Covina RadioShack robbed

COVINA — A heavyset gunman robbed a RadioShack store and its employees late Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The heist took place about 6:20 p.m. at the store, 1065 West Badillo Street, Covina police Lt. Dave Foster said.
The gunman demanded money from the cash register, and also demanded employees’ property such as wallets and cell phones, the lieutenant said.
The robber then ordered the employees to a back room before running off, Foster said.
He was described as a Latino man in his late-30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 300 pounds, Foster said. He wore a blue shirt, jeans and a black baseball cap.

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Covina man accused of restaurant robbery

COVINA — Police arrested an alleged restaurant robber Wednesday at the end of a two-hour standoff, officials said.
Daniel Robert Zamora, 43, of Covina is accused of robbery following the 3:30 p.m. heist at the Fonda Don Chon Mexican Restaurant, 618 E. Shoppers Lane, Covina police Detective Sgt. Jim McDonough said in a written statement.
He entered the restaurant, claimed to have a handgun and demanded money from the register, police said. He fled east from the store after obtaining cash, but was followed by an employee of the restaurant.
“Covina police officers and detectives quickly learned that the suspect was seen in an apartment complex in the 500 block of South Stewart Avenue,” McDonough said. Officials soon tracked Zamora to an apartment, but he initially refused to come out.
“After a two-hour standoff, police officers were able to persuade the suspect to exit the apartment, at which time he was taken into custody without further incident,” the sergeant said.
According to county booking records, Zamora was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Covina Police Department’s jail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Police: Man terrorizes Covina family during meth-fueled hallucination

COVINA — A man believed to be hallucinating under the influence of methamphetamine terrorized a Covina family and attempted to stab a man with a metal stake Saturday, police said.
Jeffrey Benjamin Jimenez, a 37-year-old transient, was ultimately booked on suspicion of attempted murder and burglary in connection with the bizarre incident, which unfolded shortly before 10 a.m. at a home in the 1300 block of North Glenfinnan Avenue, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Jimenez, who later admitted to police to using methamphetamine earlier in the day, was walking in the neighborhood when he apparently began hallucinating, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
“He believed that he heard the voice of a family member coming from inside a home,” the lieutenant said.
The home in question was occupied by a man, woman and their two sons, Walczak said.
“He walked into their home and asked to search their home,” he said. “He began looking around. Then he left for a short period of time.”
The startled family locked their doors when Jimenez left.
“He came back,” Walczak said. “He kicked in the front door. He had armed himself with a metal garage sale sign stake. He began chasing the father around the inside of the residence, attempting to stab him with the stake.”
Jimenez ultimately smashed several windows at the home before leaving, police said. No injuries were reported.
Responding officers detained Jimenez nearby and ultimately arrested him.
According to county booking records, Jimenez was being held in lieu of $1.05 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Man accused of bizarre break-in, arson in Covina Hills


COVINA HILLS >> A man refused to get out of a burning car and had to be pulled from the vehicle by firefighters following a bizarre burglary and arson that unfolded Thursday afternoon in an unincorporated county area near Covina, authorities said.
A 32-year-old man was arrested and treated for minor injuries following the alleged unusual crimes, which took place just before 3 p.m. in the 3200 block of Rancho La Carlota Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Vega said. The suspects identity was not immediately available.
Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the home an encountered a black car in the driveway, with flames emanating from the hood and the suspect sitting inside, talking on a cell phone, Vega said.
“He was sitting in there, with an engine fire, with the windows up,” the lieutenant said. The doors were also locked.
Firefighters urged the man to get out of the car as they extinguished the flames, but he refused, Vega said. When the man rolled down a window, apparently due to the thickening smoke, firefighters grabbed him and pulled him from the burning vehicle.
The man, who appeared to be under the influence of an unknown drug, suffered a minor cut and burn.
Officials also discovered the man had broken into the Rancho La Carlota Road home through a window and ransacked the house, causing significant damage, Vega said. It was not immediately clear whether anything had been stolen.
He was also accused of lighting several potted plants around the home on fire.
Vega said the man was a stranger to the residents of the house, who were not home during the incident.
Due to the unusual circumstances of the incident, such as the burning gas can and jumper cables found running into a backyard swimming pool, officials initially feared the home may have been booby trapped, according to sheriff’s radio traffic. But no booby traps were ultimately found.
A motive in the bizarre series of alleged crimes was unclear.

