Woman attacked and robbed in Norwalk


NORWALK >> A man punched a woman and robbed her of her purse in Norwalk early Wednesday, authorities said.
A woman was walking about 9:30 a.m. in the 11400 block of Excelsior Drive when the robber approached, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Cunningham said.
He punched the woman and then forced her purse away from her, the sergeant said. No significant injuries were reported.
Deputies described the robber as a Latino man between 25 and 30 years old, wearing a gray sweater, blue jeans and a baseball cap.
He fled in a burgundy Honda sedan.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Norwalk child sex predator gets 22 years in prison for crimes against children in Cambodia

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LOS ANGELES >> A previously convicted child sex predator from Norwalk who traveled to Cambodia for sex with at least five boys received a sentence of more than two decades in federal prison this week, authorities said.
Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, received a 22-year prison term in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday after pleading guilty in 2012 to two counts of engaging in illicit sexual contact with a minor in a foreign place, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder also ordered Peeters to pay $15,000 in restitution to his victims, officials said. Upon his release from prison, he will be subject to supervised release for life.
“This defendant is a sexual predator who repeatedly victimized young boys, several of whom have physical disabilities, and all of whom come from deeply impoverished communities in the developing world,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.”This lengthy sentence sends a message to all pedophiles in the United States that they cannot escape prosecution by traveling to other countries to engage in illegal and horrific sexual acts against children.”
Peeters was already a registered sex offender, convicted of crimes against young boys in 1990, when he visited Southeast Asia, according to federal prosecutors and California’s sex offender database.
“According to court documents filed in this case, Peeters traveled to Cambodia in April 2008, and within two months began seeking out youths for sex, targeting victims who were destitute and often disabled,” Mrozek said.
Cambodian National Police arrested him in February of 2009 for violating Camobian laws against child sex abuse, according to Mrozek.
U.S. prosecutors subsequently filed charges of engaging in sexual conduct with minors in a foreign country, authorities said. He was returned to the U.S. to face the American justice system in August of 2009.
Four of Peeters’ victims appeared at his sentencing hearing Wednesday to tell the court how his abuse had affected their lives, Mrozek said.
According to California’s sex offender database, Peeters was convicted in 1990 of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a boy under 14 years old. Records indicate he was released from jail or prison the same year.
“Peeters is the third and final defendant sentenced as part of Operation Twisted Traveler, a joint initiative by (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations) and the Department of Justice to identify and prosecute American men who traveled to Cambodia and engaged in sexual conduct with children there,” Mrozek said. “The defendants were charged under the PROTECT Act, which took effect in 2003 and substantially strengthened the federal laws related to predatory crimes involving children outside the U.S. by adding new crimes and increasing prison sentences.”
Two other men have received prison sentences of 70 years and 10 years, respectively, in connection with the operation.
Special Agent in Charge of HSI in Los Angeles Joseph Macias credited the law enforcement officials who investigated and prosecuted the cases for their “tenacity and tireless dedication.”
“Americans tempted to commit sex crimes overseas should understand that tough U.S. laws will ensure they pay a high price for their criminal actions,” he said. “We owe it to the young victims, many of whom will bear the emotional scars for the rest of their lives.”

PHOTO: Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, of Norwalk. (courtesy)

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Man killed, another injured after car crashes into Norwalk building


NORWALK >> A driver died and his passenger was critically injured when a sedan slammed into a building in Norwalk early Saturday, authorities said.
The crash took place about 1 a.m. at Funston Street and Front Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Gillespie said.
A man in his early-20s was at the wheel of a 2002 BMW 540i when he lost control while rounding a curve along northbound Funston Street, just south of Front Street, and veered to the left, according to the lieutenant.
The car slammed into the side of a building formerly used as a Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States post, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced the driver dead at the scene, Gillespie said.
His identity was not available Saturday afternoon. Los Angeles County coroner’s officials had not record the death, coroner’s Lt. David Smith said.
The passenger, also described as a man in his early-20s, was hospitalized in critical condition, Gillespie said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.

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Man shot to death at Norwalk skate park


NORWALK >> A man died in a Saturday night after an argument escalated into a shooting at a Norwalk skate park, authorities said.
The shooting was reported about 8 p.m. at a skate park within Norwalk Park, in the 12200 block of Sproul Street, Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
“Detectives have learned during their investigation that witnesses saw the victim at a skate park with several other people when the victim became involved in an argument with another male,” Jansen said in a written statement. “During the argument, the unknown male suspect produced a handgun and shot the victim multiple times in the torso.”
Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
His identity was withheld pending notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting were available Sunday, and no suspect description was released.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man wounded in Norwalk shooting


NORWALK >> A man arrived at a hospital after being shot in Norwalk on Friday afternoon, officials said.
The 30-year-old victim showed up at an emergency room about 5:30 p.m. following the shooting, which was believed to have taken place in the area of Rosecrans Avenue and Studebaker Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was expected to survive, she said.
Further details were not immediately available, as the wounded man did not appear to be cooperating with deputies. He only told investigators he was shot by another man.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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One man killed, another wounded in Norwalk shooting


NORWALK >> A man died and another suffered serious injuries in a shooting in a Norwalk residential neighborhood early Saturday morning, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the deadly shooting, which took place just before 2:30 a.m. in the 12000 block of Molette Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Detectives have learned that Norwalk Station Deputies responded to a shots fired call,” according to the statement. “Upon arriving, two male Hispanic adults were found lying in the street suffering from gunshot wounds to their upper torsos.”
Paramedics took both wounded men to a hospital, officials said. One of the victims, who had been shot multiple times, soon succumbed to his injuries.
His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family, coroner’s officials said.
The second victim, who suffered a single gunshot wound, was listed in “serious” condition.
“There is no suspect information, nor any additional information at this time,” the statement said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man fatally shoots self in front of sheriff’s deputies in Norwalk


