Family displaced by Christmas Eve house fire in Pasadena

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PASADENA >> A Christmas Eve fire ripped through a Pasadena home late Saturday, displacing a family of three and causing about $850,000 worth of damage, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 8:51 p.m. at a home in the 400 block of Redwood Drive, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Smoke and flames were pouring from the roof of the two-story home when firefighters arrived, she said. Three family members who lived inside the home had already gotten out safely.
Stored items in the rear of the home helped fuel the fire, which consumed “a majority of the house” before being declared extinguished 24 minutes after firefighters arrived on scene, Derderian said.
Officials estimated the fire caused about $700,000 worth of damage to the home and another $150,000 in damage to the contents inside.
The cause was under investigation.

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PHOTOS courtesy of Jamie Nicholson/Pasadena Fire Department

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Pasadena man killed in shooting identified


PASADENA >> Authorities have identified a 25-year-old Pasadena man who was killed in a shooting on Thursday night.
Brandon Douglas died at a hospital shortly after the 9:47 p.m. shooting in the 1200 block of North Fair Oaks Avenue, according to Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian.
Police responding to reports of gunfire found Douglas lying on a sidewalk suffering from gunshot wounds, Lt. Mark Goodman said.
No eyewitnesses were found, and the circumstances of the deadly shooting were unknown, he said. No suspect description was available.
Anyone with information is urged to contact 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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Man fatally shot on Pasadena sidewalk


PASADENA >> A man died late Thursday following a shooting along Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena.
The deadly shooting took place just after 9:45 p.m. in the 1200 block of North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena police officials said.
The identity of the victim was not available pending positive identification and notification of family, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said. He was initially described by Pasadena police as a man estimated to be in his 20s.
Police responded to reports of gunshots heard in the area and discovered the victim lying on the sidewalk to the west side of the avenue, between Claremont Street and Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
Pasadena Fire Department paramedics took the wounded man to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
No further information regarding the circumstances of the shooting, including a suspect description, were available Friday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact 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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Man admits 3 counts of murder, other charges, for 2014 Pasadena shooting rampage

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PASADENA >> A man pleaded guilty to three counts of murder, as well as other charges, for a 2014 assault rifle shooting rampage in Pasadena that left three people dead and two others wounded, authorities said.
John Izeal Smith, 46, of Pasadena is expected to be sentenced to 181 years to life in state prison when he returns to the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Burbank branch for sentencing on Feb. 1, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Under a negotiated plea arrangement, which took place just over two weeks before Smith’s trial was scheduled to begin, the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, one count each of second degree murder, attempted murder and assault with an assault weapon on a police officer in connection with the July 12, 2014, bloodshed in the 1700 block of North Summit Avenue, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling.
” Killed were Smith’s ex-girlfriend, 59-year-old Maria Aguiar, with whom he still lived, her 91-year-old father, Luis Aguiar, and 31-year-old Jose Hernandez Iribe, who was shot to death as he rushed toward the gunfire to help Maria Aguiar as she lied wounded in the sidewalk, according to Pasadena police.
Two other neighbors were also shot, but survived their injuries.
Smith barricaded himself inside his home and called police to report the shooting, which police said was carried out with an AK-47-style rifle.
The first arriving officer, John Woo, immediately came under fire, police said. His patrol SUV was riddled with bullets, but he was not struck.
Fellow officers placed an armored vehicle between Woo and the gunman to allow him to escape the line of fire, according to police officials and witnesses.
A police dispatcher ultimately persuaded Smith to surrender to exit the home and surrender to officers.
Smith fired more than 40 7.62x39mm rounds during the shooting spree, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said at the time.
Smith and Maria Aguiar had previously been involved in a dating relationship and were still living together at the time of the shooting, Risling said.
Smith is believed to have become became angry when Maria Aguiar confronted him about allegedly physically assaulting her mother, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said. He retrieved the rifle and began shooting.
Though the special circumstance of multiple murders made Smith potentially eligible for the death penalty, the prosecution did not seek capital punishment in the case, Risling said.
Chief Sanchez commended the work of involved officers.
“I could not be more proud of the team of detectives that committed themselves to this investigation, in particular Sgt. Carolyn Gordon who served as the lead investigator. It is through their efforts and dedication to duty that we achieve these types of outcomes,” Sanchez said in a written statement. “It is also my hope that today’s guilty plea helps to bring solace and closure to the family members that were victimized by suspect Smith on July 12, 2014.”

PHOTO by James Carbone

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Big rig crash shuts down Gold Line through Pasadena, snarls traffic on 210 Freeway

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PASADENA >> A big rig crashed through the center divider of the 210 Freeway in Pasadena and onto the Metro Gold Line tracks early Thursday, prompting lane closures on the freeway and shutting down train service through the area, authorities said.
The crash was first reported at 4:52 a.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just east of San Gabriel Canyon Road, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
The truck collided with a 2012 Nissan Alima, which overturned on the San Gabriel Boulevard onramp, crashed through a center divider K-rail and ended up sitting atop the Metro Gold Line tracks, according to CHP Officer Jonathan Pope
The driver of the big rig was unhurt, officials said. A woman at the wheel of the Altima was treated for apparently minor injuries, including pain to her arm and chest.
The cause and circumstances of the collision remained under investigation.
Officials initially shut down all eastbound lanes for a brief period, officials said. The carpool and two left lanes of the eastbound freeway remained closed through the morning commute, CHP Officer Alex Rubio said.
Train traffic was also shut down between the Lake and Sierra Madre Villa stations as a result of the crash, Metro officials said. Buses were used to transport passengers around the closed route, and passengers were cautioned to expect 15-minute delays.
It was unclear how long it would take to clear the mess.
Once the truck is moved from the tracks, officials will inspect them.
“They believe there might be damage, but the+y’re not going to be 100 percent sure until it’s moved,” Rubio said.

