Community rallies behind Hacienda Heights family devastated by fatal car crash

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HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> For the second time in recent years, a Hacienda Heights family has been devastated by a fatal tragedy. And for the second time, the community is rallying around the family to offer compassion and support.
Bertha Rosales, 42, died in a car crash while driving two of her four sons home from school in their hometown of Hacienda Heights, according to California Highway Patrol officials and friends.
1225_NWS_SGT-L-ROSALES2Her sons Isaac, 13, and Ramon Jr., 10, suffered serious injuries in the crash, officials said. Isaac remained unconscious at a hospital with severe head injuries Wednesday, family friend Ernie Maldonado said. Ramon Jr. was making good progress in his recovery after undergoing surgery for injuries to his shoulder and elbow.
“This past Sunday was actually Bertha’s birthday,” Maldonado said.
The same family was affected by another deadly tragedy in August of 2011, when Rosales’ sister, 49-year-old Virginia Gonzales, and Gonzales’ 3-year-old son, Johnny Crowger, died in a house fire at their home in the 1700 block of Piermont Drive in Hacienda Heights.
Gonzales died while trying to rescue her son from the burning home, officials said.
In last week’s car crash, Rosales was driving a BMW sedan north on Durazno Drive, heading from a stop sign at a T-intersection, about 2:35 p.m. when the BMW collided with a Chevrolet Camaro heading west on Halliburton Road, CHP Sgt. Charles Quijada said.
The 17-year-old driver of the Camaro suffered apparently minor injuries, officials said.
No arrests or citations were initially made as the crash remained under investigation by the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP.
“He changed a whole family,” Maldonado said of the other driver. “I feel for the other person as well.”
And just like the Hacienda Heights community came to the aid of the family following the fatal fire in 2011, local residents and organizations are once again stepping in to do what they can to ease the family’s suffering, Maldonado said.
Maldonado described Rosales as a “strong woman”
A fundraising website has been set up by the boys’ soccer club, Pasadena-based F.C. Golden State, at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/rb17/rosales-family. The website had raised more than $18,500 of a $50,000 goal to help with burial and medical expenses as of Wednesday.
“The soccer club they belong to, they’re a real close-knit club,” Maldonado said.
Other community members have also come forward to support the grieving family.
Mesa Robles Elementary School, where Isaac Rosales and Ramon Rosales Jr. both attend and their mother has previously worked as a recess monitor, has also collected funds for the family, Maldonado said.
The school has also organized a fund to help the family at Chase bank. Donations can be made via check or cashiers check, made out to Isaac Rosales or Ramon Rosales, to account No. 3024994690.
And even though the school began it’s winter break Dec. 20, “The school helped with counseling,” Maldonado said. Maldonado’s son is Isaac Rosales’ best friend.
Correspondence for the family can be sent to Mesa Robles School, 16060 Mesa Robles Drive, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745.

PHOTOS:

TOP: Bertha Rosales, 42, of Hacienda Heights, pictured on a banner on this roadside memorial at Halliburton Road and Durazno Drive, died in a car crash on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Her two sons Isaac Rosales, 13, and Ramon Rosales Jr., 10, were injured in the crash. (Courtesy)

BELOW: Bertha Rosales, 42, (right) of Hacienda Heights died in a car crash on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at Halliburton Road and Durazno Drive i Hacienda Heights . Her two sons Isaac, 13, (left) and Ramon Jr., 10, (not pictured) were injured in the crash. Isaac remained hospitalized in critical condition with major head injuries Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014. (Courtesy)

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Man robs Hacienda Heights bank branch

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man fled with an undisclosed amount of cash after robbing a Hacienda Heights bank Saturday, officials said.
The robber showed up about 1:45 p.m. at Chase bank, 17160 Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Boese said.
He handed a female teller a note demanding money, the sergeant said. No weapon was seen.
The robber obtained some cash and fled, Boese said. No getaway car was seen in connection with the crime.
Deputies described the robber as a black man between 25 and 40, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 160 pounds. He wore white sunglasses, a navy blue jumpsuit with writing on it and a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt.

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Home struck by gunfire in Hacienda Heights; no injuries reported

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Bullets tore through a Hacienda Heights family’s home early Wednesday, though no injuries were reported in the shooting, authorities said.
Deputies received a report of gunshots about 12:40 a.m. in the 1700 block of Charlemont Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Boese said.
They found that a nearby home had been struck by gunfire, and several spend bullet casings were collected from the ground, the sergeant said.
A family, including children, was inside the home, however no one was struck by the gunfire, he said.
No suspect description was known, and no further details were available.

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Gunman robs Hacienda Heights cell phone store

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A masked man with a handgun robbed a cell phone store Saturday afternoon, officials said.
The heist was reported just before 6 p.m. at Bell Star Wireless, in the 16400 block of Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Boese said.
The robber entered the store and demanded money at gunpoint, Boese said. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, and was last seen running north on Punta Del Este Drive.
A man and woman working at the store were not injured, he added.
Deputies described the robber as a white or Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 130 pounds. He wore all-dark clothing and a mask.
The robbery was being investigated by detectives from the sheriff’s Industry Station.

