Covina teen dies after falling from skateboard

COVINA — A 16-year-old Covina boy died Tuesday from injuries he suffered in a skateboarding accident Monday, authorities said.
The boy’s name was not released Wednesday pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Jerry McKibben said.
But a fund-raising web site purportedly set up by family and friends of the young man identified him as Keith Guerrero. Donations were being accepted online at
“As you could imagine, our pain and our grief is beyond words and quite honestly we do not know where to begin to cope with our loss or much less how to move forward with our lives,” according to a statement posted on the website. “The outpouring of support from all of you is appreciated more than you will ever know… thank you!”
The boy had been riding a skateboard downhill Monday afternoon the area of Mesarica Road and Puente Street in an unincorporated county area near Covina when his skateboard struck some sort of obstruction and was thrown from the skateboard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Grall said.
The teen suffered serious head injuries, the sergeant said. A rescue helicopter was landed at nearby Badillo Elementary School to rush the boy to a trauma center.
He was pronounced dead at 2:33 a.m. Tuesday at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, McKibben said.
Grall described the incident as a “tragic accident.”
“We definitely feel for the family,” he said. “We send out our condolences as well.”

Veterans, including two Medal of Honor recipients, honored at Covina Field of Valor

COVINA — Two recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor were among veterans honored Sunday at the opening ceremony for the Covina Field of Valor.
In front of a display of more than 2,000 American Flags meticulously placed on the field of Sierra Vista Middle School, grateful citizens listened to stories of heroism and sacrifice, as well as of love and the unconquerable spirit.
“This week, this unique and awesome display of 2,000 of our great nation’s flags places Covina in its fines hour, honoring those who have fallen on our behalf, representing those vets who have made the sacrifice to a grateful nation, and providing thanks and admiration to those brave men and women in uniform who are currently preserving this land of the free here and abroad,” Covina Mayor Walt Allen III said.
Flags1“I look forward to seeing you all week long during this week of recognition for those who have served,” the mayor said. In addition to extending Veteran’s Day wishes to all current and former service members, Allen also wished the U.S. Marine Corps a happy birthday, as Sunday marked the corps’ 238th anniversary.
With the number of living Medal of Honor recipients shrinking rapidly, those that remain consider passing along the lessons they’ve learned through their service to be a high priority, said keynote speaker, retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs of New York.
Jacobs received the nation’s highest military honor for valor displayed in Vietnam in March of 1968, Covina Police Chief and Saturday’s master of ceremonies Kim Raney said. After the commander of his company was disabled and his unit fell into disorder. Although wounded himself, Jacobs took command of the men and restored organization. He then ran across open rice paddies through heavy enemy fire to evacuate wounded.
The central message veterans can impart to young people is, “to be part of a community, to work not just for yourself, but for all of us,” Jacobs said. “It’s not about war. It’s not about war at all.”
Jacobs2“It’s really kind of an irony that you have to go to combat to learn love, real love.” he said. “Although we fight to accomplish the mission, and we fight to defend the country, when the going gets really, really tough, most of all, we fight
for each other.
“This is true in combat, and it should also be true out of combat,” Jacobs said. “It’s these values we want to teach kids in middle school and high school, so they will teach it to their children and their children’s children, so that the sacrifice of all of our brothers and sisters who brought us here today won’t be in vain.”
To that end, Jacobs has teamed with other Medal of Honor recipients to create a curriculum they have made available to schools.
Also present Saturday was Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gary L. Littrell of Kentucky.
Littrell also received the medal for valor displayed during the Vietnam War in April of 1970. As the sole surviving advisor in his battalion, which was under heavy enemy attack, Littrell spent four straight days inspiring his men, directing artillery and air support, tending to wounded, distributing ammunition and strengthening faltering defenses, according to Field of Valor representatives.
“it’s rare to meet one Medal of Honor recipient,” Police Chief Raney said. “Today we have two in the front row.”
In addition to the Covina Police Chief and Mayor, other dignitaries in attendance included Glendora Mayor Joseph Santoro, Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha and retired Army Major General Clyde A Hennies, who is president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Music was provided by singers from St. Louise De Marillac Church in Covina.
This week marks the second year of the Covina Field of Valor, created by the Covina Rotary Club. It will remain in place at Grand Avenue and Puente Street through Nov. 17. Admission is free.
Microsoft has announced plans to feature the Covina Field of Valor on it’s Bing search engine home page as part of its Veterans Day observance.
Flag sponsorships are sold to raise money to benefit veterans, and many flags were affixed with the names of current, former and slain military members. Living veterans are denoted with yellow ribbons, while black ribbons adorn flags commemorating veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.


