West Covina police officer wounded in gunfight returns to duty

0820_NWS_SGT-L-OFFICER
WEST COVINA >> A West Covina police officer wounded in a gunfight with a suspect returned to duty this week after recovering from his injuries.
Officer Kenny Benitez was allegedly shot by 47-year-old Jose Luis Chavez during a May 20 confrontation on Yaleton Avenue, just north of Badillo Street, according to West Covina police and Los Angeles Count sheriff’s officials. Chavez, who was also wounded in the encounter, was captured in nearby Valinda following a six-day manhunt, faces charges of attempted murder of a police officer, assault on a police officer with a semi-automatic firearm and possession of a gun by a convicted felon.
The West Covina Police Department’s briefing room was extra crowded Thursday night as fellow officer and other colleagues attended the briefing to welcome Benitez back to his first shift after three months of recovery, West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said.
“Ken was severely injured when he was shot in May and his quick recovery is nothing short of miraculous under the circumstances,” the chief said.
0820_NWS_SGT-L-OFFICER2“Officer Benitez is a strong young man and was driven to return back to work in support of his fellow officers in the field,” Faulkner said. “We are very proud of Officer Benitez and how he handled this injury. Ken has set a solid example for our personnel for many years to come.”
Benitez has been a police officer for nine years, and had worked with the West Covina Police Department of a little over a year at the time of the shooting.
Benitez approached Chavez as he walked with a woman, pushing a bicycle, when Chavez pulled a handgun and opened fire multiple times, officials said. Benitez was wounded but returned fire.
The alleged shooter, later identified as Chavez, initially escaped the scene but was captured by a sheriff’s SWAT team the following week in the unincorporated county area of Valinda. He was found to have a days-old gunshot wound to his arm.
Chavez has yet to enter a plea to his charges in connection with the shooting of Benitez.
His arraignment hearing has been postponed four times, and his now scheduled to take place Sept. 6 in West Covina Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Chavez is also scheduled to be sentenced for another criminal case on Sept. 6, she said. He pleaded “no contest” in April to possession of drugs for sale, bringing contraband into a jail and possession of a switchblade knife. That case was first filed in December of 2015.

PHOTOS: [ABOVE] West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner, left, welcomed Officer Kenny Benitez back to duty on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, on his first night of patrol following after being wounded in a gunfight with a suspect three months ago. [BELOW] Jose Luis Chavez (Courtesy, West Covina Police Department)

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man killed by off-duty LAPD officer during alleged robbery attempt at Covina Carl’s Jr. identified

Covina police and detectives investigating shooting that happened inside Carl Jr. and Green Burrito building in Covina. An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department reserve officer fatally shot a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint inside a fast-food restaurant, officials said.The shooting occurred Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at Carl’s Jr., 573 N. Azusa Ave., Covina police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said. The off-duty reserve officer had stopped in for lunch when a suspected gunman approached and apparently tried to rob him, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said. “The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect brandished a weapon at the off-duty officer, who then shot the suspect in the upper torso,” Peterson said. The sergeant said the suspect was struck multiple times.Paramedics pronounced the wounded man dead at the scene, according to fire department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores.His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family members, authorities said.Covina police are handling the investigation into the incident. The name of the involved off-duty LAPD officer was not released Wednesday.(Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

(Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

COVINA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a 19-year-old man who was fatally shot by an off-duty reserve Los Angeles police officer during an alleged armed robbery attempt at a Covina Carl’s Jr. restaurant last week.
Victor Vidal Sigala died at the scene of the shooting, which took place just before 3:15 p.m. on July 6 at the restaurant at 573 N. Azusa Ave., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Mario Sainz said. His city of residence was unclear.
The off-duty LAPD officer was having lunch when Sigala approached him and brandished a handgun an apparent robbery attempt, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The officer drew his own weapon and shot Sigala, mortally wounding him, police said.
The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene, LAPD officials said. The identity of the involved officer was not released.
There was no indication the officer and Sigala knew one another prior to the shooting, Peterson said.
Covina and Los Angeles police are working together to investigate the shooting.
Anyone with information can reach the Covina Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Officials: Off-duty LAPD officer fatally shoots armed robber at Covina Carl’s Jr.


