SANTA FE SPRINGS — A gunman fled with cash following a liquor store robbery early Friday, police said.
The crime took place about 7:30 a.m. when a man armed with a handgun walked into Bruce’s Liquors, at Imperial Highway and Bloomfield Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The robber demanded money from the clerk and fled after obtaining an unknown amount of cash, the lieutenant said. He got into a car, which possibly had a driver waiting inside, which was last seen driving west on Imperial Highway.
A description of the robber was not available.
A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 90 years to life in prison for fatally shooting one man and trying to kill a second man near the railroad tracks in Santa Fe Springs in 2009.
Jose Zapata’s sentencing was held Tuesday at Norwalk Superior Court.
On Oct. 4, a jury convicted Zapata of the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Corning and the attempted murder of then 19-year-old Julio Serrano of Whittier, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales.
She said jurors found true the allegations the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang, that Zapata personally fired a handgun and used a gun.
The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, murder during the commission of a carjacking and gang-murder, Davila-Morales said.
Zapata, who was 17 when the murder occurred, was tried as an adult. Whittier police said he was from West Covina at the time of his arrest.
The other defendant in the case, 22-year-old Erick Rodriguez of Whittier, was acquitted of the charges on Oct. 4., she said.
Whittier police said the shooting happened near the railroad tracks, just west of the 8900 block of Dice Road in Santa Fe Springs.
Officers checking out a call about gunfire at 12:20 a.m. Dec. 8, 2009, found the two victims.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene. The wounded Serrano was located on Dice Road and taken to a hospital.
Rodriguez and Zapata were identified as suspects in the shooting and arrested.
- Ruby Gonzales
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Police jailed four people on suspicion of drunken driving, and two others on other charges, during a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday, police said.
More than 900 cars were screened at the Whittier Police Department’s checkpoint, which was held from 8:30 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday on Slauson Avenue, just east of Sorenson Avenue, in Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Four suspected drunken drivers were arrested, along with two other people who were jailed due to outstanding criminal warrant, police said.
A total of 22 drivers were cited during the checkpoint, Officer Brad White said.
The Whittier Police Department was planning another checkpoint on Dec. 14, according to the police statement. Such checkpoints have been shown to reduce the numbers of alcohol related injuries or deaths on the road.
“A major component of these checkpoints are the deterrent effects it has on those who might drive drunk or drugged impaired, bringing about more awareness and encouraging everyone to use sober designated drivers,” the statement said.
Funding for the checkpoints is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As always, anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road is asked to report it by calling 9-1-1.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Police plan to screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a Santa Fe Springs checkpoint Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint is to be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson said in a written statement. The Whittier Police Department provides police services to the City of Santa Fe Springs.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed four lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Hanson said.
Well publicized and routine DUI checkpoints, combined with “proactive DUI patrols,” have been linked to decreases of as much as 20 percent in crashes involving drunken or drug-impaired drivers, the sergeant said.
Funding for Friday’s checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road is urged to report it by calling 9-1-1.
UPDATE: No burglary charges were filed against Michael Sanchez prior to his court appearance Monday due to insufficient evidence, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was held in custody until Wednesday, however, before being released with “time served” in connection with an unrelated case out of Antelope Valley Superior Court, records show.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Deputies arrested a man they had been seeking in connection with a burglary investigation Thursday with help from a tipster, officials said.
Michael Anthony Sanchez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of burglary stemming from two break-ins in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Authorities released Sanchez’s photo and asked the public’s help in tracking him down Sept. 17. He was described as a homeless man who had recently been spotted in the Creek Park area of La Mirada, though he was also believed to have ties to Pico Rivera and the Antelope Valley.
Acting on a tip from the public, deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station found and arrested Sanchez about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Santa Fe Springs, sheriff’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Sanchez was being in held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Downey Superior Court.
Trial was underway Thursday for a Whittier man and a West Covina man accused of the gang-related slaying of one man and the attempted murder of another along a set of railroad tracks in Santa Fe Springs in late 2009, officials said.
