WEST COVINA >> A cyber-sleuthing mother helped police to get her 13-year-old daughter’s stolen snowboard back and arrest a man on suspicion of the theft, as well as at least three others, officials said.
Tony Jesus Cruz, 20, was booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property on March 8 after police arranged to meet him in West Covina in response to online advertisements he’d posted for stolen snowboards, West Covina police Officer David Sifling said.
Sophia Hert, 13, was snowboarding at the Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood on March 4 when someone snatched her snowboard, along with others, from a rack, the officer said.
Adding insult to injury, Sophia had worked hard to purchase the snowboard herself, Sifling explained.
“She makes homemade dog biscuits and treats,” he said. Selling the pet treats, “She raised enough money to buy her own snowboard,” he said.
The girl’s mother, Jennette Hert, took to the internet and soon found her daughters snowboard, which was recognizable due to distinctive features, being advertised for sale on the online marketplace OfferUp, Sifling said. She posed as a buyer and arranged to meet the seller at a mall in West Covina on March 8 to complete the transaction, and notified police.
Sifling said he then contacted the same seller, later identified as Cruz, posing as a potential buyer interested in another snowboard. An meeting was arranged about the same time and place as the other meeting arranged by the victim’s mother.
Police arrested Cruz when he showed up at the meeting place with the girl’s stolen snowboard, as well as a second stolen board, Sifling said. A search of a Covina home where Cruz had been staying turned up to additional allegedly stolen snowboards.
Police had yet to determine the value of the recovered snowboards, he said, though each was likely worth several hundred dollars.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Cruz was released from jail the same day of his arrest pending his initial court appearance after posting $20,000 bail.
PHOTO: West Covina Police Officer David Sifling, left, poses for a picture with 13-year-old Sophia Hert after police, aided by the girls’ mother, recovered the teen’s stolen snowboard and arrested the alleged thief on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Courtesy)
COVINA >> A man carjacked a woman and her passenger when they stopped to use an ATM in Covina on Thursday, officials said.
The crime took place about 11:55 a.m. after a woman arrived at an ATM in the 900 block of West San Bernardino Road, just west of Azusa Avenue, Covina police Lt. John Zumwalt said. Another woman was riding as a passenger in the car.
After the driver got out of her car and went to use the ATM, the carjacker jumped into the driver’s seat, the sergeant said.
He told the passenger, “Get out of the car or I’ll shoot you,” Zumwalt said. The passenger, a Corona woman, complied.
The man then drove off in the freshly-stolen gray, 2016 Honda Civic with a California license plate of 7RDZ780. The car was last seen heading west on San Bernardino Road. The car had not been found Thursday afternoon.
Zumwalt said the carjacker was described as a black man in his mid- to late-20s, between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall, about 170 pounds, wearing a dark blue shirt.
Anyone with information can reach Covina police at 626-384-5595. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
COVINA >> A parolee is suspected of killing two women and seriously wounding a toddler in a shooting at a Covina home early Sunday, authorities said.
The incident was first reported just after midnight, when Lucas Doi Fick, 36, of Covina knocked on a door of a home in the 700 block of Rancho Sinaloa Drive, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said. He had an injured 2-year-old boy with him.
“(He) said that ‘something bad’ had happened, and to call the police,” the lieutenant said.
“Responding officers went into residence and discovered two adult females decease from apparent gunshot wounds,” Walczak said. Their identities were not available.
Officials also discovered that the young boy had been shot in the back, he said.
“The child underwent emergency surgery,” Walczak said. His injuries were serious, but he was expected to survive.
Police recovered several guns from the scene, he said.
Fick, a parolee fitted with a GPS ankle monitor due to a lengthy prior criminal record, was taken into custody, police said.
He was initially booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms and violating his parole as the investigation continued, Walczak said. But investigators considered him a suspect in the double-slaying of the two women and the attempted murder of the boy.
No further details, including the relationships between the suspect and victims and the motive, were available Sunday afternoon.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Fick was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Los Angeles County Superior Court records show Fick’s extensive rap sheet includes convictions for attempted possession of ammunition by a felon in 2016; burglary and resisting or obstructing police in 2015; possession of a gun by felon, possession of ammunition by a felon and theft in 2014; theft in 2013; dissuading a witness in 2012; possession of drugs for sales in 2009; drug possession in 2008; possession of methamphetamine in 2007; assault with a deadly weapon in 2004; possession of an illegal knife on a college campus in 2002; and criminal threats in 2001.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5612. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO of Lucas Fick courtesy of the Covina Police Department
Evacuation orders were lifted in Duarte Saturday morning as crews worked throughout the Southland to clean up mud and fallen trees, as well as repair massive sink holes, left in the wake of Friday’s downpour.
