Wrestling coach at El Monte high school denies allegations of sex with 3 underage students

EL MONTE >> A wrestling coach from an El Monte high school initially arrested on suspicion of carrying on a sexual relationship with one underage female student denied 20 sex crime charges after the allegations expanded to include a total of three students in crimes dating back to 2015, authorities said.
Part-time Arroyo High School wrestling coach David Vaca, 21, of West Covina pleaded not guilty to seven counts of oral copulation of a person under 18, six counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, six counts of penetration by a foreign object involving a minor and one count of sodomy on a person under 16 years old, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
El Monte police arrested Vaca Wednesday after learning of allegations of a sexual relationship between him and a 16-year-old female student between December of 2016 and January, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said. He initially accused of four felony sex crimes.
But as the investigation continued, prosecutors added two additional victims to the case, along with additional criminal charges.
“At separate times, the defendant allegedly had sexual relationships with three female students from the high school between June 1, 2015, and Jan. 28, 2017,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Prosecutors requested bail be set at $965,000. He was initially held in lieu of $60,000 bail following his arrest Wednesday.
After entering his plea on Friday, Vaca was scheduled to return to Pomona Superior Court on Feb. 21 for a pre-preliminary hearing, court officials said.
Anyone with information can reach El Monte police at 626-580-2110. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of David Vaca, 21, of West Covina courtesy of the El Monte Police Department.

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Stolen car pursuit leads from El Monte to Baldwin Park, ends with crash on 10 Freeway


BALDWIN PARK >> Police and California Highway Patrol officer jailed an auto theft suspect who led them on a pursuit from El Monte before crashing into a CHP cruiser in Baldwin Park while fleeing in the wrong direction of traffic on the 10 Freeway, authorities said.
The suspect was found and taken into custody nearby, and no officers were hurt in the incident, which began shortly before 9 p.m. in El Monte, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said. Authorities briefly shut down the westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway following the collision, but quickly reopened them.
A LoJack vehicle anti-theft signal first attracted the attention of El Monte police to the vehicle, officials said.
The driver failed to pull over for police, initiating a chase that reached high speeds and travelled on the wrong side of the roadway more than once.
The CHP took over the pursuit as the driver made his way onto the 60 Freeway. Shortly after he began heading east in the westbound lanes of the freeway, he collided with a CHP cruiser near Baldwin Park Boulevard, Polizzi said.
It was not immediately clear whether the CHP officer crashed into the suspect intentionally or unintentionally.
The driver got out of the crashed car and continued to flee on foot, but was soon captured in a nearby neighborhood, officials said.
CHP officials could not confirm initial radio reports from the scene that a gun was recovered from inside the suspect’s stolen car.
No further details were available late Wednesday.

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Part-time wrestling coach at Arroyo High School in El Monte accused of sex with teenage girl

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EL MONTE >> Police jailed a part-time wrestling coach at Arroyo High School on Wednesday on suspicion of carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl, authorities said.
David Vaca Jr., 21, of West Covina is accused of four felonies related to child molestation, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said in a written statement. And detectives were seeking any possible additional victims.
“Between December 2016 and January 2017, the suspect, David Vaca, engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female victim,” Luna said. “The crimes occurred at various locations in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte.”
Vaca works as a part-time wrestling coach at Arroyo High School in El Monte, Luna said. It was unclear late Wednesday whether the alleged victim was a student at the campus.
Vaca was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, county booking records show.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or via email at tips@empd.org. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of David Vaca Jr. courtesy of the El Monte Police Department

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Caught on camera: Man and woman sought in El Monte convenience store robbery


EL MONTE >> Police are asking the public’s help in identifying a tattoo-faced man and woman who took customers hostage during an armed robbery at an El Monte convenience store over the weekend.
The crime unfolded just after midnight on Sunday at Circle K, 5202 Peck Road, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said.
“Both (robbers) came in armed,” he said.
The male gunman demanded money from the clerk as his female accomplice pointed her handgun at two customers who tried to leave and forced them to stay in the store during the robbery, the sergeant said.
After obtaining cash from the employee, the suspect fled from the store and were last seen running south toward Hemlock Street, police said.
Police described one of the robbers as a Latino man of about 35 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, with a mustache, a “soul patch” goatee and a eagle tattoo on the right side of his face. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and gray tennis shoes, and carried a black-and-gray semi-automatic handgun.
The second robber was a Latina woman of about 17 or 18 years old, 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 4 inches tall, 110 to 120 pounds, with gray hair and blue eyes. She wore a hooded sweater and gray pants and she carried a chrome semi-automatic handgun.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or via email at tips@empd.org. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
“Both suspects are considered armed and dangerous,” Luna added.

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PHOTO/VIDEO courtesy of the El Monte Police Department

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El Monte man accused of trying to arrange sex with teen in South Whittier

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Deputies jailed an El Monte man this week after showed up in South Whittier to meet who he believed was a 15-year-old girl for sex, but was instead greeted by detectives, officials said.
Pedro Ivan Reyes-Peralta, 21, was booked on suspicion of arranging a meeting with a juvenile for a lewd act or purpose, and contacting a minor to commit a sex crime, following his arrest on Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
(Reyes-Peralta) began communicating with an undercover detective on Tuesday, after he posted a Craigslist ad seeking sex,” Lt. Kent Wegener of the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Bureau said in a written statement. “The detective was posing as a 15 year-old girl and it was made clear that she was under age.”
After additional online communication, Reyes-Peralta arranged a meeting in South Whittier, Wegener said. He was arrested upon arrival.
“The suspect implicated himself during subsequent questioning,” the lieutenant added.
Sgt. Peter Hahn offered some words of caution for parents.
“Social media sites can be very hazardous places for minors. “Predators are actively seeing juveniles to exploit and victimize, since they believe they are hidden by the anonymous nature of the internet,” he said. “Parents are reminded to actively monitor the internet activity of their children, to prevent anyone from taking advantage of them.”
Reyes-Peralta was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.

