IRWINDALE — West Covina police arrested two men and fatally shot a pit bull early Wednesday while serving a search warrant to seize guns at the home of a known outlaw motorcycle gang member in Irwindale, authorities said.
“Known, dangerous Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang member” and ex-convict Ralph Rodriguez, 38, of Irwindale was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms, resisting arrest and possession of false identification, according to West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez. He was the person targeted in the search warrant.
Also arrested in the 3:30 a.m. raid at a home in the 4600 block of Nora Avenue was Robert Ghiloni, 28, of West Covina on suspicion of possession of a dagger, resisting arrest and an outstanding traffic warrant, Lopez said.
The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation by the West Covina Police Department, officials said.
After arriving at the home and ordering the occupants out via loudspeaker repeatedly, Ghiloni eventually emerged from the home and was taken into custody, Lopez said. He had a dagger on his person.
But Rodriguez remained holed-up inside the home, police said.
“After two hours of repeated announcements, SWAT then initiated an entry into the residence,” according to Lopez. “During the search, (Rodriguez) was located hiding in the attic. He surrendered to officers without further incident.
While serving the warrant, SWAT officers encountered a pit bull, which Lopez said became aggressive toward them.
“The dog began to attack, forcing officers to fire upon it,” he said. “The dog died as a result.”
The number and type of guns sized from the home was not available late Wednesday.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court. Ghiloni was being held in lieu of $10,995 pending his arraignment, also scheduled Friday in West Covina Superior Court.
The community is rallying to quickly rebuild a roadside memorial to a slain sheriff’s deputy near Irwindale that was destroyed in a car crash Thanksgiving morning.
The memorial marked the location along Live Oak Avenue near Peck Road in an unincorporated county area near Irwindale, where Deputy David March, 33, of Saugus, was fatally shot after pulling over a career criminal on April 29, 2002.
A woman was driving eastbound on Live Oak Avenue about 7 a.m. Thursday when she fell asleep at the wheel and allowed the vehicle to drift to the side of the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Hector Figueroa said in a written statement.
But the Irwindale Police Officers Association, which initially helped fund the monument, along with L & L Building Material Inc., which originally did the brickwork, are wasting no time getting March’s memorial restored.
“The cost is no issue. It needs to back up as soon as possible with no delay,” Irwindale police Officer and POA President Rudy Campos said.
L & L volunteered to redo the brickwork for free, and the Irwindale POA will have the plaque that adorned the memorial polished and repaired, Campos said. He expressed gratitude to L & L for stepping in to help.
Neither the driver nor her passenger were injured in the crash, but the memorial comprised of bricks and a metal plaque was destroyed, he said.
No crime was initially suspected in the crash, which was being investigated as an accident, officials said.
The importance of the monument persuaded officials to move forward with the repairs early next week, hopefully as soon as Monday, instead of waiting on possible compensation for the damage from the driver. It’s unlikely the POA will seek to be reimbursed by the driver who crashed into the monument he added.
The destruction of the memorial gave a glimpse into how deeply March’s slaying affected the local community.
Flowers have been showing up at the memorial site since the crash, Campos said.
Fellow deputies have held annual 24-hour honor guards over the site on the anniversary of the deputy’s slaying.
Following the murder of March, who was assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, killer Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico where he was arrested in 2006. He is now serving a life sentence in prison.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
IRWINDALE — For the second time in two days, a flaming big rig brought the afternoon commute through the San Gabriel Valley to a crawl Friday, this time in Irwindale, authorities said.
No injuries were reported in connection with the fire, which ignited about 5:15 p.m. in the westbound lanes of the 210 Freeway at the 605 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said.
Callers first reported seeing a big rig disabled and on fire in the No. 3 lane of traffic, the officer said. Subsequent callers reported the fire grew until the truck was fully engulfed.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes, according to CHP logs. The cause was unclear.
Officials initially shut down all but the carpool lane as they extinguished the fire and removed the scorched truck from the roadway. A little over an hour later, the carpool and two left-hand lanes had been reopened.
IRWINDALE — Police are seeking a thief or thieves who stole $30,000 worth of sound equipment from the trailer of a Monrovia-based nonprofit children’s theater company as it was parked in Irwindale earlier this week.
The trailer was discovered missing from the 15500 block of Arrow Highway Monday morning, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. The theft was believed to have taken place between 5:45 p.m. Nov. 1 and 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2.
