Car-to-car shooting reported in Pasadena


PASADENA >> An attacker in a car shot at another driver in Pasadena Friday, causing the victims to crash his car but not striking him with gunfire, police said.
The shooting too place just after 6 p.m. on Los Robles Avenue, between Mountain and Jackson streets, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
A man in his 20s was driving, with a woman in her 20s riding as a passenger, when the attacker opened fire from another vehicle, initially described only as a sedan, the lieutenant said.
The man and woman were not struck by bullets, but the shooting caused him to lose control of his car, which side-swiped several parked cars, Carrillo said.
The driver was treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash, he added.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Gang member sentenced for Pasadena crash that killed two during police chase on Christmas, 2012

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PASADENA >> A judge sentenced a gang member to more than three decades in prison for killing an 11-year-old boy and his 25-year-old cousin when he crashed an SUV into their family’s minivan in Pasadena on Christmas Day of 2012.
The Pasadena jury found Darrell Lee Williams, 25, guilty in November of two counts of manslaughter and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash at Marengo Avenue and Maple Street, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago. The conviction was his third strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. He was acquitted of a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dorothy L. Shubin sentenced Williams to 30 years to life in prison, Santiago said.
Killed were Tracey Ong Tan of Glendale and Kendrick Ng of Daly City. Ng was visiting relatives for the holidays. Ng’s parents and sister suffered serious injuries.
Williams was fleeing from an FBI SUV, driven by an FBI agent with a Pasadena police officer riding as a passenger, that had tried to pull over the Dodge Durango Williams was driving, authorities said.
“Williams refused to stop because he had a firearm in the SUV while on parole and a high-speed chase began,” Santiago said in a written statement.
William’s girlfriend and passenger in the fleeing SUV, 23-year-old Brittany Washington of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2014 and received a two-year jail sentence, officials said.
The fatal pursuit occurred as Pasadena police and FBI agents were conducting gang-suppression patrols following the fatal shooting of community youth coach and sheriff’s department employee Victor McClinton, 49, of Pasadena earlier on the same deadly Christmas Day in Pasadena.
A Los Angeles jury continued deliberating Friday in the case of alleged gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, accused of gunning down McClinton with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member.
The trial is the second for Bishop and Harris after a jury failed to reach a verdict in their first trial last July.

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New York man accused of selling bogus Lakers tickets in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Pasadena Police arrested a New York man Tuesday after he sold fake tickets to Wednesday night’s highly anticipated Lakers game — Kobe Bryant’s last ever.
Rahiem Adrian Watts, 27, was booked on suspicion of grand theft, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A 22-year-old Fontana man had arranged to meet the suspect via the online classified board Craigslist to buy four highly sought-after tickets to Wednesday’s Lakers game at the Staples Center for $1,300, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The victim and his friends met Watts at a Pasadena coffee shop to buy the tickets about 8:30 p.m.
But once the suspect was gone, the victim noticed the tickets didn’t appear authentic.
They called the seller back pretending to be another buyer, the lieutenant said. Watts offered to sell them the very same seats they had just supposedly purchased.
The victims reported the incident to police, who arranged a meeting of their own with the suspect, Luna said.
Officers met Watts in the area of Euclid Avenue and Walnut Street, near the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Pasadena courthouse, coincidentally.
He fled from police, discarding phony Lakers tickets along the way, Luna said. Officers captured him following a short foot chase.
According to booking records, Watts was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance at Pasadena Superior Court, near the scene of his arrest.

