Coroner’s officials have identified a La Puente man who was fatally struck by a car on the 605 Freeway in Irwindale minutes after allegedly trying to carjack a driver in El Monte on Tuesday.
Louis Marcus Martinez, 27, died after he was struck by a car about 10:10 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the 605 Freeway, just north of Ramona Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Chief of Operations Brian Elias said. An autopsy was yet to be completed.
The bizarre series of events began about 9:45 p.m. when El Monte police received a report of an attempted carjacking in the 4000 block of Gilman Road, according to El Monte police Lt. Pete Rasic.
A woman was entering her car when a man, later identified as Martinez, tried to force his way into her vehicle and grab her keys, police said.
The woman managed to push the would-be carjacker away, lock her car doors and drive away, Rasic said. The suspect left behind personal items including a photo ID.
Police received a second report of the same man grabbing onto a van and hanging onto to briefly it as it drove away in the area of Gilman Road and Ramona Boulevard in El Monte, officials said.
The man was not found, but turned up minutes later, walking in traffic lanes of the 605 Freeway along the border between Baldwin Park and Irwindale.
A car traveling about 70 mph in the No. 2 lane struck Martinez, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez. He was soon linked to the prior attempted carjacking in El Monte.
It was unclear why Martinez ended up walking on the freeway.
BALDWIN PARK >> A 75-year-old woman died after she was struck by car while crossing a street in Baldwin Park late Wednesday, officials said.
Ela Hernandez of Baldwin Park died after she was struck by a vehicle about 6:35 p.m. while crossing Francisquito Avenue at Athol Street, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Chief of Operations Brian Elias said.
She was walking within a crosswalk when struck, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joshua Hendricks said. Paramedics pronounced Hernandez dead at the scene.
The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with police, the sergeant said. The investigation was ongoing, however there were no initial signs of intoxicated driving.
Further details, such as the directions of travel involved in the collision, were not available Thursday.
Police are asking the public’s help in finding a West Covina man suffering from dementia who went missing in after leaving a hospital in Baldwin Park on Saturday morning.
Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, was last seen at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center, 1011 Baldwin Park Blvd., during the early-morning hours, West Covina police officials said in a written statement. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“(Williams) suffers from early stages of dementia and needs ongoing medical attention,” according to the statement.
Williams was driving a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck with a license plate of 84733X1. He’s described as black, 6 feet 3 inches tall, 210 pounds, with a goatee and piercing in his left ear. He was last seen wearing red and black gym shorts.
Anyone who spots the missing person is urged to call 911 or contact local police immediately.
PHOTO: Missing person Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, of West Covina. (Courtesy, West Covina Police Department)
BALDWIN PARK >> Young drivers and their parents are once again invited to join in a free driving safety class hosted by the California Highway Patrol this Friday.
The Start Smart class will be held from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., according to CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
“The primary objective of this program is to provide teens between the ages of 15 and 19 with an interactive safe driving awareness class to illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel can tragically impact many lives,” the officer said.
“Topics that will be covered include collision avoidance techniques, the importance of wearing a seat belt, keeping vehicle speeds down and not driving impaired and/or distracted.”
Video and photos will be shown to illustrate the tragic consequences of poor decision behind the wheel of a car. Parents or guardians must attend with students.
Space is limited, and those interested are urged to RSVP as soon as possible to reserve a spot by contacting Officer Jimenez at 626-338-1164, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested a man at a Baldwin Park in-home day care center on suspicion of child molestation on Sunday, authorities said.
Few details were initially released as detectives continued gathering information and seeking possible additional victims, Baldwin Parkp police Sgt. David Leon said.
Detectives arrested the suspect Sunday morning at his home, which also operated as a day care center, in the 4200 block of Benham Avenue, the sergeant said. His identity was not released Sunday afternoon due to the active investigation.
It was not clear if the suspect worked or operated the in-home day care center, or merely lived there.
Investigators also served a search warrant at the home and recovered items of evidence, he said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Baldwin Park police Detective Carmen Chice at 626-960-1955, ext. 439.
BALDWIN PARK >> As part of its ongoing efforts to keep young drivers and the motoring public at-large safe behind the wheel, the California Highway Patrol is hosting a free safe driving class for teens and their parents on Friday, officials said.
Both new and soon-to-be drivers are invited to take part in thetwo-hour “Start Smart Class,” which will be held at 6:16 p.m. Friday at the CHP’s Baldwin Park-area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The class focuses on safe habits, responsible decisions and collision avoidance.
Photos and pictures depicting the results of bad decisions behind the wheel will be displayed, and teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A driver’s license is not required to participate.
To reserve a space, or for more information, Officer Jimenez can be reached at 626-338-1164, or via email at email@example.com.
BALDWIN PARK >> Police and California Highway Patrol officer jailed an auto theft suspect who led them on a pursuit from El Monte before crashing into a CHP cruiser in Baldwin Park while fleeing in the wrong direction of traffic on the 10 Freeway, authorities said.
The suspect was found and taken into custody nearby, and no officers were hurt in the incident, which began shortly before 9 p.m. in El Monte, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said. Authorities briefly shut down the westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway following the collision, but quickly reopened them.
A LoJack vehicle anti-theft signal first attracted the attention of El Monte police to the vehicle, officials said.
The driver failed to pull over for police, initiating a chase that reached high speeds and travelled on the wrong side of the roadway more than once.
The CHP took over the pursuit as the driver made his way onto the 60 Freeway. Shortly after he began heading east in the westbound lanes of the freeway, he collided with a CHP cruiser near Baldwin Park Boulevard, Polizzi said.
