Man and teen charged with murder in shooting at Santa Fe Springs park

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man and teen face murder charges in connection with the alleged gang-related slaying of a 23-year-old Commerce man at a Santa Fe Springs park last week, authorities announced Thursday.
Daniel Charles Esquer, 27, and Marcus Rene “Spunky” Garcia, 17, are each charged with murder for the April 5 fatal shooting of Anthony Palomares at Friendship Park, at Telegraph Road and Bartley Avenue, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials and county booking records. Garcia is being charged as an adult.
Whittier police officials described both suspects as transients with ties to Pico Rivera area.
The shooting took place about 6:30 p.m., Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Witnesses reported seeing two suspects approach the victim and soon thereafter, one suspect produced a handgun and shot the victim,” according to the statement.
Palomares died at a hospital the next day of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Police initially sought as many as three suspects witnesses reported seeing running from the scene.
Officers detained two men in the area and arrested them in connection with the shooting.
Cruz Bermudez, 27, of Santa Fe Springs and Adam Giavelli, 27, of Pico Rivera, were ultimately released without charges related to the shooting, booking records show. But police re-arrested Bermudez in connection with a different cases being held without bail.
Continued investigation led police to find and arrest Esquer on suspicion of murder April 7, police said. Investigators arrested Garcia Tuesday.
“The motive appears to be a disagreement between the suspects and the victim,” according to the police statement. “(The) victim and suspects knew each other prior to the shooting.”
Both suspects are charged with murder, along with the special allegations that the crime was gang-related, and that in involved a handgun, according to the felony complaint filed against them in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Esquer is accused of pulling the trigger.
he formal charges were filed Monday.
Esquer and Garcia both pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing Thursday. They are scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court April 26 for a preliminary hearing setting, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Stolen car, drugs, gun recovered from gang members in Covina


COVINA >> Police jailed three gang members late Friday after finding them driving through Covina in stolen car, with two ounces of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun, officials said.
Officers were on a special patrol due to increased crime in the area when they spotted a suspicious car with no license plates driving in the 1000 block of West Cypress Street, Covina city officials said in a written statement.
The officers pulled over the car, which contained driver Ricardo Castillo, 35, of Baldwin Park, as well as passengers Mary Magalena Leos, 26, of Baldwin Park and Marco Antonio Villaneda, 35, of West Covina, according to city officials and Los Angeles County booking records. All three are documented gang members.
0410_NWS_SGT-L-GANG2Police soon found the car had been reported stolen in Las Vegas, and noticed a bullet hole in the driver-side door, officials said. Castillo admitted the car had been shot in Baldwin Park last week.
Police found Villaneda in possession of two ounces of methamphetamine, and Leos had property not belonging to her.
“A loaded hand gun was also located concealed in the engine compartment of the vehicle,” according to the statement.
Castillo was booked on suspicion of auto theft, being a felon in possession of a gun and driving on a suspended license. Villaneda was booked on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a controlled substance for sales and being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm. Leos was booked for misappropriation of found property and two outstanding warrants.
According to county booking records, Castillo and Villaneda had both been released from jail Saturday afternoon pending their initial court appearances after posting $25,000 and $30,000 bail, respectively. Leos was being held without bail.

[TOP] Ricardo Castillo, 35, of Baldinn Park, Marco Villaneda, 35, of West Covina and Mary Leos, 26, of Baldwin Park.
[BELOW] Police recovered stolen car, two ounces of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun after pulling over a car containing three gang members in the 1000 block of West Cypress Street in Covina on Friday, April 8, 2016. (Courtesy)

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Trials for two separate Christmas Day slayings in Pasadena near end

PASADENA >> Two separate homicide cases stemming from a single tragic Christmas Day in Pasadena that left three innocent bystanders dead in 2012 are nearing conclusion.
Trial is ongoing in Los Angeles Superior Court for two gang members accused of fatally shooting 49-year-old civilian sheriff’s employee and community youth coach AR-150739946Victor McClinton. And another man is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in Pasadena Superior Court for crashing into a minivan while fleeing police, killing two members of a family visiting the area for the holidays.
In the McClinton case, prosecutors allege Bloods gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, gunned down Victor McClinton of Pasadena with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member on Christmas morning, 2012.
Their ongoing trial for murder with special circumstances, along with additional charges, continues Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
It is the second trial for the two suspects. A previous trial ended with a hung jury last July, and the presiding judge declared a mistrial.
Jurors deadlocked 9-3 in favor of convicting Bishop, and 7-5 in favor of acquitting Harris, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said at the time.
Though the special circumstance allegation of murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang makes the two defendants eligible for capital punishment if convicted, prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment in the case, officials said.
“They’re not seeking the death penalty,” Risling said.
McClinton was walking with a friend and carrying a Christmas gift about 11 a.m. in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue when Bishop and Harris both opened fire on a rival gang member nearby, police and prosecutors allege. The intended target was wounded, but a stray bullet struck and killed McClinton.
The father of two, who founded the nonprofit Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League in Pasadena, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
In Los Angeles Superior Court, a man convicted of manslaughter and other crimes for the deaths of a Glendale woman and Daly City boy after running a red light and slamming into their family’s minivan on Christmas evening, 2012, while fleeing from FBI and police officials in Pasadena is also due in court Monday for sentencing.
A Pasadena Superior Court jury in November convicted Darrell Williams, 25, of Pasadena of the voluntary manslaughter of 25-year-old Tracey Ong Tan and her 11-year-old cousin, Kendrick Ng, as well as five counts of assault with a deadly weapon in November for the crash, which took place about 8 p.m. at Marengo Avenue and Maple Street.
Ong and Ng died at the
Ng’s parents and his sister, who were also in the minivan, suffered serious injuries.
The family was visiting the area for the holidays when their minivan was struck by an SUV driven by Williams as he led an FBI agent and Pasadena police officer on a chase.
The chase started when police and FBI officials, who were working gang suppression in the wake of McClinton’s shooting earlier in the day, tried to stop the SUV, but Williams fled instead. He is not suspected in the McClinton slaying.
William’s girlfriend and passenger in the fleeing SUV, 23-year-old Brittany Washington of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest in early 2014 to charged of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and received a two-year jail sentence, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Williams faces up to 150 years in prison.

PHOTO: 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) 

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


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.


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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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