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.
SAN DIMAS >> California Highway Patrol officer and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are inviting the public to join them for some coffee and conversation Tuesday during a “Coffee With a Cop” event in San Dimas.
The event is scheduled for 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Klatch Coffee, 806 W. Arrow Highway, California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said in a written statement.
“Coffee with a cop is as simple as it sounds. It is a chance to meet with your local officers and have a cup of coffee with them,” Jimenez said. “There are no agendas at this event, just an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your neighborhood.
Officers from the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office, which patrols much of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as deputies from the sheriff’s San Dimas Station will take part.
For more information, contact Officer Jimenez at 626-338-1164, or email rjiminez @chp.ca.gov.
8SAN GABRIEL >> Two teenage burglary suspects shot by an off-duty Los Angeles police lieutenant during a break-in at his home had been upgraded to stable condition at a hospital Friday as the investigation continued, authorities said.
The two wounded suspects, both 17, were ultimately arrested along with two other 17-year-old boys following the shooting, which took place about 10 a.m. at the off-duty officer’s home in the 600 block of Los Olivos Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Hernandez said.
Both wounded suspects were hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday, the lieutenant said. “They are expected to survive their injuries.”
All four suspects were expected to face charges of burglary.
The off-duty officer was awakened by noises inside his home when he encountered two of the teenage burglars, sheriff’s officials said.
He armed himself with a non-department-issued 9mm pistol and encountered the two intruders, Hernandez said. They fled from the home through the kitchen window, which is also believed to be how they broke in.
The homeowner yelled through the window at the fleeing suspects to stop, Hernandez said.
“He saw one of the suspects reach for his waistband and turn towards him,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The off-duty officer fired at the suspect reaching for his waistband, striking both of the teens, Hernandez said. One was struck in the abdomen and leg, while the other was struck in the abdomen. Both continued fleeing.
One of the wounded teens was soon found and arrested nearby, officials said.
The second wounded suspect was brought to a hospital, along with another teen, shortly after the shooting, Hernandez said.
Another teen, who dropped the wounded teen and the other suspect off at the hospital, was found and taken into custody later in the day, Hernandez said.
No weapon linked to the suspects had been recovered Wednesday, he said.
It was not clear Wednesday whether the two suspects arrested after taking the wounded suspects to the hospital were present at the time of the burglary, Hernandez said.
Los Angeles police officials and sheriff’s investigators declined to release the name of the involved officer Wednesday.
Detective Meghan Aguilar described the off-duty officer as a lieutenant assigned to the LAPD’s Pacific division with 29 years of experience.
The lieutenant has been placed on administrative leave pending investigations by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the LAPD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, officials said.
Anyone with information 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.
COVINA >> No significant injuries were reported after sheriff’s patrol car and a black sedan collided in a Covina intersection Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The collision took place about 1:50 p.m. at Covina Boulevard and Citrus Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jorge Chavez said.
The deputy involved in the crash, who is assigned to the sheriff’s San Dimas Station, was taken to a hospital as a precaution, but she did not appear to have suffered any significant injuries, Covina police Sgt. Tom Tardif said. A man at the wheel of the other car — a Chevrolet Monte Carlo — was also hospitalized as a precaution, but appeared OK.
Tardif said witnesses relayed that the Monte Carlo drove through a red light as it headed south on Citrus Avenue, colliding with the patrol car, which was heading east on Covina Boulevard.
The deputy was not using of the patrol car’s emergency lights or siren when the crash occurred, Chavez added.
A photograph of the crash aftermath showed the patrol car with moderate front-end damage, and the black sedan with moderate damage to the passenger side.
No citations or arrests had been made as the investigation continued, Tardif said.
PHOTO courtesy of John Recendez
CITY OF COMMERCE >> A Whittier man is accused of three counts of murder in connection with an alleged street racing crash on the 5 Freeway in Commerce early Saturday that killed a UPS driver, the son of a homicide detective and a young woman, authorities said.
Initially booked on suspicion of manslaughter, David Lockhart, 35, was being held on suspicion of three counts of murder Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
Lockhart was racing another car when he lost control of his Dodge Challenger on the southbound 5 Freeway near Triggs Street in Commerce just after midnight Saturday, striking a UPS truck and sending the big rig hurling over the center median and into opposing traffic lanes, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said. The UPS truck struck a Nissan sedan, shearing off the tops, as well as a Ford Explorer. The big rig burst into flames.
In addition to the three people killed, two other occupants of the Nissan were hospitalized with major injuries, and two more people suffered minor injuries in the crash, officials said.
The deceased young man and woman, both Santa Clarita teens, who were reportedly returning from a visit to Disneyland in a gray Nissan. Both were passengers.
Los Angeles County coroner officials identified one of the victims from the Nissan as 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski.
Lewandowski was the son of Lt. Victor Lewandowski of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, who investigates homicides throughout Los Angeles County, sheriff’s officials said.
