Suspect in Azusa bar shooting wounded by security guard

AZUSA — A security guard shot and wounded an assailant who shot and wounded another patron an a bar in an unincorporated county area near Azusa early Sunday, officials said.
The shooting broke out just after midnight at El Palenque, 17010 E Gladstone Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriquez said.
“There was an argument between two males,” the sergeant said. It was not clear what the men argued about.
“The suspect shot the victim. He suffered a life-threatening injury that required emergency surgery,” Rodriquez said. The wounded man, whose age and city were not available, was hospitalized in critical condition with a wound to his abdomen.
The suspect tried to shoot at a security as he fled the bar, Rodriguez said. But the security guard fired on the gunman, striking him in the shoulder.
Officers arrived took the wounded suspect, described as a 33-year-old Azusa man, into custody without a struggle, the sergeant said. He was hospitalized with a wound not considered to be life-threatening. His name was not released Sunday afternoon pending booking on suspicion of attempted murder.
Rodriquez said the security guard was believed to have acted lawfully in the shooting.

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Officials clear out homeless encampments along Azusa riverbed

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AZUSA — Authorities Wednesday visited the San Gabriel riverbed in Azusa to clear the area of transients and homeless encampments, police said.
The riverbed along the west end of the city is a popular illegal campsite for transients, Azusa police Officer Mike Bires said in a written statement.
“The Azusa Police Department has made numerous contacts with these individuals and advised them they were trespassing,” Bires said. Services have been offered, and some of the inhabitants have elected to take advantage of them and abandon their camps.
“The riverbed camps generally consist of altered landscape, tents, makeshift bathrooms, fire pits, smelting pits, (et cetera). The number of camps fluctuates, but there is constantly a large amount of trash and debris left in the riverbed by the trespassers.”

AZSWEEP2Police early Wednesday teamed with Los Angeles County Fire Department arson investigators, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and officers of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control to sweep through the area, officials said.
“Numerous occupied and abandoned encampments were located and several homeless subjects were contacted,” Bires said. “All subjects that were contacted were offered resources available to the homeless. Only one was interested in taking advantage of those resources. The remaining subjects were advised of trespassing laws and provided contact information for homeless resources should they reconsider the offer.”
In addition to creating a safer, cleaner environment for those who legally visit the area and protecting the area’s ecology, officials said fire safety was also a concern during Wednesday sweep.
AZSWEEP3“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,” Bires said.
No arrests were made during the operation, he added, however authorities plan to keep a close eye on trespassing issued along the riverbed in the future.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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UPDATED — Officials: Man wounded by police after confronting officers with gun in Azusa

AZUSA >> Police shot and wounded a man late Friday who they said pointed a weapon at officers responding to a report of domestic violence.
The officer-involved shooting took place about 8:15 p.m. at a home in the 700 block of South Citrus Avenue, between Arrow Highway and Gladstone Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
Azusa police officers went to the home after receiving a call reporting domestic violence, Deputy Amber Smith of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau said in a written statement issued late Saturday.
“When they arrived, the suspect opened the door and pointed a handgun at them and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” she said. “The suspect was struck once in the upper torso. He was transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive.”
Authorities withheld the identity of the wounded suspect Sunday, and no further details were released.
An officer was heard exclaiming, “He’s got a gun,” over police radio just prior to the shooting.
Radio traffic also indicated that the suspect remained confrontational and combative, even after handcuffed.
“A handgun was recovered at the scene,” smith said. “Neither the officers or the second person at the residence were injured.”
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are assisting Azusa police in the investigation.

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UPDATED: Suspect found dead after 4-hour stand-off in Azusa

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AZUSA >> A four-hour SWAT stand-off at an Azusa condominium came to an end Sunday after authorities found the suspect dead.
Few details were initially available regarding the stand-off, which began shortly after 3 p.m. in the 800 block of Pepper Tree Drive, just east of Azusa Pacific University.
Initial reports and police radio traffic indicated a suspect had fled from police before breaking into a nearby home.
Police then received information that there may be a shotgun stored inside the home where the suspect was believed to be holed-up.
Officials evacuated surrounding homes, including those along the south side of Silver Maple Drive, and took tactical positions. Via Twitter, police asked people to refrain from posting photos of officers moving into position.
Police and news helicopters circled overhead as officials made continuous loudspeaker announcements into the home.
The suspect had reportedly suffered a cut to his arm while fleeing police, and was spotted unresponsive inside the condo.
Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead about 7:15 p.m., Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Michael Pittman said.
No description of the dead man was available, and no further details were released.
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Officials inspect, cite massage parlors in Azusa

