Rowland Heights man accused of fatal La Puente stabbing

LA PUENTE — Detectives Sunday announced an arrest in connection with the slaying of an El Monte man who was found stabbed to death behind a La Puente business Wednesday.
Andres Aguirre Garcia, 27, of Rowland Heights was arrested late Friday on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing, which was discovered about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday in a parking lot behind a business in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said in a written statement.
“Garcia has confessed to the crime and the murder weapon was recovered by homicide detectives,” Jauch said.
Lieutenant Pete Cacheiro of the sheriff’s Industry Station described the arrest was the result of, “a bunch of leads.”
“This was a collaboration of Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the La Puente Special Assignment Team and the community,Cacheiro said.
No information regarding the motive in the alleged slaying was released.
Jose Chacon, 28, was discovered suffering from multiple stab wounds to his upper body in the parking lot to the rear of Alert Insulation Co. Inc., which is owned by La Puente Mayor Charlie Klinakis.
Earlier in the week, the mayor expressed sorrow over the slaying and said she did not know the victim.
Garcia was booked at the sheriff’s Industry Station’s jail, where he was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Wednesday in El Monte Superior Court, according to county booking records.

- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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More than 70 arrested at La Puente checkpoint

LA PUENTE — Deputies arrested one person for intoxicated driving and 72 other for other suspected crimes during a checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday, officials said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday on Hacienda Boulevard, just north of Nelson Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Of the 2,220 vehicle that passed through the checkpoint, 2,035 of the drivers were screened by deputies.
One driver was arrested for driving under the influence of methamphetamine during the checkpoint, according to the statement.
Additionally, one person was accused of drug possession; two people were arrested for knowingly allowing an unlicensed driver to drive; one person was arrested for a parole violation; three people were jailed on outstanding traffic warrants; 14 people were suspected of driving on a suspended or revoked license; and 56 people were accused of driving without a license, officials said.
Deputies released 45 vehicles to licensed drivers at the checkpoint, officials added. Eighteen cars were impounded for one day, and seven cars were impounded for 30 days.
Funding for the checkpoint was provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Sobriety checkpoints planned this weekend in La Verne, San Dimas, La Puente

Police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be screening drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during three checkpoints planned this weekend in La Verne, San Dimas and La Puente.
The La Verne Police Department will hold a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint Friday.
The checkpoint will run From 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the city, police officials said in a written statement.
Also Friday, sheriff’s deputies will be holding a checkpoint from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. the following morning at an undisclosed location within San Dimas, authorities said.
And deputies from the sheriff’s Industry Station plan to hold a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. the following morning within La Puente, officials added.
Funding for the operations is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Masked robbers steal bicycle at gunpoint in La Puente

LA PUENTE — Two masked robbers stole a man’s bicycle at gunpoint Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The victim, a 51-year-old local man, was riding his bike about 3:50 p.m. when he was approached by the robbers at the corner of Amar Road and Willow Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Gutierrez said.
One of the robbers brandished a handgun as they demanded the man’s red Kent beach cruiser-style bicycle, which he handed over, the sergeant said.
One of the robbers rode the man’s bicycle and the other was on foot as they fled west on Amar Road, Gutierrez added.
Deputies described one as a 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build, wearing a dark shirt and dark jeans and armed with a small, semi-automatic handgun. The second robber was between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall and wore a dark shirt and dark jeans. Both robbers wore ski masks.

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Four accused of helping El Monte rape suspect hide

