PICO RIVERA >> A judge sentenced an Oxnard man who fatally shot a valet and wounded a security guard at the El Rodeo nightclub to prison Wednesday, two days before the club’s owner is due in federal court to answer to charges of laundering money for drug traffickers, officials said.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Sebastian Zazueta, 22, in January of first-degree murder, as well as four counts of attempted murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The jury also found true special allegations that he personally used a gun in the crimes.
He received a sentence of 114 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brandon Wong said.
Melvin Ernesto Cortez-Ortega, 37, of Hacienda Heights died following the Sept. 22, 2013, early-morning shooting outside nightclub, 8825 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
A then-26-year-old security guard was also shot several times in the attack but survived his injuries, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators and prosecutors.
Zazueta unleashed a barrage of bullets after he got into an argument with a security guard who told him to leave the parking lot after the club had closed, Wong said.
PICO RIVERA >> A man died and two other people suffered injuries late Sunday when a pickup truck blew through a red light at a Pico Rivera intersection, triggering a three-vehicle wreck, authorities said.
A man initially described as about 60 years old died at the scene of the 8 p.m. collision at Slauson Avenue and Paramount Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Anderson said. His name was not available.
Based on the preliminary investigation, it appeared he was driving a car east on Slauson Avenue through a green light when a pickup truck headed north on Paramount Boulevard drove through a red light, Anderson said.
Following the initial impact, one of the vehicles then struck a car heading west on Slauson Avenue, the lieutenant said.
A woman at the wheel of the pickup truck was taken to a hospital in unknown condition, he said. A man driving the westbound car suffered minor injuries and was treated by paramedics at the scene.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station are handling the investigation.
PICO RIVERA >> The death of a Pico Rivera man struck and killed by a train last month has been ruled an accident by coroner’s investigators, officials said.
Matthew Anthony Rivera, 25, died at a hospital shortly after being struck by a passenger train about 5:40 p.m. Dec. 19, alongside the 9200 block of Bermudez Street, Los Angeles sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Though initially investigated as a possible suicide, an autopsy determined that Rivera died from “multiple traumatic injuries” and ruled the death accidental, coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Rivera was clipped by an eastbound passenger train while standing between two sets of tracks, officials said.
He had crossed the tracks just in front of a westbound freight train, but may have not seen the second train traveling in the opposite direction, coroner’s officials said.
Paramedics rushed Rivera to a hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
– Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.
PICO RIVERA >> Deputies this week recovered two valuable English bulldog puppies and arrested three teenage suspects who allegedly stole them at gunpoint from a Whittier Boulevard pet shop on Christmas Eve, sheriff’s officials announced Saturday.
The robbery took place Wednesday afternoon at Mr. Bulldog, 9432 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Serge Escobedo said.
A young man armed with a handgun demanded cash and the puppies before fleeing in a BMW driven by an accomplice, Escobedo said.
“Media coverage of the incident fanned public interest, which led to a crime tip about the robbery,” Escobedo said. “As a result, Pico Rivera Station detectives were called in on Christmas Day. They worked unremittingly on every lead in order to identify the suspects. Their efforts led to the execution of a search warrant on Christmas night at a residence in West Whittier. The warrant resulted in the arrest of the primary robbery suspect, who was a juvenile.”
Deputies arrested the alleged gunman, a 17-year-old West Whittier boy, on Christmas Day, Sgt. Jacqueline Sanchez said.
Further investigation led deputies to arrest the alleged getaway driver Jonathan Mora-Medina, 18, of Whittier, who turned himself in Friday at the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station, officials said.
Sanchez said deputies also arrested a 15-year-old West Whittier girl Friday as an accomplice to the armed robbery, though her alleged specific role in the crime was not available Saturday.
Both 10-week-old puppies have been recovered safe and returned to the business they were stolen from.
A woman found one of the animals wandering near her West Whittier home on Christmas Day, officials said. An unidentified person returned the second puppy to the store Friday.
