A man and woman who robbed a La Mirada convenience store of $700 worth of Red Bull energy along with their two young children in a brazen crime caught on camera have admitted to robbery and child abuse charges, authorities said.
Elizabeth Kathy Larez, 27, of La Puente and Bryan Gary Corona, 27, of Whittier, were immediately sentenced to jail and prison, respectively, during their court appearances on Friday, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
Larez pleaded “no contest” to two counts of robbery and one count of child abuse, while Corona pleaded “no contest” to two counts of robbery and one count of child abuse, Ardalani said in an email.
Lares was sentenced to 365 days in county jail and three years of formal probation, she said. A three-year state prison sentence was suspended, but could be reimposed if Larez violates her probation. She was also ordered to attend 52 weeks of parenting classes and barred from possessing any dangerous weapons.
Corona received a sentence of three years in state prison, Ardlani said.
The charges stem from a June 10 robbery at an ampm minimart at 13550 Beach Blvd., just south of Imperial Highway. The heist was captured on video by store surveillance cameras.
•Video: Surveillance camera footage of La Mirada Red Bull robbery
Larez and Corona entered the store about 11:30 p.m., accompanied by their two sons, ages 9 and 10, as depicted in the video.
The man and woman first distract their clerk while the two boys leave the store carrying cases of Red Bull, the video shows. When the clerk tried to stop the theft, Larez and Corona pelted him with cans of the beverage before also grabbing cases of Red Bull and running out the door.
Investigators released the video in hopes of generating clues, and anonymous tipsters soon helped police identify Larez and Corona as the robbers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective David Sotomayor said at the time.
Deputies and Buena Park police found and arrested the suspects July 14 at the Portola Inn and Suites, 7921 Orangethorpe Ave. in Buena Park, officials said. The children were placed in the custody of family members.
Sotomayor said Corona admitted he had sold the drinks.
LA MIRADA >> Deputies arrested a man Thursday on suspicion of robbing the same La Mirada gas station twice over the past two weeks, officials said.
Ryan Patrick Reynolds, 22, was booked on suspicion of robbery hours after the most recent heist, which took place on Thursday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
Reynolds entered the store at Beach Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue about 8:30 a.m. brandished a handgun and demanded money from the clerk, according to the lieutenant. He obtained several hundred dollars and was last seen fleeing the area on foot.
The same suspect is also accused of a similar robbery reported at the same gas station at about 7:30 p.m. on July 25, Limon said.
Detectives following up on the investigation identified Reynolds as a suspect in the crimes and took him into custody Thursday afternoon, she said.
Further details of the arrest were not immediately available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA MIRADA >> A tight-lipped serial bank robber known to the FBI as the “Mum’s the Word Bandit” tried, but failed, to carry out his latest heist in La Mirada on Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The suspect received his moniker for his tendency to pass tellers a note demanding cash without speaking, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. No weapons have been seen.
He showed up about 1:30 p.m. at the Bank of the West, 12709 Valley View Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Manuel Flores said.
He passed a teller a note demanding money, he said. When the teller failed to comply, he left empty handed.
The bandit was already being sought in connection with a May 18 robbery at another Bank of the West Branch, 4501 E. La Palma Ave. in Anaheim, Eimiller said.
Officials described him as a white man of about 60 years old, with a white beard. During Friday’s robbery, he wore a blue, short-sleeve, collared shirt, a blue baseball cap and tinted glasses.
He fled the area in a white Toyota Echo, last seen heading south on Valley View Avenue, Flores said.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711, or the FBI’s 24-hour Los Angeles-area tip line at 888-226-8443.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
LA MIRADA >> A sheriff’s patrol car responding to a report of a collision became involved in an collision of its own on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The crash occurred about 5:20 p.m. at Imperial Highway and La Mirada Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Manuel Flores said.
The deputy was heading north on La Mirada Boulevard with emergency lights and sirens activated when the patrol car collided with another motorist driving through the intersection on Imperial Highway, the sergeant said. The deputy was responding to another reported car crash when the collision took place.
Officials said the deputy suffered injuries to his chest and ankle, possibly amounting to fractures, but suffered no apparent major injuries, Flores said.
A passenger in the second car involved in the collision complained of pain but declined to be taken to a hospital, he said. The driver of the second car was apparently unhurt.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
The last of 13 defendants charged in connection with an alleged La Mirada-based credit card skimming and drug trafficking ring has been captured in Orange County, authorities announced Friday.
