PASADENA >> Two young Pasadena women escaped from an armed kidnapper late Saturday, including one who broke her ankle leaping from his truck as it entered the 210 Freeway, authorities said.
The would-be kidnapper remained at-large following the attempted abduction, which took place about 10:20 p.m. at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
The suspect approached the two victims, both young Pasadena women in their late-teens, and offered them a ride across town, the lieutenant said. The victim agreed and got into his pickup truck.
“They realized, as they went in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go, he was not going to take them to their destination,” Mercado said.
One of the young women, who was riding as a front passenger, jumped from the car as it entered the 210 Freeway from Mountain Avenue to escape her captor, he said. She suffered an apparent broken ankle.
The kidnapper continued driving with the second victim still in his truck, the lieutenant said. “He pulled a gun out and told her not to do the same thing.”
But after the truck reached Los Angeles, the second victim managed to escape the gunman as well and flee. She was taken to a hospital for examination after complaining of pain to her body, but it was not clear exactly how she was injured.
Police described the kidnapper as a black man in his 20s, clean-shaven, of medium complexion. He drove a light-colored pickup truck with a rear seat and was armed with a black, semi-automatic handgun.
It was not clear Sunday what the kidnappers ultimate intentions were, had his victims not escaped.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A woman allegedly tried to run down at least one of her parents with an SUV in Pasadena Friday night before leading police on a pursuit that came to an end in Downtown Los Angeles, where she stripped nude before being taken into custody.
The bizarre string of events began about 10:30 p.m. when police received a report of a family dispute at a home in the 1300 block of Linda Vista Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Officers learned a woman had gotten into an argument with her parents, during which she allegedly tried to run them down with an SUV.
“She tried to strike one or both of her parents,” Gourdikian said. “They had to jump out of the way.” The parents were not injured.
The suspect also struck her parents’ parked car with her SUV and smashed a car window with a brick, Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
The woman fled the scene before police arrived, but officers soon spotted the woman driving near the Rose Bowl, the lieutenant said. She refused to pull over, initiating a chase.
News helicopters broadcast live as police chased the SUV down the 134, 101, 118 and 210 freeways toward Los Angeles.
Police cancelled their pursuit as a safety precaution and planned to seek the woman later, as they knew her identity, Gourdikian said.
But news helicopters continued to follow and broadcast live online as the woman got onto the 110 Freeway, exited in Downtown Los Angeles and parked the SUV in a parking lot along 3rd Street, just east of Main Street.
The woman exited the SUV and began walking down the street, speaking with several passers-by, a live stream broadcast online by CBS Los Angeles. More than 15 minutes passed for Los Angeles police arrived.
In the meantime, a freelance news photographer arrived on the scene. He approached the woman, camera in-hand, and appeared to speak with her briefly.
As police approached, the woman suddenly stripped off all of her clothing. Police handcuffed the suspect and tried to cover her with a shirt before placing her into a squad car.
She made “incoherent” statements to officers during her arrest, Carrillo said.
Simone Megan Gonzalez, 32, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism and evading police, according to police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officials had yet to determine Saturday whether Gonzalez’s bizarre behavior may have been the result of mental illness or intoxication.
She was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending her initial court appearance, records show.
MONTEREY PARK >> Police jailed a parolee from Alhambra and a second man from Los Angeles in connection with a Saturday break-in at a Monterey Park home, officials said.
Christopher Molina, 23, of Alhambra and Trayvon Watson, 21, of Los Angeles are accused of residential burglary following their arrests about 1:20 p.m. in connection with a burglary at a home in the 1000 block of Hillvale Drive, Monterey Park police officials said in a written statement.
One of them waited outside in a getaway car as the other went into the backyard of the home and smashed the rear sliding window, police said. But the suspects fled after an alarm system startled them.
“Shortly after the burglary an officer located the vehicle and the two suspects in the area of Ramona (Avenue) and Garvey (Avenue). A traffic stop was initiated and an investigation was conducted,” according to the statement. “After the investigation was concluded, both suspects in the vehicle were arrested for residential burglary.”
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Watson was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.
Molina, who is on parole following a January, 2015, conviction for vandalism, was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, also scheduled Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court, according to police and records.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> Authorities arrested more than 400 people Saturday — 124 of them in Los Angeles County alone — during a statewide sting operation targeting adults who agree to buy alcohol for minors, officials said.
California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control officials teamed with more than 80 police and sheriff’s departments throughout the state to conduct “shoulder tap” operations, ABC spokesman John Carr said.
