College student killed along with Marine in weekend crash in Downey identified

DOWNEY >> Authorities have identified a 21-year-old international college student from Japan who died along with a Camp Pendleton Marine in a pickup truck crash along the 5 Freeway in Downey over the weekend.
Kokona Ando, 21, of Rancho Santa Margarita was a passenger riding in the truck when it veered off the roadway and struck a tree about 4:50 a.m. Saturday along the southbound 5 Freeway, just north of Paramount Boulevard, in Downey, according to Los Angeles County coroner and California Highway Patrol officials.
Also killed was Samuel Tristan Flynn, 20, a U.S. Marine based at Camp Pendleton, who was driving the 2002 Dodge Dakota.
Another passenger, a 21-year-old Irvine woman, was also injured in the crash.
A family friend said Ando attended Irvine Valley College as an international student after arriving in the U.S. from Japan in January. It was Ando’s dream to live and study in California, the friend said.
The cause of the crash remain under investigation by the officers from the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs Office.

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Man killed in double-fatal crash in Downey identified as Camp Pendleton Marine

DOWNEY >> One of two people killed in a pickup truck crash on the 5 Freeway in Downey over the weekend has been identified as a Camp Pendleton-based U.S. Marine, coroner’s officials said Sunday.
Samuel Tristan Flynn, 20, died at the scene of Saturday morning’s solo-vehicle crash along the southbound 5 Freeway, just north of Paramount Boulevard, Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner-Medical Examiner said. Originally from Washington state, Flynn was a Marine based at Camp Pendleton.
A 21-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita woman riding as a rear passenger in the 2002 Dodge Dakota also died in the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said. Her name was not released Sunday pending notification of her family.
A third person riding as a passenger in the truck, a 21-year-old Irvine woman, suffered moderate injuries, officials said.
Flynn was driving the truck at an unknown speed about 4:50 a.m. when the truck veered to the right, left the roadway and struck a tree, California highway Patrol officials said. The cause of the crash remained under investigation.

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Two killed, one hurt in Downey freeway crash

DOWNEY >> A man and woman died, and another woman was hurt, after their car veered off the 5 Freeway in Downey and struck a tree, authorities said.
The crash took place about 4:50 a.m. on along the southbound 5 Freeway, just south of Paramount Avenue, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
The driver, a 20-year-old Camp Pendleton man, along with his front passenger, a 21-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita woman, died at the scene, officials said.
The names of the man and woman were withheld pending notification of their families, said Mario Sainz, and investigator at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. It was not clear whether the driver was a member of the military.
A 21-year-old Irvine woman riding as a rear passenger in the truck was hospitalized with injuries described as moderate, officials said.
The 2002 Dodge Dakota was southbound at an unknown speed prior to the crash.
“For unknown reasons, (the driver) allowed his vehicle to veer to the right,” according to the CHP statement. “(The truck) crossed the right shoulder and left the roadway. It continued southbound over the soft dirt shoulder and collided into a tree.”
Anyone with information can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs during normal business hours at 562-868-0503.

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Man killed by deputies in Downey restaurant standoff was sought for questioning in East L.A. slaying, fire

Los Angeles County Sheriff's with other police agencies stand outside the Chris & Pitts restaurants where deputies shot and killed the carjacking suspett in Downey on Thursday September 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s with other police agencies stand outside the Chris & Pitts restaurants where deputies shot and killed the carjacking suspett in Downey on Thursday September 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

