UPDATED: Duarte man accused of murder after fatal shooting of neighbor, pursuit

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DUARTE >> A Duarte man shot and killed his neighbor Friday night before leading police on a chase that ended with his arrest in Azusa, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 7:55 p.m. in the 2100 block of Broach Avenue, Deputy Crystal Hernandez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Gabriel Alejandro De La Torre, 35, died in the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Luis Valdes-Santillan, 40, was booked on suspicion of murder, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
De La Torre and Valdes-Santillan lived in separate homes on the same lot, Hernandez said. Both attended a party being held at another neighbor’s home.
“At some point during the party, the victim and the suspect began to argue,” she said. “The suspect then entered his residence, retrieved a handgun, exited, and fired multiple rounds at the victim, striking him.”
De La Torre died at the scene.
Witnesses told deputies the shooter had fled in a white Toyota work truck, officials said.
Deputies soon spotted the truck nearby. The driver refused to pull over, initiating a pursuit.
The chase headed down Duarte Road and Huntington Drive before ultimately making its way onto the eastbound 210 Freeway, according to sheriff’s radio traffic.
A helicopter joined in the pursuit before Valdes-Santillan stopped and surrendered on the Azusa Avenue offramp in Azusa.
“A weapon was recovered inside the suspect’s vehicle,” Hernandez said.
The man was taken to the sheriff’s Temple Station for questioning, officials said. He was ultimately booked on suspicion of murder.
Valdes-Santillan was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Alhambra branch, records show.
No further details were released as the investigation continued Saturday.
De La Torre’s brother-in-law, Bobby Serna, said De La Torre is survived by his wife and three step-daughters who he had helped raise. The youngest of his step-daughters is a teenager.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Serna said. “He took a really good man that I looked up to. I loved him, I really did.”
Serna, who was not present when the shooting occurred, said his brother-in-law was gathered with family members behind his home, along with Valdes-Santillan.
It was unclear what angered Valdes-Santillan and prompted him to retrieve a gun from his home.
The suspect made a statement to the effect of, “Who wants it first?” before opening fire, Serna said.
Until the gunshots were fired, “Nobody even knew it was happening,” he said.
Serna said he did not know whether De La Torre was specifically targeted in the shooting.
“He was such a good man,” Serna said of his brother-in-law.
De La Torre migrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager and had been working as a subcontracting electrician, he said. De La Torre’s white work van with a ladder affixed to the top remained parked in front of the home Saturday.
He was saving money and planning to obtain his contractor’s license, so he could start his own contractor business, Serna said.
“He would help anybody,” Serna said. “He really valued family. He loved kids. He was a hard worker.”
De La Torre’s personality was “quiet but humorous,” he said.
“My daughters are devastated. They loved their uncle,” Serna said.
Funds to benefit De La Torre’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/2ksz74hg.
Anyone with information can reach 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.

PHOTO: Gabriel Alejandro De La Torre, courtesy

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UPDATED: 2 suspects in custody, 2 sought after pursuit ends in crash in East Pasadena


EAST PASADENA >> Deputies arrested two suspects and sought two more after a pursuit of a suspected stolen car ended with a crash near Pasadena Friday afternoon, officials said.
The crash occurred about 6:40 p.m. along Sierra Madre Boulevard, near Del Mar Boulevard, in the unincorporated county area of East Pasadena, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Oscar Lopez said.
Deputies had been chasing a car that had been reportedly stolen for a short distance when it collided with another car, he said.
A woman inside was treated for minor injuries, Lt. Tri Hoang said.
Deputies immediately apprehended a man and a woman at the crash scene, the lieutenant said. Two additional suspects, both described as male, escaped capture and ran.
Officials cordoned off the neighborhood and searched for nearly four hours, but the two outstanding suspects were not found.
The identities of the two suspects arrested were not immediately available.

