Crash involving fire trucks and restaurant in Monterey Park injures 15, one critically

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MONTEREY PARK >> Six firefighters and nine civilians were injured, one of them critically, Wednesday after two fire engines collided in a Monterey Park intersection, sending one of them careening into a dim sum restaurant, authorities said.
The crash, which involved a Monterey Park Fire Department fire engine and an Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck, was first reported about 3:15 p.m. at the Lu Dumpling House, at the southeast corner of Garfield and Emerson avenues, according to Monterey Park police and fire officials.
The critically injured civilians was taken to a trauma center, Monterey Park Fire Department Chief Jim Birrell said. The other eight civilians’ injuries were believed to be minor.
Three Alhambra firefighters and two Monterey Park firefighters suffered minor injuries in the crash, while another Monterey Park firefighter suffered injuries described as moderate, Monterey Park fire Capt. Matt Hallock said.
Both vehicles were rushing to the scene of a house fire toward the southern end of Monterey Park when the crash occurred, officials said. The East Los Angeles office of California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.
The Monterey Park engine was eastbound on Emerson Avenue just prior to the crash, and the Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck was southbound on Garfield Avenue, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said.
“They both had their full lights and sirens on as they approached the intersection,” Peniche said. “They collided, causing one of the engines to crash into the building.
The critically injured man was believed to be inside the restaurant when it was struck, authorities said. A further description was not available.
It was unclear whether the other eight civilians who were hurt were inside the restaurant.
The firefighter who suffered moderate injuries had been driving the Monterey Park fire engine, Hallock said.
Firefighters involved in the crash hopped off the damaged trucks and began tending to injured, he added.
The vehicles easily weigh more than 70,000 pounds each, Hallock said.
The fire truck remained lodged halfway into the restaurant late Wednesday afternoon, and it was not immediately clear if the restaurant had sustained structural damage.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department urban search and rescue team assisted their counterparts from the Monterey Park, Alhambra, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Burbank and Glendale fire departments at the scene.
Though the involved trucks came from different agencies, they often work together under a regional assistance plan and are dispatched by the same Glendale-based center.
Hallock described Wednesday’s collision as “highly unusual” and “highly unfortunate.”
While firefighters often rush to emergency calls, “we train to drive cautiously and arrive at the scene safely,” he said.
When a fire department emergency vehicle is en route to a call with emergency lights and sirens activated, procedure is to enter the intersection at a safe speed and make sure the intersection is clear before proceeding, Birrell said.
“This is the first time in my career — 30 years — that I’ve witnessed an accident like this,” the chief said.

UPDATED: Driver arrested after chase from Alhambra to Monterey Park

ALHAMBRA — A reckless and intoxicated driver led Alhambra police on a chase Wednesday, turning donuts in a major intersection before ultimately being arrested in Monterey park, police said.
Daniel Thach, 32, if Monterey Park was ultimately arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, felony evading of police and assault with deadly weapon following the wild chase, Alhambra police Sgt. Eddie Elizalde said.
A witness called police at 3:08 p.m. to report seeing an apparently intoxicated driver, Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. Officers spotted the car about a minute later, driving recklessly along Atlantic Boulevard near Mission Road.
The white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck sped away when the officers tried to pull it over, officials said. As officers chased the car, the driver began spinning donuts in the car in the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Main Street.
Police continued following the car until the driver finally pulled over at 3:18 p.m. in the 400 block of South McPherrin Avenue in Monterey Park, Johnson said.
Thach’s alleged reckless driving led to the accusation of assault with a deadly weapon, Elizalde said, though it was not clear late Wednesday exactly when during the chase the alleged assault took place, or against who.
According to county booking records, Thach was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.

Man arrested in Monterey Park homicide case released without charges

MONTEREY PARK >> A man arrested Wednesday on suspicion of beating his roommate to death was released from jail Friday without charged, records show.
Yao Zhong Shi, 59, was released from custody about 1:20 p.m. Friday, according to Los Angeles County booking records. His booking sheet indicated he was released due to insufficient evidence.
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau jailed Shi Wednesday afternoon, about 12 hours after the body of his 51-year-old roommate was found about 4:10 a.m.
Police had responded to a report of a fight at the home when they came encountered the badly beaten man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The man’s name was not released Saturday pending notification of his family member, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Detectives investigated for much of the day before arresting Shi on suspicion of murder. He was held in lieu of $1 million bail prior to his release from custody Friday.
Prior to Wednesday’s death, police had responded to four reported disturbance calls at the home since December, Monterey Park police officials said.

