COVINA — Officials took a senior citizen to a hospital Sunday after freeing him from his SUV following a rollover collision, police said.
The crash took place about 12:05 p.m. on Puente Avenue near Second Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The motorist, a man estimated to be in his 70s, was driving a Honda SUV east on Puente when he struck an unoccupied car parked along the curb, Peterson said.
“He then overcorrected, causing his vehicle to roll over,” the sergeant said. It came to a rest on its side.
Firefighters worked for about 10 minutes and cut the windshield out of the vehicle to free the driver, Peterson said.
He appeared okay, but was taken to a hospital as a precaution, Peterson added.
BALDWIN PARK — Two armed men in a tow truck carjacked, kidnapped and robbed a Covina man this weekend as he was driving along Baldwin Park Boulevard, authorities said.
The crime took place about 1 p.m. Friday at Baldwin Park Boulevard and Merced Avenue, but was not reported to police until Saturday afternoon, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Chris Hofford said.
A 36-year-old Covina man was driving at Baldwin Park Boulevard and Francisquito Avenue when a white, older-model tow truck pulled up next to him, the sergeant said.
“The driver of the tow truck points a gun at him and tells him not to move,” Hofford said. “The passenger of the tow truck enters the victim’s vehicle and takes the driver’s seat.”
Also armed with a handgun, the carjacker blindfolded the victim and began driving with the kidnapped man as a passenger.
After driving for about 10 minutes, Hofford said, the carjacker abandoned the car and victim at Puente and Francisquito avenues, a little under a mile away. The carjacker fled after robbing the man of his wallet and cell phone. The victim was no hurt.
Police described the driver of the tow truck as a Latino man in his mid-30s, about 6 feet tall and 300 pounds. He was armed with a black pistol.
The second suspect, who drove around with the victim, was a white man, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, officials said. He was armed with a chrome handgun.
The investigation was ongoing.
Covina police arrested a woman for allegedly hitting her boyfriend with an ax during an argument Friday night.
Lt. Tim Doonan said the ax didn’t cut through the skin but paramedics treated the boyfriend for a 4-inch contusion to his left bicep.
The woman was also treated for a cut over her eye.
The alleged assault in the 1500 block of East Wanamaker Drive was reported to police at 11:48 p.m.
Police didn’t know what sparked the dispute.
Doonan said the couple were arguing when the woman allegedly took an ax and swung it at her boyfriend. He was hit on the bicep.
“He punches her once over her right eye to disarm her,” Doonan said.
According to the lieutenant, the man then locked himself in a bedroom and called police.
Sharon Yendunian, 43, of Covina was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence.
She will be booked at Covina jail. Doonan said the bail will be $50,000.
- Ruby Gonzales
COVINA — A driver with an expired registration tag led police on a short pursuit early Friday.
Covina Police Lt. Tim Doonan said the man was arrested in Baldwin Park and his passenger was so intoxicated she was taken to a hospital. Doonan said the woman couldn’t stand on her own.
An officer pulled over a vehicle with an expired registration tag on Arrow Highway and Azusa Avenue at 4:44 a.m.
The officer got out of the patrol car. Doonan said the driver made an immediate U-turn, accelerated and headed westbound on Arrow Highway.
The chase, which lasted five minutes and 40 seconds, went through Irwindale and ended in Baldwin Park.
Doonan said the driver pulled into a long driveway and tried to hide. He was spotted.
Martin Camacho, 37, of Baldwin Park was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.
He remains in custody at Covina jail with a bail of $75,000. He has a Tuesday arraignment at West Covina Superior Court.
- Ruby Gonzales
COVINA — A solo-car crash into a utility pole Thursday caused no major injuries, but prompted a closure of Cypress Street that could last as long as 24 hours, authorities said.
The crash took place about 11:21 a.m. on Cypress Street at Cummings Road, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
No crime was initially suspected in the crash, and the driver was taken for treatment of apparently minor injuries, the lieutenant said.
But the crash badly damaged a Southern California Edison power pole, he said.
