LA HABRA >> Police jailed an alleged purse-snatcher Sunday after two good Samaritans pursued the robber and retrieved the 82-year-old victim’s purse, officials said.
Alfredo Lezama, 25, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, La Habra police Lt. Clint Angle said. He had an address listed in Los Angeles, though officials believed him to be transient.
The incident began just before 2 p.m. when a an 82-year-old La Habra woman was walking home from church, Angle said.
A robber, later identified as Lezama, snatched her purse from her at the northeast corner of Beach Boulevard and Lambert Road and ran, the lieutenant said.
“Two witnesses followed the suspect in their vehicle for a short distance,” he said. “The passenger jumped out and body checked the suspect.”
Lezama dropped the purse and continued running, Angle said. “(The witnesses) were able to get the purse back and returned it to the victim.”
The witnesses left before speaking with police, he said.
A second witnesses directed police to the suspect nearby at Beach Boulevard and Toledo Place, police said. Officers arrested Lezama without a struggle.
The elderly victim was unhurt.
FULLERTON >> Police jailed a La Habra man Tuesday in connection with the sexual batteries of at least seven women in recent months near California State University, Fullerton, officials said.
Investigators arrested Jose Alfredo Gradilla-Cuevas, 21, when they caught him in the act of sexual battery after following him for several weeks, Fullerton police Sgt. Kathryn Hamel said in a written statement.
Gradilla-Cuevas was booked on suspicion of sexual battery and was being held in lieu of $500 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Thursday at the the Central Jail Court Branch of Orange County Superior Court, according to county booking records. His occupation was listed as “unemployed.”
Though they didn’t know his identity, investigators had been seeking the suspect since August, she said. “Detectives from the Fullerton Police Department, had been actively searching for a male suspect involved in at least seven reported incidents of sexual battery on females in the northeast area of Fullerton near California State University, Fullerton.”
The crimes took place between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., police said.
“In each case, the suspect approached the victims from behind and sexually battered them by grabbing private parts of the bodies,” Hamel said. The serial groper immediately fled after each incident, and none of the victims were injured.
Detectives identified Gradilla-Cuevas as a suspect after finding him driving a vehicle similar to one captured on surveillance video in one of the alleged attacks, Hamel said.
Detective then began tailing the suspect for several weeks, the sergeant said. Gradilla-Cuevas was seen stalking dozens of potential victims in Fullerton, Placentia and La Habra, Hamel said.
Detectives watched shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday as Gradilla-Cuevas parked his car and approached a lone woman walking on Nutwood Avenue, near Placentia Avenue, Hamel said.
“(Gradilla-Cuevas) then ran up behind the lone female victims and slapped her buttocks,” she said. The suspect fled, but was immediately detained and arrested.
Anyone with information, or anyone who has had a suspicious encounter with the suspect is asked to contact Detective Carin Wright at 714-738-6754.
PHOTO of Jose Alfredo Gradilla-Cuevas courtesy of the Fullerton Police Department.
LA HABRA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a 49-year-old La Habra man who died after he was found hanging in a cell following a domestic violence arrest.
Daniel Oppenheimer died at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton at 1 p.m. Friday, Orange County coroner’s officials said in a written statement.
He was discovered hanging in a cell at the La Habra Police Department at noon, according to police and coroner’s officials.
Officers arrested Oppenheimer on suspicion of domestic violence after being summoned to a domestic dispute about 9:45 a.m. Friday, La Habra police officials said in a written statement. Further details regarding the arrest were not released.
Oppenheimer was alone in the cell when he was found hanging and unconscious, Sgt. Clint Angle said. Police declined to say what object was tied around the man’s neck.
Paramedics took Oppenheimer to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation into the death is being handled by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
LA HABRA >> A man died Friday after he was found hanging in a La Habra Police Department jail cell following a domestic violence arrest, authorities said.
Investigators withheld the man’s identity Saturday pending notification of family, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said.
He was arrested shortly after 9:43 a.m., after a woman called police to report a domestic dispute, La Habra police officials said in a written statement. Officers arrested the man on suspicion of domestic violence and took him to the department’s jail, 150 N. Euclid Ave.
