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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AP: Body of Rowland Heights man pulled from Lake Havasu

From the Associated Press:

LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZ. — Authorities say the body of a Rowland Heights man missing since Monday has been pulled from Lake Havasu.
Mohave County Sheriff’s officials said deputies spotted the body of Felipe Murillo, 53, about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
They say Murillo’s body was located in the water in the North Basin off of Windsor State Park.
Sheriff’s officials said there were no obvious signs of trauma on the body and foul play isn’t suspected.
They said the death is being investigated and autopsy results are pending.
Authorities say Murillo jumped into the water from his boat to get cooled off near the Windsor Beach launch ramp Monday afternoon and failed to surface.

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Rowland Heights woman rescued after being held by kidnappers for two days

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> After spending two days bound and blindfolded in squalor inside a Rowland Heights garage,a 44-year-old woman grasped one of her rescuers in a firm hug when deputies freed her Wednesday from four suspects accused of kidnapping her for ransom.
Though terrified and weak from having been deprived food and water for two days, the Rowland Heights woman was expected to make a full recovery following her abduction Monday, Capt. Merrill Ladenheim of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau said once the case was made public Friday.
Meanwhile, two men and two women pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of kidnapping for ransom and conspiracy in connection with the unusual crime, according to sheriff’s investigators and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
0809_NWS_SGT-L-KIDNAPhandin1All four suspects live in Rowland Heights, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
“The victim was located in very squalid conditions in a cluttered garage, on the floor,” the captain said. “She was duct taped. Her hands were bound.” The woman had also been blindfolded with duct tape.
“She was not given food or water,” he said. “She was kept their for two full days, deprived of food and water.” The woman was also forced to relieve herself using a bucket.
The four suspects entered their pleas Friday during an arraignment hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, district attorney’s officials said.
They are the victim’s former friend and longtime co-worker Judith Adriana Maldonado, 40; her boyfriend Francisco Inacua-Rosas, 34; Uziel Cuevas Figueroa, 32 and his girlfriend Rocio Inacua, 32, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. Inacua-Rosas and Inacua are siblings.
0809_NWS_SGT-L-KIDNAPhandin3The suspects were being held in lieu of $2 million bail each, officials added. If convicted as charged, they could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Inacua-Rosas, Inacua and Figueroa were arrested Wednesday shortly after deputies rescued the kidnap victim, Ladenheim said. Maldonado was jailed Thursday.
Figueroa was guarding the victim in the filthy garage when deputies freed her Wednesday.
Ladenheim said the woman’s nightmare began Monday afternoon as she was heading home from work at a factory in Industry, where she had worked alongside Maldonado for “many years,” Ladenheim said.
One of the kidnappers, later identified as Inacua, called victim’s husband of two decades and demanded a $110,000 ransom, Ladenheim said. She threatened to kill or hurt the victim if the demand was not met.
0809_NWS_SGT-L-KIDNAPhandin2“The plot was purely for financial gain,” Ladenheim said.
Maldonado had heard the victim mention that she and her husband had saved up some money, but the family did not have access to the large sum of money demanded by the kidnappers, sheriff’s officials. The victim’s husband immediately notified authorities of the kidnapping and ransom call.
Inacua-Rosas offered the victim a ride as she was walking along Colima Road in Rowland Heights Monday afternoon, sheriff’s officials said. She had just missed her bus home. During the ride, he contacted his alleged co-conspirators via text messages.
Inacua-Rosas drove the woman to a restaurant where he told her he was going to get some food, Ladenheim said.
“Both Rocio Inacuna and Uziel Figueroa then, at gunpoint, forced the victim down the floorboard, bound, gagged and blindfolded her, and drove her to that garage in Rowland Heights,” the captain said. And for two days, she remained a captive.
He described a dramatic scene as deputies entered the garage where the woman had been held.
“Upon being rescued from those squalid conditions, she removed her blindfold, the duct tape, and immediately saw the lead detective, who happened to be in the door of the garage,” Ladenheim said.
“She immediately hugged the detective,” he said. “It was a very, very emotional rescue, and we are happy to report that she is safe and expected to make a full recovery.”
The captain described the kidnapping victim as “very hard-working” and “a very honest citizen.”
Officials said the suspects speak only Spanish, however their immigration status remained under investigation Friday.
Ladenheim said the suspects initially appeared unaware of the seriousness of their alleged offense, or the fact they face potential life sentences behind bars. They asked questions regarding what would happen once they were released from custody.
“While this is a frequent and common occurrence in other countries, we don’t deal with this very often here,” Ladenheim said.
But he added, “I believe it happens more often that is reported to law enforcement.”
Though ransomers generally threaten victims not to contact police, Ladenheim urged anyone who receives such a threat to report it immediately to law enforcement.

VIDEO from press conference: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

KIDNAP SUSPECTS PHOTOS of garage courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

 

 

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UPDATED: Suspicious substance found at Rowland Heights Post Office determined to be baby powder

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — A hazardous materials team responded to the U.S. Post Office in Rowland Heights Sunday after a suspicious white powder — ultimately determined to be baby powder — was found at the facility, authorities said.
The incident began about 9:50 a.m., when someone called from the post office, 1521 Nogales Street, to report finding a “white, powdery substance” in an area where boxes are kept, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Causey said. There was no note or other suspicious material accompanying the powder.
Firefighters who arrived to take a look at the situation summoned a sheriff’s hazardous materials team to continue the investigation, the sergeant said.
Officials ultimately determined that the substance was ordinary baby powder and declared safe about noon.

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Man wounded, suspect arrested in stabbing at Rowland Heights motel

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — Deputies arrested man Sunday after he stabbed an associate in the leg during an argument at a Rowland Heights motel, authorities said.
Deputies booked Anthony Bolhderes, 28, of Lomita on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon following the incident, which took place about 12:40 p.m. in a hallway at the Quality Inn & Suites, 1170 Fairway Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ed Wells said.
“The suspect and victim knew each other and got into an argument,” Wells said. “The victim was stabbed in the thigh.”
Paramedics took the injured man to a hospital where he underwent treatment for an injury that was not considered to be life-threatening, the lieutenant said.
Responding deputies found and detained Bolhderes nearby, he said.
The victim’s age and city of residence were not available, and the nature of the argument between the men was not clear.

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