El Monte police plan traffic safety crackdown Monday

EL MONTE >> Police in El Monte plan to step enforcement of traffic violations related to pedestrian and bicyclist safety on Tuesday, officials said.
During the Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation, officers will pay extra attention to violation that could contribute to collisions, injuries and deaths, whether on the part of motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, El Monte police Sgt. Jimmie Pitts said in a written statement.
“Special attention will be directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation,” he said.
“Additionally, enforcement will be taken for observed violations when pedestrians cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Bike riders will be stopped and citations issued when they fail to follow the same traffic laws that apply to motorists.”
Funding for the operation is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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El Monte launches ‘Service Area Policing’ program

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EL MONTE >> The El Monte police department launched its “Service Area Policing” program this week, dividing the city into four separate quadrants, in an effort to streamline communication between the city and the community and more efficiently address specific problems and issues within the city.
Under the Service Area Policing program, which began Wednesday, the city has been divided into four geographical area, with police services for each overseen by a dedicated service area lieutenant, El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso said.
“Service area policing is becoming the industry standard for many police departments in the region,” the chief said. “It’s another tool to help us communicate with the public, learn their concerns and provide the best service we can.”
The program does not replace the traditional 9-1-1 system for emergencies, but it designed to help residents and business people deal with “chronic” quality of life issues, ranging from graffiti and speeding vehicles to code violations and public health issues.
The program helps police make more efficient use of resources to place them where they be the most effective, police said in a written statement.
“The Service Area Commanders have all of the resources of the police department available to them to address the needs of the community. Streamlining and utilizing resources in such a manner is a way to bypass our limitations,” according to the statement.
Even if the issue is not a police matter, police can work with citizens to notify the proper agency about their concerns, Reynoso said.
“Any community concern is our concern,” he added. And serice area commanders will work closely with other local agencies, such as public works, parks and recreation and the city council.
“Each entity offers its own distinct perspective toward the accomplishment of a solution towards the betterment of our city,” the polcie statement said. “This cultural change must migrate to all areas of the city and become part of the cultural norm our residents and businesses expect to be successful.
Under the program, the city of more than 115,000 people is divided into four areas, with the 10 Freeway serving as the boundary between the north and south, and Peck Road serving as the boundary between east and west.
Service Area 1, the northwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Richard Cassetta, who can be reached at area1@empd.org. Service Area 2, consisting of the city’s northeast quadrant, is supervised by Lt. Ben Lowry, who can be reached at area2@empd.org. Service Area 3, made up of the city’s southwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Ernie Cramer, who can be reached at area3@empd.org. Service Area 4, at the southeast corner of the city, is supervised by Lt. Peter Rasic, who can be reached at area4@empd.org.
All of the Service Area commanders can be reached by telephone at 626-580-2109.
“The program is built around a partnership between police and the community, Reynoso said.
“The success of this program depends on our cooperation,” he said.

PHOTOS: [Left to right] El Monte police Service Area 1 Lt. Richard Cassetta; El Monte police Service Area 2 Lt. Ben Lowry; El Monte police Service Area 3 Lt. Ernie Cramer; El Monte police Service Area 4 Lt. Pete Rasic. (Courtesy)

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El Monte man already serving life for one Baldwin Park shooting sentenced for another

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BALDWIN PARK >> An El Monte man already condemned to spend life behind bars received a new sentence of 86 years to life in state prison on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of a rival gang member on Christmas Eve in 2010, prosecutors said.
Johnny Mata, 35, who has also been convicted of a second, non-fatal gang shooting in Baldwin Park in 2012, spent more than a year as a fugitive after he was accidentally released from jail in 2013 while awaiting trial, then recaptured in Mexico in Mexico.
A jury Convicted Johnny Mata, 35, guilty last month of two felony counts of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old David Deanda Jr., Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. Jurors also found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the killing was gang-related.
Co-defendant Jesus Arroyo Lule, 35, pleaded “no contest” in 2014 to a felony count of voluntary manslaughter for Deanda’s slaying and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 17 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Pomona Branch.
Lule drove Mata to rival gang territory in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue in Baldwin Park. Baldwin Park in the predawn hours of Dec. 24, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Once there, Mata exited the car and walked up to a house where David Deanda Jr., 31 was standing in the driveway,” according to the statement. “Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene, the prosecutor added.
Mata exited the car and walked up to Deanda Jr. who was standing in the driveway of a residence, Barkhurst said. Mata then fatally shot Deanda in the torso before fleeing the scene.
A third defendant, then-27-year-old Christina Montenegro, was initially charged in connection with the 2012 shooting, but the charges were ultimately dropped.
Deanda, who worked as a welder, was survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and a stepdaughter, according to family.
Prior to being arrested
In April 2012, Mata shot at the home of another rival gang member in Baldwin Park, and was found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in a 2015 trial. He was sentenced to life, plus 25 years, in state prison for those crimes. But the jury deadlocked on the murder charge stemming from Deanda’s fatal shooting, leading to a second trial.
Following his initial arrest in May of 2012 in connection with the Baldwin Park slaying, Mata spent more than a year on the lam after he as accidentally released due to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department clerical error.
He was re-captured in April of 2014 in Mexico and returned to the U.S. to face justice.
Following Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Mata is now serving a total sentence of life in prison, plus 111 years to life in prison.