A thin layer of mud flowed onto streets in portions of the Fish fire burn area in Duarte during the storm, but K-rails and other measured held fast, and no significant damage was reported following six straight hours of heavy rain, according to city and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“Exising K-rails and newly installed deflector walls on Melcanyon Road contained the mud and debris flow that occurred in the city shortly after 6 p.m. on Friday,” city officials said in a written statement. “No property damage or injuries have been reported and city crews were on site prior to 7 a.m. to commence clean-up work.”
Officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders Residents of about 200 homes in the Fish fire burn area Saturday morning. The majority of residents of the area, however, ignored the order and chose instead ride out the storm.
•Map: Fish fire burn area
The Fish fire burn area remained on “Yellow Alert” Saturday. Only residents were being allowed into the previously evacuated neighborhood, and rain-related parking restrictions remained in effect.
Parking was not available on Melcanyon Road, between Brookridge and Fish Canyon roads, due to the continuing clean-up efforts, officials said. Residents of that stretch of road were advised to legally park an adjoining side streets and walk to their homes.
Intermittent street closures were expected as the cleanup continued, officials said. Residents were urged to keep streets free from vehicles, trash bins or other objects, or the may be removed by authorities.
The Duarte Transit was not operating within the affected area.
Throughout Southern California, fallen trees, mud and sink holes continued affecting traffic Saturday.
•Video: Cleanup on Melcanyon Road in Duarte
A large sink hole opened up alongside San Bernardino Road at Hollenbeck Avenue in Covina Saturday morning, swallowing up a tree and forcing the closure of the intersection as workers made repairs, Covina police officials said.
The sink hole was blamed on a broken irrigation line, according to Covina police Capt. David Povero.
In Pasadena, a tree toppled over onto a clothing store in the 1100 block of Green Street Saturday morning, prompting authorities to red tag the structure, Pasadena Fire Department officials said.
A woman was rescued Friday night after her car, a followed later by a minivan, fell 10 feet down into a massive sink hole that opened up on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, south of Moorpark Street. The woman suffered no serious injuries, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.
Four deaths in the Southland are attributed to the storm. A man died in Sherman Oaks Saturday morning after a tree knocked down electrical lines, which electrocuted him. A driver was found dead inside a submerged car in Victorville. And two people died in car crashes believed to be rain-related.
Los Angeles County parks that remained closed due to the storm included the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, the Eaton Canyon Park and Nature Center, Walnut Creek Community Regional Park, San Angelo Park, Rimgrove Park and Avocado Heights Park, county Department of Parks and Recreation officials announced Saturday.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] A large sink hole swallowed a tree and forced a street closure on San Bernardino Road at Hollenbeck Avenue in Covina on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (Courtesy, Covina Police Department) [BELOW] A tree toppled over onto a clothing store in the 1100 block of Green Street in Pasadena early Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, prompting authorities to red tag the building. (Courtesy, Pasadena Fire Department)
COVINA >> A Los Angeles woman was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison after admitting to fatally stabbing her 61-year-old mother at a senior living facility in Covina two years ago.
Sarah Ardalani, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said 44-year-old Athina Sumi Rivera pleaded guilty on Thursday to the second-degree murder of Margaret Yamaguchi.
Ardalani said Rivera also admitted a special allegation that she personally used a deadly weapon, a knife, during the crime.
The fatal stabbing occurred Sept. 7, 2015 at Atria Covina in the 800 block of West San Bernardino Road.
Rivera, who lived in Los Angeles, was staying at her mother’s home for the night, according to Deputy District Attorney Lauren Guber, who prosecuted the case.
Rivera woke up in the middle of the night, retrieved a kitchen knife that she had previously taken from within her mother’s home and hidden and stabbed the victim several times, Guber said.
Yamaguchi was believed to be asleep, “or at least in bed,” when the attack began, she said.
The mother managed to activate a body-worn safety alar she was wearing during the stabbing, drawing facility staff to the room, Guber said.
The staff found Yamaguchi bleeding from multiple stab wounds, and her daughter still in the room. Paramedics pronounced Yamaguchi dead at the scene.
Guber said Rivera, who has a history of mental illness, made no attempt to flee and freely admitted that she had stabbed her mother. The small kitchen knife used in the slaying was found at the scene.
The killer mentioned to specific motive for the killing, but rather a general anger at her mother.
“She indicated when she was interviewed by police after she was arrested that she felt that her mother caused her a lot of pain in her life, and she wanted to cause (her mother) as much pain to her as she had caused,” the prosecutor said.
An autopsy determined Yamaguchi died from “multiple sharp force injuries,” according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records.
Despite a history of mental illness, Guber said there was no doubt she was aware of her actions and the ramifications.
“She was definitely lucid,” Guber said.
Rivera could have faced more than 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, as initially charged.
In considering the totality of the circumstances of the case, however, prosecutors decided to accept a second-degree murder plea proffered by the defense.
The Covina Police Department investigated the slaying.
— Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
*FILE PHOTO* Covina Police Officer Ryan Ryan Rasmussen with his new K-9 partner, Jarno, at Covina City Hall on Thursday July 23, 2015. It has been more than 10 years without a police K-9 servicing Covina. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
COVINA >> Covina Police Department K-9 Jarno is recovering after being attacked by a stray pit bull while walking with his handler along Barranca Avenue on Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, who joined the department in July of 2015 after more than 10 years without a police dog, suffered puncture wounds to his abdomen but was expected to be okay, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
The attack took place about 4:30 a.m. in the 500 block of South Barranca Avenue, as the K-9 and his handler were heading to a fundraiser to benefit the department’s K-9 unit, the lieutenant said.
“The K-9 officer, (Ryan) Rasmussen, was walking with his partner, Jarno, when a stray pit bull attacked our K-9, Walczak said.
Rasmussen used a Taser to fend off the attacking pit bull, which ran off and was not found, he said.
Jarno was taken to a veterinarian for treatment of puncture wounds and abrasions, police said. The injuries did not appear major, and Jarno was expected to spend about a week off duty to recover.
Authorities were still seeking the involved pit bull, described as a 70-pound, dark-gray American pit bull wearing a dark-colored collar.
Anyone with information can reach Covina police at 626-384-5595.
PHOTO courtesy of the Covina Police Department
COVINA >> Police are seeking a man caught on surveillance video breaking into a downtown Covina jewelry store last month and stealing three Rolex watches valued at more than $10,000.
The crime took place about 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 at Willy’s Jewelry, 142 N. Citrus Ave., Covina police Detective Ivan Ostarcevic said.
The burglar first disabled an overhead light behind the store before leaving to retrieve a sweatshirt, flashlight and pry bar, the detective said. He then forced open the back door, the detective said.
“He went straight for the three most expensive watches,” Ostarcevic. “It appears he’s been there before.”
Nothing was stolen other than the Rolex watches — valued at a total of $10,600, he said.
Police described the thief as a white man in his 50s, about 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, clean-shaven, with short gray hair and eyeglasses.
Anyone who recognizes the burglar is asked to contact Covina police at 626-384-5595. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
VIDEO/PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department
COVINA >> Police jailed an Azusa gang member late Friday after he ran from a traffic stop with large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and concentrated cannabis, as well as other people identifying documents, officials said.
Steven Anthony Quintana, 42, of Azusa, who was already on felony probation for previous robbery conviction under the terms of AB 109, was ultimately booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, possession of identity theft-related materials and resisting arrest, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Quintana’s passenger, 37-year-old Darlene Denise Martinez, whose hometown was unclear, was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales and possession of identity-theft related materials.
An officer first tried to pull Quintana over for a traffic violation about 6:30 p.m., Covina police Sgt. Antonio Zavala said.
After a delay, Quintana pulled over in the 5300 block of Cedarglen Drive, where he ran from the car, the sergeant said.
A police helicopter which was already overhead directed officers on the ground to Quintana, who was found in the area and arrested without a struggle, Zavala said.
Quintana ditched his jacket while running from police, he said. Inside the jacket, police found 46 grams of methamphetamine, seven grams of cocaine and 32 grams of concentrated cannabis. Inside the car, police also found identifying documents in the names of other people.
Quintana and Martinez were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances, records show.
BOOKING PHOTOS of Steven Quintana and Darlene Martinez courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
COVINA >> A man refused to cooperate with deputies after he was found stabbed in a residential neighborhood near Covina early Saturday, officials said.
The incident was first reported about 1:45 a.m. as a stabbing victim spotted wounded in the street in the 4600 block of West Bellbrook Street, in an unincorporated county area just outside of Covina, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bertha Payes said.
Deputies found a man in his late-30s suffering from at least one stab wound to his back, she said. But he would not tell investigators what happened or who stabbed him.
The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, Payes said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
COVINA >> Police uprooted about 1,000 marijuana plants from a Covina commercial building posing as an insurance agency on Friday afternoon, officials said.
Dashun Lin, 59, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana as police served a search warrant about 3 p.m. at the businesses, labeled Catano Enterprises Inc., 1055 W. San Bernardino Road, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said. Lin had a listed address in Baldwin Park, though it appeared he’d been living in the alleged front business.
Officers found about 1,000 mostly-mature marijuana plants inside the business, along with several pounds of processed marijuana, the lieutenant said.
The complex, seven-room operation included about 100 light ballasts and sophisticated electrical work, he added.
Police sought a warrant after an officer went to the area Thursday on a service call and noticed a powerful odor of marijuana emanating from the purported auto insurance agency, according to Walczak.
Upon looking up the business’ permit, the officer found that it was licensed with the city to operate as an auto dealership under the name, “Chronic Inc.” Chronic is slang for high-quality marijuana.
A tiny, sparsely furnished office separated the front door from a security door within the business, behind which the marijuana was growing, Walczak said. It did not appear that any legitimate business was taking place there.
Authorities suspected the pot-growing operation was set up some time in 2016.
According to county booking records, Lin was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department