Victims of triple-fatal 5 Freeway crash in Commerce identified; Whittier man accused of murder

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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.
0229_NWS_WDN-L-5FATAL-FOLOLos 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.
LITTLEFIELDThe 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.
5FATAL-FOLO2“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.

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Officials: Man shot by deputies after reaching for gun in East L.A.


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.

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Sierra Madre to discuss hiring sheriff’s department for night patrols

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.

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La Puente mayor hosts community, law enforcement at annual prayer breakfast

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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.

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La Puente, sheriff’s officials plan prayer breakfast Thursday

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.

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Community rallies around family of utility worker killed in Paramount

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PARAMOUNT >> The community has rallied around the family of a Southern California Edison worker who was killed Wednesday while working on a utility pole in Paramount, raising more than $120,000 to help the bereaved family in a single day.
Jeffrey Jacob Moon, 26,  of Los Angeles left behind a wife and 3-year-old son, according to Ann Marie Howell, who organized the online fundraising website at www.gofundme.com/jacobmoonfund on behalf of the Southern California Edison Long Beach Service Center.
After being established Friday with a goal of $25,000, over 1,300 donors had contributed more than $120,000 to the fund by Saturday afternoon.
“Long Beach District would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Jacob’s family, friends and co-workers. We appreciate all of your support,” Howell wrote.
In a posting on the fundraising website, Moon’s wife, Eliana Moon, thanked the community for their support.
“As I end my days and I see the donations made I am speechless. I can not thank God enough for everyone’s support and help,” she wrote.
“I feel very blessed to have been able to spend the last 4 years of Jacobs life with him,” Eliana Moon continued. “I feel very proud of the impact he has made on many, I feel honored to be his wife. Thank you for your prayers because of them may be why I feel so strong to see the strong net that has brought so many people together all over the U.S. God bless each and every one of you guys.”
The fatal mishap took place about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday as Moon, described by SCE as a “troubleman,” was working up on a utility pole after responding to service call, officials said.
Witnesses reported that he lost his footing and slipped, becoming entangled in wires below, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Though initially reported by authorities as an apparent electrocution, investigators reported no obvious signs of electrical injury on Moon’s body, Winter said.
Moon’s cause of death remained under investigation Saturday, coroner’s Lt. David Smith said. An autopsy had been carried out, however the officials cause of death was deferred pending the further examination.
The incident is being investigated by SCE, the coroner’s office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

PHOTO via www.gofundme.com/jacobmoonfund

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Sheriff’s patrol car, 8 other cars scorched in possible arson fire at Downey train station


DOWNEY >> A sheriff’s patrol car and more than half-a-dozen other vehicles were damaged in a suspected arson fire in the parking lot of the Lakewood Green Line Station Wednesday afternoon.
The “possible arson” took place about 12:30 p.m. at the commuter train station at 12801 Lakewood Blvd., at the 105 Freeway, according to Ramon Montenegro, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Transit Services Bureau, which patrols tran stations and lines in the county.
“We’re investigating a possible arson to several vehicles. One of our patrol cars was involved,” he said.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Bureau were summoned to the scene to assist in the investigation, Montenegro added.
Officials could not immediately confirm initial sheriff’s radio broadcasts from the scene that the patrol car was destroyed, and as many as nine additional cars in the parking lot had sustained significant damage.
Officials also could not immediately confirm reports that a possible suspect had been seen leaving the area in a pickup truck, possible fitted with one spare tire.
No injuries were reported, and no further details were available.

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Detectives investigating man’s death in Irwindale


IRWINDALE >> Homicide detectives are investigating a man’s death in Irwindale Friday afternoon.
The death was first reported about 3 p.m. in the 12900 block of Lower Azusa Road, near the 605 Freeway, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
No information regarding the circumstances of the death were immediately released.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau responded to the scene to assist Irwindale police in the investigation.
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.

