UPDATED: Officials: Man shoots self following 12-hour SWAT standoff in La Puente

LA PUENTE >> A domestic violence suspect fatally shot himself at the conclusion of a 12-hour standoff with deputies at a La Puente condominium Sunday, officials said.
The incident began about 12:25 a.m. when deputies responded to a report of domestic violence in the 900 block of Willow Avenue, near Amar Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Thurlo said.
Deputies encountered a woman suffering from apparently minor injuries to her face who told them she had been assaulted by her husband, the sergeant said.
The husband remained in the home and refused to come out, Thurlo said. The woman advised deputies the man was “heavily intoxicated” and had a rifle.
A short time later, “Deputies saw him in the garage with what appeared to be a rifle,” Thurlo said.
Nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution, and a SWAT team was summoned to the scene to take over the situation.
After attempts to order the man out of the home via telephone and loudspeakers were unsuccessful, SWAT deputies launched tear gas into the garage shortly after 10 a.m. in an attempt to flush the suspect out, officials said.
SWAT team members heard a gunshot as they forced their way into the home about 12:35 p.m., Thurlo said. They then found the suspect inside the home, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was estimated to be in his 60s.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau took over the investigation.

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La Puente man denies murder, attempted murder, other charges in connection with San Gabriel Valley crime spree

POMONA >> A La Puente man accused of fatally shooting a man in West Covina, as well as shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend in Covina, during an alleged crime spree in April, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges Thursday, authorities said.
Manuel Jerome Lujan, described by police as a 33-year-old West Covina gang member, appeared in Pomona Superior court where he denied charges of murder, attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, robbery, assault with a firearm and exhibiting a concealed firearm in public, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Prosecutors further allege that Lujan intentionally fired a firearm causing injury or death, and that Lujan was previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 2001.
His alleged series of violent crimes took place between April 26 and April 29. It began when Lujan robbed a man of his cell phone at gunpoint in Valinda and brandished a gun at other victims, according to prosecutors.
Three days later, he fatally shot 36-year-old Jabarri Butts behind a Social Security office in the 500 block of South Vincent Avenue, and opened fire on a nearby home, West Covina police officials said.
Hours later, he showed up at the home of his ex-girlfriend in the 300 block of West Center Street in Covina, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said. He through rocks and the woman’s window to get her attention, then shot her when she came to the window.
Lujan is scheduled to appear in Pomona Superior Court July 9 for a hearing, officials said. If convicted as charged, he could face life in prison.

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Rowland Heights man guilty of stabbing El Monte man to death in La Puente

POMONA >> A jury convicted a Rowland Heights man Tuesday of fatally stabbing his ex-boyfriend, an El Monte man, to death in an industrial neighborhood in La Puente last year.
Andres Aguirre, 28, also known as Andres Aguirre Garcia, faces up to 26 years to life in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court July 7 to be sentenced for the Feb. 12, 2014, slaying of 27-year-old Joseph Chacon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The men had ended a relationship years prior to the stabbing but had recently reunited and become friends at the time of the killing, officials said.
On the night of the fatal stabbing, Aguirre picked up the victim at his Rowland Heights home, authorities said. “Aguirre provided Chacon with a large amount of alcohol and drove the victim to an isolated industrial area in La Puente,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
The men ended up in a parking lot behind an insulation business owned by La Puente’s then-mayor, Charlie Klinakis, in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
“At one point, the victim exited the car to urinate and Aguirre followed,” the statement said. “As the victim attempted to return to the car, Aguirre fatally stabbed Chacon in the chest and back.”
“Four of the five wounds were fatal or potentially fatal,” Deputy District attorney Lauren Guber said.
Chacon’s body was found by a passer-by a short time later.
Detectives arrested Aguirre two days later after he agreed to meet with detectives for an interview. He was the last person known to have seen Chacon alive.
As Aguirre’s story failed to add up, he confessed to stabbing Chacon, sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
Chacon and Aguirre had been involved in a relationship, but broke it off in 2006, the prosecutor said. The men fell out of touch for several years, but began a friendship when they met by a coincidence on a bus in the year or so leading up to the deadly encounter.
Following his arrest, Aguirre told investigators that he became angry at Chacon because he believed Chacon was being a bad friend and disrespecting him by taking phone calls and making other plans while the men spent the evening together, Guber said. Aguirre also made mention of seemingly unfounded, irrational fears that Chacon or one of his friends would harm him, though Chacon never physically harmed or threatened Aguirre.
Aguirre told detectives his intention on the night of the killing was to “test their friendship,” Guber said. He brought the knife with him when he picked up Chacon, later admitting to investigators that if the night did not go well, the thought of killing his friend had crossed his mind.
Following his arrest, the killer then led investigators to a roadside in Walnut where he had buried the knife used in the killing, described as an ornamental sword-like knife with a blade about 10 inches long, Guber said. “He seemed to have driven it into the ground with a hammer.”
That confession was played as evidence for the jury during the trial, Ardalani said.
Following a five-day trial, jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding Aguirre guilty of first degree murder, along with the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killing, the prosecutor said. In doing so, jurors rejected the defense’s position that Aguirre should be convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder.
“The jury worked hard. I think they came to the right decision, Guber said.

