Suspect jailed in church and temple burglaries in Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights

0702_NWS_SGT-L-CHURCHBURGLAR1

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Tips from the public helped investigators identify and arrest a suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights, officials said.
Deputies arrested Carolos Montiel, 36, of Hacienda Heights about 9 p.m. at a home in the 3400 block of Glenmark Drive, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante.
Over a period spanning more than a year, he’s burglarized two churches and a Buddhist temple, making off with more than $30,000 from the collection boxes, Detective Charell Heard said.
Though he remained unidentified, investigators had his picture from surveillance cameras. Detectives released those imaged to the public Wednesday in hopes that someone would recognize and report the suspect.
Less than a day later, investigators had a name.
“Shortly after the interview and the suspect’s photograph were televised and posted on media web sites, anonymous community members identified the suspect as Hacienda Heights resident Carlos Montiel,” Infante said in a written statement.
After confirming Montiel as their suspect, deputies set up a surveillance and arrested him without a struggle Thursday evening, Infante said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man sought for stealing more than $30,000 in collections from churches, temple in Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights

0702_NWS_SGT-L-CHURCHBURGLAR1

Detectives are asking the public’s help in identifying a serial burglary suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from two churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights over the past two years.
The burglar has targeted collection boxes in each of the capers, Detective Charell Heard. She declined to discuss the specific dates and locations of the crimes as the investigation continued, but said that more than $30,000 in cash had been stolen in all.
The burglaries took place during daytime hours while the houses of worship were open to the public, officials said.
0702_NWS_SGT-L-CHURCHBURGLAR2Officials described the burglar as a Latino man with “tribal band” tattoos on both of his legs and large tattoos on both his arms.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Heard at 626-330-3322.

PHOTOS courtesy if the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man accused of stealing money from friend’s wallet in front of police during Covina traffic stop

0628_NWS_SGT-L-WALLET

COVINA >> Police stopped a driver for a traffic violation but ended up arresting his passenger after an officer spotted the suspect stealing money from his friend’s wallet during the traffic stop early Saturday, officials said.
Victor Hugo Rojas-Salgado, 22, of Rowland Heights was arrested on suspicion of petty theft following the unusual incident, which unfolded about 1:45 a.m. in the 200 block of West College Street, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
Two officers stopped a car, suspecting the driver may have been intoxicated, the sergeant said. The driver was ultimately found to be sober, but was issued a ticket for a traffic violation.
But while one officer spoke with the driver outside the car, Rojas-Salgado helped himself to $20 from his friend’s wallet and placed it in his pocket, Peterson said. Rojas-Salgado apparently didn’t realize the second officer was watching.
The officer asked the driver if his passenger should be taking money, and arrested Rojas-Salgado after the driver told them his friend did not have permission.
Rojas-Salgado was released with a misdemeanor citation, Peterson said.

PHOTO – Courtesy of the Covina Police Department

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Rowland Heights man guilty of stabbing El Monte man to death in La Puente

