SAN DIMAS — Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Fontana man for burglary early Sunday after finding him hiding in the closet of a Via Verde home, sheriff’s officials said.
Kaleb Cooper, 18, was booked on suspicion of burglary following his 8:15 a.m. arrest at a home on Paseo Marlena, just east of Via Esperanza, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Officials first received a report of a possible trespasser in a nearby backyard just after 6:45 a.m., however he was gone when deputies arrived, sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriguez said.
But a woman called the sheriffs San Dimas Station about an hour later to report hearing noises in her home, and finding a screen had been removed from a window, the sergeant said.
Authorities advised the women to get out of her home, which she did. Rodriguez said. Deputies then searched the house and found Cooper hiding in a closet.
He was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.
SAN DIMAS — San Dimas Mountrain rescue team recruiting members
The San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team is recruiting new volunteer members interested in outdoor adventure and serving their community.
Founded in 1955 and part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the team is called upon to search for and rescue missing, trapped or injured hikers; rescue accident victims in the mountains; assist with evacuations during disasters and a host of other duties, team officials said in a written statement. Team members are on call 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
“Team members continually train in search an tracking, mountaineering, climbing, rapelling, map and compass usage, helicopter extraction and other types of evacuation techniques, snow and ice rescue, swiftwater rescue and more,” according to the statement.
Each members also becomes a reserve deputy sheriff and is trained as a certified emergency medical technician.
An information meeting is planned at 8 a.m. Dec. 7 at the Mountain Rescue Station, 114 East First Street in San Dimas.
No experience is necessary, and all training is provided, officials said. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, in good health, be a full-time student or have steady employment and have a clear background.
For an application, for more information and to RSVP for the informational meeting, visit www.sdmrt.com/joinus.htm.
SAN DIMAS — A law enforcement union announced a $10,000 reward Thursday for information leading to the arrest of a 19-year-old El Monte man accused of stealing two bags containing sheriff’s badges and identification cards from the Raging Waters park in San Dimas in September.
Randy Sandoval has been identified as one of two suspects in the Sept. 22 theft at the amusement park, which was closed to the public for a private gathering of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees, Lt. Janice Banks of the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said. The two bags stolen belonged to off-duty deputies assigned to the sheriff’s Palmdale Station.
He was identified via a surveillance photo obtained at a store where a credit card taken in the theft was used within hours of the crime, officials said. A photograph of Sandoval, whose identity was not known at the time, along with a female accomplice was first published by sheriff’s officials Oct. 17.
Help from the public results in the arrest of a 17-year-old girl in connection with the crime, as well as the identification of Sandoval, officials from the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said in a written statement.
In hopes of tracking down the remaining suspect and getting back the stolen items, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff’s, which hosted the September event at Raging Waters, has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Sandoval.
The bags were taken from inside an employee break room in front of the park’s security office, Banks said.
In the three hours that followed, a credit card stolen from one of the off-duty deputies was used to rack up about $670 in charges at businesses in San Dimas, West Covina and Baldwin Park.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Banks at 661-294-3544, or 213-276-8108
PHOTO of Randy Sandoval, 19, of El Monte courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies Thursday announced the arrest of a San Dimas man who fled Canada in 1980 pending his re-trial for the alleged rape of disabled child in 1974.
Raymond Douglas MacLeod, 71, was being held on immigration violation and weapons charges as he awaited deportation back to Canada to face charges there, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The fugitive, who officials said had been using a dead person’s social security number, was arrested Monday at his home at the East Shore Recreational Vehicle Park, 1440 Camper View Road in San Dimas, near Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, authorities said. The mobile home park is home to many children.
He had allegedly been hiding from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for more than 33 years.
“They’e eager to get him back in Canada,” Deputy Johnny Jones said, adding that the victim in the 1974 rape case had been informed of his recapture.
Deputy Dan Whitten, who identified MacLeod as a Canadian fugitive, said two rifles and several high-capacity magazines, including a 100-round drum, from an AK-47 rifle that was not found were seized from MacLeod’s mobile home when he was arrested without a struggle. McLeod is a convicted felon due to drunken driving and hit-and-run case stemming from the 1980s and is barred from possessing weapons.
He has been arrested several times in the United States over the past three decades, but not linked by law enforcement to the Canadian case.
Though MacLeod was expected to be charged with weapons violations in Los Angeles County, local officials planned to let the Canadian case be handled first.
“We’re going to go ahead and let (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deport him,” Whitten said. Weapons charged will likely be filed later, generating an arrest warrant should MacLeod ever return to the United States.