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Man wounded in Hacienda Heights car-to-car shooting

HACIENDA HEIGHTS — A man was wounded but expected to survive following a car-to-car shooting in Hacienda Heights Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The victim, a 21-year-old man, was stopped at a red light on Lujon Street at Hacienda Boulevard in a 2004 Audi when the attacker pulled up in an older-model, white pickup truck, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Thurlo said.
“(The shooter) pulled up next to him on he right side and fired into the victim’s vehicle, striking him once in the upper right shoulder,” Thurlo said. A rifle was believed to have been used in the shooting.
Thurlo said the wounded man drove north a short distance to Hacienda Boulevard and Gale Avenue, where deputies encountered him.
Officials initially described the shooter only as male. He was last seen driving south on Hacienda Boulevard from the shooting scene. The motive in the shooting was not clear.

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UPDATED: Man shot in the neck in Hacienda Heights; suspect arrested

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and a suspect was in custody following a gang-related shooting in a residential neighborhood Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 3:40 p.m. in the 1000 block of Olympus Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo said.
The victim, a 44-year-old Hacienda Heights resident and member of a local street gang, suffered a through-and-through wound to his neck but was hospitalized in stable condition after undergoing surgery, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Thurlo said.
The suspect, a local gang member man in his early 20s, was arrested nearby after the chain broke on the bicycle he was using as a getaway vehicle, Thurlo said. His name was not available Sunday afternoon pending the booking process.
All three were on Olympus Avenue when the suspect and victim became involved in an argument over gang affiliations, Thurlo said. The suspect pulled a handgun and shot the victim before fleeing on a bicycle.
A friend of the victim flagged down a sheriff’s deputy and pointed out where the gunman had gone but refused to cooperate further, the sergeant said.
Deputies found the suspect around the corner in the 15700 block of Wallbrook Drive, Thurlo said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
Deputies found a handgun discarded in the area of the same caliber used in the shooting, officials said.
Deputies summoned their counterparts in the gang unit to take over the investigation.

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Hacienda Heights man convicted of child molestation

POMONA — A Hacienda Heights man faces up to 60 years in state prison next month when he returns to court for sentencing after being convicted Wednesday of molesting four underage female relatives over an eight-year period, authorities said.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury in Pomona deliberated for about two hours before finding Juan Hernandez, 51, guilty of one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and four counts of committing a lewd act on a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing June 26, when he could received a maximum sentence of six decades behind bars, officials said.
“The prosecutor said Hernandez sexually molested four underage family members at various times between March 1999 and July 2007,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
“Authorities were notified about the sexual abuse and the defendant was arrested Sept. 26, 2013 and held on $4 million bail,” the statement added.
The investigation was carried out by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.
In addition to being held without bail pending sentencing, Hernandez was also had a hold placed on him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, according to county booking records.

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Hacienda Heights man accused of theft, practicing law without license

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors charged a Hacienda Heights man Thursday with nine felony counts for practicing law without a license and bilking four immigrant clients out of thousands of dollars, officials said.
Michael John Hernandez, 57, surrendered at Los Angeles Superior Court, pleaded not guilty and promptly posted $145,000 bail, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said.
He’s charged with six counts of grand theft, two counts of unauthorized practice of law and one count of perjury by declaration, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Hernandez previously practiced law in Florida but has never been a member of the State Bar of California, prosecutors said. But he ran a law office in Hacienda Heights where he claimed to specialize in immigration matters.
“The alleged offenses involve four victims and occurred between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2013,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “A loss of approximately $16,000 is attributed to the defendant.”
“Hernandez, who allegedly targeted individuals with immigration issues, purportedly engaged in a pattern of financial fraud against clients who paid for legal services which were not rendered,” the statement continued.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said commended the prosecution team and had harsh words for those who would falsely portray themselves as lawyers.
“To betray the trust of these victims and cheat them out of hard-earned money is heartless,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “Any person practicing law without a license in Los Angeles County — especially those who target vulnerable immigrant populations — will be identified and vigorously prosecuted.”
If convicted as charged, Hernandez could face up to 10 years in county jail.
He was ordered back to court June 9 for a preliminary hearing setting June 9.

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Officials seek missing Hacienda Heights man with Alzheimer’s disease

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HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Authorities and family members reached out to the public Wednesday to help track down a missing 66-year-old Hacienda Heights man who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Victor Rubio was last seen Tuesday driving away from his home in the 1700 block of Park Lawn Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. He was driving a gold, 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan with a California license plate number of 5DFY507.
“He suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and has not made contact with his family,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The family is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Mr. Rubio.”
He was described as Latino, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 210 pounds, with gray hair and brown eyes. He has a 4-inch vertical between his neck and shoulder blades, as well as a 12-inch horizontal scar on his stomach.
Anyone with information was asked to contact detectives Velasquez or Abraham of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Missing Persons Detail at 323- 890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Crim Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Failed armed robbery reported at Hacienda Heights Rite Aid

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A gunman wearing a business suit fled empty-handed late Thursday following a failed robbery at a Rite Aid Pharmacy, authorities said.
The would-be robber entered the pharmacy, 2060 S. Hacienda Boulevard, and began walking around the business, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
He then made his way to the pharmacy counter, where he pulled a small, silver semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at a female employee.
He told the woman to stand in front of him, but she instead fled from him, grabbed a telephone and notified fellow employees to lock the front doors, the lieutenant said.
The gunman unsuccessfully tried to hop the pharmacy counter before making his way back to the store’s main entrance, Enriquez said.
The armed man escaped after ordering an employee to open the locked front door, Enriquez added.
Officials described the failed robber as a Latino man in his 40s or 50s, with salt and pepper hair, wearing a gray suit with a tie and round-framed glasses.
He was last seen getting into a white, 2000s-model Toyota sedan with a waiting driver. The car headed north on Hacienda Boulevard.

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