Lloyd Luis Leyh, of Huntington Beach, was apprehended Thursday in Orange, FBI officials announced via Twitter. Details of his arrest were not available.
He joined a dozen other suspects already in custody in connection with the federal 27-count indictment announced last month.
The suspects — many of which have ties to La Mirada- and Norwalk-area street gangs, such as the La Mirada Punks, the Carmelas and the Nazi Low Riders — are accused of using credit card skimming machines to steal the information from more than 500 credit cards, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek. Many of the credit card numbers were obtained at a Huntington Beach restaurant.
Prosecutors allege the ring then made expensive purchases, then returned to items to stores for cash, netting more than $500,000.
Three of the defendants are also accused of methamphetamine trafficking, and one is charged with weapons violations.
Federal officials said the investigation has been ongoing for more than two years.
PHOTO courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice
Prosecutors filed a murder charge, 14 attempted murder charges and other allegations on Thursday and a man and woman they say embarked on a random shooting spree in the Whittier area over the weekend that left one man dead and three others wounded.
Alejandro Lazo, 21, and his girlfriend Reyna Gomez, 26, both of Whittier, who themselves were shot and wounded under mysterious circumstances following Saturday’s mobile rampage, have previously been considered “persons of interest,” in the series of violent crimes. Both suspects are self-described gang members with criminal records.
But Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Capt. Christopher Bergner announced Thursday that the couple has been formally arrested in connection with the crime spree.
And the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed one count of murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and one count of carjacking against each defendant, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling. Gomez was additionally charged with torture for allegedly shooting a man in the groin during the bizarre attacks that unfolded in Whittier, La Mirada and Pico Rivera.
There was no known motive or explanation for the rampage, Bergner said.
“These were senseless acts of violence, acts committed on innocent people that were merely enjoying the day, running errands, in what they believed to be a safe area,” the captain said. “The individuals that were victims of this crime, these were random targets of violence that were unprovoked.”
The investigation continues, and detectives are seeking additional suspects believed to have played roles in portions of Saturday’s crime spree, Bergner said. He declined to comment further regarding any outstanding suspects.
In addition, “They’re also reviewing similar crimes in the area to see of the suspects were also involved in any additional crimes that we haven’t yet reported,” Bergner said.
The spate of violence began about 1 p.m. Saturday in the 10000 block of Carmenita Road in South Whittier, where a man was wounded in the leg in a drive-by shooting. The attackers, later identified as Lazo and Gomez, were in a white Kia Rio when they carried out the Carmenita Road shooting.
The suspect turned up again about 2:15 p.m. in the 11100 block of Rosehedge Drive in Pico Rivera, where they carjacked a man at gunpoint and fled in his green Nissan Pathfinder SUV, Deputy Lilian Peck of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The victim was unhurt.
Just over an hour later, another shooting linked to the couple was reported behind a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. Gomez is accused of shooting a man in the groin from as he walked down the street, resulting in the torture charge filed against her, officials said. The victim, a man in his 50s, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspects then headed down Colima Road in the carjacked Pathfinder and opened fire at two motorists who were stopped at a traffic light near Lambert Road, Peck said. No one was injured in the car-to-car attacks.
The shooters continued south to Imperial Highway and La Mirada Boulevard, where they shot a man in the arm as he was sitting in a car about 4 p.m., according to Peck.
“Norwalk Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to the La Mirada shooting but quickly learned another shooting occurred just south of them, at the intersection of Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road, La Mirada,” Peck said.
“The fourth victim, Jose Ricardo Sahagun, a 44-year-old father of two little boys, was struck multiple times with gunfire as he sat in his car, waiting at a traffic light. Other victims in nearby vehicles were also fired upon indiscriminately, but Jose cwas the only person injured and he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Sahagun succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
The search for the killers continued for more than two hours before deputies found the carjacked Nissan Pathfinder abandoned at Amelia Mayberry Park in South Whittier shortly after 6 p.m.,Peck said. “It was there the suspects unloaded the vehicle they used as a mobile gun turret,” she said.
But gunfire erupted again about 8 p.m., this time outside a motel in the 15000 block of Carmenita Road, authorities said. This time, it was the suspects who had been wounded in a shooting.
“Both suspects were shot in the torso and when they realized the gravity of their injuries, they flagged down a concerned citizen and asked her to dial 911 for them,” Peck said.
