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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$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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