Police arrested a Pomona man early Saturday after he allegedly tried to steal a shopping cart full of ammunition in Covina, vandalized a bank in Pasadena with anarchist symbols and was captured trying to vandalize a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs hospital in Long Beach, authorities said.
Matthew Ryan Willert, 29, was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail Saturday at the Long Beach Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records. The motive in his alleged bizarre crime spree was unclear.
Willert, or at least his license plate number, first came to the attention of law enforcement about 11:30 p.m. Thursday after he tried to steal bullets from the Covina Walmart, 1275 N. Azusa Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Tom Tardif said.
“He went to the gun display. He had a (baseball) bat in his hand,” Tardif said. It was not clear if he brought the bat with him or picked it up inside the store.
“He loaded up a shopping cart full ammunition,” Tardif said. He also placed several utility knives and other tools into the cart.
But Willert was confronted by a store security guard and fled the store, leaving the shopping cart containing a “large quantity” of bullets and blades behind, Tardif said.
The number and caliber of bullets Willert tried to steal was not available, but the total value of the items in the cart was estimated at $2,500, police said.
Authorities again encountered the suspect’s alleged handiwork about 11 p.m. at OneWest Bank, 888 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
“A suspect drove up to the business in a truck, jumped out of his truck, and spray-painted graffiti along the glass windows,” Clawson said. The graffiti was largely comprised of anarchy symbols.
“He then retrieved a brick and threw it through the front window,” Clawson said. “The suspect fled the scene, but a witness saw the license plate.”
As officers continued investigating early Saturday, Clawson said, they learned a man driving the same truck had been arrested by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs police in Long Beach as he was attempting a similar vandalism outside the VA Long Beach Healthcare System hospital. Spraypaint and more bricks were recovered from Willert’s car at the time of his arrest in Long Beach.
Willert was arrested about 12:30 a.m. Saturday as he was attempting to vandalize a sign in front of the hospital, according to VA police and Los Angeles County booking records. He did not manage to significantly damage the sign before his arrest.
POMONA — A jockey was flown to the hospital with serious injuries after he fell from his horse and was kicked in the head during a race at the Los Angeles County Fair, officials said.
The mishap took place during the last race of the day at the Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinely Ave., Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Shawn Youngman said.
“On the last turn, before the final straightaway, two jockeys went down,” the captain said.
One of them suffered minor injuries, he said. But the other Jockey was kicked in the helmet and face by a horse.
The 26-year-old man was conscious and breathing, however firefighters and an on-duty doctor determined it was best to fly the injured jockey to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center’s trauma center as a precaution.
POMONA — A small terrier rescued from a hot car on the opening day of the L.A. County Fair last week during triple-digit temperatures serves as a reminder to never leave pets or children unattended in vehicles, Pomona police officials said Wednesday.
Bicycle officers Dan Gomez and Thomas DeLaVega were on patrol in the parking lot of the Fairplex in Pomona, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., when they spotted a small dog locked inside a hot car, Pomona police Capt. Michael Olivieri said in a written statement.
“Detective Jerry Uribe assisted and was able to make forced entry into the vehicle and rescue the dog, who showed clear signs of stress,” the captain said. “The officers placed the dog in a police unit with air conditioning and provided it with what seemed like an endless supply of cold water.”
Inland Valley Humane Society and SPCA officials responded, he said.
It was unclear how long the dog had been inside the car.
When animal control officers arrived and took the temperature inside the car, after police had already forced it open and freed the dog, the interior of the vehicle was still at about 95 degrees, IVHS Supervisor of Animal Services Beth Les said.
The terrier, named Sandy and estimated to be 6 years old, was seized and taken to a veterinarian for an examination, Les said. It was determined Sandy had suffered no serious injuries.
The owners of the dog were ultimately identified and ticketed, Olivieri said. They retrieved their pet the following day after paying for the medical expenses.
And stories like Sandy’s are all-too-common, Les said, as IVHS officers handle several calls of animals locked in hot cars daily.
“We’re averaging about five a day,” Les said.
The IVHS provides animal control services to Chino, Chino Hills, Claremont, Diamond Bar, Glendora, La Verne, Montlair, Mt. Baldy, Ontario, Pomona, San Antonio Heights, San Bernardino and San Dimas.
With triple-digit temperatures expected to continue in Southern California in the days ahead, Olivieri reminded residents that leaving a pet or child unattended inside a hot car, even for a brief period, is both dangerous and illegal.
