Police: Gang member found with loaded, stolen gun in Azusa

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AZUSA >> A gang member with a lengthy criminal record who was released from earlier this month under AB 109 guidelines was back behind bars Sunday after being caught with a stolen and loaded handgun, police said.
Officers chased down and arrested Anthony Joseph Zepeda, 23, of West Covina about 11:30 p.m. Friday after he ran from officers and discarded a handgun in the 700 block of South Donna Beth Avenue, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Two officers noticed two “suspicious” men standing near a parked car, Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
“When the officers began investigating, the men split up and ran in different directions,” Sutcliffe said.
Zepeda jumped residential fences and ran through backyards before officers captured him, the sergeant said.
“Officers learned while running from them, he through a 9mm handgun on the roof of a residence,” he said. The gun, which was loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition, had been reported stolen in Glendora.
The second man who also fled from police was not found.
According to police and booking records, Zepeda was released from county jail Jan. 13 under the guidelines of AB 109, also known as California’s 2011 Public Safety Realignment. The legislation shifts custody and post-release supervision of convicted felons from state prisons and parole agents to county jails and probation departments.
He was released after serving less than three months of a six-month sentence he received in October of 2014 for violating his probation, records show.
Zepeda, who wears the name of area street gang “KHA” or “Kings Have Arrived” tattooed on his chin, has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2010, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
KHA began as a tagging crew, officials said. The group was declared a criminal street gang by prosecutors in 2008 after two of it’s members were linked to the fatal 2007 shooting of a 14-year-old boy and his father in front of their Baldwin Park home.
Zepeda’s previous convictions include drug possession in 2010 and 2014; possession of drug paraphernalia in 2010 and 2012; being under the influence of drugs in 2011; fleeing police in a vehicle in 2011; and domestic battery in 2011 and 2014, court records show.
Zepeda was being held without bail pending a scheduled appearance Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Two arrested after leading Azusa police on chase in stolen car

AZUSA >> Police arrested two people Friday afternoon after they led officers on a chase in a stolen car, then ran through an elementary school before being captured, authorities said.
Parolee Marcus Paul Flores, 21, of Pomona and Hugo Alberto Ramirez, 23, of Duarte, who is on probation, were both being held without bail, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The incident kicked off about 3 p.m. when an officer tried to pull over a 1999 Honda Civic due to expired registration tags, Azusa police Officer Mike Bires said in a written statement.
“Unknown to the officer, the Honda had been stolen from Temple City the day before,” Bires said.
The driver, later identified as Flores, led the officer on a chase for nearly a mile before crashing into a parked car in the 900 block of East Haltern Avenue, police said. Both Flores and his passenger, Ramirez, ran from the crashed car.
Officer immediately captured Flores, police said. Ramirez ran through Powell Elementary School and into an apartment complex in the 300 block of North Calera Avenue.
“The school staff immediately placed the school on ‘lock down,’ confining the students to their classrooms,” Bires said.
“Police officers immediately surrounded the apartment complex and conducted an extensive foot search for Ramirez,” the officer said. “The officers’ diligence paid off when they located Ramirez trying to conceal himself in a trash dumpster enclosure.”
No students at the school were endangered because of the incident, Bires said.
Flores is accused of auto theft, and was also being held on a no-bail parole warrant, Bires said. Ramirez is accused of resisting arrest and obstructing police, as well as violating his probation.

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Man badly injured in motorcycle crash in forest north of Azusa

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Rescuers flew a man to a hospital in critical condition Sunday following a motorcycle crash on San Gabriel Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa, officials said.
The crash took place about 1 p.m. on San Gabriel Canyon Road, near the Bichota Canyon Trail, north of the San Gabriel Reservoir, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
For reasons that were being investigated by the CHP’s Baldwin Park office, the motorcycle collided with a Mercedes-Benz sedan, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department captain described the 21-year-old man’s condition as critical.
Two people who were inside the Mercedes-Benz were unhurt, officials added.
The occupants of the Mercedes-Benz, as well as other passers-by, comforted the motorcyclist until help arrived.
Paramedics loaded the motorcyclist into a helicopter and rushed him to a hospital for treatment, Kimball said.
Authorities shut down both directions of San Gabriel Canyon road at the crash scene for about half-an-hour following the collision.

