Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
BALDWIN PARK >> Officials arrested three people Thursday during a parole and probation compliance sweep in Baldwin Park, authorities said.
Baldwin Park police teamed with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Parole agents officials and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services officials as they visited 13 homes of parolees and probationers, Baldwin Park police Lt. Doug Parnell said.
The purpose of the sweep was to check whether parolees and probationers were abiding by the terms of their releases from jail or prison, officials said.
The team arrested Gilbert Suastegui, 25, on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records. Robert Macias, 46, was arrested for violating his parole, and 27-year-old Yamina Campos was arrested on outstanding warrants.
According to records, Suastegui and Macias were being held without bail pending their initial court appearance. Yamina was being held in lieu of $53,000 bail.
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men were wounded — one of them critically — in stabbing at a Baldwin Park gas station late Saturday, police said.
The incident was first reported about 11:20 p.m. as a fight at a 76 Station at the corner of Puente and Francisquito avenues, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mike Hemenway said.
Responding officers found two men suffering from stab wounds, he said.
A 21-year-old Baldwin Park man suffered stab wounds to his stomach, hand and arm and was taken to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition, Hemenway said. An update on the man’s condition was not available Sunday afternoon.
A 20-year-old Baldwin Park man suffered a stab wound to the side of his head, the sergeant said. Paramedics took him to a hospital in stable condition.
The suspects were described only as two attackers, and the motive in the stabbing remained under investigation, Hemenway said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Baldwin Park police at 626-960-1955. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BALDWIN PARK >> Prosecutors Thursday charged a Baldwin Park man Thursday with murder in connection with the death of a woman at her Baldwin Park home last month, officials said Thursday.
Juan Carlos Santana, 42, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and receiving stolen property the day after Patricia Sigala Salva was found dead Oct. 18 inside her home in the 3700 block of Idaho Street in Baldwin Park, according to Los Angeles County booking records and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
Prosecutors charged Santana Thursday with the murder of Patricia Sigala Salva, according to a felony complaint filed in Pomona Superior Court. Sheriff’s and coroner’s officials have declined to release any information regarding the woman’s identity, however public records indicate she was in her early-60s and had lived at the Baldwin Park home for at least 20 years.
Salva had been shot, according to court documents. She died sometime between Oct. 16 and Oct. 18, when her body was discovered.
He was initially charged with burglary and receiving stolen property, however prosecutors have since added the charge of murder, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. He was scheduled to be arraigned on the murder charge Jan. 8 in Pomona Superior Court.
Prosecutors also accused Juan Santana of the special allegations that he personally used a handgun in the crime, and that he committed the murder during the coarse of a burglary, according to a felony complaint filed in
Arrested and charged in the same case as Juan Santana was 19-year-old Andres Javier Santana and 44-year-old Deborah Jean Curiel, according to officials and booking records. Both were jailed Oct. 19 on suspicion of receiving stolen property.
The elder Santana was being held without bail, records show, while Andres Santana has been released on bail pending legal proceeding, and Curiel was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
The relationships among the suspects were not clear, nor was their relationship with Salva. The suspects’ cities of residence were also not available.
Numerous calls in recent weeks to handling detectives at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide have not been returned. And sheriff’s investigators ordered a “security hold” on the case at the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, preventing the release of any information, coroner’s officials said. The security hold remained in effect Thursday.
Police said the woman’s body was discovered after residents reported suspicious circumstances at her home.
Someone called Baldwin Park police to report seeing a person running out of the garage of the home with an item believed to be beer, police said. Neighbors also told police they had not seen the woman who lives at the home in several says.
Lt. Ed Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said the woman had rented space in the house to roommates in the past, but was living alone at the time of her death.
BALDWIN PARK >> Police checking on suspicious circumstances at the home of a senior citizen discovered her body inside her Baldwin Park home, officials said.
It was unclear whether foul play may have played a role in the death of the woman as detectives continued gathering clues at the scene Saturday afternoon. The name of the woman, described as 60 years old, was not released.
Baldwin Park police officers discovered the body about 1:50 p.m. in the 3700 block of Idaho Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Officers first went to the house after someone reported seeing a person running out of the garage of the home with beer, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joe Meister said.
Neighbors also told police they had not seen the woman in several days, Lt. Ed Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“When officers arrived, they didn’t get an answer at the door,” Hernandez said. “They went inside through an open garage door and found her inside her residence.”
“There are no obvious signs of injuries or cause of death at this point,” Hernandez added. Coroner’s investigators planned an autopsy.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, the lieutenant added.
The woman lived alone, though she had rented out rooms in the past, Hernandez said.
No further information regarding the person seen by a neighbor leaving the home’s garage was available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting Baldwin Park police in the investigation, at 323-890-5500.
BALDWIN PARK >> Teen drivers and their parents are invited to take part in a free interactive class hosted by the California Highway Patrol and geared to improve traffic safety for young people.
The “Smart Start” seminar will take place at 6:15 p.m. Friday at the Baldwin Park office of the CHP, 14039 Francisquito Ave, CHP officials said in a written statement.
All teens ages 15 to 19 are invited to attend with their parents. A driver’s license is not required.
The safe driving awareness class, “will illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel of a car can affect the lives of numerous people,” the statement said.
Due to graphic images and video shown during the class, all teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who must sign a waiver at the beginning of the class.
Topics discussed will include responsibilities of new drivers, responsibilities of parents and collision avoidance techniques.
Seating is limited.
