Serial bank robber dubbed ‘Cold Blooded Bandit’ pulls 3rd heist in Whittier

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WHITTIER >> A serial bank robber the FBI is calling the “Cold Blooded Bandit” carried out his third heist Wednesday at a bank branch inside a Whittier supermarket, authorities said.
The serial robber, who was given his nickname due to the heavy winter clothing he has worn during his summertime heists, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The robber operated by passing notes demanding money to bank tellers, she said.
“In his demand notes, he indicates a partner is outside watching to intimidate the tellers,” Eimiller said.
Officials said the Cold Blooded Bandit’s most recent caper took place Wednesday afternoon at a Whittier Union Bank branch inside of a Ralphs grocery store, 8510 Painter Avenue.
Whittier police Cpl. Carlos Arroyo said the a man approached a teller just after 4:30 and displayed a demand note.
The teller complied and handed over an undisclosed amount of money, Arroyo said. He was last seen fleeing the area on foot. No weapon was seen.
0920_NWS_WDN-L-COLDBLOOD4The Cold Blooded bandit previously robbed a Union Bank branch on Garfield Avenue in South Gate on July 7, as well as a Union Bank branch on South Street in Norwalk on June 30, Eimiller said.
In the first crime in Norwalk, the bandit left behind a “hoax device” before fleeing, “presumably to threaten an explosion,” Eimiller said. A description of the hoax device was not available Friday.
The FBI described the serial bandit as white or Latino, between 21 and 28 years old, between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds.
In the most recent robbery in Whittier, witnesses reported the robber had tattoos on his arms and on the left side of his neck.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI’s Los Angeles Division at 310-477-6565.

PHOTOS taken from bank surveillance cameras courtesy of the FBI.

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Norwalk sandwich shop worker attacked after interrupting car burglary

NORWALK >> A Long Beach man attacked a sandwich shop employee after she caught him stealing items from her car Saturday morning, officials said.
Deputies arrested Jose Antonio Garcia, 19, on suspicion of robbery and drug possession following the incident, which was reported shortly after 7 a.m. in a parking lot in the 12300 block of Imperial Highway, just east of Norwalk Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
A woman working inside a Subway sandwich shop heard her car alarm sounding in the parking lot and went to see what was happening, Smitson said.
She encountered a man, later identified as Garcia, rummaging through her car, the lieutenant said.
The woman confronted Garcia, and the two briefly struggled before the robber punched the woman three times and ran off, Smitson said.
The woman was not seriously injured, the lieutenant said. Garcia stole items from the car such as headphones and a phone charger.
Deputies found Garcia in the area and arrested him in connection with the burglary-turned-robbery, Smitson said. He’s also accused of drug possession after deputies found a small amount of suspected methamphetamine on his person.
Garcia was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County booking records.

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Norwalk man shot in the hand

NORWALK >> A man showed up at a hospital with a gunshot wound to his hand late Friday, officials said.
The gunshot victim, a 20-year-old Norwalk man, arrived at a hospital about 7:30 p.m. for treatment, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Arias said.
He told investigators he had been shot at Rosecrans and Shoemaker avenues by a passenger in a passing white pickup truck, Arias said. But deputies found no witnesses who reported hearing or seeing a shooting near the busy intersection, nor did they find any bullet holes or other physical evidence of the shooting.
The investigation was ongoing.

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Telephonic bomb threats made against Norwalk businesses

NORWALK >> Deputies responded to two simultaneous bomb threats at two Pico Rivera businesses Friday afternoon, but found the telephoned threats to be unfounded, authorities said.
Two phone calls from the same phone number reported the threats about 6:30 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Cynthia Chavez said. One of the calls claimed a bomb had been placed at a Subway sandwich shop, 15925 Pioneer Blvd., and another at Walmart, 11729 Imperial Highway, the lieutenant said.
Deputies went to both businesses and found nothing suspicious, she said. No evacuations were ordered.

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Hundreds march in honor of slain sheriff’s Explorer in South Whittier

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SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of people took part in a vigil in South Whittier late Thursday to commemorate the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Explorer and lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez.
The observance included a march to the scene of the shooting that claimed the life of Rodriguez, 19, and friend Larry Villegas, 24, of Whittier on Aug. 28, 2011.
Loved ones placed candles at the shooting scene outside a home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in South Whittier before continuing on to Amelia Mayberry Park.
The march was led by fellow Explorers from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, where Rodriguez had volunteered for four years. And his legacy lives in.
“He was my inspiration to become an Explorer,” Alejandra Garcia, 16, said as she participated in the march while carrying a framed photograph of Rodriguez.
IMG_5398The fatal shootings of Rodriguez and Villegas remain unsolved, and no description of the killer or killers is known, investigators said.
Though officials initially reported a white Scion vehicle was being sought in connection with the crime, the car has since been located and found not to be involved, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTOS by James Carbone

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Vigil planned for sheriff’s Explorer slain in South Whittier drive-by shooting

