INDUSTRY >> An arson fire scorched an Industry warehouse packed with paper goods Wednesday, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 2:45 a.m. at a 55,000-square-foot warehouse in the 700 block of South 5th Avenue, Los Angeles Count fire and sheriff’s officials said.
Though largely “kept in check” by the building’s sprinkler system, firefighters battled the stubborn blaze for nearly two hours until it was declared extinguished, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Randall Wright said. No injuries were reported.
But firefighters determined the scene of the fire appeared suspicious and called in investigators from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail, Wright said.
“The cause is arson,” sheriff’s Detective Cynthia Valencia said. It appeared the arsonist spread gasoline around in the rear portion of the warehouse before lighting it on fire.
The intent of the arsonists appeared to be to destroy the building, but they were thwarted by the businesses’ fire-suppression system, she added.
“(The) sprinkler system did a great job,” Valencia said.
Preliminary estimated of the damage cause to the warehouse, as well as the paper plates, paper cups and other similar items stored inside ranged between $300,000 and $500,000, the detective said.
A subleased portion of the warehouse, which is used as a packaging business, was unscathed, she said.
Investigators continued seeking clues Thursday, and trying to determine who would want to torch the warehouse, Valencia said.
The arsonists were described only as two men, driving a sedan.
“The owner is very cooperative,” Valencia said.
Firefighters remained at the scene until about noon, Wright said.
Any witnesses, or anyone who saw anything suspicious early Wednesday morning is asked to contact Detective Valencia at the sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail at 323-881-7500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
INDUSTRY >> A tip from the public helped deputies arrest a suspect who pulled a gun on a female security guard while stealing a pair of work boots from a Sears store at the Puente Hills Mall in Industry in February, officials said.
Investigators jailed Gerardo Garcia, 28, late Tuesday on suspicion of robbery in connection with the Feb. 23 incident at the mall, 1600 S. Azusa Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. His city of residence was not available, however officials described him as a San Gabriel Valley resident.
Garcia left the store without paying for a pair of work boots about 1:30 p.m. A woman working as a loss prevention officer confronted him in the parking lot.
“As the victim attempted to detain the suspect for shoplifting, the suspect produced a firearm from his pants pocket, pointed it at the victim, and cocked the hammer,” according the statement. The suspect fled in a black car.
Deputies on Tuesday released surveillance camera photos of the suspect in hopes of generating tips from the public.
The plan worked.
Within hours of the release of the surveillance camera images, “an anonymous caller provided information leading to the identification, and later arrest of Suspect Gerardo Garcia,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
Deputies found and arrested Garcia in connection with the crime about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to Los Angeles County booking records. Investigators also recovered the stolen boots, and the revolver believed to have been used in the crime.
Garcia was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
INDUSTRY >> A person died after being struck by a car while walking across traffic lanes of the 605 Freeway in Industry late Thursday, officials said.
The pedestrian, initially described only as male, died at the scene of the collision, which took place about 8:10 p.m. in the northbound lanes of the freeway, just south of Peck Road, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Armando Perdomo said.
His age and identity were unknown, Perdomo said.
A Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner representative said the agency was too busy to discuss the case Friday afternoon.
A 47-year-old Upland man was driving a 2010 Honda north, Perdomo said. “The pedestrian was walking eastbound across northbound lanes when the Honda collided with him,” the sergeant said.
“Due to the impact, (the pedestrian) suffered major injuries, which he succumbed to,” Perdomo said.
The driver of the Honda appeared unhurt, but was taken to a hospital for examination, he added.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation. It was unclear why the pedestrian was on the freeway.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503.
INDUSTRY >> Detectives are asking the public’s help in tracking down two men they say stole about $10,000 worth of gold rings from a Jewelry shop inside the Puente Hills Mall shop on St. Patrick’s Day earlier this month.
The crime took place about 4:15 p.m. on march 17 at C & L Jewelry Repair, inside the Puente Hills Mall at 1600 Azusa Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Anthony Peraita said.
One of the two suspect jimmied open the display case with some type of small tool, the detective said. The second suspect tried to keep the store owner distracted as the first suspect prepared to steal the 18 gold rings, some of which contained diamonds, which were valued at about $10,000.
“Suspect No. 1 asked the owner of he could so some cleaning of his personal jewelry,” Peraita said.
“And while (the owner was) doing so, the suspect proceeded to test the display case glass with a pry tool or a coin to see if it would lift up,” the detective said.
Meanwhile, a second suspect entered the store and tried to distract the store owner as the first suspect continued working to pry open the jewelry display case, Peraita said.
The accomplice eventually left the store, and the first suspect asks the owner to clean another piece of jewelry, Peraita said.
“While the owner was in the back of the store, he actually lifted the display case and stole an allotment of jewelry from the store. He then proceeded to put the stolen goods down the front of his pants and exited the store, into the interior of the mall,” he said.
Investigators described the first suspect as a black man between 25 and 30 years old, with black hair with two thick braids, wearing a black or brown button-up shirt and black or dark-colored jeans.
His accomplice was also a black man between 35 and 40, wearing a white T-shirt, a tan hat, tan short and black backpack.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-33-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
*Surveillance video courtesy of the LASD.
INDUSTRY >> An honest teenager found about $5,000 in an envelope outside an Industry bank branch late Friday and turned it in to the sheriff’s department, officials said.