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CHP chase turns into rescue after fiery crash in Baldwin Park


BALDWIN PARK >> A California Highway Patrol pursuit instantly turned into a rescue operation Wednesday after a fleeing stolen SUV with three people inside crashed and burst into flames in Baldwin Park, authorities said.
All three occupants of the car suffered significant injuries but were expected to survive following the crash, which took place shortly after 2:20 p.m. at Garvey Avenue and Big Dalton Avenue, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
Officers were chasing a stolen Toyota RAV4 when it crashed and burst into flames, he said. The same officers then pulled the driver and two passengers from the burning wreckage.
Officers were chasing a stolen Toyota RAV4 when it crashed and burst into flames,” he said.
“What these guys did was heroic,” Jimenez said.
Driver Ruben Cabrera Jr., 35, of Montebello was booked on suspicion of auto theft, felony evading of police causing great bodily injury and possession of methamphetamine. He was also already being sought for alleged parole violations.
Cabrera suffered injuries including broken ribs in the crash, Jimenez said. He was treated for his injuries before being booking into jail.
A 27-year-old woman who was riding as a rear passenger suffered a mostly-severed arm, the officer said. Surgeons had reattached the arm Thursday, however the ultimate prognosis was unclear.
A 16-year-old girl who was two to three months pregnant and riding as a front passenger in the SUV suffered injuries including a broken wrist, Jimenez said.
Officers first spotted the Toyota RAV4 speeding in the fast lane of the westbound 10 Freeway near Puente Avenue, Jimenez said. The SUV suddenly exited the freeway at Fransicquito Avenue and blew through a stop sign at Garvey and Vineland avenues.
Officers tried to pull the SUV over, but the driver sped off, initiating a chase, he said.
But the driver lost control of the vehicle as it rounded a bend where Garvey Avenue becomes Big Dalton Avenue, striking several trees and shearing a fire hydrant, Jimenez said.
The SUV’s gas tank ruptured and the RAV4 burst into flames, he said.
The pursuing officers suddenly became rescuers as they freed the three trapped occupants from the burning car, Jimenez said.
The officers pulled the driver from the SUV, he said. “That’s when they heard screaming from inside the car. The fire started growing. They saw that there was a female passenger in the right rear.”
Officer managed to pull out the rear passenger and discovered the 16-year-old passenger also trapped in the front passenger seat.
As the fire continued to grow larger, the officers cut the seat belt of the third and final occupant and freed her from the flaming wreck, Jimenez said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Cabrera was being held without bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Woman charged with South El Monte carjacking, wild police chase

•VIDEO: Raw CBS footage of pursuit

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Prosecutors filed four felony charges against a woman they say carjacked another woman at knifepoint in South El Monte, then led police on a televised chase to Bell Gardens
The suspect, Kelsey Woods, also listed as Britany Woods, 26, rammed a CHP car during the chase. Woods was previously convicted of leading police on a chase and driving against traffic in 2015 when she embarked on the alleged series of crimes on Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
“Woods allegedly approached a woman with a knife in South El Monte and then took the victim’s truck,” Ardalani said.
The suspect was not immediately found following the morning carjacking, however deputies spotted the stolen truck later in the day, officials said. It was still being driven by the suspect, later identified as Woods.
Woods refused to pull over, initiating a pursuit, Ardalani said.
News helicopters broadcast live at the fleeing truck ran over a spike strip, but continued speeding. Sparks flew from the exposed tire rim as the suspect fled.
“During the pursuit, the defendant reportedly drove into oncoming traffic and did not stop at numerous stop lights,” according to Ardalani. “At one point, the defendant allegedly stopped the vehicle, went into reverse and hit the patrol vehicle before she fled the scene again.”
•Video: Raw CBS footage of pursuit
Prosectors charged Woods Friday with carjacking, two counts of assault on a peace officer and recklessly fleeing police, officials said.
Woods is also accused of the special allegation that she personally used a knife in the carjacking.
A scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court was continued to Monday, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Ardalani said Woods could face up to 16 years and four months in state prison. Her hometown was unclear.
According to county booking records, Woods was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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Police: Fugitive arrested after attack on El Monte officer, motorcycle chase

