LA PUENTE >> A man suffered a gunshot wound to the back but was expected to survive after an argument escalated into a shooting Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 5 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 200 block of North 5th Street, between Workman and Rowland Streets, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Tubbs said.
A man in his 30s was standing in front of a home when the attacker approached in a white Nissan sedan, the lieutenant said.
After exiting his car and having a brief argument with the victim, the attacker pulled a handgun and opened fire on the victim several times, striking him once in back, the lieutenant said.
The shooter got back into his car and fled the area, Tubbs said. A detailed description was not available.
Paramedics took the wounded man to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition, he said.
The motive in the shooting remained under investigation.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA PUENTE >> For the third year running, La Puente has been named one of the 50 safest cities in California by security organization Safe Wise.
The city earned the 48th spot on the SafeWise Report’s 50 Safest Cities in California list for 2016.
“Besides its enviably low crime rate, what caught our attention about La Puente is the way it cares for its children,” SafeWise said in a written statement.
“ La Puente’s Self-Esteem Through Activities Recreation and Sports program provides elementary school children with a diverse assortment of after-school activities. La Puente’s Teen V.O.I.C.E. program is a volunteer-based program for teens ages 13 to 18, and its Tiny Tot program helps build the self-esteem of children ages three to five.”
City Manager David Carmany said the designation “validated we are on the right track,” but said the majority of credit belongs to the city’s partners at the Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department, as well as city staff.
Six other San Gabriel Valley cities made the list of California’s top 50 safest cities.
Sierra Madre ranked 9th safest city in California, Walnut ranked 20th, Temple City ranked 38th, Diamond Bar ranked 42nd, Chino Hills ranked 47th and La Mirada ranked 49th.
LA PUENTE >> A suspect is in custody after a senior citizen suffered serious injuries after an argument escalated into a stabbing outside a La Puente donut shop late Thursday, officials said.
The victim, a man estimated to be in his 60s, became involved in a confrontation with another man shortly after 8 p.m. in strip mall parking lot in the 400 block of South Azusa Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Edward Lopez said.
The attacker pulled a knife and stabbed the victim in the upper torso, he said.
Paramedics took the injured man to a hospital, where he was rushed into surgery, the sergeant said. The injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Deputies searched the neighborhood and ultimately detained a2 7-year-old Valinda man, Lt. David Infante said. The man was initially held on suspicion of an unrelated misdemeanor, but ultimately booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Officials withheld the suspect’s name Friday as they continued their investigation, Infante said.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the stabbing were available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> San Gabriel Valley sheriff’s deputies and police officers arrested four suspects and recovered weapons and drugs Tuesday when they teamed up for a compliance sweep targeting parolees and those under AB 109 felony probation in the San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
More than 40 law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park took part in the early-morning operation, joined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, state parole agents, county probation officers and representatives from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, according to sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who oversees law enforcement for the city of La Puente.
After visiting more than 30 homes of convicts, officials arrested a parolee for being a felon in possession of a loaded handgun in La Puente, Cacheiro said.
Officials arrested three AB 109 probationers in West Covina, he said. One was arrested for possession of a Taser by a felon, one was jailed for possession of ammunition by a felon and one is accused of possession of methamphetamine for sales.
The task force operation, “exemplified out community policing strategies,” Cacheiro said.
La Puente City Manager David Carmany commended the effort in a written statement. “
“Our local law enforcement strives to maintain our communities safe and provide quality services to our residents,” he said.
Law enforcement officers from agencies throughout the San Gabriel Valley prepare for parole and probation compliance sweep at their command post at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (Courtesy, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man accused of shooting his girlfriend to death in 2011 and dumping her body in Turnbull Canyon in Hacienda Heights before fleeing to Mexico appeared in a Pomona courthouse this week to answer to a murder charge, authorities said.
Francisco Nila Rojas, 39, of La Puente pleaded not guilty Tuesday in connection with the February 11, 2011, slaying of Claudia Tecuautzin, 41, of La Puente, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. He’s also accused of the special allegation of personally using a gun in the crime.
“Rojas allegedly shot his girlfriend in the head and left her body near Turnbull Canyon Road and Skyline Drive in Hacienda Heights,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Tecuautzin had been reported missing by her family before her body was discovered about 10 feet down an embankment in Turnbull Canyon, near Skyline Drive, on March 2, 2011, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials said. But due to the condition of her body, identification was delayed, and she was officially listed as a Jane Doe in the weeks following the slaying.
An autopsy found that Tecuautzin died from a gunshot wound to the head, and the death was ruled a homicide, coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Rojas was quickly identified as the suspect in Tecuautzin’s slaying. Prosecutors filed a murder charge against him in April of 2011, Ardalani said.
But Rojas, a Mexican national, fled to Mexico shortly after the fatal shooting, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
He remained a fugitive for more than three years, but investigators never gave up searching for him.
Officials tracked him down in Mexico in 2014, where he was jailed for about a year before being extradited back to the Unites States to face trial in October of last year, Ardalani said.
Rojas and Tecuautzin first became acquainted about a year before the slaying, Corina said. Both worked for the same company vending snacks from push carts.
The co-workers began a romantic relationship several months before Tecuautzin vanished.
Worried family members reported her missing and began a search themselves, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. A family member searching the area discovered remains, later identified as those of Tecuautzin.
Coroner’s officials worked until the following day to carefully collect the remains.
Homicide detectives and prosecutors declined to discuss the specific motive in the killing Wednesday.
Rojas was ordered back to court June 23 for a pre-preliminary hearing, according to district attorney’s officials. If convicted as charged, he faces up to 50 years to life in state prison.
LA PUENTE >> A foodservice company teamed with local officials Saturday to delight 64 La Puente elementary school students with brand new bicycles as a reward for academic achievement and perfect attendance, officials said.
The giveaway, hosted by the Golden State Foods Foundation at Sparks Elementary School with help from city and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“The GSF Foundation is committed to helping our youth and doing incredible work in our communities. We truly appreciate their work and dedication,” La Puente Mayor Valerie Munoz said.
GSF is not in the fourth year of it’s “Build-A-Bike” program, with a total of 1,300 bikes to be distributed at 24 locations nationwide during National Bike Month. About 4,700 bikes have been given out to kids through the program since its inception, according to GSF representatives.
Explorer Scouts from the sheriff’s Industry Station, which patrols La Puente, helped the kids assemble their brand new wheels, said Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who oversees police service for La Puente. Deputies provided safety classes.
“Bike recipients have been selected based on attendance, academics, and need to receive their very own, often very first, bike,” GSF officials said in a written statement. “Each child will get to build their bike with an accompanying ‘buddy’ mentor and take it home, along with a lock and helmet.”
Founded in 2002, the GSF Foundation, “is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in need in the areas where GSF associates live and work.”
GSF operates a distribution center in Industry, adjacent to La Puente.
PHOTO: TheGolden State Foods Foundation hosted the fourth annual “Build-A-Bike” event at Sparks Elementary School in La Puente, Calif. on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The company donated 1,300 bikes across the country, with 64 going to students at Sparks Elementary in celebration of national bike month. Deputies and Explorer Scouts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helped kids assemble their new bikes. (Courtesy)
VALINDA >> Prosecutors charged a La Puente woman with murder Tuesday for running over and killing her boyfriend with a car outside a Valinda motel over the weekend, officials said.
Sharon Kay Hood, 52, is accused of killing her boyfriend of six years, 51-year-old Randolph “Randy” John Morales of Fontana, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and coroner’s officials.
The alleged vehicular slaying took place about 2:25 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of a motel in the 500 block of North Azusa Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda.
Morales had rented a room for the couple, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Hood and Morales got into an argument, and Hood abruptly left the room, officials said.
“Morales reportedly followed the defendant out of the room to her car where the two continued to quarrel, according to the statement. “At that point, Hood allegedly ran over Morales with her car.”
The 2015 Nissan Altima backed over Morales, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Paramedics pronounced Morales dead at the scene.
An autopsy found he died from “blunt force injuries of the head,” and the death was ruled a homicide, Winter said.
Investigators formally arrested hood in connection with her boyfriend’s death about 10:45 a.m. Sunday, county booking records show. But sheriff’s officials initially declined to discuss the case, and the arrest was not made public until prosecutors filed charges Tuesday.
Hood entered no plea at her appearance in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ardalani said. Her arraignment hearing was postponed until June 8, and bail was set at $2 million.
In addition to murder, prosecutors accuse Hood of the special allegation that she personally used a deadly weapon — a car — in the attack, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Hood faces up to 26 years to life in state prison.
Morales left behind two devastated children: a daughter, 28, and son, 23, from a prior marriage of 26 years, his daughter Priscilla Morales said.
“He was my best friend,” she said.
“He was a people person. He got along with everybody,” she said.
Born in Los Angeles, Randy Morales grew up in the La Puente area, his daughter said. He then moved to Orange County before settling in Fontana about 5 years ago.
Randy Morales had a sarcastic and silly sense of humor, often quoting a line from “I Love Lucy” and telling loved one’s, “Don’t get too crazy,” Priscilla Morales said. “He was kind of a nerd.”
“He was my musical soulmate,” she added. Priscilla Morales said her father loved classic rock, such as Led Zeppelin, and classic blues such as Roger Johnson and Muddy Waters.
Randy Morales had an encyclopedic knowledge of music history and trivia, Priscilla Morales said. The father and daughter enjoyed attending concerts together, and spent countless hours at the old Tower Records store in West Covina.
Randy Morales has worked as a plumber, a contractor and recently graduated school for welding, his daughter said. He was working in a warehouse at the time of his death.
“He was a big Rams fan,” she added. “He was so excited they were coming back to L.A. We were talking about going to the games.”
But all of the family’s plans changed Sunday morning.
“He’s not going to see me get married. I don’t have kids yet,” Priscilla Morales said through tears. “He always told me he wanted me to have a big wedding.”
Family member are still watching the investigation and waiting to learn exactly what took place in Valinda on Sunday.
“It seems weird… I have no anger. I just want to know what happened.”
Randy Morales and Hood had a “tumultuous relationship,” and Priscilla Morales described the woman as “very angry,” and “possessive.”
The couple argued often, and Hood would sometimes slap her Randy Morales, his daughter said.
On one occasion several years ago, Hood slashed all four tired of his car on the day he was supposed to begin a new job, Priscilla Morales said. He lost the job as a result.
But although she said she didn’t think the relationship was healthy, she never imagined Hood was capable of the violence of which she’s now accused.
When she was first informed of her father’s death, her first question was whether Hood was with him, and whether she was OK, Priscilla Morales said. The daughters said she was “shocked” to learn Hood was accused in the killing.
Fund to help the Morales’ family lay Morales, known to loved ones as Randy, to rest are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/23xmagx4.
PHOTOS: [TOP] – Randolph “Randy” Morales, pictured with daughter Priscilla Morales. (Courtesy) [BELOW] – Randy “Randolph” Morales, 51, of Fontana. (Courtesy)
POMONA >> A 46-year-old La Puente man will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after a judge sentenced him to 65 years to life in prison Thursday for the continuous sexual abuse of two underage family members over an eight-year period, officials said.
A Pomona Superior Court jury convicted Mark Christopher Acosta in March of 2015 of nine felony counts related to child molestation, including continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Martinez sentenced Acosta to 65 years to life in prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He faced a maximum sentence of 120 years to life behind bars.
“Acosta sexually abused two female family members at separate times between 2001 and 2009,” according to the statement.
The first victim told an adult of the crimes in 2007, but the adult did not believe her, officials said.
The second victim came forward in 2013, prompting the first victim to also report her abuse to authorities, according to the district attorney’s office. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Acosta on Feb. 21, 2014.
Judge Martinez also ordered Acosta to register as a sex offender for life.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Authorities and loved ones are reaching out to the public for help in finding a hit-and-run driver who struck and dragged 18-year-old college student in Hacienda Heights last weekend, then fled the scene.
Isabel Gonzalez of La Puente remained hospitalized Thursday with major injuries suffered after she was struck by a car about 11 p.m. Sunday along Gale Avenue, at Riderwood Lane, according to California Highway Patrol officials and family members. She has undergone four surgeries since the incident.
“This was a hit and run of a beautiful young lady that was crossing the street and was ran over, dragged, and was just left there,” Gonzalez’s aunt Lucy Solis said. “Isabel suffered major injuries and remains hospitalized at (Los Angeles County-)USC Medical Center.”
California Highway Patrol investigators, who are handling the investigation, were left with few leads to follow, Officer Al Perez said.
Perez said he could not confirm initial reports that the involved car was described as a silver 2013- or 2014-model Honda or Toyota.
Gonzalez was walking south across Gale Avenue when she was struck by a car in the westbound, right-hand lane, Perez said.
Gonzales was struck after she had just finished a shift at an area Olive Garden restaurant and was heading home along with her boyfriend, who also works at the restaurant, Solis said. The boyfriend was walking ahead of Gonzalez when she was struck.
Solis said her niece suffered injuries including a shattered pelvis, a fractures skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding.
Gonzalez’s leg was severely injured, and it was unclear whether she would walk again, thee aunt said. But she had not suffered brain damage.
Doctors removed a breathing tube Tuesday, and Gonzalez has been breathing on her own since, Solis said. The injured woman has drifted in and out of consciousness, though she remains heavily sedated. And family members were encouraged when Gonzales recently took a sip of water.
Gonzalez is a student at California State University, Los Angeles, where she is studying to be a translator on a scholarship, Solis said.
Officials and family members asked anyone with information to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503 during business hours. After hours, tips may be submitted to the CHP at 800-835-5247.
Funds to help the family cover medical expenses are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/Isabel_Gonzalez.
PHOTOS: [LEFT] Isabel Gonzalez, 18, of La Puente, was struck and injured by a hit and run driver on Gale Avenue, east of 7th Avenue, in Hacienda Heights late Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. Photo undated. (Courtesy) [RIGHT] Isabel Gonzalez, 18, of La Puente, was struck and injured by a hit and run driver on Gale Avenue, east of 7th Avenue, in Hacienda Heights late Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. She’s pictured here at a hospital on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. (Courtesy)
LA PUENTE >> Elected officials, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, clergy and community members met Friday morning to discuss issues affecting the La Puente area and seek divine guidance during the Third Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Representatives of State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis took part in the gathering, where issues ranging protecting the homeless during El Nino to crime statistics were discussed, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. La Puente Mayor Dan Holloway praised the partnership between the city and the sheriff’s department, which provides its law enforcement services. He pointed out that La Puente made the Safewise Top 50 Safest Cities in California list last year. City Manager David Carmany spoke of successes in policing, as well as relationship building among residents, elected officials and businesses. Officers from neighboring police agencies, as well as Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Police Chief John Babbitt. Pastor Kelly Dupee of Faith Community Church in West Covina offered an invocation. The gathering concluded with a prayer by Rev. Matthew Cumberland of the St. Joseph Parish in La Puente. Free breakfast was provided at the event, sponsored by C&F Foods Inc.