Alleged arsonist arrested in Norwalk

NORWALK — A man was behind bars Saturday on suspicion of lighting two trees and a business on fire in a Norwalk neighborhood, authorities said.
Eli Swifteagle, 33, was arrested on suspicion of arson within an hour of the second of the two arson fires, which occurred early Friday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said. His city of residence was not available.
He’s accused of using a lighter to ignite a tree in the 12300 block of Front Street about 3:40 a.m., the lieutenant said. The fire spread to a nearby business, scorching a tarp, some pallets and the roof of an outbuilding.
A second arson fire was reported about 6:45 a.m. at Funston Avenue and Foster Road, Smitson said. The second fire remained confined to a tree.
A passer-by spotted Swifteagle lighting the second fire and called deputies, Smitson said. The suspect was found in the area and arrested.
Deputies were looking into the possibility mental health issues played a role in Swifteagle’s alleged behavior.
According to county booking records, Swifteagle was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance.

Man wounded in shooting at Norwalk park

NORWALK — A man was shot but expected to survive at a Norwalk park Sunday in the city’s second shooting in 12 hours, authorities said.
Deputies responded to Vista Verde Park about 1:25 p.m. after receiving a report of a shooting, according to Sgt. Jordan of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station. He declined to give his first name.
Deputies found a man in his 20s who had been shot, the sergeant said. He was taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Initial reports from the scene indicated the attackers were two Latino men wearing baseball caps. One wore a dark-colored shirt.
Both were seen heading west from the park on Ratliffe Street in a gray Ford Expedition, officials said
No further details were initially available.
The shooting was the second reported in Norwalk Sunday.
Twenty-five-year-old Carlos Aguilar of La Mirada died at the scene of a 1:40 a.m. shooting in the 12000 block of Lowemont Street, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. The fatal shooting was believed to be gang-related.

UPDATED: La Mirada man shot to death in Norwalk

NORWALK >> Homicide detectives are investigating the fatal shooting of a man early Sunday in a residential Norwalk neighborhood, authorities said.
Carlos Aguilar, 25, of La Mirada died following the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
The shooting, which was believed to be gang-related, took place about 1:40 a.m. in the 12000 block of Lowemont Street, just east of Elaine Avenue, officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
“Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to the area regarding the call of a gunshot victim and discovered the victim on the sidewalk, unresponsive,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The man had been shot in the torso, officials said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
No further information was available. The same neighborhood has been the scene of at least two other shootings in recent months.
A man was wounded in the leg in a shooting just before 2 a.m. Dec. 27, sheriff’s Lt. Cynthia McDaniel said at the time.
A Latino man of about 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds and wearing dark pants and a Los Angeles Dodgers cap approached another man and asked about his gang affiliation before opening fire, the lieutenant said. The shooter was believed to have fled the area in a white, four-door Toyota Corolla with a getaway driver waiting at the wheel.
The wounded man, described as in his mid-20s, was hospitalized with a non-life-threatening injury.
Another man suffered a gunshot wound to his head in a Dec. 21 shooting in the same neighborhood.
Rescuers said the man was fortunate to have survived and escaped major injury in the 8 a.m. attack after a bullet stuck his head and grazed along his skull without penetrating it.
McDaniel said the shot was fired from a passing vehicle containing four attackers described only as male. A motive was not clear.
The area, known to some as the “One Ways,” has long been inhabited by gangs.

Victim of fatal Norwalk stabbing identified as Long Beach man; arrest of suspect announced

NORWALK — Officials have identified a Long Beach man found fatally stabbed in Norwalk last week and announced the arrest of a suspect.
Darin Sivley, 53, died at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood about 3:45 p.m., just over an hour after the stabbing took place in the area of Stubebaker Road and Ferina Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Detectives Wednesday announced a suspect — 38-year-old William Johnson — has been arrested in connection with the slaying, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. His city of residence was not clear.
Sivley was believed to have been stabbed at a home before riding from the scene on a bicycle and collapsing nearby, authorities said.
“During the investigation, homicide detectives interviewed (Johnson),” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “Suspect Johnson was arrested on the evening of March 6, 2014, booked for murder at Norwalk Station and is being held in lieu of $1,030,000 bail.”
According to county booking records, Johnson was scheduled to appear Monday in Norwalk Superior Court.
An autopsy carried out Wednesday determined Sivley died from stab wounds to his arm, and the death was ruled a homicide.
Further details regarding the alleged slaying, including a motive, were not released.

Norwalk bicyclists fatally struck by pickup truck identified

NORWALK >> Coroner’s officials Sunday released the names of a man and woman from Norwalk who were fatally struck by a pickup truck while walking their bicycles across Rosecrans Avenue early Saturday.
Rosibel Montoya, 20, and Giovanni Xavier Chaidez, 23, died following the collision, which took place just after midnight Saturday along Rosecrans Avenue and Fidel Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Betsy Magdaleno said. She did now know the relationship between the two victims.
They were walking their bikes north across the street when they were struck by a westbound Ford F-150 pickup truck, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said. The driver subsequently struck several parked cars.
No arrests were initially made, and the cause of the crash remained under investigation, Smitson said.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the incident were not available Sunday.

Man and woman fatally struck by pickup truck while walking bikes across Rosecrans Ave. in Norwalk

NORWALK >> A man and woman died early Saturday after they were struck by a pickup truck while walking their bicycles across the street in Norwalk, authorities said.
The collision was first reported at 12:02 a.m. at Rosecrans and Fidel Avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
“Two pedestrians were walking their bicycles north across Rosecrans when a vehicle traveling east on Rosecrans struck the pedestrians,” Smitson said.
After striking the man and woman, the Ford F-150 veered to the side of the road and hit three to four parked cars, Smitson said. The driver, initially described only as a man, suffered no significant injuries in the crash.
Smitson said the driver of the pickup truck remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
He did not appear to be intoxicated and he was not taken into custody as detectives from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station continued their investigation.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the collision, including whether the pedestrians were within a crosswalk, were not available Saturday morning.

Norwalk man and woman killed in Santa Fe Springs car crash

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Authorities Wednesday continued investigating a two-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of a Norwalk man and woman early Saturday.-
The collision took place about 12:09 a.m. Saturday along Norwalk Boulevard at Smith Avenue, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Killed were Daniel Mata, 23, and Jazmin Gomez, 19, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Elissa Sleak said. Autopsies determined both died as a result of “multiple blunt traumatic injuries,” and both deaths were ruled accidental.
Mata was at the wheel of a Nissan Sentra that collided with a Jeep Laredo, according to coroner’s and Whittier police officials. Gomez was riding as the front passenger.
A Whittier woman in her late-teens who was riding in the rear of the Nissan Sentra was thrown from the car from the crash. She was taken to a trauma center in critical condition.
Preliminary investigation determined the Sentra was south on Norwalk Boulevard when, for an unknown reason, the car veered toward the right, White said.
The Sentra struck the west curb, “causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and cross into northbound traveling lanes,” he said.
“It was broad-sided by a Jeep Laredo, travelling northbound, who was unable to avoid the Nissan,” White said.
Mata and Gomez were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, White said.
Two people riding inside the Jeep Laredo suffered minor injuries in the crash, he said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, however no arrests or citations were initially made, the officer said.
The incident was the second fatal car crash on the same stretch of road in less than three weeks.
Manuel Diaz Campos, 26, of Whittier died in the early-morning hours of Feb. 13 after the Scion he was driving at a high rate of speed crashed into a traffic signal, shearing the vehicle in half, Whittier police and coroner’s officials said.
The Feb. 13 crash remained under investigation.

Deputies arrest auto theft suspects after short pursuit in Norwalk

NORWALK — Deputies jailed two alleged auto thieves following a short car chase and a neighborhood search Wednesday, officials said.
Scott Catalano, 21, of Norwalk was booked on suspicion of auto theft following the incident, along with Luis Magallanes, 25, of Norwalk, who was jailed on suspicion of auto theft, assault on a peace officer, burglary and evading police, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said.
A deputy tried to pull over a black Hyundai for a traffic violation just before 1 p.m. on Alondra Boulevard near Norwalk Boulevard, the lieutenant said. Deputies discovered the car had been reported stolen.
The driver of the car — later identified as Catalano — exited the vehicle and ran, Skeen said. Deputies quickly captured him nearby.
Magallanes, who had been the passenger of the stolen car, slid over to the driver’s seat and fled, leading police on short chase two blocks north to Nava Street, where he abandoned the car and ran, Skeen said.
Deputies set up a search perimeter to hunt for Magallanes, he said. About two hours later, he again ran from deputies and fled through homes as they closed in on his hiding spot in a residential neighborhood
He was subdued following a fight with a deputy, Skeen said. The deputy suffered minor injuries. The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to being booked into jail.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records and county booking records, Catalano has been free from jail for less than a month after serving time for vandalism, resisting or obstructing police, receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.
He was convicted of the crimes in November of 2013, sent to jail and released Jan. 28, records show. It was unclear how much time he spent behind bars. Catalano was also convicted in March of 2013 of carrying a switchblade knife.
Magallanes had to existing arrest warrant stemming from a previous pursuit case, as well as a gun possession case, Skeen said.
Records indicated Catalano was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Friday in Bellflower Superior Court. Magallanes was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending a Friday arraignment in Bellflower Superior Court.

