Covina man killed in 10 Freeway crash

SAN DIMAS >> A Covina man died late Saturday in a crash on the 10 Freeway in San Dimas, authorities said.
Wilfredo Matos Jr. was killed in the 10 p.m. crash on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Via Verde, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
He was driving a 1997 Nissan in the No. 3 lane, passing a 2005 Ford in the right-hand lane, just prior to the collision, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
Witnesses indicated the Nissan, “executed an unsafe lane change,” the statement said. The right, rear portion of Matos’ Nissan struck the front, left portion of the Ford.
Officials said the Nissan then skidded out of control, ultimately slamming into a tree along the right side of the freeway.
Paramedics pronounced Matos dead at the scene, Corral said.
The 17-year-old Covina boy driving the Ford and his passenger, a 27-year-old Covina man, were unhurt, according to the CHP.
The crash was being investigated by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

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Alleged DUI driver from Covina jailed after leading Irwindale police on chase

IRWINDALE >> A drunken Covina man led Irwindale police on a 4-mile chase before being arrested late Saturday, officials said.
A detective was patrolling in the area of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue about 9:15 p.m. when he noticed late-1990s Honda Accord came to a “screeching stop” at the intersection, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
Suspecting DUI, the detective tried to pull over the car, but it sped away heading south on Vincent Avenue, police said.
The chase reached speeds of up to 70 mph as it wound through surface streets in an unincorporated county area near Covina, Zendejas said.
The driver, 24-year-old Freddy Rios Godoy, ultimately stopped in the front yard of a relative’s home in the 16600 block of Benwood Street, the sergeant said. He was then taken into custody without a struggle.
He was booked on suspicion of intoxicated driving and evading police, as well as an outstanding $10,000 arrest warrant from another law enforcement agency, police said.
According to county booking records, Godoy was being held in lieu of $85,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Glendora police bust alleged burglary ring

GLENDORA >> Glendora police Wednesday jailed an alleged residential burglary ring comprised of five Los Angeles gang members, officials said.
The four men and a teenage boy are accused of three burglaries in Glendora Wednesday, as well as at least one additional burglary in Covina, Glendora police Lt. James De Mond said. And detectives continued working to link them to additional crimes.
The burglars primarily stole jewelry from the homes, the lieutenant said.
The arrests came after Glendora officers police responded to a report of a burglary in the 700 block of East Essex Street, the lieutenant said. A resident had arrived home to find the front door kicked in and the home ransacked.”
“As officers were investigating this burglary, a resident in the 1100 block of East Dover Street called to report seeing five males attempting to get in a screen door of a residence,” De Mond said.
Police rushed to Dover Street where officers spotted two young men running between homes in the neighborhood, as well as a white Toyota Camry with paper license plates driving away, De Mond said.
Police stopped the car and arrested Jaime Estrada, 26, of Maywood, who was on parole for burglary, De Mond said. Stolen property from all four burglaries was found in the Camry. Some items found in the car had been stolen in another residential burglary in the 1000 block of East Bradford Drive that was not reported until later in the day.
Officers searched the neighborhood and found Martin Sanchez, 26, of Hacienda Heights and Junior Valdez, 25, of Los Angeles hiding in a nearby garage, police said. Two other suspects, identified as Jerry Castro, 21, of Los Angeles and a teenage boy from Cudahy, hiding in a side yard and trying to break into a garage.
A Pasadena police helicopter and two Pasadena police K-9s took part in the search.
“All of the suspects have been identified as 38th Street gang members out of South Central Los Angeles,” De Mond said.
Estrada was being held without bail while the three other adult suspects were being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to Los Angeles County booking records. All four were scheduled to be arraigned Friday in West Covina Superior Court.
The teenage suspect was taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

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Covina police raid marijuana grow inside South El Monte commercial building