POMONA >> A jury convicted a Rowland Heights man Tuesday of fatally stabbing his ex-boyfriend, an El Monte man, to death in an industrial neighborhood in La Puente last year.
Andres Aguirre, 28, also known as Andres Aguirre Garcia, faces up to 26 years to life in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court July 7 to be sentenced for the Feb. 12, 2014, slaying of 27-year-old Joseph Chacon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The men had ended a relationship years prior to the stabbing but had recently reunited and become friends at the time of the killing, officials said.
On the night of the fatal stabbing, Aguirre picked up the victim at his Rowland Heights home, authorities said. “Aguirre provided Chacon with a large amount of alcohol and drove the victim to an isolated industrial area in La Puente,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
The men ended up in a parking lot behind an insulation business owned by La Puente’s then-mayor, Charlie Klinakis, in the 15900 block of Old Valley Road in La Puente, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said at the time.
“At one point, the victim exited the car to urinate and Aguirre followed,” the statement said. “As the victim attempted to return to the car, Aguirre fatally stabbed Chacon in the chest and back.”
“Four of the five wounds were fatal or potentially fatal,” Deputy District attorney Lauren Guber said.
Chacon’s body was found by a passer-by a short time later.
Detectives arrested Aguirre two days later after he agreed to meet with detectives for an interview. He was the last person known to have seen Chacon alive.
As Aguirre’s story failed to add up, he confessed to stabbing Chacon, sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
Chacon and Aguirre had been involved in a relationship, but broke it off in 2006, the prosecutor said. The men fell out of touch for several years, but began a friendship when they met by a coincidence on a bus in the year or so leading up to the deadly encounter.
Following his arrest, Aguirre told investigators that he became angry at Chacon because he believed Chacon was being a bad friend and disrespecting him by taking phone calls and making other plans while the men spent the evening together, Guber said. Aguirre also made mention of seemingly unfounded, irrational fears that Chacon or one of his friends would harm him, though Chacon never physically harmed or threatened Aguirre.
Aguirre told detectives his intention on the night of the killing was to “test their friendship,” Guber said. He brought the knife with him when he picked up Chacon, later admitting to investigators that if the night did not go well, the thought of killing his friend had crossed his mind.
Following his arrest, the killer then led investigators to a roadside in Walnut where he had buried the knife used in the killing, described as an ornamental sword-like knife with a blade about 10 inches long, Guber said. “He seemed to have driven it into the ground with a hammer.”
That confession was played as evidence for the jury during the trial, Ardalani said.
Following a five-day trial, jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding Aguirre guilty of first degree murder, along with the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killing, the prosecutor said. In doing so, jurors rejected the defense’s position that Aguirre should be convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder.
“The jury worked hard. I think they came to the right decision, Guber said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Man suspected in arson spree in Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, Walnut

ARSONS

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A man is accused of lighting a series of seven fires inside the restrooms of open businesses in an unusually brazen arson spree in recent weeks in Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights and Walnut, authorities said.
Deputies arrested David Lin, 42, Tuesday, Sgt. John Hanson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said.
He had been sought in connection with a string of fires that began in December, the sergeant said. Three of the alleged fires occurred Tuesday alone.
Though the fires remained confined to the restrooms they were lit in, the suspect’s reckless and bold behavior was deeply concerning, arsonist profiler Detective Ed Nordskog of the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said.
“For somebody to go into an open business during business hours and light a fire, it’s really rare, even for serial arsonists,” Nordskog said.
“What he does is so high-risk” the detective added. “He’s a rare breed. That makes him dangerous.”
No injuries were reported in the fires, Hanson said.
Detectives first became aware of an arsonist operating in the area when they were called to investigate a fire lit Jan. 29 in the bathroom of L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, 515 S. Gran Avenue in Walnut, Hanson said. Someone set fire to paper items such as toilet paper and toilet seat covers, inside the bathroom.
The following day, another similar fire erupted in a bathroom at Office Depot, 17450 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, Hanson said. The flames caused at least $2,000 in damage before fire sprinklers and firefighters extinguished it.
Detectives learned that another similar fire had taken place in December at the Rolling Wok restaurant, 18382 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, as well as at the Guppy House restaurant, 17188 Colima Road in Hacienda Heights, on Jan. 27, the sergeant said.
A break in the case Tuesday, as the suspect accelerated his arson spree, Hanson said. Three similar bathroom fires were reported Tuesday at McDonalds, 19775 Colima Road in Rowland Heights; Del Taco, 21060 Golden Springs Drive in Rowland Heights; and finally at Ten Ren’s Tea Time, 515 S. Grand Ave. in Rowland Heights.
But as the fires were igniting Tuesday, detectives were managed to identify a suspect through surveillance images, witness statement and booking photos from previous arrests. A bulletin was sent out to patrol deputies, who spotted Lin driving Tuesday afternoon.
Lin led deputies on a brief chase before pulling over and surrendering in the parking lot of a Rowland Heights supermarket, Hanson said. During the pursuit, he allegedly through methamphetamine from the car.
He was booked on suspicion of one count of arson for the tea house fire, felony evading of police and drug possession, Hanson said. Addition charges for the other six arson fires were expected to come later.
Lin, described as a former West Covina resident who has been living out of his car in recent months, was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, records show. But Lin’s bail is likely to increase as additional charges are added later.

