UPDATED: Storm continues soaking unstable hillsides of Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia

A massive rainstorm continued to intermittently soak barren hillsides Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia Saturday as officials warned evacuated residents that the danger of mudslides and flooding remained very real, even as rays of sunshine peaked through the clouds.
The rain damaged to properties in Glendora on Friday afternoon and sent mud pouring into the backyards of three homes in Azusa early Saturday, authorities said. Mandatory evacuation orders for more than 1,200 area residents of the recent Colby Fire burn area remained in effect, with no estimate of when they may be lifted.
Though the storm saw a relative lull overnight, it was expected to resume dropping heavy rain on the region about 10 a.m., with showers and possible thunderstorms continuing though the afternoon, Glendora police and city officials said at a morning news conference. The storm was expected to exit the area by 9 p.m.
Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab asked evacuated residents to remain patient, and cautioned them not to underestimate the continued threat posed by the storm.
“For those residents who have been evacuated, this is getting old. We understand that. We continue to ask or our residents’ patience,” Staab said. “Out No. 1 goal is to get our residents back into their homes and, unfortunately, it’s these storms that are getting in the way right now.”
But with thunderstorms potentially on the horizon, and hillsides saturated with water and unstable, the danger remained real, the chief said.
“The experts tell us that thunderstorms are unpredictable, and they form really quickly,” he said. “They also tell us that the hillsides are so saturated that we really don’t know at this point what event can cause the hills to suddenly break loose. And once that momentum starts, you just have to get out of the way.”
The foothills near the Colby Fire burn area had received 4 inches of rain by Saturday, Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers said.
“Rates were recorded at 1.3 inches per hour.”
Rainfall rates at or above half-an-inch per hour create serious potential for mudslide, Jeffers said.
And the NWS predicted another two inches may fall in the area by the storm’s conclusion, officials said. Even heavier rain was expected along the mountain ridge line.
The NWS issued a Flash Flood Warning for the foothill burn areas just before 2:30 p.m. Saturday as heavy rain began to fall again on the region. The warning was expected to remain in effect through 4:15 p.m.
The amount of rainfall Saturday afternoon would be crucial in determining when evacuation orders in Glendora would be lifted, Jeffers said. Those who remained in their homes were advised to stay in their homes and not attempt to leave should mud begin flowing.
And officials again cautioned residents that firefighters cannot rush into a mudslide or debris flow to effect a rescue. They must wait until the debris flow stops and drys.
The National Weather Service issued a brief tornado warning for the east San Gabriel Valley between about 3:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. No funnel cloud materialized, however hail as large as 1-inch fell in Walnut, officials said.
The four key debris basins near the Colby Fire were holding up well and were not expected to reach capacity during the storm, Jeffers said. When inspected at 6 a.m. Saturday, they ranged from 40 percent to 55 percent full.
Two homes in the 1100 block of Easley Canyon Road in Glendora sustained damage Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Steve Martin said. The garage of one home was inundated with mud, while a nearby home’s backyard was flooded with mud that pressed up against the rear of the home.
City officials identified another dozen or so home where mud had flowed onto the properties, but not entered into the homes, Jeffers said. They were urged to hire geotechnical engineers to examine their properties.
Officials took note of 15 sites in the city where an estimated 200 cubic yards of mud and debris needed to be removed from roadways.
Jeffers added that the city is asking that once the storm passes, residents keep the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed during the storm in case of future potential mudslides. The denuded hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area will continue to present debris flow danger during storms for three to four years.
Residents along Rainbow Road at the northern edge of Glendora continued shoring up barriers Saturday. Some were made of metal pipes and wood, while others consisted of sandbags and tarps. Neighbors mentioned they had been contacted by city officials in February, in the wake of the Colby Fire, to discuss mitigation of potential debris flow.
Glendora residents Gary Smith used a break in the rainfall Saturday morning to take a bike ride. Looking at a barrier erected to block the flow of mud, “It looks like it did its job,” he said.
In Azusa, flowing mud along the 1700 block of Ridge View Drive, where officials expanded evacuation orders Friday, became far too close for comfort to three homes early Saturday, Azusa police Sgt. John Madaloni said. The mud flowing through the backyards reached the windowsill of one home, while it rose 2- to 3-feet high along the back of the other two.
“We don’t have any evidence that it’s actually gone into the homes, but it’s certainly accumulating outside the exterior walls,” Madaloni said.
“The damage right now is limited to cosmetic damage,” the sergeant said. Items such as fences and external stairways had been damaged, along with an avocado grove, but no structural damage had been confirmed.
Highway 39 in Azusa was shut down during a downpour Saturday afternoon due to mud flowing onto the roadway, as well as fears the K-rails placed to block slides would not hold, police said.
The evacuation zone in Monrovia, comprised of about 200 homes in the northern end of town, has sustained no reported structure damage, Monrovia police Lt. Zeke Cerecerez said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Crews made quick work overnight of a mudslide the flowed onto Highland Place, just north of Hillcrest Boulevard, he said.
Officials tentatively planned to lift mandatory evacuation orders in Monrovia at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We appreciate our residents’ patience at this time,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Chris Donovan said in a written statement. “We are still predicting some mud and debris flows from the storms predicted by the National Weather Service this afternoon. Once those pass, we will re-evaluate the evacuation orders.”
In Sierra Madre, a rock slide on the Mt. Wilson trail prompted Sierra Madre city officials to urge residents to avoid the area late Saturday morning.

