PASADENA >> A Pasadena gang member accused of shooting at a police officer before being wounded himself and arrested pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with the incident, authorities said Wednesday.
Francisco Flores, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of assault on a peace officer with a firearm, discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of methamphetamine while armed with a handgun, with allegations the crimes gang-related, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement. He’s expected to be sentenced to 35 years in prison when he returns to Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on March 17.
He was a passenger in a car two officers tried to pull over about 9:15 a.m. on April 8, 2016, at Buckeye Street and Los Robles Avenue. The car came to an abrupt stop at Buckeye Street and Adena Avenue, where Flores ran from the vehicle.
An officer followed Flores, according to the police statement. “While running, suspect Flores looked back at (the pursuing officer), pointed a gun at the officer and fired three rounds, fortunately missing.”
The officer returned fire, striking Flores, police said. Flores was treated for his wounds and has since recovered.
Flores was already out on bail pending an illegal gun possession case at the time of the shooting, officials said.
WHITTIER >> The gang member accused of killing a Whittier police officer and another man on Monday, as well as wounding another police officer, remained hospitalized in a intensive care unit Wednesday as detectives continued gathering evidence and the community continued mourning and seeking answers.
Investigators were yet to interview Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, of Los Angeles, as he continued receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the back sustained in Monday morning’s gunfight with the Whittier, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.
The tight-knit Whittier community has rallied around the family of Officer Keith Boyer, a 53-year-old Whittier resident, 28-year lawman, father, grandfather and classic rock drummer.
Officer Patrick Hazell, who was wounded in the abdomen in the shootout, was released from the hospital and continuing his recovery at home, Corina said. His father said the wounded officer did not wish to comment at this time.
Mejia, a documented gang member who was on felony probation, or “Post-Release Community Supervision,” under the terms of AB 109, is also accused of gunning down his cousin about 5:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Volney Drive in East Los Angeles, less than three hours before the violent encounter with police in Whittier.
Family members said Mejia showed up the Torres home and confronted Torres inside the converted garage the victim used as his bedroom.
The men possibly became involved in an argument prior to the shooting, relatives said. Following the shooting, Mejia allegedly fled in Torres car, which he soon crashed in Whittier.
An autopsy determined Torres died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. The death was ruled a homicide.
No further details of the East Los Angeles slaying, including a motive, have not been released.Mejia was driving a stolen car when became involved in a minor crash with two other vehicles at Colima Road and Mar Vista Avenue about 8 a.m., Corina said.
Police arrive at the scene after the other drivers had helped Mejia push the car he was driving to the side of the road.
“They asked him to get out of the car. That’s when the shooting occurred,” Corina said.
Mejia suddenly drew a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire, striking both officers.
One of the officer managed to return fire and wound Mejia, who was taken into custody at the scene by fellow officers, officials said.
It was unclear which of the officers wounded the suspect. Corina declined to discuss whether one, or both, of the officers fired their weapons.
Mejia’s gun was recovered at the scene, Corina said.
The involved officers were not wearing body camera, and Corina said he was not aware of any video recordings of the deadly encounter between Mejia and Whittier police.
Mejia was expected to be charged in connection with the case once he’s out of the hospital, the lieutenant said.
Mejia had prior convictions for robbery, and most recently, auto theft, officials said.
He as been re-arrested for probation violations five times since being released from prison for the auto theft conviction, each time resulting in 9- or 10-day “flash incarcerations,” under the terms of AB 109, also known as the “California Public Safety Realignment” of 2011, records show.
Details regarding the circumstances of each arrest were not available, however none resulted in the filing of a new criminal case.
At least one of the arrests was for possession of methamphetamine, Corina said.
Possession of methamphetamine had traditionally been a felony in California, punishable by a year or more in prison, but was reduced to a misdemeanor by Proposition 47, passed by California voters in 2014.
Mejia’s criminal record has raised concerns of law enforcement officers, politicians and others, who are questioning whether Mejia should have been behind bars, rather than out on the street, on Monday.
A documented gang member, and an apparently proud one, Mejia bears the letters “W” and “G” tattooed prominently across his face in capital letters. The same abbreviation, which stands for an East Los Angeles street gang, is also tattooed on Mejia’s neck in lower-case letters.
Services for Boyer have not been announced.
The Whittier Police Department is accepting donations to benefit Boyer’s family. He’s survived by a fiancee, four children and two grandchildren.
Checks can be made out to “WPOA Benevolent Fund,” and reference account No. 488879. Contributions can be dropped off in person at the Whittier Police Department, 13200 Penn Street, in person at the Credit Union of Southern California at 8028 Greenleaf Ave. or mailed to the Credit Union of Southern California, WPOA Benevolent Fund, attention David Valencia, PO Box 200, Whittier, CA 90608.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, regarding Monday’s incident is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PHOTO of Michael C. Mejia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departement
COVINA >> A parolee is suspected of killing two women and seriously wounding a toddler in a shooting at a Covina home early Sunday, authorities said.