Lazo and Gomez were found sitting in the white Rio believed to have used in the first shooting of the spree, officials said. A gun was recovered from the car, and has since been linked to the numerous nearby crimes scenes, Bergner said.
The circumstance of the suspect’ shooting remains under investigation by the Whittier Police Department. No suspect description was available.
Family members of Sahagun thanked the police and God for the arrests in the slaying of their loved one, as well as the community for its outpouring of support.
The Compton social worker and former school teacher left behind a wife and two sons, ages 4 and 7.
“While this is a positive step toward justice and closure, there’s no reconciling of the fact that the taking of a n innocent life has devastated both our family, and the community,” Maria Del Rosario Sahagun.
Family members described Jose Sahagun as an example for the community.
A fund to benefit Jose Sahagun has been set up online at www.gofundme.com/jose-ricardo-sahagun.
A viewing for Jose Sahagun has been scheduled for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdau at the All Souls Mortuary, 4400 Cherry Ave. in Long Beach.
A Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 8545 Norwalk Blvd. in Whittier, to be followed by burial at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach.
Detectives described both Lazo and Gomez as self-identified gang members but declined to name the gang they belong to.
Both were released from jail late last year after serving time for prior convictions, officials said.
Los Angeles County court records show Lazo pleaded guilty to extortion and assault with a deadly weapon on Feb. 23, 2016. On the same date, he was also convicted of possession of methamphetamine on a separate case. He pleaded no contest to petty theft on Dec. 26. 2014.
Gomez pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia on July 6, 2015. She also pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine on July 9, 2015 and to possession of methamphetamine for sale on Jan. 8, 2014.
Gomez was convicted of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and possession of marijuana for sale on June 11, 2012.
She pleaded no contest to four counts of vandalism on Sept. 23, 2010 and one count of vandalism on Jan. 31, 2011. She was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on Oct. 20, 2009.
According to county booking records, Lazo was being held without bail, while Gomez was being held in lieu of $12 million bail. They were scheduled to make their initial court appearance Friday in the Downey branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
If convicted as charged, the suspects could both spend the rest of their lives in prison.
PHOTOS: (crime scene map and picture of victim Jose Sahagun courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
A man and woman were found shot in a stolen car in the parking lot of a Santa Fe Springs motel late Saturday, four hours after a shooting rampage that left one man dead and another wounded in Whittier and La Mirada, officials said.
The man and woman wounded in the Santa Fe Springs shooting were being held on suspicion of auto theft and gun possession Sunday as detectives continued investigating whether they were connection to the earlier shooting spree, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. Their identities were not released.
The couple matched the general description of the man and woman being sought in connection with the spate of shootings, Sgt. Vincent Plair of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The suspect description has not been disclosed.
“It is unclear whether the detained individuals are the suspects in the earlier shooting,” Plair said. “Homicide Bureau investigators are following up on all possible leads and working with Whittier Police Department to solve these crimes.
“As of now there have not been any arrests made in connection with these incidents,” he said.
Officers responded to reports of “shots fired” at 8 p.m. at the Budget Inn, 13420 Firestone Blvd., according to Whittier police Sgt. Ramos, who declined to give his first name.
The circumstances of the shooting were unknown and no suspect description was available, Ramos said.
Both the man and woman were taken to the University of Southern California, Irvine Medical Center for treatment, the sergeant said.
The woman was shot once, he said. Her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The man suffered multiple gunshot wounds. An update on his condition was not available.
Police soon learned that the car the man and woman were in had been reported stolen, Whittier police Lt. Brian Ellis said. Officers also recovered a gun from the couple.
Without a suspect description, it was unclear whether the shooting was related to a spate of three shootings in Whittier and La Mirada Saturday afternoon that left one man dead and another man wounded.
The violence began about 3 p.m. with a carjacking carried out by a man and woman in Pico Rivera, according to sheriff’s officials.
The carjacked Nissan Pathfinder showed up at a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road in Whittier about 30 minutes later, Ellis said.
The suspects opened fire on a man in his 50s in an alley to the rear of the coffee shop. He was wounded in the leg.
Within minutes, the occupants of the SUV again opened fire at the intersection of Colima and Lambert roads, Ellis said. A car was struck, but the people inside were unhurt.
A third shooting believed to involve the same carjacked SUV and suspects unfolded about 4 p.m. at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road in La Mirada, sheriff’s officials said.
