UPDATED: Two stabbed in alleged hate crimes at Covina shopping center; suspect jailed


COVINA >> A La Puente resident and self-described El Monte gang member stabbed two Black men late Saturday at a Covina shopping center in unprovoked attacks which police are investigating as hate crimes, authorities said.
Louis Vasquez, 19, is accused of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, along with special allegations that the crime was a hate crime and gang-related, Covina police officials said.
Vasquez had just been released from jail Saturday morning after serving a sentence for an auto theft conviction, according to officials and county records.
Both victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the stabbings, which took place just after 7:40 p.m. at a shopping center at the northeast corner of Azusa Avenue and Badillo Street, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The first attack occurred outside a Smart & Final store, where an 18-year-old employee was collecting shopping carts, Peterson said. He noticed Vasquez standing behind him before being attacked without warning.
“Out of nowhere, (Vasquez) just stabbed him,” Peterson said.
The teen, who suffered a stab wound to his shoulder, ran from his attacker, the sergeant said. Vasquez shouted insults, including racial slurs, as the victim fled, he added.
Immediately following the first stabbing, Vasquez headed to a neighboring CVS Pharmacy and attacked a 27-year-old man who was approaching the entrance.
The second victim did not see his assailant approach when he was stabbed from behind.
“He felt a pain in his right shoulder. He looked and saw the suspect holding the knife. The suspect stabbed him again,” Peterson said.
The wounded man tried to run into the store, but an automatic door wouldn’t open quickly enough for him to escape his pursuer, the sergeant said. The victim then ran along the front of the store, where he fell.
“(Vasquez) started slashing at him,” Peterson said. The attacker slashed the victim in the leg before the victim managed to kick the knife out of Vasquez’s hand, then grab hold of it.
Once disarmed, Vasquez ran, police said. He fled into a residential neighborhood in the 800 block of West Edna Place, where residents reported seeing him jumping through backyards.
Officers found Vasquez hiding in a yard and arrested him without a struggle, Peterson said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records, Vasquez was released from jail about 2:40 a.m. Saturday, 17 hours before the stabbings.
After being arrested by El Monte police in October, Vasquez was convicted of auto theft in November and served 112 days of a 242-day sentence, records show.
Vasquez’s has other previous criminal convictions including receiving stolen property in receiving stolen property in December, theft in September and trespassing in August, according to court records.
Vasquez remained in custody Sunday in lieu of $500,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County booking records.

PHOTO: Louis Vasquez, 19, of La Puente (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)

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Attack on interracial couple in Pasadena being investigated as hate crime

PASADENA >> Police are seeking a man in connection with an unprovoked attack on an interracial couple outside a Pasadena coffee shop, which authorities are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.
A 29-year-old black woman and a 36-year-old man of Armenian descent, both Glendale residents, were outside a Starbucks at Los Robles Avenue and Colorado Boulevard about 7 p.m. when the attacker confronted them, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“Without provocation, he made reference to the race of both victims,” Luna said. “The suspect spat on the female victim and punched the male victim.”
The male victim sought his own medical treatment for a cut to his lower lip, the lieutenant said. The woman wasn’t hurt. The couple did not report the crime to police until several hours later.
Luna said the suspect apparently objected to the fact the man and woman were of different races.
“Based on the fact that race was the provocation, we’re investigating it as a hate crime,” he said.
Police described the suspect as a black man in his 20s, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 190 pounds, with his hair in dreadlocks. He wore a red jacket and blue jeans.

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Two recent Arcadia church vandalisms prompt hate crime investigation

ARCADIA — An Arcadia church was vandalized and set on fire for the second time in the past two weeks in what police are investigating as possible hate crimes.
The break-ins and vandalisms took place about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Holy Angels Church, 330 Campus Drive, and sometime overnight between Jan. 19 and 20 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 West Duarte Road, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
“What we’re trying to do is get the word out to the religious community,” Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said.
Due to the similarity in the crimes, as well as the proximity and timing between them, detectives suspected the incidents may be related and asked the community to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, the sergeant said.
“Although neither crime involved entry into the church sanctuaries, both events involved religious artifacts or items and we are treating these as religious-based hate crimes,” according to the police statement. Both crimes occurred in portions of the churches used for administrative offices.
In the most recent crime, an unknown vandal or vandals broke in through an office window and smashed two religious statues and a DVD player, Le Veque said.
They also kicked in the interior office door and rummaged through several rooms in the building, police said.
Investigators were not aware of anything missing from the Holy Angels Church Wednesday, Le Veque added.
Officials found smoke inside the church when they arrived and also discovered a small fire of papers and carpet against an interior hallway inside the building, officials said.
Police encountered a similar scene when responded to a report of a break-in at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the morning of Jan. 20, Le Veque said.
Officials found a door to an administrative building forced open and the interior ransacked, police said.
Clergy robes were thrown on the ground, a fire extinguisher had been discharged within the building and a religious portrait hanging on the wall had been set on fire, investigators said. A guitar and other sound equipment was stolen from the church.
No suspect description was available Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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‘666’ painted on church near Covina investigated as hate crime