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Young man struck by car, critically injured while chasing after pet dog in Covina

COVINA — Rescuers rushed a 19-year-old man to a trauma center in critical condition Friday after he was struck by a car while chasing after a pet dog, authorities said.
The collision took place about 6:30 p.m. along Workman Avenue at Fircraft Avenue, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
The young man chased the escaped family pet into the roadway when he was struck by a sedan being driven by a woman, according to police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The man, who suffered head injuries and a broken leg, was unconscious when paramedics flew him by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, fire Capt. Gonzo Salgado said.
The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police, Walczak said. Nothing criminal was initially suspected.

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UPDATED: Covina man accused of driving through Azusa with guns, other weapons

AZUSA — Police jailed a Covina man early Sunday after he was pulled over in Azusa while driving around with two loaded handguns, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife, authorities said.
Cameron Phillip Villalpando, 22, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor illegal possession of the weapons and released with a citation, according to Los Angeles County booking records and a written statement issued by Azusa police.
A police officer spotted a pickup truck speeding about 1:40 a.m. and pulled it over at First Street and Cerritos Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said.
“During the traffic stop, officer on scene discovered that the subject was armed with two concealed, loaded handguns,” the corporal said. “Further investigation resulted in the discovery of composite knuckles, metal knuckles and a switchblade knife.”
Police were puzzled as to why Villalpando, who had no criminal history, was carrying the weaponry inside his black, 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck, Sgt. Randy Schmidt said. The sergeant added that Villalpando was carrying the two handguns on his person.
Following booking, he was released with a court date about 6 a.m., records show.

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Car windows smashed in Covina neighborhood

COVINA —Police are seeking the vandal or vandals responsible for smashing the windows of five vehicles parked in a Covina neighborhood late Thursday.
The vandalism took place in a neighborhood just south of Cypress Street and east of Grand Avenue, Covina police Lt. Jason Walczak said.
Police received three calls from victims reporting there car windows had just been smashed in the area within a half-hour time-span beginning about 10 p.m., the lieutenant said.
Two additional victims reported similar damage when they awoke and discovered it Friday morning, he added.
Nothing appeared to have been stolen from any of the vehicles, he added, and a suspect description was not available.

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Covina police volunteers honored


The Covina Police Department honored its 2013 Volunteer of the Year this week, as well as a longtime volunteer chaplain and the department’s 25 other volunteers.
Rudy Fonseca was chosen as this year’s Volunteer of the Year Monday at the Covina Police Department’s annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the Covina Playhouse, officials said. Also singled out for special recognition was longtime volunteer chaplain Dave Truax.
“Rudy Fonseca has been a member of the Covina Police Department volunteer team since 2010 and has donated over 1,400 hours,” Lt. John Curley said in a written statement. “Rudy also works with Covina Chamber of Commerce and the Soroptimist International groups.”
Truax has served as a volunteer police chaplain since 1990, Curley said. He served as a Covina City Council member from 1999 through 2003, and as mayor from 2001 to 2003.
1220_NWS_SGT-L-VOLUNTEERS2“Chaplain Truax has assisted victims of violent crimes as well as police officer families, most notably members of the Hanson family when Sgt. Scott Hanson was the first-ever Covina police officer killed in the line of duty,” the lieutenant said.
Covina launched it’s police volunteer program in 1982, and has since taken part in activities ranging from child registry to graffiti removal.
“The estimated savings to the city over the past 21 years has been close to $1 million,” Curley added.
And the volunteers will be expanding their role in the coming year, he explained, as the department rolls out it’s Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft (C.R.E.D.I.T.) Program.
Under the program, the volunteers will assist detectives looking into identity theft cases.
State law allows identity theft victims to report the crime in the cities in which they live, not necessarily where the crime occurred, officials said.
“Processing these reports has placed an extreme burden on many agencies,” Curley said.
“The newly-created Covina C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will utilize police volunteers who will research every case, starting with where the crimes occurred.
“They will then send the reports to the correct jurisdictions, freeing the detectives to only investigate cases that occurred within the Covina Police Department’s jurisdiction,” the lieutenant said.
The program is based on a similar program run by the Pasadena Police Department, which has had great success and the processing or investigation of more than 5,000 cases, police added.
Members of the C.R.E.D.I.T. Program will be civilian volunteers who are also graduates of the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Covina Police Department is encouraged to contact Community Services Specialist Candace Bobkiewicz at 626-384-5630.

