SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, family members and fellow Los Angeles County sheriff’s Explorer scouts on Sunday will mark the 5th anniversary of the slaying of an Explorer and another man with a march and candlelight vigil to honor the victims’ lives and renew their call for justice in the unsolved double-homicide.
The march has been held, and grown, each year since Aug. 28, 2011, when 19-year-old Norwalk sheriff’s Explorer Cesar Rodriguez and friend Larry Villegas, 24, both of Whittier, in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier.
The group will gather at 7 p.m. at the corner of Laurel and Beaty avenues, organizers said.
During the annual marches, which passes by the scene of the shooting, marchers hand out fliers seeking information on the killings.
Anyone with information on the case is 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.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Investigators recovered skeletal remains found near an overgrown SUV crash scene deep in the Angeles National Forest north of Mt. Wilson on Wednesday, launching an investigation into who the remains belonged to and how the person died, a homicide detective said.
Caltrans officials first noticed a set of skid marks about 1:30 p.m. leading off side of Angeles Crest Highway, near mile marker 41.69, Lt. Randy Tuinstra of the sheriff’s La Crescenta Station said.
Members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team descended the steep roadside and found an SUV 500 to 600 feet over the roadside, Lt. Steve Jauch of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. The SUV, which the lieutenant declined to describe in detail, was being overgrown with weeds and foliage. He declined to speculate how many months or years the SUV may have been there.
The original skid marks that prompted the search were found to have been the result of an unrelated crash that occurred about a week ago, Jauch said.
No body was initially found.
But officials returned to the scene Wednesday to resume their search. Search and Rescue officials discovered the skeletal remains “in the vicinity” of the SUV about 8 a.m., Jauch said.
The vehicle identification number on the SUV connected it to a missing person’s case launched by the Los Angeles Police Department about two years ago, Jauch said. He declined to discuss the specifics of the LAPD missing person case pending the identification of the remains. “It wouldn’t be responsible,” the lieutenant said.
The age or gender of the person whose skeletal remains were found remained a mystery, he said.
“We have no idea who they belong to,” Jauch said.
Despite the remains being found near the crashed SUV, Jauch said detectives had yet to determine whether the person had been inside it, or if the location of the remains was yet another coincidence.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is now conducting an investigation into the identity of the person, as well as the cause of death.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
SAN DIMAS >> Joel “Joey” Gutierrez has been riding the same bicycle through the streets of San Dimas every day for 20 years.
Each morning, he dons his headphones, sings his favorite songs and goes for a ride around the neighborhood, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said.
“Riding his bike and singing is his daily routine and it brings him great joy,” Berg said of Gutierrez, 41, who has Down Syndrome. “The victim is well liked by everyone in the neighborhood.
So when two opportunistic thieves stole Gutierrez’s black and white BMX-style bicycle from his garage in the 1000 block of Sherwood Court about 10 a.m. Saturday following his daily ride, that didn’t sit well with the deputy who took the report, or his colleagues.
“Once the handling deputy realized the significance of the stolen bike, he and his
patrol partners from San Dimas Station jumped into action,” Berg said. “Within two hours deputies pooled their money, contacted Incycle (Bicycles), San Dimas, and purchased a new bike.”
Deputies cheerfully presented the new bike to Gutierrez and his father Saturday afternoon in the lobby of the sheriff’s station.
Neighbors reported seeing two male thieves leave Gutierrez garage with his bike and flee the neighborhood in a newer-model, white car.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
•VIDEO: Raw CBS footage of pursuit
SOUTH EL MONTE >> Prosecutors filed four felony charges against a woman they say carjacked another woman at knifepoint in South El Monte, then led police on a televised chase to Bell Gardens
The suspect, Kelsey Woods, also listed as Britany Woods, 26, rammed a CHP car during the chase. Woods was previously convicted of leading police on a chase and driving against traffic in 2015 when she embarked on the alleged series of crimes on Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
“Woods allegedly approached a woman with a knife in South El Monte and then took the victim’s truck,” Ardalani said.
The suspect was not immediately found following the morning carjacking, however deputies spotted the stolen truck later in the day, officials said. It was still being driven by the suspect, later identified as Woods.
Woods refused to pull over, initiating a pursuit, Ardalani said.
News helicopters broadcast live at the fleeing truck ran over a spike strip, but continued speeding. Sparks flew from the exposed tire rim as the suspect fled.
“During the pursuit, the defendant reportedly drove into oncoming traffic and did not stop at numerous stop lights,” according to Ardalani. “At one point, the defendant allegedly stopped the vehicle, went into reverse and hit the patrol vehicle before she fled the scene again.”
•Video: Raw CBS footage of pursuit
Prosectors charged Woods Friday with carjacking, two counts of assault on a peace officer and recklessly fleeing police, officials said.
Woods is also accused of the special allegation that she personally used a knife in the carjacking.
A scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court was continued to Monday, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Ardalani said Woods could face up to 16 years and four months in state prison. Her hometown was unclear.
According to county booking records, Woods was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
LA PUENTE >> For the third year running, La Puente has been named one of the 50 safest cities in California by security organization Safe Wise.
The city earned the 48th spot on the SafeWise Report’s 50 Safest Cities in California list for 2016.
“Besides its enviably low crime rate, what caught our attention about La Puente is the way it cares for its children,” SafeWise said in a written statement.
“ La Puente’s Self-Esteem Through Activities Recreation and Sports program provides elementary school children with a diverse assortment of after-school activities. La Puente’s Teen V.O.I.C.E. program is a volunteer-based program for teens ages 13 to 18, and its Tiny Tot program helps build the self-esteem of children ages three to five.”
