SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, friends and community members marched through South Whittier Friday in a call for justice for the murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout Cesar Rodriguez, who was gunned down four years ago along with a friend in a double-slaying that remains unsolved.
Led by a young relatives of Rodriguez carrying his picture and a banner stating, “We want justice,” the group met at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street before marching through the neighborhood, past the scene of the shooting, and heading to Amelia Mayberry Park for a candlelight vigil.
Rodriguez, 19, was shot to death along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, on Aug. 28, 2011, as they left the home of a friend in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue.
Rodriguez’s loved ones have held the march each year since the double-slaying.
“We’ll be here every year until that person, or persons, come to justice,” Rodriguez’s mother Lupe Rodriguez said. “Cesar will never be forgotten.”
Also marching was Rodriguez’s father, Jorge Rodriguez, as well as brothers George and Hector, along with numerous other family members.
The group came to a stop and stood in silence when the procession reached the driveway where Rodriguez and Villegas were shot. Immediate family members laid flowers and candles at the spot, as dozens of sheriff’s Explorer Scouts stood in a stoic salute.
All along the march route, Explorers handed out fliers seeking information on the unsolved killings, with messages in both English and Spanish.
Lupe Rodriguez said she looks forward to the day when her son’s killer is arrested and the march will no longer be necessary.
But in the meantime, she said she felt encouraged by the strong show of community support.
“I think it gets bigger every year,” she said, adding that she was grateful to the community.
Homicide detectives have been left with few clues to work with, and the case remains unsolved, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The sergeant took part in the march, as he has done each year since the shooting.
“As you can see, the support for Cesar and this investigation has not waned,” he said.
Sgt. Rodriguez said he remains optimistic that he and his fellow investigators will ultimately bring Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers to justice.
“This case ha not gone cold,” he said.
Both the investigator and Lupe Garcia said they believe there are people who know who killed Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas, but have yet to come forward. They both implored any such witnesses to do so.
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.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, including fellow Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scouts, will march Friday to honor the life of a 19-year-old Whittier man shot to death four years ago along with 24-year-old friend, as well as renew their call for justice in the unsolved double-slaying.
Lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez, who dreamed of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, was gunned down Aug. 28, 2011, along with Larry Villegas of Whittier as the two left a friend’s home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in unincorporated South Whittier.
The killing remains unsolved.
Friends, family members and law enforcement officials will gather for a Mass at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Pious X Church, 10827 Pioneer Blvd. in Santa Fe Springs, before gathering at 7 p.m. at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street in South Whittier, said Rodriguez’s brother, George Rodriguez.
Marchers will then walk past the shooting scene to Amelia Mayberry Park, 13201 Meyer Road in South Whittier.
Similar marches were held 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez worked as an explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station for four years prior to his death and planned to pursue a career as a sheriff’s deputy, sheriff’s officials said.
George Rodriguez said he remains hopeful his brother’s killer will be found and brought to justice, and wanted anyone with information about the shooting to provide that information to investigators.
Detectives have followed up on information regarding possible persons of interest over the past year, but nothing has developed into a solid lead, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “We’re back to square one.”
Corina also asked that anyone with information come forward. “They can be anonymous if they want,” he said.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
PASADENA >> A drive by shooting sent a bullets into a home occupied by a woman and two children late Saturday, but no injuries were reported, police said.
The shooting took place about 10:35 p.m. at Howard Street Navarro Avenue, Pasadena police L. Mark Goodman said.
A man in a passing black sedan opened fire on the home, striking the front window, the lieutenant said.
A 59-year-old woman, along well as a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl who were inside the home were unharmed, he said.
The motive for the shooting was unclear.
LA PUENTE >> No wounded victims were initially found after a gun battle unfolded on a residential Le Puente street between two shooters in two cars and another person at a home, officials said.
The exchange of gunfire was first reported shortly after 2 p.m. in the 300 block of Lang Avenue.
