El Monte man killed in Pasadena collision identified


PASADENA >> Coroner’s officials on Saturday released the identity of a 63-year-old El Monte man who died in a crash between his compact car and a big rig in Old Pasadena early Thursday.
Epigmenio Miranda of El Monte died at a hospital shortly after Thursday’s 4:50 a.m. crash at Colorado Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. Police initially described Miranda as 58 years old.
He was driving a 2008 Toyota Prius north on Pasadena Avenue when the car collided in an intersection with a big rig traveling east on Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
After freeing Miranda from the wreckage, paramedics took him to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Hettema said. He succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
It was believed one of the two vehicles may have ran through a red light prior to the collision, but investigators were yet to determine which one, according to the lieutenant. Police were seeking witnesses to the early-morning crash.
The truck driver suffered no injuries.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241.

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City, restaurant chain to add to reward in fatal shooting of El Monte fast food worker


EL MONTE >> A reward for information leading to justice for an El Monte man shot to death during a botched robbery at a Jack in the Box restaurant last month continues to grow, as city officials in El Monte and Jack in the Box representatives have announced plans to add to a $20,000 reward already offered by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, authorities said.
Juan Miguel Vidal, 25, was working at the restaurant about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 when the unidentified, masked gunman jumped over the counter of the restaurant, 9220 Flair Drive, demanded money and immediately opened fire, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
•Video: El Monte fatal shooting
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmugVidal, who was engaged to be married and had recently graduated pharmacy technician school, died from his injuries at a hospital, officials said. His killer fled empty-handed and remains at large. An accomplice believed to have served as the getaway driver of a dark-colored sedan in which the shooter fled is also being sought, Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
In hopes of generating tips from the public, the Los Angeles Count Board of Supervisors authorized a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Vidal’s slaying on Wednesday.
The El Monte City council plans to announce the city will be contributing to the award amount during a press conference on Monday, according to El Monte police Lt. Christopher Cano. The amount the city will be adding was not available.
“Additionally, John Maki, owner of the franchised Jack in the Box restaurant where Juan Vidal worked, and Oscar Hurtado, representing Jack in the Box corporate, both added $5,000.00 dollars each to the reward,” Cano said in a written statement.
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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$20,000 reward offered in slaying of El Monte man during botched restaurant robbery


EL MONTE >> Authorities offered up a $20,000 reward on Wednesday for information in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old worker during a botched robbery at an El Monte Jack in Box restaurant last month.
Juan Manuel Vidal died following the shooting, which took place on Oct. 21 inside the restaurant, 9220 Flair Drive.
He was working about 7:30 p.m. when a masked gunman jumped over the counter, “demanded money, and then shot the victim almost immediately,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said. The deadly shooting was caught on video by restaurant surveillance cameras.
“The suspect appeared to panic, jumped back over the counter and fled the location through the north door onto Flair Drive,” he said. No money was obtained.
*Video: Surveillance camera footage of fatal shooting
Vidal, who as engaged and was looking forward to starting a new career having recently graduated pharmacy technician school, succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
His killer remains at large.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to authorize a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the unidentified gunman.
Vidal’s mother, Mary Smay, implored anyone with information to come forward.
“I really want the police to get the man who did this to my son. He needs to pay for all the pain and suffering that he’s caused to so many people… people that loved my son,” she said.
“That man has no heart,” Smay said. “Somebody needs to let the police know where he’s at.”
Sheriff Jim McDonnell also urged anyone with information to do the right thing.
“This is a tragic incident we want to talk about and really, truly ask the public’s help in solving this case,” McDonnell said.
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmug“He was a young man on the right track, doing the right things, all of the right things, working, when this suspect came in and took his life,” the sheriff’s said. “We need the publics help to hold him accountable for what he did and to prevent him from hurting someone else.”
The reward was proposed by Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“There’s little consolation we can offer to Juan’s family and loved ones, but the gunman or people involved are still at large, and we hope this reward, together with other rewards that will be put forward by the city of El Monte and other individuals, that his will help to bring those that are responsible for this death to be held accountable.”
In addition to the gunman, detectives believe at least one accomplice served as a getaway driver in the crime, speeding the killer away in a dark-colored sedan, Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Funds to help Vidal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.