MacLeod’s then-5-year-old victim is now married with a family and expressed relief that MacLeod was in custody, Whitten said.
“In 1974, Mr. MacLeod was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the rape of a 5 year-old who suffered with cerebral palsy,” officials from the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said in a written statement.
As he was free on bail pending his trial in Canada, he twice attempted to flee Canada to the U.S. but was stopped, officials said.
“He was tried, and in four days was acquitted due to an error made by the judge,” the statement said. An appeals court ordered a new trial in January of 1980, however MacLeod was not present in court during the appeals process.
“MacLeod was ultimately found to have fled Canada, and a warrant was issued for his arrest by the RCMP,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
The case went cold for more than three decades until January, when Deputy Dan Whitten of the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau became aware of MacLeod’s possible connection to the Canadian case.
After running McLeod’s information in January, Whitten said he noticed a “very vague” entry listed in connection with his name in a national crime database. After three or four hours of research and a call to Canadian investigators, Whitten confirmed MacLeod was the fugitive rape suspect.
Canadian authorities immediately began the lengthy process of extraditing MacLeod back to Canada.
But the deputy said he discovered that MacLeod was using a fraudulent social security number and was living in the U.S. illegally, speeding up MacLeod’s return to a Canadian courthouse.
“Due to the seriousness of the crime he was accused of, Deputy Whitten contacted ICE and the United States Marshals Office,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Following a 10-month investigation, ICE confirmed Mr. MacLeod’s Canadian Citizenship, which led to his arrest and detention pending deportation.”
Investigators were cautious not to tip MacLeod off to his pending arrest as they continued their investigation. “I was very careful to watch my footsteps,” Whitten said.
MacLeod was believed to have been living the mobile home park for at least eight years.
It was unclear how long the deportation process would take.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
SAN DIMAS — A fire scorched two cars and a residential garage Sunday, but was extinguished before it spread to the home, authorities said.
The fire was first reported at 4:51 p.m. at Arrow Highway and Ingleton Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said.
Two cars were and the attached garage were on fire when firefighters arrived, he said. The flames spread into the home’s attic, but not into the living space.
Firefighters declared the fire extinguished at 5:16 p.m., Peters said.
The cause remained under investigation, and no injuries were reported.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A young woman was injured and a young man believed dead after their car plunged hundreds of feet over the side of Glendora Ridge Road Friday in the forest north of San Dimas and caught fire, authorities said.
The crash was first reported about 12:30 a.m. on Glendora Ridge Road between Glendora Mountain and Mt. Baldy roads, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said. A caller used a nearby pay phone to report seeing a fire and possible car crash.
“An unidentified driver was driving a Toyota Scion XB, traveling westbound on Glendora Ridge Road, west of Mount Baldy Road, at an undetermined speed,” California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said in a written statement. “The vehicle veered to the right, left the roadway, and struck a dirt embankment before rolling down the hillside.”
Rescuers arrived at the scene to find an injured 19-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman who had managed to crawl free from the mangled vehicle, according to sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol officials. She told officials that a her friend, a young man of about the same age, was still inside the car.
The woman was flown to a hospital by helicopter for treatment, Berg said. An update on her condition was not available.
The crash touched off a small brush fire where it came to a rest more than 600 feet over the side of the road, Berg said. Firefighters extinguished the flames with the use of a water-dropping helicopter.
Officials discovered burned human remains inside the car just before 7:30 a.m. and summoned coroner’s investigators to the scene, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said. The body was believed to be that of the driver.
The CHP is investigating the crash, with help from sheriff’s search and rescue team members equipped to access the rugged terrain, officials said.
SWAT team members arrested a San Dimas man accused of threatening his adult son with a handgun Saturday following a stand-off that lasted more than six hours, authorities said.
Michel Zerrudo, 57, was ultimately booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats shortly before 2 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Buckner said. After holing up inside his home for more than six hours, he exited the home and surrendered.
The incident began about 7:35 a.m. at the home in the 100 block of Calle Renata when Zerrudo became involved in an argument with his adult son and pointed a handgun at him, Sgt. Rebecca Rodriquez said.
The son managed to get away from his father unhurt, and other family members also exited the home, the sergeant said. But Zerrudo himself remained in the house and refused orders to come out and surrender.
The cul-de-sac was evacuated, and heavily armed deputies from the Sheriff’s Enforcement Bureau, along with their armored vehicles, arrived at the scene a short time later.
“We heard the helicopter saying, ‘Come out with your hands up,” said neighbor Gloria Gonzalez, 48.