Anyone who sees a child or animal locked in a hot car was asked to report it by calling 9-1-1 immediately.
PHOTO courtesy of the Pomona Police Department
POMONA — California Highway Patrol officers are planning a free child safety seat inspection event in Pomona Saturday to make sure parents know the proper way to strap their children in when out travelling.
The free Child Passenger Safety Seat Check-Up Event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mattel Toy Store, 2870 South Reservoir Avenue, CHP officials said in a written statement.
“Studies have shown child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 72 percent fir infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1-4, according tot he CHP statement.
Inspections will be done by appointment only. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact the CHP’s Southern Division office 818-240-8200.
POMONA — A motorcyclist died Saturday following a collision with a sedan on Mission Boulevard, police said.
The name of the dead man was not released Sunday pending notification of his family, Pomona police Cpl. J.T. Garcia said in a written statement. He was initially described as 41 years old. His city of residence was not clear.
The crash took place just after 5 p.m. on Mission Boulevard, just west of Myrtle Avenue, he said.
“The driver of the sedan remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators,” Garcia said.
The cause and circumstances of the crash were being investigated by the Pomona Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team.
Any witnesses to the collision were asked to contact Pomona police traffic investigators at 909-620-2081.
POMONA – Three men died and another was seriously wounded in three separate shootings late Saturday and early Sunday, authorities said.
The deadly night began with the fatal shooting of Jose Cerda, 45, of Pomona about 9:30 p.m. along Lexington Avenue, just west of Garey Avenue, Pomona police Sgt. Steve Congalton said in a written statement.
No arrests had been made in any of the slayings, police said, and no suspect descriptions were released.
“Victim Cerda was riding his bike in the area of Garey and Lexington when a vehicle pulled alongside him and (an occupant) shot him several times,” Congalton said.
“The vehicle was observed making a U-turn and driving back westbound long Lexington, then south on Park Avenue,” the sergeant added.
Cerda was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Isais Garcia Lopez, 24, of Ontario died in a shooting about two hours later and just under a mile away in an alley to the north of the 200 block of Orchid Lane, police said.
A second gunshot victim, an 18-year-old Pomona man whose name was not released, was rushed into surgery at a trauma center following the shooting, Congalton said. An update on his condition was not available Sunday morning.
The two men were walking through the residential alley about 11:30 p.m. when they were both shot by “unknown suspects,” Congalton said. Lopez died at the scene, while the wounded young man was able to run to a nearby courtyard, where he was found by police before being rushed to a hospital via helicopter.
Police towed two cars from a garage near the shooting scene and collected evidence, including a case of empty Pacifico beer bottles.
The slaying on Orchid Lane marked the second fatal shooting in the same neighborhood in four months.
Thirteen-year-old Justin Perez of Pomona and friend Andy Chavez, 17, of Upland, were shot to death in what police described as a gang-related attack outside a neighboring apartment building on April 13. A third victim who drove into the alley as the shooting occurred was fired upon and wounded.
A third shooting just before 3 a.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 1700 block of Benedict Way claimed the life of 29-year-old Angel Bravo of Pomona, Congalton said.
Bravo had just left home to visit a store when he was ambushed, according to police.
“He went outside and was standing near his vehicle, which was parked in the street,” the sergeant said. “Another vehicle pulled up next to him and began to fire at him with a handgun. Victim Bravo sustained several gunshot wounds to the upper torso.”
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
A white compact car was seen leaving the area and may have been involved, police added.
Anyone with information on any of the fatal shootings was asked to contact the Pomona Police Department Detective Bureau at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously by contacting L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
POMONA — A 19-year-old Apple Valley man died early Saturday after being struck by two vehicles after his motorcycle became disabled on the 10 Freeway, authorities said.
The name of the man was not released pending confirmation that his family had been notified, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
The crash was reported about 12:30 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Towne Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Charles Perez said in a written statement.
The motorcyclist’s 2009 Suzuki motorcycle became disabled in the No. 2 lane of the freeway prior to the collision, the officer said.
“The motorcyclist dismounted his motorcycle and while standing in the No. 2 lane, was struck by an approaching Toyota pickup truck,” Perez said.
“The collision threw the motorcyclist into the No. 3 lane where he was struck again by an approaching Hyundai Sonata,” he said. Paramedicspronounced him dead at the scene.
A 25-year-old Azusa man who was driving the pickup truck and a 47-year-old Maywood woman who was driving the Hyundai were not injured, officials said.