— Staff writer Grace Wong contributed to this report.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Police: Extremely drunken driver arrested after hit-and-run crash in Monrovia

MONROVIA — A Pasadena woman is accused of having a blood-alcohol level more than three times above the legal limit when she fled the scene of a crash Wednesday, but left a trail for police to follow with her damaged car, officials said.
Police arrested Jennifer Jean Anspach, 36, on suspicion of drunken driving and hit-and-run shortly after the 7:23 p.m. crash on Foothill Boulevard at Violet Avenue, according to Monrovia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
She was making a left turn from westbound Foothill Boulevard to southbound Violet Avenue in a Nissan Versa when she collided with a Volkswagen Beetle that was eastbound on Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Dan Verna said.
The crash caused the Volkswagen to spin out of control, ultimately striking a Hyundai Elantra, Verna said. No injuries were reported.
Anspach continued driving south on Violet Avenue following the crash, but left behind one of her tired, he said.
Her bare rim etched a line into the street officers were able to follow until they caught up with the damaged car at Colorado Boulevard, Verna said.
Officers stopped the woman and administered a field sobriety test, he said. Her initial blood-alcohol level was measured at .27 percent, more than three times higher than the legal limit of .08 percent.
According to county booking records, Anspach was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Monrovia senior citizen loses $9,500 to scammers; suspect in custody

MONROVIA — A senior lost $9,500 in a scam and another was behind bars in connection with the alleged caper Wednesday, officials said.
Buddy Young Johnson, 67, of Norwalk was booked on suspicion of grand theft by trickery and theft with prior theft convictions in connection with the incident, which unfolded Wednesday afternoon in Arcadia and Monrovia, according to Monrovia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
But the victim’s money, as well as a second suspect, remained unaccounted for Wednesday night, the sergeant said. No description of the outstanding con artist was available.
The incident began about 2 p.m. when the victim, Monrovia man in his late-60s, encountered a man at a 99 Cents Only Store in Arcadia, officials said.
The man told the victim he had $250,000 and wanted to travel to Africa, but was unable to send the money there himself, saying it would be confiscated. The scammer offered the victim compensation to help, but demanded the victim withdraw a significant amount of cash to prove his financial responsibility.
Johnson then approached the first suspect and victim, pretending not to know the other scammer and claiming he wanted to get in on the deal as well.
After Johnson claimed to have withdrawn $35,000 and showed it to the unidentified scammer, the initial con artist told the victim it was his turn, according to police.
The victim agreed to withdraw $9,500, which the scammers persuaded him to wrap in a rag so they could pray over it, investigators said. But at some point, the scammers switched the man’s money for another rag stuffed with newspaper.
As the victim was heading to the bank, he notified a family member of what was going on, Verna said. The family member met the victim and scammers at the bank, and managed to grab onto Johnson and hold him until police arrived.
The second suspect managed to flee with the victim’s money, Verna said. A description was not available.
Monrovia police notified other nearby law enforcement agencies of the arrest in hopes of tracking down additional victims of the alleged con artists.
According to county booking records, Johnson was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial appearance Friday in Pasadena Superior Court.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man accused of assault, drug possession stemming from Monrovia parking lot dispute

