Two men robbed a 72-year-old man riding his bike home from a doctor’s appointment at gunpoint on Tuesday in an unincorporated county area between Covina and Irwindale, authorities said.
A 72-year-old man was riding home on a bicycle following a doctor’s appointment about 11:10 a.m. when two robber approached him in a silver Toyota compact car at Irwindale Avenue and Queenside Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Reid said.
The car pulled in front of the bicyclist, blocking his path, he said. The driver pointed a handgun at the senior citizen and demanded he turn over a backpack he was carrying.
A passenger emerged from the car and took the victim’s backpack, which contained credit cards and other personal items, according to the lieutenant. Both robbers then fled in their car.
The gunman was described as a Latino man in his 30s with black hair. No description of the second robber was available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
IRWINDALE >> Irwindale paid a $2.75 million settlement on Thursday to a young woman who was molested as a teenager by an Irwindale police officer for more than a year while she served as a police Explorer Scout.
The civil suit stems from the conviction of former Irwindale police officer Daniel R. Camerano, who pleaded “no contest” in late-2014 to a series of sex crimes for his molestation of the then-14-year-old girl, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, between May of 2009 and December of 2010.
Camerano, who was also accused of sending sexually suggestive texts messages to another 17-year-old female Explorer Scout in 2012, was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
The girl subsequently filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department. The settlement was reached shortly before trial was scheduled to begin,” according to the plaintiff’s Pasadena-based attorney, Anthony DeMarco. A settlement agreement was reached last month.
“The abuse of my client occurred because of a culture of acceptance of sexual abuse and harassment of girls and women that was allowed to persist in the Irwindale Police Department,” DeMarco said in a written statement. “She, like others, was forced to endure sexual abuse and harassment in silence or risk losing her dream of a career in law enforcement.”
The attorney further alleged that police officials failed to act after learning of the sexual abuse, which took place during “ride-alongs” with the officer, who served as an advisor to the Irwindale Police Department’s Explorer program.
“In the victim’s civil action against the City of Irwindale, evidence was uncovered that Police department officials were aware of complaints that Camerano was sexually abusing the underage female Explorer, but did not stop his access to and, thus, continued abuse of the girl.”
“She was being sexually molested in the station over and over,” DeMarco said. “The police station… It’s not big. They have cameras down every hallway. Folks knew what was going on. There was a culture of acceptance of this kind of behavior toward women, young women and girls that came into the department.”
Irwindale City Manager John Davidson and Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda could not be reached for comment Friday. The city is closed for business on Fridays.
Prosecutors initially charged Camerano with six felony counts, which would have resulted in a maximum sentence of five years in prison if he had been convicted as charged.
But he took a plea deal, and pleaded “no contest” to counts of using a minor for sex acts, oral copulation of a person under 16 and contact with a minor for sexual offense.
During the coarse of the investigation into Camerano, “There were other girls, as well, that divulged abuse,” he said.
“One other civil lawsuit involving a victim of Camerano is currently pending and has a trial date in early 2018.”
Criminal cases have not been filed in connection with the other incidents of girls reporting abuse by Camerano.
“I’m not sure what the barometer was for why the (district attorney’s office) decided to prosecute on some and not on others,” DeMarco said.
The abuse suffered by Jane Doe continues to have lasting effects on the young woman, DeMarco said.
“It has, and will, have effects on almost all aspects of her life going forward,” he said. “But she’s a resilient person who I am sure will accomplish great things in life.”
The Irwindale Police Department ended it’s Explorer Program following Camerano’s arrest.
DeMarco said the abuse of his client was not an isolated incident, but rather a symptom of a police department out of control.
“As of September of 2014 there were 14 internal investigation complaints regarding the police department with less than 30 officers,” according to the attorney.
Former Irwindale police sergeant David Fraijo received a nine-year prison sentence in 2015 after pleading “no contest” to charges stemming from the sexual assault of a woman during a traffic stop on Oct. 20, 2012, near Azusa Canyon Road and Arrow Highway.
Fraijo had pulled over a woman as she was delivering newspapers, prosecutors said. When she said she did not have a driver license, he directed her to a parking lot where he attacked her.
He ultimately pleaded “no contest” to charges of oral copulation under color of authority and sexual battery by restraint.
Three additional charges of kidnapping to commit another crime, forcible oral copulation and assault under color of authority were dismissed under the negotiated plea arrangement.
If convicted of the crimes he was initially charged with , Fraijo could have faced a life sentence in prison.
DeMarco also pointed out two other civil lawsuits brought against department lieutenants for alleged sexual harassment of female personnel, including cadets and Explorer Scouts.