COVINA >> An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department reserve officer fatally shot a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint inside a fast-food restaurant, officials said.
The occurred just before 3:15 p.m. at Carl’s Jr., 573 N. Azusa Ave., Covina police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The off-duty reserve officer had stopped in for lunch when gunman approached and apparently tried to rob him, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
“The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect brandished a weapon at the off-duty officer, who then shot the suspect in the upper torso,” Peterson said.
The sergeant said the suspect was struck multiple times.
Paramedics pronounced the wounded man dead at the scene, according to fire department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores.
His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family members, authorities said.
Covina police are handling the investigation into the incident.
The name of the involved off-duty LAPD officer was not released Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628, or the watch commander at 626-384-5665. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man charged with shooting of West Covina police officer

0522_NWS_SGT-L-WCOIS

WEST COVINA >> Prosecutors charged a man with attempted murder of a police officer and other charges Wednesday in connection with the shooting of a West Covina police officer during a gun battle last month.
Jose Luis Chavez, 47, of West Covina, is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatics firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
After fleeing the scene of the May 20 shooting along Yaleton Avenue, just north of Badillo Street, Chavez remained a fugitive for six days before a SWAT team found and arrested him inside a residential garage in Valinda early on May 26, authorities said.
Chavez entered no plea Wednesday, Risling said. He was scheduled to return to the West Covina branch of the Los Angeles County Superior Court Thursday for arraignment.
West Covina police Officer Kenny Benitez suffered a through-and-through gunshot wound to his abdomen in the shooting, West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said. He has since been released from the hospital and is continuing his recovery at home.
Chavez was pushing a bicycle, accompanied by a woman, when the officer thought him suspicious and approached him, according to police Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting West Covina police in the investigation.
Chavez ran, sheriff’s officials said. Following a short foot chase, Chavez pulled a handgun and began shooting at the officer, who returned fire.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspect — later identified as Chavez — was wounded in the exchange of gunfire. But upon his arrest nearly a week later, investigators noted he was an apparent gunshot wound to his arm.
Lt. Steve Jauch of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Chavez, who is on felony probation under AB 109 guidelines following a previous conviction, has a lengthy and violent criminal record.
If convicted as charged, Chavez could spend the rest of life in state prison, Risling said.
Chavez was being held without bail, records show.

PHOTO of Jose Luis Chavez, 47, of West Covina courtesy of the West Covina Police Department.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: West Covina police officer wounded in gunfight; gunman sought

0522_NWS_SGT-LWCOIS01

WEST COVINA >> A manhunt continued Saturday for a gunman who shot and wounded a West Covina police officer Friday night, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 11:20 p.m. along Yaleton Avenue, just north of Badillo Street.
“There is an officer down. He was struck by gunfire,” Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
The officer had approached the gunman as he rode a bike through the neighborhood, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The contact (led) to a gun fight between the officer and the suspect,” Schrader said. “At that time, the officer sustained a gunshot wound to the upper torso.”
0522_NWS_SGT-L-WCOISIt was unclear whether the assailant — later identified by sheriff’s investigators as 47-year-old Jose Louis Chavez, had been wounded in the exchange of gunfire.
Sheriff’s deputies, as well as officers from police agencies throughout the region rushed to the scene to help in a search for the suspect, who remained at large Saturday afternoon. Police K-9s, bloodhounds, helicopters and three SWAT teams joined in the search.
“We had help from pretty much every agency in the San Gabriel Valley,” West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said.
Officials wound down their neighborhood search Saturday afternoon. The suspect remained at large.
Chavez is described as Latino, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 225 pounds, with his left eyebrow pierced, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “He should be considered armed and dangerous.”

