UPDATED: Bomb squad destroys ‘suspicious package’ at La Mirada synagogue; found to be inert

LA MIRADA >> A bomb squad responded to a Jewish temple in La Mirada Wednesday after the synagogue received a “suspicious package” in the mail, ultimately finding it contained nothing dangerous, authorities said.
The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. at Temple Beth Ohr, 15721 Rosecrans Ave., at Santa Gertrudes Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The package, received via Priority Mail, was deemed suspicious due to its return address, Sgt. George Suarez said. Further details were not available.
The large box was addressed to the temple in handwriting, Rabbi Mark Goldfarb said.
“But the return address did not have a return address. Instead, in that area, there was a message: ‘Jason, the male child, to rule the world with an iron rod,” Goldfarb said. The statement appeared to be a reference to New Testament end times prophecies in the Book of Revelations.
Other “indecipherable things” were also scrawled on the box, the rabbi said. “That made the package suspicious in our minds.”
The package remained on an exterior porch at the south side of the building as deputies summoned a bomb squad team from the sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail to examine the package further, Suarez said.
Bomb squad members shredded the package with a powerful water cannon, sheriff’s and temple officials said.
Inside were found Bibles, coins and a music box, Goldfarb said.
“In the end, it turned out to be someone who tried to send us a gift,” he said. “But again, because of the strange and cryptic messages in the return address, it popped us as a suspicious package in our eyes.”
Deputies evacuated the temple, along with 50 to 60 children at the next-door United Methodist Church school and three to four nearby houses before officials sounded the all-clear, Suarez said. The evacuated students were taken to nearby Eastwood Elementary School, 15730 Pescados Drive.
Both Rosecrans and Santa Gertrudes avenues at their intersection for about two hours.

PHOTO via Keith Durflinger

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Officials: Three men arrested in La Mirada after trying to meet with minors to buy sex

LA MIRADA >> Sheriff’s deputies arrested three men who they say showed up at a La Mirada hotel to pay for sex with minors during an online sting operation last week, officials announced Thursday.
Matthew Brown, 32, of Long Beach, Jamie Rodriguez, 37, of Norwalk, and Jorge Garcia, 40, whose city of residence was not clear Thursday, were arrested for and subsequently charged with arranging and meeting with a minor for lewd behavior, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
“After ads were placed on websites, which commonly contain ads for sex workers, undercover deputies communicated via text and phone with potential buyers who attempted to purchase sex for money, making it clear that they were under 18,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “ After agreeing on a lewd act in exchange for money, the suspects responded to a meeting location.”
The men were arrested after arriving at a La Mirada hotel to meet who they believed to be were minors to exchange money for sex, Sgt. Jeff Walker of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force said.
According to booking records, Garcia remained in custody Thursday in lieu of $75,000 bail. Brown and Rodriguez had been released from jail pending their initial court appearances after posting $75,000 bail each.

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In-N-Out worker found shot to death outside La Mirada restaurant identified


LA MIRADA >> Authorities have formally identified a 48-year-old woman found shot to death outside the La Mirada In-N-Out Burger where she worked early Friday morning.
Josefina Alcocer Estrada of Buena Park was pronounced dead after she was found lying wounded shortly before 5 a.m. in the parking lot of the restaurant where she worked at 14341 Firestone Blvd., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator B. Kim said.
In-N-Out representatives previously identified the victim, an employee since 1996, as Josefina Alcocer.
The woman, who was wearing her In-N-Out uniform, died at the scene, officials said.
No suspect description was available, and the motive had not been determined, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
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 800-222-8477.

PHOTO by Keith Durflinger

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Two suspects detained following armed robbery at La Mirada cell phone store

LA MIRADA >> Los Angeles and Orange county law enforcement officials detained two suspects in Buena Park within minutes of an armed robbery at a La Mirada cell phone store Saturday, authorities said.
The crime took place about 10:20 a.m. at a wireless store in the 15000 block of Imperial Highway, near La Mirada Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jaime Alvarez said.
At least one man entered the store armed with a handgun and demanded cell phones before fleeing with an unknown number of the devices, the sergeant said.
Police in Buena Park soon spotted a vehicle matching the description of the one used as a getaway car in the robbery and stopped it at Valley View Street and Orangethrope Avenue, just across the county line, officials said.
Two men were detained, and a handgun was recovered, Alvarez said.
The investigation continued Saturday afternoon.

