IRWINDALE >> Police working a DUI patrol in Irwindale late Christmas night arrested an alleged drunken driver who led them on a chase in a stolen pickup truck that ended in a crash at a park in Baldwin Park, authorities said.
Miguel Higuera Lujan, 36, of Baldwin Park remained jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail Saturday on suspicion of auto theft, DUI and hit-and-run, according to Irwindale police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Two officers were working an extra enforcement operation in search of intoxicated drivers just after 11 p.m. when they saw a 1994 Nissan pickup truck run a stop sign at Ramona Boulevard and Elton Avenue, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
The driver refused to pull over, starting a chase, the sergeant said. He fled for about a mile, running through a red light otherwise driving recklessly, before driving the truck through the basketball court at Hilda L. Solis Park, at 15010 Badillo Street in Baldwin Park.
“Thankfully, there was no one in the area,” Zendejas said.
Lujan jumped from the still-moving truck and continued to flee on foot. The truck came to a stop after crashing into a chain link fence at the edge of a flood control channel, officials said. Police soon captured the fleeing suspect nearby.
Police determined the truck had been reported stolen in the Temple City area.
Zendejas commended the involved officers.
“This was outstanding work on behalf of the officers working the DUI enforcement patrol and taking another dangerous DUI driver off the streets to keep our citizens safe during the holiday season,” he said.
Lujan was scheduled to appear for arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
IRWINDALE >> Deputies plan to canvass a stretch of Foothill Boulevard early Monday in search of witnesses or anyone who may have information to help solve the mysterious slaying of a Duarte man found shot to death in his bullet-riddled car nearly a month ago.
Martin Diaz, 48, was found fatally shot about 5:40 p.m. Nov. 25 in his car, which was stopped in the 15900 block of Foothill Boulevard, just west of Irwindale Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials said. The shooting is believed to have occurred between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., as Diaz was on his way to work at an Azusa sprinkler company.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting, the motive or a suspect description have been released.
In hopes of generating new leads, “Deputies and officers will be contacting drivers (and) passengers in an effort to obtain information from possible witnesses who may have seen anything related to the murder of 48-year-old Martin Diaz,” according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are assisting Irwindale police in the investigation.
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 888-222-8477.
PHOTO of Martin Diaz courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Crime scene photo by Walt Mancini.
IRWINDALE >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a Duarte man found dead inside a bullet-riddled car along Foothill Boulevard in Irwindale Wednesday morning.
Martin Diaz, 48, was found fatally shot about 5:40 a.m. in the 15900 block of Foothill Boulevard, Los Angeles Count Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said.
He was believed to have been driving east on Foothill Boulevard when he was shot by an unknown assailant, who remains at large, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. But it was unclear exactly what time the shooting took place.
No further information regarding the circumstances or motive in the shooting were available.
Anyone with information was 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.
IRWINDALE >> Police in Irwindale began sporting pink shoulder patches with their uniforms Thursday in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and raise funds for the City of Hope.
“The pink patches are intended to stimulate conversation within the community and encourage public awareness in the early detection and fight against this disease,” Irwindale police officials said in a written statement.
The patches are also available for members of the public to purchase. They are available for $10 each at the Irwindale Police Department, 5050 N. Irwindale Ave., along with T-shirts available for $15 each.
The patches were first offered for sale in July, but officers began wearing them Thursday and will continue wearing them through October.
The effort had been well-received so far, Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“The Pink Patch Project has been a team effort, and we have received overwhelming support in our efforts to raise funds, raise awareness and unite with those who have battled breast cancer either personally or through friend and family,” he said.
The department’s foal is to raise $10,000 for the City of Hope in Duarte to fund breast cancer research, treatment and education, officials said.
Police Chief Anthony Miranda said he was proud of department personnel for their efforts.
“They identified a great cause, in where by raising funds we believe we can help make a difference in the fight against breast cancer,” Miranda said.
For more information on the Pink Patch Project, visit www.pinkpatchproject.com. To purchase a patch or T-shirt, contact Norma Ortiz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 626-430-2249.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.
IRWINDALE >> The California Highway Patrol invites teens to learn about the dangers of drinking and driving Saturday before enjoying car races, a pit area tour and more at the Irwindale Speedway.
The free Designated Driver Program begins at 4:45 p.m. inside Building 5 of the race track, 500 Speedway Drive, on the same day Irwindale Speedway will honor police, fire and emergency officials during First Responders Night, CHP Officer Ramberto Salcido said
Following a brief presentation by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, guests will be taken on a guided tour of the pit area, provided with a meal and given a chance to meet drivers for an autograph session, the officer said.
Pre-race ceremonies honoring first responders will take place at 6:45 p.m., followed by racing at 7 p.m.