Inside the trailer was sound equipment belonging to Center Stage, a nonprofit theater company that teaches children to sing, dance and act, the sergeant said.
“The sound equipment consisted of microphones, handheld transmitters, power antennas, mixers and other sound equipment,” Zendejas said.
The trailer was found the following day in the city of El Monte, however the equipment was missing, he said.
Anyone with information regarding the theft was asked to contact Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas at 626-430-2290.
IRWINDALE — A large fire gutted a vacant, stone-built, city-owned house Thursday, officials said.
Passers-by first reported seeing flames emanating from the house along Arrow Highway at Allen Drive just after 6 p.m., Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
The home was engulfed in fire, with flames shooting through the roof, when firefighters arrived on-scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Delgado said.
“We could see a large column of smoke probably two miles out,” he said.
A partial roof collapse prompted firefighters to assume a defensive stance as they doused the burning home with water, officials said. The flames were extinguished in about half an hour.
The house sustained major damage, Delgado said, though a dollar-value estimate was not immediately available.
An arson investigator was summoned to the scene to look into the cause of the fire.
There was no electricity connected at the vacant home, Delgado said. Officials were investigating the possibility transients staying inside the vacant home may have caused the blaze.
No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters, Delgado said.
IRWINDALE — A crash involving an overturned car sent one person to the hospital and snarled the freeway commute through Irwindale early Thursday, authorities said.
The crash, initially reported as a solo-car wreck, took place about 7 a.m. on the northbound 605, just south of the 210 Freeway interchange, California Highway Patrol officials said.
Responding officers found a single car that had flipped over in the No. 2 lane, CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said. An occupant was taken to an area hospital by ambulance in unknown condition.
The two left lanes of the northbound 605 Freeway remained shut down for about an hour following the crash.
A former Irwindale police officer accused of stealing his 89-year-old father’s life savings of $250,000 is expected to serve a year in jail after pleading “no contest” Tuesday to a charge of grand theft, authorities said.
Dennis Alva, 48, became a convicted felon after pleading no contest in Los Angeles Superior Court to a single count of grand theft, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jean Guccione said.
Alva’s father, Jess Alva, said the fact that the thief was his own flesh and blood made the process difficult.
“The worst part is, him and I were so close. We used to have breakfast at least two or three times a week,” Jess Alva said. The father added he had not spoken to his son since his arrest.
“I never thought he would do such as thing. He probably thought I was senile or something.”
Guccione said Alva pleaded no contest as part of a plea agreement.
“He’s going to surrender for jail time on Nov. 18 (at sentencing),” she said.
Alva was expected be sentenced to one year in county jail, along with five years of formal probation,” Guccione said. He was also ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to his father.
As part of the plea agreement, additional counts of second-degree burglary and elder abuse were dismissed, officials said.
If convicted on all charges, Alva could have faced up to four years behind bars.
Irwindale Interim Police Chief Roy Campos said he was glad that justice was taking it’s course, but had no further comment regarding the case.
“He’s no longer a member of our department,” Campos said. Alva left the Irwindale Police Department within the past month, however Campos said employment privacy laws prevented him from saying whether the officer was terminated or resigned.
The theft took place over several years, investigators said. The money was not recovered, and it was unclear what Alva spent it on.
Alva’s father first reported the theft to police in his hometown of Azusa in January, “When he discovered that the cash he had hidden throughout his garage was missing,” according to a statement issued by the District Attorney’s Office.
Alva was first arrested in April after the case was presented to the District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division.
Alva is one of three Irwindale police officers who are currently being scrutinized in criminal investigations.
Former Irwindale police Sgt. David Fraijo is the subject of a criminal investigation and a civil rights lawsuit after a woman alleged the sergeant sexually assaulter her during a traffic stop.
Another Irwindale officer, Daniel Camerano, has been placed on administrative leave as internal investigators and sheriff’s investigators looked into an allegation of inappropriate relationship with Explorer Scouts. Further information was not available.
IRWINDALE — Coroner’s officials on Tuesday identified the big rig driver killed during a weekend crash on the 210 Freeway as a 47-year-old Los Angeles man.
Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said an autopsy was done on Ruben Escobar but the cause of death was deferred. They will conduct toxicology tests and check Escobar’s pacemaker, he said.
The crash on the westbound 210 Freeway, east of Irwindale Avenue was reported to the California Highway Patrol shortly after 12 p.m., Sunday.
