PASADENA >> Police and FBI officials released surveillance video on Friday depicting a man suspected off tossing a homemade explosive device into a crowded Pasadena Cheesecake Factory restaurant last month and offered a $20,000 reward for information in the case.
No one was hurt during the bizarre incident, which took place just after 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the restaurant at 2 W. Colorado Blvd. But the unexplained attack left nerves on edge, and investigators continue seeking the man responsible.
The FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information leading the arrest of the person or people responsible for the incident, said Deidre Fike, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Investigators have been gathering clues, interviewing witnesses and following leads since Feb. 2, but the case remains unsolved.
“As we have exhausted those leads, the FBI is offering a reward up to $20,000 for any information that leads to tips and information that identifies the individual or group involved in this act,” Fike said.
To that end, authorities released surveillance camera video footage from a Ralph’s grocery store at 320 W. Colorado Blvd., where Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said the suspect went immediately after the “homemade pyrotechnic device” was tossed into the restaurant. The footage shows a bearded man with a pigeon-toed gate walking through the store.
The video, “captured images of the suspect wearing a white T-shirt and carrying dark clothing, originally worn at the time of the incident,” Sanchez said.
The suspect is later seen discarding the black item of clothing in a trash can. The garment was not recovered, Sanchez said.
Police have described the suspect as a possibly Latino or Middle Eastern man of about 6 feet tall, with a heavy beard, wearing all-black clothing.
Sanchez said investigators had conducted surveillance on another man who turned out not to be involved.
Officials declined to describe the recovered explosive device in detail. It was unclear whether it had detonated to its full potential, or malfunctioned. The device caused only minor damage inside the restaurant.
Mayor Terry Tornek previously said the device was more akin to a firecracker than a bomb.
And the intent of the man who lobbed the device also remains unknown.
“The truth of the matter is we don’t know, and our evidence will take us where we need to be. If it was an elaborate prank, that’s what the evidence will show. If it was something greater than that, we have extraordinary investigators in the FBI and the Pasadena Police Department.”
Between the reward and the clear video footage, Fike said investigators were optimistic that new information will come to light.
“We believe that once this video is released, it will lead to tips coming in that will support the investigation, she said.
“Until we really identify who the individual is, determine the motive for this action and have an opportunity to interview him and any associates, we really don’t know,’ Fike said.
“We have no reason right now, we have no evidence to believe it was a terrorist attack. But again, we do not know the motive, and that’s why we’re reaching out to the community,” she said.
Once the suspect has been identified and interviewed, “We’ll follow the facts from there.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles tip line at 800-225-5324. Tipsters can remain anonymous, Fike said.
The FBI is seeking a possibly sleep deprived serial bank robber dubbed the “Baggy Eyes Bandit” in connection with a spate of six bank heists in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside counties dating back to late-February, officials said.
The bandit, who earned his nickname due to witnesses describing him as having “baggy eyes,” is linked to five bank robberies and one failed bank robbery, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
“The suspect known as the Baggy Eyes Bandit enters the bank branch and passes a note to the victim tellers demanding cash while threatening a weapon,” Eimiller said in a written statement. “No weapon has been seen by witnesses, however, the suspect should be considered potentially armed and dangerous.”
Each of the robberies took place at Citibank branches.
Eimiller said the serial robber has been linked to a robbery Wednesday at a Norco branch; an Aug. 4 robbery at a Chino Hills branch; a July 14 heist at a Rancho Cucamonga branch; a March 4 failed robbery in Arcadia; a March 4 robbery in Placentia and a Feb 29 robbery in Glendora.
In each case, the bandit was last seen fleeing on foot. No getaway car has been reported in connection with the crimes.
He’s described as a white man in hiss mid-20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, of thin build. He wears a dark baseball cap during the robberies, and some victims described him as having a Middle Eastern accent.
Anyone with information can reach the 24-hour tip line of the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 310-477-6565. Anyone who spots the bandit is urged to call 911.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
SAN MARINO >> Police in San Marino are seeking two men who carried out an armed bank robbery Thursday afternoon.
The robbery took place at 1:52 p.m. at One West Bank, 900 Huntington Drive, according to San Marino police Detective Brian Wong.
The two robbers entered the bank and one of them pulled a handgun and pointed at a teller working behind the counter, Wong said in a written statement.
“The victim backed up and (the gunman) jumped over the counter and removed currency from several bank drawers,” Wong said. “(He then jumped back over the counter and both suspects fled out the same front door.”
