UPDATED: Two Los Angeles children killed after family SUV tumbles off roadway in Azusa

AZUSA >> Two Los Angeles children died and another child and two adults suffered injuries after their family’s SUV careened off the side of San Gabriel Canyon Road at the northern edge of Azusa Saturday evening, authorities said.
The crash took place about 7:30 p.m. on San Gabriel Canyon Road, just north of Mountain Laurel Way, Azusa police Lt. Paul Dennis.
“When officers arrived on scene they located a vehicle down the steep ravine,” Dennis said. The SUV had come to a rest upside down, more than 50 feet down the embankment.
“Several Azusa Officers traversed the steep hillside and upon arriving at the vehicle they discovered five victims,” Dennis said.
A 7-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl died at the scene, the lieutenant said. A 13-year-old girl, a 32-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman suffered injuries in the crash but expected to survive.
Killed were Christopher Caliz Martinez, 8, and Andrea Caliz Martinez, 12, both of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The group was a family, described a mother, father, two children and an extended family member, Azusa police Sgt. Rick Hayden said.
All five occupants were found outside of the crashed SUV, Dennis said. It was unclear whether they had been ejected from the vehicle, or exited after the crash.
It appeared man was driving the SUV south on San Gabriel Canyon Road when it veered to the right and crossed a bike lane and a wide dirt shoulder before tumbling down the ravine, officials said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.

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850 pounds of illegal fireworks seized from Azusa home


AZUSA >> An online tipster led police to discover about 850 pounds of illegal fireworks from a residential garage in Azusa Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The investigation began after a tipster reported that fireworks were being stored and sold out of the garage of a home in the 200 block of E. Azusa Lane via the city’s software application, Azusa police Sgt. Xavier Torres said in a written statement.
Police, code enforcement officers and Los Angeles County firefighters followed up on the tip and discovered the 850 or so pounds of fireworks, valued at more than $8,000, Torres said.
No arrests were made Wednesday, police said.
“The investigation is ongoing and charges against the homeowner may be filed at a later time with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for possession of destructive devices,” Torres said.
Police reminded residents that only fireworks designated “Safe and Sane” are permitted in Azusa. The use of illegal fireworks carries a $1,000 fine.

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Suspect wounded in Azusa officer-involved shooting

AZUSA >> Police shot and wounded a suspect late Wednesday in a residential Azusa neighborhood, officials said.
The shooting took place about 11:40 p.m. in the 5400 block of N. Conwell Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said. Paramedics took one patient to a hospital in unknown condition.
No officers were hurt, officials said.
Police deferred further inquiries the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is spearheading the investigation, as is common practice in officer-involved shooting in the county. No further details were released.
The shooting was the second this week involving Azusa police officers.
An officer fatally shot a 24-year-old burglary suspect Sunday during a confrontation in the 400 block of East Lee Drive, officials said.

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Man fatally wounded in Azusa officer-involved shooting


The 24-year-old man died at a hospital following the shooting, which took place just before 1 p.m. in the 400 block of E. Lee Drive, said Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is leading the investigation. His name was not released.
“A family members called 9-1-1 stating one of their family members was acting insane and had injured himself,” Francisco said. “The call was updated that the suspect was breaking into a house nearby.”
“When officers got on scene, they found the suspect, who had broken into a house, and as they cleared the house, an officer-involved shooting did occur,’ Francisco said. No officers were hurt.
No gun was from the scene, Francisco said. Several items, such as tools, were found near the spot where the shooting occurred, but it was not clear whether they may have played a role in the incident.
0622_NWS_SGT-L-AZSHOOT2Further details regarding the shooting were not available Sunday, as investigators were yet to interview the involved officer, Francisco said.
Nearby resident Jesse Zarate, 76, said he saw a police officer shoot a bloody man who had broken into a neighbor’s home.
The officer confronted the man behind the home and ordered him to stop, Zarate said. The man responded “shoot me, shoot me” and continued running toward neighboring homes.
The officer fired three times, seemingly striking the man in the back, Zarate said. The man fell to the ground wounded.
“I don’t blame the police,” Zarate said. “What if he could have gotten out and hurt somebody else.”
0622_NWS_SGT-L-AZSHOOT3When police first encountered the suspect, “He was bloody. All the house was bloody,” Zarate said.
It was not clear if the blood was due to the injuries the suspect inflicted on himself at the outset of the incident, or due to the several windows in the home that had been smashed, Francisco said. The lieutenant declined to discuss exactly where on his body the suspect had been shot, but said he had not been shot in the back.
Distraught family members of the fatally wounded suspect gathered at the scene and consoled each other. They declined to comment.
The home that was broken into was empty at the time, officials and neighbors said. The residents returned to the neighborhood as the investigation continued. They also declined to comment.

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Azusa police seek missing man


AZUSA >> Police are asking the public’s help in finding a missing 21-year-old who went missing in Azusa Friday.
David Cardiel was last seen about 2:05 p.m. in the 500 block of East Gladstone Street, Azusa police officials said in a written statement. He is possibly suffering from depression.
He’s described as Latino, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 180 pounds, with a thin mustache, black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white shirt and black shorts. He has his last name tattooed on the right side of his chest.
Police asked anyone who spots Cardiel asked to call 9-1-1. Anyone with information was asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.

PHOTO of Daniel Cardiel courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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Suspect shot by deputy following car chase in Azusa sentenced to prison

AZUSA >> A parolee shot and wounded by a deputy at the end of as short pursuit in Azusa last week has begun serving a four-year prison sentence after pleading “no contest” to charges connected to the incident Tuesday, officials said.
Paul Valenzuela, 30, suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder in the June 4 deputy-involved shooting, Lt. Dave Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Officials said at the time that he led deputies on a short chase before exiting his car brandishing a handgun.
At a Tuesday appearance in Pomona Superior Court, Valenzuela pleaded “no contest” to charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, ammunition possession by a convicted felon and evading police, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Valenzuela was already on parole for robbery, Coleman said.
He was immediately sentenced to four years in state prison, she said.