PHOTOS: (top – Flags at the Covina Field of Valor, photographed Saturday, Nov. 9, 2012. (center) - Retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs meets “Sgt. Caesar” the bull dog at the openeing  ceremony of the Covina Field of Valor on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (bottom)  Retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs speaks to a crowd at the opening ceremony of the Covina Field of Valor on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

Pomona man accused of vandalizing Pasadena bank and Long Beach VA hospital after trying to steal shopping cart full of bullets in Covina

Police arrested a Pomona man early Saturday after he allegedly tried to steal a shopping cart full of ammunition in Covina, vandalized a bank in Pasadena with anarchist symbols and was captured trying to vandalize a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs hospital in Long Beach, authorities said.
Matthew Ryan Willert, 29, was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail Saturday at the Long Beach Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records. The motive in his alleged bizarre crime spree was unclear.
Willert, or at least his license plate number, first came to the attention of law enforcement about 11:30 p.m. Thursday after he tried to steal bullets from the Covina Walmart, 1275 N. Azusa Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Tom Tardif said.
“He went to the gun display. He had a (baseball) bat in his hand,” Tardif said. It was not clear if he brought the bat with him or picked it up inside the store.
“He loaded up a shopping cart full ammunition,” Tardif said. He also placed several utility knives and other tools into the cart.
But Willert was confronted by a store security guard and fled the store, leaving the shopping cart containing a “large quantity” of bullets and blades behind, Tardif said.
The number and caliber of bullets Willert tried to steal was not available, but the total value of the items in the cart was estimated at $2,500, police said.
Authorities again encountered the suspect’s alleged handiwork about 11 p.m. at OneWest Bank, 888 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“A suspect drove up to the business in a truck, jumped out of his truck, and spray-painted graffiti along the glass windows,” Clawson said. The graffiti was largely comprised of anarchy symbols.
“He then retrieved a brick and threw it through the front window,” Clawson said. “The suspect fled the scene, but a witness saw the license plate.”
As officers continued investigating early Saturday, Clawson said, they learned a man driving the same truck had been arrested by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs police in Long Beach as he was attempting a similar vandalism outside the VA Long Beach Healthcare System hospital. Spraypaint and more bricks were recovered from Willert’s car at the time of his arrest in Long Beach.
Willert was arrested about 12:30 a.m. Saturday as he was attempting to vandalize a sign in front of the hospital, according to VA police and Los Angeles County booking records. He did not manage to significantly damage the sign before his arrest.

UPDATED with PHOTOS: Investigation into Asian organized crime nets 200+ pot plants, 2 assault weapons, 7 arrests

1008_NWS_SGT-L-GANGBUST1Deputies uprooted 217 pot plants in Temple City, recovered two assault weapons and a handgun in Covina and arrested seven people with suspected ties to Asian organized crime Tuesday and Wednesday at the culmination of a month-long investigation, officials said.
Detectives, who had been watching the group of suspects from afar, made their move Tuesday afternoon, raiding an indoor marijuana grow inside a home in the 4800 block of Glickman Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s gang investigator Sgt. Steve Kim said.

Deputies found 217 pot plants being grown inside the home, he said. Ting Mo, 22, who told investigators she lived at the home, was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, along with Guan Mei, 29, of Los Angeles, who was detained as he was driving away from the home.
Earlier in the afternoon, deputies arrested two other men linked to the grow house after tracking them down in the area of 28th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, Kim said. Zhen Huang, 29, of Rowland Heights and Man Chon, 31, of Valinda were booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana.
Deputies then headed to a home in the 100 block of West Arbor way that had also been linked to the pot grow, Kim said. Deputies recovered an AK-47-style rifle, an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun, however the suspect was not home. Deputies continued seeking him on suspcicion of cultivating marijuana and weapons violations.
As part of the investigation Tuesday, deputies also searched another home in the 4800 block of Glickman Avenue, as well as one in the 16900 block of Pocono Street in Valinda, Kim said. Nothing of significance was discovered at either home.
Finally, deputies arrested three men Wednesday afternoon when they arrived at the the grow house that had been raided the previous day, Kim said. Rueng Chen, 28, of Duarte, Haiqian Zhang, 24, of Los Angeles and Lesheng Zou, 20, of Los Angeles were also booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana.
The suspects were believed to have ties to the Chinese gang known as Red Door, Kim added.
All seven suspects were booked with bail amounts of $50,000, sheriff’s officials said.
All of the suspects are Chinese nationals, with the exception of Huang, who sheriff’s officials described as a naturalized American citizen.

Public safety town hall meeting planned in Covina

COVINA — Covina police and city officials are planning a public safety town hall meeting this month at Northview High School.
The meeting, hosted by Covina police Capt. Derek Webster and Covina Mayor Walter Allen III, will begin at 7:20 p.m. Oct. 16 at the high school, 1016 W. Cypress Street, Covina police officials said in a written statement.
Topics to be discussed will include the California prison realignment, school safety, neighborhood watch, disaster preparedness and social media.
Officials from the Los Angeles County Fire Department will also be on-hand with their “Shakey Quakey School House” earthquake simulator.
For more information, the Covina Police Department can be reached at 626-384-5595.