Four people are accused of helping hide a gang member wanted for raping an El Monte convenience store employee.
El Monte Police Sgt. Roger Cobian said felony charges were filed Tuesday in El Monte Superior Court against Charlene Godinez, 39, of La Puente, John Godinez, 41, of La Puente, Lisa Beserra, 45, of El Monte and Mario Chavez, 43, Rowland Heights for allegedly assisting Joseph Amaya to evade capture and prosecution.
Booking records show the four suspects were arrested Saturday by El Monte police. Charlene and John Godinez are out on bond. Beserra is being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on a $90,751 bail which includes bail for two other unrelated cases. The three have a Nov. 5 court date.
Chavez is in custody at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles and his bail is $50,000. His booking slip doesn’t show the date for his next court appearance.
Detectives may seek charges against others believed to have helped hide Amaya for the week following the Oct. 19 rape of a 19-year-old woman in El Monte, according to Cobian.
Prosecutors alleged Amaya was at the mini mart in the 4100 block of Peck Road earlier and left. He returned while the employee was getting ready to close the store.
The woman tried to lock the doors but he allegedly forced his way in. Amaya allegedly barricaded the doors, dragged the woman to the back of the business and sexually assaulted her, authorities said.
Detectives searched for the 18-year-old suspect.
“Amaya had been hiding with family and friends moving from El Monte to La Puente and Hacienda Heights,” Cobian said.
He was arrested in West Covina on Saturday after a traffic stop. Cobian said Amaya was in a vehicle with six adults and one minor.
Amaya remains in custody on $5 million bail. His Wednesday arraignment at Pomona Superior Court was continued to Nov. 13, court officials said.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Deputies help launch Red Ribbon Week at Nelson Elementary School in La Puente

REDRIBBON1LA PUENTE — Sheriff’s deputies visited Nelson Elementary School Wednesday to help the school kick of Red Ribbon Week. Deputies spoke with students about topics such as drug avoidance and leadership, and students got a chance to get an up-close look at sheriff’s vehicles and equipment, Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. The deputies also handed out coloring books. “The special assignment guys deployed the remote control robot. The kids just had a fabulous time,” Cacheiro said. “We had a great time.” The visit was to mark the beginning of Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31, a national campaign urging youths to stay drug-free.

REDRIBBON2PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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La Puente woman vanishes while en route to Pasadena City College


Authorities sought the public’s help Friday in locating a 22-year-old La Puente woman who vanished a little more than a week ago while believed to be en route to class at Pasadena City College.
Gale Anne Williams last spoke with relatives Sept. 25, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. She has no vehicle or cell phone and was believed to be heading to PCC. She was reported missing Oct. 1.
“Relatives say the subject has gone missing in the past, as recently as June, but not for this duration,” according to the police statement. “Inquiries with area hospitals and other facilities have been fruitless.”
Though Arcadia lies between William’s hometown of La Puente and PCC, “There is no known nexus with the subject to the City of Arcadia,” the statement said. “The missing person report has been referred to the Pasadena Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Industry Station.”
Authorities described Williams as half black and half white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 130 pounds, with medium-length brown curly hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black and blue shirt and black leggings.
Anyone with information was asked to contact local law enforcement. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of Gale Williams courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.

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350+ pot plants uprooted in #LaPuente

LPPOTLA PUENTE – Deputies found more than 350 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of over $800,000 growing in a La Puente house on Wednesday.

In addition to the plants, they also seized high intensity lights, fans, blowers and ducting components.

Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said the La Puente Special Assignment Team started an investigation about three weeks ago after receiving several tips about suspicious activity at a rental house in the 500 block of Chatterton Avenue.

LPPOT2Deputies served a search warrant at the single-story home at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday and discovered marijuana plants in various stages of growth, Cacheiro said…

Full story by Ruby Gonzales

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department


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Jury deliberating in South Whittier triple-murder case