MONROVIA — A man is accused of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession after intentionally striking another man with a car, then getting beaten up by his victim, police said.
Jorge Castillo, 44, of Simi Valley was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession following the incident, encounter, which unfolded just after 7 p.m. in a parking lot in the 900 block of West Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
The confrontation began when the 60-year-old victim asked the suspect to shut his car door to allow the victim’s girlfriend to get into his car, the lieutenant said. But the suspect refused, and the victim shut the door himself so his girlfriend could pass.
As the victim walked past again, the suspect opened the car door again, striking the victim, Lee said. The victim announced he was calling the police and attempted to take photograph of the suspect’s rear license plate.
The suspect then backed into the victim, knocking him to the ground, Lee said. He then yelled at the man as he lie on the ground and challenged him to fight.
But the victim “apparently knew a thing or two about fighting,” Lee said. He pummeled his attacker before the suspect fled. Police captured the suspect as he approached a nearby motel.
As police prepared to have the suspect’s car towed away because he was being arrested, they discovered more than 10 grams of a substance believed to be methamphetamine, as well as hundreds of prescription pills, which were primarily painkillers, Lee said.
The victim was not seriously injured, he added.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Teen fights off would-be robber with skateboard in Monrovia

MONROVIA — A teenager used his skateboard to fight off a would-be robber armed with a knife late Thursday, officials said.
The encounter took place just after 9:10 p.m. in the courtyard of an apartment complex in the 100 block of West Colorado Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Glen Coleman said.
The failed robber approached the teen, pulled a knife and demanded the teen’s skateboard, Coleman said.
But rather than turn over the skateboard, the teen struck the knife-wielding man with it and ran away, the sergeant said.
Police described the would-be robber as a man in his 30s, of dark complexion, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing a heavy gray and black striped jacket and checkered shorts. He had lip piercings on both sides of his mouth.
Police searched the area, but the man remained at-large late Thursday.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Young father fatally shot while walking home from work near Duarte


Detectives are seeking the killer or killers of an 18-year-old new father who was shot to death while walking home from work early Sunday in an unincorporated county area between Monrovia and Duarte.
Coroner’s officials haven’t officially identify the shooting victim, however devastated family members and friends identified him as Malcolm Mency.
He lived just around the corner from Broderick and Felberg avenues, where he was fatally shot just after midnight, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and family members said. He was taken to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
No suspect description was available in the slaying, deputies from the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
“Deputies from the Temple Sheriff’s Station responded to the location regarding a report of a person down. When deputies arrived, they found the victim on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound.”
Family members said Mency had been shot five times, including once in the head. An autopsy had not yet been carried out.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday.
1223_NWS_PSN-L-SHOOTING3The young father was looking forward to his first Christmas with his 3-week-old son, Malcolm Mency II, said his girlfriend and the baby’s mother, LeBreonna Moore. He had scheduled the next week off to spend time with his family.
He was walking home from his job at a nearby Sonic restaurant when he was shot, Moore said. She spoke with him on the phone just minutes before the shooting.
“He said he got off early,” Moore said. He added that he was walking home, and was almost there.
“Five or 10 minutes later, I heard gunshots,” she said. She soon learned it was Mency who had been shot.
Friends and family members gathered at the scene of the shooting Sunday to console one another and leave candles and flowers on the spot where Mency was shot.
Loved ones said Mency was not involved with gangs and had no enemies.
1223_NWS_PSN-L-SHOOTING2“He stayed out of trouble,” Moore said. “All he talked about was our baby.”
Sister Dalisa Kline said her brother grew up in the area and graduated Mt. Olive High School at age 16.
He then studied medical assisting at Everett College and was interning at a medical office in Industry, family members said.
“This is not right. My brother did not deserve this,” Kline said through tears.
Sheriff’s investigators released no officials motive in the killing, however the unincorporated county area where the shooting took place, known to some as “No Man’s Land,” has long been a battlefield for rival gangs that inhabit nearby neighborhoods.
Officials obtained an injunction in 2010 against two local street gang a portion of Monrovia and No Man’s Land following violence between feuding gangs that resulted in 65 shooting and eight homicides in 2007 and early-2008. Duarte officials did not join in the injunction.
A longtime neighborhood resident who asked that his name be withheld for fear of retaliation said he slept through the shooting and learned of it when he awoke Sunday morning.
“He was a good kid. He wasn’t a gang banger,” the neighbor said. “He was quiet. He stayed to himself. I just saw him and his girlfriend hanging.”
And although he said he was outraged by the teen’s slaying, he said he had feared violence was on the horizon since a massive piece of graffiti appeared on a wall along a wash only dozens of yards from the shooting scene.
The graffiti displayed the name of a local gang, along with the names of other local gangs crossed out in a sign of intentional disrespect.
“I knew this was going to start something,” he said of the spray-painted wall. “I saw that and I just shook my head.”
He said he believed Mency got caught in the middle of the gang dispute.
“They were just looking for someone to shot. Malcolm was just the first person they saw,” the neighbor said. “It’s crazy, these youngsters killing each other. And for what? And the innocent ones get killed.”