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La Puente woman, second victim killed in Barstow crash; Comptom man accused of DUI, manslaughter

A Compton man is accused of drunken driving and manslaughter following a weekend crash in Barstow that claimed the lives of two passengers, including a La Puente woman, and seriously injured two others, authorities said.
Leticia Magana, 35, of La Puente died in the crash, which took place about 4:10 p.m. on the southbound 15 Freeway, just south of Barstow Road, San Bernardino coroner’s Deputy John Kroeker said. Another passenger also died at the scene of the crash, however officials did not release the second victim’s identity Thursday.
“A 43-year-old male driver, Jesus (Mojica) Rivera, driving a black Kia SUV with 4 passengers, collided into the rear of a truck tractor trailer driven by a 56 year old male driver,” CHP Officer Ryan Camara said. “During the investigation, alcohol was found to be a factor in the collision.”
After pleading not guilty to charges of drunken driving, vehicular manslaughter and child endangerment, Rivera is being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his next court appearance, scheduled May 28, according to San Bernardino Superior Court and booking records.
Rivera suffered injuries in the crash, but has since received treatment and been booked into jail, Camara said.
Rescuers floew two additional passengers of the Kia to a hospital by helicopter with major injuries, Camara said.

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UPDATED: Two men killed, woman badly injured in La Puente crash

LA PUENTE >> Two men died and a woman suffered major injuries following a solo-car crash possibly linked to street racing early Easter Sunday, authorities said.
A 26-year-old La Puente man who was driving the car and a 19-year-old La Puente man riding as a passenger died at the scene of the 3:20 a.m. crash on Puente Avenue, just north of Amar Road, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials. A 23-year-old woman was hospitalized with severe injuries.
All three were inside a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu that was heading south on Puente Avenue “at a high rate of speed” just before the crash, Officer A. Rolens of the CHP’s Baldwin Park office said in a written statement.
“For unknown reasons, the driver of the Chevrolet lost control, which caused the Chevrolet to collide with the rear of a legally parked Ford truck,” the officer said.
“A witness indicated the Chevrolet Malibu may have been racing a beige sedan,” he said.
0405_NWS_SGT-L-LPFATAL01Only the 19-year-old man was wearing a seat belt, officials said.
The force of the collision broke a concrete fence footing separating the sidewalk from the backyard of Richard and Lilly Koutsky.
The couple said they heard the crash from their bed.
“I heard a very big noise,” Lilly Koutsky said. Richard Koutsky said he got up to see what had happened and called 9-1-1.
“Two men died and a lady was crying and saying, ‘help, help,’” Lilly Koutsky said.
Bystanders tried to help the woman before police and paramedics arrived, she said.
The names of the two men were not released Sunday pending notification of family, coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
While coroner’s investigators described the driver as a La Puente resident, CHP officials had his hometown listed as West Covina.
Anthony Guzman, 20, of La Puente described the 19-year-old passenger killed in the crash as his best friend.
“I knew him since preschool. He’s always been my best friend. He was always there,” Guzman said.
Guzman described his friend as “funny” and “well-rounded.”
He never had an attitude with anybody,” Guzman said.
After attending Workman and La Puente high schools, the young man had just completed an associate’s degree in criminal justice at ITT Tech, Guzman said. He was hoping to become a forensic investigator.
Guzman said his friend enjoyed soccer and skateboarding.
Guzman said he did not know who the man and woman who accompanied his friend were.
The timing of the fatal collision on Easter Sunday seemed to only compound the tragedy, said Guzman’s mother, Victoria Anaya Guzman.
“I had just gotten home from Mass when I got a call from his mom,” Anaya Guzman said.
“He was a great kid,” she said.
Anyone with information regarding the crash was asked to contact the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.

PHOTOS and VIDEO by Keith Durflinger

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La Puente man convicted of molesting two girls

LA PUENTE >> A La Puente man faces up to 120 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him Thursday of molesting two young female relatives over the coarse of eight years, officials said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Mark Christopher Acosta, 45, guilty of eight felony counts related to child molestation, as well as a count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing April 7, she said. He faces a maximum sentence of 120 years to life in state prison.
Acosta sexually abused two female relatives over different time periods between 2001 and 2009, Ardalani said.
“The first victim revealed the abuse to an adult in 2007, but the adult did not believe her,” Ardalani said.
“In 2013, the second victim came forward about being sexually assaulted,” she said. “As a result, the first victim also alerted authorities to the abuse she suffered.”
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau arrested Acosta in February of 2014, according to county booking records. He had been held in lieu of $6 million bail pending the trial process.