5-4-04-3 BELL 1

A Norwalk jury is deliberating the fate of a Los Angeles man accused of murdering two San Gabriel Valley men and a Mexico man after luring them with an offer to sell a car in South Whittier nearly 10 years ago.
Briaell Lee could face the death penalty if convicted of the three counts of murder with which he has been charged.
He’s accused of the fatal Jan. 27, 2004, fatal shootings of Mario Larios, 23, of West Covina, his cousin Edgar Valles, 22, of La Puente and their friend, Fernando Pina, 25, of Mexico, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. The men were slain when they arrived at the South Whittier home of Lee’s co-defendant, Cimarron Bell, 39, to discuss purchasing a Chevrolet Monte Carlo for $8,500.
None of the three men knew Lee or Bell prior to meeting them to discuss the car sale, prosecutors said.
Following the conclusion of closing arguments in the case, the Norwalk Superior Court jury began deliberating Thursday, court officials said.
5-4-04-3 BELL 2Co-defendant Cimarron Bell of South Whittier has already been convicted of these three murders, as well as another, and sentenced to death in August of 2011. Bell was also convicted of the murder of his 22-year-old girlfriend Ineka Edmondson of Compton, whose body was found Nov. 12, 2003, in a car at a La Habra industrial park.
In addition to the murders, Lee and Bell were further accused of the special allegations multiple murders, murder for financial gain and lying in wait, allegations Bell’s jury found to be true, making him eligible for capital punishment, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The three would-be car buyers were killed solely for their money, Edmondson’s slaying also involved personal motives on the part of Bell, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks, who prosecuted Bell along with Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee.
Hanisee described the alleged murder-for-money plot as “very egregious,” targeting “particularly innocent and vulnerable victims.
In Edmondson’s slaying, Bell, who was involved in a check-cashing scheme with the woman and believed she was stealing from him, arranged a fatal ambush.
He called her to meet him at Morgan Metals, where he worked and kissed her hello before shooting her three times in the head at close range, D.A.’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Lee had been held without bail pending trial since his arrest in February of 2004.

PHOTOS of Briaell Lee, above, and Cimarrom Bell, below, by Staff Photographer Leo Jarzomb

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3rd UPDATE: La Puente father fatally shot in front of home

Tomas Salas, 23, of La Puente

LA PUENTE — Homicide detectives are seeking clues into the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old La Puente father in a driveway in front of his home late Thursday, authorities said.
Tomas Salas died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Little information was available regarding the 11:13 p.m. attack, which occurred in a shared residential driveway on Sierra Vista Court at Gilwood Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“The individual was by himself in a driveway,” Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “Witnesses heard a gunshot and came out and found him.”
A family member found Salas wounded in the “upper torso” and called for help, she said.
While several people reported hearing a gunshot or gunshots, no eyewitnesses to the shooting had been located Friday, officials said.
No arrests had been made early Friday, and no suspect description was available.
Salas is survived by a two year-old daughter named Kaylene, his girlfriend and the girl’s mother Krystle Silva said. He had been staying with Silva and Silva’s 10-year-old daughter, Samantha Rodriguez, who also had a close relationship with him.
Silva said she was inside her apartment folding laundry and Salas was just outside talking to his niece on his cell phone when she heard gunshots.
“When I looked outside, he was lying face-first on the grass,” she said.
“I put my arms around him just to let him know I was there,” Silva said. “When I put my arms around him, that’s when I felt all the blood and his chest was warm.”
“I told him to hang on. (Help) is coming. I told him he can’t leave. Kaylene needs him.”
Silva was still trying to breathe when paramedics arrived, Silva said.
The paramedics walked over to Salas and checked his pulse before laying him on his back she said.
Francisco said the shooting was being investigated as possibly gang-related.
Silva confirmed that Salas was involved with a local street gang. She added that his association with a gang did not justify his slaying, however it may have played a role in it.
“I don’t know who did this or why they did it,” she said. “Whatever happened, it was gang-related.”
Silva’s eyes filled with tears as she spoke of Salas.
“He was my world,” she said. “I love him with every part of me.”
The couple had been dating for four years, but had only recently gotten back together about two weeks ago after being separated for nine months, Silva said.
But even when living separately from Silva, Salas remained a dedicated father and went to court to obtain three days of custody per week.
“He loved his daughter. Everything he did was for her,” Silva said.
The energetic 2-year-old happily exclaimed “daddy” upon seeing a picture of her father. Silva said she has asked several times when her father is coming home, to which she responds that her father is an angel now.
Salas had been laid off from his job at a landfill , where he had worked for about a year, a month ago, Silva said.
She described him as friendly and funny.
“He was always joking. He was goofy. He was silly,” Silva said. “He was a very happy, outgoing guy who liked to have fun. He was just a great dad.”

Tomas Salas, 23, of La Puente (center) was fatally shot near his home in the 15800 block of Sierra Vista Court late Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. He’s pictured celebrating his 22nd birthday with daughter Kaylene Salas (lap), girlfriend Kristle Silva (right) and Silva’s daughter Samantha Rosriguez (left). (Courtesy)

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