PHOTO courtesy of Caltrans

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Senior citizen stabbed by 14-year-old in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Police arrested a 14-year-old boy after he repeatedly stabbed a 72-year-old man in Pasadena on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Pasadena received calls about 3:49 p.m. reporting a person being stabbed on the 1200 block of E. Orange Grove Avenue, Lt. John Luna said. Officers encountered the elderly victim suffering from multiple stab wounds to his torso, back and arms.
The suspect, a 14-year-old boy, fled the location, but was found an hour later at Oakland Avenue and Walnut Street, police said.
“The suspect told a person he was a victim, and that person called the police,” Luna said.
The teen, who was identified by a witness, was arrested for attempted murder and transferred to juvenile hall.
The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment of what were ultimately found to be relatively superficial stab wounds and released the same day, Lt. Pete Hettema said.
The teenage suspect, who spent time living elsewhere before recently returning to the Orange Grove Avenue, told police he attacked the man because he recognized him as a man who had peeped on his sister in the past, Hettema said.
Police could not confirm whether the victim had any prior contact with the suspect or his family.

— Sandra Molina and Brian Day

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73-year-old woman robbed in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Police are seeking a man who attacked and robbed a 73-year-old woman in Pasadena late Saturday.
The crime unfolded about 8:40 p.m. at El Molino Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
The victim, a Pasadena resident, was walking to her car when the suspect snuck up on her, he said.
“The suspect grabbed her from behind, through her to the ground, snatched her purse and fled on foot,” the lieutenant said.
The woman suffered a scraped knee during the robbery but did not require medical treatment, he said.
Officials described the robber as a man in his 20s, about 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood covering his face.
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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Parolee accused of attempting to carjack car with children inside in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Police arrested a parolee on suspicion of attempted carjacking after he entered a parked car with two children sitting inside on Saturday morning, authorities said.
Donnie Jake Gutierrez, a 26-year-old transient, was jailed following the 8:30 a.m. incident in the 100 block of North Oak Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
A woman left her two children, ages 1 and 7, in the back seat of her car as she stopped in at a business, he said.
As the children waited for their mother to return, Gutierrez opened the driver-side door and began peering around inside the car.
The older child asked the man what he wanted, and he closed the door and walked away, Goodman said.
The child reported the encounter to his mother, who called police, according to the lieutenant. Officer found and arrested Gutierrez in the area without a struggle.
Based on “the totality of the circumstances,” police arrested Gutierrez on suspicion of attempted carjacking, Goodman said.
Gutierrez, who is on parole due to a previous conviction, was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, was expected to be held without bail pending his initial court appearance, Goodman said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Gutierrez was charged with the same crime — attempted carjacking — in January, but the case was ultimately dismissed.
Gutierrez was convicted of making criminal threats and providing false identification to police in August, records show.
He was also convicted of possession of methamphetamine and petty theft in 2014, as well as robbery in 2009.

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Pasadena man accused of DUI, hit-and-run in death of Arcadia woman denies charges


ARCADIA >> A Pasadena man accused of fatally striking an elderly woman with his pickup truck in Arcadia while drunk, then fleeing the scene, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges filed in connection with the collision, authorities said.
Prosecutors filed charges of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run against Alex Cerna, 51, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He was at the wheel of a Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickup truck when it struck a 77-year-old Arcadia woman at Baldwin and Arcadia avenues, according to Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther.
The succumbed to her injuries at a hospital. Her identity was not released Friday pending notification of her family, coroner’s officials said.
The driver fled the scene, but witnesses provided police with a description of the hit-and-run truck, including its license plate number, Crowther said.
Police found and arrested Cerna at his home in Pasadena a short time later, Crowther said. They determined he was under the influence of alcohol.
Cerna was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail pending his next court appearance, scheduled on Jan. 12.
Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call the Arcadia Police Department at 626-574-5151. Anonymous tipsters can call L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Two women and puppies rescued from San Gabriel River near El Monte

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EL MONTE >> Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies rescued two women, as well as four dogs and six puppies, who became trapped on an island in the middle of the San Gabriel River near El Monte during heavy rains on Friday morning, authorities said.
Officials first received reports about 5:20 a.m. that two women, along with their dogs, were trapped on what had become a tiny island in the middle of the San Gabriel River just north of the 60 Freeway, in an unincorporated county area near El Monte, Fire Inspector Richard Licon said.
Firefighters called on a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to help.
“Despite storm conditions, LASD Air Rescue 5 flew over the area to attempt a rescue. They saw the women clinging to debris in the river. An LASD Tactical Medic was lowered from the aircraft onto the riverbed to rescue the women,” Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“While rescuing the women the rescue crew saw a litter of puppies that belonged to the women,” she said. “The rescue crew went back into the riverbed and rescued six puppies and four adult dogs. Both women and all 10 dogs were flown to safety.”
The two women were taken to a hospital for examination and offered assistance from sheriff’s homeless liaisons, officials said.


PHOTOS/VIDEO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department

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