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La Puente community meeting planned to discuss gang injunction

LA PUENTE >> The community is invited to join sheriff’s officials for a conversation regarding La Puente’s gang injunction next week.
The community meeting will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 5 at the La Puente Community Center, 501 Glendora Ave., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro.
The permanent civil injunction targeting gang members and gang-related activity has been in place since 2011. It is meant to curb the activities of the local street gangs Puente 13 and Bassett Grande. Deputies have described the injunction as a valuable tool in combating gang crime.
Members of the sheriff’s gang task force, known as Operation Safe Streets, will be on hand to discuss the injunction, along with the La Puente Special Assignment Tem and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michael Fern of the D.A.’s Hardcore Gang Division, Cacheiro said. And crime analyst Henry Gil will provide statistics regarding the gang injunction and its impact on crime.
In addition to La Puente, the injunction also covers a portion of West Covina and nearby unincorporated county area such as Valinda and Bassett.
For more information, contact Deputy Viviana Marez at 626-934-3303, or email vcmarez@lasd.org.

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UPDATED: Two stabbed in alleged hate crimes at Covina shopping center; suspect jailed


COVINA >> A La Puente resident and self-described El Monte gang member stabbed two Black men late Saturday at a Covina shopping center in unprovoked attacks which police are investigating as hate crimes, authorities said.
Louis Vasquez, 19, is accused of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, along with special allegations that the crime was a hate crime and gang-related, Covina police officials said.
Vasquez had just been released from jail Saturday morning after serving a sentence for an auto theft conviction, according to officials and county records.
Both victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the stabbings, which took place just after 7:40 p.m. at a shopping center at the northeast corner of Azusa Avenue and Badillo Street, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The first attack occurred outside a Smart & Final store, where an 18-year-old employee was collecting shopping carts, Peterson said. He noticed Vasquez standing behind him before being attacked without warning.
“Out of nowhere, (Vasquez) just stabbed him,” Peterson said.
The teen, who suffered a stab wound to his shoulder, ran from his attacker, the sergeant said. Vasquez shouted insults, including racial slurs, as the victim fled, he added.
Immediately following the first stabbing, Vasquez headed to a neighboring CVS Pharmacy and attacked a 27-year-old man who was approaching the entrance.
The second victim did not see his assailant approach when he was stabbed from behind.
“He felt a pain in his right shoulder. He looked and saw the suspect holding the knife. The suspect stabbed him again,” Peterson said.
The wounded man tried to run into the store, but an automatic door wouldn’t open quickly enough for him to escape his pursuer, the sergeant said. The victim then ran along the front of the store, where he fell.
“(Vasquez) started slashing at him,” Peterson said. The attacker slashed the victim in the leg before the victim managed to kick the knife out of Vasquez’s hand, then grab hold of it.
Once disarmed, Vasquez ran, police said. He fled into a residential neighborhood in the 800 block of West Edna Place, where residents reported seeing him jumping through backyards.
Officers found Vasquez hiding in a yard and arrested him without a struggle, Peterson said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records, Vasquez was released from jail about 2:40 a.m. Saturday, 17 hours before the stabbings.
After being arrested by El Monte police in October, Vasquez was convicted of auto theft in November and served 112 days of a 242-day sentence, records show.
Vasquez’s has other previous criminal convictions including receiving stolen property in receiving stolen property in December, theft in September and trespassing in August, according to court records.
Vasquez remained in custody Sunday in lieu of $500,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County booking records.

PHOTO: Louis Vasquez, 19, of La Puente (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)

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Officials: Three arrested in middle of La Puente shoe store robbery

LA PUENTE >> Deputies and a keen-eyed employee foiled an armed robbery at a La Puente shoe store late Tuesday, a sheriff’s lieutenant said.
The incident unfolded about 9 p.m. at Warehouse Shoe Sale, 1081 N. Hacienda Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
Three suspects, all believed to be gang members, entered the store just before closing time, he said. The suspects asked employees if they were the last customers in the store.
One of the three men exited the store and stood out front, Enriquez said. He was believed to be acting as a lookout.
An employee who happened to be on the phone with a district manager noticed a gun tucked into the waistband of one of the two suspect still inside the store, the lieutenant said. The employee told the manager that the store was about to be robbed, and the manager called for help.
Deputies quickly arrived and detained the alleged lookout, Enriquez said. They then ordered the five employees and two customers out of the shoe store, followed by the to remaining suspects.
Deputies found a loaded 9mm handgun hidden in a shoe box inside the store, Enriquez added.
All three men, who are in their mid-20s, were arrested on suspicion of robbery, he said. Their names were not available late Tuesday pending the booking process.

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San Gabriel Valley cops brighten holidays for disadvantaged kids


Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-WHITTIERThe California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-LAPUENTEPolice agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-BALDWINPARKBaldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.







PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)



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