Utility workers determined the pole must be replaced, and Cypress Street will remain closed to traffic at the crash scene until the work is complete, Walczak said. The repairs could take up to 24 hours.
A church was found painted with graffiti including the number “666” early Saturday in what deputies are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.
An unknown vandal or vandals scrawled the message in blue paint sometime between 10 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 16050 East San Bernardino Road in an unincorporated county area near Covina, said Sgt. Pete Schupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station, which is investigating the incident.
The graffiti, a poorly drawn cross with three sixes to its right, was written about 4 feet above ground level on the wall of the church’s Fellowship Hall in the southwest portion of the small campus. It was behind the building and not visible from the street.
It was about four feet tall and three feet wide.
Deputies recovered a bottle of blue paint from some bushes nearby the vandalized wall, Schupe said.
Church officials could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
COVINA — The arrest of a 16-year-old Covina High School student on suspicion of making a threat against two other students, coupled with rampant and inaccurate police rumors, caused concerns and cut Friday attendance at the campus by 25 percent, police said.
Police officers responded to Covina High School to investigate a report that a student had approached fellow students and made a “threat of violence,” Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said in a written statement.
The alleged threat was reported to school administrators, who reported it to police.
The teenage student was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and was taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, the sergeant said.
“The investigation revealed that no weapons were on campus and that the student suspect does not have direct access to firearms,” Marquez said.
He added that the alleged threat was, “an isolated incident where the student suspect acted alone.”
In the wake of the arrest, students began spreading “unsubstantiated information about yesterday’s events,” Marquez said. “Some of those messages included inaccurate rumors that have increased concerns among parents and students, causing increased inquiries to the school, district officials and police.”
About a quarter of Covina High School’s student body was absent from school Friday, he said.
Covina Valley Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Bill Brown reassured parents Friday that the campus was safe.
“My understanding is it was a generic verbal threat,” he said.
Because the alleged threats were an isolated incident that had already been dealt with, there was no need for parents to be worried about sending their children to school.
“It’s imperative in today’s times that we treat every concern extremely seriously and follow through,” he said.
But as far as Thursday’s incident, “It’s really a non-issue at this point,” Brown said.
School officials were awaiting the findings of the police investigation before determining what administrative action the involved student may face, Brown said.
As online rumors began circulating through social media, the district notified parents with available information via an automated phone call Thursday, he added.
“Social media poses some challenges some times. “We knew the social media had given some inaccuracies.”
Police have already beefed up patrol on and near school due to increased concerns over school safety following the massacre at Newtown, Conn., officials said.
“The Department, in conjunction with the Covina Valley Unified School District personnel, have made school safety a priority and reassure the community that yesterday’s event was an isolated incident,” Marquez said.
“Its a safe campus,” Brown added. “Everything is very calm (Friday) and we just want to get on with instructing our students.”
A man driving a stolen pickup truck was arrested after a car chase and foot pursuit Wednesday night.
The culprit abandoned the pickup which ended up hitting a parked car.
Covina Police Sgt. Jim McDonough said the officer found an EBT or Electronic Benefit Transfer card in someone else’s name in the stolen vehicle. A shaved key was also used to get the ignition started, he added.
The incident started around 11 p.m. on Vincent Avenue and San Bernardino Road when Officer Mario Corona saw a 1997 black Nissan pickup truck with no taillight.
The officer ran the license plate and found out the vehicle was reported stolen to the LAPD on Dec. 27, according to McDonough.
Corona followed the pickup. The chase began at Edna Place and Vincent Avenue.
It hit a top speed of 75 mph and lasted about two minutes. McDonough said the driver also drove on the wrong side of the street and ran two “Stop” signs.
After a mile and a half, the driver ditched the pickup and headed for a relative’s home.
McDonough said the man was trying to jump a fence to get into the
relative’s backyard when he was tackled by the officer.
Ruben Barcena, 40, from Glendale was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, felony evading police, possession of a burglary tool and possession of stolen property.
He was booked at Covina jail and his bail is $75,000.
