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.

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


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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1 killed, 2 detained in Covina mobile home park shooting

COVINA >> A man was killed and two men were detained Friday following a shooting at a mobile home park.
Sheriff’s detectives haven’t released the name of the dead man or the two people in custody.
The shooting took place shortly after 11 a.m. at Royal Palms, 21210 E. Arrow Highway, which is in the unincorporated county area near Covina.
Deputies responded to a call of shots fired at the mobile home park, said Sgt. Nicole Davis of the sheriff’s San Dimas station. She said six to eight shots were heard.
“As the units were on the way, someone was running from the location and there was a deceased person outside the mobile home,” Davis said.
Deputies took a resident of the mobile home park as well as a second man into custody, according to sheriff’s officials and other residents.
Paramedics pronounced the shooting victim dead at the scene. Davis believes the dead man didn’t live at the mobile home park.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives were at the mobile home park by Friday afternoon. No further details about the shooting were released.
Full story by Ruby Gonzales…

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120 pounds of marijuana found in pickup truck in Covina; suspect jailed


COVINA >> A minor hit-and-run traffic collision led Covina police to discover 120 pounds of marijuana inside a pickup truck being driven by a Mexican national Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Saul Ernesto Chavez, 32, who told police he is from Tijuana, Mexico, was ultimately arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sales, transportation of marijuana, hit-and-run and driving without a license, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was involved in a minor crash with another motorist about 1:15 p.m. at Barranca Avenue and Rowland Street, Covina police Sgt. Rob Bobkiewicz said. No one was injured in the crash, but one of the drivers — later identified as Chavez — ran from the crash scene.
Police set up a search perimeter and soon found Chavez hiding in a nearby backyard, Bobkiewicz said. After arresting Chavez on suspicion of hit-and-run, police searched the small pickup truck he had been driving.
0516_SGT-L-POTCRASH1In the covered bed of the pickup truck, police found six 20-pound bundles of marijuana, officials said. The pot had an estimated street value of $240,000.
Chavez did not cooperate with investigators, Bobkiewicz said.
According to booking records, he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department.

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UPDATED: 88-year-old Covina woman killed, son injured, in hit-and-run crash


COVINA >> Officials are looking for a driver and his two passengers who left the scene of a crash that left an 88-year-old Covina woman fatally injured in front of her own home Wednesday night.
The two-vehicle collision was reported about 8:35 p.m. at Vincent Avenue and Cypress Street which is in the unincorporated county area near Covina.
California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said a 2006 Nissan Altima was traveling south on Vincent Avenue, approaching the intersection at Cypress Street.
It’s not known yet how fast the Nissan was going.
“The Honda began to make a left turn onto westbound Cypress Street, in front of the Nissan, when the front end of the Nissan collided with the passenger side of the Honda,” Jimenez said.
The Nissan continued heading south until it struck a large tree, he said. The Nissan’s driver and two passengers, described only as three Latino men, ran from the scene.
The 2005 Honda Accord was spun around and came to a rest within the eastbound lanes of Cypress Street.
0516_NWS_SGT-L-HITANDRUN2The Honda’s passenger, 88-year-old Livia Jansen of Covina, was pulled from the car in full cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived on scene. Officials performed CPR as she was put on a stretcher placed into an ambulance.
She was taken to Citrus Valley Medical Center — Inter-Community Campus where she was died from her injuries.
The driver of the Honda and Jansen’s son, 59-year-old Frank Jansen of Covina, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Los Angeles County Fire officials said the injured were not believed to be life-threatening.
Investigators interviewed the registered owner of the Nissan as they searched the area for the suspects who ran from the wreck, CHP Officer Monica Posada said Wednesday night.
A helicopter used a spotlight to search the neighborhood from above.
Initial reports from the scene indicated officials were seeking a Latino man wearing black pants and no shirt with tattoos on his back and a clean-shaven Latino man of about 130 pounds,
Authorities cordoned off the area, which they treated as a crime scene. But the suspects eluded capture.
The cause of the collision was under investigation by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
Livia Jansen lived in a home at the corner of Vincent Avenue and Cypress Street, according to public records. A small memorial of flowers and candles marked the crash scene Thursday, along with a handwritten sign reading, “In loving memory of Livia J. May 14, 2014.”
No one answered the door at the Jansen home Thursday. A sign out front read, “Grandma’s house. Grandkids spoiled here.”
Richard Torres who lives in the neighborhood said he did not see the collision, but he heard it.
“We heard a car zooming by, then we heard the crash,” he said. He said he did not know which vehicle it was he heard speeding past his house.
Torres and other neighbors said the intersection has seen more than its fair share of crashes. Torres said the area seems to be popular with street racers, and he knew of five collisions at the intersection in recent weeks.
“This is a raceway,” he said. “Something has to be done. It’s getting ridiculous.”
Wednesday night’s crash was the first reported fatality at the intersection, CHP Officer Theodore Jolin said.
It was the sixth crash to take place at Vincent Avenue and Cypress Street so far this year, Jolin said. Most recently, a fire hydrant at the northwest corner of the intersection was sheared off May 1 in a two-car collision that injured two people.
Of the five previous crashes at the intersection this year, four were blamed on red light violations, Jolin said. One was caused by a left turn violation.
CHP officials handled five crashes at the intersection throughout 2013, Jolin said. Three crashes were reported there in 2012, preceded by seven in 2011, one in 2010 and 8 in 2009.
“It fluctuates,” Jolin said.
The CHP – Baldwin Park Area office is asking the public’s help in identifying the driver and two passengers in the Nissan. Anyone who has information is asked to call 626-338-1164.

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Man says he was awakened by stabbing while in bed in unincorporated Covina

COVINA — A 21-year-old man who said he was stabbed while in bed was recovering Friday as detectives continued sorting out exactly what took place inside the home in an unincorporated county area near Covina.
The stabbing was reported just after 2 a.m. Thursday at a home in the 5000 block of Sunflower Avenue, where the wounded man told authorities he had moved in the previous day, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said.
Deputies were first notified of the incident by the victim’s girlfriend after he called her to tell her he had been stabbed, the lieutenant said.
When deputies arrived, they found the victim suffering from a stab wound to his abdomen, Vega said. The man’s new roommates — two men and a woman — were detained, and three young girls who were at the home were taken into protective custody by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
The victim told investigators he had gone to bed the previous night following an argument with his roommates, and he was awakened when someone stabbed him, Vega said. But the victim said it was dark inside the room and he couldn’t see who it was who attacked him. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The roommates also did not provide deputies with a clear account of what had taken place, Vega added. “Someone’s not telling everything they know,” he said.
Deputies initially arrested the roommates in connection with the stabbing, but ultimately released them pending further investigation, Vega said.
He added that officials hoped forensic evidence would help them determine who exactly was responsible for the stabbing.

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CHP plans checkpoint near Covina this weekend

COVINA >> California Highway Patrol officers are planning a sobriety checkpoint this weekend near Covina, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the unincorporated county area adjacent to Covina, CHP officials said in a written statement.
The checkpoint is being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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