According to county booking records, Mora-Medina was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
The names of the juvenile suspects were withheld due to their ages.
PICO RIVERA >> A man escaped with two English bulldog puppies and cash Wednesday after robbing a Whittier Boulevard pet shop at gunpoint, officials said.
The robbery occurred about 12:25 p.m. at Mr. Bulldog, 9432 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The robber entered the store with a handgun and demanded money and dogs from the owner, Lt. Sergio Escobedo said.
The victim complied, and the robber fled with two Enlish bulldog puppies values at $2,500 each, as well as an undetermined amount of cash, the lieutenant said.
Deputies described the gunman as a white man between 20 and 25 years old, Escobedo said. He wore a bandana over his face.
Officials were looking into reports that a light-colored sedan may have been involved in the crime, Escobedo said. No injuries were reported.
PICO RIVERA >> Coroner’s officials Sunday identified a Pico Rivera man found fatally shot beside a bicycle on a Rosemead Boulevard sidewalk early Saturday.
Matthew Albert Garcia, 26, died following the shooting, which was reported just before 6 a.m. Saturday in front of an apartment complex in the 5400 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Dana Bee said.
A passer-by found him lying on a sidewalk with gunshot wounds, Sgt. Troy Ewing of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
No suspect description was known, officials said. The shooting was believed to be gang-related.
PICO RIVERA >> Investigators sought witnesses Saturday in the slaying of a man who was found fatally shot beside a bicycle on a Rosemead Boulevard sidewalk.
The shooting took place shortly before 6 a.m. in front of the Paradise Island apartment complex, 5430 Rosemead Blvd., according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Sgt. Troy Ewing of Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau described the victim as a Latino man who appeared to be in his mid-20s.
The dead man’s identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
A passer-by found the victim lying wounded on a sidewalk in front of the apartment complex, Ewing said.
“Pico Rivera (deputies) received a call of a gunshot victim,” Ewing said.
Nearby residents heard gunshots, but none reported seeing the shooting, he said.
“There’s no suspect info, no witnesses at this time,” the sergeant said.
A white-frame bicycle with blue wheels and handlebars remained leaned against a fence Saturday morning, next to where the shooting victim was discovered.
Neighbors said they did not recognize the bicycle.
A pair of shoes, clothing and other items scattered around a pool of blood at the shooting scene were labeled with yellow evidence marker cards.
Forensic investigators scoured the scene for clues and took photographs.
Detectives were looking into the possibility the shooting was gang-related.
The shooting was one of two violent incidents reported about the same time within a mile-long stretch of Rosemead Boulevard, officials said.
A 25-year-old man showed up at the emergency room of PIH Health Hospital in Whittier with stab wounds, Lt. Sergio Escobedo of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
Deputies developed information that the stabbing occurred at or near the Knights Inn, he said, just over a mile to the south of the shooting scene at 6540 Rosemead Boulevard.
Escobedo said the stabbing victim was hospitalized in stable condition Saturday after undergoing surgery. But investigators had not yet had a chance to interview him, and no further information regarding the stabbing was available.
It was unclear if there was any connection between the shooting and stabbing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PICO RIVERA >> A man died Friday after jumping in front of a train in Pico Rivera in what was reported as a suicide, officials said.
The incident took place just before 5:40 p.m. on a set of train tracks running along the 9200 block of Bermudez Street, just northwest of the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Passons Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Sergio Escobedo said.
Rescuers loaded the badly injured man into a helicopter to rush him to a hospital for treatment, the lieutenant said. He succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Officials described the injured man as 25-year-old Pico Rivera man.
The death was being investigated as a suicide, and no foul play was suspected, Escobedo said.
The man, whose age was unclear, was believed to be despondent over the recent break-up of a relationship, Escobedo said. He had told his significant other that he was going to jump in front of a train shortly before following though on the threat. The woman notified authorities.
The incident involved an eastbound Amtrak train traveling on tracks operated by BNSF, Metrolink officials said.
Commuter train traffic on the tracks was halted for about an hour as a result of the collision, officials said.