The incident was first reported just after midnight, when Lucas Doi Fick, 36, of Covina knocked on a door of a home in the 700 block of Rancho Sinaloa Drive, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said. He had an injured 2-year-old boy with him.
“(He) said that ‘something bad’ had happened, and to call the police,” the lieutenant said.
“Responding officers went into residence and discovered two adult females decease from apparent gunshot wounds,” Walczak said. Their identities were not available.
Officials also discovered that the young boy had been shot in the back, he said.
“The child underwent emergency surgery,” Walczak said. His injuries were serious, but he was expected to survive.
Police recovered several guns from the scene, he said.
Fick, a parolee fitted with a GPS ankle monitor due to a lengthy prior criminal record, was taken into custody, police said.
He was initially booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms and violating his parole as the investigation continued, Walczak said. But investigators considered him a suspect in the double-slaying of the two women and the attempted murder of the boy.
No further details, including the relationships between the suspect and victims and the motive, were available Sunday afternoon.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Fick was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Los Angeles County Superior Court records show Fick’s extensive rap sheet includes convictions for attempted possession of ammunition by a felon in 2016; burglary and resisting or obstructing police in 2015; possession of a gun by felon, possession of ammunition by a felon and theft in 2014; theft in 2013; dissuading a witness in 2012; possession of drugs for sales in 2009; drug possession in 2008; possession of methamphetamine in 2007; assault with a deadly weapon in 2004; possession of an illegal knife on a college campus in 2002; and criminal threats in 2001.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-384-5612. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO of Lucas Fick courtesy of the Covina Police Department
DUARTE >> A man died after he was shot as he arrived home with his wife and children in Duarte on Saturday night, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 8:20 p.m. in the 2300 block of Bashor Street, according to Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau.
Kirinda Lavar Morehead died at the scene of the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
“Detectives have learned that the victim, a 39-year-old man, parked his car behind his wife’s car at the location. The victim and his wife exited their cars and were preparing to walk to their residence on Mount Olive Drive,” Moody said in a written statement.
“A white vehicle driving westbound on Bashor Street pulled up alongside the victim,” the deputy said. “An occupant opened fire striking the victim multiple times. The victim’s wife was uninjured.”
The car was last seen heading north on Mount Olive Drive, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced Morehead dead at the scene.
No further details, including a description of the attacker or attackers, were available.
A neighbor, who asked that his name be withheld, said he was inside his home with his mother and teenage sister when eight to nine shots rang out in rapid succession.
“We hurried into the back room of our house,” he said.
He said he then heard the sound of a woman’s anguished voice calling out for help.
“Call 911,” she exclaimed, according to the neighbor. “My baby. I can’t live without him. His two kids need him.”
The neighbor said he emerged to look around after he could hear that police had arrived in the neighborhood.
He saw the victim lying next to his truck, which was parked on the street and pierced with at least three bullet holes.
The two children, who were with their mother only yards away when the shooting occurred, were asking where their father was, he said.
The motive in the fatal attack was not yet clear.
Anyone with information is urged 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.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena man who fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, her father and a neighbor who tried to help, then opened fire on a responding police officer, during a 2014 assault weapon rampage will spend the rest of his life in prison after receiving a sentence of nearly two centuries in state prison on Wednesday, authorities said.
John Izeal Smith, 46, received a sentence of 181 years to life in state prison in the Burbank branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, in connection with the Jan. 12, 2014, triple-murder in the 1700 block of North Summit Avenue, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
The sentence was agreed upon under a plea arrangement reached in December, when Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second degree murder, as well as charges of attempted murder and assault with an assault weapon on a police officer.
Killed in the AK-47 shooting spree were Smith’s ex-girlfriend, 59-year-old Maria Aguiar, with whom he still lived; her 91-year-old father Luis Aguiar; and 31-year-old neighbor 31-year-old Jose Hernandez Iribe, according to Los Angeles County coroner and Pasadena police officials.
“Smith got into a domestic altercation with (Aguiar), grabbed an assault rifle and opened fire,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “Aguiar was killed along with her elderly father.”
Smith then fatally shot Iribe as he rushed toward the gunfire to help Maria Aguiar as she lied wounded in the sidewalk, according to Pasadena police.
Smith then barricaded himself inside the home and called 911 to report the shooting.
He opened fire on the first officer to arrive at the scene, Officer John Woo, who took cover behind his patrol SUV to escape the barrage of gunfire, officials said. Fellow officers used an armored vehicle to rescue Woo from the line of fire.
More than 40 rounds were fired by Smith during the rampage.
Two other people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries following the incident, officials said.