For more information on the Designated Driver Program, contact Officer Salcido at 818-240-8200. Spots must be reserved via email at email@example.com.
IRWINDALE >> Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging other area police chiefs to a drag race Saturday night at the Irwindale Speedway to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal street racing and encourage legal competition.
The TOP COP race will take place at 8 p.m. at the drag strip at 500 Speedway Drive, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said.
The event will follow an afternoon of NHRA Street Legal racing beginning at 5 p.m.
An admission price of $10 for adults and $5 for kids includes all of the day’s racing events, Gatto said.
The cost to race is 20, according to Speedway officials. Gates open at 4 p.m.
“We’ve invited the chiefs to bring their own police cars or one of their department’s police cars,” Miranda said in a written statement. “We’ll get them some practice runs on our eighth-mile drag strip and then, at 8 o’clock, we’ll see who the ‘TOP COP’ will be! We’ll determine the night’s winner based on each driver’s reaction times on the starting line.”
Chiefs from the Bell, Beverly Hills, San Gabriel, San Marino, Santa Monica and Vernon police departments had accepted the challenge, among others, Gatto said.
“The purpose of the “TOP COP” challenge is to raise public awareness about the dangers of illegal street racing and to raise support for street legal NHRA drag racing as a safe alternative,” Gatto said.
“Illegal street racing affects everyone, not just the participants,” Miranda added. “We need to have safe, controlled places like Irwindale for this activity and to put an end to the senseless loss of young lives.”
IRWINDALE >> Officials evacuated a Los Angeles County fire station after a couple cleaning out a deceased veteran’s home in Covina discovered what appeared to be an 81mm mortar shell and brought it to the Irwindale firehouse Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The incident began just after 2 p.m. at Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 38, 15546 Arrow Highway, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw said.
A couple was cleaning out the home of a relative and military veteran who had died in Covina when they came across a collection of military items, which included the ordinance, described as a somewhat football-shaped M43A1 mortar shell, the captain said.
Firefighters stored the device in a brick office and summoned a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad to investigate, Henshaw said.
The bomb squad responded and determined the device was inert and contained no explosives, police said. The all-clear was sounded shortly before 4 p.m.
The fire station was evacuated, but no other nearby buildings in the commercial neighborhood were evacuated, Henshaw said.
In general, residents who discover possible explosives are advised to leave them where found and call 9-1-1, rather than transport them to a fire or police station, Henshaw said.
IRWINDALE >> A man died Saturday after police took him into custody with the use of a Taser while responding to reports he was acting strangely along Ramona Boulevard, officials said.
The incident began about 3:30 p.m. when officers responded to a gas station in Baldwin Park along Ramona Boulevard at the 605 Freeway after someone reported the man was lying on the sidewalk, Baldwin Park Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said.
The man, who was reported to be in his 40s, was calm when officers arrived but witnesses directed them to a parking lot across the street.
“When officers arrived, they were told that the suspect had stolen a large American flag and flag pole from a gas station and had been swinging it at cars and people in the area,” deputy Crystal Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
IRWINDALE >> Police helped a teenager wrangle his pet, 3-foot-long lizard after it escaped from its yard Saturday afternoon for the second time in recent weeks.
A neighbor first called police about 11 a.m. to report what they described as a Komodo dragon loose in the neighborhood along Nora Avenue, just north of Cypress Street, Irwindale police Sgt. Armando Lopez said.
While officers did not find a Komodo dragon, which is the largest lizard species on Earth and known for highly toxic saliva, they encountered an very “well-fed, 3-foot-long iguana,” Lopez said.
And the officers recognized the runaway reptile as the same one they had helped capture after a previous escape July 24, the sergeant added.
The officers contacted the teenage boy who owns “Peppy” the iguana, who came and picked him up.
Lopez said the large lizard did not cause any problem during Saturday’s foray.
“He just hisses a little when you get close,” he said.
PHOTO of “Peppy” the iguana, taken July 24, 2015, courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.
IRWINDALE >> A Baldwin Park man was behind bars Sunday after being caught in the act of stealing copper wire from an industrial mining operation, police said.
Miguel Angel Gallegos, 31, was booked on suspicion of grand theft and providing false information to police following his arrest shortly before 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 13100 block of Ramona Boulevard, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said in a written statement.
A witness called 9-1-1 from a neighboring business to report seeing someone removing bales of copper wire from Vulcan Material Company via a surveillance camera, the sergeant said.
“Officers located a subject matching the description hiding in some bushes nearby the location,” Gatto said. “The subject was in possession of approximately 200 feet of large gauge copper electrical wire.”
Officers determined Gallegos had cut a hole in a fence surrounding the mining operation to take the wire, he said. The wire was valued at about $1,500.
Gallegos was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance.