COVINA >> In a crime described by police as both bizarre and disturbing, two men tried to buy a woman’s 2-year-old son as she shopped at a Covina supermarket Wednesday, officials said.
Both the woman and child got away unharmed following the 7:40 p.m. encounter at the Baja Ranch Supermarket, 425 S. Citrus Ave., which detectives are investigating as an attempted human trafficking case, West Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
Two men took part in the crime, police said. One approached the woman and child, while the other remained in the suspects’ SUV.
The first suspect walked up to the woman as she was checking out, Sgt. Gregg Peterson said in a written statement. He began complimenting the woman, telling her that both she and her son were beautiful.
“The suspect asked the woman if she wanted to sell her son, and when she told him no, the suspect continued with the compliments, but they were focused solely on her son.”
After finishing checking out at the store, the woman waited until several minutes after the man had left before exiting herself and heading toward her car with her son.
When the woman reached her car, she found the man sitting in the driver’s seat of a brown or champagne colored Honda Pilot parked next to her car, Peterson said. A second suspect was sitting in the passenger seat of the SUV.
The first man again began complimenting the woman and child.
Doonan said the man did not appear to be trying to intimidate the woman. “It was more like he was trying to charm her,” he said.
“The woman told the suspect to leave them alone and he exited his vehicle,” Peterson said. “The suspect approached her and removed a $100 bill from his pocket. The suspect said, ‘Can I buy your son.’”
“The woman felt the suspect was going to try and kidnap her son and became so scared, she could not scream or yell for help,” he said.
Still clutching the $100 bill, the suspect urged the woman to take the money. The second suspect inside the SUV also told the woman, ‘Just take the money,’” Peterson said.
“When the woman did not answer, (the first suspect) said, “Just keep it, here”, and dropped the $100 bill in her shopping cart. (He) got into his vehicle and drove away with (the second suspect).
Police described the first suspect as a Latino man of about 45 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 200 pounds. He wore blue jeans, a brown button-down shirt and a black baseball cap with a white logo on the front.
The second suspect, who remained in the SUV, was a black man in his 50s, about 6 feet tall and 215 pounds, wearing tan slacks and a long-sleeve white shirt, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5612. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO/VIDEO: Police are seeking the men pictured in this surveillance video (brown shirt, black baseball cap) for trying to buy a woman’s 2-year-old son at the Baja Ranch Supermarket in Covina on Jan 7, 2015. (courtesy)
AZUSA >> Police asked the public’s help, and received it, Sunday in tracking down a possibly suicidal Covina man who went missing in Azusa.
Ethan Luke Robben, 22, was last seen about 8 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of North Aspan Avenue, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
Several hours later, a person who saw the missing person flier on the Azusa Police Department’s Facebook page reported spotting the man, who was located safe and sound, police said.
COVINA >> A commuter train struck and killed a Covina man Sunday near the Glendora Avenue rail crossing, officials said.
The 35-year-old man, whose name was not released pending notification of family, died at the scene, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
A westbound Metrolink train traveling about 60 mph struck the man on a stretch of tracks at Glendora Avenue, just south of Cypress Street, the lieutenant said.
“He was standing on the tracks. It’s unclear what he was doing there,” Doonan said.
The conductor sounded the train’s horn and applied the emergency brakes prior to striking the man, he said.
No injuries were reported on the train, which carried 116 passenger, Doonan said.
The train remained in place for about 90 minutes before continuing on its journey from San Bernardino to Los Angeles.
Eastbound rail traffic between Los Angeles and San Bernardino was also delayed by as much as two hours as a result of the incident, according to Metrolink officials.
Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
COVINA >> Police Wednesday recovered two laptop computers stolen in an elementary school break-in in September and arrested a local teenage boy in connection with the theft, officials said.
Someone stole the computers the weekend of Sept. 19 to Sept. 22 while breaking into two separate classrooms at Glen Oak Elementary School, 1000 N. Sunflower Ave., Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said in a written statement.
The computers, owned by the Charter Oak Unified School District, were equipped with GPS tracking devices, police said.
“During the investigation, information was obtained from the company monitoring the GPS tracking devices that both computers were being used in a residence in located in the 1300 block of N. Sunflower in the city of Covina,” Peterson said. “Based on this information, a search warrant was obtained for the residence.”
Officers served the warrant early Wednesday and found both computers, Peterson said. Investigators arrested a 17-year-old boy who lives at the home on suspicion of possessing or receiving stolen property. The boy was booked and released to his parents with a court date.
“Both laptop computers were still in working order and will be returned to the Charter Oak Unified School District in the near future,” Peterson said.
COVINA >> Police arrested one man and sought at least one more after four people were stabbed during a brawl outside a Covina bar early Saturday, officials said.
None of the wounds were considered to be life-threatening, however one of the four stabbing victims was taken to a trauma center with significant injuries, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said. The victims were men in their 20s and 30s.
The incident began about 1:20 a.m. with an argument between two groups of men inside Rude Dog Bar & Grill, 114 N. Citrus Avenue, the sergeant said.
Police said the argument escalated into a fight and spilled out into the street.
“It started inside the bar and worked its way outside,” Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
It was unclear how many people in all were involved in the melee.
One of the combatants pulled a pocket knife and stabbed four of the men he was fighting with, police said.
Officers responding to reports of a fight encountered a wounded man at the scene, Peterson said. Paramedics took the man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Police received word a short time later that two more stabbing victims had shown up at a West Covina emergency room, police said.
A fourth stabbing victim with minor injuries was later found near the scene of the stabbing, Peterson said. He declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police also found Justin Powers, 25, of Alhambra at the scene of the melee, Peterson said. He was believed to have been fighting with the victims and was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. His exact role in the stabbing remained under investigation.
Investigators continued seeking at least one additional suspect, Marquez said. Police described the suspect as a Latino man between 25 and 35 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, of thin build, with a bald head. He wore a blue flannel shirt and blue jeans.
A pocket knife was recovered at the scene, police added.
According to county booking records, Powers was released from jail Saturday afternoon pending his initial court appearance after posting $30,000 bail.
COVINA >> A Covina woman stabbed her boyfriend three times early Sunday in a seemingly unprovoked attack, officials said.
Police arrested Toni Entriken, 56, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon following the 5:20 a.m. stabbing at a condominium in the 700 block of East San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Rob Bobkiewicz said.
The victim, a man in his 50s, had just woken up when he was confronted by Entriken, who was armed with a 6-inch-long butcher knife, the sergeant said.
A struggle ensued, and Entriken stabbed her boyfriend twice in the back and once in the arm, he said. The man fled from the condominium and called police.
Officer arrived to find the wounded man outside of the condominium complex, Bobkiewicz said. Paramedics took him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Police arrested Entriken at her condominium without a struggle, Bobkiewicz added. She was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Tony Zavala at 626-384-5622, or the Covina Police Department’s on-duty watch commander at 626-384-5665.
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Covina pleaded not guilty to last week in a 31-count federal drug trafficking case that could land him more than 300 years in prison, authorities said.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 47, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement. He posted a $140,000 bond and was ordered to serve home detention pending trial, scheduled for Dec. 16. He is prohibited from practicing medicine in the meantime.
Federal agents arrested Cham Wednesday at his Covina home, officials said. The doctor operated medical offices in La Puente and Artesia.
A federal grand jury returned a 31-count indictment against the doctor in October, however it remained sealed until Cham was arrested.
The indictment alleges Cham distributed powerful painkillers and other drugs to patients, including an undercover investigator, who had no legitimate medical need for them.
Anthony Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Office, said federal authorities take a tough stance against doctors who cross into drug dealing.
“Along with our law enforcement partners, we continue to aggressively target medical professionals who act as drug traffickers cloaked in a white lab coat,” Williams said.
If convicted of all 31 counts — which included drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making false statements to federal authorities — Cham faces up to 339 years behind bars, according to the DOJ.