For more information or to reserve a space, contact Officer Rodrigo Jimenez at 626-338-1164, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEST COVINA >> Dozens of San Gabriel Valley first responders took part in a large-scale active shooter training scenario simulating a terrorist attack on a West Covina shopping mall Sunday.
Six local law enforcement agencies, federal officials and firefighters took part in the mock terror attack at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, which was held early in the morning, before mall business opened for the day.
“We take the safety of our visitors and our residents very seriously,” West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said. “There have been several incidents that have happened on the east coast — one happened last week — that certainly have raised our awareness that we need to be prepared. And in my view, we need to be ready for something and hope it never happens, (rather) than to respond to something we weren’t prepared for.”
A blast from a flash-bang grenade intended to simulate a bomb detonation signalled the beginning of the intensive drill at the mall, where three West Covina police officers played the role of heavily armed gunmen bent on creating carnage. Within minutes, the sounds of simulated gunshots echoed through the mall as police engaged the mock terrorists in a gunfight.
Two of the pseudo suspects carried assault rifles, while the third carried a shotgun.
Participating first responders were not told ahead of time what they would be facing in the drill, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez explained.
“Each officer involved in this has to determine how to best handle the situation,” he said.
Police simultaneously hunted for the gunmen and rescued mock victims who wore makeup to simulate injuries. Some officers carried their standard duty sidearms, while others were armed with rifles.
Patrol officers called in a SWAT team after the attack turned into a hostage situation.
Practicing a technique known as “fast-roping,” West Covina police SWAT members slid down a rope from a hovering Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter to join in the operation.
The West Covina Police Department’s recently acquired rescue vehicle, a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle acquired from the U.S. Department of Defense, was used to evacuate victims.
After a scenario that lasted about an hour, the three suspects had been killed in shoot-outs with officers. Three civilians had also been killed during the scenario, and many more wounded.
Police officers from West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park and Irwindale police departments were joined by California Highway Patrol officers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, FBI agents, West Covina firefighters and mall security officials in responding to the mock attack, Lopez said. While West Covina has hosted similar training scenarios in the past, Sunday’s training session was their biggest.
About 75 law enforcement officers participated, along with about 60 volunteers playing the part of victims or bystanders, officials said. The volunteers were primarily police Explorers from the West Covina, Glendora and Ontario police departments.
“Whether this incident happens in West Covina, or happens in Irwindale or Covina, we’re familiar with working with each others’ team,” the chief said. “We might be in different uniforms, but in the end, we’re all in one uniform when it comes time to deal with a critical incident.”
After watching the exercise unfold at the mall, West Covina City Councilman Fred Sykes said he approved.
“A place this large, it’s unfathomable for us not to look at what to do in this type of situation,” he said.
The costs and planning associated with massive drill is a wise investment, as it may help save lives down the road, Sykes said.
“This is extremely important for our community,” the councilman said.
Just like in sports, he added, “The battles are won in practice.”
BALDWIN PARK >> A robbed a Baldwin Park bank branch Saturday before quickly being captured by police, officials said
Todd Edward Campbell, 48, of West Covina was arrested within minutes of the 11:14 a.m. bank robbery at a U.S. Bank branch inside a Walmart store, 3250 Big Dalton Avenue, Baldwin Park police Lt. Doug Parnell said.
Campbell approached a female teller at the bank and displayed a note demanding money, the lieutenant said. The teller handed over about $2,000 and the suspect fled, running north from the bank, Parnell said. A bank employee triggered a silent alarm during the robbery.
An officer rushing to the scene of the crime spotted Campbell, who matched the description of the robber, at Merced and Puente avenues, Parnell said.
Though he had discarded is shirt in an attempt to change his appearance, Campbell was found carrying a bag containing the stolen money, and the note used in the robbery was found in his pocket, Parnell said.
The suspect, who has a lengthy criminal history out of state,admitted to the robbery, Parnell said. Campbell told police he committed the robbery because he needed money for drugs.
The FBI was assisting Baldwin Park police in the investigation.
According to Los Angeles County Booking records, Campbell was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
BALDWIN PARK >> Police are seeking whoever shot and wounded a man late Sunday in Baldwin Park, officials said.
Few details were available regarding the shooting, which took place about 11:15 p.m. in the 13700 block of Ramona Parkway, near Merced Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Josh Hendricks said.
The victim, a local man, was shot in the torso and both thighs, the sergeant said. He was taken to a trauma center where he was listed in stable condition.
The wounded man, a Baldwin Park residents, told police he did not know his attacker and could not provide a description, Hendricks said.
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men suffered gunshot wounds to the head Friday night in Baldwin Park in what police are investigating as two separate incidents.
The first shooting was reported about 11:30 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 4300 block of Harlan Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mike Hemenway said.
Passers-by reported finding the victim, a man in his 20s, lying on the ground and bleeding, the sergeant said.
Officials soon determined he had been shot in the head, Hemenway said.
Paramedics took the man to a hospital where his condition was unknown, though he was expected to survive, Hemenway said.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting or a suspect was available.
Police were summoned to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, 1011 Baldwin Park Ave., about midnight after a second gunshot victim was found in the hospital’s parking lot, Hemenway said. Officials believed the victim had been dropped off there.
Hemenway said the victim who turned up at the hospital was also a man in his 20s and had also been shot in the head, as well as the leg. He was listed in critical condition.
But authorities had not determined where the shooting took place Saturday, Hemenway said.
While detectives were looking into the possibility the shootings were related, “There’s nothing connecting them at this time,” he said.