Police seize 300 marijuana plants from Monterey Park home, arrest resident

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MONTEREY PARK — Police raided a Monterey Park home Friday, seizing more than 300 marijuana plants and arresting the resident on suspicion of cultivating the illicit crop, authorities said.
Bikram Singh Soni, 32, was being held in lieu of $165,000 bail Saturday pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers from the Monterey Park Police Department’s Special Response Team had been keeping an eye on Soni’s home in the 1100 block of Dover Way for about a month before they arrested him about 2:25 p.m. Friday, officials said.
“Soni’s two-story residence was completely converted into an indoor grow operation with over 300 marijuana plants,” Monterey Park police officials said in a written statement. The plants amounted to about 55 pounds of pot.
The investigation began based on anonymous tips reporting suspicious activity in the neighborhood, Sgt. Frank Duke said.
Officers confirmed suspicious activity, such as people only coming and going at night and the blinds always remaining shut, and noted the odor of marijuana emanating from the home, Duke said.
Officials red-tagged the home due to damage caused by the conversion to an indoor gardening operation, the sergeant said. Walls had been removed and the electrical system had been jerry-rigged.
In addition to the drug charges, officials were also investigating Soni for stealing electricity from Southern California Edison by bypassing the home’s electrical meter, the sergeant added.
Soni was renting the home where he was the sole resident, Duke said.
The owners were not believed to be aware of the marijuana growing operation, he added.
“At this time, we believe they’re victims,” he said.

PHOTO of Bikram Singh Soni, 32, of Monterey Park courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.

2nd UPDATE: Man found shot to death in Monterey Park

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MONTEREY PARK — Detectives continued seeking clues Thursday in the death of a A 51-year-old man who was found slain inside his Monterey Park bedroom.
Yanan Wang was found bleeding from the head just before 1 p.m. Wednesday inside his bedroom in a back house in the 700 block of Hellman Avenue, between New and Orange Avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Dave Dolson said.
His landlord, who lives in the front house, discovered the man bleeding from the head and called 9-1-1, Monterey Park police Lt. Bill Cuevas said.
“He has a single gunshot wound to the head,” Cuevas said.
Police and Monterey Park Fire Department paramedics rushed to the scene, where Wang was pronounced dead, officials said.
An autopsy had not been carried out Thursday, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Information regarding when Wang was last seen alive was not available.
Wang was believed to have rented a room in the back house for the past three months or so, Cuevas said. He lived alone.
No arrests had been made as of Thursday, and suspect description was available.
There were no signs the home had been broken into, Cuevas said.
Neighbors did not report hearing any gunshots or other commotion, investigators added.
An area resident who asked his name be withheld said he saw a large Chinese man he did not recognize leaving the property about 12:20 p.m. Saturday.
The man, who stood about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds, carried a box and appeared to be in a hurry as he walked west along the sidewalk away from the home, the witness said.
Investigators said they had no information regarding any visitors to the home prior to the discovery of Wang’s body.
Sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are spearheading the investigation, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO investigators search for clues by flashlight following the fatal shooting of a man at a home int he 700 block of East Hellman Avenue in Monterey Park on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.

Monterey Park woman found dead in apartment identified, boyfriend arrested

MONTEREY PARK — Officials Saturday have released the name of a 23-year-old woman found dead on suspicious circumstances inside her Monterey Park apartment and announced the arrest of her boyfriend on suspicion of her murder.
Jaqueline Alamillo was pronounced dead shortly after she was found unconscious about 4:30 a.m. Friday at her apartment in the 1700 block of College View Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
Her boyfriend, 35-year-old Daniel Hernandez, was initially detained as a person of interest in the death, sheriff’s officials said.
But he was booked on suspicion of murder shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Alamillo’s cause of death was not immediately apparent, sheriff’s investigators said, and an autopsy had not yet been carried out at the coroner’s office Saturday.
Deputies found Alamillo dead in a bedroom of her apartment after going there to check on her welfare at the request of relatives who had grown worried about her, according to Lt. Dave Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting Monterey Park police in the investigation.
The suspect’s brother had left the apartment late Thursday because Hernandez was acting strangely, the lieutenant said.
Police received reports about an hour later of a man — later identified as Hernandez — behaving bizarrely and yelling at cars several blocks away, officials said.
At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was scheduled to appear in court Dec. 18 on an unrelated case, according to Los Angeles County booking records. Details of the ongoing case were not available Friday, however Hernandez had been freed
after posting $26,000 bail, documents show.
A man of the same name and birthdate has a violent criminal history listed in Los Angeles County Superior Court records, though officials were not available Saturday to confirm whether the murder suspect was the same man.
The listed criminal history includes three 2004 convictions for possession of a loaded firearm with previous felony convictions, a 1998 conviction for robbery, a 1997 conviction for participating in a street race and a 2007 conviction for assault.
Hernandez was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance in the murder case, scheduled for Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.
— Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