PHOTO courtesy of Manny Amaya

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UPDATED: Missing Covina man sought by Azusa police found safe

AZUSA >> Police asked the public’s help, and received it, Sunday in tracking down a possibly suicidal Covina man who went missing in Azusa.

Ethan Luke Robben, 22, was last seen about 8 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of North Aspan Avenue, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.

Several hours later, a person who saw the missing person flier on the Azusa Police Department’s Facebook page reported spotting the man, who was located safe and sound, police said.

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Azusa woman killed in East Whittier head-on crash mourned

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EAST WHITTIER >> Loved ones are devastated by the death of a vivacious Azusa woman who was struck and killed by a wrong-way driver in East Whittier early on New Year’s Day.
Corina Villarreal, 54, died in Thursday’s 1:30 a.m. crash on First Avenue, just north of 0103_NWS_WDN-L-FATALCRASHFOLOCandlelight Drive, in the unincorporated county area just east of Whittier, according to Los Angeles County coroner and California Highway Patrol officials.
Matthew George Tapia, 24, of Santa Ana also died in the crash, according to the CHP. Villarreal and Tapia were each the lone occupants of their vehicles.
Villarreal drove a Lexus IS 250 north on First Avenue just prior to the crash, CHP officials said in a written statement. Tapia drove a 1999 Isuzu trooper south. The SUV drifted over the double-yellow line and collided head-on into the Lexus. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Family members gathered Friday at her home to mourn their loss.
“Everybody’s devastated. She walked into a room and just brightened it every time. She had a great way about her. She always looked at the positives.”
Ernesto Villarreal said his cousin had been celebrating the New Year with a friend in the Whittier area and had car trouble, he said. She was borrowing her friend’s car when the crash occurred.
Corina Villarreal grew in Azusa, where she spend most of her life, and attended Azusa High School, family members said. She also lived in La Mirada for a period during a former marriage.
0103_NWS_WDN-L-FATALCRASHFOLO2She worked for Southern California Edison, Ernesto Villarreal said.
Corina Villarreal had no children, but was very close with her nieces and nephews, family said. She was an avid fan of the Raiders and Dodgers, who enjoyed going to the stadium or riding on the back of Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“She enjoyed life, and she wanted those around her to have the same level of joyfulness.”
Cousin Renee Villarreal said Corina Villarreal left behind friends from coast to coast.
“She was a very personable person and she was able to touch a lot of lives,” she said. 0103_NWS_WDN-L-FATALCRASHFOLO3“She always made you feel like you were important and special, and she would give you the shirt off her back.”
A fund to help the Villarreal family with funeral costs has been set up online on gofundme.com at www.gofundme.com/jlqjfc.

PHOTOS:

TOP – Photo of crash scene by Troy Case, Correspondent

2nd FROM TOP: –  Photo of Corina Villarreal (courtesy).

3rd FROM TOP: Corina Villarreal, 54, of Azusa, died early Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in a head-on collision in East Whittier after another vehicle crossed into the wrong direction of travel on First Avenue, slamming into the car she was driving. Villarreal (left) is pictured in this undated photo with boyfriend Joe Chubbs. (Courtesy)

BOTTOM:  Corina Villarreal, 54, of Azusa, died early Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in a head-on collision in East Whittier after another vehicle crossed into the wrong direction of travel on First Avenue, slamming into the car she was driving. Villarreal (left) is pictured in this undated photo with friends Gina Morga (center) and Terri Morga (right).
(Courtesy)

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Home struck by gunfire near Azusa

AZUSA >> A man discovered a bullet hole in his garage door Friday after hearing the sound of gunshots, officials said.
The shooting took place about 10:20 a.m. in the 17800 block of Laxford Street in an unincorporated county area just outside of Azusa, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said.
The resident heard the sound of three gunshots and went outside to look around, the lieutenant said.
The didn’t see anyone, but noticed a small-caliber bullet hole in the door of his garage, Vega said.
No further details were available.