POT

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Officers arrested two people and discovered more than 700 marijuana plants growing in a vacant business on Thursday.
Covina Police Sgt. Jim McDonough said officers served a search warrant about 1 p.m. at the secluded, seemingly vacant business in 2600 block of Chico Avenue in South El Monte.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT1George Almaguer, 26, Pico Rivera and Jenny Ly, 31, of Rosemead were arrested at the scene, he said. They were booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and theft of electricity, as the sophisticated hydroponic grow operation was wired to bypass the electrical meter and steal its power directly from the Southern California Edison grid, the sergeant said.
Police estimated the grow operation had stolen at least $10,000 worth of electricity from the utility over the past year.
“There were three different rooms, each for different stages of growth,” the sergeant said. In all, police seized 733 pot plants from the buidling.
Investigators seized about $2,000 in suspected drug money that Almaguer was carrying, McDonough added.
0725_NWS_SGT-L-POT2The building where the pot grow was uprooted Thursday was situated at the rear of a lot that was secured with a padlocked gate, McDonough said.
Thursday’s bust was related to another investigation where a grow house was found in Covina on May 26, police said.
In the May incident, officers responding to call of several downed power lines smelled marijuana coming from a house in the 200 block of North Larkin Drive. More than 200 marijuana plants were found on the Larkin Drive residence.
That investigation led to Thursday’s search and arrests in South El Monte, though McDonough declined to say exactly how detectives identified the South El Monte address as a suspected grow operation. The investigation was ongoing.
A suspect has been identified in connection with the Larkin Drive grow house, however no arrests have been made, McDonough said.

- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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Girls’ softball team apprehends robbery suspect in Covina

COVINA — A man tried to steal a folder containing the personal information of a girls’ softball team as members gathered at a pizza parlor Friday before being chased down and captured by an outraged group of players and parents, police said.
Police arrested Marvin Duenas, 29, of Covina on suspicion of robbery, as well as an outstanding vandalism warrant out of Van Nuys, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
The alleged crime took place about 8:20 p.m. at a pizzeria in the 900 block of North Citrus Avenue, the lieutenant said.
Eleven- and 12-year-old members of the Covina National Little League Softball girls’ all-star team, along with parents and coaches, were meeting at the restaurant ahead of a scheduled game Saturday against Baldwin Park Eastside Little League, police said.
The coach had with him a folder containing personal information of players, such as birth certificates, utility bills and tax forms which the league uses to verify players’ eligibility, Doonan said.
The lieutenant described the folder as a “gold mine” for someone seeking to carry out identity theft. The documents were also necessary for the team to be allowed to play their game.
After looking down an realizing the folder was gone from the table, Doonan said another patron of the restaurant told him that a man had just snatched the folder and walked out the door with it.
The group went outside and spotted the man, as well as a woman, entering a nearby gas station, Doonan said.
During a brief confrontation at the gas station, he said, Duenas shoved a 12-year-old girl, as well as one of the parents accompanying the group.
The group demanded the folder back, and Duenas returned it after pulling it from a backpack he was carrying, police said. The suspect then tried to run, but the group held onto him until police arrived.
Police detained the woman Duenas was with, but released her later in the evening after determining she did not appear to have been involved in the theft.
Duenas was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Gang member sentenced for shotgun slaying of Covina man

0628_NWS_SGT-L-NAVARETTEA judge sentenced a gang member to 80 years to life in prison this week for the shotgun slaying of a Covina man in October of 2012.
Fred Navarette, 31, of Covina was on a mission to gun down rival gang members when he came upon a group of five people gathered on a sidewalk in the 300 block of North Vecino Avenue in Covina about 3:30 a.m. on October 28, 2012, according to investigators and prosecutors.
Navarette was armed with a shotgun and driving a pickup truck he had stolen earlier in the day, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Robert Serna said.
“He went into a known gang area with the shotgun and the stolen truck, pulled up to a group of people on the sidewalk, racked the shotgun, yelled out, ‘West Covina,’ and fired one shot at the group,” Serna said.
The shotgun blast fatally wounded Thomas Fernandez, the 23-year-old father of a then-22-month-old son who lived nearby, officials said. Fernandez ran into the carport area of an apartment complex a block to the south where he collapsed and died. No one else in the group was wounded.
Navarette received a term of 80 years to life in state prison Wednesday in the courtroom of Pomona Superior Court Judge Bruce Marrs, officials said.
A jury convicted him earlier this month of murder, along with the special allegations that the killing was gang-related and that Navarette personally used a firearm in the slaying, Serna said. He was also convicted of auto theft, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a short-barrelled shotgun.
The conviction comes as Navarette’s second strike, as he has a prior conviction for assault with intent to cause great bodily injury, also with the special allegation that the crime was gang-related, Serna said.
Covina police arrested Navarette two days after the fatal shooting, Marquez said.
He was first charged only with auto theft as detectives continues gathering evidence, police said. Prosecutors charged Navaratte with Fernandez’s murder in March of 2013,
A passenger who was in the pickup truck with Navarette at the time of the shooting testified against him, and Navarette’s DNA was found on the shotgun used in the shooting, as well as the driver-side of the pickup truck used in the killing, Serna said.
Officials described Navarette as member of the West Covina 13 street gang.
During his trial, he grew hair over tattoos on his head, including a set of horns, Serna said.
Authorities described Fernandez and as an affiliate of the El Monte Flores gang.
His girlfriend, Jessica Martinez, said at the time of the shooting that although Fernandez had associated with the gang in the past and had friends who were involved with it, Fernandez was not a gang member.
Martinez described Fernandez as a good father and a kind man who loved music and dreamed of becoming a rapper.
0628_NWS_SGT-L-NAVARETTE2