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Deputies, businesses, charity brighten holidays in La Puente

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LA PUENTE >> Sheriff’s deputies from the La Puente Special Assignment Team joined businesses and a nonprofit organization to hand out more than 650 bags of food, along with toys, to needy families throughout La Puente Wednesday.
For the fourth year, deputies from the Sheriff’s Industry Station, which patrols La Puente, demonstrated their Community Oriented Policing mission by delivering holiday goodies, said Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who effectively serves as La Puente’s Chief of Police.
“It keeps getting bigger,” Cacheiro said.
1224_NWS_SGT-L-LPGIVE2Sprouts Farmers Market, La Bodega Market, Casique USA Authentic Mexican Cheese and Chino-based charity Isaiah’s Rock provided bags filled with food, while Roly’s Trucking donated toys to delight La Puente’s younger residents.
The team of helpers delivered the gift packages throughout the city, including at Apartments along Orange Avenue, Hurley Elementary School, and numerous local churches, Cacheiro said.
La Puente City Councilman Charlie Klinakis thanked the organizations and businesses that have formed relationships with the sheriff’s department to make the annual giveaway possible.
“They do a lot of good for the community,” he said, noting that they take part in other charitable endeavors as well.
Klinakis said he enjoys seeing the smiles the project brings to local residents young and old.
“I’ve just got nothing but praise for our Special Assignment Team,” Klinakis said. 1224_NWS_SGT-L-LPGIVE3“They go over and above what they need to to help the people in our community, and it’s appreciated.”

PHOTOS: Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the La Puente Special Assignment Team help distribute food and toys to families throughout La Puente on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (Courtesy)

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Suspect named in fatal Lynwood deputy-involved shooting

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Following the fatal shooting of an armed man by deputies at a busy Lynwood intersection Saturday captured on video by a cell phone camera, Los Angeles sheriff’s officials released additional imaged depicting the suspect clutching a handgun throughout the deadly encounter.
Nicholas Robertson, 28, of Lynwood died at the scene of the shooting, which unfolded just before 11 a.m. Saturday at Long Beach Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue, according to Los Angeles county sheriff’s and coroner officials.
Graphic cell phone camera video obtained by KTLA depicts deputies firing more than 30 bullets at Robertson, more than a dozen of which were fired as the seemingly wounded suspect crawls away from the deputies.
Sheriff’s officials released new images taken from area surveillance cameras during a news conference Sunday showing the suspect brandishing a handgun — described by investigators as a .45-caliber pistol — prior to and during the confrontation with deputies.
“He retained the weapon throughout the event. The weapon was recovered from directly beneath him,” Capt. Steve Katz of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Witnesses, as well as physical evidence, indicated Robertson had fired his gun six to seven times into the air before deputies arrived on scene in response to half-a-dozen 911 calls reporting a gunman walking down the street, Katz said.
The gun was unloaded when recovered, however two live rounds were sitting within Robertson’s grasp, Katz said.
The gunman refused the deputy’s orders to drop his handgun and continued walked toward a gas station filled with customers, officials said.
As the suspect walked, gun in his left hand, “The movement of the suspect indicated he was motioning in the direction of the deputy sheriffs,” Katz said. The captain said Robertson motioned his weapon in deputies’ direction, but stopped short of alleging he pointed the gun at the deputies.
“The suspect presented a threat to the deputies and the community, and they took the action that they did,” Katz said. The suspect was not believed to have fired his gun toward deputies.
The information released Sunday differed from the sheriff’s departments initial account of the shooting, relayed in a written statement Saturday afternoon, which described the gun recovered from Robertson as “loaded” and stated that “Witnesses in the immediate area said they saw the suspect turn and point the gun at the deputies prior to the shooting.”
The motive for Robertson’s alleged bizarre behavior while armed was unclear, as was whether he may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“The information that we have at this point is that there may have been some domestic discord between him and a spouse that may have been a factor that agitated him to some degree, but we haven’t really verified that information yet,” Katz said.
Sheriff’s officials asked coroner’s investigators to expedite their investigation, including toxicology tests, he added.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell promised a comprehensive and transparent investigation.
“I want to ensure the public that the sheriff’s department takes deputy-involved shootings very seriously and that this investigation will be handled with the utmost professionalism and integrity,” he said.
The two involved deputies have been “reassigned from field duty, and they will remain so until we’ve gathered the facts and completed out assessment,” McDonnell said.
The involved deputies were not identified Sunday. Katz described them both as having one year and 18 months experience “in the field,” respectively.
“(Robertson) has had prior contacts with the criminal justice system, but we won’t go into great detail about him at this point,” McDonnell said.
Robertson had several misdemeanor and infraction convictions in his past, but no felonies, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
Most recently, Robertson was convicted of assault in May and sentenced to four days in jail and two years of probation, records show. He also had convictions for driving on a suspended or revoked license, DUI while underage, causing a disturbance on public transit and trespassing.
The sheriff asked that anyone with additional information or video regarding the shooting to contact the sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are spearheading the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau can be reached at 323-890-5500.

Surveillance video, photos *below) provided by LASD:

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