AZUSA — Acting on complaints from residents, police carried out compliance checks at six Azusa massage parlors Wednesday, issuing several citations but making no arrests, officials said.
Police joined with officials from Azusa code enforcement, the California Employment Development Department, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau’s licensing unit during the operation, Azusa police Lt. Mike Bertelsen said in a written statement.
“Azusa PD has received complaints that some massage parlors within the city may be offering sexual services to customers in addition to massages,” Bertelsen said. “After learning of the complaints, Azusa PD detectives solicited the help of outside agencies with specific expertise in massage parlor operations to develop and execute this administrative compliance detail.”
In addition to verifying that all local, county and state laws and regulations were being followed, police said officials were also seeking to determine whether any victims of human trafficking were associated with any of the massage parlors.
“No victims of human trafficking were located, however numerous citations were issued for violations of various Azusa municipal codes, along with workers compensation insurance or minimum wage violations, Bertelsen said. “Some of the businesses involved face fines of several thousand dollars each. These investigations are ongoing, so none of the businesses are being identified.”
Bertelsen said similar “administrative inspections” are likely to be held again in the future.

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Police: Teenage graffiti vandals caught red-handed in Azusa

AZUSA >> Police arrested two teenage boys on suspicion of scrawling graffiti along the street and at a park Thursday after the young vandals were literally caught red-handed, officials said.
A witness called police about 7:15 p.m. to report seeing the teens using spraypaint to vandalize walls and sidewalks in the 400 block of South Pasadena Avenue, Azusa police officials said in a written statement.
Officers responded and encountered two Azusa boys, ages 14 and 15.
“As the police officers approached the juveniles, they saw one of them was holding a spray paint can in his hand, and both juveniles had the same color paint on their hands,” according to the police statement.
“A search of the area led officers to find fresh ‘tagging-style’ graffiti in red paint on a block wall and sidewalk in the 400 block S. Pasadena Ave.,” the statement continued. “Similar graffiti was also found at Gladstone Park.”
The teens admitted to the vandalism. and both were arrested and released to their parents with a written promise to appear in court, police added.
Officials encouraged anyone who witnesses vandalism to call the police. The city seeks restitution from convicted graffiti vandals and their parents to recoup the cost of the damage.

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UPDATED — Welcome home: All mandatory evacuation orders lifted in foothills


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Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Glendora and Azusa Sunday morning on the heels of a storm that destabilized the hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area and sent mud flowing through residential streets.
The last of the evacuation orders, which affected 10 homes along Ridge View Drive in Arcadia along the denuded hillsides of the recent Colby Fire, were lifted at 11:45 a.m., Azusa police officials announced in a written statement.
“Residents may return to their residences, according to the police statement.
Only one home at the northern end of Ridge View Drive in Azusa sustained structural damage from the slides, officials said.
EVACS2Dozens of city and county workers, along with firefighters, were busy clearing mud that had poured into the backyard of Ed Heinlein and his family. The mud reached nearly 5 feet thick at some points.
“There’s 100 tons of mud back here,” Heinlein said. “We’ve got mud and stuff in the back of the house.”
To prepare for the mass of mud that eventually barrelled down on his family’s home from a steep hillside, Heinlein said he knocked a hole in a block wall on the south side of his property to allow the water to flow through. And he placed the rubble into trash cans to build a levy on the other side of his property.
“It’s engineering 101 if you’re a local homeowner,” he quipped.
And while the effort helped with the mud flow, Heinlein said he was concerned the weight of the mass of mud and debris might compromise his home’s foundation.
And despite significant damage, Heinlein said it could have been far worse. He credited a grove of 5,000 avocado trees overlooking his home for preventing further disaster.
“It stopped boulders the size of cars,” he said. “It stopped all that nasty stuff. It’s a miracle.”
And the same avocado grove, which the owner heavily watered during the Colby Fire, helped protect Heinlein’s home from damage during the January wildfire, he said.
A basketball hoop that previously stood at a regulation height of 10 feet emerged only about 5 feet from the mud Sunday morning.
Workers started the clean-up process by clearing mud 3 feet away from the periphery of the home, creating a trench. Both shovels and small earthmoving equipment were brought to bear on the mucky mess.
“This is really great,” Heinlein said of the dozens of city and county workers and officials who have helped him and his family deal with the storm damage.
“Mayor (Joe) Rocha left his church service to come down,” Heinlein said. “Council members were out here with shovels.”
Highway 39 within Azusa was also reopened Sunday morning, officials said, though travelers were urged to be cautious while using it due to possible mud or debris remaining in the roadway. The roadway remained closed leading into the Angeles National Forest.
In an act of community spirit, Max’s Mexican Cuisine in Azusa offered free dinner to evacuated residents of Ridge View Drive with proof of residence.
“City crews have been working diligently at removing the debris and mud which flowed onto Ridge View Drive,” according to the police statement. “They will continue to work aggressively at returning the neighborhood to it’s normal condition.”
Glendora officials downgraded the city’s alert status from red to yellow at 6 a.m., allowing displaced residents to return home. About 1,000 Glendora homes were under the evacuation orders.
“Rain-related parking restrictions are in effect,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement. “Residents are directed to remove vehicles, trash bins and other obstructions from the street.”
Trash service in the affected Glendora neighborhoods is to resume its usual schedule immediately, and mail service — which was stopped Friday and Saturday — will resume Monday, police and city officials said.
Authorities advised returning residents to examine their properties before entering, watch out for possible sinkholes in yards and be cautious while driving through the still-muddy and rock-strewn neighborhoods.
Residents with concerns involving mud or debris were encouraged to contact the Glendora Department of Public Works at 626-914-8246. City officials directed residents with other safety-related concerns to contact the Glendora Police Department.
Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers has asked that residents who collected the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed by the city during and prior to the storm to keep them. The bags may yet be necessary during future rains, as the barren hillsides may pose a mudslide risk for several years to come.
Evacuation orders for about 200 homes in Monrovia were lifted at 6 p.m. Saturday.
In Sierra Madre, the Mt. Wilson Trail remained off-limits for hikers as clean-up efforts continued Sunday.
“There are several areas of the trail that are dangerous due to rock slides,” city officials said in a written statement. “Authorities will be working on the trail the next few days to make it as safe as possible. Until then hikers should refrain from using the trail for everyone’s safety. The trail is officially closed until repairs can be made.”


