AZUSA — Investigators an grieving family members renewed their public plea for information Wednesday for information leading to a hit-and-run driver who fatally struck a 52-year-old Nurse from Azusa last week.
Aguida Luna died at a hospital about two hours after the 5:30 a.m. Nov. 27 collision on Citrus Avenue, just north of Laxford Road in a unincorporated county area near Azusa, California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
In keeping with her daily routine, Luna had been waiting for a bus to take her to train station en route to work in Glendale when she was struck by a 1994 to 1997 Acura Integra, which then fled the scene, CHP Officer Lee Kendig said.
Her sacked lunch was found on the bus bench where she usually waits, and it was unclear why she was in the roadway, Kendig said.
Family members Wednesday urged anyone with information on the fatal hit-and-run to come forward to help them find justice.
“This was a heinous act, and I can’t imagine what kind of monster could leave a body in the middle of the street, not stopping to aid or call for help,” Luna’s sister-in-law, Carla Azera said.
“This person took away one extraordinary person,” Azera said. “She was a nurse. She made a difference every day to others. She was a cancer survivor — breast cancer. She was a devoted, loyal and caring wife and step-mother.”
Luna’s husband, Marcus Luna, was devastated by the loss, but took solace in his faith,” the sister-in-law said. “He finds comfort in knowing that she’s in a better place, and that God will pass judgement and justice.”
Aguida Luna grew up in the Philippines and migrated to the San Gabriel Valley in 2003, family members said. She worked as the director of nurses at the Royal Palms Convalescent Hospital in Glendale, where family members said she was missed by colleagues and patients alike.
She is survived by four step-children, including a high school-age son who lived with her and her husband, brother-in-law Herman Azera said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of investigation and we have not had very good leads up to this point, so we’re asking that the public help us out,” Jimenez said.
A fender wall and pieces of headlight left behind at the scene allowed officers to determine the model and approximate year of the involved vehicle.
Officers hope a witness who observed a similar car with damage “most likely on the left front of the vehicle” was asked to contact investigators. Officers were also hopeful area surveillance camera footage provided by neighbors or businesses could yield clues, as well as any auto shops where the hit-and-run driver may have sought to have the damage repaired.
Family members thanked a passer-by who stopped to help Luna after discovering her wounded in the street, as well as the driver of her shuttle bus, who pulled over and began looking for her when he did not find her at her usual stop.
“It’s been hard for us. So many lives have been affected,” said Luna’s mother-in-law, Felicidad McIntosh.
“I’m appealing to you as a mother,” she said. If anyone had information, she said, “Please don’t hesitate to call the CHP in Baldwin Park.
The CHP’s Baldwin Park office can be reached during normal business hours at 626-338-1164. After hours, the CHP can be reached at 323-259-2010.
PHOTO of Aguida Luna courtesy of family members.
AZUSA — Police shot and killed a man late Friday after he allegedly confronted officers with a handgun, authorities said.
Lorenzo Cesar Aguilar, 23, of Azusa died in the officer-involved shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The shooting took place shortly before 9:30 p.m. along Rockvale Avenue near Fifth Street.
But the incident began minutes earlier when an Azusa police officer tried to pull over a suspected drunken driver in the 700 block of East Alosta Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The driver neglected to yield and evaded officers for a short time,” according to the statement.
The driver — later identified at Aguilar — ultimately stopped the car, got out and began walking away from officers with a gun in his hand, officials said.
“As assisting units arrived, the suspect failed to comply with orders and turned toward officers with the handgun in his hand, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “The suspect was struck by gunfire several times in the torso area.”
It was unclear how many officers fired, or how many times.
Paramedics pronounced Aguilar dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
A search of Los Angeles County Superior Court records turned up no criminal history on the part of Aguilar.
No officers were hurt in the incident, authorities added.
Police cordoned off a wide crime scene, which included the parking lot of the nearby Santana’s restaurant.
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were handling the investigation, as is common practice when dealing with officer-involved shootings in the county. Azusa police deferred comment to the sheriff’s department.
No further details were available.
AZUSA — Police and arson investigators suspected “very suspicious” series of fires reported in a brush area near Fish Canyon Sunday may have been the work of an arsonist, authorities said.The first in a series of three fires was reported about 12:40 p.m. along Encanto Parkway, near the Vulcan Materials Company on Fish Canyon Road, Azusa police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
Firefighters made quick work of the spot fires, which were under control in matter of minutes, fire Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said. Water dropping aircraft were on stand-by, but ultimately were not needed.
The three small fires scorched less than an acre in total, but caught the eye of arson investigators.
“They’re suspected to be deliberately set,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Gerald Gonzales said. He added that investigators were, “leaning toward arson.”
It appeared homeless people camp in the area, however it was not immediately clear if that played a role in the fires, he said.
Officials noted several suspicious factors in connection with the fire.
“When our officers went on-scene, it appeared to them that there were flare-ups that were occurring in what almost looked like measured intervals,” Schmidt said.
Additionally, “They did find a motorcycle that appeared to have been concealed nearby,” the sergeant said. The registered owner could not be found.
“At the very least, it’s very suspicious,” Schmidt said.
Another small fire was reported in the same general area and quickly extinguished by 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Gonzales added. The cause of that fire was not determined.
The fire burned very close to the scene of the Madre Fire, which scorched 268 acres in late-September.
That fire was determined to be human caused, though investigators stopped short of labeling it arson, Schmidt said.
AZUSA — The Azusa Police Department has received a $34,000 to fund sobriety checkpoints, officials announced Tuesday.
The grant was provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Azusa police Lt. Paul Dennis said in a written statement.