And in an off-duty incident, a former Irwindale police sergeant was sentenced to a year in jail in 2013 for stealing his father’s life savings of $250,000 in 2012.
The Explorer Scouts, run by the national organization Learning for Life and affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, is a program in which young people are able to learn about law enforcement by observing police and working alongside them.
To help combat and prevent abuse of Explorer Scouts by authority figures, DeMarco said he would like to see existing voluntary policies laid out by Learning for Life intended to prevent such abuse be made mandatory.
Any time young people are allowed to be one-on-one with adults, without supervision, “You’re asking for problems,” he said.
“More needs to be done,” DeMarco said. “Looking to have careers in law enforcement is an admirable thing, and it should be fostered. But it shouldn’t come at a heightened risk of sexual abuse.”
PHOTO: Irwindale Police Officer Daniel Camerano at the scene where he and another officer saved a father, son and dog from and arson-set fire September 29, 2010 in Irwindale, Calif. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Birmingham/SVCITY)
IRWINDALE >> Police arrested an ex-con with drugs, a loaded handgun and an active arrest warrant after approaching him for illegally parking in a handicapped stall outside an Irwindale convenience store early Saturday, authorities said.
James Matthew Doke, 31, of Duarte was ultimately booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, heroin possession and possession of methamphetamine for sales, according to Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto. He was also being held on a warrant for violating the terms of his “Post-Release Community Supervision” felony probation under AB 109 guidelines.
The alleged inconsiderate parking violation first drew the attention of an officer about 3:20 a.m. to an ARCO gas station and ampm minimart at 16000 E. Foothill Blvd.
“During the course of the officer’s investigation, the officer found that the subject had an active ‘no bail’ warrant for his arrest,” Gatto said in a written statement.
After detaining Doke in connection with the warrant, “It was subsequently found that the suspect was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana,” Gatto said. “It was also found that the subject was a convicted felon.”
Police took Doke into custody without a struggle.
In addition to small amounts of heroin and recently-legalized marijuana, officers seized about 10 grams of methamphetamine, along with “paraphernalia that would be indicative of narcotics sales,” Gatto said.
Doke’s extensive criminal history dates back to age 19, Los Angeles County Superior Court records show.
He was convicted of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and forging an officials government seal in 2004. A charge of check fraud was dismissed.
Doke was convicted of being under the influence of drugs in 2005, as well as auto theft and resisting or obstructing police in 2006, records show.
He pleaded “no contest” to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer in 2011, while a charge of auto theft with a prior auto theft conviction was dismissed.
Doke was again convicted of resisting or obstructing police in 2011. A charge of possession of a stun gun by a convicted felon was dropped.
In 2013, Doke was convicted of auto theft with a prior auto theft conviction, and his probation was revoked for a violation later the same year.
He was arrested once more on Nov. 17, 2016, for violation his AB 109 felony probation. He received a sentence of 40 days in jail, but was released after 10.
Officials filed another allegation of violating his felony probation in October of 2016, but Doke failed to appear in court, resulting in the warrant on which he was being sought at the time of his arrest on Sunday morning.
Under AB 109, also known as the “California Public Safety Realignment” of 2011, those convicted of crimes deemed, “non-serious,” “nonviolent,” and “non-sexual,” can be supervised by county probation departments, rather than the more stringent oversight of state parole agents.
In determining eligibility, the law considers only convicts’ most recent conviction — in the case of Doke, auto theft — and not prior offenses. And critics of the legislation, such as the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles, have pointed out that crimes including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer are considered to be a nonviolent offenses for the purposes of AB 109.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Doke was being held without bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The law, as well as others aimed at meeting a federal mandate to reduce overcrowding in California prisons, has come under renewed scrutiny from critics in recent weeks after Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer was shot to death on Feb. 20, allegedly by a gang member with a lengthy criminal history who had been in and out of jail five times in the eight months prior to the deadly shooting.
PHOTO: Police arrested a wanted ex-convict and seized this handgun, along with methampetamine, heroin and marijuana, after approaching a Duarte man for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space outside an ampm minimart at 16000 E. Foothill Blvd. in Irwindale on Sunday, March 26, 2017. (Courtesy, Irwindale Polcie Department)
IRWINDALE >> What began as a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light resulted in the arrest of a known gang member with a loaded pistol and a stun gun early Saturday, authorities said.
Brian Rodriguez, 22, of La Puente was booked on suspicion of being a carrying a loaded gun, being a gang member in possession of a gun and bring a weapon — a stun gun — into a jail facility following his arrest shortly after midnight at Irwindale Avenue and Arrow Highway, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said.
