UPDATED: 5 Freeway shut down in East Los Angeles due to possible jumper

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EAST LOS ANGELES >> A possibly suicidal person on an overpass today caused the complete shutdown of the 5 Freeway in East Los Angeles during rush hour Friday, wreaking havoc on the afternoon commute for nearly four hours, authorities said.
The individual, described only as male, was seen about 3:40 p.m. on a freeway traffic camera grasping a sign attached to the Downey Road overpass, just west of 710 Freeway transition, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Count sheriff’s officials.
Deputies were treating the situation as a possible suicide attempt, and crisis negotiators responded to speak with the man, Sgt. R. Laflin of the sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station said.
“Our crisis negotiation team has made contact with him,” the sergeant said. No details were available regarding what the man was saying to officials.
Northbound Santa Ana Freeway traffic was being diverted onto the northbound 710 Freeway and southbound vehicles were being diverted onto Dittman Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol. The transition road from the northbound Long Beach Freeway to the northbound Santa Ana Freeway was also closed.
Traffic backed up significantly on the 5 Freeway, as well as on the 710, as officials continued dealing with the situation three hours later. An air bag was placed on the freeway below the overpass as a precaution.
The man was safely brought down from the overpass shortly before 7:30 p.m., however further details were not available, Laflin said.
The sergeant could not confirm reports that the man may have been scrawling graffiti when first encountered by officials, and it was unclear if the man was to be arrested or taken for psychological evaluation.
The Sig Alert for the 5 Freeway was cancelled about 7:30 p.m.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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23-year-old man fatally shot in East Los Angeles

EAST LOS ANGELES >> A man died at a hospital following a shooting in a commercial neighborhood early Saturday, sheriff’s officials said.
Little information was available regarding the shooting, which took place about 1:30 a.m. in the 900 block of South Kern Avenue, just south of Whittier Boulevard, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
Deputies responded to reports of gunshots and creaming when they encountered a 23-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds, Saldana said. He was taken to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His name was not released.
“Detectives have learned that the victim was walking down Kern Avenue when he was shot by unknown suspect (or suspects),” Saldana said. “The motive for the shooting is unknown.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Deputies plan noisy training Monday at Temple City High School

TEMPLE CITY >> Residents are forewarned to expect sounds such as gunfire, explosions and other noises Monday as sheriff’s deputies conduct a training operation at Temple City High School, officials said.
The training will take place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the campus, 9501 Lemon Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The training will simulate gunfire, explosions, persons screaming and persons injured,” according to the statement. “Please plan for potential disruptions and avoid traveling the area surrounding the high school.”
For more information, the sheriff’s Temple Station can be reached at 626-285-7171.

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UPDATED: Alhambra hospital facility burglar escapes from Los Angeles jail

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LOS ANGELES >> A man escaped from a Los Angeles jail facility following his sentencing for stealing laptop computers laden with sensitive data from an Alhambra-based hospital chain, officials announced Thursday.
Christopher Lee Brown, a 37-year-old transient known to frequent the Alhambra area, walked out of the Inmate Reception Center, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“As a result of the inmate’s actions, and that it appears that mandated security practices may have not been followed, the inmate was able to escape through the jail Inmate Reception Center release door,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said in a written statement. “Identified security concerns were immediately remedied.”
Brown was believed to have impersonated another inmate to slip past his guards, officials said. He was found missing during an inmate count overnight.
“This led to a search of the jail and ultimately the discovery of jail CCTV video showing the inmate leaving through the release area at 10 p.m. Wednesday, which confirmed the inmate had escaped,” according to a statement issued Thursday afternoon by the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau.
Brown was sentenced to 4 years and 8 months in prison Wednesday for stealing two laptop computers and three flash drives laden with the personal information of 729,000 patients from an AHMC Healthcare Inc. facility in Alhambra in October, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. The laptops were never recovered, however no identity theft issues related to the computer theft have been reported.
A jury convicted Brown in march of burglary and receiving stolen property.
In addition to the crimes he’s already convicted of, Brown is now also accused of felony escape from jail, sheriff’s officials said.
He is described as 6 feet 3 inches tall and 200 pounds.
He has numerous theft-related convictions and has been tied to areas including El Monte and Newport Beach, sheriff’s officials said. Brown was arrested in 1997 and later convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in the San Luis Obispo area.
As officials reviewed the possible errors that led to Brown’s escape, the IRC was placed on lockdown Thursday, along with the Men’s Central Jail and the Twin Tower Correctional Facility, sheriff’s officials said. Medical and mental health services continued.
“A comprehensive review of jail systems, especially related to releases are continuing,” Parker said.
Anyone who spots Brown was advised not to approach him and to contact law enforcement immediately.
Wednesday’s incident was not the first time an inmate supposed to be in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had walked through the release doors at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles, where inmates are processed and held before transfer to other facilities.
Deputies continue seeking murder suspect Johnny Mata, 33, who was accidentally released at the IRC on April 4, 2013.
Mata was awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of David Anthony Deandrea on Christmas Eve of 2010 in Baldwin Park. After more than a year on the run, he was arrested by El Monte police in late May of 2012.
Officials released Mata to due to a clerical error, sheriff’s officials said. Though a murder charge had been filed against him, a clerk had not yet entered a “hold” on Mata to prevent his release from custody.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Former pros help kick off La Puente National Little League season