“The special DUI checkpoint grant is to assist in efforts to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and other drug-related collisions in the community,” Dennis said. “The grant activities will specifically target impaired driving offenders as well as educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving.”
In addition to hunting for drunken drivers at the checkpoints, specially trained officers will be on-hand whenever possible to evaluate drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Deputies went to investigate along Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir north of Azusa Sunday after a passer-by reported spotting what appeared to be a bag of bones, authorities said.
Officials at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station received a phone call just before 4 p.m. from a caller who said they’d stumbled upon some sort of bag of bones, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriguez said. The caller thought the find strange, though he did not know what type of bones they were, or whether they were animal or human.
Deputies headed up toward the reservoir to investigate, but had not located the bag an hour later, Rodriguez said. The caller was only able to provide a general location where he spotted the bag.
The investigation continued late Sunday.
AZUSA – A sheriff’s bomb squad was called Friday after a briefcase was discovered near St. Francis of Rome Catholic school and drew authorities’ suspicions, but was ultimately found to be harmless.
The incident began at 1:49 p.m. in the 700 block of Pasadena Avenue when a school employee saw the briefcase on the east sidewalk, just west of the school, Azusa police Lt. Paul Dennis said. Police considered the newer-looking briefcase suspicious, as there was no known reason for it to be there.
The briefcase was near a sign in front of the school, though not on campus, he said.
A bomb squad from the Los Angeles Count Sheriff’s Department was summoned to the scene to take a closer look, Dennis said.
Children at the school were let out at the usual release time of 2 p.m. on the west side of the campus, opposite Pasadena Avenue, the lieutenant said. Residents along Pasadena Avenue were advised to stay indoors.
Bomb squad members used a robot to inspect and open the briefcase, Dennis said. It was found to contain only a small teddy bear.
AZUSA — A report of a man with a gun inside of a clothing store late Saturday resulted in three arrests, as well as the recovery of two guns, a stolen car and methamphetamine, police said.
Gabriel Triviso, 34, Dennis Ayon, 33, and Valerie Garcia, 33, were arrested shortly after 9:45 p.m. outside the Ross store at 820 E. Alosta Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said in a written statement. Triviso and Ayon were both described by police as documented gang members.
The incident began when police responded to a report that a man inside the store was armed with a handgun, police said.
Police surrounded the store and attempted to detain the group of three suspects as they exited the store, but Triviso allegedly ran, pulling a loaded semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and throwing it on the floor.
Officers recovered the gun and soon captured Triviso at a nearby parking garage, Landeros said.
As he and the other two suspects were being detained by police, officers discovered methamphetamine and a second loaded handgun inside the vehicle they had been driving, which had been reported stolen, Sgt. Randy Schmidt said. The sergeant declined to say exactly how much of the drug was recovered, but described it as consistent with “street sales.”
Triviso, Ayon and Garcia were each booked on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a controlled substance for sales and possession of a controlled substance with a firearm.
Triviso was additionally accused of illegal possession of a concealed firearm, while Ayon and Garcia were additionally booked on suspicion of possession of fake identification.
Azusa police were assisted in the arrests by a multi-agency anti-gang task force that was coincidentally performing gang suppression operations in Azusa at the time, Landeros said.
All three suspects were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending their initial court appearances, officials said.
*UPDATE – The missing person was found safe in Covina Friday afternoon, per Azusa police.
AZUSA — Police asked the public to keep an eye out Friday for a 27-year-old man with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child who went missing from his home.
Anthony Zavala Jr. was last seen about 9 a.m. Friday at his home in the 300 block of South Jackson Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
“According to family, he does not have a history of leaving home or wandering off,” Sutcliffe said.
Zavala is Latino, 5 feet tall, 95 pounds, with brown “crew cut” hair and brown eyes. He walks with a “pigeon-toed” gate and was last seen wearing a light-colored T-shirt and green camouflage pants.
Anyone who spots the missing man was asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.
PHOTO of Anthony Zavala Jr. courtesy of the Azusa Police Department
AZUSA — A Danville man suffered stab wounds but was expected to survive after he was attacked by a group of men early Friday, police said.
The stabbing victim, a 20-year-old man, was found with two puncture wounds to his abdomen about 12:50 a.m. in the 600 block of East Eighth Street, Azusa police Sgt. Chris Grant said in a written statement. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
“The sequence of event that led to the altercation is currently under investigation, as well as the motive regarding this incident,” Grant said.
Police described the attackers a five to six Latino men in their mid- to late-20s. One was further described as about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 200 pounds, with a shaved head and a mustache.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Azusa police detectives at 626-812-3200.
AZUSA — City officials are planning a test of Azusa’s early warning siren Monday.
The test of the siren, located near San Gabriel Canyon Road at the mouth of the canyon at the north end of town, will take place between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Azusa police Sgt. Sam Fleming said in a written statement.
The siren will sound intermittently in five-minute intervals, he said. “No action is necessary by residents during these tests.”
The purpose of the test is to ensure the siren is working,m and that it is properly connected to the Azusa Police Department’s 9-1-1 center.
Police are teaming up for the exercise with a group of local volunteers known as the Azusa Amateur Radio Communications Emergency Services, Fleming said. The group exists to provide emergency communications in the event of a disaster.
“The siren is intended to evacuate residents in close proximity to the mouth of the Canyon in the event of a forest fire of flood,” Fleming said. “It is not expected that all residents would hear the siren if indoors, which is why the siren is complementary to emergency response personnel announcements, as well as door-to-door notification as part of the city’s emergency response procedures.
For more information, the Azusa Police Department can be reached at 626-812-3200.