Minutes later, she said deputies with rifles in hand came to her home and told her she needed to evacuate due to a man nearby with a gun.
Several residents, such as 59-year-old Susan Lukachie, said deputies had them leave their home by climbing ladders over their backyard fences in order to stay out of harms way.
Lakachie said she saw her neighbor standing near the window of an upstairs bedroom. He yelled something to the deputies, though she could not make out what it was.
A crisis negotiator made contact with the holed-up suspect, but Zerrudo continued refusing to exit the home.
A loud bang consistent with that created by a flash-bang grenade was heard from the home about 1 p.m., however officials could not confirm whether a flash-bang grenade was deployed into the home. Several quieter popping noises were heard coming from the home minutes later, though the source of the sound was not clear.
Zerrudo came out of the home and surrendered to deputies just before 2 p.m., as deputies were preparing to pump tear gas into the home.
About two-dozen evacuated residents who waited at a nearby corner were advised to move back to avoid being exposed to tear gas just before Zerrudo surrendered.
They said Zerrudo lived at the home with his wife, son and daughter-in-law. But the son and his wife were in the process of moving out.
Zerrudo moved in about three years ago, Lakachi said.
Though Lukachie said she had only spoken with Zerrudo two or three times, he had mentioned an affinity for firearms during those brief contacts.
“He said he collects guns,” she said.
Buckner said several guns were found inside the home, though it was unclear if the handgun believed to have been used to threaten his son was among them.
The neighbors made the best of their unexpected evacuation, setting up an impromptu picnic with donuts and pizza just beyond the yellow crime scene tape that cordoned off their street.
They erupted into cheers when deputies drove by with a handcuffed Zerrudo in the back seat of a patrol car.
A five-vehicle crash on the 10 Freeway Saturday sent five people to the hospital, two of them via helicopter, authorities said.
The collision was first reported just before 10 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway at Via Verde, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
It involved a Volkswagen Beetle, a Mazda minivan, a Buick sedan, a Ford F-250 pickup truck and a Chevy Blazer SUV, which overturned, CHP Officer Roberto Jimenez said.
A 58-year-old Baldwin Park woman driving the Volkswagen had to be freed from the wreckage by firefighters, Los Angeles County Fire Department Firefighter Scott Gibbs said.
She and another woman, who was driving the Buick, were flown to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment.
The Volkswagen driver suffered significant injuries including major lacerations, a dislocated hip and other trauma, Jimenez said. The woman who was driving the Buick, 50, appeared to have less serious injuries, but was also flown to the hospital as a precaution.
Rescuers landed on the eastbound lanes of the freeway to pick up the woman, officials said.
A man, woman and toddler inside the overturned SUV were taken to a hospital via ambulance for examination, though all appeared to be okay, Jimenez said.
The little boy who was riding in the SUV was properly belted in to a child safety seat.
The drivers of the pickup truck and the Mazda minivan also appeared to have suffered no significant injuries, officials said.
The chain reaction crash took place when traffic suddenly slowed do to a spun out care ahead of the crash scene, Jimenez said.
The driver of the Ford pickup truck was unable to stop in time to avoid the vehicles ahead of him and slammed into the Buick sedan at full speed, Jimenez said.
The Buick was then pushed forward into the Volkswagen, which then struck the Chevy SUV, which struck the minivan before overturning, he said.
Nothing criminal was initially suspected in what was being investigated as an accident, Jimenez said.
All traffic lanes in both directions of the 10 Freeway were briefly shut down following the crash, however a Sig Alert was not declared, CHP Officer Ed Jacobs said. The westbound lanes were directly affected by the crash, while the eastbound lanes had to be shut down to accommodate the landing of fire department helicopter.
Traffic reportedly backed up for several miles, and CHP logs listed reports of drivers exiting their vehicles and getting into fights, as well as driving over embankments and along the right shoulder to get out of the jam.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
PHOTO courtesy of Mitchell Crawford, San Dimas
Authorities on Friday asked for the public’s help in identifying and finding a serial bank robber dubbed “The Luger Bandit”.
They also released bank surveillance photos.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo are offering a combined reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robber.
The FBI gave the suspect the moniker “The Luger Bandit” due to the gun he uses which was described as a silver German Luger-style weapon.
The bandit robbed a Wells Fargo in Granada Hills on Jan. 3, a Wells Fargo in Fontana on Feb. 8, a Chase Bank in Mira Loma on March 12 and a Bank of America in Corona on June 4.
He is also tied to an attempted robbery of a Wells Fargo in San Dimas on March 8.
During each robbery, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the suspect orders employees and customers to the ground, brandishes a weapon and demands cash in various denominations.