Officials made 413 arrests and citations during the sting, he said. Nearly 340 of the arrests were for furnishing alcohol to minors, while 70 others were arrested for other reasons, such as having open containers of alcohol, possessing fake IDs, public drunkenness, drug possession or outstanding warrants.
In the Southland, in addition to the 124 arrests made in Los Angeles County, officials made 57 arrests in Orange County, 29 in Riverside County, 10 in San Bernardino County and 2 in Ventura County, Carr said.
“Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol,” Carr explained. “The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol. If the adults agree, and purchase alcohol for the minor, officers then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor.”
Those busted for furnishing booze to kids can expect a minimum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service.
Funding for many of the local operations was provided by grants from the ABC, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
PASADENA >> Coroner’s officials Friday released the identities of a Monrovia man and Los Angeles woman who died after their motorcycle collided with ah car in Pasadena last week.
Motorcyclist Kirk Allan Mirkamali, 24, and passenger Darling Elizabeth Avila, 26, died at a hospital following the Oct. 2 crash at Lake Avenue and Union Street, Lt. R. Hayes of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said.
Mirkamali was described as a Monrovia resident, officials said. A city of residence for Avila was not listed at the coroner’s office, however police said she was from Los Angeles.
The man and woman were south on Lake Avenue on a motorcycle when the cycle collided in the intersection with a Mini Cooper making a left turn from northbound Lake Avenue onto westbound Union Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
A 27-year-old Pasadena woman driving the Mini Cooper suffered no significant injuries, officials said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by Pasadena police.
PASADENA >> An Arcadia woman who went missing in Los Angeles Friday was found in Pasadena Sunday morning, authorities said.
Barbara Jean Joseph, 44, disappeared after leaving a Los Angeles substance abuse treatment center to attend a family funeral, according to Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther. The woman has a history of psychological issues, prompting loved ones to report her missing.
Police in Pasadena found Joseph about 9:40 p.m. Saturday in the 2000 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Officers responding to a report of a woman lying on the ground found Joseph, who appeared intoxicated but unharmed, the lieutenant said. She was taken to a hospital for examination, and it was soon determined she had been reported missing.
COVINA >> A man accused of stabbing a 23-year-old Glendora woman in an unprovoked attack last week was behind bars Sunday, authorities said.
Peter William Cooley, described as a 24-year-old transient, was arrested by LAPD Saturday afternoon, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
LAPD officers jailed him in connection with an attempted kidnapping case before realizing he was wanted for the Aug. 2 stabbing at Tri-Community Adult School, 20350 E Cienega Ave. in an unincorporated county area near Covina, sheriff’s Sgt. Nicole Davis said. Further details regarding the alleged kidnapping attempt in Los Angeles were not available.
He’s accused of stabbing the victim, a high school acquaintance, as she skateboarded with friends at the school about 12:45 P.M., according to Lt. Andy Berg.
Without uttering a word, Cooley approached the woman on a bicycle, then stabbed her four to five times in the torso and arm, Berg said. He then abandoned his bicycle and ran away.
The woman was hospitalized in fair condition following the stabbing, officials said.
According to county booking records, Cooley was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTO of stabbing suspect Peter Cooley, 24, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities have released the identity of a Brentwood man suspected of shooting a 24-year-old Pasadena man outside his home early Friday before fatally shooting himself later in the day near his own home in Brentwood.
Brandon Rafiepour, 24, was found dead inside his car from what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound about 4 p.m. in the West Los Angeles area, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
The suspected suicide took place in the 300 block of North Kenter Avenue, where public records indicate Rafiepour lived.
He was being sought in connection with the shooting death of Joseph McMahon, which took place shortly after 2 a.m. Friday outside McMahon’s home in the 3600 block of Yorkshire Road, in an unincorporated county area east of Pasadena, she said.
McMahon, was pronounced dead at the scene after sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of gunfire, officials said.
He was described as a former associate producer on the television reality series “The Deadliest Catch,”
A woman who identified herself as McMahon’s sister said she heard seven or eight gunshots just after McMahon left the house, but did not know what had taken place.
No details regarding the circumstances or motive in McMahon’s fatal shooting have been released.
Rafiepour has no history of violent crime listed in Los Angeles County Superior Court records. He was convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit last year, and of driving while in possession of marijuana in 2009.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
EL MONTE >> Los Angeles police shot and critically wounded an armed domestic violence suspect in El Monte early Friday at the conclusion of a two-hour car chase that began in South Los Angeles, authorities said.
