Police snatch suicidal man from edge of bridge in El Monte

EL MONTE >> Police pulled a distraught man from the edge of a bridge spanning the San Gabriel River as he was preparing to jump on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
Officers received a report about noon that a “suicidal subject” was seen on the exterior ledge of the Valley Boulevard bridge, just west of the 605 Freeway, El Monte police officials said in a written statement.
“Officer Fullington immediately established dialogue with the man, who was visibly distraught, while Officers approached from out of the man’s sight and were able to successfully gain physical control of the him and prevent him from going over,” according to the statement. “The officers’ quick thinking and training helped prevent what could have been a tragic situation.”
The main was taken to receive help, Lt. Ernie Cramer said.

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Three hurt after airplane lands in wash next to San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte


EL MONTE >> Three people suffered apparently minor injuries after a small airplane crash-landed in a wash next to the San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte on Friday night, officials said.
The incident was first reported at 8:16 p.m., El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowry said.
A small airplane went down in a wash alongside the Rio Hondo River just west of the airport, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Ron Haralson said.
Three patients were treated for injuries described as minor, the captain said. There were no initial reports of any fire involved with the incident.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the aircraft had been described as a Cessna C175, and had “crashed off airport under unknown circumstances.” The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.
Federal Aviation Administration records showed the tail number painted on the aircraft belonged to a single-engine Cessna 175, manufactured in 1959, with a valid flight status through November of 2019 and a registered owner based in Montebello.
No further details were available.

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Attempted carjacking suspect fatally struck by car on 605 Freeway identified


Coroner’s officials have identified a La Puente man who was fatally struck by a car on the 605 Freeway in Irwindale minutes after allegedly trying to carjack a driver in El Monte on Tuesday.
Louis Marcus Martinez, 27, died after he was struck by a car about 10:10 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the 605 Freeway, just north of Ramona Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Chief of Operations Brian Elias said. An autopsy was yet to be completed.
The bizarre series of events began about 9:45 p.m. when El Monte police received a report of an attempted carjacking in the 4000 block of Gilman Road, according to El Monte police Lt. Pete Rasic.
A woman was entering her car when a man, later identified as Martinez, tried to force his way into her vehicle and grab her keys, police said.
The woman managed to push the would-be carjacker away, lock her car doors and drive away, Rasic said. The suspect left behind personal items including a photo ID.
Police received a second report of the same man grabbing onto a van and hanging onto to briefly it as it drove away in the area of Gilman Road and Ramona Boulevard in El Monte, officials said.
The man was not found, but turned up minutes later, walking in traffic lanes of the 605 Freeway along the border between Baldwin Park and Irwindale.
A car traveling about 70 mph in the No. 2 lane struck Martinez, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez. He was soon linked to the prior attempted carjacking in El Monte.
It was unclear why Martinez ended up walking on the freeway.

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UPDATED: Man critically wounded in shooting at El Monte park


EL MONTE >> A man clung to life Saturday after he was shot while setting up a birthday party for his young daughter at an El Monte park, authorities said.
The victim, described as a man in his 30s, was hospitalized in critical and unstable condition following the shooting, which took place just before 6 a.m. at Baldwin Avenue Mini Park, 3750 Baldwin Ave., El Monte police Lt. Ernie Kramer said.
“He was at the park setting up for a party. He heard a gunshot and saw a suspect running through the park,” the lieutenant said.
The man briefly chased after the shooter before realizing he had been wounded in the back.
Witnesses in the neighborhood reported hearing gunfire just before the victim himself called 911 to report he had been shot.
Paramedics took the man to a hospital for treatment, Kramer said. His condition remained extremely serious after undergoing several surgeries.
The man was alone at the small park setting up for a birthday party for his daughter when the shooting took place, officials said. Family members and guests had not yet arrived.
He collapsed near the front gate of the park, police said. It appeared he was trying to make it to his car.
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau were summoned to take over the investigation due to the life-threatening injuries suffered by the victim, Kramer said.
No further details, including a description of the shooter, were available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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San Gabriel man pleads not guilty in slaying of El Monte fast-food worker

