Covina man, Glendora man arrested at alleged Pomona auto chop shop

POMONA – Police arrested two San Gabriel Valley men Saturday on suspicion of operating a chop shop in Pomona and seized stolen property including a stolen handgun, authorities said.
Gabriel Mejia, 33, of Covina and Hijinio Arroyo, 37, of Glendora were each being held in lieu of $100,000 bail Sunday at the Pomona Police Department’s jail, according to Pomona police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers acting on a tip from a confidential informant discovered the alleged chop shop about 1:45 p.m. at 1124 Price Street, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
“When they arrived, several male subjects fled from the building,” according to the police statement. One attempted to flee police by climbing onto the building’s roof.
Officers detained two of the men — later identified as Mejia and Arroyo — then obtained consent to search the building, police said.
Inside, officers found several vehicles being dismantled and car parts scattered throughout the building, officials said. Three of the cars were determined to have been stolen.
In addition to the stolen vehicles and parts, officers also recovered a handgun that had been reported stolen, the police statement said.
According to county booking records, Mejia and Arroyo were scheduled to appear for arraignment Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Ontario woman suspected of DUI after crash in Pomona that killed Upland woman

POMONA — An Ontario woman is accused of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter following a solo-car crash that left a 19-year-old passenger dead early Sunday, authorities said.
Raelene Martinez, 20, was arrested following the 1:38 a.m. crash in the 1500 block of San Antonio Avenue, Pomona police Sgt. Christian Hsu said in a written statement.
One of her four passengers, a 19-year-old Upland woman, died following the crash, Hsu said. Her name was not released pending confirmation that her family had been notified.
Martinez was driving a Toyota Camry north on San Antonio when she lost control of the car, police said.
“Her vehicle struck several parked cars and rolled over,” Hsu said.
The Upland woman died at the scene, he said.
Martinez and the three other passengers — described as an 18-year-old Ontario man, a 19-year-old Upland man and a 23-year-old Ontario man — were hospitalized with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, police said.
“Evidence at the collision led officers to suspect Martinez was under the influence of alcohol while driving,” Hsu said.
Officers from the Pomona Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team are handling the investigation.

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Details emerge in fatal Pomona officer-involved shooting

Details continued to emerge Monday in the fatal police shooting of an armed Pomona woman in a motel parking lot over the weekend.

A Pomona police officer and two Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigators were taking part in a gang suppression patrol in response to recent violence in the city about 9:45 p.m. Saturday when they drove through a motel parking lot in the 900 block of West Holt Avenue, according to Los Angles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting Pomona police in the investigation.

The three officers were riding in an unmarked SUV, but wearing vests and jackets that identified them as law enforcement offices, Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.

They were doing a routine drive-through of that motel,” Lt. Dave Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “That particular area is known for gang activity and narcotics activity.”

They were immediately confronted by the suspect who was brandishing a handgun,” Coleman said.

Castaneda-Montoya pointed the gun at the officers, Coleman said. The Pomona officer and one of the D.A.’s investigators opened fire, fatally wounding the woman.

An autopsy was pending to determine how many times she was struck by the officers’ gunfire.

Her semi-automatic pistol was recovered and found to be loaded, with “one in the chamber,” the lieutenant added.

Castaneda-Montoya was believed to have been alone when she confronted the officers, Coleman said. It was not clear why she was at the motel, and it was unclear if she realized the men she accosted were police.

Right now, we don’t have a theory about what caused it,” Coleman said. “We don’t know what she was doing.”

The big question is why she aggressed the officers in the car,” he said.

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Woman killed in Pomona officer-involved shooting

POMONA — Police shot and killed a woman who allegedly brandished a gun at them late Saturday in Pomona, where four homicides have been reported in the past week and a half, officials said.
Sonia Angelita Castaneda-Montoya, 28, of Pomona died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said.
No officers were injured in the incident, which took place about 9:45 p.m. in a motel parking lot in the 900 block of West Holt Avenue, officials said.
”Members of a multi-jurisdictional gang task force were driving through the parking lot of the location where they were confronted by a female suspect,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.”The female suspect brandished a handgun, resulting in an officer-involved shooting.”
A handgun was recovered, officials said.
Sheriff’s officials, who are assisting Pomona police in the investigation, did not say Sunday what agencies took part in the multi-agency task force, or what agency or agencies were involved in the shooting.
Pomona police deferred questions to the sheriff’s department. Handling detectives could not be reached for comment.
No further information was released.
A search of Los Angeles County Superior Court records shows Castadena-Montoya was convicted of robbery in June of 2004 in Pomona Superior Court. A charge of making criminal threats filed against her was dismissed.
Saturday night’s shooting involving the gang investigators took place during a period of heightened patrols in response to a recent deadly spate of violence in the city.
Four men died in four separate shootings between March 7 through 12, police said.
The first in the series of killings claimed the life of a 24-year-old man who was killed by a shooter inside a passing car as he walked with a child and two strollers on 9th Street in the middle of the afternoon.
Police have reported no arrests in any of the five killings.