The victim, 44-year-old Jose Shagun of Norwalk, succumbed to his injuries at the University of California Medical Center, Irvine, at 4:51 p.m., according to Orange County coroner’s records.
Deputies found the Nissan SUV believed to have been used in the three shootings shortly after 6 p.m., abandoned at Amelia Mayberry Park in South Whittier.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
One man died and several other people were wounded in a string of shootings in the Whittier, La Mirada and Norwalk areas on Saturday afternoon which were believed to linked to the same carjacked car, authorities said.
The attacks took place beginning about 3:30 p.m. in the jurisdictions of the Whittier Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Norwalk Station, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. A man died at a hospital following one of the shootings in La Mirada, officials said.
The series of crimes was believed to have begun with the carjacking of a dark green or black Nissan Pathfinder SUV in the Pico Rivera area about 3 p.m., officials said.
The vehicle was occupied by a man and a woman, both armed with guns, when it pulled through the rear alley of a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road about 3:30 p.m., Whittier police Lt. Brian Ellis said. A man in his 50s was walking in the alley.
“The suspects pulled up to him and shot him in the leg,” Ellis said. The victim was treated for injuries not believed to be life threatening.
There was no apparent motive for the attack, which appeared to be random, he said.
The SUV then headed south on Colima Road, where the attackers opened fire on another car at Colima Road and Lambert Road, according to Ellis. The victim’s car was struck, but no one inside was injured.
The SUV was last seen heading west on Lambert Road following the car-to-car shooting.
The same SUV is believed to be linked to a fatal shooting about 30 minutes later in La Mirada, Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
A man was shot and mortally wounded about 4 p.m. at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead,” according to the statement.
Deputies were also looking into possible additional shootings.
“There are additional shootings in the surrounding areas involving multiple victims,” the sheriff’s department statement said. “The number of victims, as well as their conditions are unknown at this time. There is no additional information available at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.”
Deputies found the SUV believed to have been used in the shootings parked, unoccupied, at Mayberry Park in South Whittier shortly after 6 p.m., officials said. But the suspects remained at large.
The spate of violence followed another shooting in unincorporated South Whittier early Saturday afternoon in which a man was wounded.
A man was shot in the leg about 12:45 p.m. along Carmenita Road, just north of Telegraph Road, sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Nevarez said.
It was unclear whether the earlier afternoon shooting had any connection to the spate of shootings that occurred later in the afternoon.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
CYPRESS >> A La Mirada woman died and a Whittier man is accused of manslaughter and DUI following a three-car crash in Cypress early Easter Sunday.
Alexis Barragan, 22, died in the 12:40 a.m. crash at Katella Avenue and Valley View Street, according to Orange County coroner’s records.
She was a passenger in a car being driven by 22-year-old Nicholas Sanchez-McCormick of Whittier, Cypress police Sgt. Ken Ramsey said.
“During the investigation, it was determined that the vehicle driven by (Sanchez-McCormick) was traveling westbound on Katella and ran a red light at the intersection of Valley View,” Cypress police officials said in a written statement. “His vehicle collided with two other vehicles, which were traveling north and south on Valley View.”
Paramedics pronounced Barragan dead at the scene.
Three occupants of the other two involved cars were taken to a hospital as a precaution, police said.
Officers determined Sanchez-McCormick was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony drunken driving, Ramsey said.
Sanchez-McCormick already had a pending DUI case at the time of Sunday’s crash, according to Los Angeles County booking records and sheriff’s officials.
He was arrested on Jan. 1 by deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Cunningham said.
He was issued a citation following that arrest and released from custody the same day, records show. Formal charges have yet to be filed.
Sanchez-McCormick pleaded “no contest” in 2015 in Los Angeles County Superior Court to a count of driving without a valid license, court records show. A second charge of driving on a suspended license was dismissed.
According to Orange County booking records, Sanchez McCormick was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Central Jail branch of Orange County Superior Court.
LA MIRADA >> Officials are asking the public’s help in finding a 68-year-old La Mirada woman who suffers from dementia and has been missing since Thursday.
Sun Ja Choi was last seen about noon Thursday at her home in the 13000 block of La Jolla Circle, Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“Ms. Choi suffers from dementia and the family is concerned for her well being,” he said.
She’s described as Asian, 5 feet tall, 90 pounds, with short black hair and brown eyes. She was wearing red shirt and blue jeans when she disappeared.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk station at 562-863-8711, or the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department