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Mexican Mafia, El Monte gang leaders guilty in federal racketeering case

EL MONTE >> Two leaders of El Monte’s primary street gang, one of whom is also a Mexican Mafia member, pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges this week after admitting their roles in violently extorting “tax” payments from local drug and fraudulent document dealers, authorities announced Saturday.
Mexican Mafia and El Monte Flores member James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 53, along with El Monte Flores “shotcaller” Kenneth Cofer, 36, both of El Monte, accepted plea deals Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles in connection with a 61-count indictment targeting 41 members of the El Monte Flores gang that was unsealed in July of 2014, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement.
“Street gangs present one of the most dangerous criminal elements in Southern California, and we will use every tool at our disposal to restore order to neighborhoods affected by their violence and other criminal activity,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker said.
“We have effectively targeted criminal enterprises that operate as street gangs for two decades, using the federal racketeering statute to dismantle the leadership structure and incarcerate street-level operatives,” she said.
If the plea arrangements are accepted by U.S. District Judge John A. Krondstadt, Gutierrez and Cofer will each receive a sentence of 15 years in federal prison, according to DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek.
Gutierrez is scheduled to be sentenced July 28, while Cofer is due to face sentencing on Sept. 8, officials said. Nineteen other defendant named in the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act indictment have already pleaded guilty in the case.
Both men pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the RICO Act, as well as conspiring to distribute controlled substances, including methamphetamine and heroin, and conspiring to launder money, Mrozek said. Cofer also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug crime.
“The indictment in the case alleged that members of the El Monte Flores gang members committed crimes that included acts of violence — ranging from battery to murder, drug trafficking, robbery, burglary, carjacking, witness intimidation, kidnapping, weapons trafficking, credit card fraud, identity theft and money laundering,” Mrozek said. “The indictment outlined a dispute between Gutierrez and other members of the Mexican Mafia who were vying for control over the gang.”
Gutierrez and Cofer each admitted using threats of violence to extort “taxes” from drug dealers and fraudulent document dealers at Crawford’s Plaza, near Valley Boulevard and Garvey Avenue.
“Gutierrez acknowledged in his plea agreement that he authorized an attack on a rival gang member,” according to Mrozek. “Cofer specifically admitted that he authorized the shooting of a person who had a dispute with another member of the gang.”
The gang allegedly held meetings and sold drugs out of the nearby Boys and Girls Club on Mountain View Road, which was subsequently shuttered by the organization’s board of directors in August of 2014, about a month after the RICO indictment targeting El Monte Flores was unsealed.

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$20,000 reward offered in the 2015 murder of Altadena man in Pasadena

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PASADENA >> The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $20,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of those responsible for the murder of an Altadena man last December.
Robert Arthur Calderon, 27, was gunned down about 10:45 p.m. on Dec. 18 in the 600 block of North Mentor Avenue, according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County coroner officials. The case remains unsolved.
Raised in the Altadena and Pasadena areas, Calderon attended St. Elizabeth Parish School in Altadena, then St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena High School before ultimately obtaining his diploma from Pasadena City College, his mother, Sarah Mendoza-Jaime, said.
His family has worked tirelessly to seek justice ever since Calderon’s slaying, posting flyers near the crime scene and at Calderon’s hang-outs.
“On behalf of Robert Arthur Calderon’s family we want to thank Mike Antonovich and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for making the funds available to assist in my sons murder,” said Mendoza-Jaime, a longtime program coordinato at the Foothill Workforce Development Board in Pasadena.
“Our hopes are that by offering a reward the public will come forth and assist in finding those responsible for his heinous murder,”sje said.
Mendoza-Jaime said she had been trying to get an award established through Pasadena officials for months with no success. When the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered an award this week, she said she asked the city about contributing as well, to no avail.
“Through this process of grieving I have found that the Pasadena Police Department’s advocacy for parents is lacking for victims of homicides and more services should be provided to assist grieving parents and their families,” she said. “Fortunately, through my own effort I have learned about information such as Crime Stoppers, Victims of a Crime, Justice For Homicide Victims, Justice or Murdered Children, LA County Board of Directors Reward Request, and Clear Channel.”
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police Detective Tim, Bundy at (626) 744-3861 or the Pasadena Police Department at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of Robert Calderon, courtesy.