A man fatally shot by deputies after carjacking a woman in West Whittier, firing shots and taking hostages inside a Downey barbecue restaurant last week was being sought for questioning in connection with the slaying of a woman found dead inside her burning East Los Angeles home in August, authorities said.
Eddie Tapia, 41, died shortly before 9 p.m. Sept. 10, when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau deputies stormed the Chris’ & Pitt’s restaurant on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey where he had held four people hostage for more than an hour and shot him, according to county sheriff’s and coroner officials. The hostages were freed unharmed.
0918_NWS_WDN-L-TAPIAFOLOThe standoff began after Tapia was spotted driving in a stolen car in the Pico Rivera area, then carjacked a woman in West Whittier before firing shots from a handgun as he fled into the crowded Downey restaurant, officials said.
As the investigation continued into Tapia, an ex-convict released from jail four months prior to the deputy-involved shooting, detectives revealed he had ties to 46-year-old Rocio Vasquez, who was found dead inside her home in the 700 block of Brady Avenue in East Los Angeles home early Aug. 8, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“Initially, the preliminary consensus was that the fire may have been accidental, but additional investigation, as well as an autopsy, would be necessary to confirm how the victim died,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“It was determined during the autopsy that Victim Vasquez had not died as a result of the fire, but she had been shot and killed prior to the fire being set,” according to the statement.
Though not named a suspect in the slaying, Tapia was one of several persons of interest detectives have been seeking in connection to their investigation into Vasquez’s slaying.
“He was a person we wanted to talk to,” Corina said.
“He was her friend,” the lieutenant said, adding that Tapia was known to frequent the victim’s home.
Tapia’s city of residence was unclear.
No arrests in have been made in Vasquez’s slaying.

— Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTO [ABOVE] by Keith Durflinger [BELOW] photo of Eddie Tapia courtesy of the California DMV.

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Ex-convict killed by SWAT team after taking hostages in Downey restaurant identified


Coroner’s officials identified the armed carjacking suspect who was fatally shot by deputies inside a Downey restaurant following a car chase through several communities and taking hostages inside the eatery.
Eddie Tapia, 41, died at the scene after being shot by SWAT deputies at the conclusion of Thursday night’s standoff, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operation Ed Winter said. His city of residence was unknown.
Sheriff’s officials said the man took four people hostage inside the Chris’ & Pitt’s BBQ restaurant at 9243 Lakewood Blvd.
Related: Suspect shot and killed after chase, standoff
Deputies shot Tapia when he didn’t comply with orders to put down his weapon and “posed as an imminent threat to the hostages”, according to a sheriff’s department statement. The department didn’t say how many deputies were involved in the shooting.
• Video: Sheriff’s press conference
Four hostages were rescued, and the suspect’s handgun was recovered. Lt. Darren Harris said the hostages weren’t injured.
“He posed a great risk to the public, and deputies made a split-second decision,” Harris said,

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UPDATED: Armed carjacking suspect fatally shot after fleeing into crowded Downey restaurant following chase

Deputies shot and killed a man with a gun after he burst into a crowded Downey barbecue restaurant Thursday sending patrons and employees fleeing.
The standoff and deputy-involved shooting came at the conclusion after the suspect led police on a wild pursuit and firing a gun into the air authorities said.
The pursuit began shortly before 7 p.m. in the Whittier area, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
A sheriff’s helicopter flying over the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station spotted a Honda Civic that had been reported stolen and was emanating a LoJack tracking signal, sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Parker said.
“As patrol deputies from Pico (Rivera) station were headed to that location, the helicopter pilot and observer watched as the suspect carjacked a person at gunpoint,” Parker said.
The carjacking took place in unincorporated West Whittier.
Deputies as well as CHP officers chased the suspect as he fled along surface streets and freeway lanes through Montebello, Monterey Park, East Los Angeles, and Downey, Parker said. He was involved in at least one hit-and-run collision during the chase.
Pursuing officers used a PIT maneuver to bringing the chase to an end in the 9200 block on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey, officials said.
After crashing his car into another vehicle, the suspect fired a handgun into the air as he fled from his crashed car and ran into a nearby Chris’ & Pitt’s restaurant at 9243 Lakewood Blvd, Parker said.
Patrons and employees could be seen fleeing from the building as heavily armed deputies took positions around the restaurant. It was not clear whether the gunman had any hostages.

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Downey man pleads ‘no contest’ in fatal stabbing of Long Beach man in Norwalk

NORWALK >> A Downey man pleaded no contest Wednesday to fatally stabbing a Long Beach man during a dispute at a Norwalk home earlier this year, authorities said.
William Edward Johnson, 38, entered a “no contest” plea in Norwalk Superior Court to a count of voluntary manslaughter for the March 4 stabbing death of 53-year-old Darin Sivley, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Johnson also admitted the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the crime.
Under the negotiated plea arrangement, Johnson is expected to receive a 12-year prison term when he returned to court for sentencing Monday, Ardalani said. He had originally been charged with murder prior to the plea deal.
Sivley was found fatally wounded on along the road near Studebaker Road and Ferina Street shortly before 3 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
But the stabbing took a place while both Johnson and Sivley were at the home of a mutual acquaintance nearby, according to sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials.
“While there, Sivley began to irritate the homeowner, who wanted him to leave,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “As a result, Johnson pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the upper arm. The puncture severed a major artery and Sivley began to bleed profusely.”
Someone at the home place a tourniquet on Sivley’s wound before Sivley got on a bicycle to go to a hospital, officials said. But soon collapsed and bled to death.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau arrested Sivley in connection with the fatal stabbing two days later.