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Monrovia burglars captured on surveillance footage


MONROVIA — Police sought help from the public Thursday in cracking a residential burglary case.
The break-in took place about 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at a home in the 200 block of Evergreen Avenue, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement. Images of the two burglars and their car were captured on surveillance footage, which investigators hope will lead to their capture.
The two men arrived in a silver, four-door sedan similar to a Lexus 300-series wit tinted windows, exited and went into the backyard, police said.
“They entered the residence by breaking the rear glass door,” according to the police statement. The silver car drove up and down the street as the burglars were inside the home.
The men fled with cash and jewelry just as the resident arrived home, officials said. The resident did not see the intruders.
Similar burglaries have been reported elsewhere in the area, and police advised residents to be alert.
“This incident is similar to many other burglaries that have recently occurred in the San Gabriel Valley,” according to the police statement. “Several of the incidents involve suspects using luxury model rental vehicles. The suspects knock on the front door, after no answer, they proceed to enter the rear yard and force entry into a rear door or window of the residence.”
Anyone who sees anything suspicious is encouraged to contact local police immediately.
Anyone with information regarding the Monrovia burglar is asked to contact Detective S. Bushmeyer at 626-256-8047, or via email at sbushmeyer@monrovia.laclen.org.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Monrovia man arrested after confronting burglar with swords, pocket knife won’t face criminal charges

A Monrovia man arrested last week on suspicion of assault after confronting a burglar with ninja swords and a pocket knife will not face criminal charges, officials said.
Jesse Runge, 35, was initially booked for assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident, which unfolded late Nov. 12, according to Monrovia police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Prosecutors reviewed the case Friday and elected not to file charges against Runge, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said. “The case was declined due to insufficient evidence.”
Runge returned home shortly before midnight Tuesday to find his house ransacked and several items missing, both police and Runge said. Runge said he immediately suspected acquaintance Jeremi Weber, 30, as the culprit, and called police to report the break-in and the identity of the possible suspect.
While still on the phone with police, Runge said tracking software on his cell phone alerted him that his iPad was located at Weber’s home nearby in the 400 block of East Foothill Boulevard. He said he handed the phone with which he was talking to police over to his fiancee and rushed to Weber’s home to confront him and get his property back.
As he exited his car, Runge said he grabbed two sheathed, ornamental ninja swords that were in his vehicle. He said he did so because Weber had previously bragged to him about having guns.
“I admit it was stupid to walk to the door with those,” Runge said, but added that the swords never left their sheaths.
About that time, his fiancee joined him outside Weber’s home and took the swords from him, Runge said. She began yelling at Weber’s home, and Weber emerged.
Weber threw a soda, swung a backpack and threatened to “blast” both Runge and his pregnant fiancee as the men argued and slowly moved along Foothill Boulevard, according to Runge. When Weber began reaching into his pocket and backpack as if for a weapon, he said his fiancee then handed him a pocket knife she had been carrying. But he said he did not use it or try to use it on Weber.
Runge then flagged down a police officer that was nearby as Weber darted between two houses, Runge said. Police detained Runge, and soon also had Weber in custody.
Weber’s backpack was found to contain most of the items stolen from Runge’s home, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said. Police also found Weber to be in possession of heroin and prescription pills. Weber had a small cut on his arm which he claimed Runge inflicted with the pocket knife. Officers took both men to jail.
Runge said he was not only infuriated to be locked up in jail alongside the man who burglarized his home, his father paid $3,000 to a bail bondsman to free him from jail, which is not refundable even though charges are not to be filed against him. “That’s the worst part about the whole thing.”
Weber, who was arrested for burglary and drug possession, pleaded “no contest” to a charge of first-degree burglary when he appeared Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said. Two drug-related charges were dismissed, and he was immediately sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation.
In addition to the burglary and drug possession case stemming from the Nov. 12 incident, Weber also appeared in court Tuesday in connection with a pre-existing case for receiving stolen property, Davila-Morales said. He pleaded “no contest” in that case as well and was immediately sentenced to another year in jail, along with three years of formal probation.
Even after all the trouble, Runge said he did not entirely regret his actions. He said he believed police would not have arrived at Weber’s home in time to prevent him from leaving the with stolen property.
Among the items recovered from Weber’s backpack was a gold, family heirloom pocket watch that had belonged to his great grandfather, Runge said.
“I can’t say I would do it differently, because I got that back,” he said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Police: Monrovia man goes after burglary suspect with sword, both men arrested

