COVINA >> Workers from three area Home Depot stores armed with descended on a nonprofit teen center in Covina on Saturday to spiff up the building with a free paint job.
Representatives from the Glendora, Covina and West Covina Home Depot locations, as well as a Behr Paint employee equipped with 25 gallons of paint, gifted the work to the 212 Training Center, 542 N. Second Ave., as part of Home Depot’s ongoing community projects, Glendora Home Depot Manager Mako Kapaska explained.
The center opened its doors in 2012 with the goal of providing kids with athletic, academic and life mentoring to keep them on the right path and away from gangs, drugs and violence. It’s operated by the Man-e Moreno Foundation, which was founded by the family members of 26-year-old graphic designer Manuel Moreno following his fatal shooting in Covina in November of 2007.
Kapaska said he first met the Moreno family, as well as Man-e Moreno Foundation President and Manuel Moreno’s brother Robert Moreno years ago, before the 212 Training Center opened, while the organization was operating out of a trailer converted into a mobile teen center. Back then, Home Depot helped build the teen center on wheels.
“Robert and his family are great people,” Kapaska said.
He said he was drawn to the organization because of its dedication to at-risk youth and its goal of turning tragedy into triumph that benefits the community.
Bobby Lozano of Behr Paint, who happens to live in Covina, said he was glad to be a part of the project.
“They told me what they do here and how they came about and, of course, I wanted to help right away,” he said. “It’s a good program to have. It’s positive for the community.”
Robert Moreno said the organization, which now serves 160 youths and is approaching its 10th anniversary, was grateful for the helping hands.
“We’re really blessed to have this rapport with not just the city council and our police, but with the community,” he said. “We look forward to what God has planned for us for the next 10 years.”
PHOTOS by Trevor Stamp
COVINA >> Deputies have cautioned the public about a suspicious encounter between a man and two 10-year-old girls at Charter Oak Park near Covina on Tuesday.
The girls were playing about 6:45 p.m. in a fenced-in area of the park, 20261 E. Covina Blvd., in an unincorporated county area, when a man approached in a newer-model, silver, four-door sedan with tinted windows and chrome door handles, Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
“An adult male drove by on the adjacent street and yelled several times for them to, ‘get in the car,” according to the statement. “The vehicle then circled the area once prior to driving away.” The girls immediately reported the incident to adults, who contacted the sheriff’s department.
Deputies were looking into the possibility the suspicious encounter was related to another report of lewd behavior in public received about 20 minutes before the incident at Charter Oak Park,” the statement said. “The sole occupant of the vehicle was engaged in lewd activity not involving children. No other related incidents have been reported to San Dimas Station.”
Officials described the driver of the car as a white man between 30 and 40 years old, with shoulder-length brown hair.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
“Covina Police Officer Ryan Ryan Rasmussen shows the department’s K-9 dog, Yarno, city staff members 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 >> The K9 Partners of Covina are inviting the community to join Covina’s four-legged finest for food and fun and the Bark and Barbecue later this month.
K-9 demonstrations, free hot dogs, a chili cook-off, raffles, music and community-oriented booths are planned for the event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Heritage Plaza, 444 N. Citrus Ave., organizers said. There is a $25 entry fee for the chili cook-off,
Covina police K-9 Jarno will be on-hand, duty permitting.
K9 Partners of Covina is a nonprofit organization dedicating to gathering funds and community support for the Covina Police Department’s newly-revitalized K-9 program.
For more information, and for a list of other upcoming K9 Partners of Covina events, visit www.k9partnersofcovina.org.
COVINA >> A mentally disturbed man who threw knives and hammers at police, holed up inside his home and lit several fires before a SWAT team took him into custody following an eight-hour standoff on Friday, officials said.
Kevin Daniel Harmon, 20, was booked on suspicion of assaulting police officers, felony vandalism, elder abuse and brandishing a weapon at police, Covina police Sgt. Antonio Zavala said.
Police first received a call about 2 p.m. from a woman reporting her neighbor, a 20-year-old man, was acting erratically and throwing items in his front yard in the 1100 block of North Stephora Avenue, Zavala said.
Officers had previously responded to the home before regarding mental health issues involving Harmon, who lives at the home with his grandmother, according to the sergeant.
When they arrived, Harmon initially tried to prevent his grandmother from answering the door for officers, the sergeant said. When she ultimately managed to get to the door and come out, Harmon brandished a machete at the officers.
Harmon allegedly then began throwing items including knives, hammers and picture frames at officers before going back inside his home and refusing orders to come out. No officers were hurt, though several of the projectiles narrowly missed their heads.
A crisis negotiator was summoned to the scene but was unable to persuade Harmon to surrender.
During the course of the hours-long standoff, “He started lighting objects in the house on fire,” Zavala said. He also set off fireworks inside the home.
Police summoned a SWAT team to take over the standoff.
Harmon surrendered to the SWAT team about 10 p.m., just as officers were forcing their way into the home through a window. He was taken into custody without injury.
After being booked into jail, police turned Harmon over to a psychiatric facility for examination, Zavala said.
According to county booking records, he was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
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