Man arrested in connection with La Verne shooting released without charges

LA VERNE — A man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for the shooting of his wife earlier this week at a La Verne home was released from jail Wednesday after prosecutors declined to file a case against him, authorities said.
Michael Banda, 45, was released from custody after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file a case against him, citing “insufficient evidence,” D.A.’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Further details regarding the investigation were not available Wednesday. Handling La Verne police detectives could not be reached for comment.
Banda was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after the 3 p.m. shooting in the 4300 block of Edminster Drive, La Verne police Capt. Nick Paz said.
His wife had been shot in the neck and shoulder during an argument, police said. The wounds were not considered to be life-threatneing. A .22-caliber revolver was taken from the home.
Banda was initially held in lieu of $1 million bail, but released from the La Verna Police Department’s Jail about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after prosecutors declined to charge him.

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Two CHP officers hurt, La Verne man accused of DUI following 210 Freeway crash

LA VERNE — A 25-year-old La Verne man is accused of drunken driving after crashing his car in a constuction zone on the 210 Freeway, injuring two California Highway Patrol officers, authorities said.
Thomas Lapatka was treated for minor injuries and booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station following the crash, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said.
Two CHP officers suffered minor injuries, and their patrol car was significantly damaged in the collision, which took place just before 1 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway at Foothill Boulevard, the sergeant said.
They were assisting workers with a construction closure in which all lanes of westbound traffic were being gradually directed to the carpool lane by cones and sign boards, Hamilton said.
They were stopped within the closure, with the patrol car’s overhead lights activated, he said.
Lapatka
“According to witness statements, they see him fly by through the cones and pass them,” Hamilton said. “Their statements put him well over the 65 mph speed limit. Some witnesses put him at over 80 mph.”
Lapatka’s 2010 Mercedes E350 struck an electronic board that was displaying an arrow, ushering traffic toward the carpool lane, the sergeant said. The sign board then struck the patrol car, causing significant damage and injuring the two officers inside.
Officials at first were uncertain of the extent of the officers’ injuries, and they were taken to a hospital for treatment, Hamilton said.
“Thank goodness, once they got there, the doctors evaluated them and within a few hours they were released with minor injuries,” he said.
Lapatka was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, Hamilton said.
He was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court, according to county booking records.

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La Verne bank robbery suspect arrested after chase, crash

An armed bank robbery suspect led La Verne police on a freeway chase before crashing his car and being captured by officers, authorities said.
The robbery was reported about 1:30 p.m. at a La Verne Wells Fargo Branch, 1487 Foothill Blvd., a La Verne police dispatcher said.
Officers soon spotted the suspect’s car — a gray or silver sedan — and initiated a pursuit, officials said.
The chase went west on the Foothill (210) Freeway, then south on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway.
The fleeing driver exited the freeway and ultimately crashed on Myrtle Avenue, just north of Live Oak Avenue, in an unincorporated county area between Irwindale and Arcadia, according to initial reports from the scene. The suspect continued to flee on foot but was captured nearby.
Officers continued searching the area near where the pursuit ended for evidence.
No injuries were reported in the bank robbery.
Further details were not immediately available.

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Suicidal man discovered fatally shot in La Verne

LA VERNE — A man who called La Verne police Wednesday threatening to kill himself was later found in a parked car with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
An officer found the car on C Street, south of Arrow Highway just after 6 p.m.
“We received a call from him,” Sgt. Ray Steitz said.
The man said by the time police found him it would be too late, according Steitz.
The sergeant said the man was taken to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

- Ruby Gonzales

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UPDATE: 29-year-old killed in motorcycle crash on the 210 Freeway in La Verne

LA VERNE — A 29-year-old man died following a motorcycle crash early Thursday after being cut off by a van on the 210 Freeway, authorities said.
James Chappell was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the 6:55 a.m. crash on the westbound 210 Freeway, just east of Fruit Street, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Dulong said. His address was listed in Crescent City, though he was believed to have been staying with family in Upland.
Chappell was riding hi 2002 Honda CBR600 motorcycle in the carpool lane at an undetermined speed prior to the crash, Dulong said.
Ahead of him and in the freeway’s fast lane, a 58-year-old Claremont man was driving a 2010 Ford E-350 van at 65 to 70 mph, the sergeant said.
“The van approached slower-moving traffic, braked and then changed into the carpool lane, crossing the double yellow line, directly into the path of the motorcyclist,” Dulong said.
Chappell was unable to avoid a collision and crashed into the rear of the van, he said.
Despite wearing a helmet, Chappell suffered major injuries including head injuries, according to Dulong. He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The crash was being investigated by the Baldwin Park office of the California Highway Patrol. No arrests or citations had been made.
The wreckage blocked the carpool and fast lane of the westbound freeway for more than an hour as rescuers tended to the injured rider and CHP officers investigated the scene, CHP Officer Ed Jacobs said.
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Deputies, La Verne police shoot two suspects in Hawaiian Gardens