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Shooting reported at Villa Parke in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Gunfire erupted at Villa Parke in Pasadena Saturday afternoon, but both the attackers and their intended targets fled the scene before police arrived, officials said.
The shooting took place about 1:50 p.m. along Garfield Avenue between Parke and Villa Streets, along the western edge of the park, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
“We received numerous calls of shots fired at the park,” he said.
Witnesses told police that the shooter approached a group of four to five men in their 20s or 30s on foot, Mercado said.
“There were words exchanged between the suspect and the victims, and then the suspect opened fire on them,” the lieutenant said.
The intended targets of the shooting scattered and ran, he said. The gunman ran north on Garfield Avenue and got into the front passenger seat of a waiting getaway car parked on Parke Street.
Officers were not able to find either the victims or suspects, Mercado said. No area hospital reported receiving no gunshot wound victims connected to the incident.
Mercado said the shooter was described as a man in his 20s, of unknown race, with a dark complexion, wearing a red baseball cap, red shorts and a white T-shirt. He was armed with a dark-colored, semi-automatic handgun.
The getaway car was a gray, early-2000s-model, four-door Nissan sedan, Mercado said. It was driven by a Latino man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, with “puffy” hair, wearing a gray T-shirt.
A third person also rode in a rear passenger seat of the vehicle, Mercado said. A detailed description was not available.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Elderly West Covina woman fatally struck by backing truck identified

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WEST COVINA >> An off-duty firefighter tried to help an elderly woman Thursday afternoon after she had been backed over by a truck in a parking lot at the Eastland Center in West Covina.
On Friday, authorities identified the woman as 83-year-old Virginia Pritchard, who died at the scene of the incident.
A flatbed truck hauling metallic gas cylinders struck the woman while she was walking with her adult daughter through the parking lot in between a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and a Chili’s Grill & Bar at the Eastland Center shopping mall, West Covina police and witnesses said.
The women were on their way to have lunch at the nearby BJ’s. They were regular customers at both restaurants.
The driver of the Airgas flatbed truck remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators. No arrests were made. The West Covina Police Department Traffic Divisions is handling the investigation.
Off-duty Yermo Calico Fire Department firefighter-paramedic Frank Cedano stopped for lunch at BJ’s with his 15-year-old daughter Thursday afternoon. He said he was in uniform, with equipment in his personal truck, planning to head to work immediately after lunch.
As he exited the restaurant, “I saw the driver backing up. I saw the daughter yelling like crazy,” he said.
At first, Cedano thought the truck had struck another car. But when he walked around to the passenger side, he saw no vehicle.
“Then I looked down at the tires,” he said.
The elderly woman was pinned beneath the truck’s wheels, he said. She was still moving, and Cedano rushed to retrieve his gear from his truck in hopes of helping the badly injured woman. He told his daughter, Brittany Cedano, to call 911 and relay information to authorities, which she did.
When he returned to her side, “She was already gone,” Cedano said.
The violence of the impact left an impression on the seasoned firefighter.
“This was the most horrific scene I’ve ever seen,” he said. “This was a very, very, very sad scene.”
After speaking with the victim’s daughter, Cedano said he also tried to comfort the truck driver, who appeared extremely upset, Cedano said. “The driver was leaning against the wall. He was crying. Just in tears.”
Police towed the flatbed truck to be stored as evidence.
Granddaughter Samantha Schmidt, 28, said her family has been devastated by the sudden loss of Pritchard, who is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years.
“My grandma was the sweetest person,” she said. “So many people loved her.”
The daughter who accompanied Pritchard at the time suffers from psychiatric issues and lived with her mother, who looked after her, Schmidt said.
“My grandma had taken care of my aunt her whole life,” she said.
A resident of West Covina for decades, and a resident of Covina before that, Pritchard had retired in recent years from her position as the chef for Sonrise Christian School in Covina, where she made the children’s meals from scratch, her granddaughter said.
0402_NWS_SGT-L-TRUCKFOLOcropPritchard was also very involved with her church, Trinity Lutheran Church in San Dimas.
“My grandma is the epitome of a Christian woman,” Schmidt said
“She was seriously the sweetest, most giving, caring person,” she said. “She never judged anyone.”
“She’s just so wonderful, and she didn’t deserve to go that way,” Schmidt said.
No evidence of the tragic collision remained in the parking lot Friday afternoon, but a bouquet of yellow flowers and a candle sat at a nearby tree in silent tribute to the elderly woman.
Funds to help the family with services, as well as to help provide for Pritchard’s disabled daughter, are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/vex2z6ws.
Anyone with information about the collision can reach West Covina police at 626-939-8500.