Suspect's bicycle on it's side on Yaleton Ave. a few yards north of Badillo St. in West Covina, Saturday, May 21, 2016. This was during a large manhunt for a suspect who shot a West Covina Police officer the night before. (Mike Mullen photo)

Suspect’s bicycle on its side on Yaleton Ave. a few yards north of Badillo St. in West Covina, Saturday, May 21, 2016. (Mike Mullen photo)

The wounded officer, a 9-year law enforcement veteran with more than an year on-duty with the West Covina Police Department, was expected to survive, Faulkner said.
The bullet struck the officer in the abdomen, beneath his bullet-proof vest, the chief said. It penetrated through the officer and exited his body.
Remarkably, “The round didn’t hit any of his major organs,” the chief said.
“At this point, certainly, I can say that God was on his side.”
Initial plans for emergency surgery were placed on hold, and possibly cancelled, after it was discovered the officer’s major organs were spared by the bullet, he said.
The officer was conscious, alert and in good spirits at a hospital Saturday, accompanied by family members, Faulkner said. His identity was not released.
“He’s experiences, respected and he did a great job under the circumstances,” Faulkner said of the wounded officer.
The chief also praised the work of officers and deputies in the aftermath of the shooting and thanked the community for an outpouring of support.
Further details, including a detailed suspect description, were not available.
Badillo Street remained shut down between Sunset and Orange avenues, as well as Sunset Avenue at Badillo Street, as the investigation and manhunt continued Saturday afternoon.
Anyone with information can reach sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are assisting West Covina police in the investigating, at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Man killed by police after stealing West Covina police car, leading cops on chase to Glendale identified


GLENDALE >> Authorities Wednesday released the identity of a man fatally shot by West Covina police after stealing a police car and leading officers on a wild chase that ended in Glendale as television news cameras broadcast the incident live.
Man killed by police after stealing West Covina police car, leading cops on chase to Glendale identified
Gevork Alachadzhyan, 45, of North Hollywood died at the scene of Sunday’s 10:30 p.m. officer-involved shooting in the 100 block of South Glendale Avenue, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
But sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are handling the officer-involved shooting investigation, placed a “security hold” on the case at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The security hold prevents coroner’s officials from releasing any information about the case, Winter said.
The reason for detectives’ decision to block the release of information was unclear. The handling detective at the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau declined to discuss the case Wednesday.
In a recording of police radio traffic from the pursuit, the driver — later identified as Alachadzhyan — can be heard screaming, sometimes unintelligibly, into the microphone.
AUDIO: West Covina police radio recording
“I’d rather take the car,” the man yells at one point.
“The police are gonna kill me,” he continued.
West Covina police chased Alachadzhyan, who activated the stolen squad car’s emergency lights and sirens, at high speeds before using a PIT maneuver to spin the car out. News helicopters filmed as a police SUV smashed broadside into the stolen cruiser, pinning it.
“The officers saw the suspect making efforts to remove weapons positioned between the passenger and driver’s seat,” officials from the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “Fearing the suspect was arming himself, both officers discharged their weapons.”
The suspect died at the scene, officials said. No officers were hurt.
Authorities said the suspect stole the West Covina police car after an officer responded to a call for service 200 block of Barranca Parkway in West Covina, but ultimately determined no crime had occurred, officials said.
The officer offered the man a ride to the east end of town, according to the statement.
Once the officer let the man out of the car, “the suspect ran to the driver’s door and assumed control of the vehicle,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“The transporting officer attempted to regain control of the police vehicle. The suspect began driving with the officer near the driver’s side window, but the officer was unable to regain control of the police vehicle.”
Fellow officers soon spotted the stolen police vehicle and initiated the chase.
In addition to numerous convictions for petty theft, receiving stolen property, DUI and driving without a license, Alachadzhyan was convicted in 2013 of possession of a machine gun, being a felon in possession of a gun, drug possession and possession of drugs for sales, records show.
Other convictions include contempt of court and false impersonation of another, according to court records. At the time of Wednesday’s chase and fatal shooting, Alachadzhyan had a case pending against him on charges of hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license and driving without a valid license.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Teens shot by off-duty LAPD lieutenant during alleged San Gabriel burglary in stable condition

