IRWINDALE >> Police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was discovered slumped over the wheel of a vehicle parked at a gas pump in Irwindale Saturday, officials said.
The body, described police only as that of a woman between 40 and 60 years old, was found about 2:50 p.m. at an Arco station at Longden Avenue and Myrtle Street, Irwindale police Sgt. Geroge Zendejas said. The dead woman’s identity was not released pending positive identification and notification of her family.
“At this time, it is unknown if there is any foul play involved in the death,” Zendejas said.
Police responded to the gas station after receiving a 9-1-1 call reporting a person who was slumped over the steering wheel of a mid-size SUV vehicle parked next to a gas pump, the sergeant said.
She was unconscious and not breathing when police and paramedics arrived, he said. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was not clear whether there were any signs of trauma on the body, Zendejas said.
Detectives were working with the business owner to review surveillance video in hopes of learning exactly what took place, he added.
No further details were available.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner were assisting Irwindale police in the investigation.
IRWINDALE >> Police are seeking four people seen fleeing from a reportedly stolen SUV that was found crashed and abandoned, teetering over the side of the Lower Azusa Road overpass of the 605 Freeway early Sunday, officials said.
The crash took place about 12:30 a.m. on Lower Azusa Road, just west of the onramp to the northbound 605 Freeway, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said.
Witnesses reported seeing four people fleeing from the 2010 Chevrolet Suburban immediately after the solo-vehicle crash, the sergeant said. Two of them got into a white Lexus, which fled the scene. None of the people who ran from the SUV were found.
The SUV went over a concrete retaining wall along the north side of the road and smashed through metal fencing that lines the top of it, Gatto said. Pieces of fence fell onto the freeway below, causing damage to at least two vehicles that subsequently struck the debris.
The SUV came to a rest with its back section hung up on the retaining wall, and its front wheels against a steep grass embankment along the 605 Freeway.
California Highway Patrol officers briefly shut down the northbound lanes of the freeway as the crashed SUV and the debris were cleared, he added.
After determining the SUV was registered to an El Monte resident, El Monte police paid a visit to the owner, who told them the SUV had been stolen from his home, Gatto said. El Monte police took a vehicle theft report.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Irwindale police detectives at 626-430-2245.
PHOTO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department
IRWINDALE >> Police in Irwindale recovered a stolen pickup truck and arrested a woman on suspicion of stealing it early Saturday, officials said.
Monique Lanette Delgado, 33, of El Monte is accused of auto theft, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said in a written statement. She was also being held on an outstanding warrant related to a petty theft case.
A witness called police about 8:15 a.m. to report seeing a suspicious person loitering in the employee parking lot of a business in the 4900 block of Rivergrade Road, Zendejas said. Officers spotted the suspicious woman driving as she was trying to drive away in a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.
Police soon discovered the truck had been reported stolen in El Monte about two hours earlier.
The owner had left the truck running in his driveway as he briefly walked into his home, Zendejas said. When he returned, the truck was gone.
Zendejas cautioned the public to be mindful of opportunistic auto thieves.
“Car thieves look for moment of opportunity and will not hesitate to steal your car if you leave the keys inside,” he said.
According to county booking records, Delgado was being held in lieu of $40,000 bail pending a scheduled appearance Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
IRWINDALE >> Irwindale police delivered a truck full of toys to the young patients at City of Hope hospital in Duarte Wednesday.
Officials collected hundreds of donated playthings during a toy drive Tuesday at Mariscos Uruapan restaurant in Irwindale, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. Tuesday’s event featured a meet and greet with Mexican recording artist Luis Coronel.
City officials from Irwindale and La Puente joined Irwindale police in the drive, organizers said.
Police loaded the toys into a police truck Wednesday and delivered them to City of Hope, Zendejas said.
“Chief (Anthony) Miranda wants to thank all who came out to support the toy drive as we worked together to brighten the day of children who will be spending Christmas at the hospital this year,” Zendejas said.
