SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A suspect arrested Thursday following a Santa Fe Springs bank robbery is believed to be a serial bandit sought for previous heists in Anaheim and Orange, police said Friday.
Police arrested Ryan Thomas See, 25, of La Palma minutes after Thursday’s 2:50 p.m. robbery at a Chase branch at Telegraph and Carmenita roads in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was taken into custody as he attempted to flee in an Uber car, officials said.
“(See) presented the teller with a demand note, claiming he had a bomb and warned he would detonate it if police or others were alerted,” Whittier police said in a written statement. “The teller complied and handed over nearly $6,000 in cash.”
Officers arrested him around the corner in South Whittier as he attempted to enter a getaway car, later found to be an Uber car he had reserved, occupied by a female driver, police and FBI officials said.
A witness aided in the capture by following the suspect from the bank and reporting his position to police, Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The stolen cash was recovered.
Following his arrest, investigators working with the FBI determined See was the suspected “Windy City Bandit,” sought for bank robberies at Chase banks in Anaheim on Oct. 5 and in Orange on Tuesday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The FBI gave him the moniker due to a beanie emblazoned with a Chicago Bears logo he wore during the alleged crimes, she said.
See was initially booked on suspicion of bank robbery and making criminal threats at the Whittier Police Department, but was later turned over to federal custody to face federal prosecution, Eimiller said.
Upon being confronted with bank surveillance photos from the previous Orange County robberies, “See stated that he was the person in all three of the bank surveillance photographs,” FBI Agent Steve May wrote in a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court.
See claimed that he committed the robberies because he owed a “Mexican guy” money for drugs, but did not know man’s name, according to the complaint.
The defendant said the unnamed accomplice drove him to the scenes of the first two robberies. See told investigators he took an Uber car to get to the third robbery.
“See stated that he was pressured by the Mexican guy to go to that bank and rob that bank,” May wrote. “See further stated that if See did not do as instructed, the Mexican guy would harm/shoot his family.”
He was ordered held without bail during his initial court appearance Friday, Eimiller said.
BANK SURVEILLANCE IMAGES courtesy of the FBI.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police, aided by a good Samaritan, quickly apprehended an alleged bank bandit following a robbery at a Telegraph Road bank branch Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The crime was reported just before 3 p.m. at a Chase bank, 13417 Telegraph Road, near Carmenita Road, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The Whittier Police Department provides police services for Santa Fe Springs.
“The suspect presented a letter to the teller indicating he had a bomb,” Ruiz said.
The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, and the robber fled the bank on foot.
But a witness followed behind the fleeing robber in a car while reporting his position to authorities, officials said.
Whittier police found and arrested the suspect without a struggle minutes later along Parkinson Avenue, just north of Trumball Street, in unincorporated South Whittier, Ruiz said. The money stolen in the bank robbery was recovered.
The name of the suspect, described as a man in his 20s, was not available Thursday evening.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A bicyclist died after being struck by a freight train in Santa Fe Springs Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The collision took place about 2:45 p.m. on a set of tracks at Rosecrans and Marquardt avenues, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
The bicyclist, described only as a man, was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Witnesses indicated he was traveling north across Rosecrans Avenue and slipped in between the activated railroad crossing arms when he was struck by a train operated by BNSF, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
Friday’s incident was the second death involving a train reported in just over a week in Santa Fe Springs.
A 29-year-old man died after he was accidentally struck by an Amtrak train about 7 p.m. Oct. 2, according to police and coroner’s officials.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Coroner’s officials Thursday released the name off a 29-year-old man who died after being struck by an Amtrak train last week in Santa Fe Springs.
Peter James Guerra died at the scene of the after he was struck by a westbound Amtrak train about 7 p.m. near the 11200 block of Rivera Road, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. He was described as transient.
An autopsy determined he died from “multiple traumatic injuries,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
The man was walking along the tracks and did not hear the approaching passenger train due to a freight train passing by on a parallel set of tracks, Whittier police officials said.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man died after being struck by an Amtrak train in Santa Fe Springs Friday afternoon, officials said.
The apparent accident was reported about 7 p.m. along the 11200 block of Rivera Road, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
The victim, a 29-year-old man believed to be homeless, died at the scene, officials said.
The conductor of the westbound train reported seeing the man walking along the tracks before sounding the train’s horn and applying the brakes, police said. But the man did not get out of the way in time.
“Initial reports indicate it is possible the victim could not hear the oncoming train due to a freight train passing at the same time, in the opposite direction, along parallel tracks,” according to the police statement.
The man’s name was withheld pending notification of family.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A caseworker at Santa Fe Springs social office suffered burns to her arm after an unidentified man and woman threw an unknown caustic chemical on her Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The attack was reported about 4:25 p.m. at the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services office, 10355 Slusher Drive, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The suspects approached the victim in the parking lot, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.”
“They threw an unknown chemical on her,” Scoggins said.
Paramedics took the woman to a hospital for treatment of injuries to both arms described as moderate, he said. She appeared to be in her early 40s.
The woman washed off the substance and discovered it had left burns, Ellis said. It was yet to be been determined what the liquid thrown on the victim was.
The female suspect through the substance, while the man drove their car, described as a blue or gray sedan, Scoggins said.
The female attacker wore her hair in a pony tail, Scoggins added. No further description of the suspects was available.
Police searched the area but did not find the attackers, officials said.