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Man found dead after La Mirada standoff identified

LA MIRADA >> Officials Friday released the identity of a 61-year-old man found dead from an apparent suicide after a SWAT team surrounded his La Mirada home for five hours on Wednesday.
Dennis Solis died at the scene of the standoff, which came to an end about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at a house in the 12000 block of Los Coyotes Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Solis was believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. An autopsy was yet to be carried out Friday.
Deputies responded to the home shortly before 5:30 p.m. after family members reported he was suicidal and armed with a rifle, Lt. Robin Limon of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said. The family members got out of the home unharmed.
After hearing gunshots, deputies summoned a SWAT team to take over the situation. After about five hours, sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau deputies forced their way into the home and found Solis dead.

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UPDATED: Man found dead following La Mirada SWAT standoff; suicide suspected

LA MIRADA >> A sheriff’s SWAT team found a man dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot late Wednesday following a five-hour standoff at a La Mirada home, authorities said.
The incident began about 5:20 p.m. at a home in the 12000 block of Los Coyotes Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Family members called 9-1-1 a little more than an hour earlier to report the man was suicidal and armed with a rifle, Lt. Robin Limon of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said.
Responding deputies heard the sounds of gunshots emanating from within the home, she said. The man’s wife and son had gotten out unharmed.
The sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, or SWAT team, was called to the scene, along with crisis negotiators. Authorities evacuated nearby homes as they continued trying to communicate with the man.
“Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Crisis Negotiations Team made numerous attempts to bring about a peaceful resolution tonight in La Mirada, however contact with the armed barricaded suspect was unsuccessful,” Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “Special Enforcement Bureau deputies made entry into the location and found a male adult inside deceased.”
The investigation was turned over to detectives from the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

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Suspects charged in 2006 slaying of Iraq War veteran


SOUTH GATE >> Detectives Sunday announced the arrests of two suspects in the cold case slaying of a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran from Rowland Heights found slain inside his burning car in South Gate in 2006, authorities said.
U.S. Army veteran Jesse Aguilar was found dead inside his car, which was found on fire on Oct. 26, 2006, in the Los Angeles Riverbed near Paramount Boulevard in South Gate, Detective Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Prompted by evidence in the case, prosecutors Wednesday filed charged of murder and torture against Anthony Silvas, 36, and Juan Vallejo, 40, Lugo said. Silvas, who has been considered a person of interest in the case since shortly after it occurred, while Vallejo was identified as a suspect in recent months.
After nine years waiting for justice, Aguilar’s mother, Nancy Aguilar, said she was glad to see the investigation move forward.
“It’s been a relief that there’s going to be accountability,” she said. “I want to look into the killers’ eyes. I want to see them.”
Vallejo, who lived in La Mirada at the time of the slaying, was arrested Wednesday at a home where he was living in Hawaiian Gardens, Lugo said. Silva, a South Whittier resident at the time of Aguilar’s killing, was already in custody in Orange County for an unrelated drug offense.
Lugo declined to discuss details of the killing, due to the ongoing investigation, but said it was motivated by a dispute over money. He said Aguilar and Silvas were 1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR2friends, and described the victim and Vallejo as acquaintances.
Nancy Aguilar said she herself new little about her son’s death. “I don’t even know how they killed by son,” she said.
Information will emerge as the legal process moves forward.
“Do I want to know everything? No. But I have to,” the mother said.
Aguilar, who grew up in La Mirada and joined the Army in March of 2001, took part in the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, his mother said.
“He went to war and came back in one piece, and I was so thankful,” she said.
He had been back in the U.S. less than two years and was working at the Automobile Club of Southern California in Costa Mesa when he was killed, according to the detective and Jesse Aguilar’s mother.
He never returned home after going to work Oct. 25, Lugo said. After being reported missing, his bound body was found the following day inside his car, which had been set ablaze.
Lugo, along with a team of fellow detectives, has been investigating Aguilar’s slaying since it occurred.
“We weren’t going to give up on this case,” he said.
1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR3Nancy Aguilar thanked detectives, and particularly Lugo, for their dedication.
“God sent Ray (Lugo) for this case because he never quits,” she said.
In addition to his parents, Nancy and Frank Aguilar, Jesse Aguilar is survived by two daughters, ages 9 and 14, three sisters and two brothers.
Nancy Lugo said in the years following son’s slaying, she has found comfort and solace in support groups, such as Parents of Murdered Children’s Orange County chapter.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Vallejo is being held in lieu of $1.01 million bail and is scheduled for arraignment Monday in Los Angeles Superior 1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR4Court. Silvas remained in custody in Orange County pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, officials said.