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Compton man killed in Downey motorcycle crash

DOWNEY >> A 29-year-old Compton man died early Saturday in a motorcycle crash on the Bellflower Boulevard onramp to the 105 Freeway, authorities said.
The name of the rider was not released pending notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials said.
The crash took place about 2:55 a.m., CHP Officer Peter Bishop said. The rider exited the eastbound 105 Freeway at Bellflower Boulevard on a Yamaha motorcycle just prior to the crash, CHP Officer Peter Bishop said. His speed had not been determined.
“For an unknown reason, he continued straight through the intersection,” Bishop said.
The motorcycle traveled toward the Bellflower Boulevard onramp to the eastbound 105 Freeway, striking a raised concrete curb on the south side of the ramp. The collision through the rider from his motorcycle, and he struck a light pole.
Downey Fire Department paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene at 3:03 a.m.

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Downey couple seriously hurt, Long Beach man accused of drugged driving following 605 Freeway crash

NORWALK — A senior citizen couple from Downey suffered major injuries Sunday when their car flipped multiple times on the 605 Freeway in Norwalk after being struck by another car driven by a drugged driver, authorities said.
Victor Manuel Martinez, 22, of Long Beach was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs in connection with the 10:43 a.m. crash on the northbound 605 Freeway at Imperial Highway, California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada said.
He was exiting the freeway at Imperial Highway when his vehicle struck the curb, sending it over a dirt shoulder and back onto the freeway, where is collided with another car occupied by the man and wife.
The couple’s car flipped several times, according to CHP and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The man and woman, who were estimated to be in their 60s, were taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, fire Capt. Richard Weise said. Updates on their conditions were not available, however both were conscious and breathing when hospitalized.
Martinez was examined by paramedics at the scene and taken into custody, officials said.
It was not immediately clear what drug or drugs Martinez is accused of being under the influence of at the time of the crash.
The crash forced the closure of the right three lanes of the northbound 605 Freeway and resulted in a Sig Alert that remained in effect for more than an hour.

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Ex-ice skating coach convicted of child molestation

A Pomona jury convicted a former ice-skating coach Tuesday of molesting a teenage boy and a young girl while living in Hacienda Heights and Downey.
Donald James Vincent, 30, who lived in Torrance when arrested in January of 2013, was ordered to return to Pomona Superior Court Feb. 21 for sentencing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“He faces multiple life sentences in state prison,” according to the statement.
The jury deliberated for less than one day before finding Vincent guilty of one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, two counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, and five charges relating to sex acts with a child under 10, according to the D.A.’s office.
The charged crimes took place between 2007 and 2011 , while Vincent was living in Hacienda Heights and Downey, D.A.’s officials said.
The charges were related to students he coached at Paramount Iceland in in Paramount, though he also worked at at least six other ice skating rinks throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties in the 7 years leading up to his arrest, according to District Attorney’s and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
They included the East/West Ice Palace in Artesia; Glacial Gardens in Lakewood; Norwalk Ice, which has since closed; Skating Edge Ice Arena in Harbor City; Anaheim Ice in Anaheim; and Ice Town Riverside in Riverside.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Victim Bureau initially jailed Vincent in connection with the molestation of a male student while he was between 12 and 15 years old, Lt. Carlos Marquez said. The molestation came to light two years later when the victim told a friend at a youth camp of the molestation and was persuaded to tell authorities.
At the time of his arrest, officials encouraged any additional victims of Vincent to come forward. And one did, additional charged were later filed in connection with violent acts of molestation against a girl younger than 10 years old.
Vincent remained in custody in lieu of $6 million bail pending trial, officials said. Once convicted, he was ordered held without bail pending sentencing.

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