PHOTOS: Rudy Fonseca (top); Dave Truax (below), flanked by Covina Police Chief Kim Raney and other police officials. (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)

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Covina teen dies after falling from skateboard

COVINA — A 16-year-old Covina boy died Tuesday from injuries he suffered in a skateboarding accident Monday, authorities said.
The boy’s name was not released Wednesday pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Jerry McKibben said.
But a fund-raising web site purportedly set up by family and friends of the young man identified him as Keith Guerrero. Donations were being accepted online at
“As you could imagine, our pain and our grief is beyond words and quite honestly we do not know where to begin to cope with our loss or much less how to move forward with our lives,” according to a statement posted on the website. “The outpouring of support from all of you is appreciated more than you will ever know… thank you!”
The boy had been riding a skateboard downhill Monday afternoon the area of Mesarica Road and Puente Street in an unincorporated county area near Covina when his skateboard struck some sort of obstruction and was thrown from the skateboard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Grall said.
The teen suffered serious head injuries, the sergeant said. A rescue helicopter was landed at nearby Badillo Elementary School to rush the boy to a trauma center.
He was pronounced dead at 2:33 a.m. Tuesday at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, McKibben said.
Grall described the incident as a “tragic accident.”
“We definitely feel for the family,” he said. “We send out our condolences as well.”

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Veterans, including two Medal of Honor recipients, honored at Covina Field of Valor

COVINA — Two recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor were among veterans honored Sunday at the opening ceremony for the Covina Field of Valor.
In front of a display of more than 2,000 American Flags meticulously placed on the field of Sierra Vista Middle School, grateful citizens listened to stories of heroism and sacrifice, as well as of love and the unconquerable spirit.
“This week, this unique and awesome display of 2,000 of our great nation’s flags places Covina in its fines hour, honoring those who have fallen on our behalf, representing those vets who have made the sacrifice to a grateful nation, and providing thanks and admiration to those brave men and women in uniform who are currently preserving this land of the free here and abroad,” Covina Mayor Walt Allen III said.
Flags1“I look forward to seeing you all week long during this week of recognition for those who have served,” the mayor said. In addition to extending Veteran’s Day wishes to all current and former service members, Allen also wished the U.S. Marine Corps a happy birthday, as Sunday marked the corps’ 238th anniversary.
With the number of living Medal of Honor recipients shrinking rapidly, those that remain consider passing along the lessons they’ve learned through their service to be a high priority, said keynote speaker, retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs of New York.
Jacobs received the nation’s highest military honor for valor displayed in Vietnam in March of 1968, Covina Police Chief and Saturday’s master of ceremonies Kim Raney said. After the commander of his company was disabled and his unit fell into disorder. Although wounded himself, Jacobs took command of the men and restored organization. He then ran across open rice paddies through heavy enemy fire to evacuate wounded.
The central message veterans can impart to young people is, “to be part of a community, to work not just for yourself, but for all of us,” Jacobs said. “It’s not about war. It’s not about war at all.”
Jacobs2“It’s really kind of an irony that you have to go to combat to learn love, real love.” he said. “Although we fight to accomplish the mission, and we fight to defend the country, when the going gets really, really tough, most of all, we fight
for each other.
“This is true in combat, and it should also be true out of combat,” Jacobs said. “It’s these values we want to teach kids in middle school and high school, so they will teach it to their children and their children’s children, so that the sacrifice of all of our brothers and sisters who brought us here today won’t be in vain.”
To that end, Jacobs has teamed with other Medal of Honor recipients to create a curriculum they have made available to schools.
Also present Saturday was Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gary L. Littrell of Kentucky.
Littrell also received the medal for valor displayed during the Vietnam War in April of 1970. As the sole surviving advisor in his battalion, which was under heavy enemy attack, Littrell spent four straight days inspiring his men, directing artillery and air support, tending to wounded, distributing ammunition and strengthening faltering defenses, according to Field of Valor representatives.
“it’s rare to meet one Medal of Honor recipient,” Police Chief Raney said. “Today we have two in the front row.”
In addition to the Covina Police Chief and Mayor, other dignitaries in attendance included Glendora Mayor Joseph Santoro, Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha and retired Army Major General Clyde A Hennies, who is president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Music was provided by singers from St. Louise De Marillac Church in Covina.
This week marks the second year of the Covina Field of Valor, created by the Covina Rotary Club. It will remain in place at Grand Avenue and Puente Street through Nov. 17. Admission is free.
Microsoft has announced plans to feature the Covina Field of Valor on it’s Bing search engine home page as part of its Veterans Day observance.
Flag sponsorships are sold to raise money to benefit veterans, and many flags were affixed with the names of current, former and slain military members. Living veterans are denoted with yellow ribbons, while black ribbons adorn flags commemorating veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.


PHOTOS: (top – Flags at the Covina Field of Valor, photographed Saturday, Nov. 9, 2012. (center) - Retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs meets “Sgt. Caesar” the bull dog at the openeing  ceremony of the Covina Field of Valor on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (bottom)  Retired Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack H. Jacobs speaks to a crowd at the opening ceremony of the Covina Field of Valor on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

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