PHOTO: Johnny Mata of El Monte, (Courtesy)

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Officials identify West Covina man killed in El Monte motorcycle crash


EL MONTE >> A motorcyclist killed in a freeway crash in El Monte on Friday afternoon has been identified as a 51-year-old West Covina man, officials said Saturday.
Albert Max Escobedo died in the 3:10 p.m. crash on the 10 Freeway, east of Peck Road, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Escobedo was riding a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle in the westbound lanes of traffic just prior to the crash, according to Officer M. Vargas of the California Highway Patrol’s East Los Angeles area office.
“For reasons still under investigation, the rider lost control of his vehicle and collided into the concrete jersey wall,” Vargas said in a written statement. “The rider was ejected from the motorcycle.
Escobedo was thrown into eastbound traffic lanes, where he was struck by three vehicles, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced Escobedo dead at the scene.
None of the other drivers were hurt in the collision, Vargas said. The crash remained under investigation.
Any witnesses are encouraged to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.

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Motorcyclist killed in multi-vehicle crash on 10 Freeway in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died after being thrown from his motorcycle into opposing traffic lanes on the 10 Freeway in El Monte Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The crash was first reported about 3:15 p.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway near Santa Anita Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The motorcyclist was ejected from the motorcycle, ultimately ending up in the eastbound traffic lanes, officials said.
The collision involved as many as four vehicles, California Highway Patrol Officer Michelle Bond said. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the fatal collision were immeidately available.
The CHP issued a Sig Alert for the FasTrak toll lanes in both directions of the 10 Freeway as officers investigated the crash.

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Driver jailed for DUI, hit-and-run after striking pedestrians, another vehicle in Alhambra

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ALHAMBRA >> An alleged drunken driver struck a woman and a 3-year-old girl with his car along Main Street in Alhambra, sending the girl to an intensive care unit, before fleeing the scene and crashing into another car late Friday, police said.
Abundio Flores-Ramon, 21, of El Monte was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI 0807_NWS_PSN-L-HITANDRUN2and felony hit-and-run following the collisions, which took place about 8:45 p.m., according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The woman and the young girl were crossing Main Street at 4th Street when Flores-Ramon struck them with his car and fled the scene, Cpl. Tim Diller said.
Flores-Ramon continued driving east, where he struck another car at Main Street and Garfield Avenue, the corporal said.
The suspect’s car came to a stop at Garfield Avenue, where Flores-Ramon was taken into custody.
A total of five people, including the suspect, were treated for injuries following the collisions, police said.
The little girl remained in an intensive care unit early Saturday morning, Diller said.
In a written statement, police described the 3-year-old girls condition Saturday afternoon as “serious but stable.”
The woman who was struck along with her had been released from the hospital.
The conditions of the other two people injured from the vehicle struck by the fleeing suspect were not clear.
Flores-Ramon was booked at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail after being treated for his injuries, records show.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

PHOTOS of crash scene (above) and suspect Abundio Flores-Ramon (below) courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Abandoned briefcase causes scare at El Monte Station


EL MONTE >> An abandoned briefcase prompted authorities to briefly shut down the El Monte Station late Tuesday, but was ultimately found to contain nothing dangerous, officials said.
The unattended briefcase was reported about 11 p.m. between bus bays 2 and 3 at the station, 3501 Santa Anita Ave., Lt. Jess Carrasco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau said.
Deputies shut down the station and had an explosive-sniffing dog examine the briefcase, the lieutenant said.
After the dog detected nothing suspicious, deputies opened the briefcase and found nothing out of the ordinary, he said. Deputies sounded the all-clear just before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Bus service continued outside the station during the incident, with passengers boarding their buses just outside the station, Metro Los Angeles officials said via Twitter.

