AZUSA — Coroner’s official Wednesday released the name of a 77-year-old Azusa man fatally struck while walking his dog earlier this week.
Emilio Ravenas died at a hospital after he was struck by a pickup truck just after 8 a.m. Monday at Sierra Madre Avenue and Lemon Swirl Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operation Ed Winter said. An autopsy had not been carried out.
Ravenas was walking his dog across the street when he was struck by a pickup struck that was turning right from Sierra Madre Avenue onto Lemon Swirl Drive, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said. The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators
The cause of the crash remained under investigation Wednesday. Lt. Steve Hunt said. No arrests or citations had been made.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
Firefighters have built containment lines around 78 percent of the 4-day-old Colby Fire burning in the foothills above Azusa and Glendora, authorities announced Sunday.
Officials also updated the damage toll. One home that was previously listed as damaged was reclassified as destroyed, according to U.S. Forest Service officials. The fire has destroyed six homes and 10 outbuildings, as well as damaged five other homes and one additional outbuilding.
Four people — two firefighters and two civilians — have been injured in the fire since it first broke out about 6 a.m. Thursday near the Colby Trail just north of Glendora.
The wildfire did not grow overnight, remaining at just over 1,900 acres in size, officials said.
And although the thick smoke that blanketed the region Thursday is gone, firefighters remained hard at work in the steep hillsides toward their goal of 100 percent containment by Wednesday morning, Angeles National Forest spokeswoman L’Tanga Watson said.
“We’re trying to build two miles of line around it today,” she said.
Additionally, firefighters continued “cleaning out the interior of the fire,” Watson said, burning off unburned vegetation within the fire perimeter in a controlled manner.
Forty-five firefighter hand crews, 100 fire engines, three helicopters, eight fixed-wing aircraft, and five bulldozers remained assigned to the fire Sunday, officials said.
Firefighters continued strengthening containment lines around the 1,906-acre Colby Fire smoldering in the foothills at the northern edge of the San Gabriel Valley Saturday as the last remaining evacuees from Azusa received word they could return home.
The wildfire was 61 percent contained Saturday, leaving firefighters with eight miles of containment lines yet to complete, Angeles National Forest officials said.
Residents of the Mountain Cove neighborhood of Azusa — the only neighborhood still under evacuation orders Saturday — were advised they could return to their homes at 6 p.m. And officials announced the fire was expected to be fully contained by Wednesday.
“Today’s fire operations will be primarily focused on reinforcing containment lines along the fire’s northern perimeter and cooling hot spots,” ANF spokeswoman Jamie Uyehara said.
“There were some flare-ups last night,” Uyehara said. Firefighters also lit controlled burns overnight to clear excess fuel from the path of fire.
Firefighters made “excellent progress” overnight, “taking advantage of the lower temperatures and favorable wind conditions to successfully perform firing operations and reinforce containment lines where possible while working in steep rocky terrain,” U.S. Forest Service officials said in a written statement.
“The fire growth potential is medium,” the forest service statement said. “Fuels remain extremely dry and humidity anticipated in the single digits. Winds are expected to be lower than yesterday at 10 to 15 mph.”
Firefighters worked Saturday in temperatures around 87 degrees.
More than 1,100 personnel continued working the fire Saturday, including 45 hand crews, 104 fire engines and four bulldozers, officials added.
Three water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers were also on-hand should they be needed, though they were also available to be called upon to fight fires elsewhere, Uyehara said.
In addition to fire fighting aircraft, the skies above the fire were occupied with helicopters being operated by Southern California Edison to replace power poles damaged by the fire, Uyehara said.
“The incident team was able to save some of the other poles,” she added.
Despite damage to the electrical infrastructure, only 33 SCE customers were without power in Azusa and Glendora Saturday, according to the utility. All power was expected to be restored by Saturday afternoon.
The fire destroyed five homes in Glendora and damaged 17 other structures since it ignited just before 6 a.m. Thursday near the Colby Trail. Three young men have been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire with a campfire that got out of control and are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each pending their initial appearances in federal court.
Firefighters light backfires to protect power poles during the Colby Fire early Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013. (Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)
AZUSA — More than three-dozen law enforcement officials from throughout the San Gabriel Valley converged in Azusa Wednesday for a first-of-its-kind conference regarding police use of social media.
The newly formed San Gabriel Valley Law Enforcement Social Media Group is comprised of officers from 20 area law enforcement agencies with the shared goal of disseminating information and engaging with their communities through social media mechanisms such as Facebook, Twitter and others, Azusa police Officer Cherie Eads said in a written statement.
“The group will allow these officers, who are their departments’ social media managers, to receive training from experts within the group, and from outside sources, on the usage of the most popular social media channels,” Eads said. “It is imperative these officers know the current trends on the world wide web, so they can tailor their outreach and messages to reach the people living, working and playing in their communities.”
One issue discussed at Wednesday’s conference the notion of law enforcement agencies assisting each other with social media responsibilities during major incidents.
Officials also discussed other topics related to social media in law enforcement, Eads said.
Wednesday’s meeting took place two weeks after the Azusa Police Department launched a revamped website, with a strong emphasis on social media.
Representatives from the Azusa, Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Claremont, Covina, El Monte, Glendale, Glendora, Irwindale, La Verne, Montebello, Monterey Park, Monrovia, Pomona, San Marino, South Pasadena, West Covina and Whittier police departments took part, as well as deputies from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s San Dimas, Temple City and Altadena stations, as well as the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau.
AZUSA — One man is accused of attempted murder, and deputies are seeking at least two others following a drive-by shooting Wednesday in an unincorporated county area near Azusa, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 5 p.m. in the 6000 block of Factor Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s
Lt. David Vega said.
A vehicle drove by containing three male attackers, Lt. Diana Gealta said.
Three shots were fired, striking an occupied home and a car parked out front, but injuring no one, Vega said.
Follow-up investigation led deputies to the area of Foothill Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue in Azusa about an hour later, where they spotted male suspect believed to be involved in the shooting, which investigators labeled gang-related, Vega said.
The suspect ran from deputies, along with several other people who were with him, officials said.
Deputies set up a search perimeter and ultimately found the suspect, Gealta said.
Danniel Reynoso, 19, of Azusa was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records. He was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court.
The two other attackers believed to have been involved in the drive-by shooting remained at-large, officials said.
The shooting was being investigated by deputies from the sheriff’s San Dimas Station.
AZUSA — Police jailed a Covina man early Sunday after he was pulled over in Azusa while driving around with two loaded handguns, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife, authorities said.
Cameron Phillip Villalpando, 22, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor illegal possession of the weapons and released with a citation, according to Los Angeles County booking records and a written statement issued by Azusa police.
A police officer spotted a pickup truck speeding about 1:40 a.m. and pulled it over at First Street and Cerritos Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said.
“During the traffic stop, officer on scene discovered that the subject was armed with two concealed, loaded handguns,” the corporal said. “Further investigation resulted in the discovery of composite knuckles, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife.”
Police were puzzled as to why Villalpando, who had no criminal history, was carrying the weaponry inside his black, 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck, Sgt. Randy Schmidt said. The sergeant added that Villalpando was carrying the two handguns on his person.
Following booking, he was released with a court date about 6 a.m., records show.
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.