place, Alhambra police Sgt. Esther Rodriguez said.
Two officers hoisted the large animal into a patrol car before it was taken into the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, she said.
The tortoise’s owners, an Alhambra family, claimed the tortoise late Saturday morning, Rodriguez said. It turned out his name id “Dirk.”
Dirk was back at home with his family, including his best pal, a bulldog, Saturday afternoon, she said.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.