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Video released in slaying of El Monte fast food worker as family pleads for justice


EL MONTE >> Homicide detectives and distraught family members sought the public’s help Thursday in finding the masked gunman who fatally shot a 25-year-old El Monte man during a failed robbery at the fast food restaurant where he worked.
Juan Manuel Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the deadly Oct. 21 shooting at Jack in the Box, 9220 Flair Drive.
He had just graduated pharmacy school and was looking forward to starting a new career and a new life with his fiancee and high school sweetheart, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators and family members.
But his life was cut short when a would-be robber jumped over the restaurant counter where he was working, demanded money from the cash register and immediately fired a gunshot, according to Detective Adan Torres of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The killer remains at large.
Video: Detective Adan Torres discusses the fatal shooting
“He was my life and he’s gone now, and I don’t know why anyone would do this to him,” Vidal’s fiancee, Juliana Sasaki said through tears.
1027_nws_sgt-l-vidalmugHis mother, Mary Smay, said her son was a kind and loving man and urged anyone with information about the killer to come forward.
“If anybody knows who did this, who took my son from me, you need to turn him in,” she said. “He’s taken my life. He’s taken my son away,” she said.
“He left to work. I sit on the couch and I think he’s going to just come back,” Smay said.
Video: Victim’s mother pleads for help her son’s killer
Vidal’s killer remains at large, and detectives released surveillance video footage of the crime on Thursday in hopes of generating tips from the public.
Vidal was working as a cashier at the restaurant when the gunman entered wearing a mask and brandishing a revolver, Torres said.
The gunman jumped the counter, demanded money, pointed the gun at Vidal and immediately opened fire, officials said.
“It was so quick, he didn’t even have a chance to react,” the detective said.
The would-be robber then jumped back over the counter and fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The killer got into a waiting getaway car, described only as a dark-colored sedan, which drove away, Torres said. Detectives suspected he may have had an accomplice serving as a getaway driver.
The robber wore some type of mask over the top portion of his face which included a thick fake mustache and a large nose.
He also wore a light-blue long-sleeve T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts and black running shoes and a blue baseball cap with a vinyl or plastic brim.
Vidal grew up in El Monte and attended Arroyo High School, where he met his fiancee, Sasaki said.
He loved classic cars and enjoyed spending time working on his vehicles, she said.
“He was always so kind,” she said. “Everyone loved him. Even when he had nothing, he was always willing to help.”
Having recently graduated school as a pharmacy technician and receiving a job offer, “He was going to quit his job and start planning everything,” the fiancee said. The couple had yet to set a wedding date.
Vidal maintained a close relationship with his mother.
“He would be proud to say I was his mom, just like I was proud to say he was my son,” Smay said. “He was a kind, loving man. But to me, he’s always going to be by boy.”
Anyone with information is urged to call 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.
Funds to help Vidal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.

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PHOTOS [ABOVE] Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, of El Monte (courtesy). [BELOW] Family members and LASD homicide detectives ask the public for help in finding the killer of Juan Vidal on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Staff photo by Brian Day)

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El Monte man shot to death during failed restaurant robbery identified