A church was found painted with graffiti including the number “666” early Saturday in what deputies are investigating as a hate crime, officials said.
An unknown vandal or vandals scrawled the message in blue paint sometime between 10 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 16050 East San Bernardino Road in an unincorporated county area near Covina, said Sgt. Pete Schupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station, which is investigating the incident.
The graffiti, a poorly drawn cross with three sixes to its right, was written about 4 feet above ground level on the wall of the church’s Fellowship Hall in the southwest portion of the small campus. It was behind the building and not visible from the street.
It was about four feet tall and three feet wide.
Deputies recovered a bottle of blue paint from some bushes nearby the vandalized wall, Schupe said.
Church officials could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.

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Vandals target Whittier synagogue

There’s three swastikas painted on the side of the Temple Beth Shalom, but the cops don’t think its a hate crime:

WHITTIER – Vandals painted graffiti – including a swastika – on the main building at Temple Beth Shalom over the weekend, officials said Monday.

At this point in the investigation, the incident is not being labeled a hate crime, said Sgt. Craig Harman of the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station.

“Not to diminish the painting of a swastika on the synagogue, but it looks like it was just some punk kids who did this,” he said.

Herb Sussman, Beth Shalom boardmember agreed, saying he thinks it was gangs and not anti-semitic.

“Graffiti has popped up here before, and it’s been gang-related,” he said.  

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Latino gangs targeted in hate crime sweep

While local public officials continue to deny the existence of brown on black hate crime, the FBI cracked down on a Hawaiian Gardens gang responsible for several heinous crimes.

From the Associated Press:

Federal and local agencies were conducting a series of arrests targeting members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

A series of federal racketeering indictments was due to be unsealed later Thursday, detailing firearms, narcotics and other charges related to the attacks, Mrozek said.

Further details were not released, but Mrozek said the indictments would detail the attacks on several black victims.

The indictments mark at least the second time in less than two years that federal authorities have alleged that Latino gang members attacked black residents because of their race. Local officials have tried to downplay any racial tensions.

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Another take on hate crimes

The county’s report on hate crimes, which was released Thursday indicated a 28-percent rise in such incidents. This excerpt from our story gives some local flavor to the report:

The report said there were 94 hate crimes reported in the San Gabriel Valley and another 45 reported in the East Los Angeles area, which includes Montebello, Pico Rivera, La Mirada, Whittier and La Habra.

The spike, which comes as the Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department reported a 5 percent to 6percent reduction in overall crime, was driven by several factors, including gang rivalries and tensions between African Americans and Latinos, officials said.

The report specifically addressed a series of attacks on Latinos by suspected black gang members in Pasadena beginning in 2006. By August of last year, 69 incidents had been investigated, according to the report.

“We talked about the Pasadena situation – `Sock on Mexicans’ – in detail there,” said Robin Toma, executive director of the commission. “That was a notable challenge.”

Toma also referred to recent gang violence that took the lives of 63-year-old Sanders Rollins, 16-year-old Sammantha Salas and 19-year-old Brandon Lee earlier this year.

Then there’s this from the LA Noir blog:

Continue reading “Another take on hate crimes” »

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Blogger reports race crime in Arcadia

The From Noise to Voice blog of an Arcadia resident reports a frightening find on the street outside his home:

This morning, I found our mailbox in pieces, laying on the ground, ran over by a car during the night. My house is next to a high traffic intersection. It’s not a strange thing a car jumped the curb and ran up to the sidewalk. It has happened before…

As I was picking up the pieces, I found a note stuffed inside the mailbox…How nice, I thought to myself, the guy is nice enough to leave me his/her contact information…

Boy, was I wrong! I found the scribble be…


My message to the person who did this…

First of all, I am an American! A Chinese American, proud to be!!! Go home? Home is here!!! If you don’t like it, YOU GO HOME!!! You are a coward! You did this hiding in the dark of the night…

Here’s the rest of the entry

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Hate stabbing reported at San Dimas middle school

This from the Daily Bulletin:

SAN DIMAS – An Asian man was stabbed in the face and torso during a hate crime attack at Lone Hill Middle School on Tuesday evening.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said the attackers – a 15-year-old boy and a man in his 20s – shouted racial epithets while stabbing the man. “They were shouting out ‘White power’ or something like that,” said sheriff’s Lt. Roxanne Hart.

A white man who was walking with the victim at the school at 700 South Lone Hill Avenue about 8:30 p.m. received cuts and bruises from being punched by the pair, Hart said.

Paramedics flew the Asian man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition.

Deputies identified the 15-year-old suspect and arrested him. The man in his 20s was not in custody, Hart said.

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