BOOKING PHOTO of San Gabriel Valley arson spree suspect Davin Lin, 42.(Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Coroner: Death of Rowland Heights woman was natural

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> The death of an elderly Rowland Heights woman whose body was found inside her mobile home Saturday was natural, coroner’s officials said.
Homicide detectives responded to investigate after Carmen Pena, 98, was found dead shortly before 11 a.m. inside her mobile home in the 1400 block of Paso real Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials.
Her nephew called 9-1-1 after finding her unresponsive in her home, sheriff’s Lt. Edward Wells said. The nephew noticed the front door of his aunt’s home was open when he arrived, raising suspicions as to what had happened to her.
But through an autopsy, coroner’s investigators determined Pena died of a heart attack, coroner’s Lt. Fred Corrall said.
No signs of trauma were found on the body, and no foul play was suspected, Corrall said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Man with crossbow arrested after Rowland Heights stand-off

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Deputies surrounded a home after a man armed with a crossbow holed-up inside for more than four hours before ultimately surrendering, officials said.
The incident began just before 10 a.m. with a report of a fight between a father and son in the 18000 block of Mescal Street, Sgt. Pauline Panis of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
When deputies arrived, the son — initially described only as a man — retreated into the home and displayed a crossbow to deputies, Panis said.
It was not believed they he had fired the weapon at anyone. In a written statement, sheriff’s officials described the holed-up man as a suspect involved in an assault with a deadly weapon involving a crossbow, though further details of the alleged assault were not available.
Deputies summoned a sheriff’s SWAT team to the home to take over the stand-off, officials said.
“The suspect is believed to be the sole occupant in the residence,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “For the safety of the public, surrounding homes in the area have been evacuated.”
After slightly more than four hours, officials persuaded the suspect to exit the home and surrender about 2:05 p.m., deputy Amber Smith of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said. The crossbow was recovered.
The suspect’s identity was not immediately available, nor were the charges he was expected to be booked for.
Officials at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station declined to comment, referring all inquiries to the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
No further details were released.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Resident pepper-sprayed during Rowland Heights home-invasion robbery

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Three masked robbers forced their way into a home and pepper sprayed one of two brothers inside before fleeing with valuables late Friday, authorities said.
The three robbers smashed a rear sliding-glass door about 7:40 p.m. to get into the home in the 17800 block of Calle Barcelona, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Tousey said.
The home-invasion robbers encountered a 21-year-old man and his teenage brother, who were upstairs when the intruders broke in, the sergeant said.
A robber pepper-sprayed one of the brothers before the three bandits fled with cash, jewelry and an iPhone, Tousey said. No other injuries were reported.
A detailed description of the robbers was not available, Tousey said. All three wore ski-masks during the crime.
Tousey said the robbers were last seen running from the home. It was unclear if a getaway car was involved.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 909-595-2264.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Suspect denies charges in connection with major injury, alleged DUI crash in Rowland Heights

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A Compton man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges in connection with an alleged drunken driving crash in Rowland Heights that left an 18-year-old man in a coma, officials said.
Pierr Gonzalez-Garcia, 21, has been charged in Pomona Superior Court with felony drunken driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent in connection with the Aug. 1 crash on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Prosecutors also allege the special allegations that Gonzalez-Garcia personally inflicted great bodily injury causing the victim to become comatose, and that his blood-alcohol level was at or greater than .15 percent, according to District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
In addition to being drunk, Gonzalez-Garcia was also allegedly driving at an excessive speed when he struck the victim’s car with his own, officials said. The 18-year-old victim suffered multiple broken bones in his face and body, as well as traumatic brain injury.
If convicted as charged, Gonzalez-Garcia could face up to eight years in state prison.
He was ordered to return to court Oct. 23 for a hearing.
The crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

CHP plans checkpoint in Rowland Heights Friday

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> California Highway Patrol officers are planning to screen drivers for sobriety at a checkpoint Friday in Rowland Heights, officials said.
The checkpoint is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at an undisclosed location with Rowland Heights, CHP officials said in a written statement.
Traffic volume permitting, all drivers passing through the checkpoint will be screened, officials said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email