2nd UPDATE — Officials: Walnut woman escapes kidnapper after abduction from store parking lot

WALNUT — A woman escaped a parolee who carjacked and kidnapped her from the parking lot of a Walnut store late Thursday, though his ultimate intentions remained a mystery, authorities said.
The strange and brazen crime took place about 2 p.m. as Walnut woman was carjacked and abducted in the parking lot of T.J. Maxx at Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
The woman, a Walnut resident in her late-30s who was a stranger to the suspect, left the store and was getting into her car when she was confronted by a man holding what was later found to be a realistic-looking BB gun, Detective Joseph Sanchez said. The man blocked her from closing her car door once she got in, Detective Joseph Sanchez said.
“He forced himself into her car,” the detective said. “He climbed over her, got into the passenger seat and told her to just drive.”
The woman resisted at first, but ultimately relented to the man’s demand, he said.
“He had her basically drive around aimlessly for an hour and a half,” Sanchez said.
As the suspect forced the woman to drive through South Los Angeles, she spotted a police car along Wall Street in South Los Angeles and saw an opportunity to escape, officials said.
“She saw a black-and-white and decided to get out of the car and run and ask for help,” Sanchez said.
Los Angeles police detained the suspect without a struggle and turned him over to sheriff’s deputies, he added. A BB gun that resembled a Beretta 9mm handgun was seized from the suspect during his arrest.
Deputies first responded to the Walnut T.J. Maxx store after witnesses reported seeing the alleged abduction, Lt. John Saleeby said.
“A woman was heard saying she needed help and witnesses said her and a male drove off in a car,” Saleeby said. “The impression was he forced her to drive off.”
Investigators withheld the alleged kidnapper’s name Friday as they continued seeking witnesses, as well as any other potential victims who may have had suspicious encounter with the suspect, Lt. Anthony Tachias said. He was described as a San Gabriel Valley man in his mid-30s.
The suspect was already on parole for carjacking and was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Pomona Superior Court, officials said.
The motive in the kidnapping and carjacking, as well as the suspect’s ultimate intentions, were unclear, investigators said. Nothing was stolen from the woman, and she was not assaulted while in the suspect’s custody
“That’s an unknown factor here,” Tachias said. “He won’t talk to us. He never any indication to the victim as to what his intentions were.”
“He committed this act with no rhyme or reason,” the lieutenant added. “I’m just glad we got her back safely.”

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Two women and girl killed in crash on 110 Freeway transition road

LOS ANGELES — Two women and a 12-year-old girl died early Saturday in a solo-vehicle crash on a connector road between the 110 and 5 freeways, authorities said.
Two other men, a 13-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl also suffered minor-to-moderate injuries in the crash, which took place about 12:15 a.m. on the northbound 110 Freeway transition road to the northbound 5 Freeway, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement. All seven people involved in the crash were described as Lancaster residents, however their relationship to one another was not clear.
Killed were Katie Davila, 12, Abigail Romero, 19, and Abigail Estrella, 37, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials said.
All three were passengers in the SUV, which was being driven by a 55-year-old man, officials said.
First responders received a report of a solo-car crash when they encountered a 2000 GMC SUV overturned onto its side, CHP officials said. Four occupants had been thrown from the SUV, and three of them were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Initial information obtained at the scene indicated the vehicle veered to the right, off the roadway, for an undetermined reason and collided with the raised concrete wall,” according to the CHP statement. “This action caused the vehicle to overturn and skid on its right side until coming to a rest in the No. 2 lane.”
The survivors were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, officials said.
It was not clear Saturday afternoon whether those who were thrown from the SUV had been wearing seat belts, investigators added.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by officers from the Central Los Angeles office of the CHP.

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CSULA evacuated due to bomb threat