PHOTOS:
TOP: Fred Navarette, 31, of Covina, was sentenced to 80 years to life in prison Wednesday, June 25, 2014, for the Oct. 28, 2012, shotgun slaying of Thomas Fernandez, 23, of Covina, in the 300 block of North Vecino Avenue in Covina. (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)
BELOW: Mourners gather at the scene where 23-year-old Thomas Fernandez of Covina died after being wounded in a shooting on October 28, 2012. Fred Navarette, 31, of Covina, has since been convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with the killing and sentenced to 80 years to life in prison.
(Staff photo by Brian Day)

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Covina man accused of series of assaults, sexual batteries against women

An 18-year-old Covina man accused of attacking and groping five women, including a pregnant women, in the unincorporated county area near Covina since late 2012 is behind bars and awaiting trial, authorities announced Thursday.
0627_NWS_SGT-L-SANDOVALAlex Lorenzo Sandoval pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court to multiple counts of assault and sexual battery, Los Angeles County Superior Court officials said.
Deputies arrested him June 20 in connection with a series of five attacks on women dating back to December of 2012, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said in a written statement. Some of the charges were filed in juvenile court, as the alleged offenses occurred prior to Sandoval’s 18th birthday.
“During subsequent interviews, Sandoval admitted to committing all of these acts and wrote a letter of apology,” Berg said.
Sandoval’s arrest came after the victim of his most recent allege attack on April 11, 2014, spotted her previous assailant following her in the 21100 block of Nubia Street, Berg said. She called sheriff’s deputies, who found and arrested Sandoval at an apartment complex in the 21000 block of Arrow Highway.
In the attack two months prior, Sandoval approached the 47-year-old woman from behind, covered her mouth and groped her buttocks, Berg said.
A similar unprovoked attack took place April 14, 2013, in the area of Cienega Avenue and Treanor Street, sheriff’s officials said.
“A man approached her from behind, pushed her into a wall and tot he ground and kicked her while she was on the ground,” Berg said. The 30-year-old woman was five months pregnant at the time of the assault.
Another woman, 29, was attacked in the same area on Feb. 25, 2013, he said. In that case, an attacker approached her from behind, covered her mouth, pushed her into a wall and fondled her. He fled when a passing driver honked a car horn.
Women also reported strikingly similar attacks on Jan. 25, 2013, and Dec. 20, 2012, at the same apartment complex in the 21000 block of Arrow Highway. Both women were in their 20s.
0627_NWS_SGT-L-SANDOVALsketchA sketch of the serial groper was released by sheriff’s deputies in April of 2013 following the first four incidents. Sandoval was interviewed as a potential suspect, however none of the victims were able to identify him from a photographic line-up, and no arrest was made, Berg said. “Female detectives walked the area in hopes of luring the suspect, to no avail.”
Sandoval was scheduled to return to Pomona Superior Court July 17 for a preliminary hearing setting, court officials said.
He was being held without bail.