- Ruby Gonzales
Covina police arrested a Walnut-area soccer coach from West Covina Wednesday on suspicion of sending inappropriate, sexual text messages to an 11-year-old player on his team, authorities said.
Albert David Gutierrez, 45, was booked on suspicion of contacting a minor with intent to commit certain offenses, according to Covina police and Los Angeles County booking records.
The arrest stemmed from an allegation by a woman that Gutierrez, who coached her 11-year-old daughter’s American Youth Soccer Organization team, sent inappropriate text messages to the girl in December, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said.
“They were sexual in nature,” the sergeant said.
The girl then told her mother, who confronted Gutierrez about the messages, police said.
“The suspect apologized to the victim’s mother for sending the messages and indicated he would stop all interaction with her,” the police statement said.
The mother then reported the situation to Covina police, who launched an investigation.
Police took a report and interviewed Gutierrez, who quickly obtained a lawyer, in December, Marquez said.
Through his attorney, Gutierrez agreed to turn himself in to police after the holidays, Marquez said. Detectives continued building their case in the meantime.
But when the holidays passed and Gutierrez did not turn himself in, police went looking for him, the sergeant said.
Detectives conducted a surveillance operation Wednesday at Gutierrez’s home in the 3200 block of Stella Avenue in West Covina and arrested him without incident, officials said.
The messages involved text only, and no pictures were sent, Marquez said.
He added that investigators were unaware of any previous allegations of sex-related crimes against Gutierrez.
The father of the alleged victim, whose name is being withheld to protect the girl’s identity, said his daughter played in the Walnut-based branch of the AYSO, known as Region 624.
The father added that he and his wife were shocked to learn of the allegations against a man whom they had previously trusted.
He also said he was glad his daughter reported the inappropriate situation immediately, before it become more serious.
Jill Meshekow, Director of the Safe Haven program at the American Youth Soccer Organization National Office, said Gutierrez would not be on the soccer field as the investigation continues.
“Mr. Gutierrez is parent of children playing in Region 624,” she said in a written statement. “While not acting in any official coaching capacity over the last few years, Mr. Gutierrez has stepped aside from helping in this Region in any capacity pending the outcome of this case.”
Safe Haven Program is the AYSO’s program directed and protecting both children and organization volunteers. “We are disheartened anytime there is an investigation of this nature and we will continue to support law enforcement as needed,” Meshekow said.
Gutierrez was released from jail Thursday morning after posting $500,000 bail, records show. He could not be reached for comment.
He was scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 13 in West Covina Superior Court.
“Because of Mr. Gutierrez’s involvement in coaching youth sports in the local area, there is a concern there may be additional victims who have not yet been identified,” according to the police statement.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Covina police Detective Felipe Munoz at 626-385-5615, or 626-384-5808.
PHOTO of Albert Gutierrez courtesy of the Covina Police Department
COVINA — Sheriff’s deputies arrested an 18-year-old Covina man Friday on suspicion of robbing an 11-year-old boy of a scooter he had just received as a Christmas present, authorities said.
Francisco Rodriguez was booked on suspicion of strong-arm robbery following his arrest Friday afternoon at his home in the 1300 block of Citrus Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Kirk Smith said.
The boy had just received the scooter as a Christmas gift from his mother and was riding it shortly before 2 p.m. in the 18600 block of East Arrow Highway, in an unincorporated area near Covina, the sergeant said.
“The suspect pushed him off the scooter, took the scooter and ran off with it,” Smith said. The boy was not injured.
When deputies responded to interview the boy, they learned the suspect had an “unusual haircut,” Smith said. “He had dark black hair with a white streak down the middle like a skunk.”
A deputy following up on the case began asking around the area about the skunk-striped suspect, officials said.
“One place led him to another place, which led to another,” Smith said. Officials ultimately found the suspect sleeping on the porch of his home on Citrus Avenue.
The boy’s scooter was recovered from another location after Rodriguez told deputies where to find it, Smith said. Deputies returned it to the 11-year-old boy on Friday.
According to county booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance Wednesday in West Covina Superior Court.