Azusa teen beaten with baseball bat, robbed of bicycle

AZUSA >> A suspect was behind bars Thursday and deputies sought several more after an Azusa teen was beaten with a baseball bat and robbed of his bicycle Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Juan Reyes , 25, of Azusa was arrested on suspicion of robbery about an hour after the crime, according to Los Angeles County booking records. A second 25-year-old Azusa man was arrested along with Reyes, but released from custody Thursday morning pending further investigation.
The violent robbery took place shortly before 6:10 p.m. as the victim, a 15-year-old boy, was riding his bike near Valleydale Park, in an unincorporated county area just south of Azusa, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said Vega said.
The teen reported he was “jumped” by a group of attackers, described as men in their 20s, the lieutenant said. One of the attackers wielded a baseball bat, with which he struck the teen in the head and hand.
The group fled with the teen’s bike, Vega said. At least some of them were seen fleeing in a car.
A witness was able to give deputies the license plate number of the car, officials said. Deputies went to the Azusa home where the car was registered, where they found and arrested Reyes.
A family member took the injured teen to a hospital, where he was treated for injuries including cuts to his head, Vega said. The injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
Reyes was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to county booking records. He was scheduled for arraignment Friday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Man accused of exposing self to girl near Azusa High School

AZUSA >> Police arrested a 48-year-old man after he exposed himself to a teenage girl outside of Azusa High School Friday morning, authorities said.
Jose Antonio Lopez of Azusa was booked on suspicion of indecent exposure in connection with the 7:30 a.m. incident in the 300 block of North Cerritos Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
“A 15-year-old girl was walking to school when she passed by a 1997 Nissan Quest van parked along the curb,” Sutcliffe said. “As she passed she saw a male adult, later identified as Jose Lopez, sitting in the passenger seat exposing himself and engaged in a sexual act.”
Police found and arrested Lopez about 3:30 p.m., according to Los Angeles County booking records.
“He admitted committing the crime to the arresting officer and was later released on his own recognizance,” Sutcliffe said.
Information regarding Lopez’s initial court appearance was not available Sunday.

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UPDATED — CHP: El Monte man killed by wrong-way DUI driver on 210 Freeway in Azusa

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AZUSA >> The life of a 19-year-old El Monte man was suddenly and senselessly cut short early Saturday after an allegedly intoxicated wrong-way driver plowed into his car at high speed on the 210 Freeway in Azusa, according to authorities and family members of the victim.
The fatal collision took place about 3:10 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway at Vernon Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada said.
Justin Romo, 19, was killed in the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Romo’s 1992 Nissan 240SX was struck head-on by the suspect’s 1997 Honda accord with a combined speed of 150 mph, CHP officials said.
Romo’s girlfriend, 16, was riding as his passenger and was hospitalized with injuries described as moderate, officials and Romo’s mother, Lupe Garcia, said.
The driver of the Honda, 24-year-old Tyler White Thompson, ran from the wreck but was arrested a short time later at his home in Duarte, according to CHP officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was treated for apparently minor injuries and booked on suspicion of intoxicated driving and hit-and-run, Posada said.
Officials were also seeking a second “person of interest” in connection with the crash, Posada said, however that person’s role in the incident was not clear. No description of the person of interest was available.
Officials first received a call at 3:08 a.m. reporting a wrong-way driver headed eastbound in the westbound lanes of the 210 Freeway near Irwindale Avenue in Irwindale, less than a mile west of the crash scene, CHP Acting Sergeant Ron Warrior said in a written statement.
Both vehicles were travelling about an estimated 75 mph when the collided, officials said. Romo, who had been driving in the left-hand lane, swerved in an attempt to avoid the oncoming Honda, but was unable to avoid a collision.
“As (the Honda) approached (the Nissan), (the Nissan) swerved to the left and a head-on collision occurred between the two vehicles,” Warrior said.
Romo succumbed to his injuries at the scene, officials said. His teenage passenger was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment. Her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
A Sig Alert remained in effect for all westbound lanes of the 210 Freeway at Vernon Avenue for more than four hours, Posada said.
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP are investigating the crash.
Thompson was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance, according to booking records.
Romo’s mother said she hoped the wrong-way, allegedly DUI driver is charged with manslaughter.
In addition to herself, Garcia said her son is survived by three older sisters: Janel Garcia, Adriel Garcia and Marlene Garcia. “He was their baby brother,” the mother said.
Romo is also survived by his step-father Michael Garcia, who has raised him from birth, and his biological father Arthur Romo.
“He was kind-hearted. He was very loving and giving,” the mourning mother said. “He was very outgoing. He had lots of friends. They loved him.”
Romo was caravanning along with friends in other cars after spending some time up in the Azusa Canyon, Garcia said. Several of his friends witnessed the crash.
Romo, a lifelong El Monte resident, attended El Monte High School and El Monte Union High School Community Day Program alternative school, his mother said.
He was a very active young man who loved skateboarding and BMX biking, she added.
He often spent time at the Bonita Skatepark in Arcadia, which is where he met his girlfriend, Garcia said. “That was his second home,” she said.
Garcia said her son was looking for a job and hoping to attend school to study auto mechanics.
The grieving mother said she hoped others would learn from her family’s tragedy and never get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
“I’m a very adamant supporter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Now a tragedy hit my son.”
Donations to benefit Romo’s family can be made at any Chase bank to account number 621355937.
Saturday’s crash was the third fatal head-on freeway collision suspected to involve DUI in the area over the past six months.
A La Habra man headed the wrong-way on the 210 Freeway in Rancho Cucamonga struck another car on July 20, killing two of four family members inside, CHP officials said. Officials were looking into the possibility that the wrong-way driver, Mack A. Jaramillo of La Habra, was intoxicated at the time of the 2 a.m. crash.
Another wrong-way crash alleged to involve drunken driving left six people dead in Diamond Bar on Feb. 9.
Olivia Culbreath, 21, of Fontana has been charged with six counts of murder in connection with the horrific crash, which CHP investigators blamed on drunken driving. Two of those killed were passengers in Culbreath’s Camaro, officials said, while the other for were travelling in the Ford Explorer she struck head-on.