8SAN GABRIEL >> Two teenage burglary suspects shot by an off-duty Los Angeles police lieutenant during a break-in at his home had been upgraded to stable condition at a hospital Friday as the investigation continued, authorities said.
The two wounded suspects, both 17, were ultimately arrested along with two other 17-year-old boys following the shooting, which took place about 10 a.m. at the off-duty officer’s home in the 600 block of Los Olivos Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eddie Hernandez said.
Both wounded suspects were hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday, the lieutenant said. “They are expected to survive their injuries.”
All four suspects were expected to face charges of burglary.
The off-duty officer was awakened by noises inside his home when he encountered two of the teenage burglars, sheriff’s officials said.
He armed himself with a non-department-issued 9mm pistol and encountered the two intruders, Hernandez said. They fled from the home through the kitchen window, which is also believed to be how they broke in.
The homeowner yelled through the window at the fleeing suspects to stop, Hernandez said.
“He saw one of the suspects reach for his waistband and turn towards him,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The off-duty officer fired at the suspect reaching for his waistband, striking both of the teens, Hernandez said. One was struck in the abdomen and leg, while the other was struck in the abdomen. Both continued fleeing.
One of the wounded teens was soon found and arrested nearby, officials said.
The second wounded suspect was brought to a hospital, along with another teen, shortly after the shooting, Hernandez said.
Another teen, who dropped the wounded teen and the other suspect off at the hospital, was found and taken into custody later in the day, Hernandez said.
No weapon linked to the suspects had been recovered Wednesday, he said.
It was not clear Wednesday whether the two suspects arrested after taking the wounded suspects to the hospital were present at the time of the burglary, Hernandez said.
Los Angeles police officials and sheriff’s investigators declined to release the name of the involved officer Wednesday.
Detective Meghan Aguilar described the off-duty officer as a lieutenant assigned to the LAPD’s Pacific division with 29 years of experience.
The lieutenant has been placed on administrative leave pending investigations by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, the LAPD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, officials 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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

West Covina police fatally shoot suspect in Glendale following chase in stolen police car


GLENDALE >> West Covina police shot and killed a man who stole a police car, then led officers on a pursuit that ended in Glendale late Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. in the 100 block of South Glendale Avenue, just south of Broadway, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are handling the investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
“The suspect, a male adult, was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
No officers were hurt in the incident.
In a drama broadcast by television helicopters, officers pursued the stolen cruiser with its lights flashing at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour until a police SUV crashed into its driver’s side door to bring it to a halt.
Further details were not immediately available.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Monterey Park attempted murder suspect wounded in gun battle with police officer in East L.A.