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El Monte police plan ‘Snow Cone With a Cop’ meetings

EL MONTE >> Police in El Monte are inviting the community to join them for snow cones at three different community meetings at local parks over the next month.
The “Snow Cone With a Cop” events are planned for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at Zamora Park, 3820 Penn Mar Ave.; July 28th at Mountain View Park, 12127 Elliot Ave.; and Aug. 11 at Mariposa Park, 4140 Gibson Road, city officials said in a written statement.
“The El Monte Police Department invited residents to enjoy a free snow cone and ask questions, voice their concerns and get to know Police Chief David Reynoso and other police officers,” according to the statement.
The first 200 guests will be treated to snow cones.
Police also plan to take the opportunity to introduce residents to their local police officers, under the department’s new “Service Area Policing Model,” the statement said.
For more information, email Sgt. Alex Martinez at alexmartinez@elmontepd.org.

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UPDATED: Man killed in El Monte car-to-car shooting


EL MONTE >> A man died Thursday night after he was shot in a residential neighborhood in El Monte, authorities said.
The victim died at a hospital shortly after the shooting at Cogswell Road and Klingerman Street, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
The identity of the man, described as 23 years old, was not released Sunday.
“Detectives learned that at approximately 7:08 p.m., the victim, who was a passenger in a truck, was involved in an argument with the suspect (or suspects) in another vehicle,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “The argument escalated and a suspect shot the victim in the upper torso, then fled the scene.”
The driver of the truck was not wounded.
Officials described the attackers as at least two men inside a dark-colored SUV, possible a Dodge. No further details were available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting El Monte police in the investigation, at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Police: Fugitive arrested after attack on El Monte officer, motorcycle chase

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EL MONTE >> An armed federal fugitive sought by the U.S. Marshals Service attacked a police officer in El Monte before leading officers on a motorcycle chase and ultimately being arrested on suspicion of a laundry list of crimes Saturday, authorities said.
George Olotoa, 50, of South El Monte is accused of assault on a police officer, evading police, possession of a stolen handgun, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of drugs while armed and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian.
Olotoa was riding a 2000 Suzuki Sport Bike in the 2600 block of Millet Avenue when an officer tried to stop him for a traffic violation, Cobian said.
As the officer approached Olotoa, he tried to ride away, police said. The muscular 6-foot-tall, 230-pound suspect turned violent.
“The officer tried to stop the suspect but the suspect attacked the officer by striking him in the head,” Cobian said in a written statement. “The officer attempted to defend himself and overcome the violent attack while the assailant was still wearing a motorcycle helmet. The officer deployed his Taser, which malfunctioned, and the suspect fled on his motorcycle and a vehicle pursuit began.”
The officer chased Olotoa onto the 60 Freeway at Santa Anita Avenue, where he lost control of his motorcycle and fell, officials said. The motorcycle struck another car, resulting in no injuries to the driver.
“The suspect attempted to re-mount his motorcycle, and he disregarded commands to remove his hand from his front pants pocket,” Cobian said. “When the first of the assisting officers arrived on scene, he saw a volatile situation rapidly evolving and assisted in apprehending the suspect.”
Cell phone video footage of the incident posted on YouTube Saturday afternoon, but removed by Saturday evening, depicted suspect’s apprehension.
The arriving officer struck Olotoa’s motorcycle with his patrol car as he arrived on scene, pushing it out of his grasp, the video shows.
Officers then continued wrestling Olotoa into custody as additional officers arrived at the scene.
As assisting officers got Olotoa into handcuffs with the use of a Taser, the original officer collapsed backwards onto the street in exhaustion.
“A folding knife was found in the same pocket the suspect had his hand in and a loaded, stolen hand gun was found in the suspect’s backpack,” Cobian said.
Both the officer and suspected were treated for injuries described as minor.
Police determined Olotoa was on federal probation and was being sought by the U.S. Marshals Service, officials added.
He was being held in lieu of $225,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in El Monte Superior Court.

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