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EL MONTE >> An armed federal fugitive sought by the U.S. Marshals Service attacked a police officer in El Monte before leading officers on a motorcycle chase and ultimately being arrested on suspicion of a laundry list of crimes Saturday, authorities said.
George Olotoa, 50, of South El Monte is accused of assault on a police officer, evading police, possession of a stolen handgun, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of drugs while armed and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian.
Olotoa was riding a 2000 Suzuki Sport Bike in the 2600 block of Millet Avenue when an officer tried to stop him for a traffic violation, Cobian said.
As the officer approached Olotoa, he tried to ride away, police said. The muscular 6-foot-tall, 230-pound suspect turned violent.
“The officer tried to stop the suspect but the suspect attacked the officer by striking him in the head,” Cobian said in a written statement. “The officer attempted to defend himself and overcome the violent attack while the assailant was still wearing a motorcycle helmet. The officer deployed his Taser, which malfunctioned, and the suspect fled on his motorcycle and a vehicle pursuit began.”
The officer chased Olotoa onto the 60 Freeway at Santa Anita Avenue, where he lost control of his motorcycle and fell, officials said. The motorcycle struck another car, resulting in no injuries to the driver.
“The suspect attempted to re-mount his motorcycle, and he disregarded commands to remove his hand from his front pants pocket,” Cobian said. “When the first of the assisting officers arrived on scene, he saw a volatile situation rapidly evolving and assisted in apprehending the suspect.”
Cell phone video footage of the incident posted on YouTube Saturday afternoon, but removed by Saturday evening, depicted suspect’s apprehension.
The arriving officer struck Olotoa’s motorcycle with his patrol car as he arrived on scene, pushing it out of his grasp, the video shows.
Officers then continued wrestling Olotoa into custody as additional officers arrived at the scene.
As assisting officers got Olotoa into handcuffs with the use of a Taser, the original officer collapsed backwards onto the street in exhaustion.
“A folding knife was found in the same pocket the suspect had his hand in and a loaded, stolen hand gun was found in the suspect’s backpack,” Cobian said.
Both the officer and suspected were treated for injuries described as minor.
Police determined Olotoa was on federal probation and was being sought by the U.S. Marshals Service, officials added.
He was being held in lieu of $225,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in El Monte Superior Court.

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Police: Suspect attacks Glendora police dog after pursuit ends in San Dimas


SAN DIMAS >> A man attacked a Glendora police dog after leading officers on a chase that ended in San Dimas Friday morning, authorities said.
Driver Armando Nunez, 28, of El Monte and passenger Vitoria Yvonne Narvaez, 29, of Pomona were ultimately arrested, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said.
Nunez was hospitalized for treatment of dog bites. The K-9 that apprehended him suffered injuries to its ear.
Nunez was already being sought by police in West Covina in connection with another chase and crash last week, West Covina police Lt. Travis Tibbets said.
The incident began shortly before 11 a.m. when an officer spotted a car in La Verne and found it suspicious, the chief said.
The officer approached the car when it pulled into a parking lot at Foothill Boulevard and San Dimas Avenue in San Dimas, he said. The car fled “at high speeds.”
Glendora police pursued the fleeing car to a residential cul-de-sac in the 900 block of Sedona Court, officials said. Both the driver and passenger abandoned the car and continued fleeing on foot.
Officers immediately captured the passenger, later identified as Narvaez, Staab said. But the driver, Nunez, fled into the surrounding neighborhood.
Police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies set up a search perimeter.
“One of the homeowners alerted us to their backyard,” the chief said. The resident noticed the storage shed in the backyard had become inexplicably unlatched.
Police ordered anyone inside the shed to surrender. After receiving no response, officers sent in a Glendora Police Department K-9 named Bo.
“Second later, both of them burst out of the storage shed,” Staab said.
“The male suspect had the K-9 in a headlock,” he said. “With the other hand, he grabbed its left ear and twisted its head around.”
Police tried to subdue Nunez with a Taser, but he continued fighting with officers before they wrestled him into custody.
“The suspect wouldn’t stop fighting,” Staab said. “Two of my experienced detectives said they’ve never fought with somebody so prolonged.”
No officers were hurt, Staab said.
Bo’s normally upright ear remained limp from the attack, but he appeared otherwise OK, Staab said. The K-9 was to be examined by a veterinarian.
Nunez was treated for dog bites to his face, arm and leg prior to booking, Staab said. He was expected to face charges including evading police and assault on a police dog.
He was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
West Covina police had been seeking Nunez since Sunday, when he allegedly led police on another chase in a stolen car, which ended in a crash at Amar Road and Valinda Avenue, Tibbetts said.
After crashing the stolen car after a brief chase, Nunez ran from the car, leaving a seriously injured woman who had been riding as a passenger behind, Tibbetts said. Officers did not find him that day, but investigators identified Nunez as the suspected driver.
Narvaez, was booked on suspicion of resisting police, Staab said. She is on parole for a prior burglary conviction and was being held without bail, according to officials and booking records.
The ignition system of the car the suspects were riding in Friday had been tampered with, Staab said. Detectives were investigating whether or not it had been stolen.

