Officials to stage fatal car crash to caution Pasadena teens of the dangers of DUI

PASADENA >> Officials plan to stage an elaborate and realistic-looking car crash scene in front of La Salle High School Thursday to educate teens on the dangers of drinking and driving ahead of next week’s prom, authorities said.
The “Every 15 Minutes” program will take place beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, and will require the closure of eastbound SIerra Madre Boulevard from Hastings Ranch Road to Michillinda Avenue through 10:30 a.m., Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said in a written statement.
“A realistic mock fatal collision will be staged in front of the school on Sierra Madre Boulevard, just west of Michillinda Avenue,” Hettema said. “Students will be directed to the collision scene and view participating fellow students involved in the ‘tragedy,’”
Members of the public are invited to observe the mock crash scene, as well.
“Over the course of two days, students will experience the ‘grim reaper’ of death, staged loss of fellow classmates and family grief as student participants and their families share their obituaries and deepest thoughts on the subject of drinking and driving,” Hettema said.
In addition to Pasadena police, the Pasadena Fire Department, the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner and Huntington Hospital will take part in the demonstration. A similar demonstration is held at a Pasadena High School annually.
The program began in 1995, when officials noted there was a DUI-related fatality every 15 minutes.
Since then, organizers said, that statistic has been reduced to one death every 51 minutes.
Funding is bring provided by State Farm Insurance.

Pasadena police to crack down on pedestrian-related violations

PASADENA >> Police are planning to crack down on pedestrian-related traffic violations this week.
Beginning Monday, officers will launch a week-long education and enforcement campaign targeting violations by both pedestrians and motorists that contribute to the likelihood of pedestrian-involved collisions, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said in a written statement.
About 600 pedestrians are killed each year on California roadways, officials said.
“Even one fatality is too many, but Pasadena suffered four pedestrian fatalities in the last 12 months, and each of them could have been prevented if all parties obeyed traffic laws designed to keep pedestrians safe,” Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said.
Police reminded motorists and pedestrians alike of several important California laws regarding pedestrians safety:
• Every corner is considered a crosswalk, whether marked or not.
• Drivers may not pass another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk
• Drivers may not pass a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing on either side of the roadway
• Pedestrians must obey pedestrian signals where provided
• Pedestrians may not begin to cross after a pedestrian signal begins to flash or count down
• When crossing between signalled, controlled intersections, pedestrians must use crosswalks

Two teens accused of Pasadena daytime burglary

PASADENA — Police arrested two teenage boys Saturday afternoon after finding them in the midst of a home burglary, authorities said.
The suspects — a 15-year-old Pasadena boy and a 16-year-old Rancho Cucamonga boy — were taken to juvenile hall following the 2:15 p.m. break-in at a house in the 100 block of South Craig Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
A witness called police to report seeing two intruders breaking into the home, Clawson said. Officers arrived to find “what appeared to be a kicked-in front door” and immediately surrounded the home.
Officers ordered anyone inside the home to surrender, and one of the teens complied, the lieutenant said. But the second teen ran from the home.
Police caught up with the fleeing teen and arrested him in a nearby yard, Clawson said.
The home had been ransacked, but it did not appear anything had yet been stolen, he added.

Gunman sought in Monrovia RadioShack robbery

MONROVIA — A robber who held up a Monrovia RadioShack at gunpoint Thursday may be responsible for other similar crimes in the region, authorities said.
Thursday’s robbery took place about 3:45 p.m. at the store at 340 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Sgt. Heath Harvey said.
The robber entered the store and brought a product to the register as if about to make a purchase, the sergeant said. But he then displayed a handgun and demanded money from an employee before fleeing with an unknown amount of cash.
Police described him as a white man between 38 and 42, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of average build, with possibly green eyes.
A similar suspect description was mentioned in connection with another RadioShack robbery in Pasadena exactly one month ago on Feb. 20, authorities said. Detectives were looking into whether the Monrovia robber was linked to the Pasadena crime, as well as any others in the area.
In the Pasadena robbery, a man entered a RadioShack at 3535 Foothill Blvd, brandished a handgun and demanded cash, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said at the time.
He was described as a white man in his early 40s, who was armed with a handgun.