Both robbers fled the scene in a red SUV with an undisclosed amount of cash, he said.
Police described both robbers as black men, between 20 and 30 years old.
One was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of thin build, wearing a light-colored long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap with an unknown logo on the front. The second robber was heavy-set, wearing a light-colored shirt, tan shorts and a baseball cap.
The FBI joined San Marino police in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wong at 626-300-0719. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A judge sentenced a gang member to more than three decades in prison for killing an 11-year-old boy and his 25-year-old cousin when he crashed an SUV into their family’s minivan in Pasadena on Christmas Day of 2012.
The Pasadena jury found Darrell Lee Williams, 25, guilty in November of two counts of manslaughter and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash at Marengo Avenue and Maple Street, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago. The conviction was his third strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. He was acquitted of a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dorothy L. Shubin sentenced Williams to 30 years to life in prison, Santiago said.
Killed were Tracey Ong Tan of Glendale and Kendrick Ng of Daly City. Ng was visiting relatives for the holidays. Ng’s parents and sister suffered serious injuries.
Williams was fleeing from an FBI SUV, driven by an FBI agent with a Pasadena police officer riding as a passenger, that had tried to pull over the Dodge Durango Williams was driving, authorities said.
“Williams refused to stop because he had a firearm in the SUV while on parole and a high-speed chase began,” Santiago said in a written statement.
William’s girlfriend and passenger in the fleeing SUV, 23-year-old Brittany Washington of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2014 and received a two-year jail sentence, officials said.
The fatal pursuit occurred as Pasadena police and FBI agents were conducting gang-suppression patrols following the fatal shooting of community youth coach and sheriff’s department employee Victor McClinton, 49, of Pasadena earlier on the same deadly Christmas Day in Pasadena.
A Los Angeles jury continued deliberating Friday in the case of alleged gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, accused of gunning down McClinton with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member.
The trial is the second for Bishop and Harris after a jury failed to reach a verdict in their first trial last July.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A suspect arrested Thursday following a Santa Fe Springs bank robbery is believed to be a serial bandit sought for previous heists in Anaheim and Orange, police said Friday.
Police arrested Ryan Thomas See, 25, of La Palma minutes after Thursday’s 2:50 p.m. robbery at a Chase branch at Telegraph and Carmenita roads in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was taken into custody as he attempted to flee in an Uber car, officials said.
“(See) presented the teller with a demand note, claiming he had a bomb and warned he would detonate it if police or others were alerted,” Whittier police said in a written statement. “The teller complied and handed over nearly $6,000 in cash.”
Officers arrested him around the corner in South Whittier as he attempted to enter a getaway car, later found to be an Uber car he had reserved, occupied by a female driver, police and FBI officials said.
A witness aided in the capture by following the suspect from the bank and reporting his position to police, Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The stolen cash was recovered.
Following his arrest, investigators working with the FBI determined See was the suspected “Windy City Bandit,” sought for bank robberies at Chase banks in Anaheim on Oct. 5 and in Orange on Tuesday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The FBI gave him the moniker due to a beanie emblazoned with a Chicago Bears logo he wore during the alleged crimes, she said.
See was initially booked on suspicion of bank robbery and making criminal threats at the Whittier Police Department, but was later turned over to federal custody to face federal prosecution, Eimiller said.
Upon being confronted with bank surveillance photos from the previous Orange County robberies, “See stated that he was the person in all three of the bank surveillance photographs,” FBI Agent Steve May wrote in a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court.
See claimed that he committed the robberies because he owed a “Mexican guy” money for drugs, but did not know man’s name, according to the complaint.
The defendant said the unnamed accomplice drove him to the scenes of the first two robberies. See told investigators he took an Uber car to get to the third robbery.
“See stated that he was pressured by the Mexican guy to go to that bank and rob that bank,” May wrote. “See further stated that if See did not do as instructed, the Mexican guy would harm/shoot his family.”
He was ordered held without bail during his initial court appearance Friday, Eimiller said.
BANK SURVEILLANCE IMAGES courtesy of the FBI.
NORWALK >> A man accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing his disabled neighbor in Norwalk before fleeing to Guatemala returned to the U.S. Friday to face charges, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, was extradited back to Los Angeles County via LAX following his Dec. 4 arrest in San Miguel, Escuinta, Guatemala, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Diofron is suspected in the brutal stabbing death of 50-year-old Denise Battey Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials
He’s charged with murder, with the special circumstances of rape and burglary, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After Diofron allegedly fled the country, federal authorities also charged the suspect with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. But the federal case is expected to be dismissed as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the murder case.