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LA PUENTE >> La Puente welcomed the little league baseball season Saturday with a parade and inspirations visits from two former professional baseball players.
The La Puente National Little League’s grand opening parade and ceremony was a success, La Puente Mayor Charlie Klinakis said.
In addition to a parade of local officials, organizations, and of course, baseball players that went from City Hall to La Puente Park, little leaguers and their parents got a chance to mingle with former Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles player Don Buford, as well as former Toronto Blue Jays player James Bishop. Both men are staff members at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.
“These people taking the time and coming into the community… we all appreciated it,” the mayor said. ““I’m glad to see there’s programs like this out there.”
Saturday’s festivities were hosted by the City of La Puente, La Puente National Little League and the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Industry Station, which patrols La Puente, organizers said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who effectively serves as La Puente’s police chief, said sheriff’s department was glad to take part in the event and thanked the Urban Youth Academy for it’s support.
“These guys are always mentoring young kids, making sure they don’t get into gangs, and giving back to the community,” the lieutenant said.
Also in attendance were city officials, dignitaries including Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, State Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-57, State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-24.

PHOTO courtesy of the City of La Puente

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UPDATED: Memorial to slain deputy near Irwindale destroyed in car crash; plans to rebuild underway

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The community is rallying to quickly rebuild a roadside memorial to a slain sheriff’s deputy near Irwindale that was destroyed in a car crash Thanksgiving morning.
The memorial marked the location along Live Oak Avenue near Peck Road in an unincorporated county area near Irwindale, where Deputy David March, 33, of Saugus, was fatally shot after pulling over a career criminal on April 29, 2002.
A woman was driving eastbound on Live Oak Avenue about 7 a.m. Thursday when she fell asleep at the wheel and allowed the vehicle to drift to the side of the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Hector Figueroa said in a written statement.
1130_NWS_SGT-L-MEMORIAL3But the Irwindale Police Officers Association, which initially helped fund the monument, along with L & L Building Material Inc., which originally did the brickwork, are wasting no time getting March’s memorial restored.
“The cost is no issue. It needs to back up as soon as possible with no delay,” Irwindale police Officer and POA President Rudy Campos said.
L & L volunteered to redo the brickwork for free, and the Irwindale POA will have the plaque that adorned the memorial polished and repaired, Campos said. He expressed gratitude to L & L for stepping in to help.
Neither the driver nor her passenger were injured in the crash, but the memorial comprised of bricks and a metal plaque was destroyed, he said.
No crime was initially suspected in the crash, which was being investigated as an accident, officials said.
Campos said.
The importance of the monument persuaded officials to move forward with the repairs early next week, hopefully as soon as Monday, instead of waiting on possible compensation for the damage from the driver. It’s unlikely the POA will seek to be reimbursed by the driver who crashed into the monument he added.
The destruction of the memorial gave a glimpse into how deeply March’s slaying affected the local community.
Flowers have been showing up at the memorial site since the crash, Campos said.
Fellow deputies have held annual 24-hour honor guards over the site on the anniversary of 1130_NWS_SGT-L-MEMORIAL2the deputy’s slaying.
Following the murder of March, who was assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, killer Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico where he was arrested in 2006. He is now serving a life sentence in prison.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Members of sheriff’s youth organization clean up blighted section of railroad tracks

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NORWALK — More than a dozen young members of a sheriff’s program for at-risk youths took it upon themselves to clean up a blighted section of train tracks Saturday, officials said.
The volunteers from the Personal Responsibility in Development and Ethics (PRIDE) Youth Intervention Program of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Norwalk Station, Sgt. Brian Doyle said.
The targeted area runs adjacent to a set of railroad tracks between the San Gabriel riverbed and Hoxie Avenue.
“There was so much trash that I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to complete the task, but the students really stepped up and got the job done” Doyle said. “I was impressed by all the students, by their hard work and willingness to give back.”
And the community seemed to appreciate the effort, he added.
“We received so much praise from the shoppers at (a nearby) Target who saw what we were doing. The staff at Target also came out and provided us with water, snacks, rakes and trash bags. It was truly a good day,” he said. “We cleaned up that entire area, so now the community won’t have to look at the mess.”
The PRIDE Youth Intervention Program is a 12-week program for at-risk young people between 12 and 17 years old.
The program consists of two components: one focusing on a “scared straight” philosophy highlighting the consequences of their choices, followed a second component focusing on “positive alternatives,” Doyle explained.

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UPDATED: Four accused of distributing child pornography online

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Deputies Friday announced the arrests of four men in connection with a child porn ring with ties to Baldwin Park, West Covina and Whittier.