Authorities evacuated Cal State University, Los Angeles Thursday following telephone bomb threats that were ultimately determined to be unfounded, authorities said.
The threat came in the form of two phone calls received by El Monte police between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian said.
CSULA officials began evacuating the campus about noon, CSULA Paul Browning said.
In addition the college’s own Department of Public Safety, Los Angeles police, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s bomb squad officials and Los Angeles County firefighters responded to the scene, officials said.
Detective Mike Cofield of the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said bomb squad members swept the campus with explosive-sniffing dogs.
But the search was called off about 2:30 p.m., LAPD Officer Christopher No said.
“Nothing was found.”
But school administrators still decided to cancel classes for the remainder of the day, CSULA spokesman Paul Browning said, adding that students were notified of the situation via social media and text alerts.
“It was a very calm and successful evacuation,” Browning said, adding that the evacuation was also announced over the school’s loud speaker.
Students first gathered in the quad, but then were asked to leave campus, Browning added. Many stood in groups on the outskirts of campus waiting for the “all clear.” The student dormitories were the first areas to be declared safe at about 1:45 p.m.
Sophomore Amy Gonzalez, 19, said she was in her dorm room when campus safety officers knocked at her door and told her she needed to evacuate.
“At first I just though it was a drill, but then when I saw the bomb squad and all the helicopters, I knew it was real,” she said.
“It was shocking,” Gonzalez said. “We are just college students, why would someone want to bomb us?”
Both threats were phoned in from pay phones within El Monte, Cobian said. One was in the 11200 block of Garvey Avenue, while the other was made from the 3800 block of Peck Road, he added.
Officers searched the area but found no possible suspects, police said.
Both calls were made by a person with what sounded like a male voice, Cobian said.
But whether the calls were made by the same person, “It can only be assumed, because of the closeness in timing and proximity.”
The first call stated that a bomb had been placed at CSULA, as well as “Cal Berkeley” – a reference to the University of California, Berkeley, Cobian said.
Police notified officials at the northern California school as well, he added.
The investigation was being spearheaded by the LAPD, officials said.
After moving about 10 feet in her car in a 30-minute time span as she tried to leave the campus, CSULA student Veronica Arroyo left her vehicle in the parking lot to exit the school on foot.
“I thought it was the safest and most intelligent thing to do,” she said.
Arroyo described the scene as “chaotic.”
Just after noon, academic adviser Jimmy Solis, of Whittier, heard a fire alarm as he worked in the campus library.
He and fellow staff proceeded to their designated areas as practiced in fire drills.
“We waited about 15 minutes in our specific location until campus police told us to evacuate the area because the campus was closed,” Solis said.
He returned to the library to gather his belongings, along the way telling people what campus police had told him.
Solis was able to leave the grounds in his car because he always parks near an exit.

- Brian Day, Lauren Gold, Sandra Molina

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Glendale man arrested in Pasadena on suspicion of Los Angeles carjacking

PASADENA — Police arrested a carjacking suspect after spotting him driving in the allegedly stolen car Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Mark Bravo, 29, of Glendale was booked on suspicion of carjacking following his 3:45 p.m. arrest at Parke Street and Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
Officers were on patrol when they saw a car being driven by Bravo and also occupied by a passenger and realized the vehicle had been reported stolen in Los Angeles, the lieutenant said.
The officers stopped the car and arrested Bravo without a struggle, he said. A passenger fled on foot and was not found, though police believed they knew his identity.
Pasadena police turned Bravo over to Los Angeles police for booking, according to officials and county booking records. He was being held in lieu of $90,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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Report of Dorner sighting prompts lockdown at L.A. jail, courthouse; determined to be ‘false alarm’

The Twin Towers Correctional Facility and adjacent Central Arraignment Court in Los Angeles went on lockdown, and an area search launched, after a civilian employee reported to her supervisor about 8:45 a.m. that she saw “somebody outside who resembled suspect Dorner,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Steve Whitmore said.
“Out of a preponderance of caution, we locked down the facility as well as the streets in front,” Whitmore said.
The search was called off about 11:30 a.m. after investigators determined, “It was a false alarm,” Whitmore said.

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Suspicious package closes Union Station in LA

Union Station Map

This from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department via press release:

Union Station has been evacuated and closed due to a suspicious package left on the Red Line platform.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Metro public information officers are available to speak to media at 530 Ramirez Street (the corner of Ramirez Street and Vignes Street), Los Angeles.

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AP: Rodney King, central figure in L.A. riots, found dead at Rialto home

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LOS ANGELES — Rodney King, the black motorist whose 1991 videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers was the touchstone for one of the most destructive race riots in the nation’s history, died Sunday. He was 47.
King’s fianc called 911 at 5:25 a.m. to report she found him at the bottom of the swimming pool at their home in Rialto, Calif., police Lt. Dean Hardin.
Officers arrived to find King unresponsive in the water, Hardin said. He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.
There were no signs of foul play, Hardin said. The San Bernardino County coroner will perform an autopsy within 48 hours.
The 1992 riots, which were set off by the acquittals of the officers who beat King, lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: “Can we all get along?”
King was stopped for speeding on a darkened street on March 3, 1991. Four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.
A man who had quietly stepped outside his home to observe the commotion videotaped most of it and turned a copy over to a TV station. It was played over and over for the following year, inflaming racial tensions across the country.
It seemed that the videotape would be the key evidence to a guilty verdict against the officers, whose trial was moved to the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, Calif. Instead, on April 29, 1992, a jury with no black members acquitted three of the officers; a mistrial was declared for a fourth.
Violence erupted immediately, starting in South Los Angeles.
Police, seemingly caught off-guard, were quickly outnumbered by rioters and retreated. As the uprising spread to the city’s Koreatown area, shop owners armed themselves and engaged in running gun battles with looters.
During the riots, a white truck driver named Reginald Denny was pulled by several black men from his cab and beaten almost to death. He required surgery to repair his shattered skull, reset his jaw and put one eye back into its socket.
The police chief, Daryl Gates, came under intense criticism from city officials who said officers were slow to respond to the riots. He was forced to retire. Gates died of cancer in 2010.
In the two decades after he became the central figure in the riots, King was arrested several times, mostly for alcohol-related crimes. He later became a record company executive and a reality TV star, appearing on shows such as “Celebrity Rehab.”
In an interview earlier this year with The Associated Press, King said he was a happy man.
“America’s been good to me after I paid the price and stayed alive through it all,” he says. “This part of my life is the easy part now.”
- From the Associated Press
PHOTO: Associated Press
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Jury recommends death for convict in Jamiel Shaw slaying