He was discovered hanging in a jail cell later in the day, Angle said. He was alone in the cell.
“Officers began life saving measures while the paramedics arrived,” according to the statement. “The male was then transported to St. Jude Hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
Police declined to say what object the man apparently used to hang himself. No further details of the death or the alleged domestic dispute that preceded it were released Saturday.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an investigation, as is standard procedure when a person dies while in the custody of an Orange County law enforcement agency.
SANTA ANA >> Prosecutors Friday filed a murder charge Friday against a Santa Maria man with killing his mother and dumping her body in some bushes behind a La Habra carport earlier this year.
Following five months of investigation, La Habra police detectives arrested Gabriel Anthony Espinoza, 30, of Santa Maria Tuesday in connection with the slaying of his mother, La Habra police Sgt. Jose Quirarte said in a written statement.
After making an initial appearance Friday in Orange County Superior Court, Espinoza was being held without bail pending his next scheduled hearing on Feb. 6, according to Orange County booking records.
A man walking his dog first found the body of 58-year-old clinical social worker Emma Posadas Espinoza of Lompoc about 4:30 a.m. on July 21 in the 900 block of South Idaho Street in La Habra.
“He indicated that he had been walking his dog, off leash, behind the carport area, when his dog alerted on something,” Quirarte said. “He went to investigate and discovered the body. He immediately called the police.”
“The body had been covered with foliage and only the feet and a limited portion of the body appeared to be uncovered. The body was later identified as being Emma Posadas Espinoza.”
But the death remained shrouded in mystery for months. There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body when discovered, officials said. Initial autopsy results were not conclusive.
Autopsy results provided by the Orange County coroner investigators Dec. 17 revealed that Posadas-Espinoza died of asphyxiation, police said. Further details regarding exactly how she died were not available Saturday.
“Based on information gathered in the investigation, which included search warrants and court orders, the La Habra Police Department was able to identify a suspect responsible for the homicide,” Quirarte said.
Aided by Santa Maria police, La Habra officers arrested Espinoza at his Santa Maria home.
Prosecutors have filed a murder charge against the suspect, and also allege the murder involved special circumstances, making Espinoza potentially eligible for the death penalty if convicted. The alleged special circumstance is reportedly murder for financial gain, however officials could not confirm that information over the weekend.
Espinoza called Lompoc police the day his mother’s body was found and told them he hadn’t heard from her, but she was not formally reported missing, Lompoc police Sgt. Chuck Strange said at the time.
Espinoza declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper in July.
LA HABRA >> A ruptured water main Friday buckled Euclid Avenue in La Habra and flooded a portion of the La Habra Police Department, officials said.
The water main break occurred about 12:40 p.m. on Euclid Avenue, just north of La Habra Boulevard, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said. Water gushed for more than two hours before crews shut off the flow.
In addition to buckling the street above, water poured into the basement of the nearby La Habra police station, the sergeant said.
Portions of the station’s basement — which houses telephone equipment and come computers, as well as a property room, locker room and gym — ended up flooded with 2 to 3 inches of water, Angle said.
No important equipment was damaged, and the station continued operating as normal, he said.
Workers temporarily patched the roadway to allow traffic to resume, Angle said. Crews will return Monday morning to make permanent repairs, and Euclid Avenue north of La Habra Boulevard is expected to be closed through most of the day.
SANTA ANA >> A La Habra gang member received a sentence of 50 years to life in state prison Friday for fatally shooting a Westminster man outside a La Habra Halloween party eight years ago, authorities said.
A Santa Ana Superior Court jury convicted David Anthony Parga, a 28-year-old member of the West Side La Habra street gang, late last year of second-degree murder for the Oct. 29, 2006, slaying of 27-year-old Leland Washington, according to Orange County District Attorney’s officials.
In addition to finding Parga guilty of murder, the jury also found true special allegations that the crime was gang-related, and that Parga personally used a firearm in the killing, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Washington, a senior at California State University, Long Beach, attended a Halloween party in the 400 block of West First Street when he was shot to death shortly after 1:30 a.m., officials said.