Man accused in child molestation, child pornography case pleads not guilty

NORWALK — A Norwalk man who’s recently being staying in Bassett has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually abusing two young girls and trading in child pornography online, officials said Wednesday.
Manuel C. Montes, 43, was arrested Feb. 13 at a friend’s home in Norwalk following a month of investigation by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau. In addition to trading in images of child pornography on the Internet, Montes is also charged with sexually abusing two girls under the ages of 14 in Whittier between 2006 and 2013.
He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Norwalk Superior Court to four counts of committing a lewd act upon a child, one count of possession of child pornography, one count of distributing child pornography and one count of using a minor for sex acts, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s official said in a written statement.
And detectives believed at least one additional girl had been victimized by Montes based on recovered images, though she was yet to be identified, Sgt. Peter Hahn of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
He was being held in lieu of $460,000 bail pending his next court appearance, scheduled for March 17 in Norwalk Superior Court.
His brother, 46-year-old Lorenzo Montes of Claremont, as well as Manuel Montes’ ex-girlfriend Stacey Marie Oropeza of Bellflower were also arrested Feb. 13 and have been charged with acting as accessories after the fact, officials said.
Lorenzo Montes has entered a not guilty plea and was being held without bail pending his next scheduled appearance, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Oropeza, who was released from jail Friday after posting $20,000 bail, was yet to appear in court.
Sheriff’s detectives began looking into Manuel Montes in January after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that he had uploaded images of child pornography to the Internet, Hahn said.
Detectives seeking Manuel Montes encountered Lorenzo Montes near his brother’s Bassett residence Feb. 12, Hahn said.
“Lorenzo Montes claimed he did not know Manuel,” according to the D.A.’s office statement.
The investigation began with a visit to Oropeza’s home in Bellflower, where Manuel Montes had allegedly uploaded child pornography prior to moving out a month or two before investigators showed up, Hahn said.
“Oropeza is also purported to have tipped off Manuel Montes that authorities were looking for him,” according to the statement.
When detectives searched a building where Manuel Montes was believed to have been staying on the lot of a commercial property in the 1800 block of Workman Mill Road in Bassett, they discovered a rear room which they referred to as a “trophy room,” Hahn said.
It was full of child-related paraphernalia, as well as a collage featuring photos of children in various stages of undress, the sergeant said. Investigators also recovered hundreds of images of child pornography stored on hard drives and compact discs from the home.
If convicted as charged, Manuel Montes faces up to 16 years in state prison.

5 Freeway through Norwalk to close this weekend

NORWALK — Motorists are advised to make alternate travel plans this weekend as officials shut down both directions of the 5 Freeway through Norwalk as part of an ongoing Santa Ana Freeway South Corridor Improvement Project, officials said.
The northbound and southbound 5 Freeway will be shut down from 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday morning, Caltrans officials said in a written statement.
Northbound motorists will be directed to exit at Carmenita Road, then prompted by detour signs to re-enter the freeway.
Southbound drivers will exit at Rosecrans Avenue and be detoured past the closure to get back on the 5 Freeway.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, the Rosecrans Avenue onramp to the southbound 5 Freeway will be closed, along with the Carmenita Road onramps and offramp to the southbound 5 Freeway, according to Caltrans.
Also beginning Saturday at 7 p.m., the northbound 5 Freeway onramp at Carmenita Road will be shut down, as well as the offramp from the northbound 5 Freeway at Rosecrans Avenue.
The connector road from the westbound 91 Freeway to the northbound 5 Freeway will be closed from 12:01 a.m. Saturday 8 a.m. Sunday, and the connector road from the southbound 605 Freeway to the southbound 5 Freeway will be closed from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday.
“On Sunday morning, Feb. 23, the travelling public will begin driving on three newly-paved southbound I-5 lanes just before Carmenita Road,” according to the Caltrans statement. A new lane transition will be installed.
Construction work in the area will continue, however.
“Caltrans reminds the public to drive safely and undistracted through the new transition lanes.