HAWAIIAN GARDENS — Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and La Verne police shot and wounded two suspects Thursday during a multi-agency operation in Hawaiian Gardens, officials said.
The shooting took place jsut before 5:30 p.m. at Horst Avenue and 216th Street, according to Deputy Benjamin Grubb of the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau.
“The shooting occurred as a multiple police agency task force was conducting an investigation,” Grubb said in a written statement. “No deputies nor La Verne police officers were injured. Two suspects were wounded and transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There are no outstanding suspects.”
“There is no further information at this time,” he added.
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UPDATED: Plane crashes near Fairplex in Pomona; one fatality reported

POMONA — A single-engine airplane en route to Brackett Field in La Verne crashed at the Pomona Fairplex Friday, killing the pilot, authorities said.
The airplane, identified by Federal Aviation Administration officials as a Mooney M20M, “crashed under unknown circumstances around 2:15 p.m. approximately 1 mile southeast of Brackett Field, near the Pomona Fairgrounds,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in a written statement.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said. No other injuries were reported.
The airplane crashed near the southeast corner of the grandstands at the Fairplex’s racetrack, officials added. The crash did not ignite a fire.
The aircraft’s marking indicated it was registered to a Pasadena law firm.
Friday’s incident was the second fatal small plane crash near Brackett Field in recent years.
Husband and wife Charles and Renee Shaffer of La Verne died March 14, 2009, when their Piper Dakota suddenly lost altitude and went down in Pomona shortly after take-off from Brackett Field.
The couple’s plane crashed into a hillside near the 2600 block of Pomona Boulevard, about 2 miles from the scene of Friday’s crash.

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Man gets 40 years to life for Whittier area shooting

NORWALK — A La Verne man received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison Tuesday for shooting another man in the head in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, court officials said.
Carlos Humberto Ramirez, 44, was convicted earlier this year of the February 2009 shooting of then-29-year-old Danny Rodriguez of Glendale on Esperanza Avenue
Rodriguez was sitting in the back seat of a car, which Ramirez opened fire on, when he was struck in the head by gunfire, authorities said. No one else was injured.
Ramirez was convicted of attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and being a felon in possession of a gun.

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Covina man gets 15 years to life in prison for fatal DUI crash in La Verne

POMONA — A judge sentenced A Covina man to 15 years to life in state prison Tuesday for a drunken driving crash that killed his two passengers in La Verne last year.
Pomona Superior Court Judge Tia Fisher handed down the sentence to Alan Michael McConnell, 28, who pleaded guilty in April to two counts of murder for the deaths of Telassie Dague, 22, and Renee Hardy, 20, both of Alta Loma, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
The fatal crash took place about 12:45 a.m. Jan. 23, 2010, on Foothill Boulevard in La Verne, near Damien Avenue.
McConnell had a blood-alcohol level of .15 — nearly twice the legal limit — when he fled the scene of another minor traffic collision, lost control and crashed into a tree, officials said.
McConnell tried to withdraw his guilty plea earlier this month, though Fisher denied the motion.
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Covina man pleads guilty to murder charges for double-fatal DUI crash in La Verne

LA VERNE — A Covina man pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of murder in connection with a a drunken driving crash in La Verne that killed his two passengers, authorities said.
Alan McConnell, 28, faces 15 years to life in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court for sentencing on April 22, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
McConnell had become involved in a minor traffic crash on Jan. 23, 2010, at Foothill Boulevard at Damien Avenue and was fleeing the scene in his 2000 Pontiac Grand Am when he struck a center median and a tree at Foothill Boulevard and Wheeler Avenue, prosecutors and police said.
His passengers, 22-year-old Telassie Dague and 20-year-old Renee Hardy, 20, both of Alta Loma, suffered fatal injuries in the crash.
McConnell had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood at the time of the crash, officials added.
In exchange for his guilty plea, district attorney’s officials said, authorities dropped seven misdemeanor charges, including hit-and-run, drunken driving and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
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