A homeless man was arrested late Wednesday in connection with a brush fire on Glendora Mountain Road north of Big Dalton Canyon, Glendora police said Thursday.
The fire was spotted climbing 100 feet up the hillside by a Glendora Police officer at 9:23 p.m. Wednesday, Lt. Brian Summers said in a statement.
Capt. Tim Staab said the on-duty police officer was able to get responders to the scene while the fire was still small.
“It could have been just horrible,” Staab said, referring to the fire’s proximity to the Angeles National Forest.
The initial officer spotted Edward Zavala, 35, walking away from the fire scene and he was arrested on suspicion of arson after making inconsistent statements, Summers wrote.
“Zavala later told officers that he accidentally started the fire with his lighter while attempting to use it as a light source and panicked, fleeing the area,” Summers wrote. “The lighter was recovered.”
Responders from the Los Angeles County Fire Department were able to contain the fire to a quarter acre and county arson investigators assisted the police department, Summers said.
Zavala was being held at the Glendora City Jail on a felony charge of recklessly starting a fire. Bail was set at $20,000.
- Melissa Masatani
PHOTO of Edward Zavala courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
GLENDORA — Coroner’s officials Sunday released the name of one of two homeless men found stabbed to death at a Glendora carwash last week.
Warren Blagrave, 52, was pronounced dead after he was found stabbed about 2 a.m. on the property of a carwash in the 200 block of West Route 66, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Jim Blacklock said. Also found fatally stabbed was a second local homeless man in his 50s whose name was not released pending notification of his family.
Drew Alan Friis, 28, of Glendora and a second suspect whose name was withheld by Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were booked on suspicion of murder later in the day, sheriff’s and Glendora police officials said.
Police said he knew the victims prior to the attack, however a motive was not clear.
According to county booking records, Friis was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Monday in Pomona Superior Court.
GLENDORA — Police announced two arrests Friday in connection with the fatal stabbing of two homeless men at a Glendora car wash.
Drew Alan Friis, 28, of Glendora was arrested on suspicion of murder about 4:10 p.m. Thursday, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Friis, who Glendora police said was not homeless, knew the victims prior to the stabbing, however a motive was not clear, officials said.
“A second individual was also arrested and booked, however, his name is being withheld pending further investigation by homicide detectives,” according to Deputy Irys Alvarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
The two suspects are accused of the stabbing deaths of two local homeless men in their 50s whose bodies were found about 2 a.m. Thursday at a car wash in the 200 block of W. Route 66, where they had been spending the night, according to officials and friends said.
The dead men’s names were not released Friday pending notification of their families, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
““We’re confident that the two people who are in custody are the ones who committed this heinous crime,” Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro said. “This was an isolated crime and a very unusual occurrence in Glendora as evidenced by the fact that we have not had a murder in our community since 2009. I firmly believe the community can be assured the suspects in this case are not roaming free.”
The motive in the alleged double-slaying remained a mystery Friday, police said.
There was a great deal of information investigators could not disclose to the public for fear of jeopardizing the investigation, Staab said, “Chief Castro believes it’s important for the community to receive factual preliminary information regarding this incident to dispel rumors, false assumptions and fears.”
“It is still early in the investigation, and there is a significant amount of evidence, including a possible murder weapon, that has been collected and needs to be scientifically analyzed, which takes time,” according to the police statement.
Investigators planned to present a case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing early next week, Staab said.
Both slain men were transients with deep roots in Glendora, according to police and friend Jodi Bybee, who said he’s known both men for more than 35 years.
The two stabbing victims had both been spending the night on the car wash property in recent weeks, Bybee said.
He and others expressed shock that anyone would want to harm the homeless men.
While the area where the fatal stabbings took place is known as a place where transients tend to congregate, police and nearby business owners said they had never seen any major problems as a result.
“While the victims were living on the street, I want to be clear that their lifestyle is not the cause of this tragic situation,” Castro said. “Being homeless is not a crime. The murder of two innocent people is, and we hold everyone involved accountable for their actions.”
GLENDORA — A man in a fake mustache robbed a Glendora bank branch early Friday, officials said.
The heist took place just after 9 a.m. at the U.S. Bank at Grand and Mauna Loa avenues, Glendora police Lt. James De Mond said.
The robber handed a teller a note demanding money and fled after receiving an unknown amount of cash, the lieutenant said. No weapon was seen during the crime.
Police described the robber as a white man in his 40s, wearing a fake mustache and prescription glasses. He also wore khaki pants and a blue shirt, as well as a hat.
He was last seen running south from the bank and jumping a wall onto Helensburg Avenue, De Mond said.
GLENDORA — Police have released composite sketches of three men who posed as tree trimmers to distract two elderly Glendora residents in an unsuccessful bid to empty their safe of valuables earlier this week, officials said.
The crime took place about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday in the 700 block of East Carroll Avenue, Glendora police officials said.