CHP Sgt. Carlo Fusco said it was a solo crash. The big rig ran off the road and went down an embankment, he said.
The truck, which was carrying PVC piping, fell about 40 feet and ended up on its wheels.
- Ruby Gonzales
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — Scorching heat that sent eight high school cross country runners to the hospital with heat-related illness Saturday in Irwindale is expected to subside somewhat this week, before rebounding by the weekend, officials said.
As temperatures climbed past 100 degrees Saturday, eight high school track and field athletes had to be taken to hospitals for treatment of heat-related injuries while taking part in the Don Bosco Invitational at the Sante Fe Dam Recreation Area Saturday morning and early afternoon, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said. The young athletes ranged in age from 13 to 16. The extent of their injuries was not clear.
The temperature at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area reached 104 degrees by early Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service’s Oxnard office.
Chris Shockley, Athletic Director of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Rosemead, said none of the injuries were believed to be major.
He did not yet know which schools the teens who were treated attended. Dozens of high school sent runners to the event, which involved a 3-mile course.
“We’ve been doing it for years,” he said of the meet. Extra precautions, such as staffing extra emergency medical technicians were taken due to the expected heat.
The student athletes began running at 8 a.m., and the events were completed by 10 a.m.
But the early start was not enough to prevent some runners from feeling ill effects from the heat.
“It started getting pretty warm by 8:30 a.m.,” Shockley said. “That’s when guys started dropping off.”
But the EMTs gave no indication it was unsafe to continue to the race, he said.
Trainers were also on-hand to watch over the student athletes, Shockley said.
Believing the early schedule would allow the race to be completed before it got too hot, Shockley said he’d heard no discussion of cancelling or postponing the cross country meet due to the weather.
“I don’t know if that conversation took place this morning. It didn’t with me,” he said.
Following Saturday’s heat, temperatures should begin dropping by a degree or two each day, NWS Meteorologist John Dumas said.
By Wednesday, the area could be as much as five or ten degrees cooler, he said. And relative humidity levels are expected to drop, reducing the muggy feel in the air.
“We should be getting some relief on that,” Dumas said.
But the mild cooling trend will reverse Thursday.
By Friday, high temperatures will creep back up into the high-90s and into triple-digits throughout the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, as well as the Inland Empire, according to NWS forecasts.
Forecasters also made note of a slight chance of rain in the northern mountain ranges of Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire Monday.
But even if the storm does materialize, it’s not expected to be significant, Dumas added.
“We’re not looking for any big storms,” he said.
Members and organizers of the San Gabriel Valley Young Marines who meet at AMVETS Post 113 in Irwindale arrived at their meeting Wednesday to discover a trailer containing all of their camping gear had been stolen.
The equipment and trailer, valued at about $8,000, was discovered missing Wednesday evening when the group met for the weekly gathering at the post, 14910 E. Los Angeles Street, according to the unit’s commander, Alwyn Torres. It was last seen by group members during their previous meeting Aug. 28.
“Basically, it’s all the gear that we’ve been able to accumulate over the past seven years that we’ve been in existence in Irwindale,” Torres said.
In addition to the 8-foot by 12-foot trailer itself, the stolen equipment included cots, tents, a 5-horsepower generator, a six-burner grill, a recently purchased medical equipment bag worth $500, rappelling gear and other supplies.
More than 80 members of the San Gabriel Valley Young Marines regularly use the equipment, Torres said.
Whoever stole the trailer must have brought their own vehicle with a trailer hitch to remove it, he added.
Police continued checking area surveillance cameras for possible leads, though there was initially not much evidence for investigators, Irwindale police Detective Sgt. George Zendejas said. Information regarding the stolen trailer and items was shared with other area law enforcement agencies.
“We appeal to any witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious,” Zendejas said.
Despite the significant loss, Torres said the Young Marines will continue.
“I’m irritated about it, but we’ll just keep moving forward,” he said.
Young Marines members are planning to take part in a September 11th commemoration ceremony in Montebello Wednesday.
“I will continue. I’m gong to have to do something. Either donations, or borrow from people. Whatever it takes, i can’t neglect my kids.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Sgt. Zendejas at 626-430-2245, or by email at email@example.com.
Those interested in donating equipment or funds to replace Young Marines’ stolen items can reach unit commander Torres at 626-241-0055, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the San Gabriel Valley Young Marines march in La Verne’s 2013 Independence Day Parade. (Courtesy)