PHOTO: Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy)
IRWINDALE >> Police asked the public’s help Saturday in tracking down a man believed connected to a series of mail thefts from five Irwindale businesses late last month.
The thefts occurred Oct. 27 at five businesses in the 4800 block of Fourth Street, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said in a written statement.
A thief pried open the locked, outdoor mailboxes and took mail, the sergeant said. “Several checks were stolen during the thefts and subsequently cashed at nearby locations.”
Since the Oct. 27 thefts, several incidents of mailbox tampering have been reported in the same area, officials said.
Police released a surveillance camera image of a man taken as he cashed a stolen check, as well as a photo of an SUV captured on security cameras near where the mail was stolen.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect or has information regarding the case is asked to contact Detective Jose vargas at 626-430-2290.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.
LOS ANGELES >> A former Irwindale police sergeant was convicted Friday on charges related to the on-duty sexual assault of a Chino woman he had pulled over two years ago, authorities said.
David Paul Fraijo, 36, pleaded “no contest” to two felony counts stemming from the Oct. 20, 2012 attack in the area of Arrow Highway and Azusa Canyon Road, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
Under a negotiated plea arrangement announced at what was scheduled to be a preliminary hearing setting, the former Irwindale Police Department sergeant pleaded no contest in Los Angeles Superior Court to charges of oral copulation under color of authority and sexual battery by restraint, Risling said.
“Fraijo stopped a female driver on Oct. 20, 2012, and asked to see her driver’s license,” Risling said in a written statement. “Fraijo then sexually assaulted her in a parking lot.”
Three other counts Fraijo was additionally charged with following his March 10 arrest are expected to be dismissed when Fraijo returns to court for sentencing Jan. 14 before Judge Ray Jurado, Risling said. The charges to be dismissed are kidnapping to commit another crime, forcible oral copulation and assault under color of authority.
Under the plea agreement, Fraijo faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison, Risling said.
If convicted of the five counts he was initially charged with, Fraijo could have received a life sentence.
The Chino woman victimized by Fraijo initially filed a lawsuit seeking $20 million in damages, however the lawsuit was withdrawn in January, and the city paid about $400,000 to the woman, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
Fraijo was fired from the Irwindale Police Department in February, according to Chief Anthony Miranda.
Fraijo was released from custody in June pending his legal proceedings after posting $1 million bail.
Deputy District Attorney Rosa Alarcon of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division, who prosecuted the case, could not be reached for comment late Friday, nor could Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda, who took the helm at the department in January, replacing former chief Dennis Smith.
Fraijo is not the only former Irwindale officer to be criminally convicted in recent months.
Another ex-Irwindale officer, Dennis Alva, was sentenced to a year in prison and five years of probation in November after pleading “no contest” to a single count of grand theft, district attorney’s officials said. He was accused of stealing his father’s life savings of $250,000.
And a third former Irwindale officer, Daniel Camerano, was charged last year with six felony sex crimes for alleged crimes against two underage police Explorers. The officer was initially placed on paid leave as authorities investigated, then resigned in June after charges were filed.
According to county booking records, Camerano is free on $240,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing setting Oct. 16 in Los Angeles Superior Court. He has pleaded not guilty.
WEST COVINA >> Dozens of San Gabriel Valley first responders took part in a large-scale active shooter training scenario simulating a terrorist attack on a West Covina shopping mall Sunday.
Six local law enforcement agencies, federal officials and firefighters took part in the mock terror attack at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, which was held early in the morning, before mall business opened for the day.
“We take the safety of our visitors and our residents very seriously,” West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said. “There have been several incidents that have happened on the east coast — one happened last week — that certainly have raised our awareness that we need to be prepared. And in my view, we need to be ready for something and hope it never happens, (rather) than to respond to something we weren’t prepared for.”