Police serving arrest warrant seize four AR-15 rifles from ex-con’s home in Covina

COVINA — Police serving an arrest warrant did not find the ex-con they were looking for Friday, but did seize four high-powered rifled and a handgun from his home, police said.
Officers showed up to serve an arrest about warrant on a man wanted for narcotics charges about 7:30 p.m. at the home he shares with his parents in the 700 block of Rancho Simi Drive, Covina police Sgt. Tom Tardif said.
The man they were seeking was not at the home, but police did recover four AR-15-style rifles in various stages of assembly, as well as a starter pistol which Tardif said was capable of firing a live round.
The man is a previously convicted felon and barred from possessing any firearms, the sergeant added. It was believed he was assembling the guns from parts ordered online.
It was not clear what the suspect’s previous conviction was for.
Along with the rifles and starter pistol, officers also seized a pellet gun, Tardif said.
Family members of the suspect who were at the home when police arrived were cooperative, he added. “They weren’t aware of what he was doing.”
Police did not release the suspect’s name as they continued searching for him Saturday.

Disabled man robbed inside Covina home

COVINA – A masked intruder robbed a disabled man inside his own home Friday afternoon, police said.
The victim, a man in his 50s who walks with the aid of a cane or crutch due to cerebral palsy, heard a knock at his door about noon in the 200 block of East Nubia Street, Covina police Sgt. Robert Bobkiewicz said.
The resident saw no one and asked who was there, the sergeant said. In a deep voice, the person at the door claimed to be an animal control official.
When the resident opened his door, the robber rushed in and pushed the disabled resident to the ground, Bobkiewicz said. The man suffered minor cuts to his legs and feet in the fall.
The intruder then demanded money from the victim, who was unable to get up due to his disability, he said. The victim told the robber he had no money.
Bobkiewicz said the victim told the intruder he was disabled and asked the man not to steal from him.
The robber helped himself to a jewelry box containing about $800 worth of valuables that was in the resident’s bedroom and fled out the front door, police said. It was unclear if a getaway car was involved.
The robber was a black man between 28 and 32 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 175 pounds, Bobkiewicz said. He wore a blue hooded sweat shirt and covered his face with a blue bandana.

Detectives release name of man whose body was found set on fire near Covina

Detectives have released the name of a 22-year-old La Puente man whose body was found set on fire along Covina Hills Road last month.
The body of Angel David Grajiola was discovered by a sheriff’s deputy and an off-duty Los Angeles police officer about 3:45 a.m. Aug. 20 on a secluded stretch of Covina Hills Road, just west of Via Verde in an unincorporated county area southeast of Covina, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Wednesday.
An autopsy had been performed and the death ruled a homicide, however Corina declined to say exactly how Grajiola died, citing the ongoing investigation.
The man was killed elsewhere before his body was left along the street and set ablaze, Corina said. He did not die as a result of the fire.
But detectives were still trying to figure out where the actual slaying took place, he said.
There was no suspect information available.
“We’re looking for the public’s help,” Corina added.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Town hall meeting planned in Covina to discuss public safety, A.B. 109

COVINA — Police and city officials are planning a town hall meeting focusing on public safety and the ongoing California prison realignment process.
The meeting is to take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Royal Oak Middle School, 303 S. Glendora Avenue in Covina, organizers said in a written statement.
Keynote speakers will include Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and Mayor Walter Allen III.
In addition to discussing the impacts of the prison realignment brought about by A.B. 109 in 2011, topics will also include public safety issues such as school safety, neighborhood watch, disaster preparedness and social media.
Los Angeles County firefighters will bring the department’s “Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse” earthquake simulator.
For more information, the Covina Police Department can be reached at 626-384-5653.

Five suspected of DUI after Covina checkpoint; more to come

COVINA — A multi-agency sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday netted five drunken driving arrests, including one driver whose blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, authorities said.
The operation was held from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday in the 700 block of South Citrus Avenue.
More than 2,500 cars passed through the checkpoint, which was stagged by officers from the Covina, Glendora, Azusa, Claremont, Irwindale and Los Angeles police department, according to Glendora police Community Service Officer Wendy Brewer, who also serves as a coordinator for an anti-DUI task force comprised of more than 100 Southland law enforcement agencies known as Avoid the 100.
Of the five drivers arrested on suspicion of drunken driving during the Covina checkpoint, one had a blood-alcohol level of more than triple the legal limit for an adult of .08 percent, Brewer said.
And Avoid the 100 plans to continue its DUI crackdown through Labor Day, Sept. 12.
More checkpoints were planned Saturday night in cities including Azusa, Arcadia, El Monte and La Mirada.
Since the task force kicked of it’s summer enforcement campaign Aug. 16, more than 975 DUI arrests have been made.