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Two men injured in head-on crash on San Gabriel Canyon Road in Azusa

AZUSA >> One driver suffered severe injuries and a second driver suffered minor injuries in a head-on crash on San Gabriel Canyon Road in Azusa late Saturday, officials said.
The crash between a Honda coupe and a Subaru coupe took place about 11:45 p.m. in the 1900 block of San Gabriel Canyon Road, at the northern edge of the city, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
“Although the accident is still under investigation, evidence suggests driver of the Honda traveling south bound crossed the center line before driving head-on with the north bound Subaru,” Sutcliffe said.
A 19-year-old Azusa man who was driving the Honda suffered major injuries and had to be freed from the wreckage by firefighters, the sergeant said. Rescuers rushed him to a hospital by helicopter, where he was listed in critical condition.
The driver of the Subaru, described by police as a 27-year-old Los Angeles man, suffered minor injuries.
“It is unknown at this stage of the investigation if alcohol (or) drugs was a contributing factor,” Sutcliffe said.

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Azusa couple arrives home to find intruder inside house

AZUSA >> An Azusa couple arrived home to find a burglar inside their house late Saturday, police said.
Police jailed Luis Rafael Puga, 22, of Azusa on suspicion of burglary and violating his probation, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement. Puga is already on probation for a past burglary conviction.
The incident took place about 9:50 p.m. in the 400 block of West 10th Street, he said.
“A man and his wife walked into their home through their front door and were terrified to find Luis Puga standing inside,” Sutcliffe said. “The woman fled immediately and called the Azusa Police Department, who dispatched several officers, while her husband stayed inside and tried to talk with him.”
Puga was eating food in the couple’s kitchen when they encountered him, he added.
Officers surrounded the home and the husband emerged from the home, but Puga remained inside.
“After being ordered to exit the residence, Puga surrendered to officers and was immediately arrested,” Sutcliffe said.
Police later learned that Puga had knocked on the door of the home before breaking in, the sergeant said. When no one answered the door, he climbed into the home through a rear window.
According to county booking records, Puga was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Three wounded in shooting outside Azusa birthday party

AZUSA >> A gunman shot and wounded three young men early Sunday outside a birthday party in a residential neighborhood in Azusa, authorities said.
All three victims of the 2:20 a.m. shooting in the 100 block of North Soldano Avenue were expected survive their injuries, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement. They were described as a 19-year-old Azusa man, a 22-year-old Azusa man and an 18-year-old Hemet man.
Police rushed to the scene after two patrol officers heard the sound of gunfire emanating from the area.
“When officers arrived they found three men wounded from gunfire, and quickly learned a gunman approached a crowd attending a party and open fire with a handgun,” Sutcliffe said.
No arrests had been made in connection with the attack Sunday morning, and no suspect description was available.
“The preliminary investigation does not suggest this was a gang related attack, and investigators are actively interviewing witnesses and carefully examining the evidence,” Sutcliffe said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Azusa Police Department at 626-812-3200.

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Car sought in Azusa hit-and-run

AZUSA >> A hit-and-run driver struck and badly injured a man in an Azusa crosswalk early Thursday, police said.
The 28-year-old victim suffered serious injuries in the 12:23 a.m. hit-and-run on Irwindale Avenue, just north of McKinley Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Xavier Torres said in a written statement. He was hospitalized in “guarded” condition, the sergeant said.
The man was crossing Irwindale Avenue inside a crosswalk when he was struck, police said.
“A vehicle traveling northbound on Irwindale Avenue struck the pedestrian without slowing down or stopping,” Torres said. “It was last seen northbound on Irwindale Avenue.”
The car involved in the collision remained at-large Thursday afternoon, Azusa police officials said. It was initially described as a dark-colored or tan BMW or Mercedes-Benz sedan with a possibly cracked or broken windshield and damage to the front, right portion.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Azusa police Sgt. Randy Schmidt at 626-812-3210, or the Azusa Police Department at 626-812-3241.

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