Erick Rodriguez, now-22, of Whittier and Jose Zapata, now-21, of Whittier are accused of the Dec. 8, 2009 killing of 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Corning, along with the non-fatal shooting of then-19-year-old Julio Serrano of Whittier, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officials and court documents. Rodriguez, who was 17 at the time of the crime, is being tried as an adult.
Jury trial for the men began Wednesday in Norwalk Superior Court with jury selection, which continued Thursday, court officials said.
In addition to the charges, the two defendants are accused of the special allegations that both men personally fired handguns in the crime, and that the shooting was gang-related.
The shooting took place about 12:20 a.m. along a secluded section of railroad tracks just west of the 8900 block of Dice road in Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police Officer Mike Dekowski said at the time.
Gonzalez died at the scene of the shooting, officials said. Serrano was found wounded nearby.
The following afternoon, investigators identified Rodriguez and Zapata as suspects in the shooting and arrested them in the 8600 block of Alburtis Avenue in an unincorporated county area just west of Whittier, police said.
According to county booking records, Rodriguez was being held without bail, while Zapata was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — An Idaho man is accused of burglary after being captured early Thursday at the scene of a break-in at a Norwalk Boulevard bar, authorities said.
Jonathan Christian Beggs, 23, was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police received a call about 2:20 a.m. from a passer-by who noticed someone inside the closed Sandwich Sports Bar, 10576 S. Norwalk Blvd., Whittier police Officer Brad White said. Officers quickly surrounded the building.
“Moments after the officers surrounded the building, (Beggs) exited the rear of the location and was apprehended,” police said in a written statement.
It was determined a cash register inside the business had been forced open, police added.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A woman died early Friday after being struck by a freight, officials said.
The incident took place shortly after 5 a.m. on a set of railroad tracks to the rear of the 8100 block of Pioneer Boulevard, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The woman, who was initially described as being in her 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:09 a.m., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
It was not initially clear why the woman was on the tracks.
The railroad is part of the Metrolink’s Orange County Line, however the involved train belonged to BNSF Railway Company, according to Metrolink officials.
The route was shut down during the investigation between Norwalk and Los Angeles, and Metrolink used buses to get commuters around the closure, officials added. The Norwalk to Los Angeles route resumed operation about 8 a.m.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Coroner’s officials Saturday released the name of an 81-year-old man killed when his overturned minivan was struck by a freight train late Friday.
Antonio Lizardi died at the scene of the 9 p.m. crash on a set of railroad trucks between Telegraph Road and Florence Avenue, just east of Bloomfield Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
His city of residence was not listed at the coroner’s office, however public records indicated his most recent address was in Norwalk.
How the Toyota minivan ended up overturned onto its side on the railroad tracks remained under investigation, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
The tracks run on a raised embankment between a group of businesses and an oil field. Investigators were looking into the possibility the minivan went through the oil field before overturning on the railroad.
An autopsy was pending to determine Lizardi’s officials cause of death, Dietz said.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A man armed with a baseball bat and his companion who pretended to have a gun barged their way into a house and robbed the residents of cash Wednesday night.
Lt. Jay Tatman estimated the amount taken as “several hundreds”. Police believe the home invasion robbery in the 11500 block of Claymore Street wasn’t a random attack but think the victims were targeted, according to Tatman.
The robbery took place just after 10 p.m.
When a resident answered the door, he said two robbers forced their way in. The suspects claimed someone who lives at the house owes them money.
He said one of the residents pulled out cash and asked how much was the debt. The robbers took all the money and fled.
The bat-wielding suspect was described as a Latino, 20, wearing a black jacket, black shorts and black beanie. The other suspect who simulated having a firearm was described as a Latino, 20, garbed in a black jacket and blue pants.
Anyone with information is urged to call the investigations bureau of the Santa Fe Springs Police Service Center at 562-409-1850.
- Ruby Gonzales