Online transaction ends with robbery in Monrovia

MONROVIA >> A man arranged to sell a gold necklace online before being robbed of the jewelry by a group of men outside a Monrovia Taco Bell late Thursday, police said.
The crime took place just before 10:30 p.m. outside the restaurant, 140 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Heath Harvey said.
The victim had used the online marketplace “OfferUp” to advertise a gold necklace for sale and a purported buyer responded to the ad, the lieutenant said. Both parties agreed to meet outside the restaurant to complete the transaction.
“The buyer looked at the necklace, asked the victims some questions and negotiated a price,” the lieutenant said. They settled on $100.
But before any money changed hands, three accomplices of the purported buyer then approached and joined in the conversation, Harvey said.
One of the accomplices pulled what the victim believed to be a shotgun-shaped pellet gun from his coat and all four ran off together with the necklace, Harvey said. The victim suffered no injuries.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.

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Man crashes car after being shot at near Monrovia

MONROVIA >> A man crashed his car after another driver opened fire on him in an unincorporated county area near Monrovia on Monday afternoon, but was not struck by the gunfire, authorities said.
The incident unfolded shortly after 5 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Frank Ruiz said.
After being fired upon by another motorist, the driver crashed into another car at Schrode and California avenues, the lieutenant said.
The intended target of the shooting suffered no significant injuries, he said. The occupant of the other car involved in the crash was treated for apparently minor injuries.
The shooting was believed to have occurred near the scene of the crash, but the exact location of the gunfire was yet to be determined, Ruiz said.
Deputies were still sorting out conflicting suspect descriptions Monday evening.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-285-7171. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Monrovia woman faces federal case in alleged pepper-spray attack on postal carrier in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Postal inspectors arrested a Monrovia woman Wednesday on suspicion of chasing down and pepper-spraying a mail carrier while screaming racial slurs in an incident of road rage in Pasadena two weeks ago, officials said.
Ruby Guerrero Valenzuela, 64, was arrested on suspicion of assault on a U.S. Postal Service employee in connection with the bizarre attack, reported about 10:40 a.m. on April 20 in the 1000 block of North Lake Avenue, according to Pasadena police and U.S. Department of Justice officials.
Valenzuela became enraged after the 55-year-old postal worker, who was driving a mail truck, accidentally cut her off in traffic in the area of Claremont Street and Mar Vista Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said at the time.
“Valenzuela shouted obscenities and followed the victim to her next stop (on Lake Avenue),” U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“Valenzuela ran up the victim, who had walked the entrance of building on Lake Avenue,” Mrozek continued. “According to witnesses, Valenzuela screamed additional obscenities and racial epithets at the victim before spraying the victim in the face with pepper spray, which caused the victim to suffer severe pain and blurred vision.”
The postal carrier declined to be taken to a hospital, Luna said.
Despite the racial slurs allegedly uttered by Valenzuela, both the suspect and victim are Latina, police said.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service joined Pasadena police in the investigation, as did Monrovia police, once the suspect was identified as a Monrovia resident.
Federal officials arrested Valenzuela on Wednesday morning, and she made her initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon, Mrozek said.
She entered no plea and was released after posting a $10,000 bond, Mrozek said. She was scheduled to return to court for an arraignment hearing on May 31.“The evidence in this case indicates that a postal carrier carrying out her duties was the victim of an unwarranted attack,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of California’s Central District said. “All federal employees should be able to carry out their duties without fear of attacks based on the performance of those duties.”
If convicted as charged, Valenzuela faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

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Armed robbery reported in Monrovia

MONROVIA >> Police are seeking four men who robbed another man of his wallet and skateboard in Monrovia late Saturday, officials said.
The crime was reported about 10:50 p.m. at Colorado and Canyon boulevards, Monrovia police Lt. Patty Newton said.
Four suspects, described only as male, approached the man as he stood near his car, she said. One of them pulled a handgun and robbed him of his wallet.
The robbers also ransacked the victim’s car and stole a skateboard, the lieutenant said.
They were last seen fleeing the area on foot.
Anyone with information can reach Monrovia police at 626-256-8000. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Police seek missing Monrovia teen


MONROVIA >> Police are seeking a 16-year-old Monrovia girl suffering from mental illness who left home in her guardian’s car Wednesday.
Briana Ysenia Valenzeula was last seen about 9:20 p.m. Wednesday, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement.
She was believed to have her guardian’s vehicle — as a silver, four-door, 2011 Buick Regal with California license plate 6NYL096.
“Her guardian contacted the Monrovia Police Department to report her missing and informed officers of the listed details, and added Briana suffers from mental illness and takes medication,” according to the statement.
She’s Latina, 5 feet 4 inches tall, about 175 pounds, with long black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a purple sweater and black pants.
“She may become aggressive if contacted,” the statement said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Monrovia police at 626-256-8000.

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Teen goes missing in Monrovia


MONROVIA >> Police have asked the public to keep an eye out for a runaway 14-year-old Monrovia girl who’s been missing since Thursday.
Bertha Calderon was last seen about 3:30 p.m. Thursday at her apartment complex in the 500 block of West Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement.
The girl, originally from Pasadena, has never gone missing before, Lt. Patty Newton added.
Police described Calderon as Latina, 5 feet 1 inch tall, 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black short-sleeve shirt and blue jeans.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Monrovia police at 626-256-8000.