EL MONTE >> A San Gabriel man accused of gunning down a fast-food worker during a botched robbery in El Monte last year denied a capital murder charge on Wednesday, authorities said.
Louie Francisco Herrera, 20, pleaded not guilty in connection with the Oct. 21 shooting at a Jack in the Box restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive that claimed the life of 25-year-old Juan Manuel Vidal of El Monte. Vidal was engaged to be married to his longtime girlfriend, had just graduated pharmacy technician school and was looking forward to starting his new career, according to family members and investigators.
Prosecutors allege the special circumstance that Herrera committed murder during an attempted robbery, as well as the special allegation that her personally used a handgun in the crime, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
The special allegation makes Herrera potentially eligible for the death penalty if convicted, however, prosecutors have yet to determine whether the death penalty will be sought in the case, according to Ardalani. If capital punishment is not pursued, Herrera could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
After entering his not guilty plea, Herrera was ordered back to the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 17 for a hearing in the case.
Vidal was working at the cash register when a masked man entered the restaurant holding a handgun, demanded money, and immediately fired shot, which mortally wounded Vidal. The gunman then fled empty-handed.
The violent robbery attempt was captured on video by store surveillance cameras.
•Video: Surveillance camera footage of deadly El Monte Jack in the Box robbery
The case remained unsolved for more than three months, as authorities from El Monte, the County of Los Angeles and Jack in the Box established a reward fund totaling $55,000 in the case.
Tips from the public helped officials identify Herrera as a suspect in the deadly shooting, investigators said. Sheriff’s deputies found him riding as a passenger in a car in Alhambra on Jan. 9 and arrested him without a struggle, according to Detective Adan Torres of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau.
Herrera also faces robbery charges in connection with other heists that took place on Oct. 2, 5, 15 and 19 in Irwindale, San Gabriel, Alhambra and Monterey Park, according to sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials.

PHOTOS: [TOP] Photo of murder suspect Louis Francisco Herrera displayed on a poster during a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department press conference on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (Leo Jarzomb) [MIDDLE] Photo of homicide victim Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, of El Monte. (Courtesy) [BELOW] Photograph of crime scene taken one day after the slaying. (Brian Day)

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Two suspects charged with murder in fatal stabbing of El Monte man


EL MONTE >> Two suspects have been charged with murder for the fatal stabbing of an El Monte man last month, officials announced Wednesday.
Following “a detailed and lengthy investigation,” into the Feb. 19 stabbing death of 22-year-old Alejandro Rojas, detectives identified two suspects and a SWAT team arrested them on March 2 during a raid at a home in the 11400 block of Kerrwood Street in El Monte, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.
Prosecutors filed murder charges on Monday against Daniel Anthony Lopez, 22, and Adrian Alejandro Castillo, 25, both of El Monte, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Castillo is also accused of the special allegation that he personally wielded a knife in the killing..
Rojas was walking down the street in the 4200 block of Peck Road with his cousin when the suspects approached in a Nissan Sentra and pulled over alongside them, sheriff’s officials said.
“Suspect Castillo, a passenger, exited the vehicle and stabbed Victim Rojas,” Jansen said in a written statement. “Rojas with the assistance of his (cousin) ran from the location to a nearby residence and collapsed.”
Paramedics took Rojas to a hospital, where he soon succumbed to his injuries.
“Suspects Lopez and Castillo drove away from the scene and out of sight,” Jansen said. “The motive for the murder is unknown and there is no further information at this time.”
Lopez and Castillo appeared in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday but entered no plea, Ardalani said. An arraignment hearing for both defendants was postponed to April 5.
According to county booking records, Castillo was being held without bail pending his court proceedings. He has prior convictions in Los Angeles County for crimes including vandalism and resisting police in January, as well as possession of a gun by a felon in 2014, driving with a blood-alochol level above .08 percent in 2013, and driving without a valid license in 2011, according to court records.
Lopez was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, records show. He has a single prior criminal conviction listed in Los Angeles County for trespassing in a structure in 2014.