Pasadena man accused of holding sister at knifepoint

PASADENA —A knife-wielding man briefly holed up inside an apartment after holding a knife to his sister’s throat before police persuaded him to surrender Friday afternoon, authorities said.
Jesus Ibarra, 19, of Pasadena was ultimately arrested and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
The incident began about 2:50 p.m., when officials received a report that a man had threatened his sister with a knife and held the blade to her throat at an apartment complex in the 800 block of North Euclid Avenue, according to the lieutenant.
Officers arrived to find the suspect standing on a balcony, clutching a knife in each hand, police said.
Ibarra ran into the apartment, where he remained for several minutes, before officers persuaded him to surrender without a further struggle.
The victim, a woman in her 20s, was not injured, Clawson said.
Ibarra was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail at the Pasadena Police Department jail pending his initial court appearance.

Pasadena man, West Covina man accused of torching Lexus for insurance money

PASADENA >> Investigators Friday jailed a West Covina and a Pasadena man on suspicion of reporting a car stolen from an Arcadia shopping mall, then torching it in Pasadena in an insurance fraud scheme.
Tony Martinez Jr, 26, of West Covina and Robert Luis Palacios, 44, of Pasadena, were arrested Friday morning and booked on suspicion of arson, conspiracy, insurance fraud and filing a false police report, according to Pasadena Fire Department officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Martinez owned the scorched 2008 Lexus IS 250 involved in the alleged fraud, fire spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. She described Palacios as his friend.
The arrest came following more than six weeks of investigation, which began about 8:45 p.m. Jan. 25 when Pasadena police were notified of a 2008 Lexus IS 250 which was on fire at Lincoln Avenue and Del Monte Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said at the time.
After extinguishing the flames, firefighters determined the fire was suspicious, Clawson said. A possible suspect was spotted leaving the area of the burning car.
About 45 minutes later, Martinez called police in Arcadia to report his 2008 Lexus IS 250 had been stolen from the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, according to Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo.
Investigators determined Martinez and Palacios had conspired to stage a fake car theft and torch the Lexus as part of a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, culminating in Friday’s arrests, Pasadena fire officials said.
According to county booking records, Martinez was released from custody a little more than three hours after his arrest on $50,000 bail. Palacios remained behind bars Friday in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

Ex-television dog groomer headed to prison for Pasadena arson

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PASADENA >> A Pasadena pet groomer and former reality television show star pleaded guilty Thursday to arson for torching a carport in 2012, authorities said.
Artis Willie Knox, 32, pleaded guilty to arson of an inhabited structure and identity theft charges in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He was expected to receive a prison sentence of 5 years and 8 months at an April 23 sentencing, Santiago added. Knox will also be required to register as a convicted arsonist on a statewide database.
Knox was named the 2008 “Groomer of the Year” on Animal Planet’s “Groomer Has It” TV show, and subsequently had his own Animal Planet show titled, “Beverly Hills Groomer.”
He set fire to a carport containing five cars that was attached to an apartment building where he was living in the 600 block of South Marengo Avenue on Sept. 8, 2012, according to Pasadena Fire Department officials and prosecutors.
The blaze caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage to the carport, which was attached to an occupied apartment building, as well as five vehicles inside, according to Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. Two of the vehicles were destroyed, while the other three were damaged.
Knox was initially charged with six counts of arson: one for the carport and one for each of the scorched cars.
Though he pleaded guilty to a single count of arson, he was ordered to pay restitution for the burned vehicles as well, Santiago said.
Knox ignited the arson fire because he could not afford his rent and hoped the fire would allow him to stay longer, Santiago said.
And Knox had several other suspicious fires in his past, officials said.
“He was previously investigated (for arsons), but had never been charged until now,” Santiago said.
Authorities noted suspicious fired in connection with several homes, businesses and cars, “for which he was in arrears,” Santiago said.
After winning a $50,000 and a grooming truck in the 2008 reality TV contest, Knox opened a pet grooming business in Los Angeles.
But the business closed in 2009 after experiencing a fire. No charges were filed in connection with the grooming shop fire.
In addition to the arson, Knox also pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of identity theft Thursday, officials said.
That charge stemmed from the theft of money from a woman who lived in his Marengo Avenue apartment before he moved in, Santiago explained.
The woman had made a deposit to rent a hall for a wedding, but was ultimately issued a refund by the company, Santiago said.
The check arrived in the mail after the woman had moved out and Knox had moved in, Santiago said. He cashed it.
The amount of money stolen was not available Friday.
Santiago said the handling prosecutor declined to comment on the case pending the sentencing.