“Unscrupulous doctors who prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose are simply fueling a black market of narcotics,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. “These doctors are the same as street dealers who face lengthy sentences in federal prison.”
The primary drugs illegally distributed by Cham include oxycodone, also known as OxyContin; hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco; alprazolam, also known as Xanax; and carisprodol, also known as Soma, officials said.
Cham often saw patients in the middle of the night on weekends, but post-dated prescriptions to make it appear they had been written during the week, according to the DOJ statement.
“In the year that ended in March 2014, Chan issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances,” the statement said. “…and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010.”
An undercover investigator visited Cham’s La Puente office three times and obtained prescriptions for powerful drugs in exchange for $200 to $300 in cash or money orders, prosecutors allege.
Cham issued the prescriptions even though the undercover agent told him he had been, “drunk and high while receiving controlled substance prescriptions,” according to the DOJ statement.
“On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence,” the statement continued.
DIAMOND BAR >> A fiery crash blamed on a drunken driver sent five people to the hospital early Sunday, including a woman and a boy who suffered major injuries, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol received reports of a crash between a 2003 Toyota Camry and a 2010 Kia Forte about 3:10 a.m. on the northbound 57 Freeway just north of Diamond Bar Boulevard, CHP Sgt. Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh said in a written statement.
The Kia was stopped along the right shoulder of the freeway prior the crash, she said. A 29-year-old woman was at the wheel, along with a 24-year-old woman, a boy of unknown age and a man of unknown age riding as passengers. All four occupants of the Kia were Apple Valley residents, however the relationship among them was unclear.
The boy and a man who were passengers in the Kia suffered major injuries and were flown to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Van Valkenburgh said. Paramedics took the woman who was driving the Kia, as well as the second woman riding as a passenger, to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center with injuries described as minor to moderate.
Edgar Rodriguez, 26, of Covina, is suspected of being drunk as he drove his Toyota Camry up the 57 Freeway approaching the stopped Kia, Van Valkenburgh said.
“His vehicle drifted onto the right shoulder and rear-ended the Kia,” she said.
The impact sent the Kia spinning, and it ultimately came to a rest blocking the two right-hand lanes, officials said.
The Toyota continued forward along the sound wall along the right side of the freeway before coming to a rest.
“Shortly after (Rodriguez) escaped from his vehicle, is caught fire and became engulfed in flames,” Van Valkenburgh said. He was treated for “moderate” injuries including a broken wrist and was expected to be booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving.
Officials shut down all northbound lanes of the freeway until about 4:10 a.m., at which time the HOV lane was opened for traffic, according to the CHP. All traffic lanes were cleared shortly before 5 a.m.
Any witnesses to the crash were asked to contact Officer Dockweiler of the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
COVINA >> Covina police officers arrested a man early Friday after he was found in possession of a check issued to a Covina police officer who died in an on-duty motorcycle crash last week, officials said.
Officers were on patrol shortly before 1:30 a.m. in the area of Citrus Avenue and Puente Street when they encountered William Michael Pruitt, 36, of Huntington Beach, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
He was walking near the intersection where Covina police Officer Jordan Corder, 28, was killed Sept. 30 when his motorcycle collided with an SUV.
Pruitt consented to a search, during which officers found he was carrying a check written to someone else, Peterson said.
It was a reimbursement check issued last month by the city of Covina to Officer Corder, the sergeant said.
It was unclear exactly how he came to possess the check, which was in the amount of a little more than $200.
Pruitt initially told police the check belonged to a friend of his who lives in Hollywood, according to Peterson.
After being detained and questioned further, “He admitted he didn’t know the person,” Peterson said.
Pruitt then told officers he found the check along Azusa Avenue.
“We really don’t know at this point where it came from,” Peterson said.
Officers arrested Pruitt on suspicion of possession of a completed check with intent to defraud, Peterson said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Pruitt was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Covina Police Department jail pending arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.