An officer pulled Rodriguez over after noticing the Volvo sedan he was driving had a non-operating tail light, the sergeant said.
During the traffic stop, Rodriguez admitted to having a loaded 9mm handgun, which was recovered from beneath the driver seat of his car, he said. A small amount of marijuana was also recovered, thought the substance is no longer illegal to possess following November’s ballot initiative which legalized recreational marijuana for adults.
While in the process of booking Rodriguez into jail at the Baldwin Park Police Department, officials discovered he had a stun gun concealed on his person, Gatto said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
IRWINDALE >> Firefighters quickly gained control of two small brush fires that scorched about half an acre of vegetation in wash area along the 605 Freeway in Irwindale on Friday afternoon, officials said.
The fires were first reported at 1:12 p.m. in a wash just southwest of the 605-210 freeway interchange, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina said.
About half an acre went up in flames before firefighters stopped the “forward progress” of the fire just after 2 p.m., he said.
Water-dropping helicopters joined firefighters on the ground in the effort.
No injuries were reported, and no structured were threatened by the fires.
Investigators were summoned to the scene to determine the cause of the fire, Medina said.
Another fire broke out less than a mile to the south along the same riverbed on Wednesday afternoon and also scorched about half an acre of vegetation, officials said. The cause of that fire remains under investigation as well.
PHOTOS/VIDEO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.
IRWINDALE >> Police, aided by a good Samaritan, jailed two men after they robbed a woman of an iPhone in front of an Irwindale coffee shop after she arranged to sell the device online, authorities said.
Justin Mitchell Huff, 19, of Riverside was arrested for robbery and resisting arrest, and Bryan Joseph Gomez, 19, of Huntington Park was arrested for robbery, conspiracy, hit-and-run and resisting arrest, according to Irwindale police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A woman had arranged to sell her iPhone 7 via Craigslist and met the purported buyer shortly after noon outside a Starbucks, 15700 Arrow Highway, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“When the victim arrived, she met the suspect to the front of the store and the suspect forcefully took the phone from the victim, struggling and pushing her in the process,” police said in a written statement. “The victim sustained minor scratches from the altercation.”
A good Samaritan saw the robbery occur and watches as the robber hopped into a getaway car with a driver waiting at the wheel.
The witnesses called police and followed behind the suspects car, Zendejas said.
The suspects crashed into a parked car in the 4700 block of Irwindale Avenue and continued to flee on foot, police said.
“Officers converged in the area and located the two outstanding suspects in the area of Fraijo Avenue near Burrola Street,” according to the statement. Huff and his alleged getaway driver, Gomez, were arrested without a struggle.
Officers also recovered a replica handgun from the suspects’ car, Zendejas said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Irwindale Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 626-430-2239.
According to booking records, Huff and Gomez were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances.
In an effort to combat exactly this type of crime, Irwindale police officials in May unveiled an e-commerce and child custody exchange “safe zone,” monitored by surveillance cameras, in front of the Irwindale Police Department at 5050 N. Irwindale Ave.
“The purpose of the designated parking spots is to help ease the worry that a crime may occur during these types of encounters,” police said in a statement.
IRWINDALE >> An El Monte woman wanted for an alleged cigarette lighter attack on her ex-boyfriend last month led Irwindale police on a short pursuit before being taken into custody early Thursday, officials said.
Jessica Magaly Ruvalcaba, 20, was booked on suspicion of felony domestic violence, evading a police officer, drunken driving and driving on a suspended license, according to Irwindale police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The chase began about 9:40 a.m. when an Irwindale officer spotted a gray Ford Mustang speeding at Irwindale Avenue and First Street and tried to pull it over, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“(Ruvalcaba) failed to yield and led officers on a pursuit that terminated approximately one mile later in the area of Cypress Street and Irwindale Avenue,” police said in a written statement. Ruvalcaba stopped her car and surrendered.
A woman riding as a passenger in the Mustang was questioned and released, police said.
While the chase was ongoing, the pursuing officer recognized the description of the Mustang from a previous call he had handled several weeks ago, Zendejas said.
Ruvalcaba had been sought since Sept. 9, when she burned her ex-boyfriend with a cigarette lighter during an argument that took place in the same car, also along Irwindale Avenue.
Ruvalcaba told her ex to get out of her car, Zendejas said. When he did not comply, she burned him in the upper body with a cigarette lighter.
The man was injured by declined to be taken to a hospital, the sergeant said. Ruvalcaba fled the scene before officers arrived.
According to county booking records, Ruvalcaba was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending her initial court appearance.
