Man severely burned in fire at suspected ‘honey oil’ lab in Altadena


ALTADENA >> A man suffered burns to 40 percent of his body after an explosion and fire at an Altadena home being used to extract concentrated hash oil from marijuana, authorities said.
Deputies were first summoned to the 1800 block of E. Midwick Drive about 4:10 p.m. by reports of a person heard screaming, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“When they arrived they saw a male adult badly burned and flames coming from the rear of a house,” according to the statement.
After Los Angeles County firefighters extinguished the fire and treated the victim, deputies discovered a large number of “containers and equipment” which they recognized as part of a manufacturing lab used to extract THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, from plants, authorities said. “Several windows of the house were blown out, possibly from an explosion.”
The process to extract concentrated THC oil, also known as “honey oil,” from marijuana plants often involves highly flammable liquids.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department hazardous materials team, sheriff’s narcotics detectives and U.S. Department of Justice officials investigated and decontaminated the scene in a process that lasted through 6 a.m. Saturday morning, officials said.
The badly burned man was taken to a hospital with severe burns covering about 40 percent of his body.
The man, whose name was not available, may face several criminal charges in connection with the alleged honey oil lab.


PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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$20K reward renewed in 2013 slaying of Azusa man on Altadena horse trail

ALTADENA >> The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday renewed a $20,000 reward in the case of a West Covina man whose body was found four years ago on an Altadena horse trail.
Marcus Anthony Nieto, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene by coroner’s officials on February 16, 2013 after he was discovered unresponsive by two riders near the 3800 block of Canon Boulevard, officials said in a written statement.
He died of “multiple blunt trauma to the head” and the death was ruled a homicide, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records.
Investigators said Nieto left his home to visit an acquaintance in Pomona, but may have returned to the Covina/Azusa area at some point before he went missing.
The reward, originally approved by the board in April of 2014, had expired before Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s motion reestablishing it for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a suspect or suspects responsible for the murder.
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.

— Sandra Molina and Brian Day

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Coroner: Mountain biker found in forest above Altadena died from natural causes

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> A mountain biker from Torrance found dead in the Angeles National Forest north of Altadena last year died of natural causes, and not as a result of a biking accident, an autopsy found.
Evan Bruce Sisson, 49, of Torrance, died from ischemic heart disease and atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s records. Investigators also noted a medical history of hypertension and ruled the death natural.
His body was found Jan. 31 along the Brown Mountain Truck Trail amid a search for the cyclist, who was reported missing after failing to return from a ride the previous day, officials said.
Though deputies notes some injuries on the body consistent with a fall from his bike, a cause of death was not immediately apparent. Following the initial autopsy, Sisson’s cause of death was delayed pending further forensic testing.

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Fire scorches Altadena discount store


ALTADENA >> A fire gutted a discount store in Altadena late Friday but resulted in no injuries, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 11:03 p.m. at Joon’s Discount, at Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Los Angeles County firefighters encountered “heavy smoke and fire” inside the building when they arrived.
“Fire department units had to use cutting tools to gain access inside and after fighting the fire for several minutes they were able to search the inside of the store and, thankfully, no one was inside,” according to the statement.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but there were no initial indications of suspicious circumstances, officials said.
“Most if not all of the contents of the store had been damaged by fire, smoke and water,” the statement continued.
A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


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UPDATED: Altadena man fatally shot in suspected hunting accident in Maryland