PHOTOS: [TOP] Virginia Pritchard, 83, of West Covina (courtesy); [MIDDLE] Flowers and a candle at the collision scene on Friday, April 1, 2016 (By Brian Day); [BELOW] Collision scene investigation (by Keith Birmingham)

WCFATAL2

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Teenage girl attacked, robbed at Pasadena park


PASADENA >> A man attacked a teenage girl and robbed her at knifepoint at Memorial Park in Pasadena late Wednesday, authorities said.
A 17-year-old Los Angeles girl was walking through the park, 85 E. Holly Street, about 6:05 p.m. when the robber grabbed her and pulled her into the men’s restroom, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“The suspect threatened the victim at knifepoint,” he said.
He obtained the young woman’s wallet, cash, gold chain and cell phone, the lieutenant said.
After obtaining the items, the robber punched the victim in the stomach and fled north through the park toward Walnut Street, he said.
Luna said the victim declined to be taken to a hospital.
The robber was described as a black man in his 20s, about 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 8 inches tall, of thin build, wearing all dark-colored clothing.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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San Dimas man who ran Ontario tool company pleads guilty to $9 million fraud of Pasadena bank

LOS ANGELES >> A San Dimas man who served as vice president of an Ontario tool wholesale company on Wednesday admitted to federal charges of defrauding a Pasadena-based bank out of more than $9 million, authorities said.
Chung Yu Yeung, also known as Louis Yeung, 39, served as vice president of Ontario-based Eastern Tools and Equipment Inc., U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
At an appearance Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, Yeung admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, Mrozek said. He was scheduled to return to court June 20 to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder.
Between 2007 and 2012, Yeung admitted to setting up a network of shell companies, controlled by himself, to give the false illusion that Easter Tools was conducting far more business than he really was, officials said.
“Yeung admitted that the fictitious companies allowed him and other conspirators to falsely inflate Eastern Tools’ accounts receivable and financial statements in representations to East West Bank,” according to Mrozek.
After using fraudulent documents to boost his business’ line of credit, “Eastern Tools defaulted on the promissory note after East West Bank discovered the fraud, causing more than $9 million in losses to the bank, Mrozek said.
FBI and IRS agents conducted the investigation.
“This defendant went to great lengths to create the illusion of business that defrauded the victim bank out of millions, but law enforcement was able to penetrate the illusion,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “Crimes like these can threaten the stability of our financial institutions and therefore our national economy.”
Yeung was arrested in connection with the investigation in April of 2015. Alleged co-conspirator and Eastern Tools and former Equipment President Guo Xiang “David” Fan, 53, is also named in the same indictment charging Yeung. He remains at large.

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Pasadena man killed in 210 motorcycle crash identified


PASADENA >> Authorities Friday identified a 22-year-old Pasadena man who died in motorcycle crash on the 210 Freeway Thursday afternoon.
Isaias Vargas Jr. died in the collision, which took place about 4:35 p.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway at Sierra Madre Villa Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operation Ed Winter said.
Vargas was riding a 2014 Yamaha R6, between the carpool and fast lanes, and had just passed another car, prior to the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
“(Vargas) centered in the HOV lane and drove into the rear of a 2003 Dodge pickup that was slowing (and) stopping int he HOV lane due to traffic ahead,” according to the statement.
He succumbed to his injuries at the scene, Winter said.
A man, woman and three children from Lancaster riding inside the Dodge pickup truck suffered no injuries, according to CHP and Pasadena Fire Department officials.

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