GLENDORA >> A man fleeing from police in a stolen car rammed a pursuing officer’s vehicle in Glendora late Saturday, prompting an officer-involved shooting, before the suspect was tracked down and arrested, authorities said.
Andrew Joseph Baltierra, 20, who was not wounded by the gunfire but was hospitalized for treatment of K-9 bites sustained during his arrest, was expected to be booked on suspicion of crimes including attempted murder of a police officer, evading police, auto theft, DUI, drug possession, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said. Baltierra’s city of residence was not clear.
The series of events began about 7:30 p.m., when an automated license plate reader notified Glendora officers that a 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck driving in the area of Grand Avenue and Arrow Highway had been reported stolen, the chief said.
Officers initiated a chase when the driver of the truck — later identified as Baltierra — refused to pull over, officials said.
Two patrol cars chased the truck for less than a mile before the fleeing driver made a “sudden and unexpected U-turn” at Bonita Avenue and Dale Road, police said.
The lead patrol car was following the truck through the U-turn when it collided nearly head-on with the second patrol car, which contained Glendora police K-9 “Bo” and his handler Staab said.
Despite the “substantial” impact, which totalled the police cruiser and caused the air bags in both vehicle to deploy, the pickup truck was still running, the chief said. The officer who was struck by the fleeing pickup truck saw the suspect again gun the engine in his direction.
“The suspect was about to ram the police car again,” Staab said. The officer fired two round from her service pistol, striking the pickup truck but not Baltierra.
The officer whose car was rammed by the suspect was treated for apparently minor injuries, Lamborghini said.
K-9 Bo appeared uninjured in the crash, Staab added.
Baltierra fled into the surrounding residential neighborhood, Lt. Rob Lamborghini said. Officers set up a search perimeter with help from neighboring law enforcement agencies.
The suspect left behind a shoe as he ran, which a Pomona Police Department bloodhound was able to use to obtain his scene and track him to a motor home in the backyard of a home about a block away about three hours later, Staab said.
Baltierra refused commands to surrender, prompting officers to send in another police dog to help apprehend him. The suspect punched and kicked the dog before the animal got the better of him and helped officers take him into custody. The police dog suffered no significant injuries.
Officials took Baltierra to a hospital for treatment of dog bites prior to booking him into jail.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Baltierra was already on probation for a previous criminal conviction prior to Saturday’s incident.
He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of formal probation after being convicted of auto theft in September of 2015, records show.
He was also convicted of possessing stolen property in May, resulting in a 90-day jail sentence, and of possession of drug paraphernalia in August of 2015, earning him a 49-day jail sentence.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police shot and wounded a suspect in the middle of a home burglary as two women who lived in the house hid in an upstairs bathroom early Saturday, authorities said.
The incident began about 4:25 a.m. when a 48-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter realized there was an intruder in their house in the 1300 block of Huntington Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Upon seeing the suspect, the women fled to the upstairs bathroom where they barricaded themselves from the approaching suspect,” according to the statement. “The suspect attempted to break through the bathroom door in an attempt to gain entry. When his attempts failed, the suspect proceeded to ransack the bottom level of the residence. The mother called 9-1-1.”
Officers rushed to the home and made their way inside, officials said.
“As the officers walked up the stairs towards the second floor, they were confronted by the suspect,” the statement said. “It was at this time that an officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect then fled from the officers towards a bedroom where he proceeded to barricade himself.”
It was unclear what prompted police to open fire on the suspect, or whether he was armed at the time.
Police cordoned off the home and used a ladder to rescue the women through the window of the bathroom in which they’d been hiding.
A sheriff’s SWAT team responded to deal with the barricaded suspect. Officials from the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau announced the suspect was in custody about 7 a.m.
“While in custody, it was discovered that the suspect had been struck in the shoulder by gunfire,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The 48-year-old suspect was treated at hospital before being booked on suspicion of burglary. His name was not released Sunday.
South Pasadena police deferred comment to sheriff’s officials, who traditionally investigate officer-involved shootings involving Los Angeles County police agencies.
The residents of the home were unharmed, and no police officials were injured during the incident, sheriff’s officials said.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau
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.
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.
“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)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
It 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.”
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.
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.
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.