— PHOTO courtesy of Jamie Nicholson/Pasadena Fire Department

Police plan checkpoints in El Monte, Pasadena

Police are planning checkpoints this month in El Monte and Pasadena.
El Monte police will conduct a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday at an undisclosed location within the city, El Monte police Officer Nick Stratis said in a written statement.
In Pasadena, police will screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses from 8 p.m. March 14 to 3 a.m. the following morning, police officials said.
Both checkpoints are being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dry, warm weather in store for Southland on heels of massive storm

A soaked Southland and the mud-covered foothills of the San Gabriel Valley will dry out over the next week as skies clear and temperatures rise to and above 80 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Scattered showers Sunday, amounting to no more than a tenth of an inch of rain, represented the tail end of the large storm that triggered mudslides and evacuations in the foothill communities of Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia, Meteorologist David Sweet of the NWS office in Oxnard said. The storm dropped about 4 inches of rain on the foothills, and as much as 10 inches along the mountain ridge line.
One Los Angeles County city saw a rainfall record for the date broken during the storm, Sweet said. Lancaster on Friday received 1.67 inches of rain, breaking the existing record of 1.40 inches, set on Feb. 28, 1978.
“We’re expecting an end to the rainfall after (Sunday),” Sweet said, “with clear to partly cloudy skies Monday through the rest of the week into Saturday.”
“We’ll gradually warm Monday through Wednesday,” he added. “By Wednesday, we’ll have highs in the mid-70s to about 80.”
High temperatures will dip just a few degrees Thursday, but rebound for the weekend.
“Friday through Saturday, highs will again be in mid-70s through lower-80s,” Sweet said.
Temperatures were expected to follow a similar pattern, though a couple degrees warmer, in the Inland Empire, according to the NWS’s San Diego office.
Meanwhile, clean-up efforts continued Sunday throughout mudslide affected neighborhoods in the foothills of the northern San Gabriel Valley.
“This morning, our crews were out in recovery mode, removing fallen tree limbs, working to reopen roads by clearing rocks and mud and performing maintenance on debris basins and channels,” said Los Angeles County Department of Public Works spokesman Kerjon Lee.
As many as 300 county public works employees took part in storm-related efforts over the weekend, he added.
And while the storm won’t end Southern California’s drought, it didn’t hurt.
“The latest stormwater capture figure is 18,000 acre-feet, enough to support the demands of 144,000 people for a year,” Lee said.

Parolee and teen arrested following pursuit through Pasadena

PASADENA — Police jailed a parolee and juvenile late Sunday after they led police on a chase while toting a loaded handgun, officials said.
Marcus McClellan, 31, of Altadena and a 17-year-old Altadena boy were arrested following the incident, which kicked off shortly after 11:30 p.m., Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
Officers tried to pull over a Honda Accord being driven by McLellan for a traffic violation at Woodbury Road and Raymond Lane, he said. But the car sped off, initiating a chase.
The fleeing Honda led police to the 1400 block of North Garfield Avenue, Clawson said. “The driver stopped the vehicle but left it in drive.
The car continued moving forward as McClellan continued to flee on foot, striking a tree, Clawson said.
The teen was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun and arrested, he added.
Police soon captured McClellan nearby in the 1500 block of North Los Robles Avenue, Clawson said. He was arrested on suspicion of evading police.
McClellan, who is on parole due to a vehicular manslaughter conviction, was being held without bail pending arraignment.