The arrests came as the result of a six-week investigation into the distribution of images of child pornography over the Internet, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“This is very graphic and nasty material,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Cyber Crimes Detective John Howard said.
“This material depicts children between the ages of 1 year old and 16 or so years old engaged in sex acts with adults,” Howard said. “Not all of the persons have the same type of material, but it was recovered in this investigation.”
Hundreds of images of child pornography were recovered from four desktop computers, four laptop computers, 9 portable flash drives, three computer hard drives and a digital SUSPECTS 2video recorder seized by investigators who carried out search warrant Wednesday and Thursday.
“There is an ongoing effort to identify and help the children who are victims of these crimes, and who are believed to be located throughout the world,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography were 43-year-old Mario Aburto of West Covina, 19-year-old Rolando Garcia of South Los Angeles, 52-year-old Gregory MacClean of Palmdale and 72-year-old Jon Johnson of Fullerton, sheriff’s officials said.
The four suspects did not know each other, but stored and shared imaged of child pornography via the same online network, Howard said.
SUSPECTS 3Additionally, MacClean’s wife, Soraya Solimano, 53, of Palmdale was arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession as a result of the investigation, Howard said.
In addition the suspect’s homes, detectives also searched a Baldwin Park insurance office owned by Aburto, as well as a Los Angeles County office where MacClean works, Howard said. The detective declined to identify the name of Aburto’s insurance agency or say what county agency MacClean was employed by.
Aburto was arrested Wednesday and released from custody Friday pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles county booking records. Garcia was jailed Thursday and released from jail Friday after posting $40,000 bail.
Solimano was arrested Wednesday and release from custody the same day after posting $10,000 bail, records show. And
MacClean, who turned himself in Friday, remained in custody in lieu of $20,000 bail.
MacClean had fled from investigators when they attempted to meet him at his workplace at a county office in Whittier earlier in the week, sheriff’s officials said.
Booking information for Johnson was not available Friday.
SUSPECTS 4All the suspects were expected to face charges in Los Angeles Superior Court, with the exception of Johnson, who was expected to appear in Orange County Superior Court, officials said.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
“In this case, investigators pro-actively sought out persons offering to distribute child pornography on the Internet,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“Once sources were identified, investigators then actively downloaded videos and photos from the sources. After confirming it was illegal child pornography, investigators SUSPECTS 5determined the locations from which the images were distributed, then linked them to the suspects who were doing the distributing. The arrests followed.”
The investigation was ongoing, officials added.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact sheriff’s Detective John Howard at 562-619-5257. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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L.A. County sheriff’s deputy guilty of domestic violence, threats in Orange County

An Orange County jury Tuesday convicted a longtime Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy of repeatedly assaulting and threatening his girlfriend after she discovered he was having an affair, as well as threatening the other woman if she appeared in court, officials said.
Mark Eric Hibner, 44, of Anaheim was convicted of two counts of domestic battery with corporal injury and three counts of making criminal threats, Orange County District Attorney’ spokeswoman Farrah Emami said in a written statement.
All five counts are felonies, and Hibner faces up to eight years in state prison when he returned to the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana to be sentenced Nov. 15, officials said.
The allegations stem from Christmas Day of 2012, when Hibner became involved in an argument after his girlfriend, “discovered a sexually suggestive voicemail from another woman on the defendant’s cell phone,” according to the D.A.’s statement. The girlfriend was identified by authorities as Jane Doe #1.
“Over the next few days, Hibner physically assaulted Jane Doe #1, spit on the victim, repeatedly swore at her and threatened to kill her,” the statement said.
Hibner, whose booking sheet indicated stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds, woke up Jane Doe #1 Dec. 30, dragged her into the living room of her Anaheim home by her hair and got on top of her, prosecutors said.
“Jane Doe #1 cried, begged Hibner to stop and banged her foot on the floor to wake the neighbors,” according to the D.A.’s statement. “Hibner than covered the victim’s mouth, pinched her nose and threatened to make her pass out. He got off Jane Doe #1, spit on her, threw a lit cigarette at her an called her derogatory names.”
Hibner met with the other woman, with whom he’d had a previous relationship and a child with, for a custody exchange Feb. 19, officials said. She was described as Jane Doe #2.
“During the meeting, Hibner threatened to kill Jane Doe #2 if she appeared in court at a hearing scheduled for two days later regarding a protective order for the crimes against Jane Doe #1,” according to the D.A.’s statement.
The case was investigated by the Anaheim Police Department.
Hibner, a 22-year-veteran of the sheriff’s department, was assigned to patrol county courthouses, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
He was placed on administrative leave in January, Whitmore added. Following his conviction Tuesday, the sheriff’s department began the process of terminating him.
Records show Hibner was taken into custody after the jury verdict Wednesday.
Though he officially remained employed by the sheriff’s department Wednesday pending termination proceedings, his booking records described his occupation as “unemployed.”

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