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Mud puts lives on hold in foothills; Monrovia residents get OK to go home

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Reporting that the “streets are a mess right now,” Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said Saturday evening that the city hopes to have its emergency level alert downgraded to yellow by 6 a.m. today, which will allow residents to return to their homes, with caution.

“The last two storm cells to come through have done a pretty good job at pulling that mud down the hillsides.” Staab said.

“For those residents who have been evacuated, this is getting old. We understand that. We continue to ask or our residents’ patience,” he said. “Out No.  1 goal is to get our residents back into their homes and, unfortunately, it’s these storms that are getting in the way right now.”

The massive rainstorm continued to soak barren hillsides in Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia on Saturday as officials warned evacuated residents that the danger of mudslides and flooding remained very real, even as rays of sunshine peeked through the clouds.

“The experts tell us that thunderstorms are unpredictable, and they form really quickly,” Staab said in an afternoon news conference. “They also tell us that the hillsides are so saturated that we really don’t know at this point what event can cause the hills to suddenly break loose. And once that momentum starts, you just have to get out of the way.”

Officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Monrovia at 6 p.m. Saturday as the storm left the region…

FULL STORY

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Flash Flood Warning issued as heavy rain resumes in foothill burn areas

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning Saturday afternoon as heavy rains again began to pound the already water-saturated hillsides of recent burn areas in Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia.
The warning, which was preceded by forecasts of heavy rain and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon, was issued just before 2:30 p.m. It was expected to remain in effect through 4:15 p.m.
“At 2:15 p.m., National Weather Service doppler radar indicated a cluster of thunderstorms moving toward the burn areas,” according to a statement issued by the agency. “Rainfall rates have exceeded one half inch per half hour with these storms, which will be capable of producing additional flooding with mud and debris flows in the burn area.”
Those who remained inside the mandatory evacuation zones were advised to shelter in place rather than trying to leave their homes during the storm.

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UPDATED: Storm continues soaking unstable hillsides of Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia

A massive rainstorm continued to intermittently soak barren hillsides Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia Saturday as officials warned evacuated residents that the danger of mudslides and flooding remained very real, even as rays of sunshine peaked through the clouds.
The rain damaged to properties in Glendora on Friday afternoon and sent mud pouring into the backyards of three homes in Azusa early Saturday, authorities said. Mandatory evacuation orders for more than 1,200 area residents of the recent Colby Fire burn area remained in effect, with no estimate of when they may be lifted.
Though the storm saw a relative lull overnight, it was expected to resume dropping heavy rain on the region about 10 a.m., with showers and possible thunderstorms continuing though the afternoon, Glendora police and city officials said at a morning news conference. The storm was expected to exit the area by 9 p.m.
Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab asked evacuated residents to remain patient, and cautioned them not to underestimate the continued threat posed by the storm.
“For those residents who have been evacuated, this is getting old. We understand that. We continue to ask or our residents’ patience,” Staab said. “Out No. 1 goal is to get our residents back into their homes and, unfortunately, it’s these storms that are getting in the way right now.”
But with thunderstorms potentially on the horizon, and hillsides saturated with water and unstable, the danger remained real, the chief said.
“The experts tell us that thunderstorms are unpredictable, and they form really quickly,” he said. “They also tell us that the hillsides are so saturated that we really don’t know at this point what event can cause the hills to suddenly break loose. And once that momentum starts, you just have to get out of the way.”
The foothills near the Colby Fire burn area had received 4 inches of rain by Saturday, Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers said.
“Rates were recorded at 1.3 inches per hour.”
Rainfall rates at or above half-an-inch per hour create serious potential for mudslide, Jeffers said.
And the NWS predicted another two inches may fall in the area by the storm’s conclusion, officials said. Even heavier rain was expected along the mountain ridge line.
The NWS issued a Flash Flood Warning for the foothill burn areas just before 2:30 p.m. Saturday as heavy rain began to fall again on the region. The warning was expected to remain in effect through 4:15 p.m.
The amount of rainfall Saturday afternoon would be crucial in determining when evacuation orders in Glendora would be lifted, Jeffers said. Those who remained in their homes were advised to stay in their homes and not attempt to leave should mud begin flowing.
And officials again cautioned residents that firefighters cannot rush into a mudslide or debris flow to effect a rescue. They must wait until the debris flow stops and drys.
The National Weather Service issued a brief tornado warning for the east San Gabriel Valley between about 3:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. No funnel cloud materialized, however hail as large as 1-inch fell in Walnut, officials said.
The four key debris basins near the Colby Fire were holding up well and were not expected to reach capacity during the storm, Jeffers said. When inspected at 6 a.m. Saturday, they ranged from 40 percent to 55 percent full.
Two homes in the 1100 block of Easley Canyon Road in Glendora sustained damage Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Steve Martin said. The garage of one home was inundated with mud, while a nearby home’s backyard was flooded with mud that pressed up against the rear of the home.
City officials identified another dozen or so home where mud had flowed onto the properties, but not entered into the homes, Jeffers said. They were urged to hire geotechnical engineers to examine their properties.
Officials took note of 15 sites in the city where an estimated 200 cubic yards of mud and debris needed to be removed from roadways.
Jeffers added that the city is asking that once the storm passes, residents keep the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed during the storm in case of future potential mudslides. The denuded hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area will continue to present debris flow danger during storms for three to four years.
Residents along Rainbow Road at the northern edge of Glendora continued shoring up barriers Saturday. Some were made of metal pipes and wood, while others consisted of sandbags and tarps. Neighbors mentioned they had been contacted by city officials in February, in the wake of the Colby Fire, to discuss mitigation of potential debris flow.
Glendora residents Gary Smith used a break in the rainfall Saturday morning to take a bike ride. Looking at a barrier erected to block the flow of mud, “It looks like it did its job,” he said.
In Azusa, flowing mud along the 1700 block of Ridge View Drive, where officials expanded evacuation orders Friday, became far too close for comfort to three homes early Saturday, Azusa police Sgt. John Madaloni said. The mud flowing through the backyards reached the windowsill of one home, while it rose 2- to 3-feet high along the back of the other two.
“We don’t have any evidence that it’s actually gone into the homes, but it’s certainly accumulating outside the exterior walls,” Madaloni said.
“The damage right now is limited to cosmetic damage,” the sergeant said. Items such as fences and external stairways had been damaged, along with an avocado grove, but no structural damage had been confirmed.
Highway 39 in Azusa was shut down during a downpour Saturday afternoon due to mud flowing onto the roadway, as well as fears the K-rails placed to block slides would not hold, police said.
The evacuation zone in Monrovia, comprised of about 200 homes in the northern end of town, has sustained no reported structure damage, Monrovia police Lt. Zeke Cerecerez said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Crews made quick work overnight of a mudslide the flowed onto Highland Place, just north of Hillcrest Boulevard, he said.
Officials tentatively planned to lift mandatory evacuation orders in Monrovia at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We appreciate our residents’ patience at this time,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Chris Donovan said in a written statement. “We are still predicting some mud and debris flows from the storms predicted by the National Weather Service this afternoon. Once those pass, we will re-evaluate the evacuation orders.”
In Sierra Madre, a rock slide on the Mt. Wilson trail prompted Sierra Madre city officials to urge residents to avoid the area late Saturday morning.

— Staff writer Grace Wong contributed to this report.

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