The special circumstance of multiple murders could have made Smith eligible for the death penalty, however prosecutors chose not to seek capital punishment for the crimes.
PHOTO: Johh Izeal Smith, 46, of Pasadena. (file)
AZUSA >> One man died and another was wounded after they were shot inside a car in Azusa early Sunday morning, authorities said.
Killed was Alexander Salazar, 21, of Azusa, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
The shooting was reported at 1:22 a.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 600 block of North Alameda Avenue, according to Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Following reports of gunfire heard in the area, deputies found a four-door Lexus sedan had crashed into a parked car, Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Salazar, a documented member of the Azusa 13 street gang, was shot in the head, he said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The passenger, a 20-year-old Fontana man, was treated for a gunshot wound to his hand.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting, including a suspect description, remained unknown Sunday afternoon, according to the lieutenant. The surviving victim did not appear to be fully cooperating with investigators, and no other eyewitnesses had been found, he added.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting Azusa police in the investigation, at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PICO RIVERA >> A man showed up at a hospital with gunshot wounds after a drive-by shooting outside a Pico Rivera liquor store on Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The shooting took place about 4:45 p.m. at Whittier Boulevard and Orange Street, in front of the Pico Market, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Noe Garcia said.
“The suspects pulled up in the intersection and shot north into the liquor store parking lot,” he said.
Deputies did not immediately find any victims at the scene, and potential witnesses appeared uncooperative.
As the investigation continued, a known gang member in his 40s arrived at a Montebello emergency room with a gunshot wound to his leg, the lieutenant said. The injury was not considered life-threatening.
The attackers were described only as two Latino men in a blue Volkswagen, which was last seen heading west on Whittier Boulevard.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SOUTH SAN GABRIEL >> Gunfire in a residential neighborhood in South San Gabriel left one man dead Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
The shooting was reported about 3:15 p.m. in the 7900 block of Hill Drive, in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Frank Ruiz said.
Paramedics took the victim to a hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries, according to Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Three people were seen running from the scene of the shooting, Ruiz said. It was not immediately clear whether they were the attackers, or merely other people fleeing the gunfire.
No further details were available as the investigation remained in its early stages.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple City Station at 626-285-7171. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
— LA Basin Scanner (@LABasinScanner) January 12, 2017
EL MONTE >> A fleeing suspect fired gunshots at El Monte police during a high-speed pursuit before he was taken into custody in Baldwin Park late Wednesday.
Richard Cortez, 26, of Baldwin Park was ultimately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer, evading police, resisting arrest, burglary and hit-and-run, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said.
“He’s shooting at my vehicle,” an officer is heard calmly saying over the radio as the chase sped down the 60 Freeway. “My windshield’s now broken. We’re still westbound. Probably about five or six rounds.”
The incident began about 10 p.m. in the southwest portion of the city, when an officer spotted and began following a suspicious car, according to the sergeant.
When the officer tried to stop the car for a traffic violation, the driver sped away, initiating a chase that worked its way to the 60 freeway.
While on the 60 Freeway, the suspect opened fire on pursuing officers several times, Luna said. One officer initially believed his patrol car had been struck, but no damage was ultimately found.
Police continued chasing the suspect, who reached speeds as high as 100 mph, as he got onto the 10 Freeway and ultimately exited at Frazier Avenue in Baldwin Park.
He was involved in a minor crash with a parked car as he ditched his vehicle and continued to flee on foot.
Cortez fled through the neighborhood and broke into a home before he was apprehended with the help of a police K-9, Luna said. Television news helicopters broadcast footage of the chase arrest.
He was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to booking, officials said.
No additional suspects were believed to be outstanding.
The investigation was ongoing, Luna said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Cortez was previously convicted of vandalism, brandishing a handgun and burglary in 2016; fighting in public and spousal abuse in 2013; possession of methamphetamine in 2012; and being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2010.
Cortez was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, county booking records show.
Audio courtesy of @LABasinScanner on Twitter
PASADENA >> Authorities have identified two Pasadena men who were shot to death while gathered at a vigil for another recent homicide victim in a suspected gang-related attack that also left two other people wounded late Friday.
Antoine Dewayne Sutphen Jr. and Ormani Dajan Duncan, both 24 and from Pasadena, died following the late-night shooting near Fair Oaks Avenue and Claremont Street, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
They were gathered at a vigil for another Pasadena man gunned down on the same spot on Dec. 22 when gunfire erupted from a passing car, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
A woman was also critically wounded in the shooting, and a man suffered a non-life-threatening injuries.
Hours later, gunfire again rang out on near the same corner about 5 p.m. Saturday, where a 25-year-old Pasadena man suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh, Goodman said.
A lack of cooperative witnesses in all of the shootings left investigators with no solid suspect description, police said.
The spate of violence was believed to be gang-related, Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO by James Carbone