UPDATE: Prosecutors reviewed the case against Jesse Runge on Nov. 15 and declined to file charges against him citing, “insufficient evidence.” Jeremi Weber remained in custody Nov. 18 in lieu of $200,000 bail and was scheduled for arraignment Nov. 19 in Pasadena Superior Court on burglary and drug-related charges.

MONROVIA — A Monrovia man whose home was burglarized by a friend late Tuesday armed himself with a sword in an attempt to take justice into his own hands, officials said. Both he and the alleged burglar, who suffered a minor cut in the confrontation, were behind bars Wednesday.
Jesse Roland Runge, 35, of Monrovia was booked on assault with a deadly weapon following the incident, while Jeremi Hoover Weber, 29, of Monrovia was booked on suspicion of burglary and drug possession, according to Monrovia police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Runge returned home shortly before midnight Tuesday and found his home in the 200 block of Valle Vista Avenue had been burglarized, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said. Among the missing items was Runge’s iPad.
The tablet computer was equipped with tracking software, which Grunge used to determine the iPad was located at the home of his friend, Weber, in the 400 block of East Foothill Boulevard, Lee said.
But instead of notifying police, Lee said, Runge allegedly armed himself with a sword and a pocket knife and headed to the home of his friend to get his property back.
He confronted Weber at his home and began chasing him with the sword and pocket knife, Lee said. Weber suffered a minor cut to his forearm from the knife.
As Weber fled his home, he took with him a backpack which contained the allegedly stolen property, as well as heroin and prescription pills not prescribed to him, Lee said.
Police arrived to reports of a fight, detained both men and seized the backpack, Lee said. Weber was treated at the scene for the cut to his forearm before being taken to jail.
According to county booking records, Runge was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, while Weber was being held in lieu of $25,00 bail.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Seven hurt in 210 Freeway crash in Monrovia

MONROVIA — Seven people went to the hospital early Saturday after a car containing a family crashed into another car that was disabled with a flat tire on the 210 Freeway in Monrovia, authorities said.
The crash took place just after 5 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway, just east of Huntington Drive, California Highway Patrol officer Ed Jacobs said.
A 20-year-old Ontario man was driving a Volkswagen Jetta when it became disabled with a tire in the carpool lane, CHP Acting Sergeant Robyn Madeira said. His passenger, a 21-year-old El Monte man, exited the car and was standing in front of it when it was struck from behind by a Toyota Camry.
The impact pushed the Jetta forward, in turn striking the El Monte man, Madeira said. He suffered facial lacerations and other injuries but was alert when taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
The driver of the disabled Jetta suffered minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the sergeant said, though his alleged intoxication was not suspected to have played a role in the crash.
The Camry that struck the disabled Jetta contained a Cathedral City family of five, Madeira said. A man who was driving and his wife suffered minor injuries. Two daughters, ages 17 and 24, suffered moderate injuries, and an 8-year-old son suffered minor injuries.
Two of the patients were unconscious immediately following the crash, according to CHP logs.
Madeira said the investigation had not turned up evidence of reckless driving or high speed involved in the crash, as was initially reported to the CHP by at least one 9-1-1 caller to the CHP.
The crash prompted officials to issue a Sig Alert on the westbound 210 Freeway through 6:38 a.m., according to CHP logs.
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP were handling the investigation.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email