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Three wounded in Baldwin Park car-to-car shooting; possible suspects detained after chase


BALDWIN PARK >> Three young men suffered gunshot wounds in a car-to-car attack in Baldwin Park early Sunday morning, authorities said.
Two suspects were arrested following a pursuit that originated in Baldwin Park about the same time as the shooting took place, and detectives were investigating the possibility the two incident were related.
The shooting occurred about 2 a.m. in the area of Ramona Boulevard and Badillo Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Shawn Blackburn said.
The three young men, along with a teen who was not struck by the gunfire, were riding in a car when gunshots rang out from another vehicle, officials said.
Blackburn said the car continued driving east for about three miles before coming to a stop at Badillo Street and Phillips Avenue, across the city border in West Covina.
One of the victims was hospitalized in critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery, he said. The other two victims were in stable condition.
All three wounded men were in their late teens or 20s, West Covina Fire Department Capt. Esteban Rodriguez said.
Just before authorities received word of the shooting, Baldwin Park officers were involved with a pursuit of a pickup truck, police said.
Officers chased the fleeing truck to Rosemead, but cancelled the pursuit due to safety concerns, Blackburn said.
But a helicopter continued following the truck as it headed back east toward West Covina, where West Covina police resumed the chase.
The pursuit led back to Baldwin Park, where the driver and passenger ultimately stopped and surrendered, police said. Their identities were not available Sunday morning.
“The investigations regarding both incidents are ongoing, and it has not been confirmed that they are related at this time,” Baldwin Park police said in a written statement.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Baldwin Park police Capt. Joe Bartolotti at 626-960-1955. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Suspects charged in deadly crash following police chase in Industry

INDUSTRY >> Prosecutors filed charges Friday against three alleged burglars accused of killing an innocent bystander in a car crash while fleeing from deputies in Industry earlier this week, authorities said.
Driver Anthony Michael Quisenberry, 35, of Los Angeles was charged with murder, burglary and assault on a peace officer, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Co-defendants and passengers Michael Vincent Smyer, 26, of Los Angeles and Charles Allen Archer, 32, of Hawthorne each face charges of burglary, she said.
“f convicted as charged, Quisenberry faces a maximum possible sentence of 31 years to life in state prison, while Allen faces 14 years and Smyer 17 years in state prison,” Ardalani said.
The chain of events began Tuesday afternoon after a witness reported seeing the three men burglarizing a home in the 15200 block of Folger Street in Hacienda Heights.
Deputies found the three suspects riding in a Chevrolet Camaro and began a pursuit when the driver, later identified as Quisenberry, refused to pull over, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
As the suspects fled, their Camaro crashed into a small SUV at Gale Avenue and Johnson Drive in Industry, killing 66-year-old Rojelio Gonzalez of Bellflower, Lt. Joe Mendoza of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“Following the crash, the occupants in the Camaro — Quisenberry, Allen and Smyer — fled from the vehicle, but were later apprehended by sheriff deputies,” Ardalani said.
The three defendants are scheduled to appear in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court Wednesday for arraignment hearings, Ardalani said.
Quisenberry has previously been convicted of burglary twice, as well identity theft and conspiracy to commit a crime, Ardalani said.
Allen has prior convictions for burglary, identity theft and forgery. Smyer also has a previous burglary conviction.
According to county booking records, Quisenberry and Allen were being held in lieu of $1.25 million bail each. Smyer was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

