Pico Rivera man sentenced for wild pursuit in El Monte

EL MONTE >> A Pico Rivera man who led police on a chase through the streets of El Monte last month has been sentenced to three years in state prison, officials said Wednesday.
Parolee Gregory Patrick Flexen, 22, received the sentence Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court after pleading “no contest” to a felony charge of evading police with willful disregard for public safety, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
El Monte police arrested Flexen Sept. 8 after he led police on a pursuit during which he drove on the wrong side of the road, and at times, at excessive speeds, officials said.
He also garnered a crowd of onlookers as he drove around city streets at slow speed, flashing hand gestures that appeared to be gang signs.
The chase began at Ranchito Street and Cypress Avenue, EL Monte police Sgt. Eric Sanchez said at the time. Flexen continued driving after his tires were punctured by police spike strips, but ultimately pulled over and surrendered at Peck Road and Elliot Avenue.

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Bullets tear through Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Pico Rivera shooting

PICO RIVERA >> Bullets ripped through a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant after an argument escalated into gunfire in front of the children’s pizza parlor late Sunday, officials said.
Though there were “quite a few” people at the restaurant, 6005 Rosemead Boulevard, when the 8 p.m. shooting occurred, no one inside was struck, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Meyer said.
“At least 13 rounds were fired,” the lieutenant said. Front windows of the restaurant were shattered by the gunfire.
Initial investigation indicated two men got into an argument in front of the restaurant just before the shots rang out, Meyer said. “Gunfire erupted between the two parties involved.”
It was unclear if either of the two was struck, he said. No shooting victims were found in the area, or at local emergency rooms.
A detailed description of the two men seen arguing prior to the shooting was not available.
Anyone with information can contact the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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One DUI suspect arrested at Pico Rivera checkpoint

PICO RIVERA >> Deputies arrested one person on suspicion of drunken driving during a checkpoint late Friday, authorities said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday on eastbound Whittier Boulevard, just west of Paramount Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to the one DUI arrest, deputies cited eight unlicensed drivers and four people driving on suspended or revoked licenses, officials said.
Four cars were impounded for 30 days, while three cars were impounded for one day and eight more were released to licensed drivers at the checkpoint.

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Checkpoint planned Friday in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA >> Sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera will hold a checkpoint Friday to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Pico Rivera, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In Los Angeles County over the past three years, DUI-related crashes have claimed 49 lives and left 1,113 people injured, officials said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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UPDATED: Pico Rivera teen and man accused of murder in stabbing death of teen’s father

PICO RIVERA >> A teenage boy previously sought as a “person of interest” in his father’s fatal stabbing in Pico Rivera was arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday, along with a second suspect, authorities said.
Detectives sought Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, 17, of Pico Rivera since his 50-year-old father was found fatally stabbed about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the family home in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Coroner’s officials have not yet released the name of the slain father, however neighbors said he was also named Sergio Gutierrez.
The teenage Gutierrez was detained Sunday morning, along with Jesus Rafael Adame, 18, by Montebello police, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Adame’s city of residence was not available.
After questioning the teen and Adame, detectives arrested them both on suspicion of murder about noon, Sgt. Sean Geske of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
The investigation was ongoing, and detectives continued seeking possible additional suspects, Geske said.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday, and no further details regarding the arrests were available.
Deputies went to the house inside a gated community after a woman described as the suspect’s mother and victim’s wife called 9-1-1 to report a robbery, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies arrived to find the elder Gutierrez mortally wounded in the family room of the home. He had been stabbed several times in the torso.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, Francisco said. It was not clear if anything had been stolen.
The teenage Gutierrez was believed to have been home, along with his mother and another woman who rented a room in the home, when the stabbing took place, Francisco said. But by the time deputies arrived at the scene, both the teen and the family car were missing.
Investigators described the teen as a “person of interest” as they sought him Saturday, stopping short of labeling him a suspect in his father’s slaying.
It was unclear Sunday whether prosecutors would seek to charge the 17-year-old murder suspect as an adult.
According to county booking records, Adame was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
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.