MARYLAND >> A 32-year-old Altadena man died over the weekend after being shot in a suspected hunting accident in Maryland, authorities said.
Vincent Cavallo died at the scene of the shooting, which took place about just before 9:30 a.m. on Saturday on a private piece of land in the Thurmont area, near Camp David, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thompson said.
An autopsy was yet to be completed by coroner’s officials, but the initial investigation indicated Cavallo accidentally shot himself in the head with a .30-06 hunting rifle, she said.
It appeared he either tripped or dropped his rifle when the firearm discharged and struck him in the head, Thomson said.
He was on his first hunting trip with his uncle when the fatal mishap occurred, she said.
The two men had been separated for about half an hour as they searched for deer when the uncle heard a shot ring out, according to Thompson. The uncle initially thought his nephew had taken a shot at a deer.
But when the man sought out his nephew, he found him lying mortally wounded.
“It was his first hunt. He was excited,” Thompson said of Cavallo.
He had recently completed a hunter safety course in California, which his uncle insisted upon before taking him on the trip.
But “to all indications,” Cavallo was carrying the loaded rifle with the safety off, she said. Use of the rifle’s safety likely could have prevented the incident.
The suspected accidental discharge was not the only one reported Saturday, Thompson said. Another hunter suffered a gunshot wound to his leg in a similar incident.
Saturday marked the first day of Maryland’s two-week, modern firearms deer hunting season.

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UPDATED: Suspect in Altadena machete attack arrested near San Gabriel

SAN GABRIEL >> Deputies arrested a man sought in connection with a machete attack on a woman in Altadena after an hour-long neighborhood search near San Gabriel late Wednesday, authorities said.
Authorities had been seeking 45-year-old Gaines Ashley Boyd since late Wednesday morning, when he allegedly struck his roommate in the head with a machete in Altadena and fled the scene, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies and Pasadena police spotted Boyd about 9:20 p.m., driving in the 1900 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Deputies followed on the ground and via helicopter as Boyd drove a silver Porsche Carrera at high speeds to the 9100 block of Duarte Road in unincorporated East San Gabriel, sheriff’s officials said.
He then exited the car and ran through a nearby apartment complex, prompting deputies to launch a neighborhood search, sheriff’s Lt. Ronald Daily said.
Boyd was found and arrested without a struggle in a residential garage about 10:30 p.m., he said.
He was accused of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Altadena machete attack, which unfolded at his home in the 1500 block of East Altadena Drive, sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Stanley said.
The suspect’s roommate, a 45-year-old woman, suffered a serious but not life-threatening head wound in the attack, he said.
The motive was unclear.
According to county booking records, Boyd was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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UPDATED: Woman injured in Altadena machete attack, suspect sought

ALTADENA >> Detectives are seeking a man who struck his roommate in the head with a machete at an Altadena home on Wednesday, officials said.
The attack took place about 11:10 a.m. in the 1500 block East Altadena Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Stanley said.
Deputies responding to a report of a “disturbance” at the home encountered a 34-year-old woman bleeding from the head after being struck with a machete, Stanley said.
“The victim was bleeding profusely and was transported to a hospital where she is being treated for a laceration to the head,” the lieutenant said. The injury was not believed to be life threatening.
The attacker fled the area in a sedan before deputies arrived, Stanley said.
Investigators knew the identity of the 45-year-old suspect, but did not release it publicly as they continued seeking him Wednesday evening.
The suspect and victim were initially described as roommates, he said.
Arcadia police rushed to Santa Anita Park in their city after their counterparts in Altadena received word that the suspect may have been heading there, officials said. Officers search the area but found no sign of the man.
The search for the suspect continued Wednesday night. The motive in the attack remained under investigation.
Anyone with information can reach the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Altadena Station at 626-798-1131. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Altadena residents hold peace walk in response to recent violence


