Suspect identified in slaying of San Dimas sandwich shop owner

"LASD Lieutenant David Coleman of the Homicide Bureau speaks during a press conference seeking the publicÕs assistance in locating the suspect involved in the murder of San Dimas Quiznos sandwich shop proprietor Pravin Patel that occurred on Tuesday, June 2 at 3:20 p.m. in the 1000 block of West Arrow Highway. Patel, was shot after being robbed at gunpoint in his restaurant. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune) "

“LASD Lieutenant David Coleman of the Homicide Bureau speaks during a press conference seeking the publicÕs assistance in locating the suspect involved in the murder of San Dimas Quiznos sandwich shop proprietor Pravin Patel that occurred on Tuesday, June 2 at 3:20 p.m. in the 1000 block of West Arrow Highway. Patel, was shot after being robbed at gunpoint in his restaurant. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

SAN DIMAS >> Homicide detectives have identified a man already in custody for a custody in connection with armored car robberies and the shooting of an armored car driver as the alleged gunman in the fatal shooting of a San Dimas sandwich shop owner in San Dimas last year, authorities announced Friday.
Sergey Gutsu, 24, is suspected in the June 2, 2015, slaying of Pravin “Peter” Patel during a robbery at the Quiznos shop Patel owned and operated at 1034 W. Arrow Highway in San Dimas, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
He is already in custody in Sonoma County, where he and alleged accomplice Ivan Morales, 24, are accused of shooting an armored car driver during a robbery in Windsor on Tuesday, then fired shots at deputies during a chase that preceded their ultimate arrests, according to Sonoma and Los Angeles county sheriff’s officials.
“During the course of the investigation, “(Violent Crimes Investigation Unit) detectives developed information that Gutsu and Morales were likely involved in other crimes throughout the state,” Sonoma County sheriff’s Sgt. Cecile Focha said in a written statement.
“Although we cannot divulge specific details of the investigations, we are confident that one or both are responsible for an armored car robbery in Granada Hills and a robbery/homicide in San Dimas.”
Los Angeles County homicide detectives met with Gutsu in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, officials said.
“During the interview, the suspect admitted to being involved in the murder of victim Patel,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Morales had not been linked to the San Dimas slaying, Corina said.
Q2In the San Dimas case, Patel was working behind the counter when a gunman robbed the sandwich shop, Lt. David Coleman of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
Patel turned over the money from the register, amounting to no more than a few hundred dollars, when the robber threatened to shoot two customers inside the store, officials said.
But once the robber left, Patel followed him outside and became involved in a struggle with the robber, Corina said. The gunman opened fire, mortally wounding Patel.
Patel, 62, described by Coleman as a “loving, kind man,” worked alongside his wife at the family restaurant.
Authorities released a composite sketch of the killer and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Patel’s killer. But the gunman remained elusive, and unidentified, until he implicated himself in the slaying on Tuesday, Corina said.
A gun seized from Gutsu at the time of his arrest in Sonoma County is of the same caliber used in Patel’s killing, Corina said. Forensic testing was pending to determined whether the weapons were one and the same.
Gutsu grew up in Arcadia, and more recently split his time between southern and northern California, Corina said.
According to Sonoma County booking records, Gutsu remains in custody without bail on charges of robbery attempted murder, along with special allegations that he personally used a gun.
The investigation into his alleged crimes in Los Angeles County and elsewhere remained ongoing, officials said.
“We’re still working our case and putting it together,” Corina said.

PHOTO of victim Pravin Patel, below (courtesy)

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Elderly couple robbed in their Arcadia home


ARCADIA >> A burglary turned into a robbery late Tuesday after an elderly couple awoke to find three intruders in their bedroom demanding valuables, police said.
The crime took place about 10:55 p.m. in the 500 block of West Live Oak Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. Kirk Pedersen said in a written statement.
Two elderly victims were home sleeping when they awoke to three suspects in their bedroom,” Pederson said. “The suspects demanded cash and jewelry.”
No weapons were seen.
The intruders fled the home with an undetermined amount of money and jewelry, Lt. Colleen Flores said. It was determined they had entered the home through an unlocked rear sliding door.
The victims, who were in there 70s and 80s, suffered “minor injuries” during the incident, though it was not initially clear how they were hurt, officials added.
Police described the robbers as three men between 20 and 30 years old.
One had a dark complexion, stood about 5 feet 5 inches tall, was of thin build, and wore a hooded sweat shirt. The two additional robbers were further described as wearing dark clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police as 626-574-5151 in reference to case 1603602. Tips may also be subm9itted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Pasadena woman taken for psychiatric evaluation following window smash spree in Sierra Madre, Arcadia

