COVINA >> A Covina congregation offered special prayers and blessings Sunday for police, firefighters and others in harms way during a small but heartfelt special mass to honor first responders.
It was the third annual first responders ceremony hosted at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 3rd Avenue and Badillo Street, with a strong showing from Covina police, including the family of fallen Covina police Sgt. Scott Hanson. Parishioners also reflected on the sacrifice of Covina police Officer Jordan Corder, killed in an on-duty motorcycle crash less than a year ago on Sept. 30.
Led by the Rev. Steve De Muth and the Rev. William Peyton, the parish asked God’s protection and guidance for those who stand in watch over society.
“It is our sincere hope that by recognizing the work you do, and by offering our prayers and out fellowship, we will strengthen the bonds of community,” De Muth said. “For this is the job of religion, to support one another in our particular vocations to love god and to love our neighbors.”
De Muth cited the book of Isaiah, which calls upon the faithful to “Go set a watchman” to serve as a moral conscience of a society. The verse inspired the title of the recently published sequel to Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
He likened the role of first responders to the biblical watchmen.
“Did you know that when an officer dies, they say his watch has ended?” De Muth said.
De Muth also called on the congregation to pray for firefighters and all other first responders who regularly risk their own safety to protect others.
“Be with them today and protect them always as they continue their diligence on the streets of our nation,” Peyton prayed. “For those who have given their lives, we ask that their families are healed and protected from more harm, and that your healing balm may bring them peace.”
Police officers lined up to receive a blessing from the priests. Several offered up their duty belts to be blessed as well.
Officer Hanson’s widow, Allison Hanson, attended the ceremony with her children Sarah and Andrew.
Andrew has followed in his father’s footsteps. Having recently graduated a law enforcement academy, the young police officer is now undergoing training with the Glendale Police Department.
Allison said she and her family are grateful for the ongoing show of support from the community.
“To have the department here, and the city, and our family, it’s pretty amazing,” she said.
Sunday’s ceremony coincided with the church’s Feast of St. Michael of All Angeles, De Muth explained.
Following Mass, the church presented attending officers with certificated of appreciation and medallions depicting St. Michael, known as the patron saint of first responders.
“What a blessing it is when our church communities come together to raise up our officers — those who, as Father Steve said, stand watch on our behalf. And we’re so thankful,” Covina Mayor John King said.
“We have officers who care, who stand up on our behalf, and who we should say thank you to every single day,” he said. “God bless each and every one of them.”
PHOTOS: [TOP, BOTTOM] – Courtesy of David Clarke/Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. [CENTER] Staff photo by Brian Day
COVINA >> Police jailed a gang member after finding him carrying a loaded handgun and 16 grams of methamphetamine at a Covina bowling alley Friday night, officials said.
A reported argument between rival gang members about 7:20 p.m. first drew police to the Brunswick Covina Bowl, 1060 W. San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Tony Zavala said.
Gabriel Christian Reed, a 24-year-old documented gang member from West Covina, began walking away when officers arrived but was quickly detained, he said.
“He had a loaded 9mm (handgun) in his pocket, along with 16 grams of methamphetamine,” Zavala said.
Reed was booked on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, possession of methamphetamine for sales and possession of a firearm with narcotics, the sergeant said.
Reed crossed paths with authorities less than two months ago when he was the victim of a shooting in an unincorporated county area near West Covina, officials said.
He suffered a gunshot wound to his back about 3:20 p.m. June 10 in the 4000 block of Frijo Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards. Few details were available, as the victim did not appear to be cooperating with investigators.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
COVINA >> A man rummaging for recyclables earlier this week discovered more than 200 pounds of marijuana discarded in a dumpster in Covina, officials said.
The unusual find was reported to police Wednesday night, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said.
A man looked into the dumpster at Badillo Street and Grand Avenue and found six, 33-gallon trash bags stuffed with marijuana, the sergeant said. Police took possession of the pot, which was promptly destroyed.
Investigators were looking into how the large cache of marijuana ended up in the dumpster.
AZUSA >> A 50-year-old Azusa man died after he was struck by a pickup truck while pushing a shopping cart across Arrow Highway late Friday, authorities said.
Ricardo Arteaga died shortly after being struck about 8:45 p.m. at Arrow Highway and Homerest Avenue, in an unincorporated area on the border between Azusa and Covina, California Highway Patrol Officer C. Banuelos said in a written statement.
Arteaga was struck by an westbound 2005 Dodge Ram pickup truck being driven by a 21-year-old Covina man while crossing the street on a residential stretch of Arrow Highway running parallel to the main road, officials said.
“Due to Arteaga failing to yield the right of way to the vehicle in the roadway,” the front of (the) Dodge collided into (him),” Banuelos said.
Arteaga was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries, CHP Officer Tony Polizzi said.
Following the initial impact, the shopping cart Arteaga was pushing was propelled into a 1995 Ford F-150 pickup truck stopped in eastbound traffic lanes, Banuelos said. But it did not appear the second vehicle struck Arteaga, as was initially indicated in CHP logs.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Officer Banuelos at the CHP’s Baldwin Park office at 626-338-1164.
