POMONA >> Police arrested a paroled gang member Saturday after he was found prowling around a Pomona neighborhood armed with a handgun and clad in a bullet-proof vest, officials said.
Nathan Daniel Ware, 31, of Pomona is accused of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and possession of body armor by a convicted felon, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
Police received information shortly before 12:30 p.m. that a man with a gun had been spotted on the roof of a home in the 1400 block of Edgehill Drive, police said. Officers found Ware walking down the street nearby.
“Officers detained suspect Ware and found that he was wearing a ballistic vest and armed with 9mm handgun,” according to the police statement. “The reason he was on the roof was unexplained.”
Ware, described by police as a gang member who is on parole, has a criminal history including a conviction for assault likely to cause great bodily injury in March of 2013, according to San Bernardino County Superior Court records.
In Los Angeles County, he was convicted of transporting drugs in 2003, possession of narcotics for sale in 2007 and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2010, records show.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ware was being held without bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.
A Baldwin Park man Wednesday admitted participating in a San Gabriel Valley-based drug distribution conspiracy Wednesday and admitted fatally shooting a man in La Puente in 2006, federal officials said.
Eddie “Criminal” Garcia, 39, faces up to 30 years in federal prison when he returns to court in Los Angeles for sentencing Jan. 25, U.S. Assistant Attorney Mack Jenkins said. But under the plea deal, the prosecution and defense agreed to recommend a prison term of 18 to 24 years to the presiding judge.
Garcia pleaded guilty to participating in a drug distribution conspiracy which included murder, Jenkins explained.
The charge stems from a 2010 investigation targeting the Puente 13 street gang’s drug activities in the San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
“In addition to participating in drug trafficking activities that include collecting ‘taxes’ or ‘rent’ on behalf of the Mexican Mafia member who controlled Puente 13, Garcia admitted that he murdered another gang member who failed to… make those extortion payments,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Garcia and two other gang members who have since been convicted in connection with the slaying shot and killed 44-year-old David Dragna of East Valinda after luring him to an apartment complex in the 14700 block of Pritchard Street in La Puente on July 3, 2006, according to DOJ and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
Officials described Garcia as a former member of the 18th Street gang, while Dragna was part of the Townsmen gang.
The 18th Street gang, Townsmen and Puente 13 all operate under the leadership of the Mexican Mafia, Jenkins said.
As part of the same investigation that led to Garcia’s conviction, the then-leader of the Puente 13 gang and his brother were sentenced to life in federal prison in 2013.
The investigation was a joint effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
NORWALK >> A gunman shot and wounded two men early Sunday in a residential Norwalk neighborhood, authorities said.
The shooting took place just after midnight at Lowemont Street and Horst Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ralph Gama said.
A man was stopped in his car talking to an acquaintance who was standing on the sidewalk when a white Toyota Camry came to a stop in front of them, the sergeant said.
“The passenger exited and started shooting at the victims,” Gama said.
The man on the sidewalk was struck in the chest and face, he said. The victim in the car was struck in the arm and torso.
The victims managed to drive to the home of a family member, who called for help, Gama said.
Both wounded men, who were in their 20s, were hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
The shooter and gunman were last seen driving south out of the area, Gama said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
Investigators suspected the shooting was gang-related.
PASADENA >> A gang member tossed a loaded handgun into a playground crowded with children before being arrested Friday evening, officials said.
Kent Cedric Loweery, also listed in records as Kent Cedric Lowery, 19, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of child endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon following the 7 p.m. incident at Robinson Park, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Gang officers were patrolling in the area when they spotted Loweery and another man walking in the park, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said. The officers recognized the two as local gang members.
As the officers got out of their car and approached the men on foot, “They saw Loweery toss an object into a playground that had about 10 children playing in it,” Mercado said. The item turned out to be a loaded .38-caliber revolver.
“Officers were able to detain Loweery and immediately went back and recovered the gun,” the lieutenant said.
Loweery’s companion was not arrested.
According to booking records, Loweery was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
COVINA >> Police jailed a gang member after finding him carrying a loaded handgun and 16 grams of methamphetamine at a Covina bowling alley Friday night, officials said.
A reported argument between rival gang members about 7:20 p.m. first drew police to the Brunswick Covina Bowl, 1060 W. San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Tony Zavala said.
Gabriel Christian Reed, a 24-year-old documented gang member from West Covina, began walking away when officers arrived but was quickly detained, he said.