Though the party was attended by many gang members, Washington had no gang ties, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Washington went to the party at the invitation of two friends, but returned to his car after he was unable to find them.
“Outside of the house, Parga approached Washington and shot him without provocation several times in the torso,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Parga murdered the victim for a criminal street gang purpose. Washington and Parga did not know each other, and the victim had no previous contact or conflict with anyone at the party.”
Washington’s friend placed the wounded man into a car, called 9-1-1 and rushed him to the La Habra Police Department, officials said. He was then taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
After the investigation into Washington’s murder went cold, prosecutors developed new evidence and charged Parga with the killing in 2009. He was already serving a jail sentence for leading police on a chase in a stolen car that ended with a crash in Whittier about two weeks after the slaying.
LA HABRA >> A federal grand jury indicted a La Habra businessman Thursday on charges of illegally manufacturing and selling AR-15 style rifle parts, as well as completed firearms, authorities said.
ROHG Industries owner Joseph Roh, 46, of Fullerton agreed to turn himself in to authorities Friday, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Roh is accused of making and selling hundreds of lower receivers for AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles, Mrozek said. A lower receiver is the primary component of the rifle, containing the trigger and hammer.
“In addition to the lower receivers, the indictment alleges that Roh illegally sold complete rifles and pistols,” Mrozek said.
Roh was not licensed to manufacture or sell guns, officials added.
Starting with an incomplete lower receiver, Roh and his employees would complete the firearm part using machining tools.
“Roh attempted to avoid the licensing requirements by requiring that each customer play a token role in the manufacturing process, which often meant merely pushing a button on a (milling) machine, while company employees did the vast majority of the work,” Mrozek said.
While the manufacture and sale of incomplete lower receivers is not legally regulated, the manufacture and sale of complete lower receivers is, and requires proper licensing, Mrozek explained.
Only the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle must be serialized and registered as a firearm under state and federal law.
In some cases, at the request of customers, Roh would complete the assembly of the guns, adding an upper receiver, barrel and all other necessary components, according to the DOJ.
If convicted as charged, Roh faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
LA HABRA >> A man carjacked a woman in La Habra before leading police on a wild chase that ended in Yorba Linda late Friday, police said.
Gerald Paul Terveer, 47, of La Habra was arrested following the pursuit, which began shortly before 7 p.m., La Habra Police Department spokeswoman Cindy Knapp said in a written statement.
Brea police notified their counterparts in La Habra that a black Ford F-150 pickup truck had been spotted heading west in the eastbound lanes of Lambert Road, Knapp said.
A short time later, the truck rear-ended a gray Ford Taurus that was pulled along the curb, she said.
“(Terveer) exited his vehicle and ordered the woman driver to get out of the car,” Knapp said. “She did so, and he took her vehicle and sped away from the scene.”
The woman was not hurt, she said.
La Habra police officers caught up with the Taurus, initiating a pursuit, Knapp said.
Terveer drove wildly at high speeds during the chase, driving on the wrong side of the road numerous times and nearly colliding with other vehicles, she said. At one point, the car became airborne as it sped off the side of an offramp of the 91 Freeway.
The chase sped through La Habra, Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Placentia and ultimately Yorba Linda.
It lasted for more than half an hour before the Taurus turned onto a Yorba Linda cul-de-sac, where officers cornered him and took him into custody.
According to Orange County booking records, Terveer was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in Santa Ana Superior Court.
LA HABRA >> A man was hospitalized in a medically induced coma with major head injuries after taking a fall while riding his bicycle Sunday evening, officials said.
The man, 47, was riding about 7:15 p.m. in the 200 block of North Euclid Street when he crashed into a street sign, the sergeant said.
The bicyclist fell to the ground and struck his head on the pavement, Ruiz said. He was not wearing a helmet.
Paramedics rushed the man to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, he said. The injured man was placed into a medically induced coma as he received treatment.
The victim’s city of residence was not available Monday.