An elderly man answered his front door and encountered a visitor dressed as a contractor, complete with a yellow construction hard hat, Detective Matt Fenner said in a written statement.
“The suspect posed as a tree trimmer and lured the victim into the backyard,” Fenner said.
“While the victim was distracted, two other male suspects entered the victim’s unlocked front door where they were confronted by the victim’s 92-year-old wife in her bedroom,” Fenner said.
The men told the women she needed to exit her bedroom in order to sign paperwork.
Once both residents were distracted, one of the suspects tried to pry open the couples safe, however they did not succeed, officials said. They were last seen driving off in white SUV.
Police offered some advice to help residents avoid becoming victims of similar “distraction burglaries.”
If you are unsure of who is at your front door, do not open it, Fenner said.
If a person claims to be from an agency such as a utility, police advised residents to call the utility to verify the person’s identity. Always look up the number directly, and do not use a telephone number provided by the visitor.
“Do not allow someone to coax you out of your home,” Fenner said. “Be suspicious of anyone asking you to step out of your home, especially during unscheduled visits.”
Anyone who encounters someone suspicious at their door is encouraged to call Glendora police immediately at 626-914-8297.
COMPOSITE SKETCHES courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
GLENDORA — Two men died at the scene of a stabbing at a Glendora car wash early Thursday, authorities said.
The names of the men were not available, however they were initially described as white men in the 40s or 50s who were believed to be local homeless men, Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab said. One of the men used a wheelchair.
Glendora police Lt. Joe Ward was on patrol just before 2 a.m. near the car wash at Route 66 and Vermont Avenue when he was flagged down by a citizen, the captain said.
“He says he hears yelling here at the car wash,” Staab said.
When the lieutenant approached, “He sees two men down,” Staab said. “Both suffering from severe stab wounds.”
Paramedics pronounced both men dead at the scene.
Police, with help from a helicopter and neighboring law enforcement agencies, searched the area but found no suspect, officials said.
Investigators were looking into a report that a man had been seen running north on Vermont Avenue following the stabbing,Staab said, however no description was available.
“We’re following up to see if that lead goes anywhere,” Staab said.
Detectives were also checking surveillance cameras from nearby businesses for clues and called for a bloodhound to check the scene.
The double-slaying occurred at a car wash where homeless people are known to congregate overnight, according to officials and neighbors.
Though he was awaiting officials confirmation of the identities of the dead men, Jodi Bybee of Glendora believed it was two of his longtime friends, who had both recently been spending their nights at the car wash.
Both men were friendly and well-liked, and Bybee said he couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hurt either of them. He added that he last saw one of the men about five days ago, and the other two or three days ago.
“It’s totally unbelievable,”said Bybee, who spent about 10 years living on the streets of Glendora before moving in to a home recently.
Police showed up at several known homeless encampments early Thursday, questioning transients where they were earlier in the morning and asking to see their hands, Bybee and police said.
“For something like this to take place, I wouldn’t think it would be somebody we know who would do this,” Bybee said. “Me and other local fellows are all mulling this over in our heads. Why did this take place?”
“That’s a heavy, heavy violent person that did this, and that person needs to be caught,” he said.
The man in the wheelchair was a generous man who liked inviting both friends and strangers to share what he had, Bybee said.
He was in a wheelchair because he broke his hip last year, the friend added. He was able to walk short distance with great difficulty.
His body was found beneath an awning where Bybee said he and the other man would sleep.
The other stabbing victim was a longtime Glendora resident, Bybee said, though he had just come back to the area several weeks ago after spending time in Oregon. Both men had gone to Oregon last year, however the man in the wheelchair returned several months ago.
The second victim’s body was discovered about 100 feet south of the first, near the sidewalk lining Route 66.
“He was a musician,” Bybee said. “He played the guitar. He loved the Beatles.”
Bybee said the owner of the car wash tolerated transients staying on his property overnight so long as they did not make a mess and left before sunrise.
Tareq Nasrallah, who owns a neighboring Big O Tires store, said transients often congregated behind the car wash overnight.
“We’ve never had any issues,” he said. “This is a sad situation.”
He recalled seeing the man in the wheelchair going up and down the street talking to himself. He described the local homeless men as “harmless.”
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were helping Glendora police with the investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the bureau at 323-890-5500.
The double-slaying was the first reported homicide in Glendora since 2009, when Ronson Edgerly, 20, of Glendora, was fatally shot during a marijuana robbery at his father’s home on April 20. A then-20-year-old La Verne man, Zachary Flanders, was ultimately convicted of the killing and sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2010.
GLENDORA — A grass fire along the 210 Freeway in Glendora grew to more than an acre in size and threatened a home Saturday before firefighters beat back the flames, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 9:51 a.m. and encroached into a backyard in the 1200 block of Stephora Ave., just south of the 210 Freeway near Sunflower Avenue, before being pushed back by firefighters, Glendora police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
Officials declared the fire extinguished shortly after 11 a.m. The final size was determined to be 1.6 acres.
Several helicopters dropped water on the fire as firefighters on the ground worked to protect homes and create containment lines around the flames, Los Angeles County Capt. Mike Pacheco said.
Several homes at the end of the residential cul-de-sac were evacuated as the fire burned, Glendora police officials said.
The California Highway Patrol issued a Sig Alert for the right-hand lane of the eastbound 210 Freeway as a result of the fire, and traffic on the freeway backed up for well over a mile in each direction.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Saturday afternoon, Pacheco said. No injuries were reported.
GLENDORA — A four-vehicle crash on the 210 Freeway sent a Ladera Ranch man to the hospital by helicopter Thursday, officials said.
The crash took place about 11:35 a.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of Sunflower Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The man was driving a BMW 550 in the right lane when vehicles ahead of him slowed abruptly due to traffic, the officer said.
Ahead of him was a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, which followed behind a Chevreolet Equinox SUV, he said.
“Due to his unsafe speed for traffic conditions, he rear-ended the Tundra, which caused the Tundra to be pushed forward and strike the Equinox,” Jimenez said.
A big rig hauling two trailers then came upon the scene and swerved to the right to avoid colliding with the crashed vehicles, he said. The first of the two trailers fishtailed out and struck the BMW, ultimately travelling over the car.
Firefighters cut the injured man free from the wrecked BMW and flew him to a hospital by helicopter for treatment of injuries initially described as moderate, Jimenez said. No other injuries were reported. Officials issued a Sig Alert for about 90 minutes as a result of the crash.
Glendora police arrested a man Wednesday on suspicion of running an elaborate retail theft scheme and seized more than $16,000 worth of allegedly stolen merchandise
from his Mentone home, authorities said.
Edwin Virgil Fauria, 40, was booked on suspicion of commercial burglary, grand theft and conspiracy after detectives arrived at his home in the 500 block of Reservoir Road Wednesday morning, according to Glendora police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The massive collection of goods recovered from his garage included electronics, toys, tools and other miscellaneous items.
“Detectives allege that Fauria has been orchestrating an elaborate retail theft scheme that primarily targeted Kohl’s, Home Depot and Target department stores in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement.
With help from accomplices, Fauria is accused of manipulating the stores’ return policies to buy items, then obtain store credit for them without returning the items, or returning them only in part, Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers said.
The lieutenant declined to go into further detail about how the complicated scheme was allegedly carried out.
Glendora police became involved in the investigation because a Khol’s store in their city was a victim of the alleged scheme.
With help from the stores’ security departments, as well as eBay — where Fauria is accused of selling the stolen goods — detectives identified Fauria as a suspect in the series of crimes, police said. At the time of his arrest Wednesday, police found more than $16,000 worth of items believed to have been stolen from the stores inside Fauria’s garage.
The investigation was ongoing, Summers added.
Fauria was released from custody on his own recognizance pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTOS of Edwin Fauria and seized items courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
A Glendora man accused of striking two bicyclists and a car containing two good Samaritans who tried to follow him over the weekend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to eight felony charges, authorities said.
Anthony Pina, 19, was charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of drunken driving causing injury and two counts of hit-and-run causing injury, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He was ordered to return to Pasadena Superior Court July 31 for a preliminary hearing setting.
The charges stem from an alleged spree of hit-and-run crashes that left two bicyclist injured, one of them seriously, according to Monrovia police and California Highway Patrol officials.
Monrovia police alleged that at least one of the bicyclists, a 63-year-old Duarte man, was intentionally run down by Pina. Police initially said investigators planned to seek a charge of attempted murder against Pina for that crash, however prosecutors did not include that allegation in the officials charges filed Tuesday.
Pina was drunk behind the wheel of 1997 Buick Regal shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday when struck a 46-year-old El Monte man who was riding a bicycle at Mountain and Schrode avenues in an unincorporated county area near Monrovia, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said. The bicyclist suffered injuries described as moderate, and the Buick fled the scene.
Minutes later, Pina’s Buick struck the older bicyclist at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue in Monrovia, according to Monrovia police.
That crash, which left the cyclist hospitalized with serious injuries but expected to survive, was believed to be intentional, Alfaro said. Pina allegedly tried unsuccessfully to strike the 63-year-old bicyclist moments earlier a short distance away.
After striking the second bicyclist, Pina continued fleeing but was followed by two good Samaritans in a Mini Cooper who followed him and provided police with information as Pina headed east on the 210 Freeway, according to police and CHP officials.
Pina was suspected of ramming the car of the good Samaritans, causing no injuries, before crashing into the center divider and flipping his Buick near Vernon Avenue, Hamilton said. He ran from the wreck and was arrested nearby by Azusa police.
Initially held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to county booking records, Robison said Pina’s bail amount was increased to $320,000 at Tuesday’s hearing.