Man seriously wounded in La Mirada shooting

LA MIRADA — One man was critically wounded, one suspect was in custody and two more were being sought following a shooting inside a La Mirada apartment early Friday, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 7:30 a.m. in the 13600 block of Santa Gertrudes Avenue, across the street from the La Mirada Golf Course, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials.
The wounded man, estimated to be in his 20s or 30s, was shot multiple times in the upper torso and taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center in critical condition, fire Capt. Steve Augustine said.
The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately available, however a car that left the scene with three people inside was believed to have been involved, sheriff’s Lt. Frank Rivera said.
Deputies found the car abandoned in a neighborhood a little over a mile away near Imperial Highway and Valley View Avenue in unincorporated South Whittier, officials said.
One man found walking in the area was detained and arrested after he was identified as one of the people who had been inside the abandoned car, Rivera said. Deputies continued seeking two other suspects believed to have fled from the vehicle.
The shooting was being investigated as possibly gang-related, he added. The investigation was ongoing, and the name of the suspect in custody was not available.

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UPDATE: Whittier-area doctor not guilty of molesting patients

A jury late last week acquitted a Whittier physician accused of inappropriately touching female patients during medical exams, authorities said.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said Steve Vouis, 67, was acquitted Friday on three counts of sexual battery by fraud.
Vouis was originally charged with six molestation counts involving five victims, however three of the charges were dismissed by the judge after the jury failed to a reach a verdict, deadlocking heavily toward acquittal, said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“He’s pleased and relieved, but his life has been really ruined by this,” Keller said.
“His practice that he spent the last 30 yeas building is destroyed,” the attorney said. ““He’ll never get his good name back. It’s not possible for it to have a truly happy ending, but we’re truly grateful that the right thing happened in court.”
Authorities said the alleged molestations occurred between 2007 and 2009 at his offices in Whittier and La Mirada. Three women testified at Vouis’ preliminary hearing that the doctor inappropriately touched them during breast or gynecological examinations.
Devoted colleagues and patients supported Vouis throughout the legal process, Keller said.
She said she did not know if he would again be able to open a practice, adding that, “There’s many patients who hope he will.”
Keller declined to comment on why she believed the five women made allegations against Vouis in the first place.
Evidence presented at trial showed two of them had already filed civil suits against the doctor, she said.
Another one of the accusers has been receiving benefits from the county due to her alleged status as a crime victim, Keller said. But the woman did not make her accusation until more than three years after the alleged incident, after other victims had accused Vouis of misconduct during examinations.
But despite being cleared in the eyes of the law, the doctor’s life is forever changed, Keller said.
“This has taken an enormous toll on him,” she said. “It’s a really sad situation, because he is an innocent man.”
Vouis’ trial began March 21 in Norwalk Superior Court.
Whittier police arrested Vouis March 17, 2010, after learning of allegations. He pleaded not guilty the at an arraignment the following day and was released on $125,000 bail pending trial.

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Attempted murder suspect arrested after chase, crash in La Mirada

LA MIRADA — A Brea police pursuit of an attempted murder suspect worked its way through four cities Wednesday before coming to an end with a crash in La Mirada, officials said.
Vincent Amadeus Fernandez, 21, of Fullerton was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, burglary and evading police following the pursuit, which began about 9:30 a.m., Brea police Sgt. Jim Griffin said.
The incident began about 9:30 a.m. when police received a report of domestic violence from the 800 block of Sungrove Place, in the area of Lambert Road and State College Boulevard, the sergeant said.
Fernandez had forced his way into a former girlfriend’s home, where he struck her, brandished a knife and choked her, Griffin said. He made statements during the alleged attack that he wanted to kill the woman.
The woman was not seriously hurt, Griffin said.
An officer responding to the call spotted Fernandez driving away, Griffin said. The officer tried to pull over Fernandez’s pickup truck, but he fled instead.
Fernandez led officers on a chase through Brea, Fullerton and Yorba Linda, police said. At one point, he struck a parked car and continued fleeing.
After about 10 minutes, Fernandez crashed his northbound truck into a sedan at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Adelfa Drive in La Mirada, officials said.
Neither driver suffered significant injuries, Los Angeles County Department Capt. Greg Lombardo said.
Fernandez was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, burglary and felony evading, police said.

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Jury begins deliberating in case of man accused of La Mirada baby’s murder

NORWALK — The fate of a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter while baby-sitting her in La Mirada was placed in the hands of a Norwalk Superior Court jury Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Mark Vaughn, 22, of Corona is charged with murder and child abuse causing death in connection with the Jan. 24, 2011 death of Jayden Brianne Turner.
After attorneys finished their closing arguments Thursday, the jury began deliberating at 1:30 p.m., court officials said.
The child suffered head injuries while he was watching her in the 15200 block of Valeda Drive in La Mirada. She died at a hospital four days later.
Vaughn told investigators the baby fell from a chair and hit her head, but an autopsy concluded in late March of 2011 that Turner’s death was a homicide.