“He had a loaded 9mm (handgun) in his pocket, along with 16 grams of methamphetamine,” Zavala said.
Reed was booked on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, possession of methamphetamine for sales and possession of a firearm with narcotics, the sergeant said.
Reed crossed paths with authorities less than two months ago when he was the victim of a shooting in an unincorporated county area near West Covina, officials said.
He suffered a gunshot wound to his back about 3:20 p.m. June 10 in the 4000 block of Frijo Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards. Few details were available, as the victim did not appear to be cooperating with investigators.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
LA PUENTE >> No wounded victims were initially found after a gun battle unfolded on a residential Le Puente street between two shooters in two cars and another person at a home, officials said.
The exchange of gunfire was first reported shortly after 2 p.m. in the 300 block of Lang Avenue.
Two attackers in two passing cars, described as a gray Jeep Liberty and an older-model Nissan Maxima, opened fire with a handgun and a rifle, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The intended target, who was not struck, returned fire.
The rear window of the Nissan Maxima’s had been shot out, but it was unclear if anyone inside the vehicle was struck by the gunfire, Sgt. Liza Vera said.
Both vehicles were last seen heading south on Lang Avenue, officials said. Initial reports from the scene indicated the suspects were five men and one woman, and they were armed with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle.
The intended shooting victim, a man in his mid- to late-20s, was believed to have former gang ties, Lt. Rick Thurlo said.
He apparently received word that attackers were coming after him, and armed himself as he awaited their arrival, the lieutenant added.
It was not clear Sunday afternoon whether the man would be arrested.
The shooting appeared to be gang-related, and sheriff’s gang detectives are handling the investigation, Vera said.
PASADENA >> A judge sentenced a Pasadena gang member to prison Wednesday for his role in luring a 20-year-old woman to a Pasadena market, where she was ambushed and fatally shot in 2008, authorities said.
Roberto Barajas Jr., 37, received a prison term of 50 years to life for the Aug. 19, 2008, shooting death of Jennifer Ortega outside a small shopping center in the 1800 block of Villa Street, said Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich, who prosecuted the case.
Pasadena gang member Barajas, along with several other suspects have not been charged with the killing, killed Ortega, a gang members, because she had cooperated with police regarding a drug case four months before, the prosecutor said.
The gang had “green lighted” her for execution, he said.
“She was lured to that location by some friends,” Mrakich said. “She was cornered by the defendant and four other people and shot three times in the back.”
Several additional suspects were initially arrested in connection with the killing, but only Barajas was ultimately charged in connection with the fatal shooting, Mrakich said. There was insufficient evidence to move forward with cases against the other suspects, Mrakich said.
Barajas drove the attackers to and from the shooting scene, though he was not believed to be the shooter, Mrakich said.
Scents detected by police dogs on the spent bullet casings recovered from the scene matched Barajas, indicating he had handled the bullets used to shoot Ortega prior to the killing, Mrakich said.
The fatal ambush stemmed from a drug arrest that took place about four months earlier, Mrakich said. After being caught with methamphetamine, Ortega told investigators that it belonged to a fellow gang member, he said. That gang member received a year behind bars as a result of the drug case.
Word of Ortega’s cooperation with police, as well as police documents, circulated through the gang, Mrakich said. A vague letter from a gang member in prison appearing to instruct fellow gang members to take action against Ortega was found in the possession of one of the suspects who was not charged. Mrakich likened the letter to a “death warrant.”
Ortega had no listed city of residence, but was believed to be staying with friends in the Pasadena area, police said.
Pasadena Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover handed down Barajas’ sentence after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder May 1 following a six-week trial, officials said. The jury also found true the special allegations that the killing was gang-related, and that a gun was used in the crime.
Candles in front of a photograph of Victor J. McClinton, is posted during a Candlelight Memorial in Remembrance of Victor J. McClinton, on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, Thursday, December 27, 2012. On Christmas Day, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employee and youth sport volunteer, Victor J. McClinton was shot and killed, when he was caught in the cross fire between two gang members. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY)
LOS ANGELES >> A judge declared a mistrial Thursday after a jury became deadlocked in the case of two alleged gang members charged with capital murder for the fatal shooting of an innocent bystander investigators say became caught in gang crossfire in Pasadena on Christmas Day in 2012.