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UPDATED: Man stabbed to death in his Pico Rivera home; son sought as ‘person of interest’


PICO RIVERA >> A man died after being stabbed inside his home early Saturday, and his teenage son and the family car were missing, authorities said.
The fatal stabbing took place about 1:30 a.m. at a home within a gated community in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The circumstances of the slaying remained a mystery as investigators poured over the scene Saturday afternoon.
“At this time, we don’t know what happened inside this residence,” Francisco said.
Coroner’s officials did not release the name of the 50-year-old stabbing victim, however neighbors identified him as Sergio Gutierrez.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB1His son, 17-year-old Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, was believed to be home at the time of the stabbing, but has not been seen since, Francisco said. Also missing is the family car, a silver, 200 Infiniti with a California license plate of 4MAB667.
The teenage son was not considered a suspect, but was being sought for questioning as a “person of interest,” Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said.
The victim lived at the home with his wife, their son and a woman who rented a room in their home, Francisco said.
Deputies first responded to the home after victim’s wife called 9-1-1 and reported a robbery, Francisco said. Further details regarding the initial 9-1-1 call were not available.
Deputies arrived to discover the homeowner lying in the front family room of the home, suffering from several stab wounds to his torso, Francisco said. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.
There were no signs the home had been broken into or that an intruder had been present, Francisco said. It had not been determined whether anything other than the family car was missing from the home.
Deputies have visited the home more than once in the past for domestic violence calls, however further details of deputies’ previous visits to the home were not available, the lieutenant said.
Neighborhood resident Ariel Acosta, 22, said he grew up with the teenage Sergio Gutierrez.
“It’s sad. I just want to know what happened,” he said.
Acosta described the younger Gutierrez as a “calm” and “quiet” boy who loved soccer, and had previously played for El Rancho High School.
“He’s a normal kid, just like the rest of us,” Acosta said.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB2The neighbor said although he did not know the parents as well, “To me, it was a normal family.”
The father was often seen taking his son to school, or playing soccer with him in the family’s front yard, Acosta said.
Acosta said the husband and wife often walked their pet Chihuahuas in the neighborhood.
Despite Saturday’s tragedy, Acosta said he believed the neighborhood was a safe one.
“I’ve always felt safe in here. I’ve lived here 18 years,” he said.

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UPDATED: Pico Rivera man mistakenly shot and killed by sheriff’s deputy during gun battle with fleeing parolee