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Man wounded, woman arrested following Pomona stabbing

POMONA — A man was expected to survive and female suspect was in custody Wednesday following a stabbing along Holt Avenue, officials said.
The alleged attack was first reported about 2:25 p.m. at Holt Avenue and Hamilton Boulevard, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Quvondo Johnson said.
The victim, a man estimated to be in his mid-30s, suffered a single stab wound to his chest, fire Capt. Shawn Youngman said. He was flown by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment of an apparently moderate wound.
Responding officers arrested a woman in on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the attack, Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vazquez said. Her identity was not released pending booking.
The suspect and victim knew each other prior to the incident, he said, however the relationship between them was unclear. No further details were immediately available.

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Four men fatally shot over past six days in Pomona

POMONA — Police have increased patrols and other efforts in Pomona in response to four fatal shootings in six days, authorities announced Wednesday. Four men between the ages of 18 and 24 have died and another was wounded in the four separate shootings, which took place March 7, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Pomona police officials said. “The department’s homicide detectives and Gang Suppression Unit are diligently investigating the incidents and will continue to do so until all persons responsible are brought to justice,” Pomona police Capt. Michael Olivieri said in a written statement. “The department has begun to deploy additional officers on overtime to supplement the investigative and field crime suppression units,” the captain added. Preliminary investigation indicated the shootings were not directly related, Olivieri said, however, “none of the incidents are considered a random act of violence.” No arrests were made, and Pomona police released no suspect descriptions in any of the slayings. The most recent killing took place about 8:22 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment complex in the 1100 block of Murchison Street, according to Pomona police Sgt. Hector Rodriguez. Officers responded to reports of a shooting and discovered 18-year-old Michael Castillo of Pomona lying on the ground, mortally wounded. He was pronounced dead a short time later. A 20-year-old Pomona man, Christopher Cotinola, died Sunday after he was found shot inside an apartment in the 700 block of North Gordon Avenue, Pomona police Sgt. Steve Congalton said. Officers were checking on a report of “shots fired” just after 9:30 p.m. when they found Cotinola suffering from gunshot wounds to his “mid-torso,” Congalton said. He was rushed to a hospital and treated along the way, but died from his injuries. About 24 hours earlier, another man — 19-year-old Joseph Cook — was shot and killed in the driveway of a home in the 2200 block of Carlton Avenue, Pomona police officials said. His city of residence was not available. Cook was pronounced dead at the scene of the 9:32 p.m. shooting, Congalton said, while a second shooting victim, a 19-year-old man, was flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment of injuries determined not to be life-threatening. The recent spate of killings began March 7, with the fatal drive-by shooting of 24-year-old Kelly Buruan of Los Angeles as he walked with a child and two strollers about 2:20 p.m. in the 900 block of West 9th Street, Pomona police and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s officials said. Anyone with information on any of the shootings was asked to contact Pomona police detectives Bebon or Lange at 909-920-2095.

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Two wounded in Pomona shooting

POMONA — Two people were wounded in a shooting late Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting was reported at 9:35 p.m. in the 2200 block of West Carlton Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervising Fire Dispatcher Phil Ulloa said.
Two victims were injured, however their conditions were not immediately available, Pomona police officials said.
Rescuers landed a helicopter at nearby Brackett Field to rush one of the patients to a hospital, officials added.
No further details were available.

