LOS ANGELES >> A Montebello man accused of chasing down and fatally shooting another man while trying to rob him of a gold necklace appeared in court Thursday, where prosecutors charged him with capital murder, authorities said.
Sean Matthew Garcia, 25, is charged with murder, with the special circumstance that the killing was committed during the course of an attempted robbery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said. He’s also accused of personally firing the AR-15-style rifle that killed Brian Gomez, 28, of Lynwood.
Gomez was trying to sell a gold necklace for about $2,000 when Gomez answered an online add and arranged to meet in the 1600 block of Neil Armstrong Street Monday afternoon, Montebello police and district attorney’s official said.
Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure described the attack as an “ambush.”
After the men met, Garcia pulled an assault rifle from a nearby bush and firing toward Gomez’s feet, Risling said. Gomez ran.
“When Gomez stopped and reached into his pocket to get the necklace, Garcia allegedly shot and killed the victim,” Risling said.
In addition to the slaying, Gomez is also charged with the robbery of an assault rifle in August, Risling said. Further details on that case were unavailable, and it was unclear if the allegedly stolen rifle was the same one used in Monday’s fatal shooting.
Because of the special circumstance alleged in the case, Garcia could potentially end up on death row if convicted as charged.
“Prosecutors will determine at a later date whether to seek capital punishment,” Risling said.
Garcia entered no plea Monday. His arraignment hearing was postponed to Oct. 22.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] – Sean Garcia, 25, of Montbello (Courtesy) [BELOW] – Brian Gomez, 28, of Lynwood. (Courtesy)
MONTEBELLO >> A senior citizen suffered serious injuries when she was stabbed during a robbery attempt outside her Montebello home late Friday, police said.
The stabbing took place about 8:20 p.m. in the 600 block of N. Hendricks Street, just north of Beverly Boulevard, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The victim, a woman in her mid-60s, had just arrived home, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman said.
“It sounds like she was trying to get in her front door. The attacker approached her,” he said.
The robber initially appeared to be after the woman’s purse, but the crime quickly escalated into a stabbing, Bergman said.
The woman had offered little resistance when the would-be robber, without provocation, stabbed her at least twice in the upper torso with a kitchen-style knife, the lieutenant said. He fled on foot, without obtaining anything from the woman.
The woman was taken to a hospital, Bergman said. “She’s in serious condition.”
A detailed suspect description was not available, police said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
A man showed up at a Montebello emergency room with serious wounds early Saturday following a stabbing in a nearby residential neighborhood, police said.
Police were notified about 1:40 a.m. that a stabbing victim had arrived at Beverly Hospital, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The victim, a 31-year-old Rosemead man, was hospitalized in serious condition with several stab wounds, Lt. Andy Vuncannon said.
“Officers were able to obtain information from various sources that the assault may have occurred at a specific residence in the 500 block of North 6th Street,” according to the statement.
After finding evidence believed related to the stabbing outside and nearby the home, investigators detained a 38-year-old Montebello man found there for questioning, police said. The knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered from the home.
After further investigation, police booked Victor Vasquez on suspicion of attempted murder, Vuncannon said.
The suspect and victim knew one another, and the stabbing may have stemmed from a business dispute between the two men, the lieutenant said.
According to county booking records, Vasquez was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance.
MONTEBELLO >> Police plan to screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses this weekend during a checkpoint in Montebello, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years, DUI-related collisions in Montebello have claimed eight lives and resulted 1,057 injuries, according to Sgt. Larry Jackson.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
MONTEBELLO >> Tips from the public helped police arrest a man sought following suspicious encounters with girls in Montebello in recent days.
Officers arrested Jose Ismael Amaya, 67, of Montebello about 10:50 a.m. Friday in the area of Telegraph Road and Greenwood Avenue, Montebello police officials said.
Police released a suspect photo taken from a surveillance camera Wednesday after two girls reported a man had behaved inappropriately with them.
A 16-year-old girl told police he had kissed her on the cheek and otherwise harassed her at a bus stop, police said in a written statement. And a 12-year-old girl reported he had tried to offer her money at a convenience store.
Detectives identified Amaya as the man pictured in the surveillance photo Thursday, officials said.
“Investigators also located a third victim, age 11, who also alleged being annoyed by the same suspect,” according to the statement.
A tipster called police Friday morning after spotting a man resembling the man in the surveillance photo after seeing the image in the news, officials said.”
Officers arrested Amaya on suspicion of child annoyance, as well as other unrelated charges, police added.
Police thanked the public for its help.
“Throughout this investigation, social media as well as the various news outlets have been instrumental in bringing this case to a rapid conclusion,” according to the police statement.
Amaya was expected to remain in custody pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
MONTEBELLO >> Police are seeking a man who harassed two girls in two separate incidents in Montebello Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The first suspicious encounter took place about 1 p.m. at a bus stop at Whittier and Montebello boulevards, Montebello police officials said in a written statement. A man in his 50s approached a teenage girl.
“The unknown suspect kissed a 16-year-old girl on the cheek and further annoyed her as she waited for the bus,” the statement said. The frightened teen got onto a bus to get away from the man.
A second incident was reported about 3:30 p.m. at a liquor store just over a mile away at Whittier Boulevard and 3rd Street, police said.