Attacker sought in unprovoked stabbing on Metro bus in Monterey Park

1214_NWS_SGT-L-BUSSTAB1MONTEREY PARK — Deputies sought the public’s help Friday tracking down a man who stabbed another man in the throat during an unprovoked attack on a commuter bus last month.
The stabbing, which detectives are investigating as an attempted murder, took place at 7:17 p.m. Nov. 3 on a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus as it made it’s way through Monterey Park, Officials from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau said. The attack, which was captured on surveillance video, took place as the bus was at Atlantic Boulevard and Garvey Avenue.
Both the victim and suspect boarded the bus about the same time just before the incident, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The assailant in the seemingly random attack was not believed to know his victim, officials added.
“The victim stated that the suspect got up from his seat, and thought he was exiting the bus. Instead the suspect, unprovoked, stabbed the victim in the throat with a knife or other sharp object and ran off the bus,” according to the statement. “Detectives also confirmed this via the bus video.”
1214_NWS_SGT-L-BUSSTAB2Investigators described the unidentified suspect was described as a about 30 years old, Latino, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, with short black or brown hair, a mustache and a goatee. He wore a light-colored shirt and dark shorts when the stabbing took place.
The stabbing victim, a 54-year-old East Los Angeles man, was initially hospitalized in serious condition, but was expected to make a full recovery, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
Detective Kyle Ynclan of the Sheriff’s Transportation Services Bureau said Metro buses and trains are generally “a very safe mode of transportation.”
“That’s why when someone commits a crime like this, he must be brought to justice,” the detective said.
1214_NWS_SGT-L-BUSSTAB3With the attacker’s image captured on surveillance footage,  “there are times like these when we need the public to help identify a criminal like this so that we can stop them from committing another crime.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau at 323-8563-5000. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Authorities seek ‘New Hat Bandits’ in five bank robberies over past six months

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The FBI and local law enforcement officials are seeking two bank robbers dubbed the “New Hat Bandits” in connection with five Los Angeles County bank heists in the past six weeks.
The robbers are linked to two robberies in Monterey Park, one in Rosemead and most recently, the bandits have turned their attention toward two banks in Manhattan Beach , FBI officials said in a written statement.
NewHatMontereyPark1114“The New Hat Bandits are described by witnesses as black males who wear baseball hats that appear to be new,” according to the statement. “During the robberies, the New Hat Bandits enter the bank and make oral and written demands for cash.”
According to the FBI, the robbers struck Tuesday at Citibank, 2710 N. Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, as well as Nov. 22 at a U.S. Bank Branch at 3300 N. Sepulveda Blvd. in Manhattan Beach.
They previously robbed the Cathay Bank at 250 S. Atlantic Blvd. in Monterey Park on No. 14; the Pacific Alliance Bank at 8400 E. Valley Blvd. in Rosemead on Halloween; and the Chase bank at 459 S. Atlantic Blvd. in Monterey Park on Oct. 23, officials said.
In the first four crimes, only one of the bandits at a time entered the banks to carry out NewHatMontereyPark1023the robberies, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. But both robbers were seen during Wedesday’s robbery.
Authorities described the bandits as black men in their 30s between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and between 150 and 170 pounds. A black Lincoln Navigator SUV has been described by witnesses as a possible getaway vehicle.
No weapons have been seen during the robberies, Eimiller said.
Anyone with information was urged to call the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 888-226-8443, or 9-1-1.

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Woman with mental capacity of 6-year-old missing in Monterey Park

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MOTNEREY PARK — Police are seeking a 42-year-old woman with diminished mental capacity who went missing Saturday in Monterey Park, officials said.
Tracy Carriger, who has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old child, was last seen about 5:45 a.m. in the 2000 block of Graylock Avenue, Monterey park police officials said in a written statement. She requires medication, which she does not have with her.
She is white, 5 feet tall and 170 pounds, police said. She was wearing an unknown color dress when she disappeared.
Anyone who spots the missing woman is asked to contact local police or dial 9-1-1 immediately.

PHOTO courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department

Elderly Monterey Park man fatally struck by city work truck identified

MONTEREY PARK — Authorities have released the name of an elderly Monterey Park man was fatally struck by a city work truck over the weekend in his hometown of Monterey Park.
Wen Shao Ruan, 89, died at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center shorty after he was struck by the pickup truck shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday at Newmark and Ynez avenues, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Capt. John Kades said. An autopsy found he died from blunt head trauma, and the death was ruled an accident.
Ruan was crossing south across Newmark Avenue within a marked crosswalk when he was struck by a Ford F-350 pickup truck being driven by a city employee in his 20s, California Highway Patrol Officer Timothy Kinyon said. The truck had been making a left turn from northbound Ynez Avenue onto westbound Newmark Avenue when it struck the pedestrian.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by officers from the East Los Angeles office of the CHP, though nothing criminal was initially suspected.
Monterey Park police asked the CHP to handle the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest, officials said.