SAN DIMAS >> Authorities released a suspect sketch and offered a $20,000 reward Wednesday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of gunman who fatally shot a San Dimas sandwich shop owner during a robbery last week.
Investigators also released a suspect sketch in connection with the June 2 shooting a Quiznos restaurant at 1034 Arrow Highway that fatally wounded owner Pravin “Peter” Patel, 62.
“Besides being a husband, a father, a grandfather and a father-in-law, Mr. Patel was the owner of the Quiznos and he is very well respected in the community,” said Lt. Dave Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. “Everybody likes him. He was a loving, kind man.”
The unidentified shooter was as a white or Latino man in his early-20s, about 6 feet to 6 feet 1 inch tall and 180 pounds. During the crime, he wore a black T-shirt, plaid shorts and a baseball cap.
“We’re asking for the public’s help,” Coleman said. “Anybody who may have been in the area around 3:20 p.m…. any information that you could provide would be of great assistance to us.”
The office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich authorized the reward.
Patel was working as usual when the robber entered the sandwich shop, brandished a handgun and demanded money, officials said.
Patel handed over the money from the register to the robber, who threatened to harm the two customers inside the store if he did not, Coleman said. Patel then followed the robber outside.
“As Mr. Patel exited the restaurant, a struggle ensued between he and the suspect,and Mr. Patel was shot and mortally wounded,” Coleman said.
The brazen and deadly daytime was “very unusual” for the area, Capt. Duane Harris of the Sheriff’s San Dimas Station said. “This is appropriately described as a quiet community,” he said.
A large memorial of flowers and candles sat in front of Quiznos shop Wednesday. Family members did not wish to comment.
Monrovia police Lt. Mike Lee said he knew Patel since before he bought his Quiznos restaurant, when he owned a video store on Arrow Highway and Sunflower Avenue.
“He was just a good man,” Lee said. “He always remembered your name.”
Lee described Patel as a soft spoken man who always treated customers nicely.
Signs on the door of the eatery invited to public to a memorial service at 2:15 p.m. Thursday at the Memory Garden Memorial Park and Mortuary, 455 W. Central Ave. in Brea. “Peter was a hard working family man who brought people together,” the sign read. “He was passionate about serving his food and exchanging family stories with his customers. Peter spent every day working side by side with the woman he loved most — his wife, Maya “Mary” Patel.”
A candlelight vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Friday in front of the Quiznos store. A website collecting donations to help Patel’s family has been established at www.youcaring.com/pravin.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies are hunting for two men who robbed a Chase bank branch Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place about 5:30 p.m. at the bank, 1001 Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
One robber entered the bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash as the second robber acted as a lookout, the lieutenant said.
After obtaining cash, both robbers were last seen fleeing from the bank on foot, she added. No injuries were reported.
SAN DIMAS >> A wigged and bearded bandit robbed a San Dimas Boot Barn store Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The robbery took place about 1:20 p.m. at the store, 659 W. Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Lyndon Dancel said.
There were conflicting witnesses accounts as to whether the robber was armed with a handgun or merely motioned as if he had one when he entered the shoe store and demanded money, Dancel said.
After obtaining several hundred dollars from the store’s register, Dancel said the robber got into a charcoal gray, full-size pickup truck with two other male suspects waiting inside, the sergeant said. The truck was last seen heading west on Bonita Avenue.
None of the four employees working inside the store were hurt, he added.
According to initial reports from the scene, the robber was about 18 to 25 years old, with tattoos on his neck. He wore a gray wig and a gray beard, though it was not immediately clear whether the beard was genuine or part of the robber’s disguise. He wore blue jeans and a baseball cap during the heist.
DIAMOND BAR >> Sheriff’s officials Thursday announced the arrest of a 42-year-old San Dimas woman who was found driving in Orange County with the remains of her slain mother-in-law in an SUV Wednesday following a fire at the mother-in-law’s Diamond Bar home.
Unyoung Lee had been a “person of interest” in the investigation ever since she was found driving in Tustin early Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
After a day of questioning, detectives arrested Lee about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County booking records. She was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail pending her arraignment, scheduled Friday in Pomona Superior Court.
Orange county coroner’s officials withheld the identity of Lee’s alleged victim and 77-year-old mother-in-law.
A large fire that broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday at the victim’s house in the 1200 block of N. Diamond Bar Boulevard first drew emergency personnel to the home, according to deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Firefighters found no one inside the home.
But Tustin police soon received a tip that the resident of the home had been killed, the house had been set on fire intentionally, and the possible killer was driving in the Tustin area with the victim’s remains in the car.
Tustin police quickly found the car and detained Lee as detectives continued their investigation both in Tustin and in Diamond Bar.
A motive in the slaying has not been released.
A Canadian national who fled his home country ahead of his trial on charges of molesting a disabled child in 1980, then was captured living under an assumed identity at a San Dimas mobile home park in 2013, has been returned to Canada to face justice, authorities said Wednesday.
After 35 years as a fugitive, and another two years spent fighting extradition back to Canada, officials returned Raymond Douglas Charles Macleod, 72, to Vancouver late Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a written statement.