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PICO RIVERA >> A sheriff’s deputy was believed to have accidentally shot a Pico Rivera man Friday during a gun battle with a fleeing parolee who had broken into his home, authorities said Saturday.
A  SWAT team ultimately shot and killed the gunman after he held the homeowner’s wife hostage for eight hours, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Division Chief William McSweeney. The hostage was rescued unharmed.
Coroner’s officials did not officially identify the slain homeowner Saturday, however family members identified him as Frank Mendoza. The rescued hostage was his wife, 60-year-old Lorraine Munoz, family members said.
Parolee Cedric Ramirez, 24, of Pico Rivera was killed about 1:30 a.m. as SWAT deputies forced their way into the home in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The incident began about eight hours earlier when Ramirez fled from officials and ran into the home, engaging deputies in a shootout, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
0803_NWS_WDN-L-STANDOFF2The deadly encounter began about 5:30 p.m. Friday when sheriff’s gang deputies spotted Ramirez, a wanted parolee with two felony warrants, in the 9000 block of Reichling Lane.
“He entered the backyard of the victims’ residence where he exchanged gunfire with the deputies,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “Ramirez then broke into the victims’ home through a window.”
Pursuing deputies, fearful the occupants would be harmed, went to the home’s front door and began evacuating the residents from the house. An adult and two children were rushed from the house when Ramirez appeared in an interior hallway and began shooting at the Deputies. The Deputies returned fire and then retreated to the front yard, seeking cover,” McSweeney said.
“Within seconds of their exit, an adult male suddenly appeared in the front doorway,” the chief said. “Believing the man was Ramirez, a deputy fired two shots at the man.  The man dropped unconscious in the doorway and was subsequently recognized to be one of the residents. Preliminary information indicates those shots likely struck Mr. Frank Mendoza.”
Paramedics pronounced Mendoza dead at the scene.
Officials said Ramirez then fled into the home, taking the 60-year-old woman hostage. Nishida said. A SWAT team surrounded the home as a crisis negotiator spoke with Ramirez by telephone and tried to persuade him to surrender peacefully.
After eight hours, the SWAT team moved in.
“After an extended standoff, a Special Enforcement Bureau, special weapons team, entered the location which ended with the fatal shooting of the suspect,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. Deputies rescued the woman, and Ramirez died at the scene.
Family members of the victims and neighbors described a harrowing ordeal.
Frank Mendoza lived at the Rosehedge Drive home with his wife, four sons, and young grandchildren, daughter-in-law Tanya Mendoza said.
When the shooting began and Frank Mendoza was mortally wounded, one of his sons who was home at the time gathered his two young children and rushed them out of the home, family members said.
Deputies rushed them to cover behind a parked car, said Sandra Monge, whose 83-year-old mother and brother live next door to the involved home. They were trapped for about two hours before being evacuated by deputies through their back yard.
While continuing to trade gunfire with Ramirez, deputies pulled Frank Mendoza around the corner and out of the line of fire, neighbors said. It was there, at the corner of Lindsey Avenue and Reichling Drive, that the wounded man was pronounced dead.
Lorraine Munoz, who walks with difficulty and uses a wheelchair or cane, was not able to get out of the home.
Family members did not know Ramirez, Tanya Mendoza said, adding that it appeared he broke into a random house while fleeing deputies.
“This incident was beyond tragic, and all of law enforcement grieves with the Mendoza family,” McSweeney said. “We have made personal contact with the family, and have expressed our regret and sadness over these events.
“This investigation continues, and every aspect of this incident will be assessed for compliance with the law and Department policy,” McSweeney said.
Ramirez was in violation of his parole and being sought on warrants for being an convicted felon in possession of a firearm and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent when deputies encountered him Friday, officials said.
Los Angeles County court records show Ramirez was convicted in of possessing a loaded firearm along with narcotics in 2013, vandalism in 2008 and carrying a loaded gun in 2007.
Heartbroken family members described Frank Mendoza as a light-spirited and dedicated family man who had lived at the same home on Rosehedge Drive for 32 years.
“He was just a great guy,” sister Kathy Mendoza said.
“He was hard-working man,” she said, adding that her brother was three months away from retiring from his job working on machines for a grocery company, where he had worked since he was a young man.
In addition to his wife, he’s survived by four sons, one daughter, two step-sons and one step-daughter, Tanya Mendoza said. He had 12 grandchildren and two more on the way, and two great grandchildren.
“He was a joker. He was always willing to help,” Kathy Mendoza said.
“He was always the life of the party,” son Jeremy Mendoza said.
Tanya Mendoza thanked the community for its support following Friday’s tragedy.
The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is spearheading the investigation. As is common procedure in Los Angeles County deputy-involved shootings, the incident is also being investigated by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review.

PHOTOS: (TOP) Family members of a slain homeowner and Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators congregate in front of the home where a wanted parolee allegedly engaged deputies in a shoot-out, killing 54-year-old Frank Mendoza. Ramirez then allegedly took Mendoza’s 60-year-old wife hostage for about eight hours before he was shot and killed by a SWAT team in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive in Pico Rivera in the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. (Staff photo by Brian Day) BELOW: Frank Mendoza, 54, of Pico Rivera (right), pictured with wife Lorraine Munoz, 60. Mendoza died during a shoot-out between sheriff’s deputies and a fleeing parolee as the suspect forced his way into the couple’s home. Munoz was held hostage by the suspect for more than eight hours before a SWAT team killed him and rescued her in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive in Pico Rivera in the early morning hours on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.
(Courtesy of the Mendoza family)

