Young El Monte man and woman killed in Boyle Heights car-to-car attack

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BOYLE HEIGHTS >> Coroner’s officials have identified a young man and woman from El Monte who died Sunday after a gunman opened fire on the car in Boyle Heights, sending it careening into a house.
Henry Sanchez, 19, and Maria Cordova, 18, died following Sunday’s 11 a.m. attack at Enchandia Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. Coroner’s officials could not confirm reports that the woman was pregnant.
Sanchez was at the wheel of a white sedan with Cordova and another man riding as passengers when two attackers approached in a mid-size, black SUV, Los Angeles Police Department officials said in a written statement.
At least one of the attackers opened fire as the sedan was stopped at a red light, striking Sanchez, officials said.
“Upon being shot, (Sanchez) lost control of his vehicle and collided into a residential home near the intersection of Enchandia Street and Pleasant Avenue,” according to the LAPD statement.
Sanchez was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries, Smith said. Investigators determined Sanchez died from multiple gunshots wounds and ruled the death a homicide.
Cordova was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting and crash, officials said. An autopsy revealed she died as a result of blunt force trauma, and her death was also ruled a homicide.
The third passenger in the sedan was not seriously hurt, and no one at the home the car crashed into was hurt.
Police described one of the killers as a Latino man between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall, wearing dark clothing. The second killer was described only as male.
“The investigation reveals that the shooting is possibly gang-related,” according to the statement.
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD Hollenbeck Homicide detectives at 323-342-8964. During weekends or non-business hours, calls may be placed to 877-527-3247. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO BY MIKE MEADOWS

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Officials: Teen gang member accidentally shoots self in East Los Angeles


EAST LOS ANGELES >> A 14-year-old boy found fatally shot in an East Los Angeles alley is believed to have accidentally shot himself while handling a handgun, authorities said Sunday.
The shooting took place about 6:10 p.m. in the 3500 block of Cesar Chavez Avenue, Deputy Crystal Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Responding deputies found the teen lying in an alley suffering from a gunshot wound to his head, Hernandez said. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injury.
“After speaking with witnesses, it appeared the victim, 14 years old, who was a documented member of a local street gang, may have been handling a loaded handgun and unintentionally shot himself,” Hernandez said.
His identity was withheld Sunday pending officials identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
Detectives were yet to determine when or how the teen got the gun, officials added. No further details were released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Man shot to death at Pico Rivera house party


PICO RIVERA >> A man died in a shooting at a Halloween party in Pico Rivera after an argument erupted into gunfire, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place just after midnight at a home in the 9600 block of Par Place, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. The victim, initially described as a 23-year-old man, died at the scene.
“Detectives have learned that both the suspect and the victim were attending a party at that location when they began to argue,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “During the argument, the suspect produced a firearm and shot the victim several times.”
The shooter fled and remained at large morning. No description was available.
“At this time, this incident appears to be gang related,” the statement said.
The victims name was not released pending positive identification and notification of family, coroner’s officials said.
No further details were released.
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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Armed gang member wearing bullet-proof vest jailed in Pomona

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.

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Baldwin Park man convicted of role in murderous San Gabriel Valley drug-dealing conspiracy

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.

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Two men wounded in Norwalk shooting


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.

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Police: Gang member tosses loaded gun into crowded Pasadena playground


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.

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West Covina gang member arrested with gun, methamphetamine at Covina bowling alley

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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.
0906_NWS_SGT-L-WCARREST2Reed 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.

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UPDATED: Gun battle erupts on La Puente street


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.

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Pasadena man sentenced for 2008 gang hit targeting 20-year-old woman


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.

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