Police: Covina stabbing suspect jailed after returning to scene of crime

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COVINA — Police arrested a stabbing suspect Sunday after he returned to the scene of the crime in search of the knife used in the attack, police said.
Manual Alexander Valdez, 24, of Azusa was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the 3:30 a.m. stabbing in the 1100 block of East Wingate Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Jim McDonough said.
Valdez was acquainted with the victim, a 25-year-old man, and they arrived together to visit a home in the neighborhood, the sergeant said.
“(Valdez) thinks the victim is hitting on his girlfriend and an argument ensues,” the sergeant said.
The men continued arguing as they walked down the street, where Valdez allegedly stabbed the victim in the arm, police said. The wounded man suffered a severed artery and was hospitalized in serious condition.
The attacker had fled the area when officers arrived, but a witness reported seeing a man looking through some nearby bushes with a flashlight just prior to their arrival, McDonough said. The man fled as police approached, and investigators suspected it was the suspect trying to recover the weapon used in the stabbing.
Unbeknownst to Valdez, McDonough said, police found a set of brass knuckled with a blade attached that was believed to have been used in the attack at the scene.
As the investigation continued, police identified Valdez as the suspect and began keeping watch over his Azusa home, McDonough said.
But police received a call from the same neighborhood where the stabbing occurred about 11 a.m. reporting that a man was again searching through the bushes, the sergeant said.
Police rushed to the area and pulled Valdez over as he was driving out of the neighborhood, McDonough said. He was arrested in connection with the stabbing, and also had a small amount of what police believed to be heroin with him.
Valdez had blood splattered on his pants and shoes when arrested, the sergeant added.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Valdez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

Teen with airsoft rifle draws massive police response near Covina

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COVINA >> Deputies swarmed a neighborhood in unincorporated county area near Covina after concerned residents reported seeing a young man on a roof with what ultimately turned out to be a replica assault rifle that fires plastic BBs, authorities said.
The incident kicked off just before 5 p.m. at a two-story home at San Bernardino Road and Woodgrove Avenue, directly across from the Tri-Community Adult Education Center.
“We received a report of a person on a roof with a scoped rifle ,” Sgt. Joe Bolanos of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station said. At least one additional witness also subsequently called officials to report seeing the apparent gunman.
Deputies surrounded the home and ordered the occupants out, Bolanos said. A family comprised of two parents and four sons complied and cooperated with deputies.
0328_NWS_SGT-L-AIRSOFT2It was determined that the possible gunman worried witnesses reported seeing was actually a teenage boy who lives at the home, Bolanos said. He had been carrying an “extremely realistic-looking” airsoft rifle with the appearance of an assault weapon on a second-floor deck attached to the house. Witnesses did not report seeing him firing the gun, which shoots plastic BBs.
After checking the home to make sure there was no real gunman, deputies advised the family to be more careful in displaying the airsoft guns in the future. No arrests were made.
Bolanos recommended that airsoft aficionados “only use and display those airsoft (guns) in the designated areas where they compete and play. Never, ever in the city, and especially near a school.”
The nearby adult school was placed on lockdown and traffic on San Bernardino Road was shut down for about an hour as officials sorted out the situation.

Covina RadioShack robbed

COVINA — A heavyset gunman robbed a RadioShack store and its employees late Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The heist took place about 6:20 p.m. at the store, 1065 West Badillo Street, Covina police Lt. Dave Foster said.
The gunman demanded money from the cash register, and also demanded employees’ property such as wallets and cell phones, the lieutenant said.
The robber then ordered the employees to a back room before running off, Foster said.
He was described as a Latino man in his late-30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 300 pounds, Foster said. He wore a blue shirt, jeans and a black baseball cap.