“The same suspect spoke with a 12-year-old victim and offered her money,” according to the statement. “The victim became scared and ran from the location to her home and reported the incident to her mother.”
Investigators released a surveillance camera image of the suspect retrieved from the liquor store in hopes of generating leads from the public.
He’s described as a Latino man in his 50s, wearing a red soccer jersey, beige pants and a black backpack or shoulder bag. He also had dark hair and wore black framed glasses.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Montebello police Detective Valle at 323-887-1200, ext. 255, or email email@example.com.
PHOTO courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
MONTEBELLO >> An autistic teenager who ran away from home in Montebello Friday night returned home safe and sound Saturday afternoon, police said.
Jose Arellano, 15, was discovered missing from his home in the area of Beverly Boulevard and Garfield Avenue on Saturday morning, Montebello police said. He is described as high-functioning autistic.
His mother awoke Saturday to find a note from the boy saying he had run away, police said in a written statement.
But after police reached out to the public for help in finding the boy Saturday, he returned home unharmed, officials said.
MONTEBELLO >> Police arrested a transient Wednesday they believe kidnapped and carjacked a 19-year-old Azusa woman at knifepoint the day before.
Police, aided by a K-9, found and arrested Omar Alfaro Juarez, 23, about 7:40 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Montebello Boulevard, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He’s accused of kidnapping, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a series of crimes, unfolding about 2 a.m. Tuesday at Bluff Road and Whittier Boulevard, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The woman had stopped her car in the area to rest and wait for a friend while driving home and fell asleep with car unlocked, police said.
“She was later awakened when she felt something on her neck and realized that a male was in her passenger seat holding a knife to her neck,” according to the statement.
Juarez allegedly forced the woman over to the passenger seat and drove her around for several hours, forcing her to remove $20 from an ATM at Beach Street and Greenwood Avenue, Montebello police Detective Alfred Martinez said, officials said.
The woman reported seeing a possible second suspect at the convenience store, though police were still seeking that man and trying to determine whether he was involved in the crime, Martinez said.
The woman was freed about six hours later when a parking enforcement officer called police to report what they thought to be domestic violence in the 1700 block of Bluff Road, Martinez said. Juarez fled when officers arrived and was not found.
Detectives later identified Juarez as the suspect and began surveillance in the area of Montebello Boulevard and Elm Street, where he was known to frequent. They spotted Juarez Wednesday afternoon.
“Juarez refused to surrender and was apprehended by K-9 Cody,” the police statement says. Vernon and Monterey Park police assisted in the arrest, along with a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.
The woman suffered a superficial cut to her neck, but no serious injuries, Martinez said.
Juarez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
PHOTO of suspect Omar Juarez courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
MONTEBELLO >> A fast-spreading brush fire possibly sparked by an arsonist scorched more than 25 acres in the Montebello Hills and neighboring Rosemead, jumping roads with ease and drawing a massive response from firefighters throughout the area, authorities said.
The fire, dubbed the Lincoln Fire, first ignited about 1:30 p.m. in the Rio Hondo Riverbed, near the Whittier Narrows Reservoir, Montebello Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Amador said.
The fire quickly expanded to the northwest and crossed Lincoln Avenue and scorched about 20 acres of an oil field spotted with oil wells and several structures used in service of the oil field, the chief said.
Buildings were threatened by the flames, but none had been lost, he said. “We’ve been protecting those structure.”
“It does look like the Montebello Hills are under control,” Amador said. “We still have significant hot spots that we’re going to have to work through the evening.”
The brush fire then jumped San Gabriel Boulevard, burning its way into the vegetation of Bosque Del Rio Hondo Park in an unincorporated county area near Rosemead, Amador said. It consumed another five or so acres there.
The flames threatened several outbuildings in the park, but none had been damaged late Sunday afternoon, a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher said.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter working to douse the flames from above made a “hard landing” at nearby Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier, Amador said.
Three people on board suffered possible neck and back injuries, but none that appeared to me major, Amador said.
Video footage from the scene showed the helicopter upright, with an item resembling a tail rotor lying beside it on the ground.
Further information regarding the helicopter’s emergency landing were not available.
Officials detained a person of interest, described only as a man, for questioning in connection with the Lincoln Fire, Amador said.
Further details regarding the cause of the fire or the person of interest were not available. Montebello police could not be reached for comment.
PHTOOS courtesy of the Montebello Police Department
WEST COVINA >> Police jailed an alleged car thief following a chase Sunday after using a LoJack system to track him to the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant, officials said.
Police ultimately jailed Eric Gonzales, 38, of Whittier on suspicion of auto theft, evading police and resisting arrest, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The incident began about 9:30 a.m. when police detected a LoJack signal emitted from a 2005 Acura Integra reported stolen in Montebello earlier in the day, the lieutenant said.
With help from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, officers followed the signal to a McDonald’s restaurant on Vincent Avenue, just south of the 10 Freeway, where they spotted him waiting in line at the drive-thru, Patton said.
Once the Acura exited the restaurant, officers tried to pull the car over, he said. “Initially the suspect yielded, but abruptly took off at a high rate of speed.”
Gonzales led officers on a chase down the 10 and 605 freeways before abandoning his car at the Whittier Boulevard offramp of the 605, Patton said. The suspect continued fleeing on foot, but was quickly chased down and captured by an officer.