UPDATED: Three critically injured in wrong-way, multi-vehicle crash on the 210 Freeway in Monrovia

MONROVIA >> A multi-vehicle wreck blamed on a wrong-way driver on the 210 Freeway in Monrovia left three people hospitalized in critical condition late Saturday, officials said.
Officials shut down all but carpool lane of the westbound 210 Freeway following the crash, which took place shortly after 11:30 p.m. just west of Mountain Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said.
A total of five vehicles became involved in the crash, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Ed Pickett said.
Three people were hospitalized in critical condition, while a fourth was treated for apparently minor injuries, Pickett said. One person was thrown from a vehicle, while another had to be freed from the wreckage by firefighters.
All of the injured were “alert and conscious,” Polizzi said.
Officials received a report of a Jeep Cherokee entering the westbound freeway from the offramp one minute before the crash, according to CHP logs.
A Sig Alert remained in effect until about 1 a.m. for all but the carpool lane of the westbound 210 Freeway.

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UPDATED: 10-acre fire scorches brush, cars at Monrovia auto salvage yard

MONROVIA — Firefighters quickly doused the flames of a 10-acre brush fire that scorched several junked cars parked at an auto salvage yard Saturday, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 3:38 p.m. at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park, next to LKQ Pick-A-Part along Peck Road just south of Live Oak Avenue, Los Angeles County and Arcadia fire officials said.
Los Angeles County firefighters helped their counterparts in the Arcadia, Monrovia, Pasadena and San Gabriel fire departments with the blaze.
Water-dropping helicopters were initially summoned but quickly cancelled as firefighters got the upper hand on the fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo said.
The flames were extinguished at 4:25 p.m., but not before the fire scorched about 10 acres of brush and crossed into the salvage yard, scorching several cars, Arcadia Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner said in a written statement.
“Although the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, fire investigators are on scene and have identified the origin of the fire in a homeless encampment in the gravel pit,” Stogner said.
No injuries were reported.

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Officials suspect suicide after body found at base of Marriott hotel in Monrovia

MONROVIA — Suicide is suspected after a man plummeted to his death from the top of the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Monrovia late Friday, officials said.
The body of a man was discovered just before 10 p.m. in the parking lot of the hotel, 700 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Sgt. Glen Coleman.
The man was yet to be positively identified Saturday, coroner’s officials said, however police initially described him as a man in his mid-20s who was believed to be a Monrovia resident.
A passer-by called 9-1-1 to report an injured man was lying in the parking lot, though the caller did not know what had happened to the man, Coleman said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
A review of footage from a nearby surveillance camera indicated the man had jumped from the top of the hotel, Coleman said.
The investigation was ongoing and coroner’s investigators planned to perform an autopsy.

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Suspect in Monrovia sexual battery may be linked to previous attacks


A man sought for sexually battering a woman last week in Monrovia may be the same serial groper linked to two other similar attacks on women early last month in the city, officials said.
The most recent incident took place about 8 a.m. Friday at Huntington Drive and Canyon Boulevard, according to Monrovia police officials. A 23-year-old woman escaped without injury after being approached from behind and groped by an attacker.
“A lone male suspect approached the victim from behind,” police said in a written statement.
The attacker wrapped his right arm around the victims waist while grabbing her buttocks with his left hand, police said.
“The suspect said, ‘Hey baby,’ as assaulted the victim,” according to the police statement. “When the victim screamed for help, the suspect fled north on Canyon, out of view.”
Police alerted the public last month after two similar sexually batteries involving a strikingly similar suspect description were reported elsewhere in town April 1 and 2.
“There is a possibility this is the same suspect in our prior case,” Lt. Nells Ortlund said.
He noted that composite drawings of the suspects generated from the incidents in early 0529_NWS_PSN-L-SERIALGROPE2April and late May bore a strong resemblance to each other.
In all three cases, the attacker was described as Latino, between 16 and 21 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and of thin build, officials said.
In the first two crimes in April, the groper rode a skateboard, police said at the time. No skateboard was reported in connection with Friday’s attack.
The victim in the April 1 incident, a woman in her 30s, was also groped and had her buttocks grabbed by a young man about 9 p.m. as she walked in the 700 block of South Fifth Ave., officials said. In the April 2 assault, which took place about 4:50 p.m. in the 800 block of West Chestnut Avenue, a woman in her 30s or 40s was grabbed in a hug before the man grabbed her breasts, commented on her breast size, kicked her in the leg and fled.
Investigators have shown photographic line-ups to victims, but have not yet been able to positively identify a suspect, Ortlund said.
The crimes appear to be opportunistic in nature, Ortlund said, occurring at all different times of day, and the women attacked have all been walking alone
The lieutenant advised women to keep a cellphone with them when walking, and report any suspicious activity to police immediately. Clues such as clear description and direction of travel could be vital in helping officers make an arrest.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Monrovia police at (626) 256-80000.