Two attackers in two passing cars, described as a gray Jeep Liberty and an older-model Nissan Maxima, opened fire with a handgun and a rifle, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The intended target, who was not struck, returned fire.
The rear window of the Nissan Maxima’s had been shot out, but it was unclear if anyone inside the vehicle was struck by the gunfire, Sgt. Liza Vera said.
Both vehicles were last seen heading south on Lang Avenue, officials said. Initial reports from the scene indicated the suspects were five men and one woman, and they were armed with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle.
The intended shooting victim, a man in his mid- to late-20s, was believed to have former gang ties, Lt. Rick Thurlo said.
He apparently received word that attackers were coming after him, and armed himself as he awaited their arrival, the lieutenant added.
It was not clear Sunday afternoon whether the man would be arrested.
The shooting appeared to be gang-related, and sheriff’s gang detectives are handling the investigation, Vera said.
AZUSA >> Weekend violence in Azusa left a teenager wounded by a gunfire and three men hospitalized with stab wounds, authorities said.
The separate incidents took place Friday night, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon, Azusa police officials said.
Two Azusa men were critically injured in a stabbing about 1:10 p.m. just after they left a church in the 600 block of East 5th Street, Azusa police Sgt. Bruce Badoni said.
“The two stabbing victims are involved in a fight with another person,” the sergeant said.
After being stabbed, the two men ran back toward the church, he said. One collapsed in the parking lot, while the other was found inside the church.
The two victims, ages 32 and 35, were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where they were rushed into surgery Sunday afternoon, Badoni said.
“The last info we had, both were critical,” he said.
The suspect was described only as male.
Another attack took place about a mile away around 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of West 1st Street, police said.
A 23-year-old Azusa man walking down the street was confronted by three men who pulled up in a dark-colored sedan, Sutcliffe said.
“After words were exchanged, the victim was attacked by the three subjects and stabbed twice in the upper torso,” he said. “The victim was also punched and kicked several times in the head and upper body while he was on the ground.”
The three attackers, described as men in their early-20s, returned to their car and fled. The victim was hospitalized in stable condition.
In another incident, an unidentified attacker shot and seriously wounded a 17-year-old Azusa boy about 10:50 p.m. Friday in the 800 block of West 6th Street, according to Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe.
The teen was standing on the south sidewalk when a dark-colored sedan pulled up, parked, and a passenger exited.
“The passenger walked within close range of the 17-year-old and opened fire with a handgun, striking the victim several times in the upper torso,” Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
Paramedics took the teen to a hospital where he was listed in “serious but stable” condition Sunday, the sergeant said.
“No arrests have been made, and the motive for both the shooting and (Sunday morning) stabbing is actively being investigated by Azusa police detectives,” Sutcliffe said.
The attacker and driver were described as men in their early-20s.
Police had no information to indicate any of the violent incidents were related to each other, Badoni said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A man died in a broad-daylight shooting along Washington Boulevard on Friday afternoon, police said.
The shooting took place just before 5:30 p.m. in a parking lot behind a series of business in the 1700 block of East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
Officers responding to several calls reporting shots fire found the victim, “lifeless,” suffering from gunshot wounds, the lieutenant said.
No further information regarding the circumstances of the shooting were released, and no suspect description was available as police continued their investigation late Friday.
Devastated family members of the victim gathered at the shooting scene identified the victim as 38-year-old Monte Russell of Los Angeles.
They said he was getting a haircut at a barbershop when the shooting occurred.
Russell’s mother, Yvonne Trice, said she was outraged but what she saw at the scene.
Trice said she believed police knew who Russell was when they encountered him and didn’t do everything they could to save his life or catch his killer.
Russell had a troubled past and was formerly involved with gangs, but had turned his life around and had become a hard-working father to three daughters, Trice said.
“They’ve been trying to kill my son for years,” Trice said. “Where’s the paramedics?”.
“I’m 3 to 4 miles away, and I got here before the paramedics,” said brother Rodney Trice.