PHOTO: Courtesy, Monrovia Police Department

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Monrovia man accused of Azusa car burglary

AZUSA >> Police arrested a Monrovia man Sunday after he broke into a car in Azusa, police said.
Martine Larry Gallardo Jr., 28, was booked on suspicion of burglary following his arrest shortly after 1:30 p.m., Azusa police Sgt. John Madaloni said.
Officers responded to the parking lot of a business in the 400 block of north Azusa Avenue after a woman reported her car had been broken into, the sergeant said in a written statement.
Police checked nearby surveillance cameras and realized the burglary had only just occurred, he said. Officers searched the area and detained Gallardo within 30 minutes at Foothill Boulevard and Angelo Avenue.
“He was positively identified as the suspect seen in the video committing the crime and placed under arrest for vehicle burglary — a felony,” Madaloni said. Police found a window punch tool and items stolen from the victim’s car in his possession.
“During the booking process, it was learned that Gallardo was also wanted for an unrelated burglary charge investigated by the Monrovia Police Department,” Madaloni said.
Gallardo was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Nine hurt, two critically, in Monrovia chain-reaction crash

MONROVIA >> Two women remained hospitalized in critical condition Thursday following a chain-reaction, three-vehicle crash at major Monrovia intersection Wednesday afternoon that left nine people injured in all, authorities said.
The 12:54 p.m. crash at Foothill Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue involved two cars, a pickup truck and a stroller containing an infant, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement.
“Witnesses stated that the driver of a late-model Mercedes-Benz station wagon was driving west on Foothill Boulevard at a very high speed, failing to come to a stop behind the already stopped vehicles at the intersection,” according to the police statement.
“The driver then drove around the stopped vehicles and through the intersection against a red light, striking (a Toyota sedan) facing east in the number one lane of Foothill Boulevard,” the statement continued.
The Toyota became “airborne” before landing on the hood of a pickup truck, police said.
The Toyota then rolled off the truck onto the south sidewalk of Foothill Boulevard, narrowly missing a mother walking her child in a stroller,” the police statement said.
The baby was thrown from the stroller as the mother reacted to the crash unfolding in front of her, Lt. Heath Harvey said. Paramedics took the infant to a hospital for examination with minor injuries.
The woman at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz, as well as the driver of the Toyota, were hospitalized in critical condition but expected to survive, officials said. The injuries to the other six people did not appear serious.
The crash remained under investigation. Detectives were yet to interview the driver of he Mercedes-Benz, as she was yet to regain consciousness Thursday afternoon, police said.
Witnesses or anyone with information can reach Monrovia police at 626-256-8000.

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Suspects arrested after fleeing police in carjacked minivan in Monrovia


MONROVIA >> Police arrested four suspects who led Monrovia police on a short chase in a carjacked minivan before continuing to flee on foot, prompting a lockdown at an elementary school where one of the suspects was ultimately arrested, authorities said.
A police automated license plate reader spotted a stolen 2006 Ford Freestar about 11:30 a.m. at Mayflower Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, police officials said. The van had been carjacked Saturday from a senior citizen outside Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
The driver of the minivan led officers on a short chase, which circled the neighborhood and came to and end when the minivan stopped abruptly at Lemon and Mayflower avenues, Monrovia police Lt. Heath Harvey said.
Three teens and one young adult — two male and two female — fled from the car and run in four different directions, Harvey said. Two were quickly apprehended, and a third was apprehended with help from Arcadia and Pasadena police during a search of nearby yards.
MONROVIA2As the search for the fourth suspect continued, officials at nearby Monroe Elementary School, 402 W. Colorado Blvd. called police to report a young woman had arrived at the campus and walked into the cafeteria, Harvey said.
The school was placed on lockdown, and officers rushed to the campus where they took the female suspect into custody without a struggle, he said.
Investigators were still looking into whether the four suspects arrested after fleeing from the stolen minivan were involved in the original carjacking five days earlier in Arcadia.
A 68-year-old man was getting out of his car when two teenagers approached him and demanded his car keys, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
The young men approached the victim and demanded his keys, and he turned them over out of fear. The carjackers fled in the minivan. No weapon was seen.
The identity of the adult suspect was not available pending the booking process, officials said.

PHOTOS by  Sarah Reingewirtz

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UPDATED: Monrovia man uses statue to knock out home-invasion robber holding elderly father at knifepoint

MONROVIA >> A Monrovia man armed with a statue knocked out a home-invasion robber as he held the man’s elderly father at knifepoint Friday, police said.
Eric Castillo, 23, who is believed to stay in Monrovia, was ultimately booked on suspicion of robbery after being treated for his injuries, according to Monrovia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The incident unfolded about 2 a.m. at a home in the 800 block of Monterey Avenue, Monrovia police Sgt. Daniel Verna said.
The elderly resident answered a knock at their door, Lt. Jaime Alfaro said. Castillo brandished a knife, demanded all his money and forced his way into the home.
“The son comes downstairs and sees his (father) getting held up with a knife. He grabs a bowling ball-size glass statue,” Verna said.
“He slams it into the back of (Castillo’s) head and knocks him down.”
The son struck the intruder several more times until he was knocked unconscious, the sergeant said. The son was described as a man in his 50s.
One, or possibly more, accomplices of the suspect soon began trying to force their way into the home after realizing Castillo was not coming back, Verna said. But the father and son had already locked the doors, and the additional suspect or suspects fled when the family told them police were on their way.
Castillo told police only his girlfriend had accompanied him to the home, but the victims believed at least two additional suspects may have been outside their house.
Officers arrived and took Castillo into custody, Verna said. The family told the subdued suspect they would pray for him prior to the arrival of police, he added.
Castillo was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, records show.

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