EAST LOS ANGELES >> Monterey Park police shot and wounded an attempted murder suspect during a gunfight in an East Los Angeles Wednesday, authorities said.
Monterey Park police Lt. Carrie Mazelin said officers located the suspect and the shooting occurred about 9:25 a.m. in the area of Woods Avenue and Escuela Street.
The suspect, a 34-year-old Monterey Park man, suffered a single gunshot wound to his torso and was expected to survive his wounds, according to Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is spearheading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. He’s also suspected of shooting and wounding an active duty U.S. Marine outside a Monterey Park convenience store earlier in the week. His name was not available late Wednesday as he remained hospitalized.
OIS2No officers were hurt, but an officer’s patrol car was struck by gunfire, officials said.
Capt. Steve Katz of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Monterey park officers were following up on the previous shooting when the shooting took place.
“There were involved in identifying and tracking down a violent criminal who had committed an attempted murder in their city,” Katz said.
A Monterey Park officer spotted the suspect riding a bike in the area of 4th Street and Woods Avenue, Corina said. The suspect pulled a handgun and began shooting at the officer.
The officer did not initially return fire for fear of collateral damage in a nearby residential neighborhood, Corina said. The officer followed the suspect as he headed south on Woods Avenue from 4th Street, still riding a bicycle.
As the suspect and officer approached Escuela Street, the suspect again began firing at the officer, the lieutenant said.
Corina said the officer then did shoot back, firing multiple shots through the windshield of his patrol car, Corina said.
One bullet struck the suspect in the abdomen, Corina said. He fell wounded and was quickly taken into custody.
The man was wanted in connection with a shooting that left a U.S. Marine who was on leave wounded outside a Monterey Park 7-Eleven store earlier this week.
The attack took place about 2:45 a.m. Sunday at the convenience store, 281 E. Pomona Blvd., along Monterey Park’s southern border, Monterey Park police Sgt. Dave Elliot said.
The victim and a friend arrived at the store and were confronted by a man in the parking lot, the sergeant said.
“Some words were exchanged when the suspect brandished a firearm and shot the victim one time,” Elliot said.
The victim, who was struck in the abdomen, was hospitalized, Elliot said. An update on his condition was not available.
Witnesses described the shooter as a Latino man in his 20s, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants, carrying a dark-colored handgun, Elliot said. “The suspect was seen fleeing the parking lot on a bicycle.”
Corina said the suspect had been acting belligerent and trying to start fights with other patrons as well before the Marine and his friend, a fellow Marine, arrived at the convenience store, Corina said. It was unclear whether the suspect was intoxicated at the time.
A revolver and bicycle recovered at the scene of Wednesday’s gunfight between the suspect and police officer were believed to be the same used in Sunday morning’s shooting, Corina said.
Anyone with information regarding Sunday’s shooting is asked to contact Monterey Park police Detective Han at 626-307-1246.
Anyone with information regarding Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting can reach 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.

OIS1

VIDEO, PHOTO by Walt Mancini

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Suspect fatally shot, deputy struck by vehicle in Cerritos


CERRITOS >> Deputies fatally shot a man after he struck a sheriff’s deputy with a car at a Cerritos intersection Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The suspect, described only as a man, died at a hospital following the 5:14 p.m. deputy-involved shooting at Alondra Boulevard and Studebaker Road, just outside of Cerritos College, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
The deputy, assigned to the sheriff’s Cerritos Station, was patrolling through the parking lot of a 7-Eleven when he saw a white Acura Integra parked near a gas pump and checked the car’s license plate, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. The car had been reported stolen in Whittier.
As the deputy approached the car, with the suspect sitting behind the wheel, he heard the engine start, officials said.
“At some point, the vehicle accelerated, struck the deputy, at which time, a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The deputy was released from the hospital later in the day, officials said. The suspect, who succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, was not identified Wednesday.
Peter Serna, a student at nearby Cerritos College, said it appeared the deputy had the suspect pulled over before the shooting occurred. The deputy ordered the driver to get out of his car when the vehicle lunged forward.
“The man tried to strike the police officer with his car,” Serna said. “The officer fired five shots and then they tried performing CPR on the man.”
It appeared the suspect’s car struck the deputy’s hip or leg, Serna said.
California Highway Patrol officials shut down the Alondra Boulevard offramps from the 605 Freeway, as well as the westbound 91 Freeway connector road to the northbound 605 Freeway, as deputies continued their investigation Wednesday evening.
The fatal deputy-involved shooting took place one day after a man was shot to death in a suspected gang-related shooting at a 7-Eleven store at the same intersection, but across the city border in Norwalk, Lt. Victor Lewandowski of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The identity of Tuesday afternoon’s shooting victim was not released Wednesday.
Investigators described the killers as two Latino men in their late-teens to early-20s. Lewandowski said a dark-colored Chevrolet sedan and a white SUV-type vehicle were seen leaving the area following the gunfire.
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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email