Covina man accused of restaurant robbery

COVINA — Police arrested an alleged restaurant robber Wednesday at the end of a two-hour standoff, officials said.
Daniel Robert Zamora, 43, of Covina is accused of robbery following the 3:30 p.m. heist at the Fonda Don Chon Mexican Restaurant, 618 E. Shoppers Lane, Covina police Detective Sgt. Jim McDonough said in a written statement.
He entered the restaurant, claimed to have a handgun and demanded money from the register, police said. He fled east from the store after obtaining cash, but was followed by an employee of the restaurant.
“Covina police officers and detectives quickly learned that the suspect was seen in an apartment complex in the 500 block of South Stewart Avenue,” McDonough said. Officials soon tracked Zamora to an apartment, but he initially refused to come out.
“After a two-hour standoff, police officers were able to persuade the suspect to exit the apartment, at which time he was taken into custody without further incident,” the sergeant said.
According to county booking records, Zamora was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Covina Police Department’s jail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court.

Police: Man terrorizes Covina family during meth-fueled hallucination

COVINA — A man believed to be hallucinating under the influence of methamphetamine terrorized a Covina family and attempted to stab a man with a metal stake Saturday, police said.
Jeffrey Benjamin Jimenez, a 37-year-old transient, was ultimately booked on suspicion of attempted murder and burglary in connection with the bizarre incident, which unfolded shortly before 10 a.m. at a home in the 1300 block of North Glenfinnan Avenue, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Jimenez, who later admitted to police to using methamphetamine earlier in the day, was walking in the neighborhood when he apparently began hallucinating, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
“He believed that he heard the voice of a family member coming from inside a home,” the lieutenant said.
The home in question was occupied by a man, woman and their two sons, Walczak said.
“He walked into their home and asked to search their home,” he said. “He began looking around. Then he left for a short period of time.”
The startled family locked their doors when Jimenez left.
“He came back,” Walczak said. “He kicked in the front door. He had armed himself with a metal garage sale sign stake. He began chasing the father around the inside of the residence, attempting to stab him with the stake.”
Jimenez ultimately smashed several windows at the home before leaving, police said. No injuries were reported.
Responding officers detained Jimenez nearby and ultimately arrested him.
According to county booking records, Jimenez was being held in lieu of $1.05 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

Man accused of bizarre break-in, arson in Covina Hills

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COVINA HILLS >> A man refused to get out of a burning car and had to be pulled from the vehicle by firefighters following a bizarre burglary and arson that unfolded Thursday afternoon in an unincorporated county area near Covina, authorities said.
A 32-year-old man was arrested and treated for minor injuries following the alleged unusual crimes, which took place just before 3 p.m. in the 3200 block of Rancho La Carlota Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said. The suspects identity was not immediately available.
Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the home an encountered a black car in the driveway, with flames emanating from the hood and the suspect sitting inside, talking on a cell phone, Vega said.
“He was sitting in there, with an engine fire, with the windows up,” the lieutenant said. The doors were also locked.
Firefighters urged the man to get out of the car as they extinguished the flames, but he refused, Vega said. When the man rolled down a window, apparently due to the thickening smoke, firefighters grabbed him and pulled him from the burning vehicle.
The man, who appeared to be under the influence of an unknown drug, suffered a minor cut and burn.
Officials also discovered the man had broken into the Rancho La Carlota Road home through a window and ransacked the house, causing significant damage, Vega said. It was not immediately clear whether anything had been stolen.
He was also accused of lighting several potted plants around the home on fire.
Vega said the man was a stranger to the residents of the house, who were not home during the incident.
Due to the unusual circumstances of the incident, such as the burning gas can and jumper cables found running into a backyard swimming pool, officials initially feared the home may have been booby trapped, according to sheriff’s radio traffic. But no booby traps were ultimately found.
A motive in the bizarre series of alleged crimes was unclear.

Young man struck by car, critically injured while chasing after pet dog in Covina

COVINA — Rescuers rushed a 19-year-old man to a trauma center in critical condition Friday after he was struck by a car while chasing after a pet dog, authorities said.
The collision took place about 6:30 p.m. along Workman Avenue at Fircraft Avenue, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
The young man chased the escaped family pet into the roadway when he was struck by a sedan being driven by a woman, according to police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The man, who suffered head injuries and a broken leg, was unconscious when paramedics flew him by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, fire Capt. Gonzo Salgado said.
The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police, Walczak said. Nothing criminal was initially suspected.