COMPOSITE suspect sketches in May sexual battery (above) and April sexual batteris (below) courtesy of the Monrovia Police Department.

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Burglars flee with $7 in Monrovia pet store burglary

MONROVIA >> Two “shadowy figures” escaped with $7 after breaking into a Monrovia pet shop early Thursday, authorities said.
The burglary took place about 1:30 a.m. at PetSmart, 745 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
A witness reported hearing the front window of the store shattering, then two “shadowy figures” fleeing from the area, according to the lieutenant.
Police discovered the intruders had entered the store and gone through the cash registers, Lee said. They obtained $7 in the felony. No animals were taken or injured.
Detectives were checking area surveillance cameras for clues, he added.

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UPDATED: 3,800 SCE customers lose power in Monrovia outage

MONROVIA >> A power outage knocked out electrical service to more than 3,800 homes and business Friday afternoon, according to Southern California Edison
The outage was first reported about 4:50 p.m. and affected 2,094 SCE customers, according to the utility.
A second outage reported at 6:10 p.m. knocked out electricity to another 1,765 Monrovia SCE customers.
Repairs crews were working to identify and fix the problems, SCE officials said.
The cause remained under investigation late Friday, SCE spokeswoman Susan Cox said.
All but 543 customers had their power restored by 7:25 p.m., and the rest came back online before 8 p.m.

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UPDATED: Monrovia police seek skateboarding molestation suspect; two women attacked this week


MONROVIA — Police are seeking a young man with a skateboard believed to have groped two women in Monrovia earlier this week.
The attacks took place 9 p.m. Tuesday in the 700 block of South Fifth Avenue and 4:50 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of W. Chestnut Avenue, Monrovia police officials said Thursday in a written statement.
“Both victims described the suspect as a male Hispanic, 16-20 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to five fee 7 inches tall, (of) thin build, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and dark pants,” according to the police statement. “The suspect was in possession of a skateboard in during both incidents.”
During Tuesday’s crime, a woman was walking when the attacker approached her from behind and “hugged her tightly by wrapping his arms around her body,” according to the police statement. “The suspect slapped the victim on the buttocks and then fled the scene on a skateboard.”
In Wednesday’s sexual battery, “A male suspect approached her from behind and reached around her body, grabbed both of her breasts with his hands,” the police statement said. “The suspect commented on the victim’s breast size and kicked her in the leg. He then left the scene with a skateboard in his hand.”
Neither woman reported injuries in connection with the incidents, police said.
Police were working with the two victims to create a composite sketch of the groper, Sgt. Don Newton said.

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Gunman sought in Monrovia RadioShack robbery

MONROVIA — A robber who held up a Monrovia RadioShack at gunpoint Thursday may be responsible for other similar crimes in the region, authorities said.
Thursday’s robbery took place about 3:45 p.m. at the store at 340 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Sgt. Heath Harvey said.
The robber entered the store and brought a product to the register as if about to make a purchase, the sergeant said. But he then displayed a handgun and demanded money from an employee before fleeing with an unknown amount of cash.
Police described him as a white man between 38 and 42, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of average build, with possibly green eyes.
A similar suspect description was mentioned in connection with another RadioShack robbery in Pasadena exactly one month ago on Feb. 20, authorities said. Detectives were looking into whether the Monrovia robber was linked to the Pasadena crime, as well as any others in the area.
In the Pasadena robbery, a man entered a RadioShack at 3535 Foothill Blvd, brandished a handgun and demanded cash, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said at the time.
He was described as a white man in his early 40s, who was armed with a handgun.

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Teen stabbed by apparent gang members in Monrovia

MONROVIA — Two apparent gang members stabbed and wounded a young man after he exited a bus Thursday afternoon, police said.
The victim, a 19-year-old black man, got off a bus at Foothill Boulevard and Magnolia Street about 6:25 p.m., Monrovia police Sgt. Glen Coleman said.
He was approached my two men who seemingly mistook the victim for a gang member, the sergeant said.
One of the assailants shouted “(expletive) Duroc” as he stabbed the victim in the chest, Coleman said. The stab wound was not considered to be life-threatening.
“Duroc” refers to the Duroc Crips street gang, which populates the Duarte and Monrovia area.
But the wounded man did not appear to be associated with the gang, Coleman said.
The attackers were described only as Latino men of about the same age as the victim. They were last seen running from the scene of the stabbing.