The wounded suspect was rushed into surgery and hospitalized in critical condition following the shooting, which took place about 5:30 a.m. at Valley Boulevard and Mountain View Road, Los Angeles police Lt. John Jenal said.
The incident began two hours earlier, when officers from the LAPD’s Southeast Division responded to a report of a domestic assault in the are of 96th Street and Firth Avenue, the lieutenant said. They encountered a victim with significant injuries, but the suspect had already left.
Officers spotted the suspect driving a white Toyota minivan nearby and began a pursuit when he failed to pull over, Jenal said.
The slow speed chase continued for about two hours, primarily on surface streets, Jenal said. “Officers saw him waving a weapon.”
Police used a spike strip to flatten the minivans wheels, but the suspect continued driving on the van’s rims.
He stopped the minivan and exited at Elliot Avenue and Cogswell Road, Jenal said. Police first shot at the man with a bean bag gun before opening fire with bullets, he said. The suspect, who was not struck by the gunfire, returned to the minivan and continued driving.
The minivan again came to a stop, apparently disabled, at Valley Boulevard and Mountain View Road.
“He put a blanket over him as he exited the van, to the point where you could not see his hands,” Jenal said. “Shortly thereafter, the blanket fell to the ground. In his hand, he brandished that same handgun, that’s when the officer-involved shooting occurred.”
Jenal said the suspect suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was in “very critical condition” at an intensive care unit. His identity was not available. He was initially described as about 30 years old. Graphic video of the incident that emerged online showed the suspect brandishing a handgun in the moments before he was shot. The view of the suspect is obscured at the moment police open fire.
In the minutes leading up, police are seen on the video ordering the suspect to throw his gun out the window, stop his car and surrender.
At one point, the suspect tells police, “I don’t want to kill myself. I just want to drive.” He later tells an officer who orders him to stop his van, “I can’t. You don’t understand.”
LOS ANGELES >> Federal officials on Wednesday arrested the owner and two manager of a chain of four schools, including one in Alhambra, on charges of running a “pay-to-stay” scheme officials allege helped hundreds of foreign nationals remain in the U.S. as foreign students without attending classes.
A federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment against the three defendants Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice spokesoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The involved schools are the Likie Fashion and Technology College in Alhambra, Prodee University/Neo American Language School in Los Angeles; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, and Educational Center in Los Angeles; and the American College of Forensic Studies in Los Angeles.
“Given the implications for national security and public safety, we will move aggressively to target individuals who compromise the integrity of our nation’s immigration system out of greed and self-interest,” HSI in in Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold said. “Simply put, those who exploit the benefits of the student visa program can expect to get a lesson in criminal justice.”
The schools were authorized by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to sue Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for academic and languages students, Mrozek said. The school-issued forms, known as form I-20, made students eligible to obtain F-1 student visas allowing them to remain in the United States.
The schools’ enrollees paid up to $1,800 “tuition” for six months of enrollment, Mrozek said. The schools collected as much as $6 million per year in purported tuition payments.
But HSI officials who made an unannounced visit to Prodee University’s main campus in 2011 investigators to Prodee University’s main campus found only three students attending a single English class, although records indicated more than 900 students were enrolled at the university’s two campuses, Mrozek said. Another inspection the same day as the American College of Forensic Studies turned up a single student sitting in one religion class, officials said. Federal records reflected that the school should have had more than 300 active students.
His investigators also found dozens of purported foreign students, primarily from South Korea and China, who originally entered the U.S. to attend other schools, but transferred to the Prodee Network, Mrozek said. “These students lived across the nation, indicating that they were not actually attending classes at Prodee or the other schools,” he said.
School network owner Hee Sun Shim, 51, of Beverly Hills, who is also known as Leonard Shim and Leo Shim, is charged in the indictment along with alleged co-conspirators Hyung Cham Moon, 39, of Los Angeles, also known as Steve Moon, and Eun Young Choi, 35, of Los Angeles, also known as Jamie Choi, according to the DOJ.
All three are charged with conspiring to commit immigration fraud, Mrozek said. Shim is also charged with 13 counts of use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud, three counts of encouraging illegal residence and two counts of money laundering.
Moon and Choi are each accused of one count of use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud.
HSI officials planned to immediately seek withdrawal of the schools’ Student and Exchange Visitor Program certification, Mrozek added.
Any students enrolled at the involved schools were advised to contact SEVP representatives at 703-603-3400 for further instructions, officials said. Information is also available online at the SEVP page of ICE’s website at www.ice.gov/sevis/whats-new.