The bandit left empty-handed when he tried to rob the Wells Fargo at 925 W. Arrow Highway in San Dimas.
Deputies said an armed masked robber ordered everyone to the floor.
But once all the customers and the employees complied, there was no one left to hand over money. The robber left the bank.
Eimiller said witnesses have described the suspect’s vehicle as a charcoal gray BMW, 3-series with a sports package.
Bank surveillance photos show the the bandit wearing pullover sweatshirts with hoods as well as a face mask, sunglasses and black gloves to conceal his appearance.
He also carries a black bag with a strap during the robberies.
The suspect was described as a white man or Latino, 30 to 40, between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet in height and about 200 pounds.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the bandit is asked to call the FBI or dial 9-1-1. In Los Angeles, the FBI can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-888-226-8443.
- Ruby Gonzales
PHOTO courtesy of the FBI
Deputies arrested a man Thursday following a series of five baseball bat robberies at San Gabriel Valley convenience stores in matter of hours, authorities said.
Malcom Buchanan, 19, of Duarte was booked in connection with the final robbery in Thursday’s spree at a gas station in unincorporated East Pasadena as officials continued investigating him in connection with the other four robberies, police and sheriff’s officials said.
While a concrete link had not been established Thursday afternoon, ““They’re definitely looking into it,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The string of robberies began shortly after midnight at a 7-Eleven store in San Dimas, investigators said. Similar robberies and attempted robberies were then reported in West Covina, Monrovia, Arcadia and unincorporated Pasadena before deputies spotted a car matching the description of one used in at least one of the robberies was spotted, stopped and arrested by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station in Duarte, sheriff’s Sgt. Lynette O’Brien said.
Sgt. Pete Shupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said masked robber entered the 7-Eleven at 660 E. Foothill Blvd. at 12:11 a.m.
He found a clerk working in a back stockroom, Lt. Andy Berg said.
The bat-wielding robber ordered the clerk to the front of the store and demanded cash from the register, officials said.
When the clerk opened the register, he said the robber reached in, took $200 and fled the store.
About half an hour later, a masked man lugging a baseball bat then showed up at the 7-Eleven at 1319 W. Merced Ave. in West Covina around 12:42 a.m.
“He told the clerk ‘Give me the money’ while holding the bat threateningly,” West Covina Police Lt. David Lee said.
The robber grabbed about $350 from the till and left.
Lee said the suspect was last seen in a white vehicle, possibly a van or a sport utility vehicle. A second suspect was driving the vehicle.
The robber was described as possibly Latino, around 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 150 pounds.
In the San Dimas case, the robber wore a gray jacket, officials said.
Initial investigation indicated the same robber was involved in both crimes, Berg said.
Nearly 11 hours passed before three more incidents of convenience store robberies involving a suspect armed with a baseball bat were reported.
Monrovia police responded to a report of a similar robbery about 11:25 a.m. at 7-Eleven, 922 W. Duarte Road, officials said. Again, the robber brandished a baseball bat during the crime.
A witness to the Monrovia crime was able to provide police with a description and license plate of the getaway car, which was immediately broadcast to nearby law enforcement agencies.
Another attempted heist involving a baseball bat wielding suspect occurred minutes later at a liquor store in the 800 block of West Huntington Drive in Arcadia, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
It was unclear what caused him to abandon the robbery attempt and flee empty-handed.
Minutes after the Arcadia crime, a man with a baseball bat arrived at a gas station at Colorado Boulevard and Michillinda Avenue in an unincorporated county area east of Pasadena, O’Brien said.
A witness provided investigators with the license plate number of the getaway car, and deputies spotted the vehicle
Deputies searching the area spotted the vehicle and pulled it over on Bashor Street near Vineyard Avenue in Duarte about noon.
There was no description of a second robber who may have partnered with the suspect in at least some of the alleged crimes.
The robbery in San Dimas capped off a particularly unfortunate month for the convenience store.
It was the third incident at the store in recent weeks, which has also experienced another robbery, as well as a car crashing through the front window, officials said. The same clerk was working during all three incidents.
A man brandished a pistol in a robbery at the store on May 14, Berg said. He was described as black, 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, investigators said. He wore a dark green hooded sweatshirt and black pants.
A car Sunday smashed through the front window of the Foothill Boulevard convenience store, officials said.
No crime was suspected in connection with the crash, in which a 50-year-old San Dimas man’s 1990 Honda Accord struck the store after his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator, Sgt. Victor Ibarra said.
- Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Melissa Pinion-Whit contributed to this report.