PHOTO/SKETCH courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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19 arrested in parole/probation compliance sweep in Azusa, Glendora, Covina

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A police task force arrested 19 people and seized drugs, a gun and cash during a parole and probation compliance sweep Friday in Azusa, Glendora and Covina, authorities said.
Members of the San Gabriel Valley East AB 109 Task Force carried out compliance checks of parolees and probationers in Covina, Azusa and Glendora, Pomona police Sgt. Bert Sanchez said in a written statement. The seven-agency task force is based out of the Pomona Police Department.
“The operation included attempting apprehension of identified subjects found to be in violation of their conditions of release, as well as directed crime suppression in known gang, narcotic and high crime ‘hot spots’ within the target areas,” Sanchez said.
The task force targeted 17 locations and netted 19 arrests, including ones for probation or parole violations, drug offenses, weapon possession and existing warrants, Sanchez said.
One loaded gun was seized during the operation, along with 54 grams of drugs and $6,000 in allegedly ill-gotten cash, he added.
Officers from the Azusa, Baldwin Park, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, West Covina and Pomona police department took part in the sweep, along with probation and parole officials and representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

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Detecive: Fatal Covina mobile home park shooting believed to be self-defense

A man fatally shot at a mobile home park in unincorporated Covina last week was trying to rob the resident and had shocked him with a Taser when the resident fired a gun in self defense, authorities said.
Richard Alan Wurtz, 37, died at the scene of the shooting, which took shortly after 11 a.m. at the Royal Palms Mobile Homes Park, 21210 E. Arrow Highway, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
He died from multiple gunshot wounds, and the death was ruled a homicide, coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Deputies responding to the first reports of a shooting found Wurtz fatally wounded outside a mobile home and detained a man who was leaving, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. Though his name was not released by detectives, neighbors and county booking records identified the man detained by deputies as Steven McCabe, a 31-year-old resident of the mobile home where the shooting took place.
The fatal shooting stemmed from “a dispute over property,” Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Wurtz was acquainted with the resident, and had gone to his mobile home to collect property per a previous agreement, Coleman said. He declined to say what the property was.
“Wurtz came to collect some property that our victim was holding,” Coleman said. But after obtaining the agreed upon property, “(He) wanted more,” the lieutenant said.
Wurtz then tried to rob McCabe, officials said.
“He Tasered our victim,” Coleman said. “The resident fired in self-defense.”
The investigation was ongoing, he said, and detectives planned to present their findings to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
A second person was also detained for questioning near the shooting scene. Detectives eventually determined he was a roommate of the shooter who had no involvement in the incident.
But McCabe was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of a weapons violation unrelated to the fatal shooting, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
He had returned to the scene of the shooting to collect property, prompting someone at the mobile home park to call deputies, Lt. David Vega of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station said.
Deputies responded to keep the peace, and discovered that McCabe had a loaded handgun in his car, Vega said. He was arrested on suspicion of keeping a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
McCabe was released from custody pending a court date Wednesday after posting $35,000, according to booking records.
A phone number listed in connection with McCabe in public records was disconnected.

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Officials identify Glendora man killed in shooting at Covina mobile home park

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COVINA >> Authorities have identified a Glendora man found fatally shot outside a mobile home in an unincorporated county area near Covina Friday.
Richard Alan Wurtz, 37, died at the scene of the shooting, which was reported shortly after 11 a.m. at the Royal Palms Mobile Homes Park, 21210 E. Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Two men were detained for questioning at the scene as deputies responded to reports of gunfire, however neither had been arrested Saturday morning, officials at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said Saturday in a written statement.
“Deputies detained two adults from the location in order to investigate their connection, if any, to the shooting,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “No arrests have been made at this time and the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.”
The names of the two men detained by deputies were not released.
Deputies investigating reports of gunshots encountered a man lying wounded outside a mobile home, and a second man leaving, sheriff’s Sgt. Nicole Davis said.
The wounded man was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other man was detained for questioning, officials said. A second man found nearby was also detained by investigators in the wake of the fatal shooting.
Neighbors said one of the men taken into custody by deputies at the shooting scene was a 32-year-old resident of the mobile home. They did not know the identity of the second person detained by deputies.
A family member of Wurtz reached by telephone Saturday did not wish to comment.
The ongoing investigating was being handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

PHOTO by Watchara Phomicinda

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