A blast from a flash-bang grenade intended to simulate a bomb detonation signalled the beginning of the intensive drill at the mall, where three West Covina police officers played the role of heavily armed gunmen bent on creating carnage. Within minutes, the sounds of simulated gunshots echoed through the mall as police engaged the mock terrorists in a gunfight.
Two of the pseudo suspects carried assault rifles, while the third carried a shotgun.
Participating first responders were not told ahead of time what they would be facing in the drill, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez explained.
“Each officer involved in this has to determine how to best handle the situation,” he said.
Police simultaneously hunted for the gunmen and rescued mock victims who wore makeup to simulate injuries. Some officers carried their standard duty sidearms, while others were armed with rifles.
Patrol officers called in a SWAT team after the attack turned into a hostage situation.
Practicing a technique known as “fast-roping,” West Covina police SWAT members slid down a rope from a hovering Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter to join in the operation.
The West Covina Police Department’s recently acquired rescue vehicle, a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle acquired from the U.S. Department of Defense, was used to evacuate victims.
After a scenario that lasted about an hour, the three suspects had been killed in shoot-outs with officers. Three civilians had also been killed during the scenario, and many more wounded.
Police officers from West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park and Irwindale police departments were joined by California Highway Patrol officers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, FBI agents, West Covina firefighters and mall security officials in responding to the mock attack, Lopez said. While West Covina has hosted similar training scenarios in the past, Sunday’s training session was their biggest.
About 75 law enforcement officers participated, along with about 60 volunteers playing the part of victims or bystanders, officials said. The volunteers were primarily police Explorers from the West Covina, Glendora and Ontario police departments.
“Whether this incident happens in West Covina, or happens in Irwindale or Covina, we’re familiar with working with each others’ team,” the chief said. “We might be in different uniforms, but in the end, we’re all in one uniform when it comes time to deal with a critical incident.”
After watching the exercise unfold at the mall, West Covina City Councilman Fred Sykes said he approved.
“A place this large, it’s unfathomable for us not to look at what to do in this type of situation,” he said.
The costs and planning associated with massive drill is a wise investment, as it may help save lives down the road, Sykes said.
“This is extremely important for our community,” the councilman said.
Just like in sports, he added, “The battles are won in practice.”
IRWINDALE >> Three men were hospitalized in critical condition following a solo-car crash on Arrow Highway Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The crash was reported at 5:28 p.m. on at Arrow Highway and 4th Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said.
The Scion sedan involved ultimately came to a rest upside-down and lodged in a gate surrounding an auto body shop.
The three occupants were men estimated to be in their 20s, fire Capt. Ronald Mandzok said.
One of them was thrown from the car, the captain said. He was unconscious as he was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by ambulance.
The other two men were trapped inside the car and had to be cut free of the wreckage using Jaws of Life, Mandzok said. They were both flown to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter, Mandzok said. One remained unconscious the scene, while the other was initially unresponsive, but started to come to as firefighters treated him.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the Irwindale Police Department.
No further details were immediately available.
IRWINDALE >> A fire tore through an Irwindale auto shop Saturday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke over the San Gabriel Valley but resulting in no injuries, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 6:30 p.m. at Irwindale Auto and Truck Repair, at the corner of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue, according to Irwindale police and Los Angeles County fire officials.
Firefighters arrived to find flames burning through the roof of the auto shop, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Phil Ulloa said.
Firefighters battled the flames for more than an hour before declaring the fire extinguished at 7:50 p.m., Ulloa said.
In addition to being an auto repair shop, the business also warehouses tires and vehicle batteries.
A fire department hazardous materials crew was summoned to the scene due to damaged batteries, officials said.
The auto shop was closed when the fire broke out, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said. No evacuations were ordered.
One employee who was inside the business when the fire broke out managed to exit safely before firefighters arrived, officials said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, and the full extent of the damage was not immediately clear.
The intersection of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue was shut down as a result of the blaze and remained closed through Sunday morning, Gatto said.
PHOTO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department