PHOTO of Jusin Romo, 19, of El Monte courtesy of family.

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Las Vegas man found dead following possible stabbing near Azusa

AZUSA >> Authorities on Wednesday identified the man found dead from a mysterious apparent stabbing in a residential neighborhood as a 19-year-old Las Vegas man.
Jessey Chavira died after he was found badly wounded lying in a pool of blood about 3:30 p.m. outside a home in the 5500 block of Orangeglen Street, in an unincorporated county area just outside of Azusa, Los Angeles County coroner’s and sheriff’s officials said.
“He was discovered by his mother, lying in the driveway covered in blood,” Lt. Ed Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The mother immediately called for help and paramedics treated Chavira, but succumbed to his injuries at the scene, officials said.
“His injuries appear to be consistent with some type of an assault,” Hernandez said. Detectives were awaiting an autopsy to determine the “extent and nature of the injuries,” and exactly how Chavira died. The injuries were initially described as possible stab wounds.
“We’re investigating it as a suspicious death,” the lieutenant said.
Hernandez said Chavira had last been seen alive inside the house about noon, a little more than three hours before he was found bleeding in the driveway. He was dressed in basketball shorts and other casual attire.
Initial rumors that Chavira was stabbed as he exited a car were determined to be unfounded, Hernandez said. But investigators were left with few clues into what did unfold Tuesday afternoon on Orangeglen Street.
No one reported hearing or seeing anything unusual before Chavira was found wounded, Hernandez said.
Several people inside the involved home voluntarily went to the sheriff’s San Dimas Station to give statements to investigators, though the interviews shed little light on what happened to Chavira, Hernandez said.
Neighbors also were unable to provide useful clues.
“Nobody could give us even a brief suspect description,” Hernandez said. “It’s very bizarre.”
Detectives continued canvassing the neighborhood looking for witnesses Wednesday, Hernandez said. Detectives were also looking into Chavira’s background and what he was doing in Southern California.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Arcadia man dies following pickup truck crash in Azusa

AZUSA >> An Arcadia man died Sunday after his pickup truck struck a tree in Encanto Park in Azusa, authorities said.
The 57-year-old man died at a hospital following 1 p.m. crash on El Encanto Parkway, north of Huntington Drive, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. His name was not released pending notification of family.
“The male had been driving a white Toyota Tacoma which appears to have collided into a tree, located in the south end of Encanto Park,” according to the police statement.
Paramedics treated the man and took him to the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later, police said.
No other vehicles were believed to be involved in the crash, officials said. The cause remained under investigation by the Azusa Police Department Traffic Bureau.

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Azusa police ‘ticketing’ kids for good behavior

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AZUSA — Azusa police have teamed up with 7-Eleven this summer and begun issuing “tickets” to local children demonstrating good behavior, officials said.
The tickets are redeemable for free Slurpees at participating 7-Eleven stores, according to Azusa police Officer Mike Bires. The program is dubbed, “Operation Chill.”
“The Azusa Police Department, in conjunction with the 7-Eleven Corporation, are proud to recognize those kids in our neighborhood who just ‘do the right thing,’” Bires said in a written statement. “We want to encourage our future leaders in continuing to make good choices, and help foster a great relationship between our little residents and the men and women who work hard to keep them safe.
“Additionally, we want to encourage dialogue between kids and law enforcement officers in a non-threatening, non-enforcement type situation,” Bires said.
Children will receive tickets for behaviors such as following the ruled of the house, following laws, being a good citizen, helping others, participating in the community and wearing helmets while biking or skateboarding.
“If you are one of our awesome kids here in Azusa, and you’re doing the things mentioned above, just go up to one of our police officers and ask for a Slurpee ticket,” Bires said.
Kids are asked to observe a few safety rules.
Children are advised not to approach an officer who is busy on a call or speaking to someone, Bires said. Instead, police ask that kids wait until the officer finishes.
Kids were also advised not to run into the roadway to reach a police car, ask an officer to stop a patrol car while driving or otherwise create traffic hazards.