Police took a woman for psychiatric evaluation after a rock-throwing vandalism spree that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to cars and buildings in Sierra Madre and Arcadia early Saturday.
The woman, a 35-year-old Pasadena resident, was expected to face vandalism charges once released from the hospital, Sierra Madre police officials said in a written statement.
The alleged rock rampage unfolded between about 7 and a.m., officials said.
Sierra Madre police received reports that the windows of three buildings and one car in their city had been smashed with rocks.
“While officers from the Sierra Madre Police Department were investigating the incidents, they soon learned that numerous locations were also vandalized with rocks in the City of Arcadia,” according to the statement.
Several cars at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, another car at the north end of Arcadia and a glass door at the Arboretum had also had their windows smashed with rocks, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
Crowther spotted a car matching the description of the Sierra Madre vandal driving in Arcadia about 8 a.m., he said. He pulled over the car and detained the woman driving without incident.
“(A) witness positively identified the vehicle and the female driver as the one seen leaving the scene of one of the vandalisms that occurred in Sierra Madre,” the Sierra Madre police statement said. “During an inventory search of the suspect’s vehicle, numerous rocks — similar to the rocks found at the above crime scenes — were located inside the cab of the car.”
Police in Arcadia were still seeking witnesses Sunday to link the woman to the vandalisms in their city, Crowther said.
The woman appeared to be suffering from psychiatric issues and was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, officials said.
She faces potential charges of felony vandalism once released from treatment, police added.
The value of the damage in Sierra Madre was estimated at more than $3,000. An estimate of the damage in Arcadia was not available.

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Man robbed at Arcadia motel after trying to meet escort


ARCADIA >> A man who showed up at an Arcadia motel to meet an escort ended up getting robbed Wednesday evening, authorities said.
Niyah Brooklyn Milan, 22, of Chicago was booked on suspicion of robbery and false imprisonment shorty after the 7:30 p.m. incident at the Santa Anita Inn, 130 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
The victim reported he went to the motel to meet with a female escort he had met through an online service, the lieutenant said.
But when he arrived, Milan was in the room, dressed in female attire, rather than the escort the victim had conversed with online.
“The victim attempted to leave, but the suspect blocked his path,” Cullen said. Milan then claimed to be armed with a gun, though none was seen, and demanded the victim’s money.
The victim then left the motel and called police, who soon arrested Milan at the motel and recovered the victim’s cash, Cullen said. The victim was unharmed.
It was not clear whether Milan identified as female permanently, or donned female attire for the purpose of the alleged crime.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Milan was being held in lieu of $50,000 pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in Pasadena Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Couple sought following Arcadia beer run, hit-and-run crashes

Arcadia’s own Bonnie & Clyde:

ARCADIA >> A liquor-loving man and woman carried out a beer run in Arcadia Saturday before crashing their car nearby and continuing to flee on foot, police said.
The incident began about 5:30 with a report of an alcohol theft from Royal Oaks Liquors, 511 N. 1st Ave., Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
A man and woman took various alcoholic beverages from the store without paying, then fled in a silver Nissan Altima, the lieutenant said.
Within minutes, police received word of a hit-and-run collision a block to the west at Colorado Boulevard and Santa Anita Avenue, he said.
A silver Nissan believed to be the same one involved in the liquor store theft struck another vehicle, Cullen said. No injuries were reported.
“While attempting to flee the scene of the initial collision, the suspects were involved in a second collision just north of the intersection,” he said. Their car struck a chain that was hung across a private parking lot.
“The suspects abandoned the vehicle and fled the area,” Cullen said. Officers searched the area, but did not find them.
Police described one of the thieves as a Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, of medium build, with a shaved head. He wore shorts.
He was accompanies by a Latina woman between 18 and 20, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 130 pounds, with hair dyed red and pulled back. She wore painted-on red eyelashes, a black T-shirt and burgundy pants.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Men sought in counter-hopping cough syrup theft at Arcadia pharmacy

0603_NWS_PSN-L-SYRUP
ARCADIA >> Police are seeking two men who hopped a pharmacy counter to steal bottles of codeine-laden cough syrup last week.
The crime took place about 9:30 p.m. on May 25 at CVS Pharmacy, 1401 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said in a written statement.
“As one suspect distracted a pharmacist with a ‘consultation,’ the second suspect jumped the pharmacy counter and moved directly to a supply of bottled promethazine (with) codeine cough syrup,” Nakamura said. “He grabbed a number of bottles and placed them in a brown bag. Both suspects then ran out of the store through an emergency exit.”
No getaway car was seen.
Police released store surveillance camera images of the thieves Thursday in hopes of generating leads.
Both suspects were described as white or Latino men between 20 and 30 years old. One stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds, while the other was about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds.
Anyone with information can reach Arcadia police at 626-574-5150 in reference to Case No. 16002821. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