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Temple City man charged with murder, other crimes in alleged crime spree culminating in samurai sword slaying

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TEMPLE CITY >> Prosecutors filed murder and other charges against a Temple City man accused of killing a woman with a Samurai sword and stabbing two other people amid a violent crime spree on Wednesday.
John Ralph Perales, 44, is accused of murder, three counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the series of alleged attacks, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. He’s also accused of the special allegation of personal use of weapons during the crimes.
He showed up at the home of 44-year-old neighbor Diane Christine Alarcon in the 6000 block of Temple City Boulevard about noon, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said. A 42-year-old San Gabriel man, described as a friend of Alarcon’s, was also visiting.
“While spending some time there with Alarcon and another male guest, an argument ensued and Perales allegedly struck both Alarcon and the male with a wrench,” according to Ardalani.
Perales then grabbed an ornamental samurai-style sword hanging on the wall at the victim’s home and stabbed both Alarcon and her visitor with it, Corina said. Alarcon died at the scene. The wounded man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Alarcon’s 10-year-old son was home at the time of the attack, but was unhurt, Corina said.
Perales surrendered to deputies as deputies were searching the neighborhood for him, officials said.
Hours earlier, detectives and prosecutors allege Perales stabbed his ex-girlfriend and her adult son at their home in the 3400 block of Whistler Avenue in El Monte.
He arrived there about 2 a.m., El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said.
“After spending some time there, Perales allegedly crawled on top of his ex-girlfriend as she was sleeping, woke her up and then stabbed her,” Ardalani said. The woman’s 22-year-old son tried to intervene and was also stabbed and injured. An update on the conditions of the mother and son was not available Friday.
Detectives were also investigating Perales in connection with a Rosemead carjacking that occurred in between the two stabbing incidents, however charges had not been filed for that alleged crime.
Perales has a lengthy criminal record including convictions for false imprisonment by violence in 2014; carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in 2011; being a prisoner in possession of a weapon and auto theft in 2001; attempted burglary in 1996; burglary in 1992; and acting as an accessory to a crime after the fact in 1991.
He entered no plea in court on Friday. His arraignment hearing was postponed to Feb. 2 in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ardalani said. In the meantime, bail has been set at $6.21 million.
If convicted as charged, Perales could face a sentence of life in prison.

PHOTO by Walt Mancini

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Man opens fire on El Monte police during pursuit, suspect arrested in Baldwin Park


EL MONTE >> A fleeing suspect fired gunshots at El Monte police during a high-speed pursuit before he was taken into custody in Baldwin Park late Wednesday.
Richard Cortez, 26, of Baldwin Park was ultimately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer, evading police, resisting arrest, burglary and hit-and-run, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said.
“He’s shooting at my vehicle,” an officer is heard calmly saying over the radio as the chase sped down the 60 Freeway. “My windshield’s now broken. We’re still westbound. Probably about five or six rounds.”
The incident began about 10 p.m. in the southwest portion of the city, when an officer spotted and began following a suspicious car, according to the sergeant.
When the officer tried to stop the car for a traffic violation, the driver sped away, initiating a chase that worked its way to the 60 freeway.
While on the 60 Freeway, the suspect opened fire on pursuing officers several times, Luna said. One officer initially believed his patrol car had been struck, but no damage was ultimately found.
Police continued chasing the suspect, who reached speeds as high as 100 mph, as he got onto the 10 Freeway and ultimately exited at Frazier Avenue in Baldwin Park.
He was involved in a minor crash with a parked car as he ditched his vehicle and continued to flee on foot.
Cortez fled through the neighborhood and broke into a home before he was apprehended with the help of a police K-9, Luna said. Television news helicopters broadcast footage of the chase arrest.
He was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to booking, officials said.
No additional suspects were believed to be outstanding.
The investigation was ongoing, Luna said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Cortez was previously convicted of vandalism, brandishing a handgun and burglary in 2016; fighting in public and spousal abuse in 2013; possession of methamphetamine in 2012; and being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2010.
Cortez was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, county booking records show.

Audio courtesy of @LABasinScanner on Twitter

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UPDATE: Man fatally shot by police following pursuit in El Monte


EL MONTE >> Police in El Monte shot and killed a man as he allegedly charged at officers with an SUV late Friday, authorities said.
The incident took place about 9:35 p.m. at Esto Avenue and Fieldcrest Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. Detectives from the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are handling the investigation into the officer-involved shooting.
The identity of the suspect was not released Saturday pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Capt. John Kades said.
Prior to the shooting, El Monte tried to pull over a mid-size SUV near Valley Boulevard and Tyler Avenue, suspecting that the driver was intoxicated, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau. The driver refused to stop, starting a pursuit.
The suspect crashed into another motorist during the chase and continued fleeing, she said. The driver of the car struck by the suspect was not hurt.
Police continued chasing the SUV until it came to a stop at the intersection of Esto Avenue and Fieldcrest Street, Schrader said. Officers got out of their cars and approached the suspect.
“The suspect then drove into the cul-de-sac, turned around and drove towards the officers, who were standing outside their vehicles,” Schrader said. “An officer-involved shooting occurred.”
Paramedics pronounced the wounded suspect dead at the scene.
Three officers fired their weapons in the incident, officials said. No officers were injured.
Another El Monte officer collided with a civilian car while responding to the pursuit. The driver of that car was treated for injuries described by officials as minor.
Further details were not available.
Anyone with information was urged 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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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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