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Man and woman arrested in Pomona on suspicion of auto theft

Deputies following the signal from a LoJack vehicle anti-theft system found and arrested a man and woman in a stolen car, authorities said.
The names of the suspects, initially described as a man and woman in their 20s, were not immediately available pending the booking process, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Perez said.
The incident began about 8:45 a.m. when deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Statin picked up on the signal in the Rowland Heights area, Perez said.
Deputies closed in on the SUV and spotted it getting onto the eastbound San Bernarindo (10) Freeway from the Orange (57) Freeway heading into Pomona, the sergeant said.
When the SUV exited the 10 Freeway at Garey Avenue and headed south, deputies attempted to pull it over, but it sped away instead, Perez said.
Deputies did not pursue the SUV due to safety concerns, Perez said.
“He started driving a little erratically,” he said. A sheriff’s helicopter kept track of the car from above.
After travling a short distance south on Garey Avenue, the SUV came to a stop near Pearl Street, Perez said.
The female suspect was arrested without a struggle near the SUV, while the man fled into a nearby apartment complex, officials said.
Witnesses pointed out which apartment the fleeing suspect ran into, Perez said. Deputies found him inside and took him into custody.

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Diamond Bar man, volunteer at Diamond Ranch High School, accused of molesting student in 2006

DIAMOND BAR — A Diamond Bar man and volunteer in the music program at Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona is accused of molesting a 16-year-old student during the summer of 2006 while working at another high school in Fullerton, authorities said.
Albert Anthony Morales, 33, was arrested at his home Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation after a woman, now-22-year-old, came forward to report being abused by him while attending Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton in 2006, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
The molestations took place “on an ongoing basis” over the course of the summer as Morales carried on an inappropriate, sexual relationship with the teenage student, Scott said.
“It was substantial sexual contact, and definitely rose to the level of a felony,” he said.
Formal charges were yet to be filed against Morales Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The alleged molestation was first reported to deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station Jan. 29, officials said.
Scott said the victim told investigators about her first sexual encounter with Morales after he invited her to his home and supplied her with alcohol.
He continued meeting the teenage student and engaging in sexual activity throughout the summer, Scott said. Molestations took place at Morales’ home and at other locations, but never at the school.
But the girl did not report the molestation, which at the time she viewed as a “relationship,” until late last week.
“Recently, she heard a presentation about sexual abuse, and a woman molested by a teacher,” Scott said. “That prompted her to come forward.”
After investigators looked into the allegations, members of the Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested Morales about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at his home, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
It is not uncommon for allegations of child molestation to surface long after the incident, Scott said.
“It’s normal that children to not report right away,” he said. “They don’t realize they’re being used and taken advantage of by the perpetrator.”
Morales has been working with high school music programs and tutoring students, primarily in percussion, for the past 13 years, officials said.
Prior to working with students at Sunny Hills High School from 2004 to 2009, Morales was part of the music program at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar from 1998 to 2000, according to Deputy Aura Sierra-Lidman said.
Morales began volunteering at Diamond Ranch High School in 2012, and was still assisting the band director and working with students at the time of his arrest, sheriff’s and Pomona Unified School District officials said.
He was not paid-employee of the district, district spokesman Ryan Hightower said.
Diamond Ranch High School Principal Suzanne Steinseifer-Ripley sent a letter to parents Tuesday regarding the arrest.
“Upon receipt of information, the school and district administration have fully cooperated with the authorities,” Steinseifer-Ripley wrote.
“While there is a presumption of innocence in matters of this nature, the district takes such matters with the utmost seriousness. The individual is not on the campus and will not return to campus pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to the letter.
A pre-employment background check and fingerprint analysis conducted by the PUSD turned up no previous criminal complaints against Morales, school officials added.
“This is a difficult time for our school and with your continued support we will maintain an educationally sound and supportive school environment for all students,” according to the principal’s letter. “Students may hear rumors or information from various sources. Parents are encouraged to discuss such information with their student(s). We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students. School counselors and psychologists from the District will be available to meet with students as appropriate.”
While no other allegations had come to light Wednesday, Scott said investigators suspected the teenage girl was not Morales’ only victim.
“The victim in this case believed that there were other girls that were close to him,” Scott said.
“This type of behavior by an individual is very methodical and it’s often repeated,” the sergeant said. “We believe there’s a high likelihood that there’s other victims out there, and we urge them to come forward,”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.
According to county booking records, Morales was being held in lieu of $350,000 bail at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.

BOOKING PHOTO of Albert Morales, 33, of Diamond Bar courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Three wounded in Pomona shooting

POMONA — Three people were wounded in a shooting in a residential neighborhood late Saturday, authorities said.
The shooting was reported about 9:12 p.m. in the 700 block of Washington Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said.
One patient, described as a man, was taken to a trauma center, Peters said.
Two other patients were taken to a local hospital with less-serious injuries, he said. A description of them was not available.
“They were all stable when transported,” Peters said.
The circumstances of shooting were not available, nor was any suspect information, as Pomona police provided no information about the shooting Sunday afternoon.

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