City Manager David Carmany said the designation “validated we are on the right track,” but said the majority of credit belongs to the city’s partners at the Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department, as well as city staff.
Six other San Gabriel Valley cities made the list of California’s top 50 safest cities.
Sierra Madre ranked 9th safest city in California, Walnut ranked 20th, Temple City ranked 38th, Diamond Bar ranked 42nd, Chino Hills ranked 47th and La Mirada ranked 49th.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Firefighters freed a sheriff’s deputy from a wrecked patrol car following a collision that left her and elderly civilian injured in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, authorities said.
The crash took place about 10:50 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Valley View Avenue, Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. Both the deputy and the other driver were hospitalized in stable condition.
The deputy, a 6-year department veteran, was responding to a report of an alarm activation when the crash occurred, officials said. She was not using the patrol car’s emergency lights or sirens.
“The deputy was traveling west on Telegraph Road in the No. 3 lane when her patrol vehicle was struck by a Lexus sedan that was making a left turn from eastbound Telegraph Road onto northbound Valley View Boulevard,” Alexander said. “The force of the collision then caused the patrol vehicle to strike a signal pole and wrap itself around it.”
Firefighters cut the deputy free of the mangled patrol car before taking both her and an elderly woman who was driving the Lexus to hospitals for treatment, sheriff’s officials said.
The crash is being investigated by officers from the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs area office. Any witnesses, or anyone with information, can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
LA PUENTE >> A foodservice company teamed with local officials Saturday to delight 64 La Puente elementary school students with brand new bicycles as a reward for academic achievement and perfect attendance, officials said.
The giveaway, hosted by the Golden State Foods Foundation at Sparks Elementary School with help from city and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“The GSF Foundation is committed to helping our youth and doing incredible work in our communities. We truly appreciate their work and dedication,” La Puente Mayor Valerie Munoz said.
GSF is not in the fourth year of it’s “Build-A-Bike” program, with a total of 1,300 bikes to be distributed at 24 locations nationwide during National Bike Month. About 4,700 bikes have been given out to kids through the program since its inception, according to GSF representatives.
Explorer Scouts from the sheriff’s Industry Station, which patrols La Puente, helped the kids assemble their brand new wheels, said Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who oversees police service for La Puente. Deputies provided safety classes.
“Bike recipients have been selected based on attendance, academics, and need to receive their very own, often very first, bike,” GSF officials said in a written statement. “Each child will get to build their bike with an accompanying ‘buddy’ mentor and take it home, along with a lock and helmet.”
Founded in 2002, the GSF Foundation, “is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in need in the areas where GSF associates live and work.”
GSF operates a distribution center in Industry, adjacent to La Puente.
PHOTO: TheGolden State Foods Foundation hosted the fourth annual “Build-A-Bike” event at Sparks Elementary School in La Puente, Calif. on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The company donated 1,300 bikes across the country, with 64 going to students at Sparks Elementary in celebration of national bike month. Deputies and Explorer Scouts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helped kids assemble their new bikes. (Courtesy)
VALINDA >> Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a man in Valinda early Sunday.
Few details were initially available regarding the circumstances of the death, first reported about 2:25 a.m. in the 500 block of North Azusa Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda, Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
The victim, described only as a “male adult,” was pronounced dead at the scene, Jansen said.
No further details were released, and it was unclear whether foul play was suspected in the death.
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.
IRWINDALE >> As they have done each year for more than a decade, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Friday spent 24 hours standing in silent, stoic tribute to fellow deputy David March at the site where he was murdered 14 years ago.
March, a 33-year-old deputy assigned to the sheriff’s Temple City Station, was shot to death in the line of duty on April 29, 2002, along Live Oak Avenue, just east of Peck Road. A permanent memorial to March stands at the roadside.
Deputies stood motionless in pairs in half-hour increments before ceremoniously switching positions with two other deputies. The process continued from midnight Friday morning to midnight Saturday morning.
Sheriff’s Temple Station Capt. Coronne Jacob and her husband, sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Jacob, took the first shift, Sgt. Jim Dexter said.
Visitors ranging from family members of the slain deputy to high-ranking officials from the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies stopped by to pay their respects.
March’s killer, previously convicted felon and four-time deportee Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico within 24 hours of the fatal shooting and remained a fugitive until he was arrested in 2006. Garcia was returned to the U.S. to face trial, and pleaded guilty in 2007 to murder, with the special allegations of intentionally killing a peace officer in the line of duty and using a gun in the crime. He is now serving life without parole in state prison.
When Garcia was returned to the U.S. to face justice, deputies cuffed him with March’s handcuffs.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> A man shot his wife to death before turning a shotgun on himself at the couple’s South Whittier home, authorities said Thursday.
The suspected murder-suicide was discovered about 10:30 a.m. Thursday at a house in on a cul-de-sac in the 13500 block of Lanning Drive, in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
A close family friend called deputies to report the had not seen the couple that lives in the home for a few days, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. The friend gave deputies a key to the home.
“Deputies entered the location and found the husband laying on the bed, with a gunshot wound to the upper torso,” Rouzan said. “A shotgun was recovered near the husband’s body. The gunshot wound appears to be self-inflicted.”
The body of the man’s wife was also found inside the home, he said. “She also had a single gunshot wound to the upper torso.”
Investigators determined the man fatally shot his wife before killing himself, Rouzan said. It was unclear exactly when the shooting took place prior to the discovery of the grisly crime scene.
The identities of the man and woman were withheld pending notification of family, officials said.
“There is no additional information available at this time and the investigation is ongoing,” Rouzan said.
Officials at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, which patrols South Whittier, deferred comment to their counterparts at the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and sheriff’s Information Bureau.
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.