The 17-year-old boy was walking through the parking lot of East West Bank at the Puente Hills Mall, 1680 S. Azusa Ave., when he spotted a bag lying on the ground, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Arthur Scott said.
The teen found an envelope inside the bag which contained about $5,000, officials said. The bank was closed for the day, so the boy turned the money over to sheriff’s officials.
Capt. Tim Murakami, who heads the sheriff’s Industry Station, commended the teen’s character.
“We have great kids growing up in the area,” the captain said via Twitter.
The rightful owner of the found money can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.
INDUSTRY >> A man pulled a gun on a security guard while stealing a pair of work boots from a store at the Puente Hills Mall in Industry Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 1:30 p.m. when a female loss prevention officer noticed a man leaving a Sears store at the mall, 1600 S. Azusa Ave., with a pair of work boots he had not paid for, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Gina Eguia said.
The security guard confronted the thief, Eguia said. He pulled out a handgun, pointed at her, pulled back the hammer and ordered the woman to get away.
The robber, a man of about 40, fled the area in an older-model, black Nissan Maxima, Eguia said.
INDUSTRY >> Three men were hospitalized Saturday — one of them in “extremely critical condition” — after a group of assailants opened fire on their car along an onramp to the 60 Freeway in Industry, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 11:50 p.m. Friday on the Azusa Avenue onramp to the westbound 60 Freeway, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Four men in their early 20s had just left a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant at the Puente Hills Mall when the attackers approached in an SUV, Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“As they were traveling on the onramp, a white Range rover pulled up alongside of them and started shooting into the car,” the lieutenant said. The victims’ car continued onto the freeway and drifted across traffic lanes before crashing into the center divider.
The Range Rover continued west on the 60 Freeway, officials said.
The driver of the victims’ car, a 23-year-old El Monte man, suffered severe wounds and was hospitalized in “extremely critical condition,” sheriff’s officials said.
Two of his passengers, both 24, also suffered gunshot wounds but were expected to survive, Corina said. A third passenger escaped injury.
A handgun was believed to have been used in the shooting, Corina said. No further description of the attackers or their vehicle was not available Sunday.
The motive in the attack remained under investigation, he said. There were no initial indications of any dispute preceding the gunfire. The victims were not believed to have gang ties.
All lanes of the westbound 60 Freeway were closed until about 7:30 a.m. as a result of the shooting and subsequent investigation, according to the California Highway Patrol.
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.
INDUSTRY >> Deputies arrested a serial burglary suspect in Industry Saturday who is believed responsible for more than 20 linked to more than 20 business break-ins in recent months, authorities said.
A sheriff’s sergeant arrested Vernon Palacol, 51, of Whittier, about 6:30 a.m. at Valley Boulevard and 7th Street,, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Deputies had been seeking unidentified suspects in connection with between 20 and 30 commercial burglaries within the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s Industry Station, which encompasses Industry, La Puente, La Habra Heights and nearby unincorporated communities.
The businesses’ computers were the targets of the burglaries, Lt. David Infante said.
“The suspect utilized a rock or blunt-type instrument to shatter glass doors or windows of businesses,” the lieutenant said. “(Palacol) quickly entered the businesses and stole desktop computers, making hasty getaways.”
While patrolling in the area affected by the burglaries, Sgt. Gregory Gutierrez spotted a man matching the description of one of the wanted burglars driving in the area.
“Within the vehicle, Sgt. Gutierrez recovered several pieces of stolen computer equipment,” Infante said. Palacol was booked on suspicion of burglary.
Investigators continued working Saturday to see if Palacol was also responsible for additional crimes, Infante said.
According to county booking records, Palacol was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
INDUSTRY >> Deputies captured a fleeing suspect after trading gunfire with the man and wounding him in a commercial neighborhood in Industry late Friday, authorities said.
The gunfight took place just before midnight in the 13300 block of Crossroads Parkway North, sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies responded to a report of a man acting strange and yelling at people in the parking lot. Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
When deputies arrived, they found the 41-year-old man in a car, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan. He fled from the vehicle on foot with a handgun.
“While searching for the suspect, the suspect fired several times at the deputies, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” Rouzan said.
Though deputies did not know it at the time, the suspect was wounded by their gunfire, officials said.
Deputies found the suspect hiding in some foliage leading up to the 60 Freeway, Rouzan said.
After he refused orders to surrender, the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, or SWAT team, was summoned to take over the situation.
About three hours later, “After several attempts to negotiate his surrender, the suspect was taken into custody by SEB personnel,” Rouzan said.
He was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds to his “upper torso,” Rouzan said. His identity was not released Saturday and his condition was unavailable.
“The suspect’s weapon was recovered at the scene,” Navarro-Suarez said.
Officials shut down both directions of the 60 Freeway between Crossroads Parkway and Seventh Avenue and evacuated nearby homes during the suspect search.
Authorities reopened the 60 Freeway and lifted evacuations shortly after 3 a.m.
INDUSTRY >> A five-car wreck sent three people to the hospital with serious injuries and prompted the closure of three lanes of the westbound 60 Freeway in Industry during rush hour Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The crash took place shortly after 5 p.m. in the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, just west of Crossroads Parkway, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.
Five vehicle were involved, and three patients were hospitalized with “moderate-to-critical” injuries, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The CHP issued a two-hour Sig Alert for the three right-hand lanes of the westbound freeway following the crash, Kimball said.