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UPDATED: Driver arrested after wild chase ends in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man in a stolen Honda Accord led California Highway Patrol officers on a chase that began in Norwalk and wound through the Whittier area before being captured in Hacienda Heights Friday afternoon.
The chase began at 3:04 p.m. at the intersection of the 605 and 105 freeways in Norwalk, CHP Officer Jennifer Bond said.
An officer spotted the car driving along the shoulder of the northbound 605 Freeway, Officer Kevin Tao said. The driver refused to pull over, initiating a chase. Pursuing officers soon determined that the Accord had been reported stolen.
The driver exited the freeway at Whittier Boulevard and drove through Montebello on surface streets before returning the the northbound 605 Freeway via Telegraph Road, Tao said.
The chase then worked it’s way to Washington Boulevard in Whittier, where the car exited the freeway and drove to Turnbull Canyon via city streets. Officers cancelled their pursuit as the driver continued up the winding and narrow Turnbull Canyon Road into Hacienda Heights, officials said.
The driver jumped fro the still-rolling car about 3:40 p.m., allowing the car to strike a dirt embankment near Blue Sky and Holly Tree roads in Hacienda Heights, Tao said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies then launched a neighborhood search for the suspect as he continued fleeing on foot.
Deputies found and arrested the suspect in the area about 4:20 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.

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UPDATED: West Covina police arrest man and woman following bizarre pursuit, crash in Bassett


WEST COVINA >> In a strange seemingly illogical series chain of events, a man and woman called police on themselves to falsely report a carjacking Friday before leading West Covina police on a chase that ended with a crash in Bassett that injured two bystanders, including a little girl, authorities said.
Britanny Benquenchea, 26, and Joshua Rodriguez, 27, both of Victorville, were accused of crimes including evading police and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the bizarre episode, which began just after 7 p.m. at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, West Covina police Lt. Travis Tibbetts said. Both are on parole for robbery, and Benquenchea wears a GPS tracking device.
Police first responded to the mall, 112 Plaza Drive, after a woman called 911 to report she had been carjacked of her 2015 Toyota Corolla at gunpoint by a man and woman, the lieutenant said.
Responding officers spotted a car matching the description of the stolen Toyota, containing a man and woman matching the description of the carjackers, driving just south of the mall.
Benquenchea, who was driving, refused to pull over for police, initiating a high-speed chase.
The pursuit ended minutes later when the fleeing car struck a civilian vehicle at Amar Road and Willow Avenue, Tibbetts said.
Both suspects were detained at the scene, he said. Police used a K-9 to help apprehend the male suspect, who refused to comply with officers’ commands.
An 8-year-old girl who was riding in the car struck by the fleeing suspects was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but was expected to survive, Tibbetts said. A woman in the vehicle, described only as an adult, was also hospitalized. Neither victims injuries were believed to be life threatening.
The investigation then took an unexpected turn.
Officers determined Benquenchea herself had called the police to falsely report being carjacked, Tibbetts said.
After being involved in a fight and getting escorted from the mall by security guards, Benquenchea and Rodriguez became involved in a confrontation with security before speeding away from the mall, police said.
The suspects may have struck a parked car as they left, he said. The details of the incident at the mall remained unclear late Friday.
“Apparently, they decided to call and report a carjacking, describing themselves as the suspects,” Tibbetts said.
The call appeared to be some sort of ill-thought-out ruse to divert police attention from the mall incident, he said. Although Benquenchea gave descriptions matching herself and Rodriguez as that of the phony carjackers, she reported the purported carjackers had fled in the opposite direction.
Benquenchea gave her real first name while reporting the carjacking, Tibbetts added. And when police called back the number, Benquenchea’s phone rang through the Toyota’s wireless audio system.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Tibbetts said.
Witness Christopher Morales posted footage of the male suspect being taken into custody with the help of a police K-9 on the social media network.
Another witness, April Aguirre, posted video of the aftermath of the collision in which firefighters can be seen treating an injured patient on Twitter.
The female suspect appeared to be wearing a GPS ankle bracelet, she said. “When they brought her out she seemed like she was on drugs,” the witness added.
In an email, Aguirre said she did not see the crash itself, as she arrived afterward.
“When I got there they had a male on a gurney taking him away. Then a couple minutes later they had a female in the video in handcuffs & she could barely walk or she was resisting it seemed like,” she said.
The woman yelled out, “Please don’t leave me,” and other phrases as firefighters treated her injuries, Aguirre said.
Both suspects were hospitalized prior to booking, Tibbetts said.

VIDEO: Courtesy of Christopher Morales

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