SAN DIMAS — Deputies arrested two teenage resident’s of a San Dimas boys’ home Friday after they allegedly stole money from a table at a restaurant.
The 15-year-old boys, both residents of the McKinley Children’s Center, were booked on suspicion of burglary following the 2:30 p.m. incident at Roady’s Restaurant, 160 W. Bonita Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriguez said.
One of the boys distracted a waitress while the other snatched about $40 that had been left on a table by a patron to pay a bill, the sergeant said. Both young suspects then ran away.
Responding deputies found both teens in the area and took them into custody, she said. One was apprehended by sheriff’s San Dimas Station Capt. Don Slawson, who was assisting deputies on patrol.
The boys were sent to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey.
SAN DIMAS — A family escaped their burning home unharmed Saturday as a fast-spreading fire engulfed their Via Verde house.
The fire ignited just before 2:20 p.m. inside the attached garage of a single-story home in the 1300 block of Via Verde Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Todd Woods said.
Four residents — a man, his wife and two adult nieces — were shaken following the fire, but relieved that everyone was safe.
A firefighter was hurt when the roof the burning garage partially collapsed on him, Woods said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of what were believed to be minor injuries.
Resident Anna Solod, 27, first realized something was amiss.
“I heard a crackling noise, like fireworks,” she said. She also noticed light fixtures near the garage were blinking.
When she opened the door leading from the garage, she said found the interior engulfed in flames.
She alerted the other three residents of the fire as she dialed 9-1-1, and the family made it’s way out of their house, which was rapidly being consumed by flames.
The smoke inside the home became heavy, Solod said. “There were flames everywhere.”
Solod’s uncle, Alex Smirnoff, credited her with getting the family out safely.
“She just runs in. She just screams, ‘The house is on fire,’” he said.
“As I ran toward the garage, I could already see the fire around the door. I tried to peek in, but the backdraft was intense,” Smirnoff said. “It was so quick.”
Once the family escaped the home, the fire continued burning, causing severe damage throughout. A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available Saturday afternoon.
Along with the damage to the rental home, two Jaguar cars parked inside the garage were destroyed, and at least one more car parked outside was damaged. Smirnoff described one of the destroyed vehicles, a 1974 Jaguar XKE, as his “pride and joy.” The other Jaguar, an XJ6 belonged to his wife.
Firefighters extinguished the flames in about 40 minutes, Woods said, though smoke continued rising from the house more than an hour later.
“It looks like they stopped the fire really well,” Smirnoff said.
Smirnoff, a graphic designer, was especially glad that firefighters managed to save two computers inside his home which contain his life’s work.
“If it wasn’t for them, I probably would be out of work,” he said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Woods said. Nothing suspicious was initially noted.
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be screening drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during three checkpoints planned this weekend in La Verne, San Dimas and La Puente.
The La Verne Police Department will hold a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint Friday.
The checkpoint will run From 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the city, police officials said in a written statement.
Also Friday, sheriff’s deputies will be holding a checkpoint from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. the following morning at an undisclosed location within San Dimas, authorities said.
And deputies from the sheriff’s Industry Station plan to hold a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. the following morning within La Puente, officials added.
Funding for the operations is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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.