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EL MONTE >> Authorities on Wednesday formally identified an El Monte man shot to death in a botched robbery at a fast food restaurant over the weekend as detectives continue gathering clues in the senseless killing.
Juan Manuel Vidal, 25, died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center less than 30 minutes after the shooting, which took place about 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Jack in the Box restaurant where he worked at 9220 Flair Drive, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operation at the Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The deadly failed robbery occurred very quickly, Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“It was just seconds. (The killer) was in and out,” he said.
It did not appear Vidal put up any resistance to the robbery attempt, the lieutenant said. “I don’t even think he had time.”
The gunman entered the business, jumped over the counter to the employee are of the store, brandished a handgun and announced that he was robbing the store, Rosson said.
Almost immediately, he pulled the trigger of his gun, mortally wounding Vidal.
Rosson said the gunman, who wore a Halloween mask, then fled from the restaurant empty-handed.
The restaurant sits just a few hundred yards from onramps to the 10 Freeway.
The gunman was believed to have gotten into a getaway car, but investigators were continuing to sort out conflicting descriptions of the vehicle, Rosson said.
ar-161029811Detectives were also sifting through “hours and hours” of surveillance camera footage from the restaurant as well as other nearby businesses in hopes of generating a suspect description, he said.
An excerpt from surveillance footage depicting the suspect was expected to be released by investigators during a press conference on Thursday.
Two other employees were working with Vidal at the time of the fatal shooting, Rosson said. One of them was on break and outside the building. The position of the other employee within the store was unclear.
The customer dining area inside the restaurant was empty when the botched robbery and fatal shooting took place.
Detectives suspected the fatal shooting was committed by a panicked or possibly intoxicated robber, and there was no indication that Vidal was specifically targeted, Rosson said.
Vidal turned 25 less than two weeks before the fatal shooting.
Vidal, “had a promising future,” according to Deputy Lillian Peck of the sheriff’s Information Bureau. He was engaged to be married and had recently graduated as a pharmacy technician at the time of his slaying.
He was a Volkswagen enthusiast and member of the DubFolks SoCal car club, according to the organizations Facebook page, where fellow members memorialized him and organized fundraisers to help his family. A car wash is planned for 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at outside Carl’s Jr., 18237 Colima Road in Rowland Heights. A meet-up and memorial ride are planned for noon on Saturday,. starting at Cal State Los Angeles’s Parking Structure C.
A fund to help his family with services has been established online at www.gofundme.com/2vh4f5w.
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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Fast food worker shot to death during botched robbery in El Monte

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EL MONTE >> A masked gunman shot and killed a 25-year-old fast food worker during what was believed to be a botched robbery at an El Monte Jack in the Box restaurant late Friday, authorities said.
The deadly shooting took place about 7:30 p.m. at the chain restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the investigation.
The suspect, who fled empty-handed following the apparent robbery attempt, remained at large Saturday.
1023_nws_sgt-l-restaurant2Authorities withheld the identity of the victim pending positive identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
“An armed, masked male entered the business and immediately jumped over the front service counter, where the victim was standing, in an apparent armed robbery attempt,” Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The suspect turned toward the victim and fired at least one shot, which struck the victim in the upper torso. The suspect immediately jumped back over the counter and fled the location,” Rouzan said.
The gunman was last seen running north from the restaurant. No suspect description was available.
El Monte police arrived first on the scene and administered first aid before paramedics took over treatment, officials said. The wounded man was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A sign affixed to the door of the restaurant where the victim worked on Saturday indicated the businesses would be closed until Monday.
“RIP Juan. 2 Corinthians 5:8. Home with Jesus,” was handwritten on the sign.
The King James Version of the scripture reads, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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DEVELOPING: Man fatally shot during possible restaurant robbery in El Monte


EL MONTE >> A man died after being shot during what was initially reported as a robbery at an El Monte fast food restaurant on Friday night, authorities said.
The fatal shooting was first reported as a robbery with a person down just before 8 p.m. at a Jack in the Box restaurant at 9220 Flair Drive, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting El Monte police in the homicide investigation.
A victim, described only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No suspects were in custody, and no further details were available as detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau continued their investigation late Friday, officials said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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El Monte gang members, including Mexican Mafia ‘shot caller,’ sentenced to prison in RICO case