“For the victim in this case, justice has been a long time coming, but she can take consolation in the fact that her alleged assailant is now being held accountable,” said David Jennings, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Los Angeles. “I applaud my officers and the ICE attorneys whose perseverance made this happen. We will not allow our country to serve as a safe haven for those who commit reprehensible crimes.”
ICE agents and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Macleod Oct. 28, 2013, at a mobile home park where he had been living in the 1400 block of Camper View Road in San Dimas, sheriff’s officials said at the time. He was believed to have been living there for at least eight years prior to his arrest.
He’s accused of the 1974 rape of a 5-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy, ICE officials said.
After twice attempting unsuccessfully to flee Canada to the U.S. while freed from custody during his initial trial, Macleod was acquitted due to a judge’s error, sheriff’s officials said. He was ordered to appear at a new trial in January of 1980, but disappeared.
After he was recaptured in 2013, a judge ordered Macleod deported to Canada in March of 2014, authorities said.
“Macleod subsequently appealed the judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” according to the ICE statement. “Ultimately, both panels concurred with the original ruling, paving the way for this week’s removal.”
PHOTOS courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
SAN DIMAS >> A Covina woman and her two dogs died late Saturday after she was struck by a vehicle that ran a red light around the corner from her home in San Dimas, authorities said.
Violet Margaret Lopez-Prieto, 62, died at the scene of the 10:08 p.m. collision at the angled intersection of Badillo and Cypress streets, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
“She was crossing the intersection when the (driver) failed to stop for a red light,” sheriff’s Sgt. Vicky Gregory said.
The woman and two dogs she was walking were struck by the vehicle, Gregory said.
Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene, Corrall said.
The driver of the car, described only as a man, remained at the scene and cooperated with deputies, sheriff’s Sgt. Louis Serrano Jr. said. There were no initial signs of intoxicated driving, and the driver was not arrested as the investigation continued.
Lopez-Prieto lived in a house about a quarter-mile from where she was struck, just across the city border in Covina.
Family members gathered at the home Sunday said they were not ready to comment as they continued absorbing the shock of Lopez-Prieto’s sudden death.
Public records indicated Lopez-Prieto had been an owner of the home since 1998, and the home had been owned by her family since at least 1992.
Only a discarded paramedic’s glove marked the scene of the fatal collision Sunday afternoon.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the collision were available.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies investigated reports of a shooting Friday, but found no sign of a victim or suspect, officials said.
Authorities received calls reporting gunfire about 7:33 p.m. in the 300 block of West Nubia Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of Latino men shooting at a black man with a semi-automatic handgun, she said. It was unclear of the intended target was struck.
But deputies found no victim or suspects at the scene, Edwards said. And no gunshot victims had shown up at nearby hospitals Friday night.
SAN DIMAS >> A 29-year-old San Dimas man convicted of assaulting his then-1-year-old son, leaving the child disabled, received a life sentence Wednesday, officials said.
A Pomona Superior Court jury convicted James David Higbee of assault on a child causing paralysis and child abuse on Nov. 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The jury also found true the special allegation that Higbee personally inflicted great bodily injury in the crimes.
The toddler’s maternal grandmother dropped the child off at his father’s San Dimas home for a visitation on Sept. 27, 2011, officials said. The parents were separated.
“When the paternal grandmother returned to the home from a short trip to the grocery store, the boy’s body was limp, his breathing was loud and uneven and his eyes had rolled back in his head,” Ardalani said.
The boy suffered two skull fractures and severe brain injuries, she said.
“At trial, doctors testified that the child had numerous skull and brain surgeries as a result of his injuries,” Ardalani said. “Despite medical treatment, the now-4-year-old child is physically disabled.
The boy continues to suffer with educational deficits and the rights side of his body remains weak, Ardalai said.
It was unclear how exactly the injuries were inflicted, Ardalani said.
Higbee, who had remained free on bail pending the trial process, was remanded into custody following his conviction in November, Ardalani said.
SAN DIMAS >> Paramedics rushed a 2-year-old girl to a hospital Sunday after she fell from the second-story window of a San Dimas home, authorities said.
The incident was reported shortly before noon in the 2200 block of Terrebone Avenue, according to Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s officials.
The toddler was in stable condition as rescuers flew by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, fire Capt. Patrick Carter said.
Deputies determined the fall was accidental, and no foul play was suspected, sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
No further details were available.
SAN DIMAS >> A Chino Hills man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that severely injured a passenger and killed a dog late Tuesday, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol officials expected to arrest Matthew Kitakis, 32, upon his release from a hospital, where he was being treated for injuries suffered in the 9:50 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway at Arrow Highway in San Dimas, CHP Officer Richard McAllister said.
A 34-year-old Chino Hills woman riding as a passenger in the Ford Explorer driven by Kitakis was thrown from the SUV in the crash and suffered major injuries, the officer said. Paramedics took the woman to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious injuries, including possible skull and spine fractures.
A dog also riding inside the SUV died in the crash, McAllister said.
The crash occurred as Kitakis was driving the Explorer at 65 to 70 mph in the right-hand lane, officials said.
“For unknown reasons, the driver lost control of the Explorer, allowing it to veer to the right and drive up an embankment,” McAllister said. The SUV then overturned, ultimately coming to a rest back on its wheels.
The crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.