“Brian was an incredible young man and every parent’s dream for a son,” the Lewandowski family said in a written statement. “We are absolutely devastated by our loss. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families and our prayers are for the survivors’ recovery. We are very thankful for the love and support of family and friends throughout this time.”
In addition to his father, Brian Lewandowski is survived by his mother, Jocelyn Lewandowski, and two brothers, sheriff’s officials said.
The young woman killed while riding in the Nissan was identified by her parents as 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield, a student studying business at College of the Canyons and an employee at Six Flags Magic Mountain, according to media reports.
The third victim was identified on a Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page as 52-year-old Scott Treadway of Mira Loma who had been with UPS for 30 years.
“The Teamsters Local 396 Executive Board, Staff and Membership send our heartfelt condolences to the Family of our dear, departed Brother Scott Treadway, who we lost suddenly, in a tragic feeder accident last night. Scott was admired and loved by his friends and co-workers at UPS. We are still trying to come to grips with this horrible loss,” the organization posted. “We love and miss you Brother!”
Fellow teamsters held their meeting Sunday, “under such difficult circumstances,” in honor of Treadway, who worked out of a Cerritos UPS facility, according to the union chapter.
“The members honored Scott’s memory by sharing their thoughts and memories regarding Scott’s remarkable legacy as a UPS Teamster Brother,” Teamsters Local 396 wrote online.
The Dodge Charger Lockhart was allegedly racing, as well as it’s driver, had not been found Sunday, officials said.
Both directions of the 5 Freeway remained closed in the area of the crash through Sunday morning as officials made repairs to the damaged road surface and barriers, according to Caltrans and CHP officials.
According to county booking records, Lockhart was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Anyone with information regarding the crash was asked to contact officers Fonseca or Flores of the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
PHOTOS: Crash scene [ABOVE] courtesy of Caltrans; Photo of Brian Lewandowski, 18, of Santa Clarita [2nd FROM TOP] courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Photo of Michelle Littlefield, 19, of Santa Clarita via Facebook; Photo of Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma via Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page.
EAST LOS ANGELES >> Deputies shot and killed a 29-year-old man they say reached for a handgun during a traffic stop in East Los Angeles early Sunday morning.
The suspect, whose name was not released, died at the scene of the deputy-involved shooting, which took place just after 4 a.m. at Ferris Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Deputies stopped the car to investigate the possibility it was stolen, according to the statement. As deputies encountered the front passenger of the car, “he became combative with the deputies, and a struggle ensued.”
Deputies saw the suspect reaching for a gun, the statement said. “Deputies gave several commands for the suspect to comply with their orders, however the suspect continued to struggle and refused to eschew his motion for his weapon. This resulted in a deputy-involved shooting.”
A .22-caliber revolver was recovered at the scene, officials said.
Two additional people inside of the car were detained for further investigation.
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.
SIERRA MADRE >> The Sierra Madre City Council discuss hiring the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to take over night patrols in the city later this month.
The Sierra Madre Police Department is woefully understaffed due to budgetary concerns and uncertainty about the department’s future, according to city officials. Nine of the department’s 20 full-time officers have left in recent months.
“Although the current staff is working to keep the community safe, this staffing model in not sustainable,” city officials said in a written statement.
After a previous plan to have Arcadia police patrol Sierra Madre between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week was rejected by Arcadia officials, Sierra Madre is now turning to the sheriff’s department to take over night patrols.
The issue will be discussed at the upcoming Feb. 23 council meeting.
A staff report is available on the city’s website at www.cityofsierramadre.com/cityhall/agendas.
LA PUENTE >> Elected officials, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, clergy and community members met Friday morning to discuss issues affecting the La Puente area and seek divine guidance during the Third Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Representatives of State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis took part in the gathering, where issues ranging protecting the homeless during El Nino to crime statistics were discussed, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. La Puente Mayor Dan Holloway praised the partnership between the city and the sheriff’s department, which provides its law enforcement services. He pointed out that La Puente made the Safewise Top 50 Safest Cities in California list last year. City Manager David Carmany spoke of successes in policing, as well as relationship building among residents, elected officials and businesses. Officers from neighboring police agencies, as well as Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Police Chief John Babbitt. Pastor Kelly Dupee of Faith Community Church in West Covina offered an invocation. The gathering concluded with a prayer by Rev. Matthew Cumberland of the St. Joseph Parish in La Puente. Free breakfast was provided at the event, sponsored by C&F Foods Inc.
LA PUENTE >> La Puente and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are inviting the public to join them Thursday for pancakes and prayer at the city’s third annual Sheriff and Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
The free event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Villa Carino restaurant, 1066 N. Hacienda Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. It is being presented by the City of La Puente and Mayor Dan Holloway.
Other elected officials will also take part, along with Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and local clergy.
A free Mexican breakfast will be provided at the meeting, sponsored by C&F Foods Inc., Cacheiro said.
For more information, contact La Puente Special Assignment Deputy Viviana Marez at 626-330-3322, ext. 3303.