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.
BALDWIN PARK >> Homicide detectives have announced the arrest of a Baldwin Park man in connection with the fatal stabbing of another man during a fight early Friday.
Steven Barron, 54, was initially detained for questioning and treated for injuries following the deadly fight, which unfolded about 12:10 a.m. inside a residential garage in the 4000 block of Harlan Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. By day’s end, detectives had booked him on suspicion of murder, Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
Gilbert Ochoa Jr., 43, died in the stabbing, according to sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
He was visiting a homeowner prior to the stabbing, Saldana said. The two men were talking when Barron, a tenant of the homeowner’s building, showed up.
“(Barron) entered the garage and started an argument with the victim that led to a fight,” Saldana said in a written statement. “The victim struck the suspect with a metal pipe but the suspect then gained control of the pipe, striking the victim and stabbing him with a knife.”
Ochoa died at the scene, officials said. He had been stabbed in the chest. A large kitchen knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered at the scene.
Barron was treated for a broken arm as detectives continued their investigation, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The homeowner suffered no injuries in the incident, officials added.
According to county booking records, Barron was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Pomona branch.
BALDWIN PARK >> A Baldwin Park police officer escaped injury after a bullet shattered the rear windshield of his patrol car along Baldwin Park Boulevard late Wednesday, authorities said.
The attack took place about 8:45 p.m. in a parking lot just west of a Burger King restaurant at Baldwin Park and Ramona boulevards.
A lone officer had just finished a traffic stop and was pulling through the parking lot when a single bullet shattered the rear window of his patrol car, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joseph Meister said. The officer was not hurt.
Police believed the shot was fired from south of the parking lot, but it was unclear where the gunfire came from, Meister said.
Officers cordoned off the area and searched for nearly four hours, but no suspects were found, he said.
No description was available, and the motive in the shooting was unclear.
Anyone with information can reach the Baldwin Park Police Department at 626-960-1955. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BALDWIN PARK >> A man died following a drive-by shooting in a residential neighborhood in Baldwin Park late Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 7:05 p.m. in the 14100 block of Clark Street, just west of Baldwin Park Boulevard, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau. The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting Baldwin Park police in the investigation.
Killed was Jason George Teter, 21, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano. His’s city of residence was unavailable.
Teter victim and another man were walking east along Clark Street when a large white SUV pulled up from behind, Deputy Kimberly Alexander said in a written statement.
“One occupant of the SUV produced a handgun and opened fire, striking the victim in the torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene,” she said. The other man was uninjured.
“The suspects’ vehicle was last seen eastbound Clark Street and out of view. There is no suspect description,” Alexander said.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men chased down a big rig to Irwindale after it was stolen in Baldwin Park Wednesday, but the thief escaped with the help of a knife-wielding accomplice who spirited him away in a getaway car, officials said.
The chain of events began about 11:50 a.m. with the report of a big rig being stolen in the 15200 block of Arrow Highway, just west of Azusa Canyon Road, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joshua Hendricks said.
A co-owner of the truck and a man in his friend, both men in their 20s, saw the truck drive off, he said. They called police and followed behind the stolen big rig in another car.
The truck became stuck in traffic on Irwindale Avenue at the 210 Freeway in Irwindale, officials said. The driver of the just-stolen big rig reversed the truck and rammed his pursuers. No injuries were reported, and the damage to the car was described as minor.
The victims exited their car and tried to grab the truck thief, but an accomplice showed up and brandished a knife before both suspects fled in a gray BMW sedan, Hendricks said.
Detailed descriptions of the suspects were not available.
The investigation was being handled by Irwindale police, Hendricks said. Irwindale police Sgt. Rene Sapien declined to discuss the case, referring inquiries back to Baldwin Park police.
BALDWIN PARK >> New and soon-to-be drivers, along with their parents, are invited to join in a popular, free, two-hour driver safety class being offered by the California Highway Patrol later this month.
The “Start Smart Class” will be held from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the CHP’s Baldwin Park-area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., according to CHP officer Rodrigo Jimenez said. The program is free, but tends to fill up quickly, so early reservations are encouraged.
“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,” CHP officials said in a written statement.
Photos and pictures indicating the results of bad decision behind the wheel will be shown, and teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A driver license is not required to participate.
“The class is powerful and receives excellent reviews,” according to the statement.
The class generally fills to capacity, Jimenez said.
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 >> An El Monte man already condemned to spend life behind bars received a new sentence of 86 years to life in state prison on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of a rival gang member on Christmas Eve in 2010, prosecutors said.
Johnny Mata, 35, who has also been convicted of a second, non-fatal gang shooting in Baldwin Park in 2012, spent more than a year as a fugitive after he was accidentally released from jail in 2013 while awaiting trial, then recaptured in Mexico in Mexico.
A jury Convicted Johnny Mata, 35, guilty last month of two felony counts of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old David Deanda Jr., Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. Jurors also found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the killing was gang-related.
Co-defendant Jesus Arroyo Lule, 35, pleaded “no contest” in 2014 to a felony count of voluntary manslaughter for Deanda’s slaying and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 17 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Pomona Branch.
Lule drove Mata to rival gang territory in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue in Baldwin Park. Baldwin Park in the predawn hours of Dec. 24, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Once there, Mata exited the car and walked up to a house where David Deanda Jr., 31 was standing in the driveway,” according to the statement. “Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene, the prosecutor added.
Mata exited the car and walked up to Deanda Jr. who was standing in the driveway of a residence, Barkhurst said. Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene.
A third defendant, then-27-year-old Christina Montenegro, was initially charged in connection with the 2012 shooting, but the charges were ultimately dropped.
Deanda, who worked as a welder, was survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and a stepdaughter, according to family.
Prior to being arrested
In April 2012, Mata shot at the home of another rival gang member in Baldwin Park, and was found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in a 2015 trial. He was sentenced to life, plus 25 years, in state prison for those crimes. But the jury deadlocked on the murder charge stemming from Deanda’s fatal shooting, leading to a second trial.
Following his initial arrest in May of 2012 in connection with the Baldwin Park slaying, Mata spent more than a year on the lam after he as accidentally released due to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department clerical error.
He was re-captured in April of 2014 in Mexico and returned to the U.S. to face justice.
Following Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Mata is now serving a total sentence of life in prison, plus 111 years to life in prison.
PHOTO: Johnny Mata of El Monte, (Courtesy)