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UPDATED — Welcome home: All mandatory evacuation orders lifted in foothills


Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Glendora and Azusa Sunday morning on the heels of a storm that destabilized the hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area and sent mud flowing through residential streets.
The last of the evacuation orders, which affected 10 homes along Ridge View Drive in Arcadia along the denuded hillsides of the recent Colby Fire, were lifted at 11:45 a.m., Azusa police officials announced in a written statement.
“Residents may return to their residences, according to the police statement.
Only one home at the northern end of Ridge View Drive in Azusa sustained structural damage from the slides, officials said.
EVACS2Dozens of city and county workers, along with firefighters, were busy clearing mud that had poured into the backyard of Ed Heinlein and his family. The mud reached nearly 5 feet thick at some points.
“There’s 100 tons of mud back here,” Heinlein said. “We’ve got mud and stuff in the back of the house.”
To prepare for the mass of mud that eventually barrelled down on his family’s home from a steep hillside, Heinlein said he knocked a hole in a block wall on the south side of his property to allow the water to flow through. And he placed the rubble into trash cans to build a levy on the other side of his property.
“It’s engineering 101 if you’re a local homeowner,” he quipped.
And while the effort helped with the mud flow, Heinlein said he was concerned the weight of the mass of mud and debris might compromise his home’s foundation.
And despite significant damage, Heinlein said it could have been far worse. He credited a grove of 5,000 avocado trees overlooking his home for preventing further disaster.
“It stopped boulders the size of cars,” he said. “It stopped all that nasty stuff. It’s a miracle.”
And the same avocado grove, which the owner heavily watered during the Colby Fire, helped protect Heinlein’s home from damage during the January wildfire, he said.
A basketball hoop that previously stood at a regulation height of 10 feet emerged only about 5 feet from the mud Sunday morning.
Workers started the clean-up process by clearing mud 3 feet away from the periphery of the home, creating a trench. Both shovels and small earthmoving equipment were brought to bear on the mucky mess.
“This is really great,” Heinlein said of the dozens of city and county workers and officials who have helped him and his family deal with the storm damage.
“Mayor (Joe) Rocha left his church service to come down,” Heinlein said. “Council members were out here with shovels.”
Highway 39 within Azusa was also reopened Sunday morning, officials said, though travelers were urged to be cautious while using it due to possible mud or debris remaining in the roadway. The roadway remained closed leading into the Angeles National Forest.
In an act of community spirit, Max’s Mexican Cuisine in Azusa offered free dinner to evacuated residents of Ridge View Drive with proof of residence.
“City crews have been working diligently at removing the debris and mud which flowed onto Ridge View Drive,” according to the police statement. “They will continue to work aggressively at returning the neighborhood to it’s normal condition.”
Glendora officials downgraded the city’s alert status from red to yellow at 6 a.m., allowing displaced residents to return home. About 1,000 Glendora homes were under the evacuation orders.
“Rain-related parking restrictions are in effect,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement. “Residents are directed to remove vehicles, trash bins and other obstructions from the street.”
Trash service in the affected Glendora neighborhoods is to resume its usual schedule immediately, and mail service — which was stopped Friday and Saturday — will resume Monday, police and city officials said.
Authorities advised returning residents to examine their properties before entering, watch out for possible sinkholes in yards and be cautious while driving through the still-muddy and rock-strewn neighborhoods.
Residents with concerns involving mud or debris were encouraged to contact the Glendora Department of Public Works at 626-914-8246. City officials directed residents with other safety-related concerns to contact the Glendora Police Department.
Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers has asked that residents who collected the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed by the city during and prior to the storm to keep them. The bags may yet be necessary during future rains, as the barren hillsides may pose a mudslide risk for several years to come.
Evacuation orders for about 200 homes in Monrovia were lifted at 6 p.m. Saturday.
In Sierra Madre, the Mt. Wilson Trail remained off-limits for hikers as clean-up efforts continued Sunday.
“There are several areas of the trail that are dangerous due to rock slides,” city officials said in a written statement. “Authorities will be working on the trail the next few days to make it as safe as possible. Until then hikers should refrain from using the trail for everyone’s safety. The trail is officially closed until repairs can be made.”

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