Both suspects were initially described as male, however investigators later determined on of the suspects was a woman, Scoggins said.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the incident were not available.
It was unclear whether they knew the victim, or why they targeted her in the bizarre assault.
“At this point, I don’t know what the motive could possibly have been,” Scoggins said.
Anyone with information can reach the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9200.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man abducted his 4-year-old son during a supervised visit at a Santa Fe Springs social services office Thursday before police arrested him and recovered the boy about two hours later, officials said.
Francisco Rosas Espinoza, 42, is a Mexican national in the U.S. on a two-week visa to visit his son, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins.
He was visiting his son about 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services office in the 10300 block of Slusher Street when he left with his son, the officer said.
“We had officers and detectives scouring the area,” Scoggins said. A California Highway Patrol helicopter also joined in the search.
Officials spotted Espinoza and his son about 4:30 p.m. in the area of Pioneer Boulevard and Hamden Place, police said. He was trying to hide.
“There was a short standoff. He was holding on to the victim, refusing to let him go,” Scoggins said. “There was a brief struggle.”
Officers managed to wrestle the boy away from Espinoza and take the father into custody, he said. An officer was treated for a minor injury suffered in the confrontation, but neither the boy nor his father were hurt.
Espinoza was booked on suspicion of child abduction, child endangerment and resisting arrest, Scoggins said.
The boy was returned to the custody of DCFS.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police have released a composite sketch of a man who exposed himself to a woman and tried to kidnap her as she walked along Pioneer Boulevard earlier this month.
The victim, a 57-year-old Downey woman, escaped with only minor abrasions following the failed abduction, which took place about 7:45 a.m. July 5 in an alley along Pioneer Boulevard, just north of Houghton Avenue, according to Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller.
The woman was walking when the suspect called out to the woman from a black SUV, Miller said.
“He asked her to come over to his truck, when he suddenly grabbed her by the wrist and tried pulling her toward his driver’s side door,” police said in a written statement. “The male suspect made several lewd comments and exposed himself.”
The woman managed to pull free and run away. The attacker was last seen driving north on Pioneer Boulevard.
Police described the man as Latino, 30 to 35 years old,of medium build, clean-shaven, with short black hair combed backward.
ANyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Kremling at 562-409-1850.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Caltrans is kicking off three weeks of overnight closures of both directions of the 5 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk Friday as crews demolish the old Carmenita Road Bridge as part of an ongoing construction project, officials said.
The entire 5 Freeway between Valley View Avenue in Santa Fe Springs and Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk will be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as well as from 11 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. Saturdays, Caltrans officials said in a written statement.
The closure will allow workers to demolish the old two-lane Carmenita Road bridge spanning the freeway, officials said.
The new 10-lane bridge was opened to traffic on July 3, although until new ramps are constructed, only four lanes are accessible in each direction.
The westbound 91 Freeway connector to the northbound 5 Freeway will also be shut down nighty between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., as well as the southbound 605 Freeway connector to the southbound 5 Freeway.
The construction project will widen the 5 Freeway between Alondra Avenue and Shoemaker Avenue with an additional carpool lane and an additional general use lane in each direction. The shoulders are also being widened, and a center median built.
For more information, visit www.my5la.com/carmenita-road-interchange.
PHOTOS courtesy of Caltrans
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Tuna manufacturer Bumble Bee Foods LLC, an employee and a former employee pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges related to the death of a worker who was cooked to death inside an industrial oven at the company’s Santa Fe Springs plant, authorities said.
Bumble Bee Foods LLC, along with former safety manager Saul Florez, 47, of Whittier and director of plant operations Angel Rodriguez, 63, were each charged last month with three felony counts of willful violation of safety rules in connection with the Oct. 11, 2012 industrial mishap at the plant, 13100 Arctic Circle.
Killed was 62-year-old father of six Jose Melena of Wilmington, who became trapped and cooked to death in a massive industrial oven used to sterilize cans of tuna, officials said.
Melena was working inside the cylindrical, 35-foot-long oven when another employee assumed Melena had gone to the restroom, according to OSHA’s report.
“Coworkers were unaware that Melena was inside the oven when they loaded multiple carts, collectively containing about 12,000 pounds of tuna, closed the front door and started the oven,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “The victim inadvertently became trapped in the back of the super-heated, pressurized steam cooker.”
Hours later, after the oven had been heated to more than 270 degrees, coworkers noticed Melena was missing and ultimately discovered his badly burned remains inside the oven, officials said.
The defendants are due back in Los Angeles Superior Court July 14 for a motions hearing, district attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health levied nearly $74,000 in fines against Bubble Bee Foods for safety violations the following year.
If convicted as charged, Florez and Rodriguez each face up to three years in prison, as well as fines of up to $250,000. San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods could face a fine of up to $1.5 million.
PHOTOS: [TOP] – Jose Melena, 62, of Wilmington was a Bumble Bee Foods workerkilled in when he accidentally became trapped inside an industrial oven at the company’s Santa Fe Springs plant on Oct. 11, 2014. (Courtesy) [BELOW] – The front of Bumble Bee Foods LLC in Santa Fe Springs on Friday October 12, 2012. The plant was the site of an insustrial accident the day before in which a 62-year-old employee died after becoming trapped inside an industrial oven.
(File: SGVN/Staff Photo by Keth Durflinger)