ALTADENA >> Fed up with a spate of shootings that has left at least four people wounded and a 4-year-old boy dead in recent weeks, members of the Altadena community held a silent walk for peace in an effort to take back their streets from violence.
Marchers of all ages gathered at Lincoln Avenue and Woodbury Road, before making their way to Lincoln Avenue and Figueroa Drive in a “Mile of Men” march held in conjunction with Hillside Tabernacle Church.
“We’re trying to control our neighborhood and take back our community back,” said. Helen Liddell, whose 25-year-old grandson was wounded in a July 30 shooting near the end of the march route at Lincoln Avenue and Figueroa Drive. “These things need to be known. We need to stop and correct this.”
PEACEWALK2He was walking home from a friend’s house when he heard someone following behind him, the grandmother said. He turned around just in time to see someone in a white T-shirt opening fire with a handgun. The victim fled his attacker, but was wounded in his legs.
“Wrong place, wrong day,” Liddell said. The shooting remains unsolved.
Liddell’s grandson, who she said has no gang-involvement, is recovering well from the shooting and took part in the march. Despite his physical progress in his recuperation, he is continuing to deal with psychological issues from the attack, Liddell said. He becomes alarmed when he hears loud noises, such as balloons popping.
Displaying signs with messages such as, “Stop the violence,” “God, Family, Community,” and “Unity in the Community,” dozens of demonstrators decried the senseless bloodshed the community has recently witnessed…


PHOTOS via James Carbone


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Man shot in Altadena

ALTADENA >> A man was expected to survive his wounds following a shooting in Altadena Saturday night, authorities said.
Deputies received a report of a “person down” about 9 p.m. at Lincoln Avenue and Figueroa Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Stanley said.
They found a man estimated to be in his late-20s suffering from a gunshot wounds to his legs, the lieutenant said. He was hospitalized with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
No suspect description was available. The circumstances of the shooting remained under investigation.

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4-year-old boy killed, man wounded in barrage of gunfire on porch of Altadena home


ALTADENA >> A 4-year-old boy sitting on his mom’s porch was killed and a man was wounded in a shooting outside an Altadena home late Tuesday, authorities said.
Deputies and paramedics rushed Salvador “Chavita” Esparza III to a hospital following the 10:30 p.m. shooting in the 300 block of Figureoa Drive, just west of Grandeur Avenue, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner coroner.
ChavitaA 27-year-old man, described as a family friend, was also wounded by gunfire and was initially hospitalized in critical condition, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. An updated on his condition was not available Wednesday.
The search for the unidentified shooter who fled the scene in a black or dark-colored sedan continued Wednesday, as detectives and crime scene investigators scoured the scene for clues. A detailed suspect description was not available, and it was unclear of the shooter had any accomplices. The motive remained under investigation.
“An unknown suspect drove up to the residence and fired rounds toward a residence, striking both victims whom were on the porch, according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The boy was not believed to be the intended target of the shooting.
Andrew Ramos said he was in his house when he heard the gun shots.
“It had to be more than 10,” he said. Ramos said he heard on arguing or other sounds that caught his attention prior to the gunfire.
The gunman reportedly fires at least 13 rounds.
Ramos said his family initially thought the noise was from fireworks. Ramos’ father went outside to look around and discovered there had been a shooting.
Several others neighbors also said they thought the noises were due to fireworks at first.
Jonathan Franklin, 33, lives nearby and said he also mistook the noise for fireworks, before deputies flooded into the neighborhood.
He also recalled hearing numerous voices involved in some kind of “commotion” about the time of the shots, but couldn’t be sure if it was related.
ALTA SHOOTING2Esparza’s aunt, Jackie Campos, said the family was still coming to grips with Tuesday’ night’s tragic violence.
“We don’t have any information,” Campos said. “We’re just waiting for answers. It’s not going to be easy.”
Esparza’s parents are separated, Campos said. The boy split his time between his father’s house in Monrovia and his mother’s house in Altadena. Neither parents has gang ties, she said.
Campos said she did not know who the adult wounded in the shooting was. Sheriff’s officials described him as a family friend, and not related to the young boy.
The aunt described Esparza as a calm, sweet boy, just an “average 4-year-old” who loved Spider-man and other superheroes.
“He lit up the room every time he walked in,” Campos said through tears, her voice quivering. “He was the kindest soul.”
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.
Funds to benefit the family are being collected online at

PHOTOSof scene by Walt Mancini. Photo of Salvador Esparza III courtesy of family.

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