Another brother said police at the scene asked him wither he owned a car which needed to be moved out of the crime scene, but did not ask him whether he heard or saw anything related to the shooting.
Yvonne Trice and other family members said they were also furious because the they didn’t think the shooting scene had been properly secured. People continued walking near, as well as in and out of the barbershop, as police investigated the scene, Yvonne Trice said.
“He wasn’t a gang banger,” the mother said. “He worked every day.”
Russell worked laying tile for a company in Altadena, family members said.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4501. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> Police responding to reports of gunfire found more than 20 spent bullet casings in the street early Saturday, but no signs of any victims or suspects, officials said.
Police received numerous 9-1-1 calls reporting gunshot about 12:45 a.m. in the area of Penn Street and Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Officers discovered more than 20 fired “large-caliber” bullet casings in the street, the lieutenant said.
But they found no victims or suspects during a search of the area, he said.
LA HABRA >> A man with a gunshot wound to the torso showed up at an emergency room early Thursday.
La Habra police said a family member brought the victim, a La Habra resident in his early 20s, to an area hospital shortly before 6 a.m.
The man indicated he was shot in La Habra, according to police.
After being transferred to another hospital, the victim was listed in stable condition with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Cindy Knapp, spokeswoman for La Habra police, said detectives have not been able to determine where the shooting occurred. She said the shooting does not appear to be gang-related at this point.
Knapp said the victim has no known gang ties.
Anyone with information was asked to contact La Habra police Detective Razey at 562-383-4300.
AZUSA >> An Azusa man suffered a gunshot wound to his leg in a drive-by shooting late Wednesday, police said.
The shooting took place just before 9 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 200 block of North Dalton Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Robert Landeros said.
The gunfire came from a passing black sedan with at least two men inside, the corporal said. No further description was available.
Paramedics took the man, an Azusa resident estimated to be in his early-20s, to a hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg, Landeros said. The injury was not believed to be life-threatening.
A motive in the shooting was not clear.
PASADENA >> A judge sentenced a Pasadena gang member to prison Wednesday for his role in luring a 20-year-old woman to a Pasadena market, where she was ambushed and fatally shot in 2008, authorities said.
Roberto Barajas Jr., 37, received a prison term of 50 years to life for the Aug. 19, 2008, shooting death of Jennifer Ortega outside a small shopping center in the 1800 block of Villa Street, said Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich, who prosecuted the case.
Pasadena gang member Barajas, along with several other suspects have not been charged with the killing, killed Ortega, a gang members, because she had cooperated with police regarding a drug case four months before, the prosecutor said.
The gang had “green lighted” her for execution, he said.
“She was lured to that location by some friends,” Mrakich said. “She was cornered by the defendant and four other people and shot three times in the back.”
Several additional suspects were initially arrested in connection with the killing, but only Barajas was ultimately charged in connection with the fatal shooting, Mrakich said. There was insufficient evidence to move forward with cases against the other suspects, Mrakich said.
Barajas drove the attackers to and from the shooting scene, though he was not believed to be the shooter, Mrakich said.
Scents detected by police dogs on the spent bullet casings recovered from the scene matched Barajas, indicating he had handled the bullets used to shoot Ortega prior to the killing, Mrakich said.
The fatal ambush stemmed from a drug arrest that took place about four months earlier, Mrakich said. After being caught with methamphetamine, Ortega told investigators that it belonged to a fellow gang member, he said. That gang member received a year behind bars as a result of the drug case.
Word of Ortega’s cooperation with police, as well as police documents, circulated through the gang, Mrakich said. A vague letter from a gang member in prison appearing to instruct fellow gang members to take action against Ortega was found in the possession of one of the suspects who was not charged. Mrakich likened the letter to a “death warrant.”
Ortega had no listed city of residence, but was believed to be staying with friends in the Pasadena area, police said.
Pasadena Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover handed down Barajas’ sentence after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder May 1 following a six-week trial, officials said. The jury also found true the special allegations that the killing was gang-related, and that a gun was used in the crime.