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Arson suspected in Azusa car fire; may be linked to argument over illegal fireworks

AZUSA — Investigators suspect arson after a car was torched in a senior citizen’s driveway about 45 minutes after she told a group of people to stop lighting illegal fireworks near her home in an unincorporated county area near Azusa, authorities said.
Officials stopped short of calling the woman and two men who argued with the 66-year-old woman suspects in the apparent arson, however detectives were investigating their possible involvement and wanted to speak with them, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said.
“We find it an interesting coincidence,” the lieutenant said.
Deputies responded to reports of a car in flames just after 1 a.m. at the woman’s home in the 18600 block of Mauna Loa Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.
By the time firefighters extinguished the burning vehicle, a 1999 Chevrolet Camaro belonging to the woman’s son, it had been completely destroyed, Berg said. The car was valued at about $3,000.
A 1997 Saturn parked nearby was also damaged by the flames, officials said. The car sustained about $2,000 worth of heat damage to its hood and driver side.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail were looking into exactly how the fire ignited.
“Based on the fact the Camaro had not been driven for 2 days, and because of evidence at the scene, fire department officials suspect that the fire was intentionally started,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
About 45 minutes prior to the fire, the woman had confronted a woman and two men lighting illegal “mortar”-style fireworks near her home.
“She asked them not to light any more fireworks, and told the group she would be calling the police,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “A woman in the group engaged in a brief argument with the resident.”
The resident did not recognize the woman or the men she was with, Berg said. The woman was described as white or Latina, about 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 150 pounds. A description of the men was not available.
Dispatch records show the resident did not call deputies to report the fireworks or the argument, officials said.
But another resident about a block and a half away had called the sheriff’s department to report illegal fireworks at 12:53 a.m., after the argument but before the fire ignited.
Deputies arrived four minutes later, but did not locate any suspicious persons or illegal activity,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The fire was first reported at 1:12 a.m.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s San Dimas Station.
Deputies at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station responded to a total of 96 fireworks-related calls between noon Friday and 2:10 a.m. Saturday, officials said.
Berg said the figure falls in line with previous Independence Days, with about 20 percent of the fireworks complaints coming from San Dimas, and 80 percent coming from the nearby unincorporated county areas also patrolled by the station.

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Police: Man stabs neighbor during argument in Azusa

AZUSA — An argument between neighbors drinking together at an Azusa apartment complex escalated to a stabbing late Saturday, authorities said.
Vicente Mariano Hernandez, 32, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident, which took place about 11:30 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 200 block of East Newburgh Street, just east of Azusa Avenue, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Hernandez and the victim, a 35-year-old man, were drinking beer together at the victim’s apartment when they became involved in an argument and Hernandez pulled a knife, Azusa police Sgt. Rick Hayden said.
Police responding to reports of a stabbing found the victim on his second-floor balcony with a small stab wound to his abdomen, the sergeant said. He was treated at a hospital.
Witnesses identified Hernandez as the attacker and directed officers to his apartment, where he was arrested without a struggle, Hayden said.
According to county booking records, Hernandez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, which was scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Man accused of DUI following injury crash in Azusa

AZUSA — A drunken driver blew through a red light and crashed his car into a pickup truck early Saturday, injuring himself, a passenger and the driver of the truck, police said.
Ricardo Luna Campos, 23, was accused of DUI following the 6:15 a.m. crash at San Gabriel and Sierra Madre avenues, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. His city of residence was not available.
Campos was driving a Honda Accord south on San Gabriel Avenue just prior to the collision, police said. A woman was riding as a front passenger.
Preliminary investigation indicated, “(The Honda) entered the intersection, against a red light,” Sgt. Mike Bires said in a written statement. “The Honda crashed into a Dodge truck, which had been traveling west on Sierra Madre Avenue.”
Campos suffered moderate head injuries, and his passenger suffered a spinal fracture, Bires said.
A man who was driving the pickup truck was hospitalized with moderate injuries to his knee and ribs, the sergeant added.
None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening, police said.

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Woman crashes car through Azusa business

CrashAZUSA — A pregnant woman was taken to a hospital but expected to be OK after crashing her car through the front of a business Friday afternoon, police said.
The mishap took place about 2:15 p.m. at Mother’s Nutrition Center in the 400 block of South Azusa Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Matt Egan said.
The woman apparently mistook the accelerator for the break when her Scion XB lurched forward, smashing through the business’ large front window, Egan said. No on inside was injured.
The driver appeared unharmed but was taken to a hospital for examination, Egan said.
City officials red-tagged the building at least until Monday, when it will be inspected further, he added.

PHOTO by Keith Birmingham

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