IRWINDALE >> Officials evacuated a Los Angeles County fire station after a couple cleaning out a deceased veteran’s home in Covina discovered what appeared to be an 81mm mortar shell and brought it to the Irwindale firehouse Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The incident began just after 2 p.m. at Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 38, 15546 Arrow Highway, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw said.
A couple was cleaning out the home of a relative and military veteran who had died in Covina when they came across a collection of military items, which included the ordinance, described as a somewhat football-shaped M43A1 mortar shell, the captain said.
Firefighters stored the device in a brick office and summoned a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad to investigate, Henshaw said.
The bomb squad responded and determined the device was inert and contained no explosives, police said. The all-clear was sounded shortly before 4 p.m.
The fire station was evacuated, but no other nearby buildings in the commercial neighborhood were evacuated, Henshaw said.
In general, residents who discover possible explosives are advised to leave them where found and call 9-1-1, rather than transport them to a fire or police station, Henshaw said.
COVINA >> A man accused of stabbing a 23-year-old Glendora woman in an unprovoked attack last week was behind bars Sunday, authorities said.
Peter William Cooley, described as a 24-year-old transient, was arrested by LAPD Saturday afternoon, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
LAPD officers jailed him in connection with an attempted kidnapping case before realizing he was wanted for the Aug. 2 stabbing at Tri-Community Adult School, 20350 E Cienega Ave. in an unincorporated county area near Covina, sheriff’s Sgt. Nicole Davis said. Further details regarding the alleged kidnapping attempt in Los Angeles were not available.
He’s accused of stabbing the victim, a high school acquaintance, as she skateboarded with friends at the school about 12:45 P.M., according to Lt. Andy Berg.
Without uttering a word, Cooley approached the woman on a bicycle, then stabbed her four to five times in the torso and arm, Berg said. He then abandoned his bicycle and ran away.
The woman was hospitalized in fair condition following the stabbing, officials said.
According to county booking records, Cooley was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTO of stabbing suspect Peter Cooley, 24, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
COVINA >> A judge sentenced a 38-year-old transient to 17 years in prison Wednesday for a breaking into a Covina family’s home and trying to stab a resident with a metal stake while hallucinating on methamphetamine last year, officials said.
Jeffrey Benjamin Jimenez pleaded “no contest” to charges of burglary with a person present and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the bizarre crimes, which took place March 15 in the 1300 block of North Glenfinnan Avenue, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. He was immediately sentenced.
Police said they believed Jimenez was under the influence of methamphetamine and hallucinating when he walked into the family’s home and said he wanted to search it because he’d heard the voice of one of his family members calling out from inside.
The home was occupied by a man, a woman and their two sons, Covina police Lt. Rick Walczak said at the time.
“Jimenez reportedly tried to stab the homeowner with the metal rod, but the victim was able to distance himself with a table,” Ardalani said. “At some point, the defendant exited the home and then smashed the home’s windows before he ultimately left the scene.”
Police arrested Jimenez nearby.
Honda teamed with gas stations in Covina and Baldwin Park Saturday to help San Gabriel Valley Honda owners kick off their Independence Day travels by pumping free gas.
The helpful folks in blue shirts brought their “Random Acts of Helpfulness” campaign to Valero, 3660 Puente Ave. in Baldwin Park, in the late morning, then headed to Jerry’s Automotive Services and Kwik Serv, 4560 N. Grand Ave., early Saturday afternoon.
Word of the free fuel quickly spread, and both stations saw lines of Honda’s waiting to take advantage of the events.
Damian Ruiz, 20, of Covina said he rushed to the Covina gas station after receiving a text message from a friend letting him know about the unannounced giveaway.
“I was on a quarter (tank),” so this will get me through the weekend,” he said. “I’m going to Laughlin right after this, so it was perfect.”
A stroke of luck brought Rolando Buelnas, 23, of Covina, to the Covina giveaway.
He said he tried to go to the Baldwin Park event but didn’t make it in time. He headed to a car wash next door to the Covina station when the Honda crew coincidentally arrived to continue pumping free gas.
“I was going to wash my car and I saw this long line of Hondas,” he said.
Joanna Perales, 30, of Baldwin Park arrived at the Baldwin Park Valero station just as the Honda crew was leaving. So she said she decided to follow them to see if they stopped nearby.
The tactic paid off when the Honda team pulled in to Jerry’s Auto in Covina and let the pumps loose.
“This is awesome,” Perales said as Honda representatives filled her tank. Though she’d heard of Honda’s helpfulness campaign before, “You don’t really think it was really true until you actually go through it.”
WEST COVINA >> Police used bean bag rounds to subdue an uncooperative man following a short police chase early Sunday, officials said.
Fidel Pantoja, 26, of Covina, was booked on suspicion of felony evading of police and resisting arrest following the incident, which kicked off about 12:38 a.m., West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Officers tried to pull over a car being driven by Pantoja in West Covina but he refused to yield, initiating a chase, Patton said. The pursuit came to an end minutes later when Pantoja stopped his car outside the Brunswick Covina bowling alley in the 1000 block of West San Bernardino Road.
Pantoja exited his car but ignored officer’s orders to surrender, the lieutenant said. Officers shot Pantoja with a bean bag round before taking him into custody.
A knife was found on the ground, within Pantoja’s reach, he said.
Pantoja, who has previous criminal cases pending, was being held in lieu of $155,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.