UPDATED: Covina man accused of driving through Azusa with guns, other weapons

AZUSA — Police jailed a Covina man early Sunday after he was pulled over in Azusa while driving around with two loaded handguns, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife, authorities said.
Cameron Phillip Villalpando, 22, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor illegal possession of the weapons and released with a citation, according to Los Angeles County booking records and a written statement issued by Azusa police.
A police officer spotted a pickup truck speeding about 1:40 a.m. and pulled it over at First Street and Cerritos Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said.
“During the traffic stop, officer on scene discovered that the subject was armed with two concealed, loaded handguns,” the corporal said. “Further investigation resulted in the discovery of composite knuckles, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife.”
Police were puzzled as to why Villalpando, who had no criminal history, was carrying the weaponry inside his black, 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck, Sgt. Randy Schmidt said. The sergeant added that Villalpando was carrying the two handguns on his person.
Following booking, he was released with a court date about 6 a.m., records show.

Car windows smashed in Covina neighborhood

COVINA —Police are seeking the vandal or vandals responsible for smashing the windows of five vehicles parked in a Covina neighborhood late Thursday.
The vandalism took place in a neighborhood just south of Cypress Street and east of Grand Avenue, Covina police Lt. Jason Walczak said.
Police received three calls from victims reporting there car windows had just been smashed in the area within a half-hour time-span beginning about 10 p.m., the lieutenant said.
Two additional victims reported similar damage when they awoke and discovered it Friday morning, he added.
Nothing appeared to have been stolen from any of the vehicles, he added, and a suspect description was not available.

Covina police volunteers honored

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The Covina Police Department honored its 2013 Volunteer of the Year this week, as well as a longtime volunteer chaplain and the department’s 25 other volunteers.
Rudy Fonseca was chosen as this year’s Volunteer of the Year Monday at the Covina Police Department’s annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the Covina Playhouse, officials said. Also singled out for special recognition was longtime volunteer chaplain Dave Truax.
“Rudy Fonseca has been a member of the Covina Police Department volunteer team since 2010 and has donated over 1,400 hours,” Lt. John Curley said in a written statement. “Rudy also works with Covina Chamber of Commerce and the Soroptimist International groups.”
Truax has served as a volunteer police chaplain since 1990, Curley said. He served as a Covina City Council member from 1999 through 2003, and as mayor from 2001 to 2003.
1220_NWS_SGT-L-VOLUNTEERS2“Chaplain Truax has assisted victims of violent crimes as well as police officer families, most notably members of the Hanson family when Sgt. Scott Hanson was the first-ever Covina police officer killed in the line of duty,” the lieutenant said.
Covina launched it’s police volunteer program in 1982, and has since taken part in activities ranging from child registry to graffiti removal.
“The estimated savings to the city over the past 21 years has been close to $1 million,” Curley added.
And the volunteers will be expanding their role in the coming year, he explained, as the department rolls out it’s Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft (C.R.E.D.I.T.) Program.
Under the program, the volunteers will assist detectives looking into identity theft cases.
State law allows identity theft victims to report the crime in the cities in which they live, not necessarily where the crime occurred, officials said.
“Processing these reports has placed an extreme burden on many agencies,” Curley said.
“The newly-created Covina C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will utilize police volunteers who will research every case, starting with where the crimes occurred.
“They will then send the reports to the correct jurisdictions, freeing the detectives to only investigate cases that occurred within the Covina Police Department’s jurisdiction,” the lieutenant said.
The program is based on a similar program run by the Pasadena Police Department, which has had great success and the processing or investigation of more than 5,000 cases, police added.
Members of the C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will be civilian volunteers who are also graduates of the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Covina Police Department is encouraged to contact Community Services Specialist Candace Bobkiewicz at 626-384-5630.

PHOTOS: Rudy Fonseca (top); Dave Truax (below), flanked by Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and other police officials. (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)