SURVEILLANCE CAMERA photos courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

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Man robs Arcadia Walgreens of baby formula


ARCADIA >> A shoplifting turned into a robbery Sunday when a man stealing more than $100 worth of baby formula from an Arcadia Walgreens store threatened to shoot an employee who tried to intervene, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 2:40 p.m. at Walgreens, 140 Live Oak Ave., Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
A man left the store without paying for the baby formula and was confronted by a store employee, the sergeant said.
The robber threatened to retrieve a gun and fled, he said.
He was described as a black man, 20 to 30 years old, about 6 feet 1 inch tall and of thin build, Bonomo said.
He got into a green, four-door car believed to have a Nevada license plate, he said. It was driven by a black woman in her 20s or 30s heading south on Tyler Avenue.
Anyone with information can reach Arcadia police at 626-574-5151.

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San Marino police arrest woman and daughter for mail, ID theft


SAN MARINO >> A woman and her daughter will be spending Mother’s Day together, behind bars, after police caught them driving through San Marino with mail stolen from Arcadia, along with a U.S. Postal Service master key and methamphetamine, authorities said.
Estela Castaneda, 48, of Huntington Park and daughter Elizabeth Castaneda, 22, of Rosemead, were arrested just after midnight Friday following what began as a routine traffic stop for a traffic violation in the 1300 block of Bradbury Road, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers soon noticed that the driver, Estela Castaneda, and her daughter had pieces of mail and checks that had been stolen in Arcadia, along with a U.S. Postal Service lock and master key, or “arrow key,” San Marino police Detective Sergeant Timothy Tebbetts said in a written statement.
As police were booking the women into jail at the Alhambra Police Department, jail guards found the mother hiding “a substance resembling methamphetamine,” the sergeant said.
Police booked the mother and daughter on suspicion of crimes including identity theft, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine and possession of contraband inside a jail, officials said.
“The mail appears to be stolen out of the city of Arcadia,” Tebbetts said. “San Marino Police are working with Postal Inspectors to locate additional victims. U.S. Postal Inspectors are seeking to file federal charges on both suspects.”
Estela Castaneda was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail, while Elizabeth Castaneda was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, records show. Both were scheduled for arraignment hearings Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Alhambra branch.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Tebbetts at 626-300-0722. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Officials identify South Gate man fatally run over by bulldozer in Arcadia


ARCADIA >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 61-year-old construction worker who died after being run over by a bulldozer while working to level a vacant residential lot in Arcadia last month.
Sirpriano Dorame-Martinez of South Gate died in the industrial accident, which took place about 11:20 a.m. on April 15 in the 900 block of Monte Verde Drive, Ed Winter, assistance chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said.
Dorame-Martinez was working alongside another employee of Camerena Land Clearing to level the lot for new home construction when the mishap occurred, according to Arcadia Police and California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health officials said.
“One of the workers was operating a large bulldozer, flattening the lot,” Arcadia police Lt. Vaughn Whalen said in a written statement. “In the process of flattening the lot, the operator drove over (Dorame-Martinez).”
Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene, officials said.
Representatives of the contractor could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
OSHA officials described the construction equipment involved in the fatal accident as a Caterpillar.
An autopsy determined Dorame-Marintez died from “multiple traumatic injuries,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
OSHA has joined Arcadia police in investigating the incident, according to agency spokeswoman Julia Bernstein. The OSHA investigation may take up to six months to complete.

  • By Brian Day and Courtney Tompkins
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Driver accused of hit-and-run after striking woman, teen in Arcadia crosswalk


ARCADIA >> A driver struck a woman and her teenage niece in an Arcadia crosswalk and fled the scene before being captured nearby Saturday, police said.
Officers arrested Rebeca Gonzalez, 54, of Arcadia on suspicion of felony hit-and-run within minutes of the 6:08 p.m. hit-and-run along Huntington Drive, just east of Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
A 56-year-old woman and her 17-year-old niece suffered injuries described as moderate, he said.
They were crossing Huntington Drive mid-block, within a crosswalk, when they were struck by a Dodge sedan heading west in the left-hand lane, the lieutenant said.
The driver, later identified as Gonzalez, continued driving without stopping to check on the victims, Cullen said.
But a witnesses followed her until police stopped and detained her nearby, he said.
An update on the victims’ conditions was not available late Saturday.
Gonzalez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.

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