LOS ANGELES >> Three gang members, including a “shot caller” who directed the gang on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, each received sentences of more than decade in prison stemming from a federal investigation targeting the El Monte Flores gang, authorities announced Friday.
Mexican Mafia shot caller James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 53, and EMF gang member Kenneth Cofer, 37, were sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison each, while co-defendant and fellow EMF member John Rivera, 54, was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months behind bars, U.S. Department of Justice Spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“We now have secured lengthy prison terms for key members of one of the oldest street gangs in Los Angeles County after using the federal racketeering statute to dismantle the organization’s leadership structure,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.
But the fight against gangs continues.
“Even with significant gains made by law enforcement, street gangs remain one of the most dangerous criminal elements in the region and a significant contributor to violent crime,” Decker said. “We are committed, however, to restoring order in neighborhoods affected by the violence and drug trafficking perpetrated by street gangs like the El Monte Flores gang.”
Gutierrez and Cofer pleaded guilty in April to violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, conspiracy to distribute drugs and conspiracy to launder money in connection with a 61-count indictment targeting 41 EMF members first unsealed in 2014.
Gutierrez served as a “shot caller,” directing activities of EMF at the behest of the Mexican Mafia.
Gutierrez acknowledged in his plea that he regularly extorted “taxes” from drug dealers operating in EMF’s claimed territory, and had authorized an attack on a rival gang member, Mrozek said. Prosecutors noted he has a lengthy criminal history, including a racketeering-related murder convictions that resulted in a 20-year prison sentence.
Gutierrez served a “pivotal role in the gang’s drug distribution, extortion, and violent activity,” according to the prosecution’ sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors described Gutierrez as the lead defendant in the case.
In addition the RICO and conspiracy charges, Cofer also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, Mrozek said.
Cofer admitted to managing and supervising the gang’s extortion and drug trafficking, including directing the use of violence on behalf of the gang, according to Mrozek. He admitted to authorizing the shooting of someone who had been involved in a dispute with a fellow gang member.
Rivera pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to violate the RICO Act and conspiracy distribute drugs.
Thirty-one of the 41 gang members names in the 2014 indictment have pleaded guilty in connection with the case, Mrozek said.
Gutierrez admitted to
Prosecutors claimed EMF was holding meeting and selling drugs from the Boys & Girls Club on Mountain View Road, which was closed a month after the indictment against the gang was unsealed.
In a related case, another EMF member, 30-year-old Christian “Bossy” Lafargo, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in federal prison in May after admitting to charges including conspiracy, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, committing violent crime in aid of racketeering and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

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El Monte woman arrested after pursuit in Irwindale

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IRWINDALE >> An El Monte woman wanted for an alleged cigarette lighter attack on her ex-boyfriend last month led Irwindale police on a short pursuit before being taken into custody early Thursday, officials said.
Jessica Magaly Ruvalcaba, 20, was booked on suspicion of felony domestic violence, evading a police officer, drunken driving and driving on a suspended license, according to Irwindale police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The chase began about 9:40 a.m. when an Irwindale officer spotted a gray Ford Mustang speeding at Irwindale Avenue and First Street and tried to pull it over, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“(Ruvalcaba) failed to yield and led officers on a pursuit that terminated approximately one mile later in the area of Cypress Street and Irwindale Avenue,” police said in a written statement. Ruvalcaba stopped her car and surrendered.
A woman riding as a passenger in the Mustang was questioned and released, police said.
While the chase was ongoing, the pursuing officer recognized the description of the Mustang from a previous call he had handled several weeks ago, Zendejas said.
Ruvalcaba had been sought since Sept. 9, when she burned her ex-boyfriend with a cigarette lighter during an argument that took place in the same car, also along Irwindale Avenue.
Ruvalcaba told her ex to get out of her car, Zendejas said. When he did not comply, she burned him in the upper body with a cigarette lighter.
The man was injured by declined to be taken to a hospital, the sergeant said. Ruvalcaba fled the scene before officers arrived.
According to county booking records, Ruvalcaba was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending her initial court appearance.

PHOTO Jessica Ruvalcaba, 20, of El Monte. (Courtesy, El Monte Police Department)

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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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