PICO RIVERA >> A judge Friday sentenced three of four people linked to a massive real estate loan modification scheme in Pico Rivera victimizing more than 500 Spanish-speaking homeowners already in financial distress, authorities said.
The years-long investigation into the company “Safe Haven,” also known as, “Your Dreams Come True,” has resulted in four felony convictions and the disbarment of an attorney, Sgt. Dana McCants of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau said in a written statement. Another suspect in the case remains a fugitive.
The investigation began in September of 2009 in response to customer complaints about the company, located on Slauson Avenue, officials said. Many of the victims sought out the fraudulent company for help after hearing advertisements on Christian Spanish radio.
“Safe Haven posed as a loan modification and foreclosure consultant company, but the entire premiss of their business was a scam,” McCants said.
“The Real Estate Team responded to the Safe Haven business office in Pico Rivera and served search warrants which led to the seizure of thousands of fraudulent documents and paperwork,” McCants said. “All the homes were being foreclosed on and all of the victims money had been taken (or) misused by the suspects.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office ultimately filed fraud charges against five suspects in May of 2010, officials said.
Safe Haven Executive Director, who previously denied any wrongdoing, accepted a plea deal in the case in September, along with co-defendants Alex Canjura, Erika Perez and Oswaldo Flores, McCants said. Canjura received a 5-year prison sentence immediately following his plea.
Jurado, Perez and Flores, who have been free on bail, were sentenced Friday.
Jurado and Canjura each received a 5-year-prison sentenced, McCants said. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced Perez and Flores to 16 months in county jail each.
The convicts were also ordered to pay $4.5 million in restitution.
Prior the filing of criminal charges, Jurado denied any wrongdoing, saying the company was merely, “behind on the files.”
A fifth suspect in the fraud case, Candy Cabrera, fled from Canada upon learning she was to be extradited back to California to face charges, McCants said. She is believed to be hiding out in Nicaragua.
An attorney involved with the bogus loan modification company, Tanmay Mistray, was disbarred after being accused of 13 counts of professional misconduct, McCants added.
— Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.
PICO RIVERA >> Deputies subdued and arrested a psychologically troubled man following a six-hour standoff early Saturday after he shot passers-by with a crossbow in Pico Rivera, authorities said.
A SWAT team ultimately arrested Armando Marron, 48, of Pico Rivera on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said.
Deputies first responded about 10:45 p.m. Friday to reports of an assault in the 8500 block of Hasty Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Chapman said.
They encountered a 23-year-old Pico Rivera man who had been shot in the leg with a crossbow, Villanueva said. The victim was accompanied by a second young man who was not injured.
Marron also allegedly fired his crossbow at another nearby home with people gathered in the front yard, the lieutenant said. No one in the yard was struck.
No argument or exchange of words preceded the seemingly unprovoked attack, sheriff’s officials said. The wounded man and his companion were merely passing by when the attack occurred. At least one of the young men was riding a skateboard.
Paramedics treated the wounded man at the scene and removed the arrow from his leg, Chapman said. He declined to be taken to a hospital.
Deputies learned the attacker was inside his nearby home, Chapman said. Deputies ordered the occupants out of the house.
Two relatives of the suspect emerged from the home and told deputies that Marron was still inside, Chapman said. The relatives also told officials that the man had a history of psychological problems, off his medication and potentially violent.
A SWAT team was summoned to take over the situation, and a stand-off ensued for about six hours, officials said.
Deputies fired tear gas into the home about 5 a.m., and the suspect ultimately came out, Chapman said. But he continued refusing to surrender.
Officials used a less-lethal projectile and a K-9 to subdue the man, who was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to booking, Chapman said.
Deputies recovered a crossbow, arrows and a small amount of a substance believed to be methamphetamine from the suspect’s home, Chapman said.
Deputies have had more than a dozen past encounters with Marron in connection with calls such as disturbances, officials said.
According to county booking records, Marron was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Enforcement Bureau.