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SOUTH WHITTIER >> Family members and loved ones of a 19-year-old Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout plan to gather for a vigil Thursday to mark the third anniversary of his unsolved slaying.
Cesar Rodriguez, a lifelong Whittier resident who had spent his last four years volunteering as an Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, was gunned down along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, in the early-morning hours of Aug. 28, 2011 in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue, according to sheriff’s investigators and family members.
He’s survived his parents Jorge and Lupe Rodriguez, as well as older brothers George and Hector Rodriguez.
“We’re trying to stay strong,” George Rodriguez said.
Thursday’s vigil will be held at 7 p.m. at Laurel and Beaty avenues, near the shooting scene in South Whittier.
Community support has continued to grow in the three years since Cesar Rodriguez’s
At a march held last year on the second anniversary of the shooting, nearly 300 people attended, he said. About 150 people marched in a similar gathering in 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas were shot as they left a party, sheriff’s officials said. The shots were believed to have been fired from a passing vehicle, though no specific description was available.
A white Scion initially described by investigators as a suspect vehicle has been found and determined not to have been the killer’s car, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Rodriguez and Villegas died at the scene.
Patrick Maxwell, who served as captain of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station while Rodriguez volunteered there and has since been promoted to the rank of commander, described Rodriguez as a selfless and eager young man who was always polite and respectful. he has a lifelong dream of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, Maxwell said, and had turned in his application to join the sheriff’s department as a deputy a week before his killing.
At Rodriguez’s funeral, then-sheriff Lee Baca said Rodriguez was an exemplary Explorer Scout and a leader who was on a “noble path.”
Rodriguez was buried in his Explorer uniform.
The search for the killer or killers of Rodriguez and Villegas continues, and detectives have followed up on new clues in the case in recent months, Corina said.
A motive was not known with certainty, however Corina said investigators suspected the killings stemmed from a gang shooting.
George Rodriguez said the family remained hopeful the case would be solved, and Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers will be brought to justice.
Former sheriff Baca had promised the family the investigation would be a top priority of the sheriff’s department, George Rodriguez said. The brother said he hoped that would remain true under the department’s new leadership following the November runoff election for sheriff between Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and former undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
Anyone with information on the double-fatal shooting is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO of Cesar Rodriguez courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Mountain lion spotted in Norwalk

NORWALK >> In a highly unusual incident for the city, a mountain lion was spotted strolling through a residential Norwalk neighborhood earlier this week, officials said Thursday.
A home surveillance camera mounted in the 11000 block of Tina Street caught the large cat on video about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, Los Angles County sheriff’s Lt. Cynthia Sanchez said.
“The video shows a mountain lion strolling across the front of the informants property,” Sanchez said.
Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game were notified, she said, however the animal was not spotted in the flesh.
It was unclear where the lion originated from, and how it ended up so far from the wilderness.

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Chevrolet Impala sought in fatal Norwalk hit-and-run

NORWALK >> Investigators are seeking a white Chevrolet Impala that fatally struck a 36-year-old Norwalk woman outside a house party before speeding away early Saturday, officials said.
Belen Nieves died at a hospital within an hour of being struck about 12:50 a.m. in a residential neighborhoods in the 11900 block of Hopland Street, Orange County coroner’s officials said in a written statement.
Deputies first began responding to the area after receiving calls of a loud party, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said. While en route, officials received additional calls reporting bottles were being thrown and a possible assault.
“When (deputies) arrived, they saw a female victim lying in the street,” Navares said. She was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries.
Investigators determined the woman had been struck by a white Chevrolet Impala being driven by a Latino man in his 20s, Navares said. The car fled west on Hopland Street after striking the woman and had not been found Sunday.
It was not clear Sunday whether Nieves had attended the party near the site where she was struck.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.

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UPDATED: Hawaiian Gardens man arrested in connection with shooting of 14-year-old boy in Norwalk

NORWALK >> A 14-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to his leg in a drive-by shooting Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The attack occurred about 3:15 p.m. at Sycamore Street, just west of Funston Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
The boy was standing with a group when a car passed by and someone inside opened fire, the lieutenant said. The teenage victim was struck in the leg.
Officials described the car as a black, newer-model, four-door Nissan Altima. Witnesses indicated one of its windows may have been shot out. It was last seen westbound on Sycamore Street.
The wounded boy was conscious and breathing when taken to a hospital with what was not believed to be a life-threatening injury, Smitson said.
Deputies scoured the area for the Altima with the help of a sheriff’s helicopter and found a Nissan Altima believed to be the one involved in the shooting nearby, Smitson said. The registered owner was initially detained as a “person of interest” before deputies ultimately arrested him in connection with the shooting.
Robert Angel Moncivais, 20, of Hawaiian Gardens was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares and Los Angeles County booking records.
Moncivais was believed to have gang ties, and sheriff’s gang investigators were spearheading the investigation.
According to booking records, Moncivais was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court.
The investigation was ongoing.

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Six DUI suspects arrested at Norwalk checkpoint

NORWALK — Sheriff’s deputies arrested six allegedly impaired drivers during a checkpoint in Norwalk late Saturday.
The sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint was held from 6 p.m. to midnight on eastbound Alondra Boulevard, just east of Studebaker Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Three drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, two were jailed on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and one driver is accused of driving while impaired by both, according to the sheriff’s department statement.
Another two drivers were also arrested for driving without court-ordered ignition interlock devices, authorities said.
Deputies cited 21 unlicensed drivers and three drivers who had suspended or revoked licenses.
Twenty vehicles were impounded for one day, three vehicles were impounded for 30 days and 10 vehicles were released at the checkpoint, “per checkpoint release procedures,” the sheriff’s department statement said.

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