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UPDATED: Suspect wounded in Azusa deputy-involved shooting


AZUSA >> Deputies shot and wounded an armed man at the conclusion of a short car chase Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The shooting took place shortly before 6 p.m. at Citrus and Alosta avenues, just outside of Azusa Pacific University.
The wounded suspect, whose name was not released late Thursday, was hospitalized in stable condition, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. No deputies were hurt.
The incident began when deputies from the sheriff’s San Dimas Station saw the suspect brandish a handgun while driving a white Chevrolet Malibu, Schrader said.
20150604_185513“Deputies went in a short vehicle pursuit, northbound Citrus Avenue approaching Alosta Avenue, when the suspect stopped his vehicle and exited through the passenger door brandishing a handgun at the deputies,” the deputy said.
“A deputy involved shooting occurred. The suspect was struck once by gunfire in the upper torso, however, he fled the location on foot. The deputies went in a short foot pursuit and took the suspect into custody a short distance later.”
Deputies recovered the suspect’s gun at the scene, Schrader added.
Paramedics rushed the wounded suspect to a local hospital by ambulance, then took him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter for further treatment, said Art Marrujo, a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor.
Officials declined to discuss initial reports from the scene that a woman with a child also fled from the suspect’s car into a nearby shopping center.
The intersection of Citrus and Alosta avenues remained closed into Thursday night, as the investigation continued.
Traffic in the area was already congested due to graduation ceremonies at nearby Citrus College and the west campus of Azusa Pacific University.

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Azusa bar burgled, damaged during overnight break-in

AZUSA >> A burglar or burglars broke into an Irish pub in Azusa overnight, causing significant damage to the bar before making off with cash registers and a safe, police said Thursday.
The break-in took place between 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said.
The thief or thieves tried unsuccessfully to pry open an ATM machine, but managed to steal two cash registers and a safe, the sergeant said. About $2,000 was stolen in all.
But the bar also sustained an estimated $2,000 worth of damage as the crook or crooks bashed their way through a wall to get to access a safe and otherwise “trashed” the establishment, Sutcliffe said.
No suspect description was available.
In a Facebook post, Callahan’s representatives said the “mom and pop” business was struggling to cope with the loss, but remained open for business.
“They got it all except for the pictures on the wall!” according to the social media post.
To help the bar get back on its feet, “We’re asking everyone to come by and show some love and grab that beer and bite to eat so we can get things rolling again,” the post stated. “We may bend, but we don’t break. Callahan’s is open for business!”

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Six arrested in Azusa riverbed sweep operation


AZUSA >> Police arrested six people for trespassing and outstanding warrants Thursday as police teamed with county officials to carry out a sweep operation of the San Gabriel Riverbed, authorities said.
The arrests came two weeks after officials visited the same area of the riverbed on April 30, advised transients camping there they were trespassing and offered resources available to the homeless, Azusa police Lt. Tim Harrington said in a written statement. Partners included the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority, the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness, the U.S. Veterans Administration and Volunteers of America.
When police returned Thursday, they encountered six homeless people who had been previously warned to leave the riverbed, Harrington said. All six were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, and three of them had outstanding warrants, he said. Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control officials took custody of four dogs.
“All persons contacted during this operation were again provided information on resources for the homeless that are available to assist them in relocating out of the riverbed,” Harrington said.
Officials have conducted similar sweeps in the past.
The goal of the operation is reduce illegal camping and trespassing in the federally owned riverbed, making it safer and cleaner for those legally hiking in the area, as well as to protect the ecology and groundwater supply, the lieutenant said.
“Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of brushfires in the area during the last several months and reducing the illegal camping will help to reduce the wildfire danger associated with the makeshift fire pits that are found in the illegal camps,” Harrington said.

PHOTO: Azusa police, joined by other officials and volunteers, meet with transients camping in the San Gabriel Riverbed in Azusa on Thursday, April 30, 2015. (Courtesy of the Azusa Police Department)

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Azusa man denies charges in alleged South Whittier stalking, burglary, arson attempt


SOUTH WHITTIER >> An Azusa man accused of violating a restraining order, breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s South Whittier home and trying to set it on fire pleaded not guilty to a string of charges in connection with the alleged crimes.
Joshua Diaz, 28, appeared in Downey Superior Court to answer to charges of burglary with a person present, attempted arson of inhabited structure, stalking and two counts of violating a restraining order, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Though also initially arrested on suspicion of trying to kidnap the former couple’s child, no kidnapping charge was filed Friday.
Diaz showed up the home of his former girlfriend 10700 block of Inez Street early Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said. The couple had been separated for about a year.
The woman fled from the home after Diaz grabbed a knife and threatened to kill himself, Ardalani said. Diaz was already gone when deputies arrived at the home.
But he returned about two hours later, doused the woman’s car and air-conditioning unit with gasoline, and tried, unsuccessfully, to light a fire, officials said. Diaz again fled, but was apprehended and arrested Wednesday afternoon.
Diaz is also accused of violating the restraining order on April 25, less than two weeks to the alleged break-in and arson, Ardalani said. “Diaz reportedly went to the victim’s home in violation of the restraining order, tapped on her window and told the victim he loved her,” she said.
Diaz was scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court May 15 for a hearing, Ardalani said. According to county booking records, he was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

PHOTO of Joshua Diaz: Courtesy

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