PHOTO Jessica Ruvalcaba, 20, of El Monte. (Courtesy, El Monte Police Department)
IRWINDALE >> A crash between a motorcycle and a car in Irwindale early Sunday claimed the lives of both the motorcyclist and the driver of the car, authorities said.
The crash took place about 12:30 a.m. in the 14900 block of Los Angeles Street, east of Maine Avenue, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said in a written statement.
“Irwindale Police Department officers responded to the scene and found that a motorcyclist had been traveling eastbound in the No. 1 lane of Los Angeles Street when it collided with a white Toyota Scion that had been making a left turn out of the parking lot of a nearby business,” Gatto said.
The motorcycle collided with the driver-side door of the Scion as the car was exiting the parking lot of AMVETS post 113 and turning onto westbound Los Angeles Street, Sgt. John Fraijo said.
Paramedics pronounced the both the motorcyclist and the driver of the Scion dead at the scene, Fraijo said.
The motorcyclist was identified as Erick Medin Del Rio, 22, of Baldwin Park, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator A. Lopez said.
Officials identified the driver of the Scion as 38-year-old Oscar Pena of Ontario.
A woman riding as a passenger in the Scion was taken to a trauma center for treatment, according to the sergeant. An update on her condition was not available.
Gatto said the cause of the crash remained under investigation.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, is urged to contact the Irwindale Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-430-2245.
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men chased down a big rig to Irwindale after it was stolen in Baldwin Park Wednesday, but the thief escaped with the help of a knife-wielding accomplice who spirited him away in a getaway car, officials said.
The chain of events began about 11:50 a.m. with the report of a big rig being stolen in the 15200 block of Arrow Highway, just west of Azusa Canyon Road, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joshua Hendricks said.
A co-owner of the truck and a man in his friend, both men in their 20s, saw the truck drive off, he said. They called police and followed behind the stolen big rig in another car.
The truck became stuck in traffic on Irwindale Avenue at the 210 Freeway in Irwindale, officials said. The driver of the just-stolen big rig reversed the truck and rammed his pursuers. No injuries were reported, and the damage to the car was described as minor.
The victims exited their car and tried to grab the truck thief, but an accomplice showed up and brandished a knife before both suspects fled in a gray BMW sedan, Hendricks said.
Detailed descriptions of the suspects were not available.
The investigation was being handled by Irwindale police, Hendricks said. Irwindale police Sgt. Rene Sapien declined to discuss the case, referring inquiries back to Baldwin Park police.
IRWINDALE >> A small Southern California police department’s colorful effort to combat breast cancer has spread like wildfire, with 44 police agencies from across the region and the nation now joining the campaign by trading their traditional shoulder patches for bright pink versions.
Police are staffing a “Pink Patch Project” booth during the L.A. County Fair at the Fairplex in Pomona this month, where guests can purchase T-shirts, challenge coins, and of course, pink police department patches offered by the dozens of participating agencies, according Irwindale Police Sgt. Rudy Gatto.
The project has been well-received by fellow police officers and the public, Gatto said.
“In just three days at the L.A. County Fair, we have raised upwards of $10,000, (and) that’s just at the fair,” the sergeant said.
Proceeds from the memorabilia sales are being donated to fund cancer research, treatment and education, officials said.
Irwindale police first donned their pink patches and made them available for purchase by the public last year. The Irwindale Department was inspired by the Seal Beach Police Department, which gave officers pink patches in 2013 to stimulate conversation and raise awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“That year, the Irwindale Police Department raised over $20,000 for City of Hope,” Irwindale police said in a written statement.
This year, the department reached out to expand the project, Gatto explained. About 20 agencies from the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association initially joined in, followed by another two-dozen who heard of the project largely via social media outreach.
In addition to dozens of Southern California police agencies, departments as far away as New Mexico and New Jersey have joined the effort by sporting pink. A police sergeant from the Lyndhurst Police Department in New Jersey planned to visit the Punk Patch Project booth at the L.A. County Fair on Sunday, Gatto said.
During Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, officers in participating agencies wear the pink patches in lieu of their usual ones.
The Pink Patch Project is also come as a boon for law enforcement patch collectors, who have seen more and more department’s stop selling their normal department patches to the public in recent years over safety concerns.
For more information, including a list of participating agencies and how to purchase their patches and other memorabilia, visit www.pinkpatchproject.com.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] Glendora police officials staff the Pink Patch Project booth at the L.A. County Fair in Pomona on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Forty-four police departments from across Southern California and the nation are participating in the Irwindale Police Department’s Pink Patch Project to raise funds and awareness to combat breast cancer. (Courtesy) [BELOW} Pink Patch Project patches. (Courtesy)