BELOW:

 

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UPDATED: Bystander killed following shoot-out between suspect, deputies in Pico Rivera; stand-off ongoing

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PICO RIVERA >> A person believed to be a innocent bystander died and an armed parolee remained holed-up inside a Pico Rivera home with a hostage following a shoot-out between the suspect and deputies Friday afternoon, authorities said.
It was not clear Friday if the bystander had been shot by the suspect or struck by deputies’ gunfire, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
The incident began about 4:30 p.m. in the 9000 block of Rosehedge Drive, just east of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. Sheriff’s gang investigators had been hunting for a wanted parolee when they spotted him.
Deputies had been searching for an armed man witnesses had reported seeing in the area when they encountered the suspect, Crosthwaite said.
Sgt. Crosthwaite of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said. He declined to give his first name.
The man fled as deputies approached and ran toward the backyard of a nearby home, said Sgt. Crosthwaite of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station. He declined to give his first name.
“He turned and fired at deputies,” the sergeant said.
The deputies, who were not struck by the suspect’s bullets, returned fire, Crosthwaite said. It was not known if the suspect was wounded in the exchange.
A man exited the home with at least one gunshot wound a short time later, Crosthwaite said. The wounded person, believed to be an innocent bystander in the incident, was pronounced dead.
No deputies were injured, officials said.
0802_NWS_WDN-L-DIS1The armed parolee was believed to have a woman as a hostage as a SWAT team engaged the suspect in a standoff that continued into the evening, Nishida said.
A sheriff’s crisis negotiator had been speaking with the suspect by phone, urging him to surrender and allow his hostage to leave, officials said.
“Crisis negotiators are trying to communicate with him and have him surrender peacefully,” Nishida said.
The identity of the 24-year-old parolee was known to investigators, but withheld late Friday as the stand-off continued, she said.
There was no known connection between the suspect and the home where he was believed holed-up, Crosthwaite said.
Deputies evacuated homes along Rosehedge Drive between Rosemead Boulevard and Lindsey Avenue as the situation continued Friday night.
The Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuated residents at El Rancho High School, 6501 Passons Blvd.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Metallic balloons knock out power for thousands in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA >> More than 3,500 Southern California Edison customers lost electrical service Wednesday afternoon after metallic balloons became entangled in equipment, according to the utility.
The outage began about 2:20 p.m. in the area of Rosemead and Beverly boulevards, according to data published by SCE.
More than 3,500 customers remained in the dark as of 10 p.m., officials said.
The outage was blamed on metallic balloons interfering with equipment, and the utility estimated all power would be restored by 7 a.m. Thursday.

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Newborn boy surrendered at Pico Rivera fire station; second Safe Surrender this week

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PICO RIVERA — For the second time in three days, a mother has turned over a newborn infant to authorities under Los Angeles County’s Safe Surrender program, Supervisor Don Knabe’s office announced Friday.
A baby boy was surrendered Wednesday at a Los Angeles County Fire Department station in Pico Rivera, Knabe representatives said in a written statement.
Another newborn, a girl, was turned over to officials at a Lynwood hospital Sunday.
The Safe Surrender program was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2001, with the goal of giving mothers who are unable to care for their babies a safe, anonymous way to turn the children over to authorities, rather than potentially abandoning them.
“It’s incredible that we have had two Safe Surrenders in one week,” Knabe said. “As word continues to spread about the program, mothers in a desperate situation learn that they have a better option. Because of their courageous decisions, these babies have a chance at a new life with a loving family.”
As always, the surrendered newborns were taken into protective custody prior to being placed with foster families by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Under the Safe Surrender Program, newborn infants no more than three days old maybe anonymously handed over to officials at hospitals or fire stations, provided the infants show no signs of abuse.
Nine babies have been surrendered in Los Angeles County under the program this year, and 122 newborns have been surrendered since the programs inceptions 13 years ago.
For more information on the Safe Surrender Program, visit www.babysafela.org.

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