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La Mirada mayor arrested on suspicion of drunken driving

LA MIRADA — Deputies arrested La Mirada Mayor Gabriel Garcia late Thursday on suspicion of drunken driving.
The misdemeanor arrest came after Garcia crashed his car into a parked vehicle in the 14700 block of Tacuba Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Arnold said.
The accident was “pretty minor,”and Garcia was not injured.
“He was cooperative,” the sergeant said.
“I’m deeply saddened about this,” Garcia said Friday afternoon. “I apologize to my family, colleagues and the community.”
Garcia, 49, became the first Latino to hold the mayoral title in the city’s 53-year history.
After deputies noticed the mayor appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, “he did submit to a chemical analysis,” the sergeant said.
The results of the breath test was not available Friday afternoon.
Garcia admitted to drinking wine at dinner before driving home.
“I was driving and collided with a parked vehicle,” he said. “That’s the story; I’m responsible for my actions.”
After being booked into jail, Garcia was released about 5:30 a.m. Friday with a citation pending a court appearance, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was first elected to the City Council in 2009.
Prior to that, he served from 1993-2005 on the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District’s board of education.
Garcia is married with two children and is director of parks and community services for the city of Corona.

- Brian Day and Sandra Molina

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Man on trial for murder in death of toddler in La Mirada

NORWALK — A jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter while baby-sitting the toddler in La Mirada, officials said.
Mark Edward Vaughn, 22, of Corona was charged with murder and assault on a child causing death after the Jan. 20, 2011, death of Jayden Brianne Turner.
He was watching the child at his girlfriend’s home in the 15200 block of Valeda Drive in La Mirada when the baby suffered a head injury, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators said.
The child was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, where she later died.
Vaughn claimed the toddler from fell a chair and hit her head, according to Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. But investigators said the chair was only two feet above ground level and over a carpeted floor.
An autopsy performed by Orange County coroner’s officials ruled the death to be a homicide March 28, 2011.
Deputies from a sheriff’s surveillance and apprehension team arrested Vaughn April 3, 2011, and prosecutors filed charges later in the month, according to officials and county booking records.
Vaughn was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, records show.

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Deputies investigate “unspecified threat” at La Mirada High School

LA MIRADA — Deputies beefed up patrols at La Mirada High School Friday in response to an “unspecified threat” against the school.
Deputies officials learned of the threat some time within the past 72 hours, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“At this point of the investigation, there is no specific information that the threat is credible, or to identify the source or wording of the alleged threat,” according to Capt. Patrick Maxwell. “It appears to be spoken concerns only.”
Deputies planned to keep a heightened presence at the high school throughout Friday — the last day of classes before Winter Break.

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Deputies looking for La Mirada robbery suspect

Investigators are asking for the public’s help in finding a 19-year-old man wanted for a Sept. 29 robbery in La Mirada.
A second suspect is already in custody.
Deputies alleged Levi Tanner Salerno and an accomplice robbed the victims’ of money at knife point in the 12200 block of La Mirada Boulevard around 12:25 a.m. on Sept. 29.
Salerno is believed to frequent a local shopping center, the La Mirada Regional Park and the La Mirada Golf Course.
He was described as white with blond hair, blue eyes, stands 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 185 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Morris at 562-902-2976 or
Anonymous tipsters may call “Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-TIPS, or text the letters “TIPLA” plus the tip to 274637, or use

- Ruby Gonzales
PHOTO of Levi Salerno courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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La Mirada burglary suspect rescued after falling into wash

A fleeing burglary suspect tried to climb a fence but fell about 30 feet into a flood control wash Thursday night, deputies said.
Mark Spencer, 38, of Lake Elsinore was hospitalized for treatement of apparently non-life-threatening injuries suffered in the fall pending booking, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Arnold said.
Authorities rescued the injured suspect, hoisting him out of the wash in a basket, officials said.
Sgt. Rob Jones of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said witnesses saw a man breaking into a couple of vehicles in the 16800 block of Trojan Way at 9:43 p.m. They called the station.
Jones said witnesses tried to confront the man who ran and attempted to jump a fence. Instead, the man tumbled down a flood control channel at Trojan Way and Firestone Boulevard.
Jones said Buena Park police also responded since it is a border area.
Two officers qualified to do rescues went down the wash and handcuffed the suspect who was then hoisted up in a basket, according to Jones.

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Bank branch robbed in La Mirada

LA MIRADA — A man fled with cash after robbing a Bank of the West branch in La Mirada Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The heist took place about 2 p.m. at the bank branch on Valley View Avenue, just south of Imperial Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Wilkening said.
The robber entered the bank and passed a teller a note demanding cash, officials said. He received about $2,000 and fled.
No weapon was seen during the robbery, the sergeant said.
Authorities initially described the robber as a Latino man in his mid- to late-20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and of medium build. He wore a yellow shirt or jacket, and had tattoos on both arms.
Anyone with information was asked to call the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.
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