After the truck and car struck the motorcyclist, two other cars collided with each other as they maneuvered to avoid the motorcyclist, Perez said. Neither driver was injured.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
POMONA — Authorities Thursday released the names of a La Puente man and a Downey man killed in a violent crash between two trucks on a freeway transition road in Pomona.
Jose Antonio Garcia, 25, of La Puente and Jorge Garcia, 61, of Downey died in the crash, which took place about 8:50 a.m. Wednesday on the connector road between the eastbound 60 Freeway and the southbound 71 Freeway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
Jose Garcia was a passenger in a 1999 Chevrolet box truck hauling snack food and change, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials. The truck was being driven by a 34-year-old Riverside man.
Prior to the collision, Jorge Garcia was standing beside his 2010 Volvo big rig, which was parked along the right shoulder with its hazard lights activated and the engine running, CHP Officer Robert Ruiz said in a written statement. He was believed to be standing on the driver-side of the truck, nearest to the roadway.
The driver of the box truck, “allowed his vehicle to drift onto the shoulder of the connector road, where the right front portion of (the box truck) struck the left, rear portion of (the big rig’s) trailer,” Ruiz said.
Jose Garcia was severely injured in the impact, officials said. The out of control box truck continued moving forward and struck Jorge Garcia.
Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.
The box truck came to rest in traffic lanes of the transition road, spilling its entire load into the roadway, fire Capt. Larry Jordan said.
The box truck was nearly unrecognizable, he added. “It looked like it exploded.”
The driver of the box truck was hospitalized with moderate injuries, including lacerated tendons in his arm, officials said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
The connector road remained shut down for about six hours as officers investigated the scene.
Two men died and another man was injured Wednesday following a two-vehicle crash involving a big rig on a transition road between the 60 and 71 freeways, authorities said.
The crash was first reported just after 8:52 a.m. on the transition road connecting the eastbound 60 Freeway to the southbound 71 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos said. The crash involved a big rig and a box truck.
Firefighters pronounced the driver of the big rig, estimated to be in his 40s, and a passenger of the box truck, estimated to be in his 20s, dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department and CHP officials said.
Fire Capt. Larry Jordan described the crash as “one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The box truck involved in the crash was “almost unrecognizable,” he said.
A rescue helicopter was landed on the freeway to rush the driver of the box truck, a man in his 30s, to a hospital, Jordan said. Though his injuries did not appear major, he was flown by helicopter as a precaution do to the violent nature of the crash.
Firefighters had to cut apart the wreckage to access the victims, fire officials added.
Judging by the wreckage, Jordan said it appeared the big rig was pulled over to the side of the road, with the driver outside of the truck, when the big rig was struck by the box truck.
“ We suspect (the big rig driver) was toward the rear set of wheels,” Jordan added.
The CHP investigation remained in its early stages.
It was unclear what cargo, if any, the big rig had been carrying.
The box truck was loaded with food products such as candy bars and change, which spilled all over traffic lanes, Jordan said. CHP logs indicated it was operated by an Upland-based vending machine company.
CHP officials shut down the transition road well into the afternoon as the investigation continued.
Authorities briefly shut down all eastbound lanes of the 60 Freeway as they landed the helicopter in traffic lanes, Villalobos said, however only the right-hand lane of the freeway remained closed following the helicopter’s departure.
The crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
POMONA – Three people were hospitalized, one of them via helicopter, following a head-on crash between to SUVs Sunday, authorities said.
The collision took place about 10:45 a.m. on at Towne Avenue, between Harrison and Bonita avenues, according to Pomona police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
Initial investigation indicated a woman was driving southbound on Towne Avenue when she lost control of the vehicle, Pomona police Lt. Ron McDonald said.
The woman’s son, who firefighters estimated to be between 10 and 14 years old, grabbed the steering wheel in an attempt to maintain control of the SUV, the lieutenant said. But the car sideswiped another vehicle before crossing over the center median and into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with a northbound vehicle.
Firefighters cut open the SUV that had been heading north on Towne to free the driver, a man estimated to be in his late 30s, from the wreckage, fire Engineer Gary Schiaretti said. Rescuers flew the injured man to a trauma center by helicopter.
The woman driving the southbound SUV was taken to a trauma center by ambulance, Schiaretti said. The boy suffered apparently minor injuries, but was taken to the same trauma center as his mother to prevent them from being separated.
All of the patients were conscious and breathing when transported, and none of the injuries initially appeared to be life-threatening, Schiaretti said.
The Pomona Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team was handling the investigation.