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.
BALDWIN PARK — The death of a woman found unresponsive in her car at a Baldwin Park gas station Wednesday was believed to be natural, authorities said.
Officials responded about noon to a Chevron Station at 14477 Merced Avenue, at Puente Avenue, Baldwin Park police Lt. Melissa Stehly said. A woman estimated to be about 50 was found unresponsive in a Chrysler Sebring.
Paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene, Stehly said.
No foul play was initially suspected, and the death appeared to be the result of a medical problem such as a heart attack, she said.
Los Angeles County Department of Coroner investigators planned an autopsy.
BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested an attorney who has sued the city seeking the release of several public documents, according to booking records obtained Friday.
Paul Cook, 32, of Baldwin Park was booked at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail on suspicion of disturbing an assembly during Thursday’s summer concert at Morgan Park, according to Cook and Los Angeles County booking records. He was released from custody with a misdemeanor citation within three hours of his booking at the Baldwin Park Police Department.
Baldwin Park police officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Cook said he believed the arrest was retaliation for his activism.
“It’s all political,” he said.
Cook said he was handing out leaflets critical of the city’s Recreation and Community Services Department to the crowd when the agency director, Manuel Carrillo Jr. took the stage to speak.
“I only said ‘boo’ twice. I said you steal money from the community,” Cook said. “At that point, five police officers came. They said you can’t be speaking.
Two complaints filed by Cook last year and this year seek the release of city documents and accuse Carrillo of misappropriating funds of a charity Carrillo heads.
City Attorney Robert Tafoya said some of documents sought in Cook’s complaints do not exist.
“I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit that never should have been filed,” Tafoya said of the most recent lawsuit.
The most recent complaint, filed in March, also names Baldwin Park Police Chief and then-acting CEO Mike Taylor, the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation and Baldwin Park Finance Director Craig Graves as defendants.
Cook’s previous complaint, filed in October, named the city and it’s former CEO, Vijay Singhal, as defendants.
Cook said two officers grabbed him and escorted him from the park, and told him to leave.
Cook said he maintained he had a First Amendment right to speak at the park, and refused to leave. He was then arrested.
Cook said after being strip searched down to his underwear by a female officer, police rewrote his citation three times before ultimately citing him for disturbing an assembly.
— Staff Writer Melissa Masatani contributed to this report.
A former Baldwin Park police officer pleaded “no contest” Thursday to an accusation of filing a false police report in connection with a 20013 drug arrest.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Judge Rand S. Rubin immediately sentenced the former police officer to three years of formal probation and 300 hours of community service, Robison said.
The plea came just as a jury trial in DeHoog’s case was scheduled to begin, she said.
If convicted by a jury, DeHoog could have faced up to three years in state prison.
The false police report was related to a July 31, 2013, arrest the officer made for the alleged crime of possessing methamphetamine, authorities said.
Police and prosecutors released few details were released about the accusation against DeHoog prior to his trial, and the handling prosecutor could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog’s employment with the Baldwin Park Police Department ended in January of 2014, about a month before he was formally charged.
Baldwin Park Police Chief Mike Taylor declined to say whether DeHoog resigned or was terminated, citing privacy laws.
The chief could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog remained free on his own recognizance leading up to his trial date,
A suspect in a fatal 2010 shooting in Baldwin Park who has been sought since he was accidentally released from sheriff’s custody last year due to a clerical error as he was awaiting trial was re-captured Wednesday in Mexico, authorities said.
Johnny Mata, 33, was awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of 34-year-old David Anthony Deanda on Christmas Eve of 2010 in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, authorities said at the time. The slaying was believed to be gang related.
Sheriff’s officials launched a manhunt and asked the public’s help to recapture Mata in the weeks following Mata’s erroneous release. And they developed leads indicating he had fled to Mexico, likely near the San Ysidro border crossing, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Burau said in a written statement.
“On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, suspect Mata was located, detained and escorted by Mexican authorities to the United States-Mexico border, San Ysidro port of entry, where LASD personnel took custody of him,” Navarro-Suarez said. “Suspect Mata was re-booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system and is being held in lieu of $2,065,000 bail.”
El Monte police initially arrested Mata in connection with the 2010 Baldwin Park slaying on May 25, 2012, after he ran from a stolen car, according to El Monte police Lt. David Vautrin.
But Mata was accidentally released from the inmate processing unit at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles on April 4, 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The mistake stemmed from a clerical error, then-sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. A clerk failed to order Mata held pending his murder trial after a charge of attempted murder was dismissed.
Wednesday arrest came after a coalition Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies, U.S. Marshals Service officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials determined Mata’s whereabouts in Mexico, according to Navarro-Suarez said.
According to county booking records, Mata was scheduled to appear Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.
PHOTO of murder suspect Johnny Mata, 33, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.