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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UPDATED: Woman rescued after dangling from 210 Freeway overpass in Azusa

1128_NWS_SGT-L-JUMPER2 - Copy

AZUSA >> Police and a good Samaritan rescued a suicidal woman found dangling from an overpass of the 210 Freeway in Azusa Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The incident unfolded shortly after 12:30 p.m. at the Vernon Avenue overpass, according to California Highway Patrol and Azusa police officials.
Police responding to reports of the possible jumper encountered an Azusa woman in her 20s, who was threatening to jump, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said.
The woman was outside of a chain link safety fence, he said. A man who saw the woman up on the overpass had used his belt to tie one of her hands to the fence so she would not plummet onto the freeway.
“A good Samaritan attempted to secure one of her wrists to the fence using a leather pants belt,” Sutcliffe said.
“While standing on the overpass, Azusa officers handcuffed both of the victims wrists to the fence which prevented her from falling,” the sergeant said.
Firefighters then used a ladder to help bring the woman down.
Officials took the troubled woman for psychiatric evaluation, Sutcliffe said.
Authorities shut down the three right lanes of the westbound 210 Freeway for just over 10 minutes, CHP Officer Jennifer Cassidy said.
The incident caused a significant backup for both directions of the 210 Freeway.

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Four hurt in crash on Arrow Highway in Azusa


AZUSA >> An SUV ran through a red light an plowed into another SUV in Azusa late Saturday, injuring four people, two of them seriously, police said.
The wreck took place about 7 p.m. in the intersection of Vincent Avenue and Arrow Highway, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
“A gold Chevrolet Tahoe was traveling north bound on Vincent Avenue through the intersection of Arrow Highway when it collided with a black Chevrolet Tahoe which was traveling west bound on Arrow Highway at the same intersection,” Sutcliffe said. “The impact caused the gold Tahoe to flip onto its roof and trap a male and female adult inside who were riding in the vehicle.”
Firefighters worked for about 45 minutes to free the man and woman from the overturned Tahoe, officials said. Paramedics took them to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter with injuries described serious, but not not believed to be life-threatening.
A man and woman inside the black Tahoe suffered minor injuries, Sutcliffe said.
“Although the investigation is active and on-going, several witnesses at (the) scene told officers the gold Tahoe failed to stop for the red light,” Sutcliffe said. Police were looking into the possibility of DUI on the part of the man who was driving the gold Tahoe.

PHOTO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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Rabid bat discovered in Azusa

AZUSA >> County health officials have issued a warning after a rabid bat was discovered in Azusa last week.
The bat was found Oct. 25, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said in a recent statement.
Anyone who has recently had direct physical contact with any bats recently is encouraged to see a doctor for possible post-exposure anti-rabies treatment, officials said.
“Most bats in nature do not have rabies and are of no harm to people. However, it is important to never handle a bat,” according to the statement.
For more information, or to report sick or dead bats or encounters between bats and pets, contact the Department of Public Health’s Veterinary Public Health division at 213-989-7060.

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Search for armed man prompts brief lockdown at Azusa school

AZUSA >> Officials searched a neighborhood and locked down a school Wednesday after a man with a gun showed up at a home in an unincorporated county area near Azusa with a gun, police said.
The incident began about 10:45 in the 17600 block of East Renwick Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega sid.
A man arrived at a home with a handgun tucked into his waist and began pounding on the door, demanding to see a particular woman, Vega said.
A different woman who was home refused to let the man inside, but a teenage boy complied out of fear, Lt. Andy Berg said.
The gunman barged through the home looking for the woman he was seeking and left after becoming satisfied that she was not there, Berg said.
Police searched the neighborhood for the armed man, but did not find him, Berg said.
Officials at nearby Murray Elementary School elected to lock down the campus for about 20 minutes as the search was ongoing, sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies described the suspect as a Latino man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 160 pounds, with a shaved head and wearing a black hooded sweat shirt.
The investigation was ongoing.

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UPDATED: Azusa man accused of molesting 10-year-old girl


AZUSA >> Authorities charged an Azusa man with six felonies Friday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl earlier this week.
Prosecutors filed five charges related to child rape and molestation and one count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime against Victor Carnio Martinez, 48, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He entered no plea when appeared in Pomona Superior Court, she said. His arraignment was continued to Monday.
Police arrested him Wednesday after a 10-year-old girl told her mother she had been abused by Martinez two days earlier, Azusa police Sgt. Bruce Badoni said.
The family had trusted Martinez, whom police described as a family acquaintance, to take the girl on an outing to get some food when he attacked her, Badoni said.
“Suspect Martinez and the victim were in his vehicle on Monday evening when he drove to the rear of a local shopping center,” Badoni said in a written statement. “While in the vehicle, in a secluded area, Martinez sexually abused the child while she pleaded with him to stop. “During the incident Martinez threatened to harm the child and her family if she screamed, yelled for help or told anyone about what he was doing to her.”
Martinez returned the girl home nearly an hour later, “and once again threatened to harm the child and her family if she told anyone what had happened,” Badoni said.
The girl remained silent for two days, police said. She told her mother what had happened Wednesday, and the mother contacted police.
Officials took the traumatized girl to a hospital to be examined, Badoni said. Officers arrested Martinez Wednesday night.
Police lured Martinez to a shopping center where they arrested him about 9:40 p.m., according to police and booking records.
“During the initial contact, statements were made by Martinez that confirmed his involvement in this incident,” Badoni said. “In addition, he was identified by both the 10-year-old victim and her mother.”
Prosecutors charged Martinez Friday with seven felony counts related to child molestation, Badoni said.
He was being held in lieu of $1.2 million bail.
If convicted on all counts, Martinez faces up to 37 years to life in state prison, Ardalani said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.

PHOTO of suspect Victor Carnio Martinez courtesy of the Azusa Police Department.

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Two men wounded in Azusa stabbing


AZUSA >> Two men suffered stab wounds in what was believed to be dispute between two family members at an Azusa home Thursday afternoon, police said.
The incident unfolded about 1:40 p.m. at Dalton Avenue and 11th Street, according to Azusa police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
“We got a call of an assault with some sort of weapon,” Azusa police Lt. Paul Dennis said.
On arrival, police found two men in their 20s bleeding from apparent stab wounds, Lt. Mike Bertelsen said.
Both men were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Bertelsen said. One was flown to the hospital by helicopter, while the other was transported by ambulance.
1003_NWS_SGT-L-AZSTABBING2An update on the conditions of the wounded men was not available.
The circumstances of the incident remained under investigation, however Bertelsen said the incident was believed to have been between the two men, and no suspect was being sought.
The two men were believed to be relatives, though their exact relationship was not clear.
Several other people at the home, including a small child, were not injured, police said.

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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


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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