PHOTOS: [TOP TO BOTTOM] 1. Jesse Aguilar, 24, of Rowland Heights, was found slain inside his burning car in South Gate on Oct. 26, 2006. Two suspects were charged with his killing nine years later on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Courtesy)  2. Jesse Aguilar poses with an Iraqi boy while serving overseas with the U.S. Army following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (Courtesy)  3. Jesse Aguilar spends time with one of his two daughters shortly after returning home from a U.S. Army deployment to Iraq. (Courtesy)  4. The gravesite of Jesse Aguilar, 24, of Rowland Heights, who was found slain inside his burning car in South Gate on Oct. 26, 2006. Two suspects were charged with his killing nine years later on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Courtesy)  5. Jesse Aguilar, a 24-year-old U.S. Army veteran found slain in 2006, is pictured upon his graduation from the Wilshire School of Continuing Education in Fullerton. (Courtesy)


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Suspect jailed in connection with series of 15 armed robberies in L.A., Orange counties

Detectives arrested La Mirada man earlier this week who is believed to be responsible for 15 recent armed convenience store robberies throughout southeast Los Angeles County and north Orange county, officials said Friday.
The arrest came Tuesday following the suspect held up a business in Buena Park, according to Lt. Martin Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau.
After determining the suspect in the Buena Park heist appeared to be the same as that in the previous 14 robberies, detectives began scouring the neighborhoods along the border between La Mirada and Orange County where previous crimes had been reported, the lieutenant said.
Deputies spotted a man and car matching the description at a liquor store at Stage Road and Alondra Boulevard in La Mirada, he said. They then followed the car to Hawaiian Gardens, where they pulled it over and arrested the suspect.
Rodriguez said. A search of the 38-year-old suspect’s home in La Mirada turned up a .40-caliber handgun resembling the one used in the string of robberies.
Seven of the crimes took place in Los Angeles County, while the other eight took place in Orange County.
The name of the suspect was not released Friday as the investigation continued. Sheriff’s officials described him as a longtime resident of Hawaiian Gardens who had been recently living in La Mirada.
He was being held in lieu of $110,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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UPDATED: Man arrested following standoff near La Mirada

LA MIRADA >> Deputies took a man into custody after he holed-up inside a home along the La Mirada border in unincorporated Orange County Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The standoff began about 1 p.m. when deputies responded to deal with a man who had outstanding arrest warrants and was believed to be armed with several rifles or shotguns, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
Orange County deputies continued trying to persuade the man to surrender more than four hours later, Smitson said. Los Angeles County deputies helped close off nearby streets and evacuate nearby homes.
Orange County sheriff’s officials announced about 5:45 p.m. that the suspect had surrendered and been taken into custody.

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Home, cars struck by gunfire in La Mirada drive-by shooting

LA MIRADA >> Bullets pierced an occupied house and three cars in a drive-by shooting in a residential neighborhood Thursday, but injured no one.
Deputies received reports of gunfire about 11:20 a.m. in the 11900 block of Dilworth Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
A dark-colored sedan passed by and someone fired about 12 shots, striking a house with six people inside and three cars parked nearby, the lieutenant said.
The motive in the shooting remained under investigation.

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