It was not immediately clear whether the CHP officer crashed into the suspect intentionally or unintentionally.
The driver got out of the crashed car and continued to flee on foot, but was soon captured in a nearby neighborhood, officials said.
CHP officials could not confirm initial radio reports from the scene that a gun was recovered from inside the suspect’s stolen car.
No further details were available late Wednesday.
— LA Basin Scanner (@LABasinScanner) January 12, 2017
EL MONTE >> A fleeing suspect fired gunshots at El Monte police during a high-speed pursuit before he was taken into custody in Baldwin Park late Wednesday.
Richard Cortez, 26, of Baldwin Park was ultimately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer, evading police, resisting arrest, burglary and hit-and-run, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said.
“He’s shooting at my vehicle,” an officer is heard calmly saying over the radio as the chase sped down the 60 Freeway. “My windshield’s now broken. We’re still westbound. Probably about five or six rounds.”
The incident began about 10 p.m. in the southwest portion of the city, when an officer spotted and began following a suspicious car, according to the sergeant.
When the officer tried to stop the car for a traffic violation, the driver sped away, initiating a chase that worked its way to the 60 freeway.
While on the 60 Freeway, the suspect opened fire on pursuing officers several times, Luna said. One officer initially believed his patrol car had been struck, but no damage was ultimately found.
Police continued chasing the suspect, who reached speeds as high as 100 mph, as he got onto the 10 Freeway and ultimately exited at Frazier Avenue in Baldwin Park.
He was involved in a minor crash with a parked car as he ditched his vehicle and continued to flee on foot.
Cortez fled through the neighborhood and broke into a home before he was apprehended with the help of a police K-9, Luna said. Television news helicopters broadcast footage of the chase arrest.
He was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to booking, officials said.
No additional suspects were believed to be outstanding.
The investigation was ongoing, Luna said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Cortez was previously convicted of vandalism, brandishing a handgun and burglary in 2016; fighting in public and spousal abuse in 2013; possession of methamphetamine in 2012; and being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2010.
Cortez was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, county booking records show.
Audio courtesy of @LABasinScanner on Twitter
DIAMOND BAR >> Services have been scheduled for a 33-year-old Baldwin Park man who died last week when the car he was riding in with his wife was rear-ended by a pickup truck on the transition road between the 60 and 57 freeways.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Enrique Fuentes III died at the scene of the collision, which took place just before 5:50 a.m. on the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, where it merges with the 57 Freeway near Grand Avenue in Diamond Bar, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery and Mortuary, 2161 S. Fullerton Road.
A funeral will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Jan. 14 at the same location, followed immediately by a graveside service.
Fuentes’ mother, Annamarie Fuentes, thanked the community for its compassion over the past difficult week.
“The love and support has been tremendous,” she said. “We as a family appreciate all the kindness and love we have received by all.”
Fuentes’ wife was riding as a passenger in the 2007 Honda Civic when it was struck from behind by a Ford F-150 pickup truck, CHP officials and family members said. She was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver and passenger of the pickup truck declined medical treatment, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the CHP’s Baldwin Park-area office.
PHOTO: Rodolfo “Rudy” Enrique Fuentes III. (Courtesy)
LOS ANGELES >> A former gang member from Baldwin Park received a 24-year prison sentence this week for his role in a federal drug trafficking conspiracy in which he admitted personally executing another gang member from Valinda who failed to pay “taxes,” or extortion payments, to the Mexican Mafia, authorities announced Thursday.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, a former 18th Street gang member with ties to Baldwin Park and El Sereno, pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Los Angeles to a charge of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as part of a federal case targeting the Mexican Mafia-controlled Puente 13 street gang.
As part of his plea agreement, Garcia admitted to luring and fatally shooting David Dragna, 44, of Valinda at an apartment complex in the 14700 block of Prichard Street in La Puente on July 3, 2006, U.S. Department of Justice Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“Garcia admitted that in 2006 he and two members of Puente 13 lured another gang member to an apartment complex, where Garcia executed the victim with a bullet to the head,” Mrozek said.
Garcia carried out the killing on the orders of leaders of Puente 13, who accused Dragna of keeping extortion payments on drug proceeds, or “taxes,” intended for the Mexican Mafia, officials said. Dragna was a member of the Townsmen gang, which also operates in the Valinda Corridor in the central Can Gabriel Valley.
“This defendant killed another human being in cold blood to further his own criminal credentials and to further his drug trafficking career,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker said. “While he may have believed he could get away with murder, the hard work and dedication of law enforcement and prosecutors in my office ensured that he was held accountable. This case is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of gang violence on our community and the severe consequences that will result from participating in those criminal enterprises.”
At the time of Garcia’s plea deal, the prosecution and defense in the case agreed to recommend Garcia be sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald opted for the high end of the range, sentencing Garcia on Monday to 24 years behind bars, as well as eight years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison term.
The two Puente 13 gang members who joined Garcia in the killing have since pleaded guilty to the slaying, Mrozek said. Angel “Smiley” Torres is serving a 15-and-a-half-year prison term, and Steven “Flaco” Nunez is serving a 10-year sentence.
As part of the same investigation into Puente 13, which began in 2008, longtime gang leader Rafael “Cisco” Munoz-Gonzalez, 42, of La Puente and his brother, Cesar “Blanco” Munoz-Gonazalez of Rowland Heights, received life sentenced in federal prison in 2013 after being convicted at trial of violating the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, weapons charges and other offenses.
The investigation into Puente 13 has resulted in four indictments and the convictions of about five-dozen gang members and associates, officials said.