Diofron, who was living near Battey while in the U.S. on a work visa, attacked and sexually assaulted Battery as she watered her garden, according to sheriff’s officials and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
He then dragged her inside her home and stabbed her to death, authorities allege.
Denise Battey worked as a system support analyst for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students in college preparation part time, according to her twin sister, Annese Battey. She was an avid gardener and a classic movie buff.
And the victim was defenseless against her attacker, authorities and family members said. She had just undergone back surgery and suffered from severe sciatica in her left leg.
Diofron was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTOS: TOP: Murder suspect Luis Fernando Diofron (courtesy). BELOW: Homicide victim Denise Battey (courtesy)
FULLERTON >> A serial bank robber dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” who had been linked by the FBI to 10 bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, is in custody following his most recent alleged caper in Brea, authorities said.
The prolific serial bandit, identified as Jonathan Wade Oechsle, 42, of Anaheim, was jailed Thursday by Fullerton police following his final robbery in Brea, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. He made his initial court appearance Friday at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The Quad Bandit was already being sought in connection with nine crimes at banks in Los Angeles and Orange counties — including one in La Habra — since late March, officials said. The FBI have him his nickname because he started his alleged spree with four robberies and attempted robberies at Buena Park banks on March 22.
After robbing the Bank of the West, 311 S. State College Blvd. in Brea, Thursday afternoon, Fullerton police spotted the robber driving in a silver Chevrolet Cavalier, Brea police Lt. Darrin Devereaux said in a written statement.
“Fullerton officers pursued the suspect approximately two miles until he crashed into a curb in the 1600 block of Sjyline (Drive) in Fullerton,” Devereaux said. “The suspect surrendered to officers at the scene without further incident.”
Other robberies and attempted bank robberies attributed to Oechsle occurred July 23 in Anaheim Hills, in Anaheim on July 15, La Habra on July 3, and twice in Cerritos on June 16, according to the FBI.
PHOTO courtesy of the FBI.
The FBI is seeking a serial bank robbery they’ve dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” whose robbed or attempted to rob nine banks in Orange and Los Angeles counties since April, officials said Friday.
The bandit earned his moniker at the outset of his spree when he struck four Buena Park banks on March 22, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. Three of the crimes at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase branches failed, while one at a Chase bank was successful.
The robber then showed up in Cerritos March 16, where he tried unsuccessfully to rob a Wells Fargo before successfully robbing a Chase bank later the same day, officials said.
The Quad Bandit robbed a La Habra U.S. Bank branch July 3, followed by an Opus Bank branch in Anaheim on July 15 and a Union Bank branch in Anaheim Hills on Wednesday.
“During the robberies, the suspect known as the Quad Bandit typically passes a note and makes a verbal demand for cash,” Eimilller said. “In some of the robberies, the Quad Bandit has threatened a weapon, or has appeared to have gestured toward what might be a weapon, according to victims.”
In a bank surveillance photo released by the FBI from a Buena Park crime, the bandit is seen holding up a piece of paper toward the teller’s window with the words, “bank robbery,” written on it.
The FBI described the bandit as white, 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 to 160 grounds. he had dirty blond hair, a goatee and stubble during the crimes, during which he wore sunglasses and baseball caps.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
WEST COVINA — A telephoned bomb threat caused a stir at the FBI’s office in West Covina, but was ultimately determined to be unfounded, authorities said.
A call was placed to the Whittier Police Department shortly before 4:20 p.m. threatening to detonate a bomb at the FBI building, 1050 Lakes Drive, Suite 350, West Covina police Sgt. Ken Plunkett said.
West Covina police joined FBI agents at the scene, and determined within half an hour that the threat was not credible, the sergeant said.
The FBI would be handling the investigation into the identity of the caller, he said.
INDUSTRY — Federal search warrants were served at a local business Friday morning, FBI officials said.
FBI spokeswoman Arielle Dekofsky said the warrants served at 15305 Stafford Street were due to an ongoing investigation.
However, she didn’t say what the investigation was about and didn’t name the business.
There were reportedly no arrests.
The address comes back to IKON Motorsports Inc. which was incorporated on March 6, 2007, according to the California Secretary of State online records.
Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday night.
– Ruby Gonzales