NORWALK >> A man fatally shot himself during a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies in the parking lot of a Target store on Friday morning, authorities said.
The incident unfolded shortly after 9 a.m. when deputies received report of a man pointing a gun at passing cars along the 605 Freeway at Firestone Boulevard, Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies encountered a 24-year-old man attempting to break into cars outside nearby businesses, he said.
The man started walking west through a Target parking lot at 10600 Firestone Blvd. when deputies noticed he was carrying a handgun, officials said. Deputies approached the suspect in an attempt to stop him from crossing Firestone Boulevard.
“As deputies attempted to stop the suspect, he put the gun to his own head as if he was going to shoot himself,” Rouzan said. The man then began walking south the parking lot,
“The deputies tried to detain him, and the suspect continued to point the gun at his head,” he said. “The suspect stopped on the sidewalk in front of a local business and attempted to rack a round into the chamber of the gun.”
Rouzan said deputies ordered the man to drop his gun and tried to prevent him from entering nearby businesses.
“The suspect then turned and pointed the gun at deputy personnel, at which time deputies fired multiple rounds, missing the suspect,” Rouzan said.
“The suspect then ran between two cars in the parking lot, placing the gun to his head, and shot himself,” the deputy said.
Paramedics took the badly wounded man to a hospital, where he was placed on life support, officials said. He ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Deputies recovered the suspect’s semi-automatic pistol at the scene.
The man’s identity was yet to be released pending positive identification and notification of family.
The motive for the suspect’s behavior remained unclear.
“The reason for the suspect’s actions is unknown at this time,” Rouzan said.

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Norwalk man sentenced for fatally shooting best friend, staging fake suicide scene


NORWALK >> A Norwalk man who fatally shot his friend and tried to stage the death as a suicide received a sentence of more than four decades in prison after pleading “no contest” to first-degree murder, authorities said.
Diego Arnold Castro, 33, of Norwalk, entered the plea in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. He was immediately sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.
An addition to a charge of murder, Ardalani said Castro also admitted the special allegation that he personally used a firearm in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Jose Angel Rios, also a local resident, at Castro’s home in the 14500 block of Halcourt Ave.
Castro and his victim had gone to school together and been friends for “many years” prior to the shooting , Ardalani said.
“On Jan. 15, 2015, Castro picked up Alvarez and took him to the defendant’s Norwalk home,” Ardalani said.
“While Alvarez was sitting on Castro’s couch, the defendant came up behind the victim and shot him in the left side of his head,” she said.
“The defendant then shot himself in the leg to make it seem as though the victim had shot Castro and then committed suicide,” Ardalani said. The defendant called 911 and told authorities Alvarez had shot him and then killed himself, the prosecutor said.
Authorities initially believed Castro’s account, but suspicions grew as the investigation unfolded and evidence continued coming to light, officials said.
The victim was shot in the left side of his head, Syn said. The victim was right-handed.
After receiving treatment for his gunshot wound, detectives arrested Castro for Rios’ murder on Jan. 23, 2015, records show.
Castro never revealed a motive, however Syn said he suspected he was jealous of his friend’s wife.
The two had been involved in an affair previously, but the issue was believed to be resolved at the time of the killing, Syn said. The prosecutor said Castro and Rios were extremely close and described them as “best friends.”
On the day of the shooting, Castro sent Rios’ wife a text message, pretending to be Castro, saying that was going to kill himself and to “take good care of Diego,” according to Syn.
The negotiated plea came during what was scheduled to a hearing to set a preliminary hearing date, according to Deputy District Attorney Don Syn, who prosecuted the case.
Castro was initially accused of the special circumstance of lying in wait, which could have potentially made him eligible for the death penalty if convicted at trial. Authorities had not yet determined whether to pursue capital punishment in Castro’s case.

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Man shot while on his way to work in Norwalk


NORWALK >> A man driving to work with a coworker early Friday was wounded in a shooting carried out by apparent gang members, officials said.
The car-to-car shooting took place about 6:45 a.m. in the 12800 block of Rosecrans Avenue, just east of the 5 Freeway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. George Suarez said.
The two victims, both men in the late-20s, stopped at an ARCO gas station on Rosecrans Avenue just west of the 5 Freeway, on their way to work, the sergeant said.
Two or three men confronted the victims at the gas station and asked where they were from, a common gang challenge.
The two victims, who are not believed to have gang ties, went about their business and drove away from the gas station, Suarez said.
The attackers got into a car of their own and followed the victims before opening fire, Suarez said. The passenger was struck in the shooting. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Detailed descriptions of the attackers and their car were not available Friday afternoon.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man beaten and carjacked in Norwalk


NORWALK >> Deputies are seeking two men who beat and carjacked another man in Norwalk over the weekend, officials said.
The crime unfolded about 5:35 a.m. Sunday at Clarkdale Avenue and Pine Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Hank Ortega said.
A man estimated to be in his late-20s was sitting in his car, with the engine running, as he waited for a friend, the sergeant said.
Two men walking down the street approached the victim, opened a door of his car and began fighting with him.
The victim got out of his car during the struggle, with the vehicle still running, Ortega said. He managed to break free from his attackers and ran to a nearby gas station to seek help.
The carjackers then got into the victim’s charcoal gray, 2003 Infiniti G35 and drove away.
Both attackers were described as Latino men between 20 and 25 years old. One wore a black shirt, black shorts and a mustache. The other wore a white shirt. One of the two suspects wore a baseball cap, but it was not clear which one.
Ortega said the victim suffered apparently minor injuries and declined to be taken to a hospital.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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