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Police seize 3,300 marijuana plants, meth, gun from El Monte warehouse; Walnut man jailed

EL MONTE >> Police jailed a convicted felon from Walnut early Friday after recovering 3,300 marijuana plants, 308 pounds of finished pot, an ounce of methamphetamine and a loaded gun from a warehouse in El Monte, authorities said.
Brian Lee Skipper, 46, was arrested during the 7 a.m. raid at a commercial building at 2645 Merced Ave., according to El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna. Investigators showed up with a search warrant, seeking an illicit marijuana-growing operation.
“Upon entry, police personnel located (Skipper) and numerous pieces of equipment and devices used for the cultivation of marijuana and concentrated cannabis,” Luna said in a written statement, “In addition, detectives located methamphetamine, a loaded firearm and surveillance and security equipment.”
Police also found “numerous types of hazardous chemicals” used in the production of concentrated cannabis, also known as “wax” or “honey oil.”
“As a result, the location was vacated and additional investigators from the L.A. Impact Narcotics Team and Los Angeles County Hazardous Materials responded,” Luna said. “An additional investigation was completed as well as a cleanup which rendered the property safe.”
Police also allege the grow operation was wired to bypass the electric meter and steal power from the grid.
Skipper was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, operating a chemical drug lab, possession of methamphetamine for sale, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and theft of utility services.
The seized marijuana and methamphetamine carry an estimated street value of $750,000, Luna said.
Skipper, a convicted felon who was on active probation, was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Skipper just pleaded guilty in January of Possession of methamphetamine for sale and theft of utlities in a case first filed in 2014, according to San Bernardino Superior Court records. He also admitted a prior drug offense. Additional charges of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sales were dismissed.
He was also convicted in San Bernardino County of domestic abuse in June of 2006, and of making criminal threats in 2001, records show.
In Los Angeles County, Skipper’s criminal history stretches from 1989 to 2011 and includes convictions for drug possession, assault and battery, an illegal weapon violation and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2100, or by email at tips@empd.org.

PHOTO of Brian Lee Skipper, 46, of Walnut courtesy of the El Monte Police Department

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Man critically wounded in El Monte shooting

EL MONTE >> A man suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive after he was found shot in the backyard of an El Monte home early Thursday, authorities said.
Residents called police to report gunfire about 8:30 a.m. along Rio Hondo Parkway, just east of La Madera Avenue, El Monte police Lt. Ernie Kramer said.
Thje victim, a man estimated to be in his 20s, was found in the backyard of a home suffering from three gunshot wounds, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics took the wounded man to hospital, where he was listed in critical-but-stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery, Kramer said.
No further details, including a suspect description or a motive, were available Thursday afternoon.
A black car was seen leaving the area about the time of the shooting, but it was not yet clear if that car had been involved.
Anyone with information can reach the El Monte Police Department at 626-580-2110.

PHOTO by Leo Jarzomb

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El Monte man killed in stabbing identified


EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 22-year-old man who was fatally stabbed as he walked along Peck Road with his cousin on Sunday.
Alejandro Rojas died at a hospital about an hour after the stabbing, which took place about 11:40 a.m. Sunday outside a liquor store in the 4200 block of Peck Road, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He died four days after his 22nd birthday.
He was walking down the street, accompanied by his cousin, when a car heading north along Peck Road pulled up alongside them, according deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.
An attacker exited the passenger side of the car and confronted the cousins before pulling a knife and stabbing Rojas in the chest, the deputy said.
The killer returned to the vehicle, which sped away, officials said. A detailed description of the attacker and their car was not available. The motive was unclear.
Rojas was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.
His cousin was unhurt in the attack, Navarro-Suarez said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting El Monte police with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact homicide detectives ar 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man fatally stabbed in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died in a stabbing outside a liquor store in El Monte on Sunday, authorities said.
The deadly stabbing was reported just before 11:45 a.m. in the 4200 block of Peck Road, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau.
“The victim and his cousin were walking south on Peck Road when a vehicle headed northbound on Peck Road pulled alongside them,” Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
A man exited the front passenger seat of the car and confronted the two men, she said.
“The suspect produced a knife and stabbed the victim in the chest,” according to Navarro-Suarez. “The suspect then re-entered the vehicle and fled away north and out of view.”
The wounded man and his cousin ran north along Peck Road before the stabbing victim collapsed, officials said. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, officials said. The cousin was not hurt.
The motive in the stabbing was unclear, and no further descriptions of the attacker or the getaway driver were available.
Investigators had yet to determine the motive in the fatal attack, and no further details were available.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is helping the El Monte Police Department with the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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