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.
The 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BELLFLOWER — Prosecutor filed attempted murder charges Thursday against two men accused of shooting at sheriff’s deputies during a six-hour standoff in Norwalk, authorities said.
Mason Edwin Devore, 37, of La Habra, and George Contreras, 19, of Los Angeles, appeared in Bellflower Superior Court to be charged in connection with Tuesday’s standoff, which unfolded from about 4:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. at a mobile home in the 12000 block of Rosecrans Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials.
In addition to attempted murder, prosecutors also accuse Devore of the special allegation of personally firing a rifle during the crime.
Devore, who is already on federal parole following a previous bank robbery conviction, was being sought in connection with six robberies in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, Pomona Police Sgt. Patrick O’Malley said. The investigation into those robberies, which took place in Chino, Fullerton. Diamond Bar, Rialto and Pomona, was ongoing.
Police, along with members of the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, showed up at the Rosecrans Avenue mobile home searching for Devore.
“As authorities attempted to arrest Devore at a Norwalk mobile home park, he barricaded himself in a trailer,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “Contreras was with him.”
“During the standoff with sheriff deputies, a series of shots were fired at law enforcement,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “After several hours, Contreras surrendered to officials. Deputies then fired tear gas
into the trailer, which made Devore leave the home and he was immediately taken into custody.”
Devore was expected to appear in court for an arraignment June 26 in Norwalk Superior Court, while Contreras was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Bellflower Superior Court.
According to county booking records, the suspects were being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each.
District attorney’s officials said prosecutors will request that Devore’s bail amount be increased to $3.2 million, and Contreras’ bail raised to $2 million.
NORWALK >> Authorities Saturday released the name of a 16-year-old Norwalk boy who died following a stabbing earlier in the week.
Micah Maurice Hatten, 16, died at St. Francis Medical Center shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, according to Los Angeles County coroner and sheriff’s officials. He was fatally wounded about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in a stabbing near Leffingwell Road and Gard Avenue.
An attacker or attackers arrived in a vehicle before the deadly confrontation, sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said. No suspect description was available, and no suspects were in custody.
The wounded teen clung to life at the hospital, and was revived by doctors multiple times after losing vital signs, before ultimately succumbing to his injuries early the following morning, officials said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
NORWALK — Two boys and a man suffered minor injuries Wednesday when an attacker opened fire on them with a shotgun at Norwalk Park, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 7:30 p.m. at the park, 13000 Clarkdale Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said.
Three male victims, described as two juveniles and an adult, suffered “very minor” injuries from the shotgun blast, Skeen said. It was unclear what type of shot the shotgun they were attacked with had been loaded with.
The shooter was believed to have fled the scene in a dark-colored car, Skeen said. It was not known how many attackers took part in the shooting, and the motive was not immediately clear.
A detailed suspect description was not available.
UPDATE — The stabbing victim, identified by coroner’s officials as 16-year-old Micah Maurice Hatten of Norwalk, died from his injuries at St. Francis Medical Center about 10 hours after being stabbed.
A teen was fighting for his life at a hospital Wednesday after he was critically wounded in a stabbing near Norwalk High School, authorities said.
The stabbing took place about 3:30 p.m. at Leffingwell Road and Gard Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said. Despite the close proximity of the stabbing scene to Norwalk High School, the young victim was not initially believed to be a student of the campus.
A vehicle approached and a suspect or suspect exited before confronting and attacking the victim, Skeen said.
No suspects were in custody as the investigation continued.
Investigators withheld further details of the incident Wednesday evening as they continued gathering clues.
The badly wounded victim lost vital signs and was revived several times as he underwent surgery at an area hospital, Skeen said.