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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Azusa man wounded in stabbing, suspect jailed

AZUSA >> A man stabbed and wounded another man early Sunday after an argument at an Azusa condominium complex escalated into a fight and stabbing, police said.
Police jailed Jose Manuel Castaneda, 43, of Los Angeles in connection with the 2:20 a.m. stabbing in the 700 block of East 5th Street, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said. His alleged victim, a 29-year-old Azusa man, was hospitalized in stable condition with a stab wound to his abdomen and expected to make a full recovery.
“The incident began as a verbal argument inside of a condominium,” the corporal said. “The argument quickly escalated into a physical altercation and stabbing.”
Police arrested Castaneda at the scene, Landeros said. Officers recovered a folding knife with a 4-inch-long blade believed to have been used in the stabbing, and also found Castaneda to be in possession of a small amount of suspected methamphetamine.
The relationship between the suspect and victim was not clear, police said. Both men appeared to have been drinking prior to the alleged attack.
According to police and county booking records, Castaneda was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession. He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Northbound San Gabriel Canyon Road closed at Azusa border


AZUSA >> Authorities blocked northbound traffic on San Gabriel Canyon Road at Azusa’s northern border late Saturday due to a road stabilization project, officials said.
Only local residents were being allowed beyond Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada said. Southbound traffic was not affected.
The closure began at 7 p.m. Saturday and was expected to remain in effect through Monday morning, unless a solution can be figured out sooner, Caltrans officials said in a written statement.
0504_NWS_SGT-L-CLOSURE2“The slope stabilization project between Carpenter Canyon and Pejsa Canyon bridges has required one-way traffic control, and motorists are bypassing the traffic signals installed for their safety,” according to the Caltrans statement. “This highway experiences heavy weekend recreationalists, and with the warmer weather a higher volume of bicyclists and motorcyclists is using the road.”
The project involves the installation of sheet metal walls to guard against future landslides and prevent resulting long-term closures, officials said. The work is scheduled to be completed in the fall.

PHOTOS courtesy of Caltrans

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Firefighters extinguish small brush fire in Azusa

VIDEO of water drop (courtesy of the Azusa Police Department)


AZUSA >> Firefighters made quick work of a brush fire along the San Gabriel River Trail in Azusa early Sunday, extinguishing it before it grew beyond one-and-a-half acres in size, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 5:45 a.m. in the riverbed adjacent to the San Gabriel River Trail, according to Azusa police Cpl. Nick Covarrubias.
0420_SGT-L-AZFIRE2“The fire burned approximately one and a half acres and was fought by ground and air crews from the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” Covarrubias said in a written statement. “It took crews approximately one hour to extinguish the fire.”
The cause remained under investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the Azusa Police Department.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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SUV stolen during Azusa hot prowl burglary

AZUSA >> An intruder broke into a woman’s home, snatched her car keys from inside and drove off in her SUV Friday afternoon, police said.
A woman of about 20 years old was home alone about 2:30 p.m. at a house on Azalea Way, just north of Ruby Lace Way, when she heard her garage door open, Azusa police Sgt. Rick Hayden said.
She went downstairs and discovered someone had forced their way into her home through a window, the sergeant said.
Missing was the woman’s keys, along with her black, 2015 Honda CRV with a California license plate of 7MHC57.

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UPDATED: Man wounded in nose in Azusa drive-by shooting

AZUSA >> A 19-year-old Azusa man suffered a gunshot wound to his nose in a drive-by shooting in a residential neighborhood Friday afternoon, officials said.
Police and firefighters first responded about 5:15 p.m. to the shooting in the 500 block of East 10th Street, Azusa police Lt. Sam Fleming said.
The young man was walking down the street when a smaller-size passenger car drove by, the lieutenant said. A single shot was fired from the car. Further descriptions of the shooter or the car were not available.
The bullet struck the victim in the nose, Fleming said. He was walking and talking when paramedics took him to a hospital for treatment, he said. The wound was not believed to be life-threatening.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.

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Azusa to test emergency siren Monday

AZUSA >> Azusa officials are planning a test of the city’s emergency siren Monday morning, authorities said.
The siren, along San Gabriel Canyon Road at the mouth of the canyon, will sound at intervals for about five minutes between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to Azusa police Lt. Sam Fleming.
“No action is necessary by residents during these tests,” Fleming said.
“The test will be conducted to ensure that the early warning system is operational and that the connection to the 9-1-1 Center of the Azusa Police Department is signaling correctly,” the lieutenant said.
The test will be conducted by police, in conjunction with Azusa Amateur Radio Communications Emergency Services.
The siren is used to notify residents near the mouth of the canyon of a need to evacuate in the event of a wildfire or flood, in addition to announcements by emergency responders and door-to-door notifications.

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Washington State man seriously hurt in Azusa crash

AZUSA >> A man from Washington State suffered serious injuries but was expected to survive following a solo-car rollover crash late Friday, according to Azusa police.
The crash occurred about 11:20 p.m. at Azusa Avenue and Thirst Street, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said in a written statement.
“Upon arrival at the scene, officers located a semi-conscious solo male occupant inside of a 1997 Honda Civic that sustained significant damage,” Landeros said.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that the driver collided with a parked vehicle and his vehicle proceeded to roll over and ended up back on its wheels,” the corporal said.
Los Angeles County firefighters freed the driver, a man from Washington State, from the wreckage and took him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, police said. The injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200.

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UPDATED: Azusa sex offender found nude, with pornography and vibrator, at Arcadia church

ARCADIA >> Police arrested a convicted sex offender Friday after he was found nude, sitting atop a vibrator and surrounded by pornography on the grounds of an Arcadia church, officials said.
Paul Allan McQuown, 55, of Azusa is accused of indecent exposure following Friday’s arrest, which took place shortly after 4 p.m. at the Arcadia Congregational Church, 2607 S. Santa Anita Ave., according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A groundskeeper at the church called police after finding McGuown nude, sitting on the vibrator under some trees on the church property, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
“He had a lot of pornographic material with him,” Castro said. The nude man also had a knife within reach.
Responding police officers found McQuown and took him into custody, the lieutenant said. He was expected to be booked for indecent exposure.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, McGuown has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1992. He already had a pending case for failure to register as a sex offender at the time of his arrest Friday.
In recent years, McQuown has been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia six times, failure to register as a sex offender twice and trespassing, possession of a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance, records show.
In the 2000s, McQuown was convicted of lewd conduct in public, possession of drug paraphernalia twice, and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records. In the 1990s, he was convicted of indecent exposure five times, as well as trespassing.
Despite his numerous sex-related convictions, McGuown is not listed on California’s statewide database of registered sex offenders.
It was not clear Friday why he was not listed, though not all convicted sex offenders are subject to public disclosure of their information on the database.
Though indecent exposure is often considered a misdeamnor offense, because of his prior convictions, McQuown was booked on suspicion of a felony, police said.
He was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.

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