LOS ANGELES — A jury has recommended a death sentence for a gang member convicted of killing a standout Los Angeles High School football player for carrying a red Spider-Man backpack.
Jurors reportedly reached their verdict Wednesday in the penalty phase of trial for Pedro Espinoza. The same panel convicted Espinoza of murdering 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw on May 9.
Prosecutors say Shaw was gunned down in 2008 because of his red backpack, the signature color of the Bloods gang, and Espinoza assumed he was a gang rival. Espinoza has a tattoo near his left ear that is short for “Blood killer.”
Shaw was shot twice, in the abdomen and head, as he was talking to his girlfriend on the phone near his home.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 21.
- From the Associated Press
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Alhambra man arrested for 1981 killing after 31 years as fugitive

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ALHAMBRA — After 31-years as a fugitive, cold case homicide investigators have arrested an Alhambra man on suspicion of murdering a man on Los Angeles on New Year’s Day, 1981, authorities announced Friday.
Abraham Tovar, 73, was arrested Wednesday at his Alhambra home by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Homicide Due Diligence Team, LAPD officials said in a written statement.
His brother, Andrew Tovar, was arrested, tried and convicted for the Jan. 1, 1981 slaying of 36-year-old Charles McGee at a vacant lot in the 2300 block of South Central Avenue in Los Angeles, officials said. Andrew Tovar served a state prison sentence and has since died.
Though always suspected in the killing, “Abraham Tovar was never brought to justice and remained a fugitive from the law for 31 years,” according to the LAPD statement.
Investigators picked up Abraham Tovar’s trail several months ago in Alhambra, police said. 
The three-decade-old manhunt collimated with Abraham Tovar’s arrest about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at his home in the 1500 block of South Chapel Avenue in Alhambra, LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said. He was taken into custody without incident.
The Due Diligence Team concluded a several-month investigation that resulted in two search warrants being issued, several days of surveillance and numerous interviews with the suspect’s family members and friends in order to locate and apprehend him,” the police statement said.
The Tovar brothers had a dispute with an unidentified man at the vacant lot where McGhee’s body was later found, officials said.
“Armed with a handgun and a hatchet, the Tovar brothers returned to the lot for revenge,” according the police statement. “However, the brothers were unable to find the person they were looking for, so they turned their anger toward Charles McGhee and (a second victim) Wayne Alexis instead.”
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Abraham shot both men, investigators said. Alexis survived his wounds and testified against Andrew Tovar during his trial.
“This is a perfect example of how, sooner or later, the long arms of the law will catch up with criminals,” the statement added.
Information on Abraham Tovar’s initial court appearance was not available Friday due to technical problems with county booking records.
A case had not been filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Friday afternoon, officials said.
PHOTOS: (above)1981 murder suspect Abraham Tovar, 73, of Alhambra shortly after his arrest Wednesday, May 16, 2012. (below) Abraham Tovar, photographed in September of 1985.
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Experts: Teachers need training to spot campus molesters

LOS ANGELES–Many school teachers across the nation are trained to pick up on clues of child abuse and neglect, but most are not trained to spot the signs of classroom pedophiles, leaving a gray area that could help teacher molesters operate undetected on campuses.

Experts say better training of school teachers and administrators in red-flag behavior could aid in catching molesters, pointing to the case of a former Los Angeles third-grade teacher who is charged with feeding some two dozen students semen-laced cookies, and blindfolding and gagging them over a five-year period.

“There are clear and consistent patterns of behavior. If you know what they are, they jump right out at you,” said Diane Cranley, founder of Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids based in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “But there’s no awareness.”

Only a fraction of the nation’s 3 million educators are involved in any sexual misconduct with children. Although no national statistics are kept, a 2007 Associated Press investigation found 2,500 cases nationwide over five years where educators were punished for sexual abuse.

But that number is believed to be only a sliver of all sexual misconduct incidents.

…FULL STORY from the Associated Press

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