Reputed Bloods gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino, and Jerron Donald Harris 27, of Pasadena, have been charged with murder and other crimes in connection with the Dec. 25, 2012, shooting that left 49-year-old Victor McClinton of Pasadena dead in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue in Pasadena.
After a trial that lasted more than a month, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury hung with respect to both defendants, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
The jury hung 9-3 in favor of convicting Bishop of all charges, and 7-5 in favor of acquitting Harris, Risling said.
Judge Curtis Rappe declared a mistrial. It was unclear Thursday whether prosecutors would pursue a second trial.
“Our office hasn’t made a decision on whether to retry the case,” Risling said.
McClinton was walking with a friend to deposit a Christmas gift in the friend’s car when Bishop and Harris both opened fire on a rival gang member, police and prosecutors allege. McClinton became caught in the crossfire.
But the man allegedly targeted in the shooting, who was wounded in the hand, testified at a preliminary hearing that Bishop and Harris were not his assailants.
The two defendants were each charges with murder with special circumstances of discharging a firearm from a moving vehicle and murder to benefit a criminal street gang, attempted murder, two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
McClinton was a father of two, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department law enforcement technician of 18 years and a youth coach who founded the nonprofit Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League in Pasadena.
Bishop had benefitted from the state’s prison realignment of 2011, also known as AB 109, officials said. Under the sentencing guidelines, he was able to serve less than one year of a two-year sentence for a previous assault with a deadly weapon as a “nonviolent, non-serious” offender in county jail, rather than state prison. Also as a result of AB 109, Bishop was released from custody without parole supervision about six months before McClinton’s slaying. He had two prior felony convictions as well.
MONTEBELLO >> Prosecutors have charged three additional suspects in connection with the alleged rape and murder of a 15-year-old Montebello girl on her way to school more than 12 years ago.
The three men join a woman who is already awaiting trial on charges related to the Oct., 2002, slaying of Brenda Sierra, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Eddie Chavira, 20, Daniel Cervantes, 35 and George Barraza, 35, were added to a felony complaint alleging murder and other charges already filed against Rosemary Chavira, 28, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Rosemary Chavira, Cervantes and Barraza are each charged with murder, conspiracy to dissuade a witness and forcible rape, along with the special circumstance of murder during the commission of a kidnapping to benefit a street gang, court documents show.
Eddie Chavira faces charges of murder and conspiracy to intimidate a witness.
Sierra was on her way to Schurr High School in Montbello when she was kidnapped on Oct. 18, 2002.
“She was raped and killed,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Her body was found the following day in the Crestline area of the San Bernardino Mountains. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.
Sierra had no gang ties, investigators said. But she may have been killed so send a message to the community to keep quiet about gang violence.
In the days before Sierra’s kidnapping and slaying, “Eddie Chavira was in custody for a shooting witnessed by victim Brenda Sierra’s relative,” the district attorney’s office statement said. “Chavira told a fellow Lott gang member that he was going to have other Lott gang members take care of a witness. About the same time, he contacted his (then-)15-year-old sister, Rosemary Chavira, to assist in getting other gang members to take care of witnesses.”
Eddie Chavira and Daniel Cervantes are each serving prison time for previous convictions, authorities said. Investigators arrested Rosemary Chavira in February. Barraza remains a fugitive.
Rosemary Chavira has pleaded not guilty to her charges and is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.
Arraignment dates were yet to be scheduled for Eddie Chavira and Cervantes.
Because Rosemary Chavira was herself a teen at the time of the killing, she faces a maximum penally of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charges, prosecutors said. Eddie Chavira faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Cervantes and Barraza’s alleged crimes make them eligible for the death penalty under California law, however authorities have not yet determined whether to seek capital punishment in the case.
PHOTO of Brenda Sierra – courtesy
WHITTIER >> A man was shot five times, but is expected to survive, following a drive-by shooting in a Whittier alley late Friday, police said.
The victim, a 40-year-old Whittier man, was walking about 8:20 p.m. in an alley along the 12800 block of Penn Street, just east of Milton Avenue, when an assailant in a passing car fired seven shots, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
Five of the bullets struck the man, wounding him in the torso, arm and leg, the lieutenant said. He was taken to an area hospital where he was expected to survive his injuries.
The victim has ties to a Los Angeles Street gang and the shooting is believed to be gang-related, Dean said.
A suspect description was not available, he added. The victim did not cooperate with investigators, and other witnesses provided conflicting descriptions of the involved car.